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Ian Cheeseman: Break-a-Leg

One of my favourite musicals, Calendar Girls, with music by Take That’s Gary Barlow, is back in the North West next week.

You can see it at Salford’s Lowry Theatre. I was lucky enough to be at the Lowry a few years ago when Gary and his co-writer Tim Firth came on stage after the show, not only to take a bow but also to perform a couple of the songs. You can imagine the reaction of the audience, can’t you. We were all on our feet.

I’ve also seen an amateur performance of the show by the brilliant Drama Dept at Stockport Plaza. Gary Barlow wasn’t on stage after this one, but the reaction of those in the auditorium was just as appreciative. It’s a great show which I’d highly recommend to anyone. Next week’s version at the Lowry is certainly star-studded.

The cast list includes Maureen Nolan (one of the Nolan sisters), Lyn Paul (lead singer of the New Seekers) Laura Brett (Eastenders) and Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle's War). I interviewed Honeysuckle for my radio show this week and, for those who haven’t seen the show, she summed up the plot: “It’s about members of the Women’s Institute. One of the members has a husband who’s dying of blood cancer and they all decide to rally around and make a calendar to raise money for leukemia research.

“They do this by getting naked in front of a lot of cakes and things. I sit, with no clothes on, in front of an organ. We sing songs, including Jerusalem, which has been sung by the WI since 1924 and the whole show is very uplifting. The music by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth is amazing and they use the style called “craffing” which means you cry and laugh at the same time. Sure enough, you laugh at one scene and then cry at the next and it’s a very cathartic experience.”

I think she sums it up brilliantly, and I can’t wait to see this latest incarnation of a wonderful show.

This week I was back at the Lowry watching the King and I, the wonderful Rogers and Hammerstein musical starring Helen George and Darren Lee. You might have heard my interview with Darren on last week's show. If you missed it, you can still listen again via the Tamesideradio.com website or the App. The last few months of “Break-a-Leg” are all available OnDemand.

On this week’s show, as well as hearing much more from Honeysuckle Weeks, you’ll hear from Demi Morgan, one of the singing waiters at the Broadway Diner, which opened a couple of months ago at the Trafford Centre, in the building that used to be Frankie and Benny's. There’s something similar in New York, near Times Square, called the Starlight Diner. It’s quite thrilling to sit there munching away while your waiter bursts into a showstopper.

My other guest this week is Andrea Parkin from Stockport Operatic Society. Andrea is one of those unsung heroes, without which our brilliant Am/Dram societies wouldn’t exist. She tells me her story of fulfilling every roll in the society. Theatre is a passion and no one illustrates that better than Andrea.

If you’ve never listened to my show, now is the time to give it a try. It’s every Sunday evening at 7pm and again at 9pm on Wednesdays. The show is two hours long and as well as interviews with theatre creatives, there are lots of great show tunes, many of which are selected by my guests. That’s Break-a-Leg on Tameside Radio, 103.6FM Sundays at 7pm and Wednesdays at 9pm!

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