Guild Hall lines up kings, and queens, of comedy

Sarah Millican is one of the comic talents coming to the Guild Hall in 2014
Sarah Millican is one of the comic talents coming to the Guild Hall in 2014
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Preston’s Guild Hall entertainments complex may be facing an uncertain future, but that hasn’t stopped bosses from organising a line-up featuring some of the biggest names in comedy, music and dance for the year ahead, as DAVID UPTON reports

No matter what the New Year may bring for the future of Preston Guild Hall – one thing is for sure.

In the time-honoured showbiz tradition, the shows must go on...

Should the city council find a new owner for the entertainment complex, or enter into any other kind of partnership arrangement for the running of the venues, then the Guild Hall needs to have a viable programme of forthcoming events.

In those circumstances, the current management are to be congratulated on devising a list of attractions that underlines that continuity... and demonstrates the versatility of the venue.

An impressive roster of top-name TV comedians has already been announced, and tickets are selling fast.

Three of them play the Guild Hall on separate nights in February – Jimeoin on Valentine’s Day night, British comedy award winner Sarah Millican the following week, followed by the equally droll Ed Byrne later that week.

Later in the year, there’s the return of Jimmy Carr in September, and the following month another popular comedian is back in the city, Dave Gorman.

Lee Mack – multi-award winning star of Not Going Out and Would I Lie To You? – completes the comedy line-up in November, but watch for more names hopefully to be added through the year.

Another sparkling name from TV will be provided by the appearance of Brendan Cole, the Strictly dance star in his big production Licence to Thrill tour, coming to the city in February.

The venue also hosts a wide range of musical tribute shows, with Motown’s Greatest Hits – The End of The Road Tour later this month; Back to Broadway in February; Jackson Live in Concert and Forever in Blue Jeans, both in March; Sing-A-Long-A-Grease in April; Elvis Presley On Stage in May; Buddy Holly tribute show The Day the Music Died in May; Beyond The Barricade musical theatre show and The ELO Experience – A Tribute to Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra, also both in May.

Later in the year there’s the current incarnation of The Drifters, besides The Bohemians celebrating Queen’s live performances, Voulez Vous – Mad About ABBA, T-Rextasy – I Love To Boogie, or The Sensational 60s Experience – a 50th Anniversary Tour.

The Dublin Legends – four of the musicians from the legendary Dubliners – bring their show to the Charter Theatre in February.

Attractions aimed at younger audiences include Peppa Pig’s Big Splash later this month; Kidz 4 Kidz – Pick and Mix in February; the Chris And Pui Roadshow from TV in April; Noah, A Musical Adventure in May; and the welcome return of The Gruffalo in July.

Elsewhere, for the second year running, the Lancashire Contests Brass at the Guild festival format will host a choice of set test brass band pieces in February; Moscow Ballet La Classique return with Giselle in March; Garstang School Of Dance present Dance Fever 2014; and the Celebration of the Best Youth Music concerts continue for the 11th year.

Preston Musical Comedy Society stage musical Annie in April. Bless Em’ All – in May – is from the producers of the popular We’ll Meet Again and is a wartime cavalcade of music and entertainment.

Preston Opera’s 2014 production in June will be Jaques Offenbach’s La Belle Helene, while award-winning Nogal Productions present The Sound of Music the following month.

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