An Accomplished Production - Insightful, Incisive and Thought-Provoking

Bread and Circuses is a new play by Merseyside writer Mari Lloyd and premiering at The Lantern Theatre Liverpool. Set in 2012, this is the year when Britain celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee as well as hosting the Olympic Games and the corresponding national pride that evoked. It was also one of the lowest points during the recession and the play dares to look behind the flag waving of public celebration to reveal 'a world where there may be circuses, but the bread is definitely in short supply.'

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The Birmingham stage company brought the wacky and wonderful world of gangsta granny to the Regent theatre last night which invited hundreds of excited children to the theatre. On entering the auditorium the stage was set showing us the audience a typical street full of houses. I think me and my partner were the two oldest in the audience without a child with us.

The set I felt was crucial to the show. It was complex and clever, all the houses turned to reveal a new area bits pulled out or down to create beds, sofas and shops. The back wall was lit with brightly coloured lights throughout. The schemer made the show for me as it was fascinating to watch. However for the children I doubt this would have been overly exciting. The scene changes with the scenery made to be dances which was fun and entertaining however a few did run over the time it took to do the change.

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Many adaptation of Peter Pan have taken place, as have plays and films set around the familiar narrative, but this is the first musical version I have seen, I went with a genuine excitement, unfortunately I left disappointed.

Make Believe Productions brings us The Return of Neverland. Neverland hasn't been the same since Wendy left, the magic has gone and all the characters we know so well are meanly exciting. Wendy herself has grown up and has children of her own, but she has not forgotten the magical land of her childhood and constantly tells stories of her adventures. But a malevolent force is at work, they will not be overlooked any longer.

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Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play; and at over 4000 lines of dialogue even the faster speakers would struggle to do the entire play in less than 3½ hours. Cuts must therefore be made. Some of these cuts seem to be universally accepted as being ' the right ones', and seldom if ever are kept in; others remain at the director's discretion. I have thus far seen three performances of Hamlet this year, and this one, presented by Shakespeare At The Tobacco Factory (STF) was the longest and most faithful of the three, lasting three hours including a twenty minute interval.

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When you think of a musical theatre list of greats; Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's name is going to be near the top of that list. Tonight, I was at the beautiful Buxton Opera House to see one of Lloyd Webber's most well known shows and many people's favourite; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The title role being played by X factor winner, Joe McElderry. Joe is Joseph; and it wasn't just for his names sake, from the moment he stepped on to the stage to the moment the curtain came down; he gave a perfect, polished, professional performance, his singing was faultless and he had a great playful nature throughout the show which the audience really took to.

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It has been over thirty years since Chicago first Razzle Dazzled the West End in 1979, but the current UK tour is a solid reminder as to how much of a well-loved classic this John Kander and Fred Ebb score really is. Having never seen a production of Chicago before, and having given up on the dreadful 2002 movie adaptation fifteen minutes after the opening credits, I was fairly new to the plot and the majority of the songs so went with an open mind. My first surprise was the stripped back set with the orchestra placed centre stage and the cast sat at the sides during scenes. The set was minimalistic with few props and staple black costumes of different varieties throughout. Having spoken to others that had seen previous productions, this current tour is definitely stripped back from the original, however this suited the theatre and gave it a fresh appeal.

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From the team that brought us Dreamboats and Petticoats, Save The Last Dance For Me is a nostalgic and charming show set in the 1960s in a small town called Lowestoft that is jam packed with well-loved songs such as Viva Las Vegas, Sweets For My Sweet and Please Mr Postman. The two sisters Marie and Jennifer played by Elizabeth Carter and Lola Saunders are charmed by Antony Costa who plays the role of smooth talking American Milton who invites them to a dance where music and dancing are a definite and love blossoms. Both Saunders and Carter exhibit strong vocal ability in very different ways. Saunders, who is making her stage debut in this production, had a strong yet sassy approach whereby Carter’s sweet, musical voice charmed the audience and was a perfect fit for the era as well as the music. Both had an excellent connection on stage and created a warm believability to their relationship as sisters.

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One of TV's most popular Sunday evening essential viewing series has been written for the stage by David Lonsdale who played David Stockwell in the series and also performs as the character in the stage version. Although the series ended in 2010 after 377 episodes it is still as popular with repeats regularly shown. Unfortunately the stage version is not likely to get you rushing to watch again.

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The only other stage versions of this Musical I had seen up until now had been huge West End transfer shows which starred a certain egoistic and demanding performer meaning that certain songs were given to him, and the storyline changed slightly to accommodate this. So it was wonderful to see the Musical performed as it was written originally for the film.

However, that being said, I don't remember the other productions being rather slow off the ground and lacking a certain pizzazz. Some of the scenes, especially the dialogue-heavy ones were a little laboured in this production, and maybe, just maybe because it was so hot in the theatre, the lack of pace and slickness could be put down to that. However, in my mind, this can only be put down to the fact that the cast were given too much to do and too much was expected of them from the off.

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Don't Dribble on The Dragon is based on a book by Steven Lee, and tells the story of three year old Tom and his relationship with his older brother Jack. Tom loves and worships Jack, his cool older brother and both of the boys have a fantastic time together playing with Jack's dragon. As Jack is older and much cooler than Tom, Tom's dribbling problem starts to come between the brothers. Can the dragon's magic repair their relationship?

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Dominic Woodward as Wacky Woody is a top kids entertainer from Manchester, Woody is well known for warming up the crowds at Media City in Salford for the top CBBC shows. The magic show is aimed at 4 to 8-year-olds and take the children around the world on his travels in a mission to join the Magic Circle, after being set a task to find a magic trick in every continent of the planet by Mr Oliver Oxton from the infamous Magic Circle.

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