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Tag: manchester theatre

New Adventures Company Interview | Neil Westmoreland

New Adventures Company Interview | Neil Westmoreland

Laat week I was invited to a special preview performance of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Company ‘Romeo & Juliet‘ in Manchester, ahead of the tour visiting The Lowry. I was able to not only watch rehearsals and see the inner workings of the cast and crew, but also got to chat with the resident director, Neil Westmoreland and a couple of the young cast members about working on a retelling of a classic story and what it’s like being part of such an innovative dance company.

*Sitting at a small table in an open plan space, Neil Westmoreland joins me for a casual, informal chat, ahead of the planned schedule, due to an important meeting, as is so common within the arts. Plans are susceptible to change and you have to be versatile *

DN: Neil, you are a former New Adventures company dancer and are now the resident director. Would you say that’s a natural progression in the dance world?

NW: I started dancing with New Adventures about 2003, then took time out for around 5 years to teach. I teturned to dance for NA, and then luckily landed the role of residnet director. I wouldn’t say it’s always a natural progression for everyone, but it was for me, as I got a chance to tie both my skills of dancing and teaching together.

DN: You’ve previously performed Romeo & Juliet with Northern Ballet and English National Ballet but never New Adventures. Do you feel like you’ve missed out somewhat?

NW: No not at all. I’m too old now *laughs* The score is so brilliant on this production, I just feel lucky to be here and part of such a collaborative effort. We have 2 cast teams , Capulets and Montagues (of course) touring the country at the same time, with a young cast ensemble from each destination. It’s a huge undertaking.

DN: Matthew Bourne is famous for putting his own spin on well known stories. Without giving too much away, what can the audience expect from his version of Romeo & Juliet?

NW: *hmm* without giving too much away is quite difficult, I don’t want to spoil it! There is a lot of drama, it’s quite intense. Whatever you are expecting, it’s not going to be that! It’s very musical, quite unique!

DN: Which character is your favorite in this production and why?

NW: Hard to choose just one! *Thinks for a moment* Romeo is really special, he’s such a multi-layered character, and the men who are dancing his part are fantastic. Tybalt is an interesting twist! Juliet is not a typical feminine role. She’s young and strong. She embodies what’s happening in today’s world with the feminist movement.

DN: Why should people come and watch new Adventures production of Romeo & Juliet?

NW: Why?! Why not! A) This is our version of a classic story, New Adventures fans are going to be very pleased! And B) with the addition of the toung cast ensemble dancers from each location, we are championing new emerging talent from their local areas, and by coming to watch, the audience will be helping to suppprt them. And it’s not only the dancers, we have local experts in music, set design, costume, lighting, it really is a spectacle!

DN: Lastly, describe the show in 3 words.

NW: wow, you’re really testing me now! *Thinks for a moment* Ok, so firstly, dramatic!!! Secondly, musical. The socre is wonderful, it’s very melodic. Lastly, I’d say innovative! It’s fresh and new, very exciting!

You can see for yourself how exciting it looks by watching the official trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLvAiPOg_5M

New Adventures Romeo & Juliet arrives at The Lowry, Salford Quays tonight, Tuesday 11th June until Saturday 15th June. Tickets can be purchased through their website here https://thelowry.com/whats-on/matthew-bournes-romeo-and-juliet/

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Dirty Dancing Tour Cast Q&A

Dirty Dancing Tour Cast Q&A

Dirty Dancing is inarguably one of the most iconic dance films…….ever!! So much so, that I included it in my top dance movies, which you can read about here http://danceniche.com/2017/12/28/top-dance-movies-you-need-to-watch/

but did you know that there is a staged musical version currently touring the UK?! The Dirty Dancing Tour is set to hit The Palace Theatre Manchester next week, and to entice us, cast members Kira Malou as Baby, Michael O’Reily as Jonny and Simone Covelle as Penny, answered a few questions on being involved in such a cult classic!

How does it feel taking on such iconic roles?

Michael: Once you get over the fact that it’s quite a daunting role to take on because it’s so well-known it’s just really exciting. Everyone is so familiar with the show and they’re so familiar with the characters that you’re just excited to do it justice, you’re ready to put in the work and bring it to life.

Simone: I agree. It’s so exciting. Being able to play such an iconic role in a show that brings the movie to life on stage is an amazing privilege.

Kira: It is really exciting but of course there’s also a lot of pressure to do the characters justice because they are so well-known and so iconic.

What’s your approach in terms of bringing a fresh take to the characters?

Kira: I don’t want to stray too far from what Jennifer Grey did in the film because I personally feel the choices she makes are things I’d do as well. Although I’m being a bit bolder with the choices so when she’s being sexy, I want people to be able to see that “Baby” can be really sexy, fiery and smart – to really show the depths to her.

Michael: It’s about ‘How would I behave if I was in the same situations?’ That frees you up to bring something of yourself to the role, to put elements of yourself into the portrayal.

Simone: It’s about thinking ‘What would I do in this situation?’ whilst thinking about Penny and the era in which the story is set, namely 1963. It’s such a different time to now and what she goes through is quite heavy so to think ‘How would I feel if I was in that time and that situation?’ is a great help because in real life I have a very different personality to her.

In what ways can you relate to your characters? And in what ways are they completely different?

Simone: The big red flag for me is what Penny goes through. She’s in quite a sticky situation and has to make some big decisions. I feel she’s quite isolated and that’s a struggle for me to understand because I’ve never really been isolated myself or had to make massive decisions that would have such a major effect on my life. But I love the fieriness of her, although it’s hard being mean to Kira on stage when we get on so well, I can relate to her passion for dance.

Kira: I’m not proud to say it but I’m not like Baby in terms of education. She knows a lot about politics and what goes on in the world but I feel I’m not in touch with that side of myself as much. But I do feel quite similar to her in that I remember when I was 17 and the first time I fell in love and doing so much to be close to that person – things I’d never think to do on a regular basis just to be with someone. I also relate to the closeness she feels with her family.

Michael: Obviously Johnny in the show is a dancer and I trained in dance myself so that’s kind of the hook I latch onto. We come from a similar background, with the training everyone has to go through, but fortunately I haven’t gone through the serious, crippling financial situation Johnny has been through or the unexplained relationship with his dad and the fact his mum is never mentioned. That’s a whole grey area that we don’t even know about and it’s a part of the character that I have to work to understand.

How is the classic story recreated on stage?

Kira: The script is the same as the film scene-by-scene, with a few extra little surprises in there, and I feel it’s done really well. The set is a smaller replica of the actual Kellerman’s resort and in fact there are three big trucks they use for the staff quarters, the inside and outside of the hotel and the resort cabins. The music, of course, is so iconic and it’s done so well with the live band being on stage. They are fantastic musicians.

Michael: The team do such a good job of bringing the story to the stage so it’s like reliving the film live. You’ve got all the dances, all the music, the band’s on stage kicking butt – it’s such a fun show.

Can you recall when you first saw the film and the impact it had on you?

Kira: I vividly remember watching it on videotape because my mum had it and I remember watching the dance scenes in the staff quarters and I was like ‘Oh my God!’ So I knew exactly how Baby feels when she goes to the resort. It was mesmerising.

Michael: I remember my mum watching it when I was really young and being like ‘That’s not my type of film’ as I went off to play sports or whatever. Then I revisited it when I got into the dance industry more and I was like ‘Actually, it’s a really cool film’. The more time I spent in rehearsals looking through the script, which is the same as the film, we talked a lot about it being about bravery and becoming the person you want to be, regardless of your situation and people telling you you can’t. That’s very inspiring and I think that’s why it has done so well.

Simone: When I saw it I was like ‘I just want to be a part of this, to just be in there’ especially with scenes like Do You Love Me? where they’re just having a party and I remember watching the Mambo and thinking ‘My goodness, I want to do that!’ and now I get to do it.

Michael and Kira, how much pressure is there to get the legendary lift right?

Kira: It’s a huge pressure because everyone is waiting for that lift. It’s so iconic to the film, isn’t it? But when it comes to recreating it, I trust Michael. I trust that even if I fall he’ll have my back, but touch wood nothing’s gone wrong yet.

Michael: The fun bit is when we do the lift in the water, which is done by visual effects. That’s fun because it’s where you get to mess it up and go wrong.

What other challenges does the show present for you physically?

Kira: I’m a trained dancer, but I have to appear like I’m not. I have to reverse everything I’ve been taughtand make it look bad, without making it look like I’m trying to be bad.

Simone: The Mambo is quite challenging. It sort of comes out of nowhere and is really explosive and fast-paced.

Michael: It’s a very dance-heavy show, as you’d expect, but I don’t think I realised quite how dance-heavy it is until we started rehearsals. There are a few numbers back to back and you’re dripping with sweat, like ‘Oh man, we’ve got to go on for the next number’ before you’ve even got into the next costume. Physically it’s a tough show but that’s why we do it – we love that challenge.

And what are the emotional challenges?

Michael: All of our characters have a moment where we have to go to that place emotionally and it’s always a challenge, but as an actor I feel like those are the fun moments too because they’re the moments where you can be brave enough to go to that place and feel all those feelings. You trust the audience is there with you and your partner is with you on stage emotionally too.

Simone: I think most of us break down into tears at some point in the show and you don’t want to make it look fake so you have to make it as real as possible. When you come off stage after a scene like that, you just have to shake it off because you get really emotional. It’s a rollercoaster but it’s exciting.

Kira: You have to take yourself to a place that maybe you don’t want to go to on that day but you just have to let yourself go there. In the scene where Baby is talking to her dad there’s this big monologue and it’s quite emotional, then you have to come off from that scene and go into the next scene with a new mindset whereas in real life you’d have a few hours to sort yourself out.

The music is a massive part of the Dirty Dancing experience. Do you have a favourite song from the show?

Kira: Hungry Eyes. I love that song and always have. Before I even auditioned for the show it was my alarm in the morning!

Michael: For me it’s (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life. It was a massive hit and it’s such a popular song.But it’s my favourite because it comes right at the end of the show. It’s such a climactic moment where everyone is on stage dancing together and there’s a moment where Johnny comes through the crowd so there’s a real connection with the audience.

Simone: Mine’s Do You Love Me? Love the routine, love the song, and it feels free where it’s like a party scene with your mates. It’s really raw and fun.

Michael, this is your professional debut. How are you finding it?

Michael: It’s been indescribable really. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so privileged to be able to do it. It’s a great role, a great show, the cast have been amazing, the team have been fantastic, everyone’s helped me along on the journey and it feels like we’ve become a really strong team.

What are you all most looking forward to about taking the show on tour?

Kira: I love connecting with different audiences in different venues. We get excited moving around the country so we’re buzzing on stage and the audience feeds off that.

Michael: I think we’re really lucky to take the show on tour because we get an opening night every week. It also means you get to perform for a huge range of people and the fact you’re travelling together makes you a stronger company.

Simone: It keeps it exciting because you’re not within the same four walls for a long time. It feels new each time and for me, being from Australia, getting to travel the UK is awesome.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t be on the road without?

Michael: I’d have to say my NutriBullet…

Kira: [Laughs] Six-pack yawn!

Simone: For me, it’s my hubby. He’s coming on tour with me so he’ll be my taxi driver.

Kira: I like to have books with me. I do like reading and it’s nice to wind down after shows by taking yourself off to some imaginary place.

It sounds amazing! But don’t just take thier word for it, check out the trailer here!!! https://youtu.be/bgOVcCrZjoo

Goosebumps!!! Dirty dancing Tour will be arriving at The Palace Theatre Manchester from Mon 22nd April to Sat 27th April. Ticket and date information can be found on their website https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dirty-dancing-the-classic-story-on-stage/palace-theatre-manchester/

I will be watching on press night, so keep an eye open for the review article!

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Saturday Night Fever The Musical Review

Saturday Night Fever The Musical Review

The 70’s movie Saturday Night Fever conjures 3 images – The Bee Gees, the disco dancing and John Travolta! Now the stage version has 2 out of 3 of those, only with Casualty star Rich Winsor playing the cocky Italian American Tony Manero, and he does not disappoint!

Rich’s credentials all come into play within this musical, acting, singing and of course dancing! “It’s a dream role” he told me in our interview last week. You can read the rest of that interview here Interview with Richard Winsor AKA Tony Manero His Brooklyn accent never waivers, and he seems to have captured that spunky energy that Travolta emitted perfectly. Rich’s dancing scenes are where he really comes alive, with barrel turns, splits, and triple piroettes no less! Bill Deamer, the shows resident choreographer has done an amazing job with all the dance scenes and classic, stereotypical 70’s dance moves. Larger than life, furious and full of fun, theres no doubt you’ll be throwing your own shapes at home!

Richard Winsor (Tony) - Saturday Night Fever - UK Tour (c) Pamela Raith Photography_090

Fighting for Toni’s affections are the 2 main ladies – Stephanie Mangano, played by Kate Parr and Annette played by Anna Campkin. Straight away youre made aware of the girls differences, Annette being the obsessive, needy one firmly in the friend zone whilst Stephanie is the beautiful, talented, palying hard to get character. Her figue is enviable in some extremely high cut leotards that Jamie Lee Curtis would have been proud of! Its clear shes has extensive dance training, as her scenes, particlarly with Rich, were wonderful to watch and they share an exciting chemisty! Annette on the other hand comes alive whilst she sings, and belts out some fantasic songs, full of emotion.

A show like this would’nt amount to much if it wasnt for the huegly talented supporting cast and ensemble. All of them from Toni’s crew to the competitors in nightclub 2001 Odyssey were 100% commited to the choreography and routines, with so much high energy, they literally blew the roof off! The effect of dancing full out like that ripples into the audience and by the end of the show, not one audience member in the auditorium were sat in their seats!

To complete the package, the set and lighting team hit the nail on the head. They brought to stage a noisy, colourful downtown 70’s Brooklyn, including muticolured squared dance floor in the club and strategicly placed disco balls in the auditorium which transformed the whole place into one big discoteque! The live band were nestled between the high rise scaffolding, and the show’s very own Bee Gees, played by Edward Handoll, Alistair Hill and Matt Faul. No detail has been left out in this show, as even the Gibb brothers are kitted out in suitable fit and flare trousers and their trademark long hair! The boys appear to perform all the classic songs from the movie and their vocal talents are staggering. You’d swear you were listening to the movie soundtrack!

The Cast of Saturday Night Fever - UK Tour (c) Pamela Raith Photography_050

All in all, its a fantasic production which will have you up on your feet and reaching those soprano top notes like a pro! The language is a little on the fruity side, and there are some daek moments in the show, so I wouldn’t recomend it for younger members of the family. It’s currently on stage at the Palace Theatre Manchester now untill 26th Jan, so you’ll need to be quick to book tickets, however they are performing matinee showings most days to make up for such a whislte stop tour! Tickets and price information are available on the website https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/saturday-night-fever/palace-theatre-manchester/

So if you fancy a bit of Night Fever, stop your Jive Talking, put on your Boogie Shoes and experience this Disco Inferno of a show! It’d be a Tragedy to miss it!

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