Showing posts with label Performing Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Performing Arts. Show all posts

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Annie the Musical at Storyhouse, Chester - A Review

Annie was such an iconic film from my childhood and I have so many memories of watching the video repeatedly with my cousins, whilst making up our own dance routines to 'Hard Knock Life'.  It is a movie that I have never tired of and still watch regularly with my own children. Although the film was based on the Broadway Musical (and the comic book Little Orphan Annie before it), it is certainly the screen adaptation that I am most familiar with. As a result, I had mixed feelings of intrigue and excitement, as to whether the stage version could live up to my expectations -  well you can bet your bottom dollar that Annie the Musical absolutely did!

Annie the Musical tells the tale of a young red haired girl, who dreams of finding her parents and enjoying a life outside of the orphanage. Her determined attitude and loveable charm, lead to her finding a home with billionaire Mr Warbucks, though her quest to find her real parents takes a sad turn when she finds out they have sadly passed away. However, Annie certainly finds happiness in the end with her unexpected father figure Daddy Warbucks, along with his assistant Grace Farrell firmly by her side.

As soon as the show commenced, there was energy in abundance and we were quickly introduced to the fiesty and strong-willed attitude of the orphans. They presented an enjoyable rendition of 'Hard Knock Life' that immediately drew you into the performance and it was clear from the start that we were in for an enjoyable evening of entertainment. The younger stars of the show most certainly shine throughout, in what is an undeniable demonstration of exceptional young talent.

Annie was played by Ava Smith (one of three Annie's on the tour), who was magnificent in the starring role. She is clearly a child with extraordinary talent and this was undoubtedly obvious every single moment that she was on the stage. I particularly enjoyed the performance of  'I Don't Need Anything But You', where clever and well thought out choreography brought together a wonderful routine, with both Annie and the senior cast members.


I felt that the show was well paced and there was never a dull moment as we were taken from one showstopper to the next, with an impressive 30's flair. The set and costumes were all in keeping with the era and there has clearly been a great attention to detail in the wardrobe department, to ensure that the outfits matched both the story and time period that they were representing.

There was a static jigsaw themed surrounding which never changed throughout the show, but instead the sets and props would be moved and introduced on to the stage, which worked really well. I also felt that this was complimented skillfully, by the lighting effects that illuminated the sets and highlighted the characters superbly.

Prior to the show, I was initially unsure as to how I would perceive Anita Dobson as Miss Hannigan. Despite the fact that she has taken on numerous characters over the years, she has always stood out to me as being Angie Watts from Eastenders and I therefore had a slight concern that I wouldn't be able to see past that. However, Anita Dobson soon cast aside any earlier doubts that I had and convincingly demonstrated a child-hating, alcohol loving, orphanage owner. She was a delight to watch and made the role her own, whilst delivering powerful vocals and impressive choreographed moves with ease. My particular favourite of the night was 'Easy Street', when combined with the talents of Rooster (Richard Meek) and Lily (Jenny Gayner), provided a perfectly executed delivery of a thoroughly entertaining act. Her quirkiness and facial expressions added a comical element to her portrayal and she ultimately suited the role perfectly.


Carolyn Maitland excels as Warbuck's assistant Grace Farrell, with a stunning voice that immediately commands your attention. Her vocal skills are evident during the song 'N.Y.C' and her acting ability ensures that the warmth and kindness of the character are exhibited throughout the show. I loved her on stage chemistry with Mr Warbucks (Alex Bourne) who had the perfect blend of formidable businessman combined with charismatic charm. His soft side was soon displayed upon meeting the inquisitive and delightful Annie and he exhibited a believable father and daughter relationship.

A special mention also has to be given to the beautiful dog Amber, who was absolutely pawsome in the role of Sandy and if anything I would have liked to have seen more of her. I was surprised to find that the song 'Dumb Dog' had been omitted from the show, which I personally think is a shame as it would have been lovely to have seen more of the companionship between them.

Overall Annie the Musical completely lived up to my expectations and whilst the stage version differs somewhat from the well known movie, it did not disappoint. My inner-child was desperate to sing along and it was great to be able to enjoy some of the new musical numbers, with Hooverville and N.Y.C being particularly enjoyable. Featuring a wonderful cast and strong ensemble, Annie is packed full of enough upbeat performances to keep the audience captivated. It is a wonderful, feel-good, family friendly production, that is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.

Listing Details

Show: Annie the Musical
Venue: Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR
Dates: Monday 25th March to Saturday 30th March 2019
Booking: This can be done online at www.storyhouse.com, by calling 01244 409113 or by visiting the ticket kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR

For further details you can visit the Storyhouse website, or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.storyhouse.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/storyhouselive
Twitter - @storyhouselive
Instagram - @storyhouselive


Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary tickets to review the show. Opinions and thoughts are my own. Images are from a previous show not the performance that we attended.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dates for your Diary - REFRACT:18 at Waterside, Sale

It feels as though we have had an exceptionally long winter this year, with all the bad weather we have recently experienced, but the sunshine is starting to make a welcome appearance and the summer holidays will be upon us before we know it.

It is great to see so many fantastic events being planned for the summer season and I was excited to read all about the line up for the Waterside Arts Venue in Sale.

Following the success of it's first ever Refract festival last summer - Waterside is delighted to announce the exciting and eclectic line-up for Refract:18. Promising ten jam-packed days of the very best in summer programming, Refract:18 is bursting with experiential performance, live music, comedy, theatre and family events inviting you to see things differently at Trafford's vibrant arts venue.


Refract:18 runs from Thursday 19th July to Saturday 28th July, bringing together a carefully curated programme, jilted from convention, for audiences of all ages. Expect the unexpected, from miniature theatre in a magical canvas dome, a pop-up cabaret club, mini music festival for kids and arts and craft meets silent disco, as well as music from British band Tankus the Henge, an immersive gig from multi-instrumentalist Minute Taker and Manchester's finest Reggae pop outfit Jeramiah Ferrari.

Kicking off Refract:18 is award-winning PanGottic's 'catupultastic' evening of clowning, contraptions, comedy and courage in Long Shot, while later in the festival Cabaret From The Shadows sees the theatre transformed into a pop up cabaret club for one night only to present this hilarious & mischevious show.

Music lovers are in for a treat with Manchester's most exciting genre weaving group - Jeramiah Ferrari. The North West based band has forged a superb reputation for live sets, fusing styles of reggae, rock, ska and pop to make a truly memorable and essential new sound. Singer-songwriter and multi-instrulmentalist Minute Taker (Ben McGarvey) also makes his Refract debut with his immersive show. Inspired by imaginative artists such as Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Bjork, McGarvey creates haunting piano songs with multi-layered ethereal vocals, distorted electronic beats and otherworldly synthscapes. Rock, funk, blues, ska, roots, and gypsy rhythms unite on stage with Tankus the Henge. Combining wild showmanship, stories of wonder and musical dexterity, this live musical experience is something to behold.

Laughs a plenty are also on offer at this year's Refract:18 with all tastes being catered for. Cabaret mayhem is guaranteed with Mother's Ruin and we will see comedy mixed with musical madness in Showstopper! - The Improvised Musical, a brand new musical created from scratch and performed live from audience suggestions.


Families with kids big and small can enjoy a bumper programme of theatre, crafts, puppetry, music and more, including Our Kids Social's Make, Do & Bop who will bring us silent disco fun to let imaginations run wild!

For arty adults with a penchant for doodling, grab a pen, or a brush and get your creative juices flowing in Overdrawn, a free and one-off interactive art event. Lovers of art can also experience re:cast - a series of art installations around Waterside's spaces during the festival.

Darren Adams, Producer of Refract and Manager of Waterside comments: "We are absolutely thrilled to present our second Refract festival bringing more artists and performers to our venue, presenting a bold and ambitious programme. Our inaugural festival last year drew in over 20% of new audiences and welcomed many of our loyal visitors to experience unexpected and innovative work. Building on last year's success we're delighted with the quality and diversity of the Refact:18 line-up."

Waterside are also offering a lucky few, the chance to join the Refraction Club to enjoy discounted tickets, special offers on drinks and other special events.

For more information please visit refract.org.uk

You can also follow Waterside on their social media channels, which can be found here:

Twitter: @WatersideArts
Facebook: /watersidearts
Instagram: watersidesarts_


Listing Details

Event: Refract:18
Venue: Waterside, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, Trafford, M33 7ZF
Dates: Thursday 19th July to Saturday 28th July

Day One

Event: PanGottic presents LONG SHOT
Date: Thursday 19th July
Time: 7pm
Price: £10/£8
Age suitability: 7+
Duration: 55 minutes
Details: Join us for a catapultastic evening of clowning, contraptions, comedy and courage as one man's belief in the near impossible is put to the test. Part non-verbal circus performance, part behind the scenes 'making of', Long Shot will have you on the edge of your seat. Or hiding behind it. Either way, it's going to be a blast.


Day Two

Event: Messy Play
Date: Friday 20th July
Time: 11-12 for toddlers, 1:30-2:30 for babies 3months+
Price: £5/£4 (family club members)
Age suitability: 3 months to 3 years

Event: Mother's Ruin
Date: Friday 20th July
Time: 8pm
Price: £12 (including gin & tonic) or £10 ticket only.
Age suitability: 16+
Details: Outrageous and fiercely entertaining night of cabaret mayhem. Featuring everything from comedy, music, drag and poetry, to the unpredictable.
In the Chambers

Event: Tankus the Henge
Date: Friday 20th July
Time: 8pm
Price: £10 advanced purchase rate or £12 on the door.
Details: Combining wild showmanship and musical dexterity their sound incorporates rock, funk, blues, ska, roots and gypsy rhythms and their songs tell stories of wonder and woe.
This is a standing event in the Robert Bolt Theatre

Day Three

Event: Refract Art Club
Date: Saturday 21st July
Time: 10am-12pm
Price: £2.50 or £1 for family club members
Age suitability: 4+
Details: Have fun with optical illusions. Cut out and colour a collection of optical illusions and create your own, on paper.

Event: Knaive Theatre presents War With The Newits (Preview)
Date: Saturday 21st July and Sunday 22nd July
Time: 6:30pm
Price: £12/£10
Details: Based on an original 1930's novel, set in the hull of a fishing vessel, the plot follows the unfurling of events after the discovery of an intelligent race of newts, who are shipped around the globe as cheap substitutes for human labour.
Produced in association with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Squarechapel Arts Centre and Waterside. This piece is site-specific and the venue will be announced ahead of the show.

Event: Minute Taker
Date: Saturday 21st July
Time: 8pm
Price: £10
Details: Alternative singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben McGarvey creates haunting piano songs with multi-layered ethereal vocals, distorted electronic beats and otherworldly synthscapes in an immersive show.
In the chambers

Event: Cabaret from the Shadows
Date: Saturday 21st July
Time: 9pm
Price: £12
Age suitability: 16+
Details: Political, comic, sexy and strange, Cabaret From the Shadows is a kaleidoscope of dark comedy, satire and live music, pulling you through a crazy hall of mirrors. Tonight no subject is taboo.
Cabaret in the Robert Bolt Theatre

Day Four

Event: Artful Playground presents Minifest
Date: Sunday 22nd July
Time: 1pm and 2:30pm
Price: Free Event
Details: Minifest will have family members of all ages up on their feet having a lovely, jolly, musical party together! With original songs written especially to simulate young imaginations and encourage physical activity, played by the brilliant Artful Playground Band, you are treated to a wide variety of musical styles ranging from Rock and Roll, to Gypsy Jazz, to Rap! So bring your Mini ones and get some festival vibes - no wellies required! - and we'll do the steam train conga 'til we drop!
On the plaza

Event: Mumblecrust Theatre presents The Tale of the Cockatrice
Date: Sunday 22nd July
Time: 1:30pm and 3:30pm
Price: £9/£7
Age suitability: 5-12 years (and upwards)
Duration: 60 minutes
Details: "Deep in the vaults of an ancient priory, a hideous creature awakens. The deadly Cockatrice is born". Breath-taking puppetry and spine-tingling live music in this dark and winding fable for monster lovers young and old.
In the chambers



Day Five

Event: Tmesis Theatre presents Happy Hour
Date: Monday 23rd July
Time: 7:30pm
Price: £14/£12
Age suitability: 13+
Duration: 70 minutes
Details: The workers on Level 3 are racing against the clock to reach their quota of Smiley Faces, but are they really happy enough? A poignant, fast paced, comedy exploring our 21st century obsession with happiness and success. Can we learn to be happy? The 'happiness industry' would have us think so....
In the Robert Bolt Theatre

Day Six

Event: Superfan presents Stuntman
Date: Tuesday 24th July
Time: 8pm
Price: £14/£12
Age suitability: 14+
Duration: 55 minutes
Details: A new performance about movie violence and masculinity. It is an intensely physical, funny and tender duet by two men who wrestle with their relationship to violence - both onscreen and off. Stories of real-life experiences of violence are interwoven with exaggerated, high-octane stunt fights, movement, and (fake) blood.
In the Chambers

Day Seven

Event: Mimika Theatre presents Small Worlds
Date: Wednesday 25th July
Times: 10:15, 11:45, 13:15 and 14:45
Price: £7/£6
Age suitability: Ages 5 to 11
Duration: 60 minutes
Details: Extraordinary theatre inside a magical canvas dome. Meet five characters - a bug, a goose, a fox cub, a cat and a six year old girl - and watch their stories unfold. Unforgettable visual theatre, using puppetry, minature landscapes and original animated film and music.

Day Eight

Event: Overdrawn
Date: Thursday 26th July
Times: 7pm to late
Price: Free
Details: An interactive art event with established artists, illustrators and designers from Manchester. Expect pound portraits, calligraphy, local artists drawing live, humorous prompts and much more! Grab a pen.....we're getting creative together!
In the Chambers

Event: Showstopper - The Improvised Musical
Date: Thursday 26th July
Time: 7:30pm
Price: £18/£15
Age suitability: 12+
Duration: 90 minutes plus interval
Details: Direct from the West End, a brand new musical comedy is created from scratch at each performance as audience suggestions are transformed on the spot into all-singing, all-dancing productions with hilarious results.
In the Robert Bolt Theatre

Day Nine

Event: Make, Do & Bop from Our Kids Social
Date: Friday 27th July
Time: 10:30 and 13:30
Price: £6
Age suitability: Suitable for all ages
Duration: Each session lasts 90 minutes
Details: A two channel silent disco will have all your favourite summer time hits to set the mood with all the latest kids pop for them to bop along to. Plus, there is creative arts and craft to whisk your imaginations away to the sea-side, let your family innovation flow and your community relationships grow!
Standing event in the Robert Bolt Theatre

Event: Gag Reflex Management presents Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead
Date: Friday 27th July
Time: 8pm
Price: £12
Age suitability: 14+
Duration: 60 minutes
Details: The multi award winning EdFringe cult hit is back. Rev up the Delta and come on a trip to a cabin in Tennessee, to witness the classic horror movie Evil Dead 2 reinterpreted through the songs of Elvis Presley.
In the Chambers

Event: Jeramiah Ferrari
Date: Friday 27th July
Time: 8pm
Price: £10 when purchased in advance or £12 on the door
Details: 'A unique force and a live sensation that never disappoints' - The Mancunion
Manchester's most exciting genre weaving group! North West based Jeramiah have forged a superb reputation for live sets, fusing styles of reggae, rock, ska and pop to make a truly memorable and essential new sound.
Jeramiah grew up on a diet of Bob Marley, The Police and Michael Jackson. Expect a great calypso-ska style dancing party at any Jeramiah Ferrari show!
Standing event in the Robert Bolt Theatre



Day Ten

Event: Tessa Bide presents Perfect
Date: Saturday 28th July
Time: 11:30am and 2:30pm
Price: £9/£7
Age suitability: Ages 5-9
Duration: 50 minutes
Details: A young boy waits for the birth of his new baby sister... He can't wait to run and jump with a new playmate. The touching story of a boy meeting his disabled sister for the first time, with puppetry, live music, animation and physical theatre from the award-winning Tessa Bide.
In the Chambers

Throughout Refract

Until 18th August
Re:cast - A series of art installations have been specially commissioned for Refract:18. Katie Nelson's and Grace Igoe's exhibition showcases new and recent ceramic work posing questions on social and political issues in the Lauriston Gallery, while other sound and digital art commissions will be installed in different spaces at Waterside from 19th July. The call out for these commissions opens on Thursday 5th April.
Lauriston Gallery and other spaces at Waterside.

Disclaimer: Information provided is correct at time of writing, but is subject to change. Please therefore visit the Refract:18 website at refract.org.uk in order to obtain the most up to date information.