Film Review: Queen & Slim

Queen and Slim is Crash, meets Bonnie and Clyde, meets True Romance.

But most of all it’s Queen & Slim.

Copyright: Universal Pictures

Read my view of Queen & Slim on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw –

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/review-queen-and-slim/

Copyright: Universal Pictures

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 31 January 2020 including

https://www.myvue.com/film/queen-and-slim

Home MCR

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/queen-slim

Pics: Rehearsals in full flow for Back to the Future The Musical

If you haven’t yet heard that Back to the Future The Musical (no less) is coming to Manchester’s Opera House on 20 February 2020, great Scott, you’d better make like a leaf and get outta here!

Yes, I did that homage and I’m very proud of my little self…

Starring Olly Dobson as Marty McFly and and Roger Bart as ‘Doc’ , you’ll have 12 weeks to catch the show and from 17 March they even have Sunday matinees (before then, they sleep in on Sundays…)

Oh yes.

As these behind the scenes pictures show, the actors have hit rehearsals at a rate of 88mph (yes it works), with (and this surely stamps quality all over it) original creative team Co-creators and Producers, Bob Gale and Robert Zemekis.

Olly Dobson in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Bob Gale in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Robert Zemeckis in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Olly Dobson and Hugh Coles in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Rosanna Hyland and Olly Dobson in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Hugh Coles and Cedric Neal in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Roger Bart in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes (2)
For full details visit http://backtothefuturemusical.com/

Buy tickets here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/back-to-the-future-the-musical/opera-house-manchester/

News: Croma to treat Manchester to 2000 prices to celebrate 20th year in the city

Gourmet pizza restaurant Croma and I have two things in common.

The first is that pizza is an incredibly important part of our lives.

The second is that this year marks our 20th year living in Manchester!

To celebrate, I’ll be justifying ever single trip out and drink drunk with ‘it’s my 20th anniversary’.

For Croma, with November seeing 20 years since it moved into their central Manchester location on Clarence Street, the restaurant kick-starts celebrations this month by turning back time and releasing a menu with our favourite dishes sold at prices like it’s 2000.

‘The Croma Chonicle’ will take us lucky diners through the history of the restaurant with a generous serving of nostalgia in the shape of some tasty retro prices.

The restaurant was founded by Andrew Bullock, Kirsty Marshall and Bob Dunn and has since opened further restaurants in Didsbury (check), Chorlton (on to do list) and Prestwich (ditto).

Andrew Bullock said,

20 years has flown by, we feel lucky and proud to have been in at the beginning of the flowering of our city’s restaurant and bar culture…

(Me too, Andrew, me too…)

…and we can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring to ourselves and our extraordinary birthplace.

Back to the menu, I’ve flirted and developed a deep passion for the Garstang Blue and Goats Cheese pizza in recent times, but my first love from 2000 onwards will always be the Inglese which is basically a full English breakfast pizza and as brilliant as it sounds. £5 flipping 80 pence for that little delight under this offer.

With pasta dishes from £5.45 and garlic balls at £1.45 (you literally can’t buy anything from £1.45 anymore. Well not literally but almost), an excuse was never needed to dine at Croma. But if one was needed, this is it.

Head to cromapizza.co.uk and marvel.

Film Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield

Dickens, eh?

Have you ever noticed the sheer amount of old English pubs which boast the accolade that Charles Dickens once drank there?

It’s a wonder he got anything done.

Well done he did and one of the things wot he done was David Copperfield. And now Armando Iannucci did done it too.

Read my review of The Personal History of David Copperfield on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw –

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/review-the-personal-history-of-david-copperfield/

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 24 January 2019 including

https://www.myvue.com/cinema/manchester-printworks/whats-on

https://www.myvue.com/cinema/manchester/whats-on

https://mobi.odeon.co.uk/cinemas/manchester_great_northern/225/

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/members-the-personal-history-of-david-copperfield

Preview: HOME is where the People’s Art is – the first Manchester Open Exhibition

Whilst works, appreciation, opinions and afforded gravitas come in all shapes and sizes, art should be inclusive and HOME is bringing this ethos to life by celebrating the amazing talent of Greater Manchester.

In the first region-wide exhibition of its type, HOME welcomed submissions from all across all 10 boroughs, for the inaugural Manchester Open Exhibition which opens tomorrow, Saturday 18 January and runs until 15 March 2020.

Justine Le Joncour – Newton Street

The exhibition sees entries from all levels of experience; established artists, new and emerging talent, enthusiastic amateurs and first-time artists.

Ben Goring – Rich
Gwen Evans – Ar Lan Y Mor (By the Seaside)

With over 2000 pieces submitted, over 500 works were selected by a special panel which included HOME curator, Bren O’Callaghan and Helen Wewiora, Director of Castlefield Gallery.

The result is a wonderfully eclectic exhibition representing the wonderful people of Greater Manchester, which includes paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, digital and mixed media, video and audio, spoken word, performance and more.

Kat Preston – An Ode to Willendorf

And, in the words of the great Jimmy Cricket (never forget) there’s more…(it was a contemporary reference toss up between him and Columbo)…

20 of the artists have been shortlisted for a Manchester Open Award, and the five winners will each receive an artist bursary to the value of 2000 pounds, in collaboration with Castlefield Gallery, which will be tailored to each individual artist, and may cover such things as travel, materials, studio rent, website development or any aspect of their practice following peer advice. Full details including the names of all finalists can be found HERE

Just one more thing (nobody puts Columbo in the corner), visitors to the Manchester Open Exhibition during the first four weeks will get the chance to vote for the winner of The People’s Choice Award.

All winners will also receive (and I LOVE this) an award made by Stockport’s On The Brink Studio, from Manchester poplar, bog oak and wax from the beehives on the roof of HOME.

Jen Orpin – It’s the Manc Way – Safe Passage

So support Greater Manchester by helping support HOME support Greater Manchester and head on over to the Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME from Saturday 18 January.

I’ll be visiting this week and will share what is sure to be my joy and favourites in a further post and pics on here, Twitter and Instagram.

More details can be found at https://homemcr.org/exhibition/manchester-open/

Preview: Salford Museum and Art Gallery welcomes new Collier Street Baths exhibition

I’m as guilty as the next person at taking our streets of Manchester and Salford for granted.

Focused squarely on not tripping over my own feet (the great tumble of St Annes Square of 2003 – never forget), or striking out straight into the path of a tram, I, alongside many residents, workers and visitors to the area, never think to stop and look around at the many beautiful buildings in our midst, both old and new.

Ready to open our eyes and inspire an appreciation of such, an art exhibition has landed at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, celebrating the beautiful architecture of Collier Street Baths through a collection of paintings by local artist, Ian McKay.

Ian McKay c/o Salford Leisure

Just off Trinity Way in Salford, the Grade II listed building was designed by the city’s own Thomas Worthington, who designed many of the noted structures including The Albert Memorial and Memorial Hall in Albert Square, and the City Police Courts.

The oldest surviving public baths in Great Britain, Collier Street Baths (also termed ‘Greengate Baths’, opened in 1856 by the Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company, but since closing in 1880, has remained derelict ever since.

The good news is that the building is finally to be redeveloped – watch that Salfordian space!

1856 was the beginning of the golden age for public swimming and the baths were used by 50,000 people a year at their peak. Note Oarsman, Mark Addy, who rescued more than 50 people from drowning in the Irwell (yes, that’s who the pub was named after, not the actor), indeed learnt to swim at Collier Street Baths.

Fascinated by the building’s Italianate architectural aesthetic (Worthington having been inspired by a recent trip to Italy), artist, Ian McKay, spent time on location producing a collection of drawings and colour studies of the exterior of the building, which eventually evolved into a series of abstract paintings.

Ian McKay c/o Salford Leisure

Ian says

Collier Street Baths to me is a crucial part of Salford and Manchester’s social history and I felt the building deserved to have its story told visually…the baths played a huge part in the health and wellbeing of people in both cities and gave people a lot of pleasure so i wanted to create this same feeling with an exhibition that is a tribute to this fine building.

Ian also runs Gorton Visual Arts, which teaches new skills to elderly residents, vulnerable adults and residents with learning difficulties, all in a safe studio environment.

The Collier Street Baths exhibition runs until 26 April 2020 at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, is free to visit and open six days a week (excluding bank holidays). A programme of activity will also run to support the exhibition.

For more details, visit the Salford Museum website.

And next time you’re pounding our glorious streets, paved, of course, with Mancunian and Salfordian gold, remember to look around you (check for trams first)…

Preview: Manchester Jewish Museum to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with two premiere performances

2020 heralds 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi death-camps.

On Monday 27 January, Manchester Jewish Museum will mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), with two premieres of musical and theatrical performances, staged at Manchester Central Library.

Songs of Arrival

During the afternoon, music by acclaimed Israeli composer Na’ama Zisser,the first to introduce cantorial music into opera, will be performed together with a premiere of brand-new songs in a free pop-up performance installation, entitled Songs of Arrival, from 4pm in the Music Library. 

Pic credit: Manchester Jewish Museum

The Museum’s very own community song-writing group – who have been working with musician and composer Joe Steele to create original compositions – will also perform. These brand new songs will premiere at the Library, and bring to life the Museum’s oral history collection from where stories of arriving in Cheetham Hill in the 1930s and 40s originate. 

Of the four brand new songs written and performed for HMD by the Museum’s community writing group, two are based directly on stories from the museum’s oral history collection. The other two draw on themes of migration and cultural integration more generally; a song created with ESOL students at the Abraham Moss Adult Learning Centre takes as its inspiration the ubiquity of the phrase ‘Thank you, love’, which the students observed after arriving in Manchester, weaving together different translations including Arabic, Portugese and Welsh. Meanwhile, Celebration of Love, written by group member Andy Steele, brings a positive message of ‘making peace, not war’.

Opera Singer Peter Braithwaite, who is also the Museum’s Artist in Residence, concludes this interactive musical installation and line-up with one of Na’ama Zisser’s song Love Sick – performed in Hebrew and based on the Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) a book in the bible which explores love.

Holocaust Brunch

In the evening of Monday 27th, the Museum’s commemoration of HMD continues with the Northern Premiere of Holocaust Brunch by London based, Canadian theatre makerand performer, Tamara Micner. Fusing and using comedy with beigels, this funny and brave solo show brings to life the true stories of two Holocaust survivors connected to Tamara, and pries open an intergenerational wound to explore why we remember the Holocaust and what it is like to live in the shadows of genocide and displacement.

Pic credit – Holly Revell

Holocaust Brunch tells a remarkable true Holocaust survival story. Micner reflects on her experience of growing up as a descendent of survivors, and explores how communities can heal from ancestral trauma. Holocaust Brunch is a dark comedy, recounting a story not typically told, and Tamara Micner serves up beigels and cream cheese as she pries open an intergenerational wound and asks why we remember, and what it might look like to forget.

Pic credit: Holly Revell

Created with a team of Jewish and non-Jewish artists, Micner’s moving, funny and thoughtful solo performance invites audiences to reflect how, as the next generation, we can keep memories alive. As part of the creation of Holocaust Brunch, Tamara Micner has collaborated with London-based printmaker Yael Roberts, who has made a series of original prints, The Trauma Documents, which respond to parts of the story and appear throughout the show as video projections. These will be on display at Manchester Central Library alongside the performance of Holocaust Brunch.

The Manchester Jewish Museum is currently based at Manchester Central Library until 2021 whilst work is underway to extend its original Cheetham Hill site.

Songs of Arrival is a free drop-in event between 4-5pm – more information is at https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/event/holocaust-memorial-day-songs-of-arrival/

Holocaust Brunch stars at 7.30pm and tickets can be purchased at https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/event/holocaust-brunch-by-tamara-micner/

 The Manchester Jewish Museum is currently based at Manchester Central Library until 2021 whilst work is carried out to extend its original Cheetham Hill site.

Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House

I’m cough years old but a good pantomime won’t fail to touch even the most jadedcynical, grown up of adults. And this was no exception.

In fact, and at the risk of over-exuberance (although at the time of writing I’ve had a 12 hour cooling off period) I’d say this was the bar by which pantomimes should be set.

I know!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (dwarves isn’t the plural of dwarf – who knew?) at the Opera House, Manchester, is quite simply a masterclass in panto.

Craig Revel Horwood as the Queen was truly Wicked in every sense of the word. Flamboyant, devilishly funny and quite simply screamingly fab-u-lous. What a set of lungs too. Oo-indeed-err.

The Strictly refs came thick and fast but each one landing perfectly (‘out of 10, I’d give him 1…’) and the charisma exuded by this evil queen (indeed) was second to none.

Eric Potts was the ultimate, ultimate Dame! From his cheeky look at the princes’s testimonials, there wasn’t a pun unchecked, a camp aside left unspoken or outrageous outfit left unworn.

Ben Nickless as Muddles barely drew breath during the entire performance and was a triumph as panto Master of Ceremonies.

From 0-100mph the second he took to the stage, the impressions (his Mark Owen just killed me) , cheeky gags, physical comedy and engagement with the audience was second to none. Variety, vaudeville, call it what you want, but it was bloody brilliant.

The three actors together had incredible chemistry and gave us some wonderful laugh out loud moments (I rarely laugh out loud, reader, even the mirthiest of moments will usually lead only to a weird expelling of breath) but I laughed until actual tears came down.

If you’re not belly laughing at the tongue-twister scene or the 12 days of Christmas skit, we cannot be friends.

Zoe George served up a simply perfect princess Snow White as did Joshua St Clair as Prince Harry – pitch perfect and leaving us believing in the love story.

The ‘Magnificent Seven’ had less stage time than expected, but made the most of their scenes, with enough ‘top bantz’ to make you hi-ho-ho-ho (yes, sorry…)

The script also gave great Manchester, with local references aplenty including some saucy refs to a cockatoo on canal street, with nothing in the wider stratosphere was off limits including Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson – the perfect balance of laughs for the kids and under the radar gags for the grown ups.

With such talented cast and performances, the show would be forgiven for resting on its laurels but the production values were spell binding.

The relatively simple sets complimented the magical costumes perfectly and with a couple of surprises literally springing out into the audience, the fourth wall was there to be broken both visually and in the knowing patter throughout.

I think I’ve waxed quite lyrically now and will go have a lie down.

Give yourself an early Christmas present and head to the Opera House immediately, if not sooner. And before Sunday 29 December, 2019.

For full details and tickets head to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/snow-white/opera-house-manchester/

Review: The Manchester Project at Christmas. At HOME

I love a good kick-start to the festive season.

For some it’s a trip to Dunham Massey’s ever popular lights extravaganza, some a performance of The Nutcracker, for some the appearance of the ‘red cups’ or even seeing Zippy being put together outside the Town Hall (Rest in Peace).

This year I spring-boarded into the season by heading HOME to see The Manchester Project at Christmas.

Brought to us by  Monkeywood  theatre company, Manchester is the heartbeat of everything they do.

The company ask the questions,

what does it mean to be a mancunian? what is it like to live here?

and just this piece of theatre does a pretty good job of answering, as the project delivers up a ‘theatrical map of Manchester’, with 14 shorts, each focusing on an area (aside from one, which centres on our very own HOME).

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

With a company of six local actors (Cynthia Emeagi, Zoe Iqbal, Reuben Johnson, Andrew Sheridan, Samantha Siddall and Gurjeet Singh),  and each play brought to us by writers from across the city, it really is the ultimate Christmas gift of homegrown talent. I should at this point out that sadly Samantha Siddall was ill (get well soon) and her parts were taken by writer and producer Sarah McDonald Hughes. And brilliantly so.

A little of the production itself, the gallery has been transformed into a theatre space but one which is incredibly relaxed and feels decidedly ‘fringe’.

Take your seat at one of the many tables dotted around, set down your drink, and sit back whilst combinations of the six actors perform on a sparse stage the only props being white boxes adorned with the name of the 14 focal places:

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

HOME, Little Hulton, Middleton, Strangeways, Crumpsall, Shaw, Hulme, Whalley Range, Chorlton, Cheetham Hill, Moss Side, Wythenshawe, Old Trafford and Timperley.

I’ll never get this review out before Boxing Day if I write about each short, so whilst all were entertaining, touching in their own way, I’ll pull out a couple:

Chorlton – a touching story of a separated couple who we learn meet up annually at the graveside of the daughter they lost when she was 6 years old. In just a few short lines, we quickly discover a warmth between the exes which perhaps was previously destroyed by their shared loss.

Cheetham Hill – a laugh out loud performance by Zoe Iqbal, selling cheap knock-offs  the genuine thing like a goodun, working the audience with brilliant timing and wit.

With a Santa hat as a prop and passed round like a baton between the plays, The Manchester Project covers homelessness, crime, immigration, teenage pregnancy, bereavement, Frank Sidebottom and ferret racing. It really does.

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

And it’s a celebration of not only the Manchester area, Manchester people and the talent we harbour in this fine city, but a brilliant way to kick start your Christmas.

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

Not only that, you get some extra bang for your buck and a drag dessert to your main on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the shape of Miss Blair’s TV special (celebrating our favourite British icons at Christmas,  or the Ho Ho Holiday Comedy Hour on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays featuring the likes of Mrs Barbara Nice.

So what are you waiting for? Your house looks like it’s vomited fairy lights, you’ve begun the ritualistic ‘sod it it’s Christmas’ to excuse bad behaviour and you’ve become afflicted with Twiglet fingers.

Give yourself the early gift of Manchester with The Manchester Project, on until 30 December 2019.

For more details of the production and to buy tickets, head to https://homemcr.org/production/the-manchester-project-at-christmas/

News: HOME brings in 2020 with a retrospective of award-winning Mancunian screenwriter, Robert Bolt

I’m currently trying my hand at screenwriting (under the excellent tutorage of Scriptwriting North), love a regular visit to HOME and dip my toe in the world of film both here and over at What the Projectionist Saw

So battling my way through a frankly annoying barrage of emails in my inbox about Black Friday,  there was only one missive which caught my eye and promised me the ultimate gift (and not a BF reference in sight – a GOOD thing).

HOME are seeing in 2020 with their annual British Screenwriters season, 5-22 January, and there’s a mancunian cherry on the cake.

Manchester-born and educated Robert Bolt will be the subject of a celebrated season of works including the infamous and frankly quite epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr Zhivago (1965).

Happy new year to us!

Curated by Andy Willis, HOME’s Senior Visiting Curator: Film and Professor of Film Studies at the University of Salford, the season will screen three of Bolt’s award-winning collaborations with Lean: Lawrence of Arabia, recipient of seven Oscars in 1963 including Best Film and Best Director, with a Best Screenplay nomination for Bolt; Doctor Zhivago, which won Bolt his first Oscar and Golden Globe; and Ryan’s Daughter (1970), a double Oscar-winning epic romance set against a backdrop of war and political turmoil.

Also screening is the 1966 screen adaptation of Bolt’s internationally successful stage play of the same name, A Man for All Seasons, with Paul Scofield reprising his West End and Broadway role as Sir Thomas More – for which he was awarded an Oscar – alongside a cast including Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt and directed by Hollywood veteran Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity). Rounding off the season is Bolt’s final film, The Mission – the haunting, epic tale of a missionary in 18th-century South America starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons and directed by Roland Joffé – winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival as well as a final Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Bolt.

Curator Andy Willis heads up proceedings with a special One Hour Intro about Bolt and his career, commenting…

Bolt is a true Manchester success story – born in Sale and educated in Manchester, he studied at Manchester University before and after serving in World War II. We’re excited to be celebrating this brilliant writer who enjoyed critical and commercial success across such a vast range of theatre and film writing, and possessed a true knack for making history contemporary and tackling moral issues dramatically.

For more details including the full programme list and to buy tickets, head to the HOME website at https://homemcr.org/event/british-screenwriters-robert-bolt/