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‘Manon’ English National Ballet – Manchester Opera House 17th October 2018

Reviewer Ian Robert Hills WFM 97.2

The English National Ballet ‘Manon’ danced its way to Manchester Opera House on UK tour

Sixty world-class dancers performed alongside a full orchestra in one of the most acclaimed story ballets, created in Britain by Kenneth MacMillan with music by Jules Massenet.

The story of Manon is as romantic and intense as Romeo and Juliet. Manon is a young woman living in 18th-century France who has been promised as a mistress to an older gentleman. When she falls in love with a penniless student, she is faced with a stark choice. Cue a tale of love, decadence, and greed.

[Picture: Joseph Caley and Alina Cojocaru in Manon – by Laurent-Liotardo]

This is a truly spectacular ballet, full of fire and passion. The final duet between the two lovers is one of the most heart-breaking things you’ll see on stage this year.

In the opening scene in Paris, set in the courtyard of an inn, we are immediately drawn to the differences in the classes. The locals are dishevelled and dirty, dressed in rags, and this is in stark contrast to the gentry and aristocrats who are getting drunk on champagne and living in grand style, wearing rich, expensive, heavy, embroidered outfits. This portrayal made me think no wonder the French had a revolution and guillotined their monarchy and aristocracy.

At one point a wagon full of prostitutes is dragged across the stage – a fate awaiting Manon. We move next to Madame’s gaming and whore house where Manon persuades her young lover to cheat Monsieur GM at cards to run away with his money.

Manon ends up being deported as a prostitute to the French colonies and she is followed by her lover. They escape into the swamps, where she dies in her lover’s arms, with only the use of dry ice to create the illusion of a swamp.

The dancing was not only exciting but beautiful to watch. The two lovers, Manon  (Alina Cojocaru) and Des Grieux (Joseph Caley), were perfectly matched. English National Ballet dancers are some of the finest in the world and a joy to watch.

This is only the second time in 30 years that ‘Manon’ has been performed in Manchester.

The combination of beautiful sets, costumes, lighting, the orchestra and sixty dancers offered a once in a lifetime experience for the audience.

English National Ballet, ‘Manon’, is now on UK tour. For more information about this production go to: ballet.org.uk/production/manon

For information about performances at Manchester Opera House and to book tickets go to: atgtickets.com

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Funding to support 1,200 extra Greater Manchester Apprenticeships

MORE than 1,200 apprenticeships could be created through funding targeted by the Greater Manchester regional authority to help smaller businesses and to support priority sectors such as digital and health and social care.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will be using almost £4 million of funding available after three schemes (the Youth Contract Expansion, Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and Greater Manchester City Deal) came in under budget to support the creation of apprenticeships in the city-region.

It will also be used to build on the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham’s ambition to create a UCAS-style application process to support young people to make informed career choices about all routes, including apprenticeships. 

The Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) Apprenticeships Support Package will help smaller employers that have yet to engage with apprenticeships and require an incentive and support to do so.

The scheme will work with at least 1,500 employers to create at least 700 new apprenticeship opportunities by using levy transfers, grants and workforce planning advice to remove barriers.

 The funding will also be used to support apprenticeships and skills growth in priority areas, such as digital, health and social care, finance and construction to create a minimum of 500 high quality apprenticeship opportunities.

The GMCA says it will facilitate partnerships in these priority sectors between employers and apprenticeship and skills providers to create a pipeline of talent that meets employer needs.

An element of the funding will be used to expand the work of BridgeGM, which links businesses to schools to give young people a high quality interaction with the world of work and help them gain valuable careers’ education.

This links with the development of the UCAS-style system, which will make technical education such as apprentices more accessible and improve their perception.

Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council and GMCA lead for Education and Skills, said: “We are determined here in Greater Manchester to make sure our young people are equipped for life and also that there are good jobs available for people to progress and develop, and we can’t achieve either of these goals without apprenticeships.

 “It is not just about apprenticeships though, it is about the right apprenticeships for the right people and this is why these programmes are so important. Around 80 per cent of apprenticeship opportunities in Greater Manchester are with small-to-medium enterprises and we need to work with these employers to give people the best chance to start or develop their career.’’

 

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Rock of Ages, Opera House, Manchester 25th – 29th September

American Airlines AA1980 LAX- Los Angeles to MAN-Manchester has landed at the Opera House with the musical Rock of Ages.

Review by Ian Robert Hills, Wythenshawe FM 97.2, 25th September 2018.

Here we go again – the smash hit musical is back in the UK.

Rock of Ages is an LA love story lavished with over 25 classic rock anthems. It’s a musical which invites you to lose yourself in a city and a time where the dreams are as big as the hair and, yes, they can come true.

Starring Kevin Kennedy as ‘Dennis’, Zoe Birkett as ‘Justice’, Danielle Hope as ‘Sherrie’, Luke Walsh as ‘Drew’, Lucas Rush as ‘Lonny’, Andrew Carthy as ‘Franz’, Vas Constanti as ‘Hertz’ and Rhiannon Chesterman as ‘Regina,’ this hilarious musical comedy will have you singing and laughing along with its epic songs, including ‘We Built This City’, ‘The Final Countdown’, ‘Here I Go Again’, ‘Can’t Fight this Feeling’ and ‘I Want to Know What Love Is,’ played loud and proud by an awesome live band.

We arrive at the The Bourbon Room on Sunset Boulevard in 1984 which is based on clubs like the Starwood, the Viper, the Whisky A Go Go and the Rainbow Bar and Grill. The Rainbow became well known as a hangout for rock musicians and their groupies. Motörhead frontman Lemmy was a regular visitor.

The musical tells the age-old story of boy meets girl, loses the girl and finds the girl again. Here our hero Drew (Luke Walsh) is eking out a living in the The Bourbon Room club and dreaming of being a rock star. He falls for Sherrie (Danielle Hope), newly arrived from Kansas in search of stardom herself, but she has a fling with the narcissistic lead singer of rock giants Arsenal, Stacee Jaxx (Sam Ferriday). The romance is dead before it begins.

Club owner, Dennis Dupree, (Kevin Kennedy) faces his own fight as ruthless German developer, Hertz Klineman, (Vas Constanti), is hindered by his son Franz (Andrew Carthy) as he seeks to demolish the Strip and replace it with a shopping mall.

The plot is simply a vehicle for hit after hit, with narrator Lonny (Lucas Rush) holding it all together brilliantly with cheeky charm.

Classic rock songs, like ‘We Built this City’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ are belted out brilliantly by the cast, with some given light-hearted treatment; Sherrie (Danielle Hope) and Justice (Zoe Birkett) duetting on ‘Harden My Heart’ was especially well done.

Throw in the rock chicks, California backdrops, and some enjoyable tongue-in-cheek dance routines, and you have over two hours of frolicsome fun. Not to be missed.

Rock of Ages is on tour. For information about where to catch the musical in other parts of the UK go to the website: atgtickets.com/shows/rock-of-ages

 

 

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Early Doors by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey Lowry Theatre

Lowry Theatre, Salford, 4th September 2018  

Review by Ian Hills, Wythenshawe FM 97.2

Early Doors, based in a Stockport pub, showing at the Lowry Theatre, is a night of good humour and laughter.

A BBC 2 sitcom from 15 years ago with a cult following, turned into a stage show, would seem a risky business but, with writers Craig Cash (the co-writer along with Caroline Aherne of ‘The Royle Family’ fame) and Phil Mealey at the helm, they have recreated The Grapes Pub, where the TV show was based, filled it with many of the original characters, and written an updated, two-hour live version.

The action of the 12 BBC 2 televised episodes from 2003-2004, where the lives of characterful regulars of The Grapes revolved around landlord, Ken, and his live-in mother and daughter, who rarely left the bar, was considered at the time to be well above your average sitcom.

Transferring from a TV sitcom series to a live stage production and retaining its early reputation was certainly achieved with fine performances from the cast who stayed true to the original TV series. They most certainly did. It was a wonderful, warm, feel-good celebration of the characters which stayed true to the original but never took itself too seriously.

Like the TV show, the story revolved around Ken, played with mastery by John Henshaw, and, like the TV show, the script sparkled with great one-liners and belly-laughs, so well written and timed to perfection, that the audience hardly had time to recover before being hit with another funny line.

From the moment Ken (the wonderful John Henshaw) opened the doors, on what was a clever, multi-layered version of the pub designed by Liz Ashcroft, to Roddy Frame’s ‘Small World’ TV theme tune, the audience knew they were in for a treat as each well-known character was warmly recognised. When the two ‘bent coppers,’ Phil and Nige, played by James Quinn and Peter Wight, walked on, the show’s catchwords, ‘crime won’t crack itself and evidence is the new buzzword, Ken,’ were fondly repeated by the cult followers in the audience.

It would not be fair to single out any performance, but Lisa Millett was brilliant as Debbie; Craig Cash and Phil Mealey were spot-on as Joe and Duffy, and the barbed banter between cleaner, Winnie (Joan Kempson) and Ken’s mum, Jean (Judith Barker) was very funny.

Also noteworthy was Nick Birkinshaw, as Tommy who suffers from IBS (Irritable b****r syndrome) as the resident misery old guy sat in the corner. Eddie and Joan soundalikes, Freddie and June (Neil Hurst and Vicky Binns) and Ken’s daughter, Mel (Laura Woodward) all contributed, as did Ken’s love-interest, Tanya, played with appropriate annoyance at Ken’s romantic shortcomings by Susan Cookson.

Without giving too much away, Ken’s daughter, Mel, sets up a meeting between Ken and Tanya in the pub which leads to a musical finale which was a joy to watch and earned a well-deserved standing ovation.

Even if, like this reviewer, you have not seen the TV series, go to see this. It is heart-warming, full of fun, and you will ache from laughing. Trebles all round to the Regiment.

The show will soon move from the 466-seat Quays theatre into the 1,730-seat Lyric theatre next door.

Early Doors runs until Saturday 22 September at The Lowry Theatre in Salford.
For tickets phone: 0843 208 6000 or b
ook online at: thelowry.com/events/early-doors2.

There will  be a performance at Manchester Arena on Thursday, 4th October 2018.

 

 

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Cilla the Musical, Lyric Theatre, Lowry Theatre Salford

Review by Ian Hills Wythenshawe FM 97.2

1960’s Liverpool music history sails along the Manchester Ship Canal and docks at the Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays.

CILLA – THE MUSICAL is the new spectacular and heart-warming musical adaptation of the critically-acclaimed hit ITV television series by Bafta Award winner, Jeff Pope. It tells the extraordinary story of the teenage girl from Liverpool whose dreams of stardom lead to her becoming one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers of all time.

It’s an introduction by a young John Lennon to music mogul Brian Epstein that changes Priscilla White’s life forever. By the age of just 25 she would be known as singer and TV Star Cilla Black, a Number One selling artist at the forefront of the 1960s British music scene.

 The musical score is the ultimate soundtrack to the 60’s including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie, Something Tells Me, Twist and Shout by the Beatles, California Dreamin’ by The Mamas and The Papas and many more.

Set in arches of the Cavern Club, Liverpool, we meet Cilla (Kara Lily Haworth), The Beatles, The Big Three and Gerry and the Pacemakers with Brian Epstein, Andrew Lance, Bobby Willis, Carl Au and the rest of the cast to tell Cilla’s story “The girl from Scotty Road.”

Kara Lily Hayworth was discovered in open auditions from over 2,000 hopefuls. Robert Willis, Cilla’s son and Executive Producer, chose her at the final audition in the real Cavern Club in Liverpool. She brings the tenacity, confidence and superb vocals from being a classically-trained singer to the stage. Her performance is not just an impersonation but her own interpretation of Cilla’s songs; Cilla’s warmth and presence comes through.

Gary McCann’s set is a collection of theatre stages, TV and recording studios and domestic interiors, contained by a series of brick proscenium arches found in the original Cavern Club. This is where we meet Cilla’s friends, Mum and Dad, George Martin and Burt Bacharach.

Scott Alder’s rousing musical direction keeps the hits coming and, even before the finale, it has the audience on its feet, joining in with the singing and dancing.

This show is a must-see for Cilla Black fans and 60s music lovers.

CILLA – THE MUSICAL is at the Lowry Theatre Salford until Saturday 1st September and then on UK tour.

Tickets are available from The Lowry Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ.    

Phone: 0843 208 6000 or go to the website www.thelowry.com/events/cilla-the-musical.

 

 

 

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WFM 97.2 celebrating as the radio station bags a supermarket clean sweep

Volunteers at WFM 97.2 would like to say a big thank you to residents of M22 and M23, and beyond, who have supported Wythenshawe’s community radio station in recent supermarket tokens’ appeals and bag packing fundraising events.

Shoppers at Tesco Extra in Baguley, Tesco Metro in Northenden, Asda, and its satellite outlets, responded to the usual tokens’ appeals and Tesco Bags of Help and Asda’s Community Awards have come to the rescue of the radio station which needs over £10,000 to refurbish ageing studio equipment gifted to the station back in 1998.

Customers at Tesco awarded WFM second place in their token drops in the box, for a magnificent award of £2000!  Asda customers at Civic voted the station into first place and an award of £500.

WFM fundraising spokesman and Bigger Breakfast presenter, Mike George said: ‘‘In the 10 or more years I have been at the station, and having worked in the communities of Wythenshawe for more than 20 years, at Sharston Youth Club initially, then Rackhouse Community Education, and finally the Birtles Adult Education Centre before retiring in 2007, I have always believed that you always get back what you put in. We, as volunteers, give our all, and these recent supermarket awards by the people are a demonstration of the support we have from the residents of M22 and M23.

‘‘Words fail me on just how generous people in Wythenshawe can be – here are two words – THANK YOU!”

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Guided walk explores 1,000 years of Northenden history on Sunday 26th August

Local people are invited to join the fun of the Northenden Boat race and then take part in a guided walk exploring 1,000 years of Northenden history.

Starting at 3pm on Sunday 26th August, the walk sets off from the wall post-box at St. Wilfrid’s Church, opposite Cromwell Cottage on Ford Lane.

Guide, Stephen Evans, will share his local knowledge and talk about:

  • Grisly events at Bradley Gate, 1902 and the Victorian post box’s dark secret
  • How Northenden linked two ancient kingdoms
  • Historic Kenworthy Lane – myths, legends and superstitions
  • Two Edwardian schools
  • Northenden’s booming tourist industry
  • Ravenswood Terrace and the Peterloo Massacre, 1819
  • A Headmaster’s heartbreak – Charles Royle and the First World War
  • Why some street names changed after 1931
  • Long-forgotten trades, professions and pastimes.

The walk forms a circuit and will last approximately 1 hour, 30 minutes. The route is accessible to all and wheelchair/buggy/pram friendly. Foldable cane seats are available on request. The walk will be at a moderate pace with plenty of opportunities to stop, listen and ask the guide questions.

On the day, a suggested £5 contribution (per adult) for the Christie Charitable Fund and local projects will be gratefully accepted and appreciated.For further information contact Stephen Evans on 07549789747 or info@nfhcic.org.uk

 

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Hello, hello, hello….to new Museum Curator

There has been an arresting development at the Greater Manchester Police Museum in Manchester city centre.

Katie Henderson has copped the top job and joined the GMP Museum to lead it as the new curator. The museum is currently one of the top rated attractions in Manchester on TripAdvisor and more than 17,000 people visit the GMP Museum every year.

With more than 10 years’ experience of working in museums in the North West, Katie now wants to bring even more people into the GMP Museum based in Newton Street in Manchester City Centre.

Katie said: “This is an amazing place to visit and I am lucky to be able to come here every day for work. I love the varied nature of the Museum work which is about people and their stories across Greater Manchester.

“In my new role I really want to open up our collection to as many people as possible and to bring people closer to the police. I want to make this a place where people walk in and say ‘wow’.”

Katie, who lives in Chorley, has a degree in Classical Studies and has worked at the Museum of Liverpool, National Museums Liverpool and Ironbridge Gorge Museums’ Trust.

GMP Museum is on Newton Street, Manchester and is open 10.30 am – 3.30 pm (doors close at 3pm) every Tuesday and Thursday during the school holidays. Bookings for private visits and research can be made for Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (term time).

(Pic: New GMP Museum Curator Katie Henderson)

 

 

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Panel to support Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser unveiled

Greater Manchester’s first ever night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, has unveiled a panel of leading figures from across the city-region to support his work in improving Greater Manchester’s nightlife and night-time economy.

The night-time economy is deemed to run from 6pm and 6am. Around 414,000 people in the city-region work in jobs or businesses that are significantly active at night, comprising around 33 per cent of the Greater Manchester workforce.

Following Sacha Lord’s appointment as night-time economy adviser last month, he has been tasked with advising the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) on all issues relating to the night-time economy, providing a voice for workers, operators and the industry as a whole.

Representatives from the LGBT Foundation, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Live Nation and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) are some of the panellists who will be working towards making night-time Greater Manchester a world-leading place to live, work, or visit.

Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, said: “I’m delighted to reveal the panel of experts I have enlisted to work alongside me in championing and improving Greater Manchester’s thriving nightlife. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge in the night-time economy and will support the Mayor and me in developing and diversifying Greater Manchester’s night-time offering.’’

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said the panel, ‘‘will play a vital role in shaping the future of the night-time economy and making Greater Manchester a safer, stronger, more vibrant place to live, work and visit.

“We have the ambition to be a top European, 24-hour city-region in line with New York, Amsterdam and Berlin. We need to ensure that we provide the solutions that are needed and make sure people can get around the city-region in a safe and accessible way.

“I want to see new life flowing into our towns and building a buzz in all of the proud boroughs of Greater Manchester, and that starts with a thriving and welcoming night-life with an international reputation.”

Earlier this month Sacha Lord hosted a listening event with night-time economy workers to hear about issues they face and suggestions for improvements. Another listening event is planned for September.

The night-time economy panel will compromise of:

Sacha Lord – Greater Manchester Night Time Economy Adviser and Chair

Paul Latham – COO, Live Nation

Christine Cort – MD, Manchester International Festival

Jessica White – LGBT Foundation, Community Safety

Jon Drape – The Loop/Global Radio

Felicity Tulloch – Kuits Solicitors

Kemoy Walker – Community Guardian/Youth Worker Moss Side/Hulme

Gemma Gore – Indigo PR

Angela Stone – Best Bar None, Altrincham

Sarah Walters – journalist, Ex City Life (MEN)

Kim O’Brien – Head of Operations, Warehouse Project and Parklife

Debra Civic – Security Industries Association

Cllr Tamoor Tariq – Bury Council

Manchester City Council representative

Cherie Buttle / Chris Hill – Greater Manchester Police

Bob Morris, Chief Operating Officer – Transport for Greater Manchester

Colin Kelsey, Head of Urgent and Emergency Care Transition & EPRR – GM Health and Social Care Partnership

Patrick McFadden – Sector Manager for Greater Manchester – North West Ambulance Service

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MMU and GMP partnership allows seized drugs to be tested in Manchester city centre

MMU and GMP have teamed up to bring a state-of-the-art, fully equipped forensic laboratory to a city centre police station in the country’s first initiative of it’s kind.

Using the new equipment from Manchester Metropolitan University, police will be able to quickly tell what is in the drugs they have seized, whether they could be particularly dangerous to users, and also build an accurate picture of the drugs landscape across Greater Manchester.

The partnership has formed the MANDRAKE unit (Manchester Drug Analysis and Knowledge Exchange) and is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that GMP and the University have signed. The MoU builds on the work that the University and the Force have been carrying out for the past 18 months, particularly around tackling the debilitating effects of spice and other New Psychoactive Substances.

Substances that have either been found or seized by the police can be sent to the city centre police station. Within an hour, MANDRAKE analyses the substances and allows the information to be sent to GMP officers, healthcare professionals and front-line responders across the region.

Dr Oliver Sutcliffe, Senior Lecturer in Psychopharmaceutical Chemistry at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We are pleased to support Greater Manchester Police under this initiative. The arrangement builds on the projects that we are currently running with the police.

“We hope that our lab analysis will help improve drug awareness amongst our communities, and enhance and inform harm reduction schemes across the city.”

Superintendent Chris Hill from Greater Manchester Police added: “This initiative will give us the ability to test unknown substances as quickly as possible so that we can respond as soon as possible if there is an ongoing danger or threat. It will also help us continue to develop our knowledge of the current drugs landscape and ultimately share information with our partners. It’s really important that we have all of the information possible so that we can continue to tackle the drug issues across Greater Manchester but also work with partners to keep people safe.”

Professor Richard Greene, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “This partnership is testament to the hard work and well-deserved reputation that academics at the University have earned through their collaboration with GMP.”

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Police are appealing for information after an elderly woman was injured by burglars in Northenden

At around 9pm on 16th August, the 95-year-old woman was in the living room of her home on Homewood Road when five males climbed in through a small open window.

Once inside they ransacked the house, seemingly searching for items of value to steal.

The woman came out of her living room after hearing the commotion and, after a struggle, was pushed to the ground by one of the offenders.

The group then fled by smashing the kitchen window with an old typewriter they had found and ran off through her back garden and over the Princess Parkway in the direction of Northern Moor.

The woman suffered minor injuries during the incident but is in shock about what happened in her own home.

Two of the offenders are described as being black and the other three white. All of them are believed to be aged 15-16 and wearing black clothing.

Detective Constable Rachel Wood, of GMP’s City of Manchester Division, said: “Although this lady is a tough cookie, she has been left distraught and injured as a result of this incident.

“The comfort of a person’s own home is where they should feel safest but these animals smashed their way in to the property without a second thought for the woman living there.

“We cannot allow this kind of thing to happen to those most vulnerable in our society. This could have been anybody’s grandmother and I want to appeal to anyone with information that can help us find those responsible to please come forward and contact police.”

Anyone with any information should call police on 0161 856 3971 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

 

 

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Fame the Musical 30th Anniversary Tour Palace Theatre

Review by Ian Robert Hills.

The stars were out in force but not just in the skies over Manchester but at a special opening performance of Fame the Musical’s 30th Anniversary UK Tour at the Palace Theatre.

Theatregoers had the opportunity to see the stars from the entertainment world being interviewed and photographed on the red carpet before the show.

Fame the Musical stars Keith Jack (Any Dream Will Do, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), Mica Paris (Love Me Tender, Chicago, Mama I Want to Sing) and Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks, Dancing on Ice).

Based on the 1980 iconic film, Fame the Musical is the international smash hit sensation following the lives of students at New York’s High School for the Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, the romances and the heartbreaks, and the ultimate elation of life.

This bittersweet but uplifting triumph of a show explores the issues that confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

The show features the Oscar-winning title song, originally sung by Irene Cara, and a cast of outstanding actors, dancers, singers, and musicians who play the young hopefuls who transform from star-struck pupils to superstars.

We open with the song I Pray I Make the Performing Arts and the auditions for winning one of the prized places at the world-famous New York High School for the Performing Arts. We get to meet the winners who pass the audition addressed by the principle Mr Myers (Cameron Johnson). Then we follow the lives of students as we see the paring up of the various students from the music, dance and drama departments.

Fans of the movie will be disappointed to hear that some of the original songs, such as Hi-Fidelity, Desdemona or Starmaker, are missing. While some new songs, including a couple of rap numbers, go some way to helping update the musical, it’s only when the famous Irene Cara title track, Fame, is heard, halfway through the first act, that the song and dance numbers really come to life.

Molly McGuire gives a likeable performance as besotted acting student Serena with Keith Jack as Nick the musician. Stephanie Rojas is everything Carmen should be; sassy, fiery and very confident, delivering the Oscar-winning Fame song in her role as Carmen.

But the real star of the show was Mica Paris, as Miss Sherman, whose powerhouse performance of These Are My Children had the audience on their feet midway through the show.

Jorgie Porter, as Iris in her stage debut, really comes into her own at the end of term show with an electric dance number with Jamal Kane Crawford in his role as Tyrone the dancer with dyslexia.

With the comedy provided by Hayley Johnston, Mabel’s sing-song in the locker room and also with Joe (Albey Brookes) playing the part of Romeo wearing an enormous codpiece in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, you will never take an actor in a codpiece seriously again.

Strong performances came from Simon Antony, Schlomo, Alexander Zane, Goody, Louisa Beadle, Lambchops, Kate Warsop, Miss Bell, Cameron Johnson, Mr Myers, and Graham Hoadly, Mr Scheinkopf.

The set, by designer Morgan Large, is largely made up of the High School’s black and white illuminated pupil portraits which have you looking for cast members. The set used the full stage of the Palace Theatre with stairs and gantries. Credit goes to lighting by Prema Mehta, wonderful 1980’s costumes by Lee Tassie and sound design provided by Ben Harrison.

The packed-out theatre audience were on their feet along with the cast singers and dancers for the singalong of Fame at the end of the show

Fame the Musical will indeed live forever. Not to be missed.

Currently touring the UK. For details go to atgtickets.com

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Greater Manchester Mayor assembles steering group to guide region’s vision for culture & heritage

Representatives of the local and national cultural sector are being brought together to form the Greater Manchester Culture Steering Group.

The steering group, formed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, chaired by Culture Portfolio leads Linda Thomas, Leader of Bolton Council and Donna Hall, Chief Executive, Wigan Council and Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group, will guide work being done to help support and help the culture, arts and heritage sectors across Greater Manchester.

The Cultural Steering Group also includes local artists and arts organisations.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “From music and art to theatre, dance and literature, Greater Manchester‘s contribution to culture has been significant.

“We are known around the world for our music, artists and our art. We want to build on our amazing reputation as a culturally rich city-region, ensuring this reputation continues and grows and that all our residents have the chance to make, watch and take part.

“People often see the arts as a secondary sector that when money’s tight is the first to be cut. The cultural sector is incredibly valuable and not something to be underestimated. We know the economic benefit of culture, in attracting visitors and investors to our city region, but also in improving people’s health and well-being and sense of pride in our wonderful place.

‘’I want Greater Manchester to lead the way by recognising the importance of our cultural sector, investing in and celebrating our distinct and diverse cultural offer. Making Greater Manchester the best place in the world for artists to create and live and for residents to participate in and enjoy internationally significant work.’’

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GMP urges people to make sure they know who is on the other end of the phone

Greater Manchester Police has launched a fraud prevention campaign following a spike in incidents involving phone fraudsters trying to trick people out of their money by claiming to be police officers.

GMP is giving advice so people can spot potential scams and stop themselves falling victim. The latest scam involves offenders calling victims and claiming to be a police officer investigating a fraud crime.

They ask for the victim’s help by getting them to  withdraw money from their bank account to be collected by a courier, or to transfer money into a different bank account, or trick them into giving their bank account details.

Detective Superintendent Nicky Porter, of GMP’s Economic and Cybercrime Service, said: “Fraud can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

“Our campaign aims to encourage people to stop and think about who is on the other end of the phone and not to give anyone their bank details or personal information. The more information we can give people about fraud and how to protect themselves, the easier it will be to stop it from taking place.

“Fraudsters often target older and more vulnerable people, but I would urge anyone who suspects they have been a victim of fraud to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

GMP offers the following advice on how to avoid being caught out by fraudsters and what to do if you feel suspicious:

  • Never give money or personal information to someone you do not know or trust.
  • Never disclose your bank details or PIN number.
  • A police officer will never ask you for bank details or to withdraw or transfer money to another account.
  • A police officer will never ask you to purchase goods for them using your card.
  • You can contact your local neighbourhood policing team to verify if someone is a police officer. Find your local contact number here: www.gmp.police.uk
  • Fraudsters will pressure you into making unwise decisions. They might tell you not to speak about it to other people so they don’t get caught.
  • Be suspicious of phone calls, texts or emails which come out of the blue asking for personal and financial details or asking you to withdraw money regardless of who they claim to be.
  • If you receive a call that raises your suspicions hang up the phone and allow at least five minutes for the line to clear.

If you spot a scam or have been scammed, report it and get help.

Contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.