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🗞️ April Best Shows To See in Leeds

🗞️ April Best Shows To See in Leeds

Words by
Stan Graham

Our resident theatre buff, Stan is back with the lowdown on what to go see this month in the theatre world. Give it a read!

It is ironic that in the month usually associated with things bursting into life, April in the theatre is a bit quiet. There is still a lot to look forward to, as what is lost in quantity is made up for in quality. When I say quality, I mean just that, with the final stage play from the legend that is Kay Mellor and music by Testament and Nina Simone.

Leeds Playhouse starts the month with The Time Machine, from 2nd to 6th April, although I suppose that if you know how to operate said piece of equipment, you can go see it whenever you like. It is a comedy, suitable for the age group 12+, ‘very loosely adapted’ from the novel by H G Wells. Beware that it comes with a trigger warning that it includes Cher tunes. I am guessing that one of them will be If I Could Turn Back Time, well, if she can also fast forward, she will know whether to Believe (in life after love). 

5th and 6th April also sees the play Fat Chance, a one-woman piece about Rachel, a 20-something actress which explores her true life experience of weight gain and all that comes with body type change. Been there, done that, and gone back again – twice!

For the young ‘uns aged 3+ there is a stage adaptation of a story from the Who’s In Your Book? series By Tom Fletcher, but has been renamed, There’s A Monster In Your Show. It is an interactive piece with a Little Monster, Dragon, Alien and Unicorn providing comedy and chaos. It runs at various times during the day from 9th to 11th April

13th April brings the RISE UP Festival to various on-site locations presenting performance, music, dance, words and film, marking Windrush and other journeys. It is made up of four events: ANANSI and Me, TRAILBLAZERS: Intergenerational British-Caribbeans In Conversation, CARIBBEAN ARTS CLUB: Women Who Run Tings and RISE UP! 

On the same day, there is a dance feature by Oona Doherty called NYDC – Wall.

Another day-time play for the 3+ age group is running from 17th until 20th April and is The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Probably no need to cut the crusts off the cucumber sandwiches then.

The Time Machine at Leeds Playhouse The Time Machine at Leeds Playhouse
There’s A Monster In Your Show There’s A Monster In Your Show

Something totally different is playing on 19th and 20th in Eva. It is the story, told in the words she left behind, of a woman forced to leave her family and her childhood as she flees to Great Britain when Hitler comes to power. 

Another woman, and an absolute hero of mine, whose amazing words, and music, have been left for posterity, is Nina Simone. Apphia Campbell’s play, Black is the Color of My Voice, is inspired by the artist and features many of her songs performed live. It follows her story from piano prodigy to Civil Rights Movement activist via her musical career. One not to be missed on 24th and 25th April.

25th to 27th gives us the play, Fade, by Alice Christina Corrigan, tackling the issue of family relationships which are brought to the fore when two estranged siblings have to deal with tying up the loose ends following the death of their mother. It includes some original music and, I would venture to suggest, a few tears as well.

Stories from the past, present and imagined future make up the show, Sinfonia, 26th and 27th April. They are written and told by those in, let’s say, the upper age quartile, or as I call them, youngsters! It is directed by Alan Lydiard and also features original music and choreography.

The month comes to a close at Leeds Playhouse with a performance, VERVE: Triple Bill, by a group of 18 exceptional dancers, of three works from international choreographers: Matteo Marfoglia, Joy Alpuerto Ritter and the French collective, (LA)HORDE. So, should you wish to check out the state of modern dance then 30th April is the date for your diary.

Black is The Colour of My Voice Black is The Colour of My Voice

If you are a regular reader of my previews you will not have failed to note my observation about the number of films which have been turned into stage shows recently. During April at Leeds Grand Theatre the emphasis has moved to the smaller screen, although nowadays, not much smaller, with a couple of television favourites playing live.

First up, from 9th to 13th April, is Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening! The original cast of this cult-status comedy from the 90s, has reformed to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the show. The writers, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins are again giving us their take on the current state of tv news. It also gives us a chance to judge the current state of them!

Closer to home, 18th to 28th April is The Syndicate, by the much loved and sorely missed Kaye Mellor. The writer’s family have more than a passing interest in the show, with Ms Mellor’s daughter, the fabulous Gaynor Faye, starring and directing, and a chap called Oliver Anthony, who happens to be her grandson, that’s Kay Mellor’s not Gaynor Faye’s, playing the role of Jamie. Samantha Giles and Brooke Vincent, neither of whom is a relative of the writer, are also in the cast. At least if you get a ticket from the Grand’s box office, rather than a pink one from the newsagent, you are sure to hit the jackpot!

Just squeezing into the month, from 30th April to 11th May, we have Come From Away, winner of four Olivier Awards, concerning a real-life story of 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were stranded in a small Canadian town in the aftermath of 9/11, and how they were welcomed into the community, forging friendships which lasted long after life returned to ’normal’.

If you don’t mind your ‘live’ drama recorded, so that you can see productions not otherwise visiting this great city, then on 3rd April, Leeds City Varieties is screening The Motive and The Cue, a new play by Jack Thorne, Directed by Sam Mendes. It was filmed live during its sold-out run at the National Theatre and stars Mark Gatiss as John Gielgud and Johnny Flynn as Richard Burton. 

Finally, might I draw your attention to a new musical playing at Slung Low’s The Warehouse, which is just a short way out of the city centre. It is the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress and to run for the nomination for President of the United States. It is called Chisholm For President and based on a book by Zodwa Nyoni. The Music and Lyrics are by the amazing talent that is Testament with Musical Director Michael Lovelock the Director is Alex Chisholm. Songs are influenced by the soul, funk and jazz of the 1960s and early 70s with singers performing with a full live band. It plays on Friday, 12th April.

So, there you have it, forget April in Paris and spend April in Leeds.

Come From Away Come From Away
The Motive and The Cue The Motive and The Cue


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