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Manchester's Palace And Opera House Announces Autumn Season

Manchester's Palace And Opera House Announces Autumn SeasonManchester theatre lovers are in for a treat with a bumper crop of brilliant shows heading for the city's Palace and Opera House theatres this autumn.

Musicals, comedy, drama and dance are part of a packed season of productions being staged at the pair of city centre venues which are steeped in theatrical history.

The new season kicks off with a world premiere at the Opera House as it welcomes The Band, the new musical by award-winning Tim Firth (Calendar Girls, The Girls, This Is My Family, Neville's Island) and based on the songs of Take That.

The Band is for anyone who grew up with a boy band and how their songs became a soundtrack to your life. And what better music to tell the story than that of the most successful boy band of all time? The musical runs from 8-30 September before heading off on its inaugural UK tour.

Feel the Latin American rhythms in October when Strictly favourites - and world champions - Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace return to the city with their hot new stage spectacular, Tango Moderno, from 17-21 October. The show fuses Ballroom, Latin and Argentine tango in one smouldering whole.

Later in October there's a chance to journey in to the First World War trenches with the brave and witty writers who published The Wipers Times against great odds, and under fire, in this amazing true story brought to life by Nick Newman and Private Eye's Ian Hislop. All Tommies welcome to the show from 31 October-4 November, but top brass should beware.

There are more Strictly stars heading for the Opera House in November, when Tom Chambers and Caroline Flack - who both lifted the Glitterball trophy - team up to appear in the irresistible George and Ira Gershwin musical Crazy For You.

The high-kicking, high-energy show, at the theatre from 28 November-2 December, features classic musical numbers like Embraceable You, Nice Work if You Can Get It and I Got Rhythm.

Meanwhile there is also plenty of high-energy entertainment planned at the Palace Theatre, which welcomes a host of top musicals and musical biopics.

Ahead of that there is brilliantly observed comedy and irresistible storytelling from Gavin and Stacey star - and Would I Lie to You host - Rob Brydon, who presents his new live show on 21-22 September.

The Palace also plays host to TitanicDance on 24 September, the all-new Irish musical dance sensation which is the brainchild of Manchester dancer James Keegan. The show, featuring 30 talented dancers, tells the story of the ill-faTEd White Star liner from its birth in the Belfast shipyards to its sinking in the Atlantic.

It's a busy autumn for Strictly dance stars, with Hollyoaks' heart-throb Danny Mac playing Joe Gillis in a new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's award-winning Sunset Boulevard, coming to the Palace from 23 October-4 November.

Ria Jones reprises the role of Norma Desmond which saw her receive standing ovations each night in the West End.

Another leading lady takes centre stage in November in the form of the late Cilla Black, brought brilliantly to life in Cilla The Musical - based on the successful TV mini-series by writer Jeff Pope.

Kara Lily Hayworth was chosen from thousands who auditioned to play the young Scottie Road songbird, and Corrie and The Bill's Andrew Lancel is Brian Epstein in the new musical, which runs from 21-25 November.

Then there's time to feel a bit of festive cheer with the hilarious Nativity! The Musical making a date with the Palace from 29 November-3 December.

Every child in every school has one Christmas wish, to star in a Nativity, and at St Bernadette's School they're attempting to mount a musical version. The only trouble is teacher Mr Maddens has promised a Hollywood producer is coming to see the show to turn it into a film. Join him, his teaching assistant, the crazy Mr Poppy, hilarious children, unruly animals and a whole lot of sparkle and shine as they struggle to make everyone's Christmas wish come true.

If Nativity! has got you in the seasonal spirit, you can be assured Christmas is set to be a treat at both theatres.

The Palace Theatre welcomes the touring production of the highly-acclaimed Beautiful - the Carole King Musical, telling the real-life story of the hugely-talented singer-songwriter, and her remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Bronté Barbé, who was a finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Over The Rainbow in 2010, plays the title role in the show, which is at the theatre from 12 December to 6 January.

And there is traditional pantomime at the Opera House, where John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood) and children's comedy legends The Krankies, join forces for laughs galore in Dick Whittington. Barrowman is the eponymous hero who comes to London where he is convinced the streets are paved with gold, while the comedy duo play Councillor and Jimmy Krankie. And producers Qdos Entertainment promise a spectacular 3D sequence, which will see audiences travel on a very special adventure alongside Dick Whittington and his trusty cat! Dick Whittington runs from 9 December to 7 January.

Sarah Bleasdale, General Manager of the Palace Theatre and Opera House, said: "The autumn season is shaping up to be a real box of delights, with both some old favourites returning to the theatres and some new musicals too. We're particularly proud to be staging the world premiere of The Band in Take That's home city.

"Christmas is a special time in theatreland, and this year we have two more brilliant shows for our audiences. Beautiful - the Carole King Musical was a deserved triumph in the West End, while there's nothing quite like panto to bring out the festive spirit. With Qdos Entertainment and a great cast on board, it's going to be a memorable season."

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