When? Saturday 11th February 2012
Where? Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, stalls
Who? Ali Bastian, Stefan Booth, Tupele Dorgu, Bernie Nolan, Jamie Baughan, Alex Weatherhill, Chloe Ames, Jennifer Hilton, Ian Oswald, Daniele Arbisi, Matt Krzan, Claire Rogers, Karen Aspinall, Dominic Lamb, Ashley Rumble, Nick Blair, Kate Morris, Adam Salter, Melanie Cripps, Genevieve Nicole, Gregor Stewart

A very special gala night at the Bradford Alhambra welcomed the opening of the 2012 UK Tour of Chicago last Saturday – and what a night it turned out to be. Chicago is very much a show I hold near and dear to my heart, and one I have spoken about at length previously. I am delighted to say therefore – that even with my most critical eye on – this tour is an absolute joy to behold from sizzling start to perfectly executed finish.

Chicago is a show that lives or dies by its cast, and this all-new cast assembled for the 2012 UK Tour is the finest I have seen in my many visits to Chicago over the years. Ann Reinking’s dazzling choreography (brought to life by Gary Chryst) continues to do the late great Bob Fosse proud. Leading the cast are television actors Tupele Dorgu, Ali Bastian and Stefan Booth who are equally superb heading up the strong company. The pacing and ‘feel’ of this tour are spot on; Scott Faris’ direction, based on Walter Bobbie’s earlier work, is a masterclass in humour versus reality. The cast mostly play it straight, giving the characters an edge which is so often missing and bringing a reality to the frivolity of the piece – without subduing the actors keen performances. Dorgu’s ‘All That Jazz’ is as tight and forceful as anyone I have heard; Ali Bastian’s ‘Roxie’ is dripping with ego and plenty of laughs and Stefan Booth’s ‘We Both Reached for the Gun’ is an absolute blast and possibly the strongest number of the night. But then, there wasn’t a moment I didn’t enjoy; even Mary Sunshine’s momentum-stopping number ‘A Little Bit of Good’ is actually worthy of its spot, thanks to a fun performance from Alex Weatherhill. I simply can’t imagine a more fitting Amos than Jamie Baughan – the mixture of pathos and humour gives the character the gravitas that previous cast members simply haven’t achieved. ‘Mr. Cellophane’ is the perfect culmination of an outstanding performance from Baughan.

The dancing is some of the tightest I have ever seen from a mainstream musical theatre show. The entire company of triple-threat performers should be extremely proud of what they have achieved. The cracking band, led by Adrian Kirk, do not miss a beat and interact wonderfully well with the cast giving the show an unusually well-rehearsed and care given feel. This tour is a stronger, tighter production than the West End production – with its constant chopping and changing of cast, and notorious lack of rehearsal time – I would go so far as to recommend Londoners who want to see Chicago travel and see this tour instead.

See it while it’s hot – this tour of Chicago is as good as it gets.

Chicago plays the Bradford Alhambra until 18th February 2012 and then tours nationally.

- Harry Zing
Chewingthescenery.com

2012 is set to be a very exciting year for our Yorkshire theatres; The Phantom of the Opera, Sister Act, Chicago, Carousel, Calendar Girls, The Mousetrap and many, many more headline an impressive calendar, with every major national touring production making at least one stop in Yorkshire this year. In this preview I will be looking at Bradford Theatres and their impressive Q1 2012 line-up;

January/February 2012;

Until 5th February 2012 – Bradford Alhambra
Robin Hood
£9.00-£24.50
Ah, Billy Pearce; truly a man of a thousand voices – all of them from Leeds. The final weeks of the Alhambra’s famous annual pantomime sees Robin Hood closing at the Alhambra – but don’t worry if you can’t make it, the ever popular Yorkshire comic Pearce will be returning for more panto next season in Sleeping Beauty.

2nd February 2012 – 7:30pm – St George’s Hall
Belinda Carlisle
£19.50-£25.00
Perhaps best known for her 1987 anthem ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’, former Go-Go’s singer Belinda Carlisle comes to St. George’s Hall for one night only, singing all of her best hit. In recent years Carlisle has briefly appeared in the West End production of Hairspray, toured extensively and appeared on US TV show ‘Dancing With the Stars’ – where she was the first celebrity to be eliminated. I am sure her vocals will trump her dancing and will provide a great evening’s entertainment.

3rd February 2012 – 7:30pm – St George’s Hall
Battle of the Giants – The Pop ‘N’ Rock Years
£16.00-£18.00
Battle of the Giants is billed as ‘an interactive audience participation show’ centred around the ‘iconic Radio Luxembourg programme ‘Battle of the Giants’ – complete with jingles, commercials, ‘Revived 45s’, ‘Golden Classics’ and ‘Blasts from the Past’!’. It sounds on similar lines to the hilarious Eurobeat, with the audience choosing a winning ‘act’ on the night; I am not sure if there will be much for those younger theatregoers completely unfamiliar with Radio Luxembourg, Mike Read et al but it certainly sounds interesting and worth taking a gamble on for a few hours.

6th/7th February 2012 – 7:30pm – St George’s Hall
Billy Connolly – The Man Live
£30.00-£35.00SOLD OUT
In what must be considered a huge coup for Bradford Theatres, Billy Connolly returns to St. George’s Hall for two sold out performances of his unique brand of stand up comedy. Love him or loathe him, there is no denying his enormous following; I think he probably could have sold out an entire run just from support of his diehard fans alone. It is an interesting choice for Connolly to continue to perform in the smaller St. George’s Hall space when I am sure that he could have easily filled the Alhambra, but with previous in 1985 and 1995 at the Hall, I’m sure he will be welcomed back with open arms.

10th February 2012 – 7:30pm – St George’s Hall
Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra
£12.00-£26.00
“The Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra make a welcome return to Bradford under their eminent music director, Valery Polyansky and his extremely talented daughter, the pianist Tatyana Polyanskaya.” – Bradford Theatres

10th-18th February 2012 – Mon-Thurs 7:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:00pm & 8.30pm – Bradford Alhambra
Chicago
£14.50-£35.00
The first AAA tour of the season sees Chicago visit the Bradford Alhambra on the first date of its 2012 national tour. I am very excited about seeing this touring production, as the West End show was in dire shape back in 2009 when I last took in Chicago, then starring the hapless Jennifer Ellison, in the cramped Cambridge Theatre. With the West End production having been given a new lease of life at the Garrick Theatre, I have high hopes that the touring production has been invigorated with a fresh energy and enthusiasm.
The principal cast is made up of British television celebrities; Ali Bastian (Hollyoaks, The Bill) plays Roxie Hart, Stefan Booth (Hollyoaks, EastEnders) plays Billy Flynn, Tupele Dorgu (Coronation Street, Loose Women) takes on Velma Kelly and stage veteran Bernie Nolan will play Matron Mama Morton. Of the three principal cast, only Tupele Dorgu has notable prior musical theatre experience (La Cage Aux Folles, Mamma Mia!) so it will be very interesting to see how they get on. I recommend checking out this production!
*I wrote a piece chronicling the cast recordings of Chicago in two parts, which you may find in Zing’s Record Collection Archive.

17th February 2012 – 7:30pm – Bradford Cathedral
Smetana Piano Trio
£11.00-£13.00
“The Smetana Piano Trio performs regularly throughout the Czech Republic with its international tours taking it across Europe and to the Far East. We are delighted to welcome them to Bradford Cathedral.” – Bradford Theatres

19th February 2012 – 8:00pm – Bradford Alhambra
Bianca Li Dance Company – ELEKTRO KIF
£12.50-£19.50
“Blanca Li takes the urban streetdance style electro, a dazzling mix of breaking, disco, vogue, popping and locking, off the streets of Paris, mixes it up with some theatre, contemporary dance and an amazing soundtrack and gives you Elektro Kif.” – Bradford Theatres

21st-25th February 2012 – Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Weds Mat 2:00pm, Sat Mat 2:30pm – Bradford Alhambra
STOMP
£10.50-£25.50
Remarkably Stomp has been around since 1991. It has now been seen by millions of theatregoers, has played well over 5,000 performances on Broadway and is approaching its ninth consecutive year in the West End; with a Las Vegas spectacular and dozens of productions running around the globe, this tour of Stomp is the hottest ticket in town when it visits the Bradford Alhambra for one week only. Stomp‘s success is quite an incredible feat, when you consider that the once-tiny Brighton percussion dance troupe headed by founders Steve McNicholas and Luke Cresswell began developing the show by playing street theatre at small local festivals. This is one of the must-sees of the year at the Bradford Alhambra – early booking is essential. Expect much crashing of dustpan lids and plenty of laughs!

22nd February 2012 – 7:30pm – King’s Hall Ilkley
An Evening with Henry Blofeld – Shaken Not Stirred
£15.00
“One of the most recognisable voices in British sports broadcasting, Henry Blofeld has been a much loved fixture of the BBC’s Test Match Special commentary team since 1972.” – Bradford Theatres

22nd February 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
All Star 60′s Show
£17.50-£19.50
“Imagine five amazingly talented 60′s icons, who have enjoyed phenomenal success throughout their musical careers, getting together to perform as a ‘supergroup’…… and you have the fantastic All Star 60′s Show!” – Bradford Theatre’s words, not mine, but it is hard to disagree with the line up on paper – especially because I haven’t heard of any of them. The band are made up of Tony Crane (The Merseybeats), Geoff Turton (The Rockin’ Berries), Chip Hawkes (The Tremeloes) with Pete Hilton (drums) and Tony Baker (keyboards); I must confess to being a touch young to remember any of the 60′s bands mentioned – I think this may be one just for the older rocker. At the low entry price though it may well be worth a viewing, to see if they really are ‘rocking in the aisles’!

22nd February 2012 – 8:00pm – The Studio
The Adventures of Andy Kershaw
£15.00 (conc. £13.00)
“Andy Kershaw has a record collection that weighs seven tons and is one of the UK’s most decorated broadcasters (and he’s seen his own intestines) – a mix that will make for a very interesting evening!” – Bradford Theatres. Expect an evening of anecdotes and mildly anarchic humour from the veteran broadcaster.

24th February 2012 – 8:00pm – St. George’s Hall
Rumours of Fleetwood Mac
£22.50
“The ultimate tribute to one of rock and roll history’s most truly remarkable stories” – Bradford Theatres. I am not sure – and it is hard to ascertain from reviews – whether this show is simply a tribute performance or does, as the literature hints, contain a narrative drive. Expect a good quality Fleetwood Mac tribute concert at the very least, and here’s hoping for a little more!

28th February-3rd March 2012 – Terrible Tudors: Tues 7:00pm, Weds 10:30am, Thurs 1:30pm, Fri 10:30am, Sat 2:30pm. Vile Victorians: Weds 1:30pm, Thurs 10:30am, Fri 7:00pm, Sat 10:30am – Bradford Alhambra
Horrible Histories
£12.50 (conc. £2.00 off)
“Using actors and ground-breaking 3D special effects, these two astounding shows – THE TERRIBLE TUDORS and THE VILE VICTORIANS – are guaranteed to thrill you and your children. Historical figures and events will come alive on stage and hover at your fingertips.” – Bradford Theatres. The idea here is that you see both shows, which alternate with a morning and afternoon performance daily. Obviously, this is one for the kids and not likely one I will be attending but by all accounts this tour is of a high quality and will pack the school groups in from across West Yorkshire. The fact that it is playing the Alhambra for an entire week shows the need (not to mention the council’s contractual requirement) to host shows such as this for the community’s benefit and will provide a great entry into theatre for thousands of children.

28th February 2012 – 8:00pm – St. George’s Hall
Reginald D Hunter (Support: John Gordillo)
£20.00
Easily recognisable from a plethora of television panel shows, Reginald D Hunter is perhaps at his best when performing his award winning stand up, which happily he brings to St. George’s Hall for one night only. Expect a brutally honest, unerring night of stand up from one of the top comedians on the UK circuit.

29th February 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
Over the Rainbow – The Eva Cassidy Story
£15.50-£19.50
Simply put, Over the Rainbow is the Eva Cassidy bio-musical. I saw this production in 2010 at the Wakefield Theatre Royal and I am delighted to say the best part of the evening, the star, Sarah Jane Buckley is returning to play Eva Cassidy for this tour which also features talent show runner-up Rob McVeigh and Pauline Fleming (Brookside, Coronation Street) respectively. I will not go into too much detail here as I plan to re-review this production in more detail, but there was certainly a great deal of potential in the show when I saw it previously and Buckley’s vocals were truly outstanding. If you have even a passing interest in Eva Cassidy’s music, this is definitely worth a trip – although if you are a fan of the book musical you may find some of the script rather porous. Forget the book and acting performances, simply enjoy Buckley’s performance as older Eva Cassidy and you will not be disappointed.

March 2012;

1st March 2012 – 8:00pm – St. George’s Hall
Stewart Lee – Carpet Remnant World
£17.50-£19.50
“A new full length touring show from the acclaimed star of BBC2′s Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.” – Bradford Theatres. Another big-name comedian visits St. George’s Hall for one night only, this time it is British intellectual comic and author Stewart Lee who brings his unique brand of snarky, social comment back in his new tour. I always rated Lee funnier than his fellow stand-up and long-time collaborator Richard Herring (review here) so this should be a cracking evening, provided he stays on topic and keeps the audience on side(!). Herring himself returns to King’s Hall Ilkley on the 11th of March (see below).

2nd March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
The Albion Band
£16.50-£18.50
“English folk group The Albion Band play St George’s Hall – for one night only!” – Bradford Theatres.

6th March 2012 – 2:00pm – Venue TBA
Roll Out the Barrel
£9.50 (OAP’s £1 off)
I say, I say, I say! This strangely secretive listing promises “An afternoon of musical nostalgia” and “A return of the ever popular concert.  All your old favourites.” at a venue to be confirmed. It would appear to be an afternoon of music hall (with music hall being all the rage in 2012) so keep an eye on this one, if you like a bit of Ella Shields this is the show for you.

Tom Mannion as Inspector Goole

6th-10th March 2012 – Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Weds-Thurs 2:30pm, Sat 2:00pm – Bradford Alhambra
An Inspector Calls
£11.50-£26.00
This brilliant NT tour has been around ages; and it is easy to see why. An Inspector Calls rightly boasts nineteen major theatre awards to its name, with four successful West End seasons, touring the UK extensively inbetween them – this tour may as well say “Direct from the West End.. where it is going to return when it finishes selling out the theatres across the country..”. J.B Priestley’s play is a joy every single time; even if you have seen this classic play before it is worth returning, the second viewing is just as enjoyable as the first. The current cast stars Tom Mannion as Inspector Goole, whom I recently saw starring in Bolton Octagon’s The Price.

7th March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
Fascinating Aida: The Cheap Flights Tour
£17.50-£19.50
“Continuing their smash-hit, sell-out 2011 tour! Three times Olivier Award nominated and now a global internet sensation, Fascinating Aïda are still Britain’s best comedy cabaret trio.” – Bradford Theatres

8th March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
Verdi’s La Traviata
£16.00-£31.50
This looks really, really interesting. Playing one night only at St. George’s Hall, this production of La Traviata, many people’s favourite opera due to the gripping story, memorable arias and high romance is to be given by “Internationally Acclaimed Ukrainian National Opera of Kharkiv … With international soloists, a highly praised chorus, and full orchestra. Starring the International sopranos Rosa Lee Thomas and Elena Dee … This magnificent production boasts sumptuous sets and costumes.”. This looks a must see evening of opera.

9th March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
Dave Spikey ‘Words Don’t Come Easy’ Tour
£17.50
“Inspired by the amazing audience reaction to his deconstruction of song lyrics in his “Best Medicine Tour” combined with his fascination with the vagaries of the English Language, Dave’s hilarious new show examines many more situations in life..” – Bradford Theatres

10th March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
One Night of Elvis with Lee ‘Memphis’ King
£18.00-£20.00
“Don’t miss this remarkable show – a must see for all Elvis fans” – Bradford Theatres. Elvis tribute act.

11th March 2012 – 8:00pm – King’s Hall Ilkley
Richard Herring: What is Love Anyway?
£15.00
Richard Herring returns to Yorkshire with his new tour; in his own words: “Having sorted out religion (Christ on a Bike), politics (Hitler Moustache) and penises (Talking Cock), the star of the award-winning podcast “As It Occurs To Me” and Radio 4′s “Richard Herring’s Objective” seeks to define and destroy love.”. As I mentioned in my review of his previous tour ‘Christ on a Bike’, Herring is very funny on his day and some of his material is truly hilarious. His wordplay can make a strong argument out of the nonsensical; make the outrageous rageous. But Herring has a tendency to get easily distracted and lose the charm he exudes when performing rehearsed material when he becomes, well, himself; if he stays on script, expect a top evening of stand up comedy. Herring will have you questioning your own concept of love on the journey home.

Save the Last Dance for Me

12th-17th March 2012 – Mon-Sat 7:30pm, Weds 2:00pm, Sat 2:30pm – Bradford Alhambra
Save the Last Dance For Me
£10.50-£30.00
“From the Producers, Directors & Writers of Dreamboats and PetticoatsSave the Last Dance for Me will take you back through the ‘music and magic’ of the early 60′s, a time when each passing week brought another classic Rock ‘n’ Roll track” – Bradford Theatres. I really enjoyed Dreamboats and Petticoats, which came as something of a surprise, and it seems the team have gotten together to make ‘more of the same’. Expect a very frothy, lighthearted jukebox musical from Bill Kenwright with the Alhambra providing one of the very first stops of this large-scale UK tour. Also expect a talented young cast of drama school graduates and up-and-coming talent. The words ‘nostalgic’ and ‘feel good’ are very common in musical theatre blurb nowadays; if you enjoyed Dreamboats, Buddy et al then I am sure this is worth a visit.

 

13th-14th March 2012 – Tues 7:30pm, Weds 2:00pm & 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
Moscow City Ballet – Romeo & Juliet
£15.00-£30.00
“Don’t miss this sumptuous production with gorgeous costumes and decorative set. Accompanied by the Moscow Ballet Orchestra.” – Bradford Theatres. Again, a very interesting booking for Bradford Theatres and one I will definitely be attending. Set to Prokofiev’s score this production looks fairly basic, but I have seen the company before and they have a very talented troupe. The music, if performed to a good standard, is worth the admission alone. Throw in some quality dance from a group as underrated as Moscow City Ballet and £30.00 is looking a bargain.

16th March 2012 – 7:30pm – Bradford Cathedral
Leonid Gorokhov, Cello & Larissa Gorokhova, Piano
£11.00-£13.00
“Born in St Petersburg, Leonid Gorokhov has appeared as soloist with many of the premium orchestra’s across the world. He is joined by Larissa Gorokhov to perform a wonderfully romantic programme.” – Bradford Theatres

16th March 2012 – 8.00pm – St. George’s Hall
Doug Stanhope
£20.00
“A freewheeling articulacy of which this still-thrilling comic is capable…electrifying comedy.” – Bradford Theatres. Another highly rated comedian Doug Stanhope comes to St. George’s Hall for one night only. Expect the air to be very blue as the very highly rated Stanhope bills his show as ‘adults only’..

17th March 2012 – 7.30pm – St. George’s Hall
Sing-A-Long-A-Grease
£15.00
If you are going Along-A to this event, you know who you are..! Have fun and remember, nobody is judging you.

18th March 2012 – 6:00pm – St. George’s Hall
Spaghetti Western Orchestra
£16.00-£20.00
“The magnificent five are riding into town! Armed with over 100 instruments, these brilliant musicians perform a fistful of Ennio Morricone classics from the movies that made Clint Eastwood a star.” – Bradford Theatres

20th March 2012 – 8:00pm – St. George’s Hall
The Bootleg Beatles in Concert
£25.00
“Re-live the sights and sounds of the sixties as the world’s premier Beatle band returns to St George’s Hall.” – Bradford Theatres. The Bootleg Beatles are the world’s best loved Beatles tribute band and have been touring consistently now for decades. Well worth a look if you’re a fan of the Beatles (obviously).

 

The logo for the play makes it clear that the play is called "The Diary of Anne Frank"

20th-24th March 2012 – Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Weds-Thurs 2:00pm, Sat 2:30pm – Bradford Alhambra
The Diary of Anne Frank
£10.50-£24.00
“Anne Frank’s famous diary charts two years of her life from 1942 to 1944. This extraordinary personal account of hope, courage and survival has united and touched people worldwide.” – Bradford Theatres. Last March, The Touring Consortium Theatre Company & York Theatre Royal brought us their brand new production of To Kill a Mockingbird; this year they bring us equally as poignant a piece in the Pulitzer Award winning play adaption of The Diary of Anne Frank. The production will star TV veteran Christopher Timothy as Otto Frank and promises to be a potentially heartbreaking night of straight theatre. The production will be directed by Nikolai Foster (Flashdance, All the Fun of the Fair) – you can read my interview with Nikolai here.

23rd March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
The Hallé
£12.00-£26.00
“The Hallé and its principal guest conductor, Christian Mandeal, make their welcome third visit to Bradford this season with a programme consisting entirely of masterpieces of English music.” – Bradford Theatres.

27th-28th March 2012 – 8:00pm – Bradford Alhambra
Nederlands Danse Theater 2
£12.50-£22.50
“One of the world’s most popular contemporary dance companies is making a welcome return next year. With their winning combination of youthful exuberance and astonishing athleticism, NDT2 wow audiences wherever they perform.” – Bradford Theatres. Given Bradford Theatres’ incredible recent history in securing the best dance shows on the circuit, this promises to be a cracking evening’s entertainment. In the past eighteen months we have seen the likes of Havana Rakatan, and Burn The Floor wow Alhambra audiences and the, albeit less-than-catchily titled Nederlands Danse Theater 2, promises the same high standard.

28th March 2012 – 7:30pm – King’s Hall Ilkley
The Searchers
£16.50-£18.50
“The Searchers starring John McNally, Frank Allen, Spencer James and Scott Ottaway, performing such classic hits as Sweets For My Sweet; Needles and Pins; Don’t Throw Your Love Away and When You Walk In The Room” – Bradford Theatres

29th March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
Johnny Cash Roadshow – A Tribute
£17.50
“So much more than just a tribute to Johnny Cash – an audio and visual spectacle to entertain you!” – Bradford Theatres.

31st March 2012 – 7:30pm – St. George’s Hall
All the Single Ladies
£17.50-£22.50
“The course of true love never did run smooth. Three women, three stories, three lives and one problem. Lies, deceit, red faces, regrets, hangovers and revenge!” – Bradford Theatres. This production stars Leslie Ash and, as the title implies, looks to be one strictly for the laydeez. The synopsis sounds like a dramatized episode of Loose Women; “Liz is a veteran in the art of romance – if love is a battleground this woman calls the shots. Orla has waited so long for Mr Right she hasn’t noticed her Prince has turned into a frog. Alison is just too young to have been left on her own. One has been married seven times. One would settle for being introduced to his friends; the other has just lost the love of her life. It seems these woman have little in common but when was a woman all that she seems? A hilarious, feel good evening with a marathon punch!”. Expect a lot of girl power and, dare I say it, anti-male posturing as the better sex put the world to rights.

- Harry Zing
Chewingthescenery.com

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That, in a nutshell, is quarter one of 2012 across Bradford’s beautiful theatres. You can find booking details below should anything take your fancy and remember, if you are planning to Sing-Along-A-Grease then please make sure you go on the right date; the audience of The Diary of Anne Frank will not appreciate your rendition of Greased Lightnin’ as the Nazis are closing in.

Bradford Theatres
Box Office: 01274 432000
Book Online: Here

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