Canal Street Music,Theatre and Film

If you love the North, then this blog is for you.We hope this music and film blog is a celebration of culture and enterprise, from theatre, music, authors and art to heritage,as well as everything in-between.We also want to flag up forthcoming gigs, theatre and film across our region.

We scour the region for interesting gigs and stories, histories, ambitions and events. Want to read a carefully crafted article about an oddball museum or go behind the scenes of a leading institution? You can find that here.

The Commitments at Palace Theatre


After a fantastically successful two-year run on the West End, The Commitments has arrived in Manchester and is playing in the Palace Theatre on Oxford Road until the 8th April.  We went along last night to see the show for ourselves and escape the essays for a night. 

Based on the BAFTA-award winning film and book by Roddy Doyle, the show follows a rock and roll – or rock and soul – rise and fall trajectory.  Following a misfit group of Irish friends who form a soul group, the musical is a lot of fun throughout.  Filled with classic soul songs – Mustang Sally, Heard it Through the Grapevine and Proud Mary to name a few - the show appealed and the audience sang along to the hits.

The set changes were great, and the cast made good use of the moments to inject some comedy into the performance- in particular, Brian Gilligan’s slick Deco in his grotty Superman underpants.  Gilligan was originally picked to play Billy – an Animal inspired-hairy-limbs-akimbo-drummer – but was overheard singing in the stairwell at The Palace and hired to take the role of lead singer in The Commitments instead.  Andrew Linnie’s Jimmy held the show- and the band- together, and does a grand job throughout.

In places the plot was a bit thin and the characters somewhat stereotyped*, but the cast are vocally exceptional, the laughs came thick and fast, and the songs pull the show together and kept us well entertained.

*Kate’s Irish parents are still distressed at the painfully excessive use of jaysus and TV legend Kevin Kennedy’s “Dublin” twang.

3.5 stars

Check out more info and to book tix here..

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:46:44 +0100

Macy Gray live in Manchester

A packed out older audience graced the floor for Macy, a stage that allegedly hosted Princes last live performance, so she was in very good company..

Lampshades cover the stage to welcome a 28 minutes late Macy.But the crowd welcomed her warmly.

Gray opened the show boldly in her silver sparkly outfit, looking a little ‘giddy’ maybe on her first 3 songs?

Some highlights included her cover of Radioheads notorious 'Creep’ track and Sexual Revolution, always a firm fav of her most loyal fans.

3 Costume changes later and an interim talk to the crowd about Freedom inspired the onlookers, with her most famous track “I Try” hyping the crowd to close.

Very Jazzy and Soulful, at times her voice sounding like warm honey with able support from her 4 musicians (Drums, Keyboard, Sax and Bass).

Overall this was a little disappointing that she started so late, but it was a great performance from the Legendary and at times boisterous , madam Macy Gray.

3.5 stars

By Kirsty Devlin for Canal St Online
Contact @Kirstydevlin1

For more about up coming gigs at The Academy

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:37:12 +0000

YANK! Hope Mill Theatre

After the success of ‘Parade’ & 'Hair’, expectations are high for this latest Hope Mill Theatre / Aria Entertainment production and I’m pleased to report that  it doesn’t disappoint.

'Yank!’ by Joseph & David Zellnick is a gorgeous show that you’ll want to clutch to your chest and never let go of. Set at the tail end of World War Two, the story revolves around two men who fall in love whilst enlisted in the US Army.

 Imagine a glorious Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musical but with Gene Kelly and Howard Keel playing the star crossed lovers and you’ll be on the right lines. As Stu and Mitch try to navigate their feelings in the most macho of surroundings, the war, fellow soldiers and society in general conspire to keep them apart. This was a period when the armed forces often treated gay people with as much contempt as 'the enemy’.

Over the course of the piece Stu, the young innocent, becomes perhaps the bravest of them all. Scott Hunter’s performance is so engaging, wide eyed and compelling you’re rooting for him from the moment he makes his surprise entrance. Barnaby Hughes plays the flirtatious chiselled jaw hero to great effect and in the multi-talented all singing all dancing cast, special mention must go to Sarah-Louise Young who plays every female character is the show! There are also some great comic moments in the mix as well as the inevitable darker elements reflecting the horrors of war but overall this is a romantic, nicely sentimental homage to the forties.

Chris Cuming’s choreography is impressive and adventurous considering the limited space and the era is authentically brought to life by the score, beautifully sung by the cast and played by an impressive seven piece band who make a sound that belies their modest number.

5 stars

By Drew Tosh for Canal St Online..

Runs until April 8

More details here

Box Office 0161 275 9141

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 10:30:31 +0000

Olly Murs at Manchester Arena

Olly Murs has been having hits now for 8 years. Since appearing on The X Factor, his popularity has never waned, and when you see him perform live, this success is cemented, as he is such an enigmatic and lively entertainer. And for his fans, he is the cheeky chappie from Essex; the people’s popstar.

On his 24 Hours tour, Olly opens with the brilliant “You Don’t Know Love” - he immediately has the huge arena on side, as this track has the hook to pull you in. His music is much more mature now, meaning his fans have grown with him.

In between tracks, he chats to us Mancs and mentions how great audiences are here. If you have ever been to a gig in London, you too will notice the difference, as here in the North West, gig goers know how to party.

Olly’s band are slick and back him to the hilt. Their chemistry is evident and the effect is that of a celebration on stage, and it is infectious, bringing you to your feet within seconds.

Troublemaker and Dear Darlin’ get the crowd going and this mixed set is part of his appeal. Ballads, dance tracks and pure pop perfection means that no-one goes home hungry.

The only flaw of the night? The gig is 90 minutes long, and I, like many could have danced for another few songs.

The crotch grabbing may be the headline grabber for some. But, Olly Murs is humble and has the image of a man who feels lucky to be performing to such huge numbers.  

And given the huge success of his new album 24 Hours and this tour, he has never been better.

Glenn Meads for Canal St Online.

Still tix for tonight via..

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 10:44:10 +0000

Grease in the word and is  utterly satisfying

How utterly satisfying. A terrific fun evening re-living those classic tunes that never fail to get us up on our feet.

If you are after an evening of sheer fun then this is “ the one that you want”.
Tom parker plays the classic character of Danny Zuko, and whilst some of the acting seemed a stretch, he nails the majority of songs with ease. Danielle Hope soared as a great Sandy. Her reprise of “Sandra dee” was enough to make some of the audience stand. I have to say though , (whilst mentioning Sandra dee) Louisa Lytton was not the all empowering Rizzo that I think we expect.  Some notes in both her big solos seemed out of reach. I suppose there are worse things she could do!!
Lovely to see and indeed hear Mr Darren day.( The very lovely teen angel.) After hearing him you can’t help but think that he has been missed from the Stage.
There was very little to fault within this production and so much,perhaps too much to praise.

I have to give a nod to a performer I think we will hear a lot more from in the coming years. His name is George Olney (jimmy). Some of the ensemble gave 100% whilst this gentleman gave 1000% and whilst not pulling focus (apart from one devine shower scene) was totally punching his way through every dance and every moment on the stage. Every character he undertook was perfectly played.

All in all if you have the chance to see this production whilst it is here in Manchester, then do not hesitate.
A review by Belinda Scandal for Canal St Online

For show details and to book

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:27:56 +0000

The Snow Maiden: Rimsky-Korsakov. The Lowry, Salford

Opera North’s third production in their fairy tale trio of operas at The Lowry, Salford is Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarely performed The Snow Maiden. The opera, a Russian favourite, which is being professionally staged for the first time in over 60 years in the UK, features some of Rimsky-Korsakov’s most lyrical music, including the ‘Chorus of the Birds’, and the ‘Dance of the Clowns’.

Director John Fulljames has reworked The Snow Maiden classic storyline in a contemporary setting, blending the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Set in a Russian clothes factory, the production offered colour and clothing on a production line with an eclectic mix of modern and traditional Russian costumes and smart use of mannequins to indicate change of seasons.

The music is hauntingly beautiful and the orchestra captured this well, as the charming Russian folk story The Snow Maiden unfolded telling us the tale of the daughter of Grandfather Frost and Spring Beauty. The young Snow Maiden was sung exquisitely by Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly. She wants nothing more than to live amongst humans, after meeting a shepherd boy, Lel played by Heather Lowe. It’s fair to say Lowe stole the show with her striking performance, gorgeous voice and clever interpretation of movement and dance, as she hides the tragic secret that her heart is made of ice and, if she falls in love, it will melt.

Other standout performances were the warmth and confident sound of Yvonne Howard as Spring Beauty and Tsar Berendey as Bonaventura.

Opera North have delighted us with their recent season and we look forward to their return in November.

4.5 stars

For more about whats on at The Lowry click

Reviewed by Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 09:40:15 +0000

La Cenerentola (Cinderella) at The Lowry

It was with a romantic note that Opera North presented their second fairy tale last night at The Lowry Theatre, Salford. Rossini’s sparkling comedy Cinderella (La Cenerentola) was colourful and delightful as dance was woven into the very fabric of the music. Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta played the part of Angelina (known as Cinderella) and from her opening aria ‘Una Volta c’era un re’ she certainly showed us what star quality she has as she sung one of the most famous motifs with such lyricism, whilst scrubbing the floor of a ballroom dance school. Her energy and enthusiasm certainly did not wane and as she brought the curtain down with ‘Non piu mesta’ the music seemed to pop like champagne corks around us.

In Rossini’s work, it is music rather than magic that transforms Cinderella into a princess. Indeed, there is no glass slipper, fairy godmother or magic, but through the music Cinderella deftly outwits her pompous stepfather Don Magnifico (Henry Waddington) and her two cruel step-sisters, played with vulgarity by Sky Ingram and Amy J. Payne. This trio certainly brought much comedy to the opera and played their parts superbly, much to the audience’s delight.

South African tenor Sunnyboy Dladla is Cinderella’s prince, Don Ramiro. He clearly struggled at times and needed slightly more presence with his voice. However, he did run through the wide and, at times, dramatic range of notes, which shows he has a strong future ahead of him.

The inventive use of video brought the themes of dreams and aspirations to the forefront. With a riot of colour and invention enabling this production to further blur the lines between reality and fantasy.

Traditionalists of opera may have found this adaptation a little safe. However, it was clear to see and hear the wider appeal that this production achieved and it was a refreshing quality to witness. Nevertheless, with some rousing strong chorus numbers, which were presented with such clarity, there was something for everyone here.

La Cenerentola can be caught again at the Lowry Theatre, Salford on Saturday 11th March at 7pm.
Stars : 3

Reviewed by Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:59:53 +0000


Manchester ADP, a collective of writers, directors and actors, are teaming up with The Oldham Coliseum main-stage in May.

What The Dickens?
Monday 22nd of May, 7:30pm
The Oldham Coliseum

The Manchester theatre scene is more thriving and alive than ever. With groups like Manchester ADP, the announcement of a Northern Rep and independent venues Hope Mill Theatre and 53two supporting new work, there’s never been a better time to be an artist in this city.

Manchester ADP (Actors, Directors & Producers) was formed over a year ago by Diana Atkins, who moved from London and began seeking a group to join, as an actor, that met regularly to read scripts. She was shocked to find that nothing like this existed, so reached out to the community to gather interest and was naturally inundated.

“I posted on Manchester Independent Theatre Network Facebook group and was inundated with actors and directors keen to get involved. Initially, when I first posted, I hadn’t yet decided I’d definitely start something but when I saw the explosion of responses, I realised, I better actually do this now!”
Manchester-based Producer, Hannah Ellis Ryan came on board to help launch the group and, since then, the community has gone from strength to strength.

Now with over 1000 creatives on their books, Manchester ADP produce script-reading performances twice a month at The Kings Arms in Salford. They have performed at The Lowry, staging a “Next Steps” event, gathered over £2500 in donations from the community, including Russell T Davis, and secured sponsorship from Casting Networks, who offer all Manchester ADP actors a six-month Pro Membership.

At their Christmas event in 2015, Chris Lawson, Associate Artistic Director of the Oldham Coliseum Theatre, attended ADP to see what it was all about and reached out to express his respect and admiration for the group. In the year that followed, The Oldham Coliseum Theatre became a financial sponsor of ADP and partner, offering opportunities, advice and space for events.

Their greatest partnership, however, is yet to come, with the staging of ‘What The Dickens?’ on the Coliseum Main Stage in May, 2017. ADP will stage four responses to ‘Hard Times’, the main stage production, commissioning four of their trusted writers to respond to the classic, under the mentorship Lawson and professional directors.

Chris Lawson said:

“The Oldham Coliseum Theatre are proud to continue to support the great work of Manchester ADP, ‘What the Dickens?’ is a unique opportunity to bring the ADP community to our main stage. We are committed to supporting new work and pieces in response to 'Hard Times’ feels like the right way to do this, with themes and issues that continue to resonate today.”

The four writers are Naomi Sumner, of Brush Stroke Order, Alexandra Keelan, writer of Angel in the House, Kevin McMahon, prominent Irish writer, and Kenton Thomas, writer of ADP favourite: ‘My Man’. The writers will bring a distinct, diverse voice to the world of ‘Hard Times’ under the direction of Joyce Branagh, Martin Gibbons, Adam Quayle and Rose Van Leyenhorst.

Hard Times will be staged like never before under the direction of Lawson, to root its relevance to 2017 in this current economic and political climate. Alongside Manchester ADP’s responses, this partnership promises to be something special for the North West, offering an in-depth Q&A on the Monday evening.

Tickets are now on sale at:  

Get involved with Manchester ADP here:

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 15:42:23 +0000