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Ian Cheeseman: Break-a-Leg

The first couple of months of every new year are generally the worst for weather.

We’ve got the dark nights, but we’ve also got the incessant rain and there’s every chance we’ll get frost and even snow before the first signs of Spring lift our spirits. Despite that gloomy prognosis, there’s plenty to look forward to at this time of year.

If you haven’t been to Manchester’s Palace Theatre to see Hamilton, there’s still time and that show will be followed by Pretty Woman, featuring the music of the Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. I’ve seen the show in London’s West End and I can highly recommend it. The annual visit of the Rocky Horror show to Manchester is at the Opera House from Tuesday 23rd January.

Over at the Lowry in Salford, the Rogers & Hammersmith classic The King and I, with Helen George as the British schoolteacher, opens next week, but there’s also the brilliant Gary Barlow written musical Calendar Girls there from 16th January.

Locally, there are two more pantomimes to enjoy this month, I’ll be off to boo and cheer at Hyde Festival Theatre in mid-January as Tameside Youth Drama Group stage their version of Snow White and then there’s Ensemble Theatre Group’s “Princess and the Merry Crew” at Denton West Community Centre on 19th and 20th February. Their show is completely original and will have a fully inclusive cast. Their shows are always a joy to watch.

Moving into February you can relive the story of Buffy the Vampire the Vampire Slayer on stage at Manchester’s Opera House when writer and performer Brendan Murphy retells all 144 episodes of the TV series in 70 minutes of satire, through the eyes of Spike the Vampire. I’ve been chatting to the award-winning Brendan about his career and the creation of his latest show. He’s a fascinating character so it’ll be well worth a listen on my show this week.

You’ll also hear the second part of my interview with local girl Jennifer Caldwell, who’s been starring in “Fantastically Great Women who changed the World” at the Lowry, but started her career dancing at the Tameside Hippodrome with Dukinfield Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society. It’s an inspirational story of believing in yourself, make sure you don’t miss it.

My year started with some great news and a real coup for Tameside Radio. I’ve been trying to get an interview with my ultimate Musical Theatre hero and just a couple of days ago I got the news I’d been hoping for. This week I’ll be chatting to Alan Menken, the genius who has written the music for many of Disney’s greatest musical films. Alan’s catalogue includes Little Shop of Horrors, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Newsies; just to name a few! I can’t wait to ask him about his fabulous career, his inspirations and his creative process.

The World of Theatre and Musicals has never been more inventive. There seem to be new ideas happening all the time. In the West End you can already see the two-part story of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, complete with amazing special effects and Stranger Things: the first Shadow has just opened. I’ve already bought my tickets for the summer. It’s a show that’s getting rave reviews. I can’t wait for another year of great shows and sharing my passion for Theatre and Musical Theatre with you. My show Break-a-Leg features interviews with stars and creatives and of course there’s loads of great songs from the shows. You’re invited to join me on Tameside Radio 103.6FM every Sunday from 7pm and again on Wednesday’s from 9pm. You could also download the Tameside Radio App and listen whenever and wherever you want. Here’s to another year when venturing out in the bad weather to see a live show on stage will be well worth it. Bring on 2024 and Break-a-Leg!

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