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Articles relating to: theatre

RSC-Matilda-The-Musical-UK-Ireland-Tour.-Photo-Manuel-Harlan

Theatre Review: Matilda – The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester

September 21, 2018 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Matilda – The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester

Eight years ago, I snagged tickets to Matilda: The Musical at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre.

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Jade Anouka, Queen Margaret. Image by Johan Persson

Theatre Review: Queen Margaret, Royal Exchange, Manchester

September 20, 2018 No Comments

Typical. You wait ages for a Shakespeare mash-up on one of Manchester’s main stages then two come along at once.

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Rock Of Ages, Kevin Kennedy

“I’m just a lad from Wythenshawe.” Former Corrie actor Kevin Kennedy talks about Rock of Ages

September 17, 2018 No Comments

What have Justin Lee Collins, Alec Baldwin and Curly Watts got in common? Give up? Well, they have all made the character Dennis Dupree from Rock of Ages their own.

Kevin Kennedy, who many know as Curly, the infamous bin man from Coronation Street, is taking on this role for a brand new production which hits the road at the end of September. But who is Dennis?  

“He is a guy who owns the Bourbon Rooms in LA in the 80s which is the mecca for rock music,” explains Kennedy on a break from rehearsals. “He is the guru and embraces the drug-culture of the 80s enthusiastically. He is an interesting guy to play.”

The bar provides a backdrop for the story. “The developers are looking to knock down the Bourbon Rooms and that is what the story centres around. It’s also a love story with a good helping of sex, drugs and rock and roll. It isn’t a morality tale, it’s just fun. It’s like a mix between Rocky Horror, Romeo and Juliet and Spinal Tap.”

The musical started life on Broadway and captures that moment in time when big hair was mandatory and soft rock was at its peak. “They are all songs from the 80s that you’d know but you might not admit to liking,” says Kennedy. “We encourage everyone to dress up in the 80s style.”

Kevin KennedyOf all the mega hits that the show powers through, I wonder which one is Kennedy’s favourite? He’s in no doubt: “The Final Countdown. It’s a great rock and roll tune.” It’s a strong choice – we all played air guitar to that one at the school disco.

“Music is so accepted in Manchester that I couldn’t think of a better place to open,” says the local lad. “We’re just down the road from where Jilly’s Rockworld was. It’s quite appropriate because Jilly’s, like The Bourbon Rooms, was bought by developers and is now a Tesco.”

Of course, in the 1980s when the characters were carousing around Los Angeles, Kennedy was a household name as Curly Watts – lodger, lover and supermarket manager on Coronation Street. Since he hung up his Freshco uniform in 2003, he has successfully reinvented himself as a bona fide musical star, appearing in everything from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, We Will Rock You and, more recently, The Commitments.

Many stars have fared well, and not so well, when leaving Manchester’s famous cobbles to strike out on their own and Kennedy is one of the success stories. But leaving must have been a gamble, not knowing if he would be able to make a name for himself away from Curly?

Rock Of Ages, Kevin Kennedy“I’d come out of rehab. In there, they told me if I stopped drinking and drugging, I could do anything I wanted. So I wasn’t scared, the scary times were behind me. I was signed by Simon Cowell and I had a hunger. The first thing I was in was Rocky Horror and I was instantly intrigued in musicals. I’d never done the genre before.”

During the first few years away from Weatherfield, Kennedy juggled acting and music but,once the pitter-patter of tiny feet came along, something had to give. “My wife and I toured New Zealand which was a great laugh, very rock and roll, going from place to place but you can’t sustain that with a family.”

Kennedy speaks freely and honestly about his time in rehab, but he really comes alive when asked about his “pinch yourself” moments in recent years. “There’s been a few. I was on stage with Brian May playing his guitar solo to Bohemian Rhapsody. He was literally two feet away from me and the audience were levitating. I’m just a lad from Wythenshawe. And taking The Commitments to Dublin and Ireland for the first time was pretty special. The warmth of the audience was incredible. Roddy Doyle, who I greatly admire, wrote a scene for me.”

Musical theatre is where Kennedy’s star appears to be finally resting. Does he have his sights set on any other roles?

“I’d love to play Riff Raff. I did Chitty with Richard O’Brien in Singapore and we were in the dressing room, he got a guitar and started playing There’s a Light and we started singing it. He’s a thoroughly lovely man.”

By Chris Park

 

Rock of AgesRock of Ages visits Manchester’s Opera House on September 25, 2018. For national tour dates and venues, click here

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Matthew Kelly and David Yelland in THE HABIT OF ART, c Helen Maybanks

Theatre Review: The Habit of Art, York Theatre Royal

September 17, 2018 Comments Off on Theatre Review: The Habit of Art, York Theatre Royal

What have Gypsy Rose Lee, the legendary queen of burlesque, the poet W.H. Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten got in common?

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Theatre Review: Gulliver’s Travels, Queen’s Park, Bolton

August 23, 2018 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Gulliver’s Travels, Queen’s Park, Bolton

Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels to ‘vex the populace’. Elizabeth Newman put it on to please them. Elizabeth Newman won.

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Ockham's Razor_Tipping Point_Mark Dawson Photography

Review: Tipping Point/Switch, Upper Campfield, Manchester

August 20, 2018 Comments Off on Review: Tipping Point/Switch, Upper Campfield, Manchester

While its Oxford Road site is renovated, the ever-innovative Contact theatre is staging productions at partner venues.

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Review: Madagascar The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester

August 20, 2018 Comments Off on Review: Madagascar The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester

The kids love it. They shriek, they cackle, and – to the insistent cue of I Like To Move It – they dance in their seats.

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Those Two weeks - Final Dress Rehearsal - 28.02.18 - John Johnson-116

Theatre Review: Those Two Weeks, Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight

July 30, 2018 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Those Two Weeks, Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight

For people in tragedy’s shadow, ‘normal’ life can seem like an irrecoverable paradise.

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Blackpool - What a Shit Place to Die, Phil Pearson

Theatre Review: Blackpool – What a Shit Place to Die, Three Minute Theatre, Manchester

July 24, 2018 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Blackpool – What a Shit Place to Die, Three Minute Theatre, Manchester

At only 50 minutes long with no interval, this play is a real emotional roller-coaster.

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QUEENS OF THE COAL AGE - L-R Jane Hazlegrove (Dot) & Conor Glean (Michael)- image Keith Pattison

Theatre Review: Queens of the Coal Age, Royal Exchange, Manchester

July 4, 2018 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Queens of the Coal Age, Royal Exchange, Manchester

I have a confession.

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