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Ian Cheeseman: Break-a-Leg

Ian with Henry Lewis & Jonathan Sayer from Mind Mangler

The best laugh I’ve ever had in a theatre was watching The Play that Goes Wrong.

I saw the show with my friend John. Neither of us really knew what to expect but I was excited to see Jonathan Sayer on stage. He’s one of the creative team behind the show and he’d be playing Perkins. John and I fell about laughing from start to finish.

I’d interviewed Jonathan a few times, as co-Chairman of Ashton United Football Club, and realised that we both shared passions for football and theatre. If I’m honest, after our first couple of meetings, I still didn’t realise just how talented he was as a writer and performer. I’ve since read his book, about his role at Ashton United, which is called Nowhere to Run. I’ve never laughed out loud when sitting on my own reading a book before, but I did when I read his book. It’s brilliant.

His flagship theatre show, The Play that Goes Wrong, has now been running in London’s West End for over nine years and is also on Broadway. That’s some achievement for the boy from Ashton. I was somewhat disappointed not to get the chance to see another of Mischief’s shows, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, when it was in Manchester recently, but I’d already booked a trip away.

I did get the chance, though, to see Jonathan’s latest production which is called Mind Mangler. This show, which is a comedy magic show, had a successful run on Broadway and will be a Manchester’s Palace Theatre, where Jonathan was once an usher, from 15th May to 18th May. I managed to see the show in the West End, a couple of weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. One of Jonathan’s talented co-writers, Henry Lewis, plays the Mind Mangler with Jonathan as his stooge and various audience members. It’s another masterpiece of tom foolery, so if you get the chance to see it in Manchester next month, I recommend you do.

This week I had the chance to see the school edition of one of the greatest musicals of all time, the brilliant Les Miserables. It was at the Hyde festival Theatre and was performed by the brilliant Drama Dept, who are based in Stockport. The Professional version of Les Mis has been running continuously in the West End for nearly 40 years and will be celebrating with an Arena tour, which includes Manchester, over the Festive season. Can you imagine the expectation on the shoulders of the youngsters singing the iconic songs when they took to the stage?

I need not have worried. It was a remarkable show with eighteen-year-old Ben Hadfield knocking it out of the park as Jean Valjean. I’d been impressed by seventeen-year-old David Eccles, who played Javert, when I saw him in Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Stockport Plaza recently and he showed with this performance his dramatic side and strong singing voice.

The three leading females, Eleni James as Eponine, Olivia Small as Fantine and Lucy Donoghue as Cosette were amazing, as were sixteen-year-old Reuben Ryder and fifteen-year-old Olivia Williams as the Thenardier’s. Eight-year-old Brodie Robson as Gavroche was also stunning as was the direction, music, lighting and everyone and everything else in this amazing production.

I can’t believe the talent we have in Greater Manchester. Musical Theatre is in safe hands, that’s for sure.

My guest on my radio show this week include Andrew Whitehead, who plays Mushnick in the upcoming professional performances of Little Shop of Horrors at Bolton’s Octagon, Nick Pound, who’s touring with Come From Away, which will be at the Lowry over the Festive period and Am/Dram performer Allie Foy who’s currently in rehearsals for three different shows, including Beauty and the Beast by Rochdale Musical Theatre Company next month.

I’ll be playing songs from the award winning Operation Mincemeat and Sunset Boulevard (among others) so join me from 7pm Sunday’s and 9pm Wednesday’s on Tameside Radio 103.6FM or OnDemand from tamesideradio.com every week for Break-a-Leg


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