Salford's acclaimed pinnacle of the arts and performance, The Lowry, has announced a further cluster of shows scheduled to run throughout Autumn and Winter 2009 right into next year. So heads down, here is a guide to the very best that the eclectic centre in Manchester's Quays area has to offer - it certainly gives London a run for its money!
First up and comedy continues to be the rock n roll it threatened to be during the 90's with a 'laughably' impressive line-up approaching. As well as previously announced dates for the scary-headed Timperley troubadour Frank Sidebottom and scary-haired Salford bard, John Cooper Clarke, Dinnerladies, Porridge, Sean Hughes and Lee Mack join in the smiles over the next few months. Dinnerladies is the easy-going comedy written by Victoria Wood that made you forget how crap school semolina really was and put a snigger in your buns and a giggle in your plum tarts. Tickets start at £14 and the opening night is on Monday 7th September. The short run continues until Saturday 12th September. One of TVs greatest comedies also comes to the stage in the form of a hearty serving of Porridge from December 22nd to January 16th 2010. Most of the actors from the original series have passed away but this production promises to keep the original characters such as Fletch, Godber and the ubiquitous and downright tenacious prison warder McKay - it should be rather funny. Lee Mack, Sean Hughes, Stewart Lee and bile-tongued Simon Amstell will be preparing their new scripts and gags for a ferry full of fervour and belly-laughs as part of various tours and one-off dates. Don't miss these and other comedy shows such as Faulty Towers - The Dining Experience and Simply Barbra involving Steven Brinberg impersonating Streisand, Davis, Crawford and Laine (Cleo not Denny) with outrageous accuracy.
Music is catered for with chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux booked for one date only on November 19th and Essex vocalist Alison Moyet appearing just 2 days earlier. Tickets are sure to fly out so be quick! Also confirmed are neo-classical lovelies Mediaeval Babes and the dulcet tones of "Streets Of London" star, Ralph McTell as well as the joyful retro vocals of The Puppini Sisters . Keeping with music, although he won't actually be singing (well, possibly not), Henry Rollins and his brand of hard-bitten story-telling and outrageous humour hits The Lowry - not for the faint hearted or easily upset. Rollins pretty much says it how it is and talks an awful lot of sense in a world that doesn't make any sometimes. Further new performances by The Blues Band, Kelly Jo Phelps and the under-rated songwriter Martyn Joseph also form an engaging roster of acts waiting in the proverbial wings.
If you love Musicals then polish off those tap shoes and click your soles to the sound of High School Musical - Sing Along just announced for Sunday 6th September. This is already a proven favourite with all of the family - tickets are from £14. If louder, rockier musicals are right up your street then why not go ga-ga for Queen? Ga Ga are an internationally acclaimed tribute act to Mercury an co and will be performing their own kind of magic the lucky date of Friday 13th November. Who would have thought that the legacy of The Blues Brothers would continue some 30 years on? Find out how at the tribute to this stalwart of musical triumphs of the 70's on October 14th. Opera also comes to Salford's finest with Mozart's classic Cosi Fan Tutte pencilled in for one night only on November 10th - £14 is the lowest priced ticket. Last but not least, Puccini's La Boheme takes residence for two nights in February.
Finally, if you want something a little more thought-provoking or outrageous (or both) then the play The Vagina Monologues and the extravagant Burlesque night will surely set you up for a mind-expanding evening of one form or another. Less outrageous but no less thought provoking are the plays Deep Cut and Prick Up Your Ears. The former deals with the tragedies detailed at the fated Surrey army training barracks during the 90s while the latter features Little Britain's Matt Lucas starring as playwright Kenneth Halliwell.
Full details are available on this website as well as ticket prices. One venue, several dozen shows - Manchester's West End under one roof.