Review: Hair, Palace Theatre Manchester

This 50th anniversary tour of Hair the Musical does more than any to make me like the show, at the Palace Theatre Manchester

“Grab your blankets, and something to suck”

True story, I’m no real big fan of Hair. I’ve seen it a couple of times now and it just doesn’t grab me in the way that so many other classic musicals do. But when looking for a Wednesday matinée to complete my trip to Manchester, it was the only show in town. And given that this Aria Entertainment, Senbla and Hope Mill Theatre production was born here in Manchester, it seemed only right to give it another shot.

And I have to say, in its 50th anniversary year, it is beginning to win me over. The music (by Galt MacDermot) may not occupy a special place in my soul and the book (by Gerome Ragni and James Rado) remains chronically weak but there’s something so persuasive about Jonathan O’Boyle’s production that is entirely seductive, and feels even more so in the grander theatres in which it is now touring, as opposed to the more intimate spaces it has previously occupied. Continue reading “Review: Hair, Palace Theatre Manchester”

Re-review: Return to the Forbidden Planet, Palace Theatre Manchester

“Live long and prosper-o”

There’s no doubting that I do get spoiled around my birthday and so part of a weekend trip home saw eight of us head over to the Palace Theatre in Manchester to see Return to the Forbidden Planet, on a night which saw the end of their tour. I’ve already seen this production (review here) but the show is just one of those evergreen delights for me that I could just watch over and over, even if it isn’t the most perfect piece of theatre (that first half remains too long).

It was entertaining to catch their final show of this run too, there’s always a special air to these performances and you could definitely see the cast having fun, both with us and each other – we were made to reverse polarity for perhaps a little longer than was strictly necessary and it was nice to see all the ensemble members get their chance to shine in the extended finale. I don’t know what the future will hold for the Forbidden Planet, its retro charms remain perhaps rather niche, but you can rest assured that should it pop up again on tour, I’ll be there – hands above my head – reversing polarity.

Review: Return to the Forbidden Planet, New Wimbledon

“Two beeps or not two beeps”

Early 2015 is turning out to be something of a nostalgia-fest for me as following the Royal Exchange’s superb revival of Little Shop of Horrors is another of the first shows that I came to love as a child – Return to the Forbidden Planet. I can’t recall exactly how many time my sisters, Aunty Jean and I must have seen this show but every time its tour came near us we were there, reversing polarity and loving it every time. Consequently, I have huge affection for the show, even though it is many years since I last saw it, and so naturally the notion of a 25th anniversary tour was one I could not resist as it came into my orbit at the New Wimbledon.

For those without such prior knowledge, Return to the Forbidden Planet is a schlocky sci-fi B-movie version of The Tempest, complete with a rock’n’roll jukebox soundtrack. Not only that, there’s video narration by Brian May. cod-Shakespearean dialogue and any number of quotations lifted from other plays by the Bard and repurposed to intergalactic effect. So a routine space mission led by Captain Tempest gets diverted to a mysterious rock called D’Illyria (“what planet, friends, is this…”) after getting caught in a meteor storm (“goodness, gracious, great balls of fire…”) where they meet the mad Doctor Prospero, his robot servant Ariel and his innocent daughter Miranda. Continue reading “Review: Return to the Forbidden Planet, New Wimbledon”