Happy 10th birthday NWTAC

I’ve seen some excellent performances by North West Theatre Arts Company (NWTAC) but ’10’ is special. It’s a compilation of hits, scenes and dance routines celebrating the decade since they were formed.The show kicked off with the full company belting out Reet Petite to an energetic dance routine. It’s a great way to start because it does two things. First, it grabs the audience. Second, it breaks the ice for the cast. That’s important for the newest members of NWTAC theatre school, especially if it’s their first time in front of a live audience.

Nerves dispelled, they slipped in and out of subsequent numbers as if they’d whipped the ruby slippers off Judy Garland when she wasn’t looking.

A further 47 numbers followed – 47! Blockbuster show stoppers, dances, romantic duets, rock songs, the lot. I was delighted to hear some from my favourites from shows like Phantom of the Opera and Joseph and the films Oliver Twist, Annie and Grease.

The cast delivered with confidence and commitment and when the Musical Director herself took to the stage you could see why. Beth Singh treated us to a medley of songs from ‘Little Voice’ with true quality.

It’s difficult to pick individuals out as they were all so good but ‘Summer Nights’ performed by Phoebe Sutherland and Owen Omoruyi-Garcia was awesome and deserves a special mention. Phoebe had Olivia Newton John down to perfection. Also Solomon Asante-Owusu and Elton Amoateng (and ‘the boys’) performed ‘Mysterious Girl’ cheekier than Peter Andre ever did. And Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ by Jonny Molyneux and Poppy Evans was amazing. I could go on.

There were lesser known songs (to me at least) too. ‘Taylor the Latte Boy’ by Grace Donohue was one. Both the lyrics and Grace’s portrayal were hilarious. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to see The Book of Mormon at Manchester’s Palace Theatre. ‘Hello’ (i.e. the doorbell song) was exactly as I remember it and had us all in stitches.

You may think that the varying range, different tempos and emotions would result in some awkward transitions. Not so. Our host for the evening Jonny Molyneux has great stage presence and that special gift ‘comedy timing’. Sticking mostly to script he facilitated the changes in mood with expertise, sharing with us the story of NWTAC over the past 10 years with an expression and wit you can only marvel at.

Two hours passed by in a flash and ’10’ ended with a stirring rendition of ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables. The cast were emotional and awesome in equal measure. We swept to our feet to give them a wholly deserved standing ovation.

One year ago I stepped through the doors of NWTAC theatre, chatted for a couple of hours with Prab Singh (Director), was introduced to Mark Beaumont (Stage Manager) and given a guided tour of the building. They’d taken over what used to be the Tizer depot on Lightbowne Road 3 years earlier and transformed the space into a full on theatre.

I’ve been back many times since. Laughed, clapped, cheered and cried.

Happy 10th birthday to everyone at NWTAC. May you keep returning to the stage, singing, acting and dancing your hearts out for many years to come.

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Forever Manchester’s Birthday Bash 2019

Last Friday Forever Manchester held their Annual Birthday Bash. If you wanted to go but missed it, don’t worry, I reckon they’ll have another next year. But read on and you’ll hopefully get a hint about what to expect.It was a hell of a mix. A posh hotel, dress code smart casual, had quite a corporate feel; reception drinks, fabulous dinner, candelabras, cameras, speeches, awards, entertainment, DJ, the lot. I’ve been to corporate events in a previous life but this was different, much better. It was less formal, had a friendly, happy air and a great party atmosphere.The ‘boss’ gave a stirring speech and talked about philanthropy. Probably mentioned other stuff too but I’ve slept since then. The philanthropy bit stuck in my mind. To be frank and up until last Friday, I didn’t know what it meant. I like it though. It was relevant.

Awards were handed out to gleeful recipients cheered along by their mates. The lucky ones gave short acceptance speeches and posed for photos with Captain Manchester, a curious but handsome masked chap in tights and a cape.The entertainment was totally mixed, representing groups across the city. It started with The Greater Manchester Pipe Band from Cheetham Hill, then Indian classical dancers Salford Malayalee, street dancing from Xpress Urself of Bolton and Chorlton Ladies Choir (they sang, didn’t dance). One after the other on the stage or dance floor they treated us to great performances, closing with vocals from the singer Denise Johnson of Primal Scream.The evening is a celebration and an opportunity to raise funds. I had a go at Captain Manchester’s Magical Tombola (I’m sure that holiday prize had my name on it, but ah well). Then, a silent auction took place live on the big screens – a fascinating event to watch with amazing prizes that raised thousands.

When DJ Dave Haslam started his piece, everyone was ready for a good old knees up and we danced the rest of the night away.

The drink flowed and our taxi came all too soon. Apart from a wicked hangover the next day, what can I say; it was a rare treat and just great fun.

Forever Manchester is a charity that raises funds and supports community activity across Greater Manchester. This website, Another Music, is one of those activities. So you wouldn’t be reading this blog, or any of the other stories on here, if it wasn’t for them.

To find out more about the work Forever Manchester does and how you can get involved just click here. The website is full of great stories and you can have a go on Captain Manchester’s Magical Tombola too. You never know, there might be a holiday with your name on it!

 

Maxine Peake at the Miners Community Art and Music Centre

I’m a Dinnerladies fan. Twinkle’s my favourite character.

She was played by Maxine Peake and the chance to watch one of her films ‘Funny Cow’ at Moston Small Cinema followed by a ‘question and answer session’ doesn’t come along every day. I struck early and got a ticket.

Maxine Peake: Dinnerladies (Twinkle), Early Doors, Silk, Coronation Street, Peterloo, Hamlet, Funny Cow and many more. BAFTA nominee and UK Theatre Awards Winner. Smug’s the one with the beard.

The film was intense, shocking, realistic and brilliantly acted. Afterwards, Smug Roberts asked most of the questions and the audience needed no encouragement to ask theirs.

Maxine told us how she landed her role as Twinkle, about working with Victoria Wood, moving back up north and being around places she knew in Bolton. Hearing about her time at RADA was fascinating.

“It’s a real leveller” she told us. “In my year, there was a really good balance including lots of working class Northerners as well as people from places like Oxford and Cambridge. It was a really good mix; it reflected the business with someone from every walk of life, from every ethnicity.”

“One thing I admire about you is you’re not scared of voicing your opinion.” Smug commented.

“When you do a job you have to do publicity and you get asked all sorts of questions.” Maxine replied. “When I’m asked about how I feel I like to be open about what my feelings are. I never tell people what they should think; I don’t force my opinions on them.”The audience were smitten with her and so was I. She was very witty, warm and open. The whole evening was a pleasure.

She’d mentioning having to do publicity but Maxine wasn’t at the Miners on a cold November evening to promote her film. She was there to promote and raise funds for Lifeshare, a charity that helps meet the needs of homeless and vulnerable people in Manchester and Salford.

She wasn’t the only performer at the event either. We were also treated to a surprise live performance of ‘Human Touch’ by IORA (Holly Phelps). It’s available to download for a minimum £1 donation by clicking here  – all proceeds going to the charity.The evening at the Miners Community Arts and Music Centre raised a fabulous £1,300. To find out more about Lifeshare and the work they do, click here.

It’s nearly Christmas so thank you for taking the time out to read this blog.

For details of up and coming events at The Miners, including films at the Moston Small Cinema, check out their Facebook page.

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