Theatrical highlights in the 2011 Festival include a musical written and directed by Victoria Wood, a new production from comedian-turned-actor Johnny Vegas and a Doctor Who adventure created by immersive theatre pioneers Punchdrunk.
Wood's musical, The Day We Sang runs at Manchester's Opera House from 6 to 16 July and tells the story of a Mancunian secretary and insurance man, looking back from 1969 to a day in 1929 when they performed as part of the Manchester School Children’s Choir and recorded with the Hallé Orchestra.
The cast is led by Olivier Award-winning actress Jenna Russell alongside Vincent Franklin, Lorraine Bruce, Jemma Drake, Gerard Horan, Ian Marr and Martin Savage. The production also features members of the Hallé Youth Orchestra and a specially formed Manchester Children’s Choir.
Comic Johnny Vegas returns to the MIF with And Another Thing..., following the success of his 2007 MIF dark comedy, Interiors. The production, which runs from 11 to 17 July at the Pavilion Theatre on Albert Square, explores the world of the home shopping TV channel through a hybrid of theatre and television.
Vegas, Kevin Eldon and Emma Fryer present the audience with three characters and use 'Theatrevision' - including live selling on television shopping channel Ideal World - to show the lives behind and in front of the cameras.
Another follow up performance in the festival's line-up is The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, which acts as a sequel to the 2009 show Marina Abramović Presents. A biography of the performing arts pioneer with interpretative perspective from director Robert Wilson, it will feature scenes from Abramović’s life and career, and is billed as "once-in-a generation cultural event".
The production stars Abramovic herself in addition to an international cast and runs at the Lowry from 9 to 16 July prior to transferring to Madrid in April 2012.
In their first piece created specifically for younger audiences, theatrical ensemble Punchdrunk have combined forces with the Doctor Who creative team - namely executive producer Stephen Moffatt and BAFTA award-winning writer Tom MacCrae, to present The Crash of the Elysium.
The immersive theatre piece, which takes the form of an interactive Doctor Who adventure, is tailored specifically towards under 13s, although due to popular demand 'after dark' performances were recently announced for adult audiences. The production will run for the entirety of the festival ('After Dark' performances commencing on 5 July) at the the BBC's new MediaCity UK studio centre at Salford Quays.
Elsewhere in the MIF programme, music fans can see performances from the likes of American rapper Snoop Dogg, contrasting with a three week residency from Icelandic pop singer Bjork, who gives her first performance in the UK for three years in the form of her live show, Biophilia.
- Caitlin Robertson
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