THEATRE

Ken Ford

THEATRE VISITS 2015

THEATRE

FOR ALL INFORMATION PRE-2015 VISIT:

I made fewer visits to the theatre in 2015 than in recent years but the productions I saw were generally of a very high standard.

During a week's visit to London in February I saw six shows, the most enjoyable of which was Sunny Afternoon - the Kinks musical. We sat at a table at the foot of the stage with a free bottle of wine thrown in! Beautiful was also excellent - Katie Brayben's performance as Carole King was amazing. Made in Dagenham didn't live up to my expectations and I wasn't surprised when it closed not long after. At the Landor I thoroughly enjoyed She Loves Me which I hadn't seen since the original London production in 1964.

In the summer I fulfilled a long held ambition to spend a week in Pitcochry for the Theatre Festival. It is a wonderful theatre in an idylic setting and to see the same highly talented actors perform in six very different shows was a delight. The highlight was A Little Night Music in which some of the company played instruments and also sang - sometimes at the same time.

My favourite performance was Michael Ball's portrayal of Mack Sennett in Mack & Mabel at Manchester Opera House. In 1985 I saw him there in his first principal role in The Pirates of Penzance and knew then he was destined for stardom.

I have again enjoyed going to live relays at the cinema and was particularly impressed by Man and Superman from the National Theatre.

I visited two theatres for the first time: Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Leys Great Hall in Cambridge (where my granddaughter, Sissy, brought the house down with her rendition of Bang Bang). Also, it was my first visit to the Noel Coward and the Harold Pinter theatres since their names changed from Albery and Comedy.

 

THEATRE VISITS 2016

I only had one visit to London this year and that was to see my granddaughter, Sissy, in a National Youth Music Theatre production of a new musical entitled Battle of Boat - very well produced and acted by the young cast.

A highlight for me was going over to Scarborough in the summer to see a brilliant production of The World Goes Round which I last saw about 20 years ago.

For the second successive year I went to Pitlochry for a week and saw seven shows at the Festival Theatre. The Ayckbourn trilogy was very well done, especially Game Plan. Carousel was very innovative and superbly performed.The weakest was Thark which has not stood the test of time .

My favourite performances of the year were by Michael Xavier and Gina Beck in Showboat at Sheffield Crucible. The show has some great numbers and the staging on the thrust stage worked very well.

Five productions seen at Manchester's Royal Exchange were a bit of a mixed bunch, the best of which was Into the Woods and the weirdest (in a nice way), All I Want is One Night. Sweet Charity got rave reviews but not from me!

Also varied were the live relays at the cinema. From NTLive, No Man's Land was terrific but As You Like It was a weak production.

On the amateur front, Blackburn Drama Club's The Graduate was a wonderful production with an outstanding cast. Sister Act was the musical choice of another local society and although it was well performed I was not impressed with the show itself.

I loved An Audience with Lesley Garrett, not least because we went to the same school and I was able to talk to her about it.

Two small scale touring productions put on very entertaining evenings here in Blackburn. They were Broadway and Beyond and The Simon and Garfunkel Story.

It is many years since I last went to a circus but I took my granddaughter, Dixie, to Blackpool Tower Circus in the summer and thoroughly enjoyed some thrilling acts.

 

PRODUCTION

THEATRE

PLACE

RATING

She Loves Me

Landor

London

* * * *

Made in Dagenham

Adelphi

London

* * *

Sunny Afternoon

Harold Pinter

London

* * * * *

Woman on the Verge

Playhouse

London

* * * *

Shakespeare in Love

Noel Coward

London

* * * *

Beautiful

Aldwich

London

* * * * *

Love's Labour's Won

RSC via Vue

Stratford-upon-Avon

* * * * *

Humble Boy

Empire

Blackburn

* * *

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Olivier via Vue

London

* * * * *

Swan Lake

ROH via Vue

London

* * * *

Witches of Eastwick

Charter

Preston

* * *

South Pacific

Empire

Blackburn

* * * * *

Man and Superman

Olivier via Vue

London

* * * * *

Halle Orchestra

King George's

Blackburn

* * * *

Kids at Bodywork

Leys Great Hall

Cambridge

* * * *

Barnum

Lowry Lyric

Salford

* * * * *

Improbable Fiction

Festival

Pitlochry

* * * * *

The Importance of Being Ernest

Festival

Pitlochry

* * * *

The Lady in the Van

Festival

Pitlochry

* * * *

Pyrenees

Festival

Pitlochry

* * * * *

Home and Beauty

Festival

Pitlochry

* * *

A Little Night Music

Festival

Pitlochry

* * * * *

The Beaux' Stratagem

Olivier via Vue

London

* * * *

You're Never Too Old

Empire

Blackburn

* * *

Mack & Mabel

Opera House

Manchester

* * * *

PRODUCTION

THEATRE

PLACE

RATING

Into the Woods

Royal Exchange

Manchester

****

Show Boat

Crucible

Sheffield

*****

Rhapsody/Two Pigeons

ROH via Vue

Blackburn

****

Les Liasons Dangereuses

Donmar via Vue

Blackburn

***

As You Like It

National via Vue

Blackburn

**

If I Were You

Empire

Blackburn

****

Husbands and Sons

Royal Exchange

Manchester

***

Sister Act

Empire

Blackburn

**

The Graduate

Empire

Blackburn

*****

The Night Watch

Royal Exchange

Manchester

***

The Simon and Garfunkel Story

Empire

Blackburn

****

RLPO

King George's Hall

Blackburn

****

All I Want is One Night

Royal Exchange

Manchester

***

Broadway and Beyond

Empire

Blackburn

****

Circus

Tower

Blackpool

****

Battle of Boat

Rose

Kingston

****

The World Goes Round

Stephen Joseph

Scarborough

*****

Thark

Festival

Pitlochry

**

Game Plan

Festival

Pitlochry

*****

Flat Spin

Festival

Pitlochry

****

Role Play

Festival

Pitlochry

****

This Happy Breed

Festival

Pitlochry

***

Carousel

Festival

Pitlochry

*****

Hard Times

Festival

Pitlochry

***

A View from the Bridge

Empire

Blackburn

****

Audience with Lesley Garrett

Coliseum

Oldham

****

Solid Gold Rock'n'Roll Show

Guild Hall

Preston

****

No Mans Land

National via Vue

Blackburn

*****

Sweet Charity

Royal Exchange

Manchester

***