Putting It Together to replace A Christmas Story at Hope Mill Theatre











Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester and Aria Entertainment have announced that musical revue showPutting it Together will replace the previously announced A Christmas Story, as its fifth and final in-house production of 2018.

Putting it Together, which showcases the songs of Stephen Sondheim, will be directed by Bronagh Lagan – who returns to Hope Mill Theatre after her critically-acclaimed Little Women – and will run from Wednesday 24 October to Saturday 24 November 2018.

The award-winning Manchester theatre, was due to stage the European premiere of Pasek & Paul’s A Christmas Story, but Putting It Together will now run in its place.

Drawing its title from a song in Sunday in the Park with GeorgePutting it Together celebrates Sondheim’s incomparable career in musical theatre and features nearly 30 musical numbers from some of the celebrated composer’s best-loved shows including Sweeney Todd, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum.

The show is performed by only five people who are thrown together at a party in a Manhattan penthouse. With a bit of imagination, the guests transform the apartment into the stage of an abandoned theatre, an estate in Sweden, an island outside of Paris, a street off the Roman Forum, the woods of a fairy tale and a mythical town in the Southwest.

Putting It Together is directed by Bronagh Lagan, with words and music by Stephen Sondheim, devised by Stephen Sondheim and Julia McKenzie. Original orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. Presented in arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited.

It follows The Return of the Soldier that runs from Thursday 6 to Saturday 29 September – casting for this is due to be announced soon.



Putting it Together

Wednesday 24 October – Saturday 24 November 2018

Hope Mill Theatre

Hope Mill, Ancoats, 113 Pollard Street

Manchester, M4 7JA

Tickets from £16. Visit www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk

WEBSITE: www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk

FACEBOOK: Hope Mill Theatre

TWITTER: @Hopemilltheatr1 / @PITogetherMCR

Vulvarine: A New Musical Review

Vulvarine: A New Musical runs at Assembly George Square Studios as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 @ 19:00 daily from 1 – 26 August 2018. For further information, please visit edfringe.com

5 stars for an excellent and unmissable show

Reviewed by Debs Baird 


Cast: Andrew Dillon, Robyn Grant, Jamie Mawson, Allie Munro & Katie Wells

Expertly written by Robyn Grant and brought to you by Fat Rascal Theatre enter the world of Vulvarine, set in High Wycombe you will realise that nothing ever happens here, or does it? A tale of feminism in action we all laughed at the irony simultaneously realising that the irony is reality. As five talented actors seamlessly switch roles throughout to guide you on a musical adventure like no other.

Clever set design, and top shelf sound and lighting, Vulvarine is a superhero love story set in a tax office, and is a top class act showing fringe newbies how it is done. Add into the mix a class burst of the ‘floss’, a well timed bolt of lightening, a talking cat and tampon tax mystery, and you’ve scratched the surface.

We laughed, we chortled, we considered. Your laugh muscles will get a workout, trust me. If you’re a man or a woman or neither or both you’ll enjoy Vulvarine, if you’re not into musicals don’t worry, you will enjoy Vulvarine.

Ladies, etc, you don’t have to put up with this shit anymore. The time is now. Equality? We have that already, don’t you know? Just watch out for mister fat shamer, if you thought mansplainer was bad…


Thank you.


Our Big Love Story Review

Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton, London – until 4 August 2018
Reviewed by Lisa Harlow
The title of the play does not give its game away. It sounds rather like a teenage girl’s magazine article. Most of the characters are indeed teenagers, but most of the dialogue would not be featuring in a typical teenage magazine!
We follow four teenagers exhibiting typical heightened hormones and preoccupations with sex, drugs and partying in London until their interrelation with each other is corroded by the events of the terrorist attack of July 7th, 2005, which took place on the London tube. The initial spark of love between Destiny (Holly Ashman) and Anjum (Sulin Hasso) is quickly marred by news of the attack, and in spite of Anjum actually being Hindu, the corrupting influence of Destiny’s father’s membership of the EDL and the web of intolerance and beliefs soon overtakes Destiny and she views her old love primarily through the eyes of contempt. Anjum attempts to remove this misty veil from her eyes to be ‘seen’ for who she is, at times through confrontation, and allow their initial connection of love to reign. Jack (Alex Britt) whose father is killed in the attack, works through his mess of grief with Katie (Grace Hadleigh), both of whom hold true candles for each other. Meanwhile, a Muslim teacher (Ikky Elyas) who survived the attack but lives out its events every day and grapples with post-traumatic stress disorder, delivers his pain through monologues.
The monologues often feel rather flat in spite of the content. There is some occasional humour through the performance, and the dialogue carries you along, but it is not until a catastrophic event that pulls all the characters together that I felt emotionally engaged with them and the plot.  Destiny, in particular, provides glimpses of depth, delivering inner schism between her hardened protective racist shell and vulnerability. The event changes each of them and their relationship to each other, shunted back onto the path of redemption: quite incredulously so for the teacher given what happens to him. This event erupts rather out of nowhere in spite of Silver’s best efforts to build the fire, but the alchemy within Destiny I found again the most interesting, and I felt genuinely moved by it.
Stephanie Silver, the writer, explained that she wished to portray ‘a gritty portrayal of working class multi-culturalism’ (SW Londoner, March 15th). It is gritty due to the issues it embraces (pornography, losing virginity, drugs, grief, terrorism, racism, lesbianism) and the often brutal, ill developed teenage way of communicating thoughts and desires. But the scope it covers means it doesn’t deal with most of these issues in any depth. Maybe the intention was to show the breadth of unfathomable modern day issues teenagers are faced with amongst the complexities of race, faith and terrorism. It has a good premise, to view how the flames were fanned post this tragedy, but it just didn’t quite explain or weave the characters lives together in enough dimensions to truly grip me until the end of the play.

Summer Holiday – The Musical Review

Leeds Grand Theatre – until Saturday 4th August 2018

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood


Summer Holiday – The Musical is certainly going where the sun shines brightly and particularly during this exceptional summer. Summer Holiday -The Musical has begun its tour in Liverpool in May 2018 and continues its UK tour including a current stop at the Leeds Grand Theatre.

The stage production, adapted by Michael Gyngell and Mark Haddigan, is based on the 1963 film Summer Holiday which originally starred Cliff Richard as Don. The story is based on him as a bus mechanic for London Transport. After a colleagues’ initial summer trip falling through he suggests and convinces his colleagues to join him on a trip across Europe in a double decker bus. Initially they were going to go to the South of France however they meet a girl band and a runaway young pop star and their destination changes to Athens via the Alps and Italy.

It is set at a time when a cultural revolution of the “Swinging 60s” was kicking in and how it radically shaped the country’s social and political landscape. Prosperity and optimism then were met with broader ideologies and references of that era were made throughout the musical particularly with the role of women and relationships.

Many would be familiar with the film but more so with the feel good tunes, under the arrangement of Rob Wicks, such as Summer Holiday, Bachelor Boy, Do You Wanna Dance?, Living Doll and more. Steve Howell’s summery and colourful staging works well with the adaptation and the life size red double decker bus must be the set’s highlight and it does compliment. Howell’s staging is supported by Tim Deiling’s lighting and Paul Smith’s soundscapes.

Ray Quinn plays the leading role as Don and his charismatic portrayal illuminates throughout and he is supported by an excellent cast who draws the audience in their adventures, their setbacks and mishaps, and their hopes through song and dance. All ends lovingly well and audience are treated to medley of familiar musical numbers in its finale and ends very well. Sophie Matthew’s portrayal of Barbara initially as the runaway pop star and how she blossoms to eventually falling in love with Don doesn’t go unnoticed.

Summer Holiday – The Musical is a feel good show celebrating the spirit of summer, the good and the love. It is a must see show in the summer and in any other season. One is certainly going on a summer holiday!





  • Calendar Girls The Musical to return home to Leeds Grand Theatre from Thursday 16 August to Saturday 1 September
  • Cast members celebrate Yorkshire Day with exclusive recording of Yorkshire: https://we.tl/cavO7tspff

What better way to celebrate Yorkshire Day than welcoming back Yorkshire’s own – and award-winning musical – Calendar Girls, to Gods Own County and Leeds Grand Theatre from Thursday 16 August to Saturday 1 September 2018.

Written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, and featuring a star-studded cast, including Fern Britton, Anna-Jane Casey, Sara Crowe, Karen Dunbar, Ruth Madoc, Rebecca Storm and Denise WelchCalendar Girls The Musicalis based on the true story of Yorkshire’s own calendar girls; a group of ladies who  strip off and pose naked (but for carefully placed buns, teapots and other such props) for a Women’s Institute calendar in memory of one of their husbands.

David Pugh, Producer, said: “It was right that this production opened in the heart of Yorkshire – the County where the story began – and it feels right to be returning after a hugely successful tour. It feels like the show is coming home.”

The critically acclaimed musical first premiered at Leeds Grand Theatre in November 2015 before enjoying sell-out seasons in Manchester and London. The show created somewhat of a buzz around Leeds and the wider region when it premiered and attracted the attention of many ‘Yorkshire folk’, including Michael Parkinson.

Tim Firth said: “To be given a chance to revisit Calendar Girls The Musical is a unique opportunity.  Gary [Barlow] and I have been working away and, as the great Stephen Sondheim said, ‘musical comedies aren’t written, they are rewritten’.”

To date, the girls have raised £5million for the charity Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, and will continue to receive monies from this production.


Calendar Girls The Musical is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Thursday 16 August to Saturday 1 September 2018.

Tickets are on sale now priced from £10

(prices include a £3 booking fee. Postage charge £1 where applicable)

Book online at leedsgrandtheatre.com or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700

The Play That Goes Wrong Review

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 4th August 2018.

Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth


The Play That Goes Wrong is on Broadway, in its fourth year at the West End and touring the UK. The play won Best New Comedy at the Olivier Awards and also Whatsonstage Awards. Mischief Theatre Company do a fine job of delivering this exceptionally funny piece of theatre at the Lyceum Theatre as part of their UK tour.

If you hadn’t already guessed from the title, the play is about a theatre company, Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, putting on the best/worst amateur dramatics production you will ever see. The mayhem that you are about to watch is potentially going to be the biggest intentional mess you have ever witnessed…slapstick and madness are key to this production. The drama society have not had many successful productions previously and it seems as though this production of ‘Murder at Haversham Hall’ is not much different to their other failed attempts. We see poorly made sets that have all collapsed by the end of the show, props in the wrong place/missing, lines forgotten and the prompt missing when lines needed, missed cues and sound and lighting delays. It is just the perfect disaster.

The cast work super hard on this production, in fact at times, leaving you mouth open, eyes glaring, wondering how they are doing it. They all go at a hundred miles a minute with the most impeccably timed, supreme mistakes. The tightness is so evident and surely a play like this would not be half as polished if it wasn’t for the sheer tenacity that they must have rehearsed with.

Every cast member is a real talent and works far beyond expectations, however you can’t help but fall in love with the charming, hilarious, cheeky smiled Bobby Hirston playing Max. This actors smile leaks out in to the auditorium and washes the audiences’ faces with it. He almost gets a laugh as soon as he walks on to the stage and has some of the best lines and choreography/interpretative moves.

Credit to writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – just where would you start with writing a play like this? Truly something that many folk would not be able to do. And Director Mark Bell should take a bow for his staging and direction, that takes this script and turns it in to the pure magic that it is.

The Play That Goes Wrong is total genius. The audience laughs potentially harder and more frequently than if they were seeing their favourite comedian, leaving you exhausted with laughter when the curtain comes down after 2 hours 5 minutes – a must see for all, highly recommended.


The King’s Theatre Glasgow – until 4 August 2018

Reviewed by Linda McLaughlan



We have all seen the TV Series, the Motion Picture and no doubt read the book but the stage performance brings the story to life in a different way through the genre of music, drama and dance. The background stories of wannabe students determined to show of their talents and graduate from one of the best High School for Performing Arts that everyone aspires to attend.

The storyline follows the story of a few of the students from the dancer Carmen (Played by Stephanie Rojas) who has dreams of making it big in Los Angeles where everyone will recognise her and her name will be in lights, but unfortunately her addiction to uppers (drugs) to keep her awake and going through the gruelling schedule of the school timetable begins to take their toll as her story progresses, ending in her premature death.

Then we have Iris (played by Jorgie Porter) at first she appears to be the little rich kid who arrives at school in a limo and is well thought off by the dance teacher Miss Bell, however in reality she is a kid from a very poor background whose father just works as a limo driver and drops her off on the way to work.

The highlight of my evening was the performances from Tyrone (Jamal Crawford) and Miss Sherman (played by Mica Paris). The relationship between the wanna be dancer who has an amazing talent but struggles academically and his teacher who pushes him to achieve but also threatens his dreams by telling him he will be thrown out of the programme if he doesn’t make the grade.

An evening of song and dance with performances that deserved the standing ovation at the end of the evening and a must see for everyone who has memories of watching ‘FAME’ as a youngster.

An Officer and A Gentleman Review

Bristol Hippodrome – until 4 August 2018

Reviewed by Lucy Hitchcock


Love lifts us up where we belong and this cast certainly belongs on the stage!

Having never seen the original film of An Officer and A Gentleman, I had a completely open mind and was excited to see this show. I was thoroughly impressed and extremely enjoyed it!

The cast was exceptional and showed extreme talent and encapsulated the audience instantaneously. Emma Williams who played Paula Pokrifki, the romantic female lead, was exquisite. Her voice soared with ease and she was vulnerable, witty, confident and exciting, all whilst singing and giving the most beautiful performance. She was so passionate and I truly believed her performance; the heartbreak and the happiness. She showed prowess and immense talent, with her effortless belt during ‘Alone’.

Jonny Fines as Zack Mayo was brilliant. His entrance emulated that of James Dean; raw sexual prowess with flowing hair riding on a motorbike. His voice blended exceptionally with William’s to create some delightful harmonies. Their rapport onstage was a joy to watch and at some points, I felt like I was intruding on their romance.

Corrina Powlesland and Rachel Stanley as Aunt Bunny and Esther Pokrifki respectively deserve a special mention for their bold vocals that filled the auditorium with ease. Stanley’s duet with Williams on ‘Don’t cry out loud’ was uplifting and spirited and showed the compassion shown by both onstage.

The set was simple, but effective and transported the audience to the officers training rooms, the bars, motels and factory where ‘It’s a mans world’ is performed.

This is a busy show that will excite and keep you entertained throughout. The central themes of love and passion are prominent throughout, along with sub themes of heartbreak and anger that are shown through the unapologetic mix of 80’s Cheese and romance. This is a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed!