The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford today announces its 2015 programme. Theatre correspondent Nick Ahad takes a look.
The difficult second album, the tricky second act – the people at the Alhambra know only too well the feelings that accompany these situations.
The Bradford theatre is coming to the end of a celebration of one of its most significant and successful years. In 2014 the Alhambra has spent the year celebrating its centenary – and it has done so in style. War Horse, Lion King, a gala night of huge variety acts, the stops have all been pulled out.
The problem is, when you focus all of your energy into one single year – and some of the 2014 celebrations have been several years in the planning – then are you not left spent for anything that follows? Apparently not, according to the mastermind behind the Alhambra’s successful centenary year.
Adam Renton is the theatre manager who has worked tirelessly during 2014 to make sure that the Alhambra is celebrated properly and fully in its birthday year. He has also had to keep his eye firmly fixed on the theatre’s future and has secured funding for a major restoration of St George’s Hall.
Once that work has been carried out, what will be on the stages of the venue and of the Alhambra? The truth is, Renton carried out some sort of theatrical magic to make this past year quite as successful as it has been and he simply couldn’t keep up that sort of standard for two consecutive years. He has, however, found a couple of shows to bring to the region that are definite tentpole productions around which the rest of the season can sit.
I’m thinking specifically of the National Theatre production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, the Matthew Bourne version of Edward Scissorhands, and a first UK tour of the musical based on the movie The Bodyguard.
There are some other intriguing prospects in the theatre’s season, not least The 56, coming to the theatre’s studio in April, which will retell some of the stories of those involved in the Bradford City Fire. While many of the other region’s theatres make their own work, the Alhambra has to rely on receiving the work made by other companies, but judicious bookings means it can secure shows like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Coming to the Alhambra April 21 to 25, the National Theatre’s production is from Simon Stephens’ adaptation of the Mark Haddon best-selling novel. The production, which opened in London in 2013, received seven Olivier Awards that year including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. It is the sort of show that the National should be bringing to the region and we’re lucky that Bradford has the capacity to host it.
The mesmerising Edward Scissorhands is making a welcome return, having played to sell-out audiences when it was last in the region.
The theatre will also host a number of touring musicals, including Calamity Jane, Anything Goes and Oklahoma, while a contemporary circus, presented by Cirque Eloize, will visit in March and at the other end of the scale, The Tiger Lillies will give fans an opportunity to get up close when they appear in the Studio in March.
Finally, having started in Sheffield, gone to London and set off around the country, a true Yorkshire tale makes a welcome return when The Full Monty – written by the man who wrote the original film, Simon Beaufoy – comes to town.
It’s not a bad way to follow up a pretty special year.