Review | Titanic the Musical | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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Taking the story of a disaster that influenced and changed history, Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s award-winning score and book tackles the story from the creation of the boat to the memorial of the fallen passengers. In two and a half hours, the show takes the audience on the journey and with impressive staging and direction by Thom Southerland makes the audience feel like they are onboard the ship and involved in the action too.

Opening with a lavish and exciting “How Did They Build Titanic?” as the different classes arrive in Southampton to depart on the “dream ship” and “floating city”. Throughout the whole production, the theme of dreams is evident with every character – whether it’s dreaming of being in a higher class, the dream marrying your one true love or getting a job and living a new life in America. Regardless of class, the characters all have their hopes and that powers through the show.

While the story could is a sad one, Yeston and Stone find the comedy and highs in the stories. Adding the comic element to the story is the larger than life and first-class wannabe Second Class passenger Alice Beane, played by Claire Machin. An impressive and quickly worded “First Class Roster” introduces the audience to the First Class passengers, informing their names and achievements.

The lower class steal the show, especially Victoria Serra as Kate McGowan, who is the leading force in the lower class. Leaving Ireland due to an unexpected pregnancy, Kate tries to create a better future for her unborn baby by migrating to America. Serra’s clear and loud voice is tremendous in “Lady’s Maid.”

A strong performance from Niall Sheehy as Frederick Barrett who powerfully sings “Barrett’s Song.” Using some clever choreography by Cressida Carre and supported by the male ensemble, the audience is quickly taken below decks to the boiler room where they work tirelessly to try and make the ship sail faster. I would like to applaud Howard Hudson with a creative and compelling lighting design throughout the show.

An excellent production that is slick and left me speechless. You must see this show this year.

Titanic the Musical is playing at Salford Quay’s Lowry Theatre until Saturday, May 12th, and information and tickets can be found here.

Review | The Jungle Book | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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Who’d have thought that a ceiling of ladders and a set that looks like a school gym climbing frame would transform the Lowry stage into a jungle filled with adventure and excitement!

This brand new musical version of Kipling’s classic tale is a breath of fresh air, with an emphasis on acceptance, diversity and the constant reminder that “we all live in the same jungle” reminds the audience that everyone should be accepted, even if they look a bit different.

When people say The Jungle Book, most people think about the Disney cartoon. With brand new songs and script, the story is more focused on the original book, but so much better.

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This show isn’t just a children’s show; there are plenty of jokes for the adults too (including a lot of references to avocado on toast!). The direction by Max Webster and the choreography by Lizzi Gee is smart with the use of puppets and how the actors play the different animals.

The fact that Mowgli (played by Keziah Joseph) is never referred to as a girl or a boy, and just as a man-cub is lovely. A highlight of the show and a recurring motif in the show is Mowgli’s song “No one,” she sings, “will tell me who I am” strengthens Mowgli’s character and place in the jungle.

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Mowgli has “The perfect modern family!” with a panther and bear as parents. Deborah Oyelade’s fierce performance as strong feminist “black panther” Bagheera, who stalks around the stage with sass, and Dyfrig Morris’ bumpkin-like Balloo.

Lloyd Gorman’s Shere Khan is a mixture of Rum Tum Tugger and Scar but really rocks the Elvis-style jumpsuit. A comical performance that left the audience booing along as Gorman entered for his bow.

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With choreography and directions nodding towards Lion King, the show is a marvel and sublime piece of theatre. A West End transfer must be considered!

The Jungle Book is showing at Salford Quay’s the Lowry until Sunday, May 6th, and information and tickets can be booked here.

Review | Little Mermaid | Salford Quays’ The Lowry

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Through spectacular circus and spellbinding original folk songs, this much loved fable is re-imagined for the whole family.

When you think of The Little Mermaid, you usually think of the Disney film with the classic hits such as ‘Under the Sea‘ and ‘Part of Your World‘ – you don’t think about a gymnastic spectacular that is Metta Theatre‘s circus inspired show!

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To just call these performers gymnasts wouldn’t do them justice – with only seven of them, they juggle multiple roles, play the soundtrack live on stage, sing, act, dance and even counterweighted the trapeze ropes themselves off stage. A truly talented cast.

Cast includes: Rosie Rowlands, Tilly Lee-Kronick, Rosalind Ford, Aelfwyn Shipton, Roo Jenkyn-Jones, Josh Frazer and Matt Knight.

With folk songs, the classic tale is redesigned to be enjoyed by the whole family. Leaving the audience audibly gasping as the Prince leaps into the sea!

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A particular highlight of the show was the Seawitch (usually known as Ursula) and the use of a cyr wheel and how she traveled around the stage.

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With gorgeous music and clever routines, the cast are very talented and entertain all the audience.

Little Mermaid is playing at The Lowry until Saturday April 14th, tickets and information can be found here.

Review | The Game of Love and Chai | The Lowry

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Kamala wants her daughter Rani to marry successful but emotionally awkward businessman Raj. Rani bristles at going down the conventional route and arranges a test for Raj. She convinces her cousin Sita to swap places and pretend to be the suitable bride – unaware that Raj has come up with the same scheme with his driver, Nitin!

With The Game of Love and Chai, Nigel Planer successfully dovetails a classical Marivaux farce with Bollywood song and dance to create a surprisingly successful hybrid.

With lavish stock characters arranging marriages left right and centre, the themes are featured predominately in both genres – Planer’s own silly sense of humour takes the comedy and play into the 21st century.

Scene from The Game of Love and Chai at The Lowry, Salford Quays. Photo: Simon Annand

Following a classic farce story line, a wealthy mother is trying to convince her single minded daughter Rani to marry businessman Raj. Rani, however, has other ideas about marriage, and wants to see if Raj will love her for who she is.

As chaos takes over the stage, Jatinder Verma’s direction ensures that no matter how crazy and wild the action gets, the storytelling never loses your interest and understanding – aided by stop moments, where the characters freeze the action and explain their feelings and thoughts to the audience.

Mixed with some lavish Bollywood music and dance routines, the costumes are traditional, colourful and beautiful and the set brings the culture of India to England.

Sharon Singh nails the headstrong Rani with a comic flare, but captures the romantic and heart-warming moment when she realises she’s in love with the hopelessly romantic and out-of-touch-with-live Adam Samuel-Bal’s Raj.

Strong and comic performances from all the cast, but a little cheeky shining star was Ronny Jhutti as the cab driver Nitin. Getting a battering from his boss, Verma’s use of commedia dell’arte adds a slapstick element to the show, and Jhutti plays this out very well.

Information about the show and how to book tickets can be found here.