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Win!  A Family Ticket for Gangsta Granny at Manchester Opera House. 

​COMPETITION TIME!

Win a family ticket to see the brilliant Gangsta Granny at the Opera House in Manchester.

We have a family ticket to give away for Wednesday 7th June for four people to see the show.

About the show

It’s Friday night and Ben knows that means only one thing – staying with Granny! There will be cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake and Ben knows one thing for sure – it’s going to be sooooooooo boring! But what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret and Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny!

From the acclaimed producers of HORRIBLE HISTORIES comes the world premiere of this amazing story by David Walliams, the UK’s best-selling author for children.

TO ENTER simply email us your name and contact email to kidstheatreupnorth@gmail.com

Closing date is Thursday 1st of June so be quick!

Gangsta Granny runs at The Opera House from the 7th to the 11th June.

For tickets head here

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Posted in Review

Billy Elliot Review: Liverpool Empire, The Easiest Five Stars We Have Ever Given. ★★★★★

There are few theatre performances we have seen where the audience are on their feet in standing ovation within the first few songs but Billy is one such show and you know what it deserves it.

Brilliantly bonkers, breathtakingly beautiful and a complete emotional roller coaster is really the only way to describe the hit show which is this week celebrating its twelfth year.

Set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot follows the story of a young boy who accidentally stumbles upon a love of dance through a touching relationship with local dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, among a time of incredible working class hardship.

Billy doesn’t shy away from history and deals with the battles between the miners and the police, middle class perceptions along with the working class hatred of Maggie Thatcher head on. It is impossible for anyone with any mining history or old enough to remember the huge pit heads looming over our towns to fail to be affected by the show and it stands not only as a poignont reminder of recent British history but one which will cause you to reflect on the similarities in today’s political Britain.

It’s not all gut wrenching though. There are moments of lightness too throughout, with music from Elton John what more could you expect? It is flamboyant and bonkers and has plenty of laughs. It takes guts as a young boy to get up on stage dressed up in women’s clothing and a tutu and Bradley Mayfield as Michael did a wonderful job. His natural chemistry with Adam Abbou made for some touching scenes.  Not to mention the moments of comedy gold from the fabulous Mr Braithwaite.

Adam Abbou is exceptional as Billy, it isn’t an easy show stamina wise by any means but Adam does an incredible job of moving from the developing dancer to the breathtaking Electricity. Even in the scenes with his ‘older self’ Adam shone.

Grandma’s song will have you both laughing at the eccentricity of the character and crying at a lifetime lost to an abusive marriage.

The relationship between Martin Walsh as Dad and Scott Garnham as Tony is both touching and guttingly heart wrenching. Garnham has been treading the board for years and knows how to pack a punch. I challenge anyone to hear his lines about the closure of the mines and the effect on its workers to not consider this and the current economy, zero hours contracts and the state of some of our old mining villages and not sob into your hankies.

Billy will make you leave the theatre entirely emotionally drained but not in a negative way as above all Billy is an incredible, heartfelt and life affirming piece of theatre.

Go see it!

Billy Elliot runs at the Liverpool Empire until May 27th.

Click for ticket information

Notes for families:

Recommended age 8 plus

Contains heavy swearing.

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Posted in Review

Review: Underneath a Magical Moon – Beautifully Captivating, Warm and Touching ★★★★★

 

Reviewer: Michelle

Producing theatre for young children must be one of the toughest jobs in the business, after all preschoolers aren’t forgiving and if it doesn’t grab their interest then you will soon know about it!

Presented by tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal, Underneath a Magical Moon has no such worries. Captivating from the start the show makes brilliant use of simplistic yet beautiful staging and clever lighting effects to get this re-imagining of the timeless Peter Pan story across to its young audience.

Shying away from the large affluent home of the Darlings in the original Peter Pan, Underneath a magical moon reaches out to make a connection with regular families in a regular garden dreaming of adventure. We all remember the days of creating dens with bed sheets and sailing ships from boxes to be carried away to far away lands and the play demonstrates just that with a wonderful use of every day household props where even the most mundane item can become a pirate ship. We were especially impressed with the crocodile!.

Mike Kenny’s script is clever, warm and above all funny, there were plenty of laughs from the grown ups in the audience and some absolute gems among the songs from hip hop pirates to the brilliantly composed Mermaid song.

The strength of this cast of just three shines and is impressive with a multiple use of musical instruments by Grace Lancaster, Jack Brett and Chris Draper throughout. Most of all they were believable. As the Mother of a child teetering on the edge of ‘growing up’ the reflection of Wendy and her own feelings about adulthood were particularly touching.

Underneath a Magical Moon is what it says on the tin, a magical and endearing tale which will capture the hearts of both old and young alike. It was stripped back perhaps without the razzle dazzle of some larger productions but sometimes that creates the perfect way to connect truly with an audience and this is certainly true in this case..

Recommended for children age 3 – 11 years Underneath a Magical Moon runs until the 31st of December at the Waterside Arts Centre.

Click here for ticket information

 

 

 

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Review: Aladdin at St Helens Theatre Royal ★★★★

Reviewer: Michelle

We must admit to having a real soft spot for St Helens Theatre Royal. As someone who is passionate about getting kids in through the theatre doors we feel it is vital to produce fun and fast paced shows which grab and keep their attention in the local community reaching families who might not normally attend shows further afield.

Theatre Royal has been doing panto for years and boy do they do it well!

As always Liam Mellor’s script is clever and fast with a splash of songs old and new to get people up and on their feet. They don’t scrimp on the staging either and Aladdin produced an explosion of colour, sparkle and special effects on par with many larger theatre productions.

David Heath puts in a solid performance as Aladdin but stealing the show was The Only Way is Essex star Harry Derbidge who was surprisingly brilliant as PC Noodle. His exuberant and delightfully camp personality shines in panto and he really could have found his calling here, he gave it his all and it showed.

There were of course plenty of Towie jokes between Derbidge and Towie co star Amy Childs who looked stunning as the Slave of the Ring. Panto season can be fierce and to do it while pregnant too must be exhausting! But she does a fabulous job.

Warren Donnelly played the evil Abanazar with a wicked ease and certainly filled the auditorium with the expected jeers and boo’s each time he appeared.

We love Simon Foster, he never lets a show down as the resident Dame and this time was no different. It takes skill to hold the demand of an audience full of excited school children and adults alike and Foster as Widdow Twankey was brilliantly funny as always.

Aladdin is cheesy, over the top and slightly bonkers but that’s what makes panto at its best. If you are looking for some festive fun to kick off the Christmas holidays go see it!

Aladdin runs until the 8th January.

For information visit the theatre website

 

 

 

 

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Review: Wonderfully Heart Warming and Truly Scrumptious ★★★★★

Reviewer: Michelle

It must be mildly terrifying to take an iconic film which provided the background for a whole generation of childhoods and transfer it to stage but Chitty the Musical does it with a bang.

For anyone who doesn’t know the Chitty story (where have you been?!) The plot follows the plight of Caractacus Potts and his two children Jemima and Jeremy as they try to come to terms with the loss of their mother and prevent the spoilt Baron Bomburst  getting his hands on their beloved car Chitty.

Jason Manford plays the eccentric, slightly bonkers but endearing Caractacus Potts to perfection. His rapport with the young stars is natural making it entirely believable and utterly heart warming. Hushabye Mountain is particularly beautiful and shows off Manford’s great vocal range. His relationship with Charlotte Wakefield as the strong and somewhat feisty Truly is delightful.

Sam Harrison and Scott Paige raised the most laughs of the night with their brilliant portrayal of Vulgarian spies Boris and Goran and some terribly cheesy but yet brilliantly funny jokes. With the kind of silly humour young children love and some adult innuendos for good measure they really did steal the show.

Jos Vantyler plays the nightmare of our childhood dreams with a terrifying ease and his extensive theatre experience shows, we have seen this role played in almost a panto style but Vantyler takes the role back to its original film state and is delightfully wicked.

Baron and Baroness Bomburst stay true to the film. In a land where children are forbidden and the Baron holds an obsession with toys, Phill Jupitus dead pan drop of one liners had the audience in uproar as did Claire Sweeny’s portrayal of the slightly saucy child hating Barononess.

The staging is utterly stunning with complicated scenery and beautiful projection and the whole production hits you with a feast of colour.

As Chitty lit up the stage in her final scenes our small companion simply uttered WOW and we think this sums up Chitty in one word.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we most definitely do love you!

Chitty runs until January the 15th at the Lowry Theatre, Salford. For information and tickets see here.

Go see it!

 

 

 

Posted in Review

Take That: Manchester Arena ★★★★

As a Manchester girl myself and Take That have a long history. In my crazier younger days I have slept in arena tunnels to get the latest tour tickets and spent nights in back alleys of music stores to catch a glimpse of the now man band.

By 1992 I was hooked and excited for my first concert to see them only to be thwarted by BBC News showing scenes of chaos and young girls being dragged out of their Apollo gig having been squashed or fainted in the mania and a horrified parent putting a stop to my plans.

At the time it seemed the end of the world but had I told my 12 year old self stood in Manchester Gmex,  hollering at that very same young boy band in the following year, that 25 years later I would be heading out to see the group now all in their mid and late 40s I probably wouldn’t have believed it!

First a note to the venue, we love Manchester Arena, we’ve been most years since it opened in 1995 but it really could do with a revamp. The stairs are crazily steep with no rails and we saw several people almost take a tumble. For some unknown reason on Thursday night it was also ridiculously hot. This combined with people consuming very large amounts of alcohol seemed to be asking for trouble.

Anyway on to the show, and what can we say without giving too many spoilers other than Take That do theatre well. Few pop concerts we have been to have had the sort of staging, theatrical sets and story lines Take That do which would not be amiss at a West End or Vegas show and with it not being unusual to see elephants and giant robots grace the stage. Wonderland is no different with spectacular scenery, beautiful lazer water effects, flying carpets, soaring beds and stunning acrobatics plus the usual dose of brilliantly bonkers costumes only Take That could pull off.

It’s tough to take a new album which has only recently been released out to a live audience especially with shows like Take That where audiences often come to re live their youth and sing along and at times with the new tracks the audience felt a bit stilted.

That soon changed with the introduction of recent hit Giants which had the crowd once more up and out of their seats. By the time Gary, Howard and Mark launched into classic Take That songs the familiar roar of the crowd returned as the band smashed out favourites Back for Good, Pray and Relight My Fire, leaving everyone in no doubt why this man band are still going strong two and a half decades later.

With a little nod to their earliest followers with nineties song Satisfied and what can only be described as Take That’s very own anthem Never Forget the man band looked and sounded great especially Howard who really seemed to shine within the now smaller band of three.

We have to be honest in saying that for us it was no Circus tour which would be hard for anyone to beat but it’s still a damn good show and a must see for any Take That fan.

For Manchester ticket information see here

Posted in Uncategorized

KIDSFEST 2017 NEEDS YOU!

JAMES BULGER MEMORIAL TRUST INVITES COMMUNITY GROUPS AND VOLUNTEERS TO CREATE BEST FREE FAMILY FESTIVAL EVER
Would you like to be part of something BIG and join The James Bulger Memorial Trust in making KidsFest 2017 the best family festival ever?

The James Bulger Memorial Trust (JBMT)invites community groups and volunteers to help them stage an amazing festival for families in Liverpool.

 

So, whether you’re a member of a dance school, sports club or community group,JBMT welcomes you to join them at the festival’s new home in Stanley Park.

 

KidsFest 2017 will take place in Stanley Park at the end of the summer holidays onSunday 20th August and aims to give kids and families one last big adventure before school starts again in September.

 

The festival provides a great platform for organisations to showcase their services and talents. Participating organisations are invited to come along and provide demonstrations and deliver workshops at the festival which has attracted 12,000 families to date.

Individuals are also welcome to come and get involved as there will be plenty of volunteering opportunities on the day.

 

The festival is organised by JBMT in partnership with Orb Events. The Trust was set up in memory of James Bulger who was cruelly murdered in 1993 at the age of two. Its mission is to organise holidays and respite breaks for deserving children and their families.

 

Two years ago, they launched KidsFest – a free children’s festival – which was attended by 5,000 people in the first year which rose to over 8,000 visitors last year. So, the organisers have lots of exciting plans up their sleeves to ensure it is even bigger and better for summer 2017, meaning more local families and children will be able to fun in the sun whilst supporting the James Bulger Memorial Trust.

 

The festival will be packed withentertainment, activities, workshops and attractions to create a fantastic family-friendly event in the heart of North Liverpool. With fairground rides, bouncy castles, balloon sculptures, a zip wire, soft play area and full main stage programme of entertainment it simply doesn’t stop there!

 

James’ mother and patron of the charity, Denise Fergus, said: “I am immensely proud of the way that the people of Liverpool have taken this event to heart, we are so thankful to all the friends, supporters and organisations that have helped us to make it one of the largest free family focused events in the region.

 

“The last two years have been fantastic and now we are expanding the event into Stanley Park there is lots more opportunity for everyone to get involved. It’s a joy filled day which is the perfect way to remember James, I can’t wait to see you all there in August.”

 

Debbie Boyd from Orb Events added: “The James Bulger Memorial Trust has achieved lots of amazing things for the city and we are looking for anyone who has been inspired by their kindness and wants to give something back. The festival will be full of entertainment and activities for all, so let us know if you’d like to take part.”

 

If you’d like to get involved in KidsFest, please get in touch as soon as possible. Every volunteer helps make a difference! Contact info@orb-events.co.uk or call 0151 707 0965 to volunteer your services.

 

Keep up to date with the charity and announcements for KidsFest atwww.forjames.org

 

Follow KidsFest on Facebook JamesBulgerMT and on Twitter @kidsfest and @jbmt1

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Billy Elliot Opens at the Liverpool Empire! 

Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy’s journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.

Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, Billy Elliot the Musical has now been seen by over 11 million people across five continents and is the recipient of over 80 awards internationally, including ten Tony Awards and five Olivier Awards. 


Anna-Jane Casey returns to the role of ‘Mrs Wilkinson’ having successfully played the role at the Victoria Palace in the West End in 2014 with Martin Walsh ‘Dad’, Scott Garnham ‘Tony’ and Andrea Miller ‘Grandma’.  They are joined by Adam Abbou (14 years old from Liverpool), Emile Gooding (12 years old from Reading), Haydn May (12 years old from Bath) and Lewis Smallman (13 years old from West Bromwich) who all play the title role.

 

Performance Information

Billy Elliot

Tuesday 9th to Saturday 27th May 2017

Tue – Sat evenings 7.30pm, Thu & Sat matinees 2.30pm

Tickets from £12

Empire Theatre Box Office ¦ 0844 871 3017 ¦ atgtickets.com/Liverpool

 (Fees may apply to online/phone bookings. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge)

 

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Could your Child be the Next Star of the Stage? Maltilda Auditions in Manchester Announced! 

The RSC is looking for boys and girls to play Matilda, Bruce and their classmates for the UK and Ireland tour of Matilda! 

So if you love singing, acting and even more dancing this is the role for you. 

All children must be:

Age 8 to 13 and under 4ft 10

For Matilda must be under 4 ft 3 and age 8 – 12

All children must be available for the entire rehearsals and performance period from December 2017 to September 2018.

No holidays allowed. 

Children will travel with the production but have regular visits home and tutoring on tour. 

Auditions are the 3rd June so hurry! 

For further information and an application form contact Jessica Ronane, Children’s Casting Director at

matilda@jessicaronane.com 

Good luck! 

Posted in Casting Announced

Manchester Opera House Announces Purrfect Pantomime Cast for Dick Whittington this Christmas

Manchester Opera House has announced casting for this year’s must-see pantomime adventure, Dick WhittingtonJohn Barrowman and The Krankies will lead the cast in the magical production which runs from Saturday 9 December to Sunday 7 January 2018 and tickets are already on sale.

John Barrowman stars in the title role of the hero Dick Whittington. The hugely popular showman has enjoyed an acclaimed and hugely varied career including music, presenting and writing with performances on television and film, in the West End and on Broadway.  His numerous stage credits include leading roles in Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Company. He was on the TV judging panel of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber, and hosted his own primetime Saturday night programme for the BBC, Tonight’s the Night.

John is perhaps best-known for his iconic role as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who for the BBC, a role that proved so popular he became the leading role in its spin-off series, Torchwood, which made John a household name.  He has also released eleven studio albums and two concert DVDs. John is currently starring as Malcolm Merlyn in the acclaimed US television show Arrow, based on the DC Comic crime-fighter Green Arrow which is now in its sixth series.

Joining John are the legendary double act The Krankies playing Councillor and Jimmy Krankie. Having entertained audiences with their slapstick for over 50 years, Dick Whittington will mark the couple’s seventh pantomime season playing alongside John Barrowman. Ian and Janette Tough, who last year celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary, have been stalwarts on the cabaret circuit and on television since the 1970s, enjoying a varied career including sold-out residencies at major theatres across the UK, appearances at the Royal Variety Performance and their own television programmes The Krankies Klub and The Krankies Elektronik Komic and released two singles, Fan-Dabi-Dozi, based on their much-loved catchphrase and Wee Jimmy Krankie.

Produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, the show will also include a spectacular 3D sequence, which will see audiences travel on a very special adventure alongside Dick Whittington and his trusty cat!

Michael Harrison, Managing Director of Qdos Entertainment’s pantomimes said “We’re absolutely delighted that the ultimate showman, John Barrowman, will be leading the cast of this year’s Manchester Opera House pantomime. John is always a favourite with panto audiences, which is no surprise given his immense talent. We’re also thrilled that panto-legends The Krankies will be spending another season with John, their timeless comedy is loved by audiences of all ages.”

Sarah Bleasdale, General Manager of the Palace Theatre and Opera House said “It is with great pleasure that we welcome back to Manchester, the world’s biggest Panto producer Qdos Entertainment after 10 years and what a show they are returning with. Bringing some of the biggest names in showbusiness and comedy, John Barrowman and The Krankies, in one of the most traditional of Panto titles. We are all really excited and I know that Manchester audiences are in for an absolute treat, its sure to be unforgettable show for all the family this festive period.”

Venue Information

Dick Whittington starring John Barrowman and The Krankies

Saturday 9 December 2017 to Sunday 7 January 2018

Performances: Various check box office for details

Tickets: From £12

Opera House, Manchester

3 Quay Street

Manchester

M3 3HP

Box Office: 0844 871 3018* or Group Bookings: 0333 009 5390*

Online: www.atgtickets.com/manchester *

*Booking/transaction fee applies

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WIN A Copy of the Wonderful Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea!

The Tiger Who Came to Tea is roaring back into Liverpool and it’s almost time to welcome that hungry tiger through our doors once more!

This month sees the return of the truly magical Olivier Award nominated West End production as it opens on Thursday 30 March at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool for a three day run of five fantastic performances.

To celebrate this limited run of performances we are giving away a copy of the brilliant children’s favourite Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea book!

To enter simply email us on kidstheatreupnorth@gmail.com telling us the name of the girl in the story and your name and contact number.

A winner will be chosen at random at 6pm on March the 24th so be quick!

If you need help with the answer or to find out more about the upcoming stage show head here and book today to avoid disappointment!

Posted in Preview

The Tiger Who Came To Tea Roars Back into the Epstein Theatre this Month!

The Tiger Who Came to Tea is roaring back into Liverpool and it’s almost time to welcome that hungry tiger through our doors once more!

This month sees the return of the truly magical Olivier Award nominated West End production as it opens on Thursday 30 March at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool for a three day run of five fantastic performances.  Don’t miss out on this limited run of performances, book today to avoid disappointment!

Adapted and directed by David Wood OBE, Judith Kerr’s ever popular tale, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, is the ideal introduction to theatre for children aged three plus and the perfect treat for the whole family.

When Sophie and her Mummy welcome the hungry Tiger to tea, he proceeds to eat all the sandwiches, buns, biscuits and more. He even manages to drink all the water in the tap! What will Sophie’s Daddy say when he gets home?

Join the Tiger, Sophie and her Mummy and Daddy, in this musical slice of teatime mayhem with sing-a-long songs, oodles of magic and interactive fun.

David Wood is undisputedly the country’s leading writer and director of plays and musicals for children, whose many successes include: The Gingerbread Man, Guess How Much I Love You, eight Roald Dahl adaptations including West End hits The BFG, The Witches and George’s Marvellous Medicine; and the Olivier Award winning Goodnight Mister Tom.

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her Mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be?

What they certainly don’t expect to see at the door is a big furry, stripy tiger!

A musical play adapted and directed by David Wood, based on the much-loved book by Judith Kerr, designed by Susie Caulcutt, movement director Emma Clayton and Music Arranger / Supervisor Peter Pontzen. Tour cast to be announced. The Tiger Who Came to Tea is produced by Nick Brooke Ltd.

Watch the trailer at: www.TigersTeaLive.com

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover St, Liverpool L1 3DZ

Thursday 30 – Saturday 1 April 2017

Performance Times: Thu 1.30pm, Fri 10.30am & 1.30pm, Sat 11am & 2pm.

Box Office: 0844 888 4411

Website: www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk

www.TigersTeaLive.com

 Running time: 55 minutes – no interval

 Suitable for ages 3+

Posted in Uncategorized

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella at The Lowry Theatre

Step into the magical world of Cinderella, where Fairy Godmothers triumph over cruel stepmothers, pumpkins turn into sparkling carriages and a jewelled slipper changes one girl’s life forever. This timeless story of love, courage and kindness reminds us all to have faith in our wildest dreams; someday they might just come true. 

Praised by audiences and critics alike, Cinderella is a sure-fire mix of wonderful dance, spectacular scenery, and a cast of characters that include mice, lizards and even a dancing frog, that captures every imagination.

Tickets from £18 – £47

Running time 2 hours 30 minutes

See the Lowry website for tickets.

For more information on the show see the Birmingham Royal Ballet Website.

Runs Wednesday 1st to Saturday the 4th March 2017