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MIF - The Top Picks

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With the Manchester International Festival opening today (30th June) with such a diverse programme, what will you end up seeing? There's Bjork, a Doctor Who show for kids, Victoria Wood's new musical, a Damon Albarn opera and Snoop Dog at the Apollo. Let us take the strain and go through our picks of MIF.

1. The Day We Sang - Victoria Wood
This talented comedienne, writer, director and actress hit pay dirt with her musical version of Acorn Antiques thrilling audiences at the Royal Haymarket and on tour. This new musical stars Jenna Russell who was excellent in Sunday In The Park With George and Guys and Dolls. This tale 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 - looks set to be the highlight for me as I love Wood and her local roots will shine through.

2. Dr Dee - Damon Albarn
Monkey was an amazing spectacle - an absolute feast for the eyes. But what it lacked was a heart. Maybe, Dr Dee will more than make up for that. Damon Albarn's recent performance on Andrew Marr got people tweeting and interest in the show is high - due to Rufus Norris' involvement, also.

And Another Thing...
Following the success of his 2007 MIF dark comedy, Interiors - Johnny Vegas returns to the festival. The piece explores the world of the home shopping TV channel through a hybrid of theatre and television.Vegas is a really engaging performer who like Les Dawson can convey poignant moments as well as off the wall comedy. This should be a real treat.

4. 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. Who fans will rejoice as will Punchdrunk fans - following their success at the festival with It Felt Like A Kiss.

5. The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic
This 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". This could be hit or miss, as her last interactive piece divided audiences. But with Willem Dafoe on board and the beautiful music of Antony and The Johnsons - I think this will be more hit.

Whatever you have decided to see, enjoy!

The third Manchester International Festival (MIF) commences today (30 June) running until 17 July 2011, with more than 20 commissions, premieres and special events as part of the biennial event's programme.

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