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Review | The Last Ship | The Lowry, Salford Quays

Review | The Last Ship | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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Growing up in a house where the Police records were played on repeat, the style of Sting’s writing is one I am very familiar with. The Last Ship certainly didn’t disappoint with this.

After a successful UK tour, Sting’s new musical The Last Ship is a creative and emotional piece of art.

After leaving his life in a community of shipbuilders in Newcastle, the show’s a tribute to Sting’s own life. Gideon Fletcher represents Sting, who sails away in the navy. Fast forward 17 years, where Gideon finally returns home to find the town in a battle against the authority about the closure and fall of the shipping industry.

After leaving his love Meg behind, Gideon attempts to woo her on Gideon’s return only to find out that he has a daughter, Ellie.

Taking on the challenging role of Gideon with high expectations, ex-Corrie star Richard Fleeshman shines on stage and is a beautiful storyteller.

At moments throughout the show, Flesshman’s voice might remind you that of Sting’s, hitting the lower sections of the songs with gravitas and emotion, while remaining a bit raw.

Even though it’s set back in the 1980s, some of the issues and themes within the show are apparent in today’s society, which makes it all the more intense to watch.

I have to emphasise the fantastic lighting and projection designed by Matt Daw that takes the audience from the local pub to actually on the ship itself. Daw’s and Rob Mathes’ orchestrations are simple yet very effective in changing the scenes quickly.

The show is a beautiful piece of work, and it could be the next ‘Billy Elliot‘ – a show of solidarity and community spirit.

The Last Ship is at the Lowry until Saturday 7th July and tickets can be found here.

Review | Northern Ballet’s Jane Eyre | The Lowry, Salford Quays

Review | Northern Ballet’s Jane Eyre | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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The classic and much-loved novel is transformed into a beautiful ballet and relives the story through creative and modern storytelling.

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a classic love story, with forbidden love and passion and it is perfect for the stage. Cathy Marston’s choreography and direction are modern and inventive.

The opening scene is where Jane is fleeing in the moors, haunted by ethereal men who are parts of her imagination. Starting the show halfway through, where Jane is rescued and has nightmare visions of her past was powerful. As her nightmares become a reality, we are taken back to the funeral of Jane’s parents and when she is a child.

Ayami Miyata’s young Jane is energetic and lively, and the movements emphasises her need to be free and her frustration. After her power struggle with the dismissive Aunt, Jane is sent away to Lowood Institution for Girls. The repetitive and rigid movements show how they live a life of deprivation and belittlement.

The Pas de Deux between Jane and her friend Helen Burns is a celebration of friendship and trust – the use of balances and lifts signifies their trust and loyalty in one another.

As Jane grows up and leaves Lowood to become the tutor of Adele at Thornfield, Jane’s world is turned upside down by the dark and handsome Rochester, with feelings she has never felt before but tries to hide. Abigail Prudames’ performance as Jane is graceful, elegant and gains the audience’s empathy and love.

Mlindi Kulashe’s performance as the strong and powerful Rochester is beautiful – his presence and expression through Marston’s choreography even have Rochester’s sarcastic and dark humour in it.

The use of the D-Men, who are the fragments of Jane’s imagination and also almost the Death-Men are haunting and slick.

This piece left me breathless, and I cannot pick out my favourite moment, because throughout the show I was on the edge of my seat. Prepare to be taken on a journey with the characters, because you don’t want to miss this mastermind piece of art.

Jane Eyre is playing at Salford Quay’s The Lowry until Saturday 9th June. Tickets and information can be found here.

Review | The Snail and the Whale | The Lowry, Salford Quays

Review | The Snail and the Whale | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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After recent success in the UK and international tours of “The Gruffalo” and inspired by the bestselling book ‘The Snail and the Whale’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Tall Stories have adapted the well-loved novel into a bold and beautiful musical stage production.

Join the story as a tiny brave snail hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale.

The story is seen through the eyes of a very adventurous young girl, as her seafaring father reads her favourite bedtime story. This production was influenced by the work of Storybook Soldiers, who help British military personnel serving abroad to record bedtime story CDs for their children back home.

Creating the soundscape and effects just by using a viola, Rachel Benson creatively creates seagull calls, snark-infested water and backing music to accompany the new sea shanties.

With comedy for both the children and parents alike, this production is perfect for all the family.

One of the highlights of the show was when the Dad ( played by Tim Hibberd) turned the daughter’s (played by Hannah Miller)’s bedroom furniture into the whale.

Toby Mitchell’s direction and Isla Shaw’s design work hand in hand to create a unique piece of theatre.

The Snail and the Whale is playing at The Lowry until Sunday 3rd June. Information and tickets can be found here.

Review | Titanic the Musical | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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

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.