Canal Street Music,Theatre and Film

If you love the North, then this blog is for you.We hope this music and film blog is a celebration of culture and enterprise, from theatre, music, authors and art to heritage,as well as everything in-between.We also want to flag up forthcoming gigs, theatre and film across our region.

We scour the region for interesting gigs and stories, histories, ambitions and events. Want to read a carefully crafted article about an oddball museum or go behind the scenes of a leading institution? You can find that here.

Twelfth Night – “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”

Jo Davies makes her Royal Exchange debut by bringing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to the theatre. In this production Faith Omole (Viola), Kevin Harvey (Orsino) and Mina Anwar (Maria) return and Anthony Calf takes on the role of Malvolio. 

No stranger to the LGBT scene in Manchester, award-winning transgender artist and activist Kate O’Donnell makes her Royal Exchange debut in the role of Feste, the wise observer in this foolish, lovesick kingdom and she does an excellent job.
Washed up on the shores of Illyria after a ship-wreck, Viola hides her true identity by disguising herself as a man. Finding a job and love at the court of Duke Orsino, Viola becomes muddled in mistaken identities when her disguise begins to cause more problems than it solves. Omole takes charge of the stage throughout with a faultless performance as she dominates the stage in her quest for love. Sebastian (Daniel Francis-Swaby) comes into his own in the second half as the story unravels and reaches its conclusion.
With some of Shakespeare’s most popular characters caught up in this outrageous tale of misadventure, the comic activity of Simon Armstrong (Sir Toby Belch) and Harry Attwell (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) is superb and you arrive at a point where you just don’t want it to stop. When mixed with Mina Anwar’s (Maria) performance and Kate O’Donnell, you know that what you are witnessing is some of the best comic display theatre has to produce.
Famously Orsino says “if music be the food of love, play on”, and indeed live music plays a major part in this production and is used to extraordinary effect. From the opening chant sung by the critically acclaimed folk musician Kate Young to the unusual technique and sounds from lap-tap guitarist Joe Gravil the play revolves around the presence of the music and adds to the complexity of this comedy.
Kate O’Donnell brings this production to end with a reflective and tranquil ending and you would indeed be a “fool” to miss this stunning production.

By Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.

5 stars

More info and to book here..

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 11:45:24 +0100

2017 marks the 170th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Eyre and The Lowry is the first stop for this National Theatre / Bristol Old Vic co-production anniversary tour.

Charlotte Brontë’s classic story is re-imagined for the 21st century putting it on a level with the best of contemporary British drama.
The stripped back staging, echoing the starkness of northern moors, lays bare the life of Jane Eyre. One minute we’re laughing at a young child’s view on the world; the next being punched in the stomach by the heart-wrenching emotion of the story; this powerful ensemble piece keeps the audience gripped from start to nail-biting finale.
Superbly directed by Sally Cookson, this is an energetic, fast-paced production skilfully acted and hauntingly accompanied by the on-stage band. Melanie Marshall’s incredible voice makes the hair on your neck stand up every time she sings.
Manchester’s Nadia Clifford plays Jane from birth to adulthood, perfectly capturing the innocence of youth and the feistiness of a resolute, free-thinking woman – this is Jane with balls! Tim Delap provides equal force as the stubborn Yorkshireman with a secret.
This astonishing production truly deserved its standing ovation and is one not to be missed!
Rating 5/5

By Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.

Lyric Theatre, The Lowry: April 8th-15th 2017 

Book here

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:39:37 +0100

The Commitments at Palace Theatre


After a fantastically successful two-year run on the West End, The Commitments has arrived in Manchester and is playing in the Palace Theatre on Oxford Road until the 8th April.  We went along last night to see the show for ourselves and escape the essays for a night. 

Based on the BAFTA-award winning film and book by Roddy Doyle, the show follows a rock and roll – or rock and soul – rise and fall trajectory.  Following a misfit group of Irish friends who form a soul group, the musical is a lot of fun throughout.  Filled with classic soul songs – Mustang Sally, Heard it Through the Grapevine and Proud Mary to name a few - the show appealed and the audience sang along to the hits.

The set changes were great, and the cast made good use of the moments to inject some comedy into the performance- in particular, Brian Gilligan’s slick Deco in his grotty Superman underpants.  Gilligan was originally picked to play Billy – an Animal inspired-hairy-limbs-akimbo-drummer – but was overheard singing in the stairwell at The Palace and hired to take the role of lead singer in The Commitments instead.  Andrew Linnie’s Jimmy held the show- and the band- together, and does a grand job throughout.

In places the plot was a bit thin and the characters somewhat stereotyped*, but the cast are vocally exceptional, the laughs came thick and fast, and the songs pull the show together and kept us well entertained.

*Kate’s Irish parents are still distressed at the painfully excessive use of jaysus and TV legend Kevin Kennedy’s “Dublin” twang.

3.5 stars

Check out more info and to book tix here..

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:46:44 +0100

Macy Gray live in Manchester

A packed out older audience graced the floor for Macy, a stage that allegedly hosted Princes last live performance, so she was in very good company..

Lampshades cover the stage to welcome a 28 minutes late Macy.But the crowd welcomed her warmly.

Gray opened the show boldly in her silver sparkly outfit, looking a little ‘giddy’ maybe on her first 3 songs?

Some highlights included her cover of Radioheads notorious 'Creep’ track and Sexual Revolution, always a firm fav of her most loyal fans.

3 Costume changes later and an interim talk to the crowd about Freedom inspired the onlookers, with her most famous track “I Try” hyping the crowd to close.

Very Jazzy and Soulful, at times her voice sounding like warm honey with able support from her 4 musicians (Drums, Keyboard, Sax and Bass).

Overall this was a little disappointing that she started so late, but it was a great performance from the Legendary and at times boisterous , madam Macy Gray.

3.5 stars

By Kirsty Devlin for Canal St Online
Contact @Kirstydevlin1

For more about up coming gigs at The Academy

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:37:12 +0000

YANK! Hope Mill Theatre

After the success of ‘Parade’ & 'Hair’, expectations are high for this latest Hope Mill Theatre / Aria Entertainment production and I’m pleased to report that  it doesn’t disappoint.

'Yank!’ by Joseph & David Zellnick is a gorgeous show that you’ll want to clutch to your chest and never let go of. Set at the tail end of World War Two, the story revolves around two men who fall in love whilst enlisted in the US Army.

 Imagine a glorious Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musical but with Gene Kelly and Howard Keel playing the star crossed lovers and you’ll be on the right lines. As Stu and Mitch try to navigate their feelings in the most macho of surroundings, the war, fellow soldiers and society in general conspire to keep them apart. This was a period when the armed forces often treated gay people with as much contempt as 'the enemy’.

Over the course of the piece Stu, the young innocent, becomes perhaps the bravest of them all. Scott Hunter’s performance is so engaging, wide eyed and compelling you’re rooting for him from the moment he makes his surprise entrance. Barnaby Hughes plays the flirtatious chiselled jaw hero to great effect and in the multi-talented all singing all dancing cast, special mention must go to Sarah-Louise Young who plays every female character is the show! There are also some great comic moments in the mix as well as the inevitable darker elements reflecting the horrors of war but overall this is a romantic, nicely sentimental homage to the forties.

Chris Cuming’s choreography is impressive and adventurous considering the limited space and the era is authentically brought to life by the score, beautifully sung by the cast and played by an impressive seven piece band who make a sound that belies their modest number.

5 stars

By Drew Tosh for Canal St Online..

Runs until April 8

More details here

Box Office 0161 275 9141

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 10:30:31 +0000

Olly Murs at Manchester Arena

Olly Murs has been having hits now for 8 years. Since appearing on The X Factor, his popularity has never waned, and when you see him perform live, this success is cemented, as he is such an enigmatic and lively entertainer. And for his fans, he is the cheeky chappie from Essex; the people’s popstar.

On his 24 Hours tour, Olly opens with the brilliant “You Don’t Know Love” - he immediately has the huge arena on side, as this track has the hook to pull you in. His music is much more mature now, meaning his fans have grown with him.

In between tracks, he chats to us Mancs and mentions how great audiences are here. If you have ever been to a gig in London, you too will notice the difference, as here in the North West, gig goers know how to party.

Olly’s band are slick and back him to the hilt. Their chemistry is evident and the effect is that of a celebration on stage, and it is infectious, bringing you to your feet within seconds.

Troublemaker and Dear Darlin’ get the crowd going and this mixed set is part of his appeal. Ballads, dance tracks and pure pop perfection means that no-one goes home hungry.

The only flaw of the night? The gig is 90 minutes long, and I, like many could have danced for another few songs.

The crotch grabbing may be the headline grabber for some. But, Olly Murs is humble and has the image of a man who feels lucky to be performing to such huge numbers.  

And given the huge success of his new album 24 Hours and this tour, he has never been better.

Glenn Meads for Canal St Online.

Still tix for tonight via..

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 10:44:10 +0000

Grease in the word and is  utterly satisfying

How utterly satisfying. A terrific fun evening re-living those classic tunes that never fail to get us up on our feet.

If you are after an evening of sheer fun then this is “ the one that you want”.
Tom parker plays the classic character of Danny Zuko, and whilst some of the acting seemed a stretch, he nails the majority of songs with ease. Danielle Hope soared as a great Sandy. Her reprise of “Sandra dee” was enough to make some of the audience stand. I have to say though , (whilst mentioning Sandra dee) Louisa Lytton was not the all empowering Rizzo that I think we expect.  Some notes in both her big solos seemed out of reach. I suppose there are worse things she could do!!
Lovely to see and indeed hear Mr Darren day.( The very lovely teen angel.) After hearing him you can’t help but think that he has been missed from the Stage.
There was very little to fault within this production and so much,perhaps too much to praise.

I have to give a nod to a performer I think we will hear a lot more from in the coming years. His name is George Olney (jimmy). Some of the ensemble gave 100% whilst this gentleman gave 1000% and whilst not pulling focus (apart from one devine shower scene) was totally punching his way through every dance and every moment on the stage. Every character he undertook was perfectly played.

All in all if you have the chance to see this production whilst it is here in Manchester, then do not hesitate.
A review by Belinda Scandal for Canal St Online

For show details and to book

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:27:56 +0000

The Snow Maiden: Rimsky-Korsakov. The Lowry, Salford

Opera North’s third production in their fairy tale trio of operas at The Lowry, Salford is Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarely performed The Snow Maiden. The opera, a Russian favourite, which is being professionally staged for the first time in over 60 years in the UK, features some of Rimsky-Korsakov’s most lyrical music, including the ‘Chorus of the Birds’, and the ‘Dance of the Clowns’.

Director John Fulljames has reworked The Snow Maiden classic storyline in a contemporary setting, blending the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Set in a Russian clothes factory, the production offered colour and clothing on a production line with an eclectic mix of modern and traditional Russian costumes and smart use of mannequins to indicate change of seasons.

The music is hauntingly beautiful and the orchestra captured this well, as the charming Russian folk story The Snow Maiden unfolded telling us the tale of the daughter of Grandfather Frost and Spring Beauty. The young Snow Maiden was sung exquisitely by Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly. She wants nothing more than to live amongst humans, after meeting a shepherd boy, Lel played by Heather Lowe. It’s fair to say Lowe stole the show with her striking performance, gorgeous voice and clever interpretation of movement and dance, as she hides the tragic secret that her heart is made of ice and, if she falls in love, it will melt.

Other standout performances were the warmth and confident sound of Yvonne Howard as Spring Beauty and Tsar Berendey as Bonaventura.

Opera North have delighted us with their recent season and we look forward to their return in November.

4.5 stars

For more about whats on at The Lowry click

Reviewed by Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 09:40:15 +0000