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Confidential Choice

Trudie Robinson’s seven day guide: classic cinema, old men and war, Manchester cover band free-for-all

Published on December 14th 2007.

Confidential Choice

It’s a Wonderful Life
Christmas at Cornerhouse wouldn’t be the same without a screening of that embodiment of seasonal sentimentality, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. For those who have never seen it and therefore have a heart harder than a three day old baguette, the film finds George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) suicidal on Christmas Eve. He’s just about to top himself when his guardian angel Clarence turns up to talk him out of it. Clarence shows him what life would have been like had he never existed and how precious George’s life really is. With this digitally re mastered print, a man’s nervous breakdown never looked so good and it’s even more likely to have you reaching for the hankies.
Cornerhouse Oxford St , City 0161 200 1500
Fri 14 – Sun 23 Dec.

Classic Manchester Night
There’s nothing like wallowing in a bit of Manchester ’s glorious music history. The seventies and eighties produced two of the music scenes most revered and wonderfully melancholic bands, Joy Division and The Smiths. On account of Ian Curtis being six feet under and Morrissey exiled in Rome amidst a pile of solicitors papers, this night celebrates their music through the tribute bands The Other Smiths and Transmission (named after one of Joy Division’s singles). Joining in this joyous occasion of all things Manchester is Ben Thompson. Who? Corrie’s troubled teen Ryan no less. Let’s face it with his Dad and Uncle dead from car crashes and his Ma shacked up with Steve MacDonald the poor lad needs a night out to cheer him up…. Oh er…
Manchester Academy (Manchester University Students Union , Oxford Road , Chortle on Medlock, M13. 0161 275 2930) Fri 14 Dec

Better known to her Mum and Dad as Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam, MIA has made some waves on the music scene of late. Born in Hounslow she grew up in Sri Lanka where her father was a high-ranking Tamil Tiger. Choosing the acronym MIA standing for ‘missing in action’ or in this case also ‘missing in Acton,’ her experience in war torn Sri Lanka and subsequent teen years on a council estate in South London has proved a plentiful supply of inspiration for her own brand of innovative hip hop with a political message. Her debut album Arular was named after her father and is an acknowledgement of his past. It was nominated for the Mercury music prize in 2005.
Manchester Academy (Manchester University Students Union , Oxford Road , Chortle on Medlock, M13. 0161 275 2930) Tue 18 Dec.

Dick Wittington
Another big panto in town this year is the tale of Dick Whittington and his feline friend at the Lowry. Following the success of Aladdin last year, the show follows the fortunes of Dick as he attempts to beat Boris Johnson to the seat of Mayor of London. No, hang on, we’re getting him confused with Ken Livingston. Still, he’s definitely going for Lord Mayor. And he’s got a cat. There’s an all star line up with Chesney Hawkes (remember him?) in the title role, Darren Day, Frazer Hines of Dr Who and Emmerdale fame, a couple of birds we don’t recognise and the comedy circuit’s own golden boy, John Bishop.
The Lowry Pier 8, Salford Quays, M5. 08707 875780
Until 6 Jan.

An Ideal Husband
The big Christmas production in the round at the Exchange this year is Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. You’re certainly in safe hands with director Braham Murray as his previous Wildean outings at the theatre, The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan, were both critical successes. Beneath the staid exterior of Edwardian London lies a deceptive belly in the form of Mrs Cheveley, the notorious scarlet woman. Living in this world is the untainted Lady Chiltern and her ‘ideal husband’ an honest politician – as unlikely as that may sound. Wilde’s great wit and skill in expressing the human condition and manners that contain it is put to great effect in this blend of comedy, morality and politics.
Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann ’s Square, City, M2. 0161 833 9833
Until 26 Jan.

Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
One has to wonder how Johnny Vegas’s biggest fan Dustin Hoffman took the news when he was asked to play a 243 year old man. Nevertheless, he accepted the role of Mr Magorium, the proprietor of a particularly unusual toy shop who has decided to retire and hand over the business to his inexperienced young manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman). At over 200 you would have thought that everyone would be in agreement that he deserved his retirement, but not the toys, who have a special way of showing their discontent. Could be a load of old tosh, then again could be a magical seasonal treat. There’s only one way to find out.
On general release from Friday.

On Ice at Piccadilly
With the European influence of the seasonal markets also comes the sophisticated On Ice rink. Now Mancs can wrap themselves in woolly scarves, pop ridiculous winter hats on their heads and in most cases shuffle around the edges holding onto the handrail or catapult themselves arms flailing into the centre. It’s advisable to book as it’s only in residence for another month and it’s proving popular. Afterwards you can console yourself and your bruises with something nice to eat from the Kro Chalet.
Piccadilly Square. City, M1. 08704 280785
Until 6 Jan.

Dad’s Army
Though written as a comedy, according to my Granddad it was more documentary. Nevertheless the bumbling escapades of Captain Mainwaring and co in the Walmington on Sea Home Guard attempting to keep Hitler at bay during World War II entertained generation after generation. In this show three episodes are specially adapted by the writers David Croft and Jimmy Perry, though none of the original cast are set to join in on account of most of them being dead. Oh well.
The Lowry Pier 8, Salford Quays, M5. 08707 875780
Tue 11 Dec – Sat 5 Jan.

Red Riding Hood
‘Tis panto season and if you don’t fancy Dick Whittington at the Lowry (or you’ve already seen it and just can’t get enough of the camp shenanigans) check out Bolton Albert Halls version of Red Riding Hood. The traditional story, only having had four players in it, has been added to make a full panto cast with comic and BBC Radio Lancashire presenter Ted Robbins leading the way as an affable Buttons type figure. The wicked wolf played by Damien Patton gains an evil sidekick in the form of Grotbags the witch, plus there’s a comedy double act and even a Vegetable Fairy to complete the traditional thigh slapping, all-singing line up on their search for the golden axe.
Albert Halls Victoria Square , Bolton , BL1. 01204 334433
Until 6 Jan.

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