I’ve already written about how much I love the West Yorkshire Playhouse in a previous blog entry (mainly because there’s not a bad seat in the house) but seeing as they have recently released their spring/summer programme, I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic shows they’ve got coming up.
In December alone I managed to see three completely different events at the Playhouse. The first was “The Witches”, as suggested in my Christmas countdown post. It was as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be, with an imaginative set and talented cast. The guy who plays Boy was not only a skilled actor and musician, but also impressed the audience with his acrobatic skills. (Whilst delivering some of his lines walking on his hands, one of the kids behind me whispered “That is awwweee-some!”). We were one of the few groups who didn’t have children with us (and I did feel a bit guilty for being so tall when I realised there were small children behind me!) but it definitely appealed to adults as well.
I also went to see “Alan Bennett: A Life in Writing”, hosted by the Guardian, with my mum. It was really special to hear Alan Bennett (I can’t say just Alan – it feels far too informal) reading from his new book of diary entries – Keeping On Keeping On. There was a really special vibe in the room as you could just tell the audience was full of people who adored him.
As a post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s Eve treat, I went to see “Strictly Ballroom” with a couple of friends. It was as glitzy and glamorous as you’d expect it to be. I’m glad I saw the film just a few months before, otherwise I would have been surprised at how bonkers it is! I also couldn’t get over the fact that Richard Grieve was playing the role of Les. Grieve used to play Sam Kratz in Neighbours – you know, Cody’s boyfriend – and I think he was one of my first crushes. Not quite so fanciable playing the very camp and glitzy Les! Towards the end of the first act, the show had to be stopped and we were told that the main character, Scott, would now be played by the understudy. The understudy did a brilliant job – I’m glad he received an extra applause at the end – although I’m still dying to know what happened to the original actor.
After watching some excellent productions in 2016, here are some of the shows I hope to see this year:
- Mixed Programme 2017: Phoenix Dance Theatre. 8 – 11 February. I’ve slowly come to realise over the last couple of years that I love contemporary dance. I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out earlier, but I decided that this year I was going to make more of an effort to see some contemporary productions so was really pleased to read that Phoenix Dance Theatre are doing an event at the Playhouse. Celebrating their 35th anniversary year, the company is presenting a trio of works: Nightlife at the Flamingo; Beast and Calyx.
- Pygmalion. 4 – 25 February. I love the film My Fair Lady and enjoyed reading Pygmalion at school, particularly as I was often picked to do the “posh” Eliza Doolittle voice and Lorraine (who was much better at accents) did the cockney Eliza. This has been listed as a “radical new co-production” so I’m intrigued to see what they’ll do with it.
- Cyrano. 28 February – 4 March. I don’t know much about Cyrano other than it involves someone with a big nose and someone who whispers lines to someone else. I feel like it’s a story I should know though, so I’ll try and give it a watch! This production is by Northern Broadside who have a strong track record of putting their own successful take on stories, so it should be good.
- Transform. 19 – 22 April. Transform festival I first heard about last year but didn’t get a chance to go to any of the events. It’s a showcase of innovative theatre pieces, pushing boundaries and exploring different performance elements. It’s sounds artsy and exciting so has piqued my interest.
- The Graduate. 28 April – 27 May. I’ve not seen the film, although know the basic storyline and that song, so I thought I might as well see the live version!
- The Grapes of Wrath. 24 May – 10 June. I tried reading another of John Steinbeck’s classics recently – East of Eden – and must admit that I gave up on it halfway through. Rather than attempting to read another book that I feel I should know, I’m just going to watch it at the theatre instead! Two of the best things I’ve seen at the Playhouse have been American classics – Death of a Salesman and To Kill a Mockingbird – so I have faith that they’ll do this well!
- Ode to Leeds. 10 June – 1 July. As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to see more plays by and/or about local people and issues, so I’m looking forward to watching this. It’s about five poets from Leeds competing in a slam poetry competition in New York. According to the blurb “…Ode to Leeds will feature a blend of music, words, heart and soul to provide a poignant and uplifting portrait of our city” – sounds like my kind of thing!
There are plenty of other shows on that sound fantastic, including lots of family friendly events and also comedy gigs, but I thought I’d best stick to seven otherwise I’d just be typing out the whole programme!
What do you fancy seeing?