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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rat Pack Live, Blues Brothers Live and An Evening of Burlesque all Come to Manchester: Local Girl Casts Off Shakespeare Shackles

Sometimes, it's hard to accept that we are who we are rather than who we think we should be. Getting older of course helps with this: being advanced in years has finally gives me the confidence to admit that I don't like festivals (mud/chemical toilets/crowds), or Dickens (too long/too smug/too pompous), or certain city centre bars (queues/ridiculous prices/clientele almost exclusively young enough to be own child), amongst other things. And now, the final bastion has fallen, at last. For, despite being an English lecturer with a great love of my subject (Dickens aside, although I've tried with him, I really have), I have finally admitted to myself that when I go to the theatre I do NOT WANT to watch something worthy, or highbrow, or noble, or educational. What I actually want is to see people singing, dancing, high-kicking and generally jigging about in an ebullient manner, preferably with moments where I can myself sing along, just quietly, under my breath.

I can't begin to tell you how liberating a feeling this is. No more Chekhov on a wet Wednesday night; no more "interesting" interpretations of Shakespeare's oeuvre. Instead, I am delighted to say that I will be seeing all of these merry productions in September:

First up is Rat Pack Live at The Lowry on September 7th, an evening of big band swing featuring the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr. I wrote about this a couple of months ago when I was running a competition to win tickets so I won't say too much more now, other than wishing the winners of the competition a lovely time and hoping for their sake they will not be seated next to me, for the fact that I don't actually know the words to many of these songs will NOT prevent me from attempting to sing along.

Next up is The Blues Brothers - Live, also at The Lowry Theatre, on the 20th and 21st September. The original film is one of two I remember watching with my older sister when I was about 10 (the other was The Rocky Horror Picture Show); clearly, I was too young to understand either of these wasted masterpieces, but gamely pretended to know what was going on and laughed at all the bits my sister laughed at (although a beat too late to be entirely convincing, obviously). Anyway, it's 30 years since the death of John Belushi, so it's fitting that this production - the only officially licensed production of the Blues Brothers outside of America, and presented in association with both Judith Belushi and Dan Aykroyd - should hit Manchester. This particular show, a Hartshorn – Hook Production, won rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 and looks GOOD - I might even stand on my seat for this one*.

*Note to anyone reading this from The Lowry: I promise I will NOT stand on my seat at any point during this production.

And finally, just when my show-girl heart was fit to burst anyway, An Evening of Burlesque is coming to Manchester's Palace Theatre on Friday 21st September. Now, I'm pretty much of a newcomer to all this burlesque business (I'm fairly sure that having sat through the Cher movie of the same name and occasionally high-kicking into the kitchen to put the kettle on does not qualify one as an expert in this field), but I DID go to the Moulin Rouge earlier this month and am looking forward to seeing the UK's first (and only) touring burlesque show in the, erm, flesh, as it were. The producers promise "it’s all tease, no sleaze" *watches Mr Liz's face fall* and that there will be corsets, killer heels and stockings aplenty *watches Mr Liz brighten up again* as some of the world's most famous burlesque stars take to the stage (and me, from the comfort of my seat).

Of course, this new-found liberation won't last - I'll just make sure I enjoy it while it lasts...*goes off, can-canning just a little*

Further information on all productions can be found on The Lowry and The Palace websites.

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