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Tag: theatre review

Dirty Dancing on Stage | Review

Dirty Dancing on Stage | Review

The 1987 box office hit Dirty Dancing is one of the most popular, classic films of all time, thats why I included it in my list of top dance movies you can read about here http://danceniche.com/2017/12/28/top-dance-movies-you-need-to-watch/ The film also includes one of the most iconic dance scenes, replicated at weddings everywhere! The musical version first hit stages in 2006, and became the fastest ever selling west end show! After productions being rolled out world wide, the current adaptation came back to UK soil in 2011, with this tour starting in September 2018.

Right from the offset, you know you’re in for a real treat of an evening! The clever staging of Kellerman’s is almost like an exact replica, instantly recognizable, including other focal points like the wooden stairs leading up to Jonny’s chalet, the front of his black Chevrolet, and the infamous stage inside the main house.

The music transports you straight away, and although songs in their own right, they are now interwoven with the movie. I have to say, this stage production is just like watching the movie itself. Casting choices, costumes, actors mannerisms are all a perfect homage to the film. Classic one liners like “I carried a watermelon” are all been included for you to mime along with. That being said, there are some wonderful added scenes to pad out sections of story telling that just wouldn’t correlate on stage, and some comedy moments thrown in for good measure!

Kira Malou plays Baby, and is one such character who certainly adds to the laughs! The scenes where she intersects the staff party and has her first taste of saucy swaying is hilarious. Kira’s facial expressions, gawky awkwardness and over the top stiff hip movements have the audience in hysterics! It’s plain to see she is an able dancer, but to portray a character as having no dance experience at all is highly commendable.

Jonny is played by Michael O’Reilly and with his honed physique, snake hips and pants so tight they might as well have been spray painted on, embodies the late, great, Patrick Swayze. It’s undeniable that Swayze made the role his own, and no one could ever recreate that magic, but Michael did an honorable job, and I could think of no one better for filling those boots. The brooding arrogance he brings to the role is offset only by the puppy dog eyes he makes at Baby, making every girl in the auditorium wishing they could trade places with her!

Simone Covele, with her gazelle like legs that seem to go on forever is the perfect choice to play Penny, and boy, does she know how to use those legs! Not only do her legs seemily go up to her ears, but they go beyond that when she unleashes a kick or extension, and with such explosion, , implores gasps of amazement!

The level of dance technique is outstanding. Multiple pirouettes, acrobatics and death defying lifts keep the audience yearning for more! The energy from every single member of cast and ensemble really helps to give the show a buzz that never comes down! The iconic dance scenes from the film are all present on stage, including ‘spaghetti arms’ ‘lover boy’ and THAT LIFT!!!! Michael lifts Kira, but together in that moment they lift the roof off with the rraction from the audience. It really is a special moment and one I have never experienced before!!

Favorite moments include the lake scene which is cleverly devised with set, lighting and sound and not without its own injection of humour, the end dance scene with cast and audience in a state of euphoric ecstasy, and the band keeping the party atmosphere going well after the finale. There are a few, let’s say ‘cheeky’ moments from Michael, lovers doing what lovers do, and rather raunchy dance moments that might prove a little too informative for younger members of the audience, amd it does carry an age guidance of 12+, but on the whole, the show is wonderfullyand thoroughly entertaining!

Dirty Dancing – the classic story on stage – is currently showing at The Palace Theatre Manchester untill Saturday 27th April, tickets can be purchased here https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dirty-dancing-the-classic-story-on-stage/palace-theatre-manchester/ It moves on to Guilford, before returning up north and across the Mersey to the Liverpool Empire 6th-11th May, and continues it’s tour, ending in August. Full details of dates and locations cam be found on the official website https://dirtydancingontour.com/ .

This is definitely one show you do not want to miss, and with ticket proces starting at just £13, it’s an absolute steal!!! I can guarantee you’ll be doing salsa in your seat and cha cha to the car!

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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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Q&A with Cameron Ball Cast Member of The Snowman Stage Production

Q&A with Cameron Ball Cast Member of The Snowman Stage Production

There are a number of things that have become quintessential to a typical Bristish Christmas, pigs in blankets, bad festive jumpers, and The Snowman animation on the tv on Christmas Eve.
Since it’s tv debut in 1982, the story of The Snowman, written by Ramond Briggs published in 1978, has become a huge part of many people’s Christmas tradition. And so, it seems, has the stage production!

Originally staged by the Manchester Contact Theatre back in 1986, it now resides at sadlers Wells Theatre, and has been performed there every year since 1999.
Cameron Ball, one of the cast members, answered some of our questions on what it’s like being part of something so special and what makes it’s so magical.
DN. The original story of Snowman is 40 years old and animated version almost 35. How does it feel to be part of what has become a national treasure?

CB. This is my fifth year performing in The Snowman, both in the title role and more recently in other roles. I feel very fortunate to be part of what is such a highlight of the Christmas season for many families. The story is timeless and always captures the imagination of the children who watch both the cartoon and stage version (now in its 21st year). I’m sure it will be around for another 35 years! Many of the cast and crew return to the show over the years as it’s such a unique production to be part of. This is my fifth time with the show – and it feels like coming back to a family! The show schedule is quite intense so you quickly form bonds with the cast and crew.

DN. Did you watch it as a child?

CB. I’m originally from Australia so the story and cartoon wasn’t a huge part of my childhood, but you quickly realise how much of an institution it is here. Now I make sure I don’t miss it every Christmas!

DN. How does the music make you feel?

CB. Howard Blake’s music is a joy to dance to. There is such a variety of styles and keeps things very interesting. The score is truly made for dance – it feels at once fresh and yet familiar, which is the genius of it I think. Of course, ‘Walking in the Air’ is a classic – there’s always a surge of adrenaline when it plays as you know the story is reaching a climactic moment!
DN. There are no words in this production, the whole story is told through movement. How does that change the way you dance in this production compared to others?

CB. As the cartoon and stage production use no spoken word, it has true international appeal. It means some characterisation needs to be bigger, and the mime and physical theatre is employed throughout. It’s a testament to Bill Alexander’s original direction, and the fabulous team that restage the show each year, that the story is told so vividly even without the spoken word.

DN. What is your dance background?

CB. I trained extensively in ballet, and in musical theatre. The ballet training has been very useful for The Snowman as Robert North’s choreography is rooted in ballet.

My career has mainly been in musical theatre both in the West End and internationally, as well as performing in various dance productions at The Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Sadler’s Wells and others.

DN. How did you prepare for the audition?

CB. The audition is a mix of ballet, contemporary dance and pas de deux work. Robert North’s style is quite particular so you have to be able to pick this up quickly. I familiarised myself with the story and the character, but the joy (or curse?) of auditioning is you never truly know what to expect! I always go to auditions with a positive attitude and an open mind, as every experience is different.

DN. How long are you in rehearsals before staging the show?

CB. The rehearsal schedule is tight – around three weeks. There is a lot to rehearse as we have three boys who share the role, who each need a fair amount of time, and there are major technical wonders like flying to perfect! The show is a well-oiled machine though – the team pull together and make sure everything is ready for the first performance.
DN. How much work goes into the special effects such as the flying scenes and the snow?

CB. I’m not giving any of the magic away, but let’s just say there are a whole team of people backstage ensuring the flying goes smoothly as it’s no small task! When The Snowman and the boy first take flight, there are always gasps of wonderment from the audience which is really exciting.The snow is a combination of lighting effects and real falling white powder. If you’re lucky you might get snowed on in the audience too!

DN. What reaction do you get from the younger members of audience?

CB. The show is a fantastic introduction to theatre as it encourages our younger audiences to experience a wide range of emotional responses: joy, sadness, suspense, humour, and a bit of magic. The way the story is told is very visual, and it moves along at a rapid pace, so it holds the attention of the children watching. The presence of familiar characters like woodland animals, a feisty cat, toy soldiers and ballerinas, and maybe even a visit from Santa Claus and his reindeer, means there is something for every child.

DN. Finally, what is on your list from Father Christmas this year?

CB. The good thing about performing in The Snowman is you can eat whatever you like over the festive season and stay in decent shape. I’m mostly looking forward to family time over the season, and some of my favourite sweet treats from my home land of Australia would be very welcome!

The Snowman is currently showing at sadlers Wells Theatre until 6th January. You can find dates and ticket information on their website https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2018/the-snowman/
Watch out for my review article of the production next week for an in depth view of the production and opinions from the youngest reviewers at Dance Niche, my children!
*Special thanks goes to Saddlers Wells, Cameron Ball for answering our questions and photographers Simon Kelski for the headshot and Tristram Kenton for production shot*
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