Sunday, 18 August 2019

NEWS: Salford's Lowry Theatre announce the return of their ever-popular Open Day!

The Lowry announces return of its hugely popular Open Day

The Lowry announces the return of its Open Day following the huge success of the event in 2017 and 2018. The venue will open its doors from 10am until 5pm on Sunday 1 September for a day of free activities that enable visitors of all ages to explore the venue in a completely new way.

In 2018 The Lowry saw more than 7,000 people attend their Open Day. Throughout the day visitors were able to take part in a range of workshops, drop-in activities, back-stage tours and performances. 

Opportunities to get involved this year will include stand up comedy masterclasses, Lowry inspired art workshops and dance classes hosted by renowned companies Matthew Bourne's New Adventures and Rambert.

Due to overwhelming demand in previous years, visitors will also be pleased to see the return of backstage tours and workshops in lighting and sound. 

The range of activities will also spill out of the building and onto the plaza as visitors will be able to watch live performances from Charmaine Childs: The Strong Lady, play large outdoor games, join in bhangracise and take a boat trip around the Quays. 

All activities and events are free. Visitors can book places online for some of the workshops in advance. There will also be a limited number of places available for each ticketed event on the day, these will be allocated on a first come first served basis. 

A timetable of events will be released and online booking opens on Tuesday 27 August via The Lowry’s website.

NEWS: New Dance Company launches on 10th September at The Palace Theatre, Manchester.


Z Bo Jackson, in partnership with the Palace Theatre, Manchester, are proud to announce a gala night of dance – hosted by Kimberly Wyatt - to launch The Z Bo Jackson Company - the UK’s new dance fusion theatre company.

From free runners to hip hop, ballet to street dance, the Z Bo Jackson Company will combine a diverse mix of dance styles with compelling storytelling and magnetic physicality.

The mix of dance styles on display, combined with stunning visuals, means the company’s performances will appeal to dance fans and musical theatre-lovers alike, as well as today’s YouTube and Insta-audiences.

The company launches on Tuesday 10th September with a star-studded gala night of dance at the Palace Theatre, Manchester.

Hosted by the amazing Got to Dance judge and Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, with guest artists Flawless (Britain’s Got Talent and Street Dance 2), ballet star Brandon Lawrence (Principal Dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet) and West End star Chrissy Brooke (winner of ITV’s Dance Dance Dance.)

Singer, dancer and choreographer Kimberly Wyatt will perform alongside Flawless in one number, while BRB’s Brandon Lawrence will perform a solo choreographed by the award-winning George Williamson. Chrissy Brooke will perform with the Z Company ensemble.

Innovative and respected choreographer and director Bo Jackson has created the vision behind the thrilling new company and is excited to launch in Manchester at the Palace Theatre.

Said Bo: “Manchester is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and as such the perfect international city in which to launch a new dawn in dance for the 21st Century.

“The gala will provide a taste of Z’s future ambitions and celebrate Manchester’s unique placement as a Northern Powerhouse in theatre and dance.

“The Z brand will break down the walls of dance to create a uniquely diverse dance experience, as free runners mix with elite dancers, and ballet cross-pollinates with hip hop.Dance is a universal language and as Einstein observed ‘Dancers are the athletes of God’.

“As with this gala, the Z brand will invite celebrities and well-known dancers to appear alongside our main ensemble moving foward. We can’t wait to unleash our brand at the Palace Theatre next month.”

Host of the gala, Kimberley Wyatt, said: “I’m very excited to be part of this unique evening of dance in Manchester to celebrate the launch of Z Bo Jackson Company. It will be a spectacular night of celebrating all things dance, with street dance superstars Flawless, principal dancer of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Brandon Lawrence and Dance, Dance, Dance Star Chrissy Brooke. Prepare to be amazed!"

Get ready for an explosive night of entertainment at the Manchester Palace Theatre on Tuesday 10th September at 7.30pm. Tickets from £13.

Insta @zbojackson

THEATRE REVIEW: The Secret Garden - The Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton

On tour since June, Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s The Secret Garden arrived at Buxton’s Pavilion Arts Centre. A change for me seeing shows here, as opposed to talks and the like, I went with an open mind, as expected.

With a minimal but satisfactory and simple set, used to act as the exit and entry points between various settings of scenes, the ‘wall’ emblazoned with an ivy-ridden door which was not as hidden as it could have been when characters were looking for it, was on an open stage and served its purpose well, I guess.

Pre-show, Matthew Christmas entered to advise that he was the stand -in for the actor who was to play multiple parts, due to the original casting (Sam Gibbons) having injured himself. This prepared us in case the parts being played were not up to scratch but they were, despite the obvious presence of a black file containing the script, being read almost word for word which prevented the opportunity for physical movement to portray the part. I am surprised that, with it being a large tour, there is no understudy or swing to take on such parts without having to read a script on-stage. Nonetheless he did well.

After this, we experienced a strange scene in which spoilt brat Mary Lennox (Katie Lawson) is in India with her mother (Kim Baker) shouting at - and slapping - her. This is during turbulent times in the continent and leads to her parents being killed, forcing her, with the help of a soldier/servant friend - whose death was poorly-directed - protecting her, sending her off to England to be with her uncle (on her father’s side), Mr Craven (Matthew Christmas), assisted by housekeeper Mrs Medlock (Kim Baker). This scene is odd as the ‘fighting’ (choreographed by Andrew Ashenden) is obvious and pretty poor and includes Mary escaping in a wicker laundry-style trolley and being in the same trolley when she arrives off a train in England. A timelapse perhaps and maybe she wasn't a passenger but a piece of cargo but nonetheless, I found it odd.

Upon arriving at her uncle’s residence, Misselthwaite Manor, she is met by Medlock and friendly house maid Martha (Jessica Porter) who, for me, is the best in the cast. Whilst exploring the grounds, Mary asked her uncle for a patch of land to tend to, after discovering the door to a walled garden with animal-loving Dickon (Kieran Seabrook-France). She also meets gardiner Ben Weatherstaff (Matthew Christmas) and comes across a robin (that was huge and did not look like one, with the use of a tin (but wooden) whistle), the housecat and a fox (all puppets).

Whilst tending to her patch, Mary hears a ‘child’ crying inside the house. When we discover what or who it is, we realise that the sound being made and the actor playing the role of Colin (Tim Chapman) are not that of a child. This, along with the aforementioned wicker trolley, and the fact that the garden looks the same from the inside as it did from the outside, are inconsistencies but at least the entrances and exits into the garden and Colin’s room were consistent.

Obviously they enter the garden and the story of that is a happy one, with stresses and strains between characters, but the morale is clear and beautiful and the show ultimately well-performed (directed by Ben Poole) and true to the story, even if backed by some out of tune sounds from the cast to set scenes.

Well done and we look forward to their Winter tour of A Christmas Carol after they have been to China with Wuthering Heights.

Reviewer - John Kristof
on - 15/8/19