Dirty Dancing will see aisles rocking
show to life. That sort of research and development is expensive and is paid for via funding from our pockets. Which is why it is right and fair that we get to see the show in the region.
The touring production arrived at the Bradford Alhambra this week, opening the UK tour in Yorkshire – as One Man Two Guvnors did in Sheffield – and will be at the theatre until June 14.
Adam Renton, the manager of the Alhambra who was instrumental in bringing the production to Bradford, says: “Hosting the exclusive Yorkshire premiere of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse is wonderful news for our award-winning venue and for the district.
“The fact that the Alhambra Theatre celebrates 100 years in 2014, while the show is in residence, makes it even more special.” IT’S wood and leather – the artifice isn’t even hidden, we can see the puppeteers – and somehow it still moves a whole audience to tears.
War Horse is one of the most magnificent achievements of contemporary British theatre. Technically it is staggering, but the real triumph of War Horse is the heart of the piece.
Watching the show at the Alhambra in Bradford, it is a reminder of the ultimate power of theatre. Steven Spielberg was inspired to turn this into a movie when he saw the show. It was not a success, mainly because a movie makes fewer demands of the watcher than a piece of theatre. Where literality failed, the combined imaginations of an audience succeeds.
Michael Morpurgo’s story of Joey the horse is a beautiful novel, but the multi-faceted tale seems anything but ideal for adaptation for the stage. For a start, the main character is a horse. How can you tell the story? Well, you get genius theatre makers, Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, to employ every theatrical trick they can muster.
You then throw at it performances like that of Lee Armstrong as Albert Narracott. At the end of the play, when his mother sees a ‘man on a horse’ there is deep poignancy – we have watched this young boy become a man in front of our eyes.
There isn’t a misstep in the whole production, from Steven Hillman’s Ted Naracott, to his long-suffering wife Rose Narracott, to their farm’s goose, this is one of the most complete pieces of theatre you will ever see.
To June 14. ALAN Bennett himself insisted this play, the biggest flop of his career, was incorrectly titled. ‘Endure’, he suggested, was a more apt name.
It is a mark of the fact that Bennett was spot on when you consider that this is a brilliantly directed, powerfully acted production and yet is virtually impossible to enjoy.
No-one is suggesting that every piece of theatre needs to be enjoyable – some of the most powerful nights I have had in theatre have been watching pieces of work that have made me feel deeply uncomfortable.
But there needs to something in the play that is entertaining, or compelling. You can’t help but leave this production feeling like you have been through a test of endurance.
What’s difficult about it is that it is truly a very imaginatively directed piece of work. James Brining uses imagination and great skill to bring the story to life.
You just can’t help but wonder why.
The first in the Alan Bennett season, Enjoy tells the story of a Leeds back-to-back and the couple who live in it, the space defining them, and they in turn defining the space. As silent observers arrive to watch Mam and Dad live their lives, there is something prophetic about the 1980 play that speaks to today.
It does have some typically sparkling Bennett wit, but as the walls close in (ironically, by being blown apart) the oppression of the piece is palpable.
The coup de theatre at the end of this piece is spectacular, but it feels a long test of endurance to get there.
To June 7. SINGALONGA Dirty Dancing is set to hit the region.
From the producers of similar shows Sing-a-long-a Grease and Sing a-long-a-Sound of Music – their latest production is a brand new production of the film which starred Patrick Swayze.
Set in 1963, it’s a story of college boys versus dancing hunks and the audience are seen as the stars, with a host for vocal warm-ups, and dancing down the aisles.
You can see the production at St George’s Hall, Bradford and for tickets call the Box Office on 01274 432404.