April starts with Willy Russell’s classic twist-of-fate tale Blood Brothers at the Leeds Grand, on Saturday 2nd April at 14:30. Lyn Paul (Cabaret, New Seekers pop group) will return to her role as Mrs Johnstone
in this bittersweet musical about the intertwined lives of twins parted at birth, only to meet again years later in poignant circumstances. Receiving countless ovations in its 10, 000 show run in the West End, this legendary
show includes hits such as Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and Tell Me It’s Not True.
It’s a real blast from the past next with Jackie: The Musical, on Saturday 2nd April at the Bradford Alhambra at 14:30. A divorcee, Jackie, leafs through the pages of her old Jackie annuals, finding quizzes, fashion
tips, ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’, and sage advice from Cathy and Claire which still seems to resonate now! Armed with this new-found, or rather old-found, wisdom and a heady soundtrack with heartthrobs Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and
Marc Bolan, Jackie takes on the world one sassy step at a time. Starring Janet Dibley (The Two of Us, EastEnders, Fat Friends), Graham Bickley (Ragtime, Bread) and Nicholas Bailey (EastEnders, The Archers).
Also on Saturday 2nd April but at 19:30 is Smoke and Mirrors at HOME Manchester. Fresh from the Fringe in Edinburgh, this production by American company The Ricochet Project has been dazzling critics and audiences
with its mind-bending blend of intimate acrobatics. An undercurrent of poetic lyricism, focusing on the human search for happiness within a capitalist society, underpins this stripped-back, slow-burning show.
Razzle-dazzling its way into Bradford is Chicago, at Bradford Alhambra on Saturday 9th April at 14:30. Seductive and satirical, this star-studded production features John Partridge (Cats, A Chorus Line, Miss Saigon,
Starlight Express) as sharp, slick Billy Flynn, Hayley Tramaddon (Dancing on Ice, Emmerdale, Coronation Street) as sweet-seeming, fame-hungry Roxie Hart and Sam Bailey (X Factor winner and real life prison warden) as Matron
‘Mama’ Morton, queen in the cells of sin.
Next it’s fun, feel-good classic Hairspray, at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Wednesday 13th April at 19:30. You can’t stop the beat in Baltimore, where the uncompromising Tracy Turnblad’s foray into national television
becomes a mission to establish racial equality – whilst looking fabulous, throwing shapes and bagging herself her own teen heartthrob too! Starring Claire Sweeney (Educating Rita, Chicago) as Velma Von Tussle, Peter Duncan
(Blue Peter, Tumble) and Brenda Edwards (Chicago, We Will Rock You, X Factor) as Motormouth Maybelle.
2016 marks the 60th anniversary of John Osborne’s gritty, impassioned play Look Back in Anger, audio described on Thursday 14th April at 19:30 at the Bolton Octagon. Angry young men are at the forefront of this
kitchen sink classic, which burst onto the stage in 1956, airing the frustrations of a disillusioned generation and piercing the middle-class bubble which had been the mainstay of British theatre. A claustrophobic, co-dependent
relationship is the lens through which Osborne explores the increasingly apolitical, limited and limiting world of the 1950s.
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is next at the Bradford Alhambra on Saturday 16th April at 13:30. This adventurous take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy sees the Royal Shakespeare Company collaborate with
amateur theatre companies nation-wide: in Bradford, members of Leeds Arts Centre will play Bottom and the Mechanicals. In an enchanted forest, on a balmy midsummer’s night, four lovers discover that the course of true love
never does run smooth
The Shepherd’s Life, a world premiere by James Rebanks, adapted by Chris Monks, makes its debut next at The Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, audio described on Saturday April 16th at 14:00. Cutting through the idealisation
of the Lake District to take a close and uncompromising look at the lives of real farmers, Rebanks’ passionate portrayal of Lakeland life topped The Sunday Times best-seller list. Dry, earthy wit permeates this story of a family’s
connection to land that they have farmed for more than six hundred years, through shifting seasons and changing generations. This brand new production makes innovative use of film, puppetry and music, starring professional
actors and members of the local community.
Sparkling, show-stopping musical The Bodyguard is next at Milton Keynes on Saturday 16th April at 19:30. Based on the blockbuster film, this romantic thriller charts the growing chemistry between a superstar and
the bodyguard she hired to protect her, with X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke belting out Whitney Houston’s breath-taking array of hits in between. You’ll definitely want to dance with somebody! The Bodyguard is also audio described
at Liverpool Empire on May 3, and at Leeds Grand on May 21st .
With over 26000 performances in London alone, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is back at Liverpool Empire with a 60th anniversary production on Thursday 21st April at 19:30. A group of people in a claustrophobic
country house, blocked in on every side by thick snow, are terrified to realise that a murderer is amongst them… Dame Agatha is at her best in this spine-tingling, tantalisingly-paced, thriller, which stars Louise Jameson (Doctor
Who, EastEnders, Doc Martin) as Mrs Boyle.
Tom: A Story of Tom Jones the Musical is swinging its way into the Bradford Alhambra on Saturday 23rd April at 14:30. Tracing the story of a Welsh boy in the Valleys with a big dream and a big voice to match, this
feel-good musical is studded with hits such as It’s Not Unusual, Delilah, What’s New Pussycat?
Dancing queens frolic against the background of the deep blue Greek sea in the ultimate crowd-pleaser Mamma Mia at the Bristol Hippodrome on Monday 25th April at 19:30. Sophie’s on a mission to find her long-lost
father, so she brings her mother face to face with three old flames… Old emotions flare up and nostalgia rears its head, and it’s all set to the fabulous soundtrack of Abba’s greatest hits. This irresistible, feel-good musical
has been seen by over 60 million people worldwide! Mama Mia will also be audio-described at Nottingham’s Concert Hall on June 21st.
A co-production between Oldham Coliseum and New Vic Theatre (Newcastle-under-Lyme) has resulted in foot-tapping new play Kiss Me Quickstep, audio described at the Oldham Coliseum on Wednesday 27th April at 19:30.
The ballroom dancefloor is the backdrop for this story which explores the lives of dancers behind the showy smiles and sequins. Justin and Jodie have made it all the way to Blackpool’s national championships, with a few hiccups
here and there, whilst Luka’s flown over from Russia especially and Samantha’s been training since she was a wee girl. But one foot wrong in this tense atmosphere and they might lose it all…
Finally this month in the theatre, Don Warrington MBE (Rising Damp, All My Sons, Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who) tackles the lead role in a new interpretation of King Lear at the Royal Exchange on Saturday April
30th at 13:30. Directed by Michael Buffong, Shakespeare’s renowned tragic tale sees sanity slipping and control disintegrating into chaos in ancient Britain. Family ties collapse and transform into bitter feuds, against the
backdrop of a senseless and brutal natural world, which cannot be controlled.
In the Visual Arts, Modern Japanese design is the subject explored in the Henshaws tour of Manchester Art Gallery on Thursday 28th April at 10:30am. With a broad spectrum of design pieces on display, spanning ceramics,
furniture, fashion, glass, jewellery, lighting and metalwork, this sleek exhibition explores the idiosyncrasies of Japanese and Japanese-influenced design, from an impressive array of designers including powerhouses such as
Yoji Yamamoto, Kenzo and Issey Miyake.