The spine-tingling Dickens classic A Christmas Carol is on at Leeds Playhouse’s Pop-Up theatre, in association with SOYO Leeds.
This must-see Christmas production in Leeds has already been reviewed by Blog Up North's Mel Neale.
Here's what Mel thought:
The Leeds Playhouse Pop-Up theatre is delightfully intimate and a perfect performance space for this beloved classic. Our adventure begins as we locate this tucked away gem, when we discovered the entrance we were immediately transported on to a Dickensian street. The smell of mulled wine filled the air, and the audience hustled and bustled on the cobbled street or found a quaint little corner to sit in. On entering the theatre itself I was enchanted; The set design, lighting and costume were magical. As I sat in expectation for the performance to begin I realised I was a little nervous; like many of us, this story holds a special place in my heart and I am protective of it. However, the story was placed in very safe hands. Deborah McAndrew’s northern adaptation did us proud.
The stage opens in song as our vibrant ensemble bring the victorian setting to life. This talented chorus seamlessly morph from character to character as they weave the tapestry of the story. Throughout this telling there is a dark undertone, the fragility of life is never far away and the impish chorus of spirits are a reminder of the ever present afterlife. However, the excellent performances of Hull truck theatre and Amy Leach’s direction, meant that laughter, joy and hope are also ever present. In one moment we might be in the otherworldly enchantment of the ethereal ghost of Christmas past, in the next the tenderness of the Cratchit home, and in the next being entertained in musical hall style by the fabulous ghost of Christmas present.
This enchanting, funny and musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol cannot fail to get you in the Christmas spirit.
. With an extended run and over 17,000 tickets already sold, this much-loved Dickens tale is filled with Christmasspirit, joy and music and runs from 20 November 2018 to 19 January 2019.
The official Low-Down
The production's Tiny Tims are played by young local actors Lipalo Mokete from Leeds and Seb Smallwood from Harrogate. Cast following an open call-out in September which saw over 50 young people audition for the role, Lipalo and Seb have spent their half terms rehearsing with cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Robert Pickavance (Europe, Leeds Playhouse).
The full company are made up of the Leeds Playhouse Ensemble with Bob Cratchit being played by Darren Kuppan (Morocco in Europe, Leeds Playhouse) and Mrs Cratchit played by Jo Mousley (Katia in Europe, Leeds Playhouse).
Taking us through Scrooge’s dreams are the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, played by Tessa Parr (Adele in Europe, Leeds Playhouse) and Elexi Walker (Airplays, Leeds Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds) respectively.Joining them are Joe Alessi (Fret in Europe, Leeds Playhouse) who plays the infamous tormented ghost Marley; Susan Twist (Airplays, Leeds Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds) as Mrs Fezziwig; and Dan Parr (Berlin in Europe, Leeds Playhouse) as Fred.
A Christmas Carol is adapted by award-winning, West Yorkshire born playwright Deborah McAndrew, directed by Leeds Playhouse’s Associate Director Amy Leach (Road, Romeo & Juliet, Kes, The Night Before Christmas, Leeds Playhouse) and designed by award-winning Hayley Grindle (Road, Romeo & Juliet, Leeds Playhouse).
A Christmas Carol is a Leeds Playhouse production in association with Hull Truck Theatre.
A Christmas Carol, Leeds Playhouse Pop-Up theatre
Tue 20 Nov – Sat 19 Jan, Press Night Fri 23 Nov, 7pm
Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online leedsplayhouse.org.uk
Review by Janet Hale
Jersey Boys is a musical following the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from the 1960s through to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The music is amazing, from love songs to high energy numbers. The story was narrated by the different characters in the group, with the songs intermingled, there was also a lot of humour in it too. The set was very minimalistic but worked very well.
I didn't recognise any of the cast but it did not matter in fact I think I think it would have detracted from the musical. All the male members of the group were excellent singers and dancers.
The cast is as follows:
The role of Tommy De Vito is played by Peter Nash
Bob Gaudio is played by James Winter
Nick Massi is played by Karl James Wilson
Hank Majewski is played by Dan O'Brien
Norm Waxman is played by Joe Maxwell
Francine is played by Amy Thiroff
The background musicians were also very good. The only downside was a female group who sang one song, I didn't feel it was needed and their singing wasn't the best.
I would highly recommend this, a really good night out.
The official low-down
Leeds audiences can not take their eyes off the Jersey Boys as the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning show is on at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 20 November to Saturday 1 December 2018.
Based on the remarkable true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the musical charts the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, New Jersey group’s rise to stardom to become one of the most successful bands in pop history; by the age of 30, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had sold more than 175 million records worldwide and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Jersey Boys first opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 18 March 2008 and moved to the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2014. The Olivier Award-winning West End production closed on Sunday 26 March 2017 following nine amazing years. The first UK & Ireland Tour of Jersey Boys was a record-breaking success and ran for 18 months, from 4 September 2014 to 5 March 2016.
Winner of Broadway’s Tony, London’s Olivier and Australia’s Helpmann Awards for Best New Musical, Jersey Boys is the winner of 57 major awards worldwide and has been seen by over 25 million people.
Book online at leedsgrandtheatre.com or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700
140 YEARS OLD: LEEDS GRAND THEATRE CELEBRATES MAJOR MILESTONE
The press night of Jersey Boys also celebrated the anniversary of Leeds Grand Theatre - 140 years!
Leeds Grand Theatre turned 140-years-old on Sunday 18 November and celebrated this major milestone with a series of events spanning two weeks, including the ‘Oh What a Night’ a red carpet event in collaboration with hit Broadway and West End musical, Jersey Boys.
Built in 1878, reportedly following an off-the-cuff remark by Prince Albert that Leeds needed a good theatre as “nothing was more calculated to promote culture and raise the tone of the people”, Leeds Grand Theatre or The Grand Old Lady of Leeds (the staff universally refer to the Grand as ‘she’) is an intriguing mix of Romanesque and Victorian Gothic styles and a major milestone in Victorian design; famed for its sumptuous interior, plasterwork and other decorative features.
The brainchild of architect, George Corson, the build took 13 months to complete at a cost of £62,000. The overall scheme embraced six shops, Assembly Rooms, a Supper Room and large cellars; this magnificent Grade II* listed building was deemed ‘ahead of its time’ and once described as ‘probably the finest of its size in Britain’.
Opening night featured Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing starring the then actor-manager and playwright, Wilson Barrett (several function rooms within The Grand have since been named in his honour). Stars that have since trodden the boards include Julie Andrews, Ken Dodd, Bruce Forsyth, Elton John, Peter Kay, Morecambe and Wise, Laurence Olivier, Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele. In more recent years, The Grand has welcomed Fern Britton, Dara O’Briain, Jake Bugg, Andrew Flintoff, Nigel Havers, Jane McDonald and Sting.
Seating 1466 at full capacity, the auditorium provides a home for performances of all types, including its resident companies Opera North and Northern Ballet. Since its Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council supported ‘transformation’ in 2006, the theatre has hosted the best of the West End and other touring productions, including large musicals, drama from the National Theatre, comedians and music. The theatre provided a venue for the world premieres of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s, The Girls (2015), and Fat Friends The Musical (2017) which was penned by Leeds’s own award-winning writer, Kay Mellor.
Chris Blythe, CEO, says: “Leeds Grand Theatre is a stalwart in a city famed for its cultural offering; a jewel in its crown. It has welcomed an incredible number of diverse entertainers and shows over the past 140 years and will continue to do so for many years to come; we hope at least another 140!
“Thanks to the overwhelming and enduring support of the people of Leeds (not forgetting the significant financial support from Leeds City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund) the theatre has weathered substantial challenges throughout its 140 years. From a planned demolition in 1969 to make way for new office blocks to the discovery of a significant risk to the roof holding up the ornate plaster ceiling in the auditorium which almost closed the venue in 2016, the theatre remains true to the old motto that ‘the show must go on’. It is a tribute to the staff, both past and present that this ‘grand old lady’ of Leeds continues to bring entertainment and joy to the city and the region.”
Patrons of Leeds Grand are being encouraged to share their stories on social media tagging @grandtheatreLS1 and using the hashtag #LeedsGrandAt140 or by emailing email@example.com. The best stories will be shared on The Grand’s social platforms.
“We should all be so very proud of the Grand Theatre, right through the country, the world and of course here in Yorkshire.” Dickie Bird OBE.
By Rebecca Roversi
In 1947, up to two million people died due to the divide of British India. Until 7:30pm on Wednesday 7th November, when I watched Nick Ahad’s play “Partition”, I had no knowledge of this important aspect of history.
The Partition of India is something rarely spoken about. A violent and traumatic time for those involved that separated families and broke up communities. India was split into two nations, separating Hindus and Muslims. Religions that had been living harmoniously were suddenly enemies and this has had a ripple effect, which the generations of 2018 are still affected by.
Despite the deep and difficult nature of this topic, Nick Ahad has created an excellent balance of comedy, tragedy and education. Originally a radio play, Partition was brought to life in front of me in the Pop Up Theatre at Leeds Playhouse. Set in Leeds, it tells the story of Saima and Ranjit on their wedding day which threatens to be ruined due to their families feud, dating back to the partition and therefore, resisting their marriage.
Truthfully, as I entered the theatre and was confronted with microphones, music/script stands, a door, table, bench and a variety of props, I questioned what I was going to see. Was it just going to be actors talking their lines and bashing a few props about? Within the first minute I was hooked. A clever balance of radio play and performance, it went against conventional theatre and everything I would have shouted at my students for in my former drama teacher days. Actors in their own clothes, scripts and a stage manager on stage all breaking the illusion of theatre in a traditional sense questioned everything I know however I immediately connected with the characters and these elements added to the whole experience.
The cast, Balvinder Sopal, Mez Galeria, Luke Walker and Sushil Chudasama, immediately engaged the audience with their vocal talents and seamlessly multi-rolling. I was fascinated with the way Sushil switched between an 18, 30 something and 70 year old man. A live radio play is exposing for the actors and he used nothing but his vocal abilities and non-verbal communication to transform into these characters. His performance of Rajpal’s monologue, which I later learned was a true testimony from a man who had experienced Partition first hand, was powerful, very moving and almost brought a tear to my eye. It reminded me of my Grandad, who had served in the war and wouldn’t talk about his experiences thus showing that, despite different battles, different religions and different countries, there is so much common ground.
Balvinder Sopal also played three roles that were polar opposites. An elderly Asian lady struggling with her only daughter marrying a Sikh, Mandy, the nervous registrar holding her first ceremony and Denise, a brash, confident café owner. She simply used a blue scarf with strong physical and vocal expression to clearly portray the characters and I loved her character of Denise, a direct Yorkshire lass, bossing her colleague (played by Luke Walker) around and showing very little customer service! Denise brought a drop of humour to the play when it was getting deep or intense.
The creation of Radio Drama is always something that has fascinated me so to see stage manager Lucy Bradford on stage, jiggling keys, clattering bowls and spoons and, most hilariously, waving some rubber gloves about, was interesting and added a level of comedy to the performance. In all honesty, the performance by the actors was so engaging that, as an audience member, you forgot about the scripts, microphones and other elements that usually you wouldn’t see. Clever lighting created split scenes and the use of spot indicated when Saima or Amina were talking to their dad/husband who had passed away. These moments brought the mother and daughter together, despite being apart physically and emotionally.
I have spent 12 years teaching students Drama and watched many theatrical performances over the years, Partition is a piece I will remember for a long time. The education it gave me had a deeper impact on me and, as someone who loves the full theatrical experience of set, lighting, costume etc. it took me out of my comfort zone and I enjoyed it so much because of that fact.
Partition is going on a schools tour and I know the response will be fantastic.
Despite studying the World Wars in the curriculum, the Partition is nowhere to be seen and such an important part of history. I believe students will connect with Nick Ahad’s story and the characters, as I did, which will make it real and give facts and figures a face. This play could have a real impact on the younger generations; opening them up to history, culture and relationships they haven’t experience before. A modern, thought provoking, funny piece of theatre which will stick in the audiences mind for years to come.
11/14/2018 0 Comments
By Panni Loh
Step back in time to the mysterious world of Professor Victoria B Darcy on Ecclesall Road.
Inside is a botanical delight of blossom overhead, with cocktails and desserts topped with edible flora.
Succulent frosted blackberries donned my ‘hedgerow’ cooler which was refreshing with its blend of lavender, apple and lemon syrups.
Meanwhile we were treated to a botanical crown by Erin and Vicky from Swallows and Damsons.
Dropping by with their fragrant foliage and flower stems we were all soon suitably crowned to sample the botanical feast that awaited us.
A botanical feast
Roasted chicken on a bed of chickpeas, wilted spinach and chorizo melted in the mouth with fresh pesto to add a tang. Fish in poppyseed batter with fries and drinks. Cocktails even came with deserts, but as driving i chose the elderflower pannacotta with sugar cube shaped home shortbread.
The staff were very helpful and full of botanical knowledge to help with selection making. The menu also catered for vegetarians and with tasty food and the curious botanical works I’ll be sure to go back again.
Visit The Lost and Found in Sheffield, at the following address:
516 Ecclesall Road,
Or for more information, go to: https://the-lostandfound.co.uk/sheffield
By Panni Loh
I was invited to review renowned York restaurant The Star Inn The City with my daughter and grand-children during the half-term holidays.
We were treated to canapés and drinks whilst the children tested out the new kids menu aka The Startlets Menu.
Entering The Star Inn the City, York City Centre
The magic started whilst walking under an archway in the city walls to find The Star Inn The City sitting proudly by the river.
My first impression was that care had been taken with each table decorated with a unique ornamental gourd.
I loved the prawn cocktail lettuce boats and select artisan breads.
My favourite part was the dessert, the bramble mousse topped with honey and pumpkin seed granola-so nice to have such a seasonal dish from fruits of autumn.
Here's how my grand-children and daughter got on with their food:
It was a special time in such a fantastic space with glass walls allowing you to keep cosy but feel part of the autumn river and park scene.
After being well looked after by friendly staff we all had a lovely sunny walk along the river before we headed over the park to see St. Mary’s Abbey ruins.
The Star Inn The City is not just beautiful inside but it’s set in a very pretty natural setting close to York’s amazing historical sites.
A huge thank you to, The Star Inn The City, Kate from Avocado Events and Ben from York on a Fork for hosting. It was great to meet Orange Kite First Aid, Harrogate Mama, Helpful Mum, York Mumbler, Families Online, Little Vikings and everyone else. My Grandchildren loved using the Doddle Cutlery too!
By Nicola of Mind Garbage blog
First things first, for anyone who doesn’t know what Motown the Musical is, here is the official description of the show.
With just $800 borrowed from his family Berry Gordy founded Motown Records and launched the careers of legendary artists including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Temptations, and many more.
This is the next chapter in Motown’s incredible history and is an experience you’ll never forget. Featuring over 50 classic hits including My Girl, What's Going On, Dancing in the Street, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Ain't No Mountain High Enough.
Motown The Musical tells the thrilling tale of the man who broke barriers, fought against the odds to create something more than a record label. Discover the story behind Motown, the personal relationships, the professional struggles, and - of course - the music that made history, defined the sound of a generation and got the whole world moving to the same beat.
Not only is this an amazing expression of a particularly great time for music, it is also a great story that is worth telling, and one that until tonight I was mostly unaware of. A story about how music can overcome many barriers and bring people together, and with the hard work of the artists, and Berry Gordy Motown records managed to do just that.
Before I saw the show I wasn’t sure if the story was going to be very present or whether it would just be a bunch of motown classics masquerading as a musical, but there is no doubt that the plot of the show is very much present and just as (if not more) powerful than the music.
There are 2 main storylines intertwined throughout the show, the main one is of course that of Berry Gordy building Motown Records and all of the drama that comes along with it, the second is his relationship with Diana Ross. Both of these storylines of course run alongside each other wonderfully. But the real underlying theme is so evident at the end of the show that no one could possibly doubt that love is really what it was about all along. Their love for each other, their love for the music, and their love for the man who brought them all together.
I’d like to be able to pick one stand out star of the show to tell you about, but the truth is that the entire cast work together and compliment each other so well, that every single one of them shines while they are on stage. I wasn’t sure whether or not they would all be able to fill the big shoes of the legends that they were playing, but they all managed to do an exceptional job.
One character in particular however did stand out to me as adding an extra level of heart and light relief to the show and that was Smokey Robinson played by Nathan Lewis, if found the character to be effortlessly charming and funny in a very endearing way.
Berry Gordy was played Edward Baruwa who had an incredibly commanding presence on the stage, which was perfectly complemented by the wonder that was Karis Anderson as Diana Ross. The two worked together extremely well and had excellent chemistry on stage.
As well as the vocals, the music itself was amazing, and the sets were absolutely stunning. Hats off the entire team working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring to life the legacy of an amazing man in such a terrific way. And especially the director Charles Randolph-Wright who did a magnificent job with this show.
Now, the official description of the show says it is a thrilling tale, and there can be absolutely no doubt that it is, however, what makes the show even more thrilling is the feeling in the audience as the show goes on. At the beginning it felt like sitting down to any other show in the theatre, exciting of course, but not any more extraordinary than any other time I’ve been.
I can pinpoint the moment that the feeling in the audience changed, the energy increased, and it went from feeling like a musical, to feeling like something I haven’t really experienced before. That moment was during Dancing in the Street, that was when the I heard the first person singing along, and saw the first people dancing in their chairs.
From that point on the atmosphere was something completely different, people were clapping along to the hits, dancing and singing along as well. It really felt like rather than being in a theatre in Leeds watching a musical, we were all in the crowd at a genuine Motown music show. It was an exciting thing to be a part of. By the end, the entire crowd was on it’s feet dancing and singing along, it was a standing ovation of a completely different sort.
Whether you are a fan of Motown, a fan of theatre, a fan of music in general, or simply want a night of being transported to another time and place, then I would highly recommend that you go and see this show. You won’t be disappointed.
The show is running at Leeds Grand Theatre until the 17th November and is selling out fast, if you want to see this and other phenomenal shows then tickets are available at www.leedsgrandtheatre.com
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