9-13 June 2015
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
My mum was a huge Elvis fan and I was brought up listening to his records and watching his many films so I was quite excited when I was asked to go and see Love Me Tender at the Opera House in Manchester. My husband isn’t into rock and roll and was afraid that the show would be a night of teddy boys, Brylcream and quiffs but the musical was in fact a funny, fast paced and well written tale of love.
We drove to the Opera House, which is easy to find on the western edge of Manchester city centre. Like many others we parked at the nearby modern Spinningfields multi-story carpark which costs £6 if you arrive after 6pm. For those people that arrive earlier or who just want to avoid the queue at the car park pay station you can get your ticket validated at the theatre for £7.
Set in 50’s American Mid-West the show uses a huge cast to tell several intertwined love stories, will nerdy Dennis pluck up the courage to tell Natalie that he loves her? Will Natalie persuade the new arrival in town, Chad to whisk her away on his motorbike? Chad meanwhile is falling for the new town museum curator, Miss Sandra who has her eyes set on Natalie’s alter ego Ed! Bar Manager Sylvia is in love with widower Jim but he only has eyes for Miss Sandra. This may sound complicated but the story is very well told and isn’t just shoehorned around a list of songs. With such a huge list of Elvis hits to choose from the writers manage to fit in appropriate songs throughout the show. Some lines are repeated often, “One night with you is what I’m now praying for” often reoccurring whenever one of the cast falls for another.
The play opens with Jailhouse Rock and as soon as the cast started singing we knew this was going to be a good night out. Mica Paris is fantastic as Sylvia, she has an amazing voice and it was just a shame that she didn’t have more solo songs to sing. Laura Tebbutt who plays Natalie injects a lot of humour into the play with her transformation into biker boy Ed, in an attempt to get closer to Chad. Ben Lewis who plays Chad has obviously been working hard to imitate Elvis’s dance moves and mannerisms and has a great voice too. There are plenty of laughs scattered throughout the musical especially from Sian Reeves as Mayor Matilda Hyde.
The sets were very good, starting with a minimal jailhouse scene and then seamlessly moving to Sylvia’s bar and the local funfair. Lighting and sound were also faultless as was the music played by the band.
Despite my husband’s initial worries we had a really good night out and left the theatre humming Elvis tunes all the way to the car. If you like 50’s music or just want a good night out then Love Me Tender is well worth seeing.
Tickets cost from £20.90 to £50.90 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Love Me Tender is at the Opera House in Manchester until 13 June 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3018.
Opera House Manchester. 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP | 0844 871 3018