Tuesday, 17 December 2013

That Day We Sang - 4 Manchester Women

Don't Panic, Faye hasn't given up performing to take up the job of a waitress. The above picture is taken from the fantastic Berni Inn scene of her current play 'That Day We Sang'.

Although Faye is busy performing in Manchester she used her day off on Sunday to travel down to St Albans to see her very own Prince Charming - Mr Gareth Gates - in Panto.

He is currently appearing in Cinderella at the 'Alban Arena' and if you're able to get there between now and January 5th I'd highly recommend you do so.

Missing Panto land already & I haven't even left London yet!... Sad face Buster : (

I'm sure it's a great show and well worth seeing but I don't think they'll ever be another to compare with last years Sleeping Beauty at Canterbury where Gareth was joined by his very own Princess Faye in the best Panto EVER. Loved that show.

Anyway. Faye is currently performing in a very special play at The Royal Exchange and 5 star reviews continue to mount up for 'That Day We Sang'.

This next one was written by Alison of '4 Manchester Women':


Review – That Day We Sang

Victoria Wood’s glorious comedy drama at The Royal Exchange Theatre

There’s probably only one person who could write about such a strong subject in such a gentle and endearing way!

That person is Victoria Wood.

Add an intimate understanding of northern humour, local references and more than an occasional nod to American tan tights, The Berni Inn, girdles, gussets and even a hostess trolley and you’ve got a piece of theatre (and soon to be TV) that people will have no alternative but to take to their hearts.

Initially commissioned for the Manchester International Festival in 2011, like any great piece of writing, it works on a number of different levels. There’s the story and then how it makes you feel about your life.

In 1929, 250 members of the Manchester School Children’s Choir travelled from all parts of the city to record Henry Purcell’s setting of Nymphs and Shepherds in the Free Trade Hall.
With knocking knees, these children from industrial 1920′s Manchester, many of whom had never even seen a sheep, let alone a nymph or a shepherd, tried to invoke the spirit of green and pleasant lands.

That Day We Sang is based on a true story. Here’s the original 1929 recording which went on to become a top seller.

Forty years later in 1969 Granada TV bring together four members of the original choir (Jimmy ‘Tubby’ Baker, Enid Sutcliffe and Dorothy & Frank Brierley) to interview them as they listen to an original recording of the performance.

What follows is a journey which moves seamlessly between the innocence, enthusiasm and determination of childhood to the disappointment and under achievement of middle age.

We see young Jimmy Baker’s (William Haressceugh) fight to get a place in the choir – and his battle to keep it as his mother (abandoned by his musician father) tries to keep Jimmy on the straight and narrow. But Jimmy knows this is a once in lifetime opportunity. Nothing is going to stop him.

Forty years later we see a beige, unmarried insurance sales man who’s spent a life living with his recently deceased mother. Somewhere along the way Jimmy’s been lost and been replaced by ‘Tubby’ Baker (Dean Andrews).

Gone is the little boy who said what he thought and was single minded about what he could do and how he was going to do it. Instead we see a man who is shackled by his place in the world.

Gently he tries to woo Enid (Anna Francolini) who is also disappointed with her beige life of a spinster. Never in the history of theatre has there been such in depth exploration into yoghurt (the height of 1969 packed lunch sophistication).

That Day We Sang is a beautifully put together piece of theatre. Every line is packed full of the wonderful one liners we’ve come to expect from Victoria Wood and her trademark songs are in abundance. But in addition to the laughs there are moments that had tears streaming down my face.

When ‘Tubby’ sings a duet with his nine year old self – Jimmy full of hope and a life yet to be lived and middle aged ‘Tubby’ with such regret that he’d let this little boy down – it’s an incredible moment.

It was hard not to think about my nine year old self and wonder if I’ve done that little girl justice.

Don’t think for a minute though that this is a gloomy production as ‘Tubby’ eventually grows a pair and triumphs in the ultimate feel good way!

If ever there was a play which deserved a standing ovation, That Day We Sang is it. Young Alison would have been the first one up and on her feet shouting, whooping and clapping. Unfortunately grown up Alison looked around waiting for someone else to stand up so she wouldn’t be the first.

Up on the first tier there was someone who was standing and clapping – it was Victoria Wood who’d been watching the performance intently, chuckling along and clearly thoroughly enjoying this brilliant cast deliver her exquisite lines. Seeing her was the glacĂ© cherry on my sponge finger!

Go and see That Day We Sang. It’s gorgeous!

As were the children who make up the Manchester School Children’s Choir – excellent singing!

Watch out for filming which starts on a TV version early in the new year starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.

That Day We Sang runs until 18th January 2014. For more information and to book visit royalexchange.co.uk

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