Into the Woods for great shows

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I’ve been right at the front at some great shows this summer.

For starters, The Stone Roses at Wembley Stadium and, a week later, at Hampden Park for what was rumoured to be their last ever gig.

Me and daughter #1 were at Kraftwerk in Liverpool and Radiohead at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and, best of the lot, I saw The Strypes play twice, the second of which, at LiVe in Preston’s Guild Hall, was like watching a runaway train falling off the edge of a cliff. It’s not what they play, it’s the way that they play it, shaking it by the scruff of the neck until it’s dead.

To give you an idea of The Strypes’ brand of musical fireworks, bass player Pete O’Hanlon was literally swinging from the rafters during the set. Everyone there knew they were watching something special.

But as wonderful as all these shows were (and they were all wonderful), none will live as long in the memory as the performance of Into The Woods Jr. by daughter #2’s school this week.

Stephen Sondheim’s musical is not the easiest or cuddliest to perform (there’s a blinding, a murder and two amputations) but the cast pulled it off with a grin and a wink. Put it this way, it was that good I went to see it again the following day and only just got in because it was packed out.

To be honest, during rehearsals the boss and I felt like we were part of the production as we heard so much about it from daughter #2, who played the part of the Narrator with skill and grace. It sounded like The Play That Goes Wrong but not funny.

We even had a last-minute panic over daughter #2’s costume (an old-fashioned set of hospital-style men’s pyjamas) which were ordered off the internet but didn’t arrive in time, which meant a supermarket sweep of Lancaster and Morecambe’s open all hours stores at 10pm until we found some – thank you, Sainsbury’s. £15 was a small price to pay to see the relief on her face.

The show itself ran for four nights and was magnificent. And daughter #2 combined it with a week of work experience at The Dukes and a performance at Blackpool Opera House with her dance school. Full-time performer, part-time student.