The Coronation Street Tour

They are the most famous cobbles in the world, and I got a sneak peek at the new Coronation Street Tour that opened, for six months only, on April 5.

It is said that you should never meet your heroes.

I’m not quite sure how a street that has been on UK television for 53 years has become a hero of mine but it has. Perhaps it’s the spirit of its fictional inhabitants, perhaps it’s because I’d sit and watch Corrie with my Grandma when I was little or perhaps it’s because it is, quite simply, a British institution.

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Yes, that is serial killer Richard Hillman sneaking up on me in the Platt’s living room!

Filming at Granada Studios in Manchester ceased before Christmas when the cast and crew moved over to Salford’s Media City to a news, high-tech, high res set and most of the old sets moved or dismantled.

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Always knew I’d get behind this bar one day!

But the Street has remained in place, for now, as has the Rovers, the Platt’s, the Dobbs’ and Carla’s old flat and relics past such a Hilda Ogden’s hair net, Deirdre’s glasses, the ornament Tracy Barlow used to murder Charlie Stubbs and Becky McDonald’s wedding dress, have been rescued from storage to see the light of day once more.

And now 35 new cast members have taken centre stage.

What these tour guides, who have been recruited from in and around the Greater Manchester area, don’t know about good ‘ole Corrie, isn’t worth knowing.

Showing me around were Martin and Dora who explained that they had spent four weeks of intensive training.
Dora, said: “We have been learning a brilliant script written by Coronation Street scriptwriter, Tim Randall, and we spent time with acting teachers from Salford University to learn all about voice projection and storytelling – it’s been brilliant.

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Becky’s wedding shoes – River Island FYI

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Roy’s lovely beige uniform, Jack Duckworths outfit and the infamous Bett’s overcoat

“Now we’re armed with all kinds of facts and gossip to pass on to the visitors when they get here, I can’t wait.”

Walking into the iconic Stage One studio, having already visited the “Corridor of Stars” where long serving cast members had their dressing rooms and the wardrobe and make-up department, there is such a sense of history that it seems sad that in just six short months, most of it will no longer exist.  The short film beforehand reminding me of old friends and new favourites, storylines past, births, weddings, deaths and the oh so brilliant disasters, made it all the more poignant.

Admittedly, my professionalism may have slipped slightly as I took in the in sets of Carla’s former flat, the Platt’s home and the instantly recognisable Rovers Return. (Well, I couldn’t NOT have my picture taken behind the bar could I?!)

But the piece-de-resistance appears through the doors of Nick’s Bistro.IMAG0129

 

Behind those doors lied hallowed turf, well, cobbles, and once I was in I didn’t want to leave, in fact. I contemplated hiding down the infamous ginnel so that I didn’t have to!

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Too early for a G&T?

One of my favourite touches was the use of sensors down there that set off Vera and Jack Duckworth, Sally Webster and Hilda Ogden shouting down the backs as you walked by their houses, making you feel like you could bump into one of them at any given moment.

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Roy? You in there?

Tour guests spend 45 minutes taking in the exhibits on stage one but the real fun comes when they get onto the street itself because your time is your own to peek through windows, take a snap outside the Rovers or call on Roy for one of his rolls.

I did all three and then some!

 

Get your tickets here

 

 

REVIEW: Hairspray, The Lowry Theatre, Salford

REVIEW: Hairspray, The Lowry Theatre, Salford

“Something inside of me makes me move…..”

And move I did.

As the opening bars of ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ began, as smile spread itself across my face and didn’t leave until the curtain dropped.

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Hairspray, started life as a movie back in 1988 starring now talkshow host, Rikki Lake as central character, Tracy Turnblad.
This time, the role goes to 22 year old Freya Sutton from Northwich, Cheshire, on what you might call home turf, for her professional theatre debut.

HAIRSPRAY Freya Sutton plays Tracy Turnblad Photo by Hugo Glendinning

However, the seemingly bubblegum musical has it’s roots in a real life event which prompted huge changes in American history.

Telling the story of the ‘Corny Collins Show’- a show Tracy and her best friend Penny Pingleton (brilliantly played by Lauren Hood – her comic timing was perfection) rush home each night after school to see – that saw only white teens perform on as regular dancers.

But Tracy wants to see change and with the help of her friend, (and later Penny’s love interest) Seaweed, sets about ringing in those changes, much to the dismissal of the show’s producer, Velma Von Tussle.

X Factor veteran, Marcus Collins reminded the audience of his vocal props but also showed off his dancing and utterly charming side.Image

Former Eastender Lucy Benjamin shook off her incarnation as miserable Lisa and made way for Velma Von Tussle in a big way, proving she had the pipes to tackle the tour as well as showing the comic book villain side we all love to hate.
And Waterloo Road’s Mark Benton removed the specs and beard and donned Edna Turnblad’s housecoat in spectacular fashion, pulling off a touching, yet fabulously hilarious turn alongside Paul Rider’s Wilbur.

HAIRSPRAY Mark Benton plays Edna Turnblad Photo by Hugo Glendinning

But it was the lesser heard roles that truly impressed.
Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle, stunned the audience with her showstopping number ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ and Gabrielle Brooks as Seaweed’s younger sister, Inez, is clearly a future star in the making.
With wholesome family 60’s entertainment and a side order or cheekiness, Hairspray is a feel-good night out from start to finish.

As the encore of ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ kicked in again the audience rose to their feet both in joy and genuine appreciation.

Hairspray The Musical continues around the UK until September