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Ian Cheeseman: Break-a-Leg

As you’ll have worked out by now, if you’re a regular reader of this column or a listener to my radio show, I’m a big fan of all kinds of theatre, whether it be plays, comedies or musicals.

I attend a lot of shows, whether professional or Am/Drams. Despite my passion, it’s hard to assess the health of theatre right now.

When I look around, I generally see few empty seats, but it’s hard to judge because professional shows would rather be full, even if they discount tickets. One such example is The Time Travellers Wife, at the Apollo Theatre in the West End, which suddenly announced it’s run would conclude later this month. It shocked me that such a brilliant show was closing it’s doors.

I’ve seen some theatre critics trying to work out why some shows are closing early. One of the theories is that the title of the show and the way it is promoted can be crucial. An example of this might be the work of Mischief Theatre, the brainchild of Ashton’s own, Jonathan Sayer. His brilliant show “The Play that Goes Wrong” is still a huge success in the West End and was a sellout, as it toured the UK.

“Peter Pan Goes Wrong” will be at the Opera House in Manchester from 26th -31st March and I’ll sure tickets will be snapped up fast. Their latest show, “Mind Mangler”, is described as, “a guaranteed night of laugh filled magic and mind-bending silliness that will leave you gasping for breath”. The show had been running on Broadway, but closed down last month. Ironically, it’ll now be in the West End at the same Apollo Theatre where Time Travellers Wife was. Is “Mind Mangler”, as a title, too vague and not explain the premise as much as The Play that Goes Wrong?

I had a business meeting this week which I arranged at a branch of Starbucks. The coffee shop in question promotes itself as a drive through, to the extent where my potential business associate didn’t realise you could sit in too. It shows how advertising can mislead people if it’s not done right. Personally, I hope to see Mind Mangler in the West End, I know it will be brilliant and I hope others will research all the shows on offer rather than just read the title and making assumptions.

One show I can’t wait to see is Romiley Operatic Societies production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The title might not tempt you, unless you’ve seen the film or seen the show before, but let me tell you, it’s brilliant. It’s gloriously camp but it’s heart-felt story will draw you in and it has wonderful songs that everyone knows. It’s at Stockport Plaza from Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th March and tickets are just £22. I highly recommend it.

If you fancy a laugh, Dukinfield Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Societies version of Open All Hours, made famous by Ronnie Barker and David Jason, will be at Hurst Community Centre from 14th to 16th March with tickets costing £10.

Another great show for your consideration is “Six: Teen Edition” at Shaw’s Playhouse 2 from 25th to 31st March. It stars, as the title would suggest, youngsters, but having been along to a rehearsal, I feel certain it will be brilliant. The Congress Players support local charities, so the £18 ticket price will help great causes.

You can hear much more about all those shows on Break-a-Leg, my radio show every week from 7pm on Sundays and again from 9pm on Wednesdays. Last week my special guest was multi Oscar Winner Alan Menken and next week I’ll be chatting to the winner of ITV’s “I Have a Dream” audition show, Stevie Doc, who’s the new Sophie in Mamma Mia! in the West End. There are loads of great show tunes too, so give it a try on 103.6FM or via tamesideradio.com OnDemand. Break-a-Leg!

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