Moscow Ballet’s city Swan-song

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Moscow City Ballet returns to the Opera House in Manchester next Tuesday to Thursday with performances of Swan Lake performed in all its original splendour with lavish sets, dazzling costumes and stunning choreography. The music of Tchaikovsky’s familiar score is played live by the company’s own orchestra.

MCB has earned a strong reputation for its repertoire of full scale ballet classics.

Their authentic Russian ‘big story’ ballet combines artistry, narrative and live music from the corps de ballet to the technique of principal ballerinas Alevtina Lapshina and Liliya Oryekhova.

Founded by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov the company has been touring since the 90s and performs more than 100 shows annually to thousands of ballet fans. He admits that even in these difficult times he’s amazed by the support and appreciation the UK audience give to Moscow City Ballet. “I truly believe that dance is escapism and I’m delighted that people find enjoyment and pleasure in watching our gifted dancers perform our Russian jewels,” he said.

Box office: 0844 871 3018 or www.atgtickets/manchester.

The Octagon Theatre in Bolton returns to big American dramas with one of the most powerful stories, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

The writer’s own stage version of his classic novel tells the story of fast-talking farm hand George and his innocent companion Lennie, who accompanies him in a life of casual labour in 1930s America.

The two friends share a belief and desire for the American Dream – a place of their own where they can “live off the fat of the land”.

Their story of true friendship and loyalty is compelling and deeply moving.

Described by the Nobel Prize panel as “a little masterpiece”, Of Mice and Men has achieved success as a book, a play and on the cinema screen, having been produced as a film three times.

Artistic director David Thacker says: “Of Mice and Men will be the fifth American drama I have directed at the Octagon. I love great American plays, they move me deeply and I know that audiences can be grabbed, entertained and moved in a very powerful way. I have never directed this play before, although it is one of my favourite pieces of American drama.”

The role of George will be played by Andrew Langtree, who has just finished playing the role of Carl Bruner in the original West End production of Ghost the Musical. His theatre credits include work at The National Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange, as well as playing the leading role of Sky in the London stage cast of the musical Mamma Mia!

He has also had numerous television appearances including roles in Heartbeat, Holby City, and Cutting It.

He played Leon on ITV’s Coronation Street in 2009 and moved over to Emmerdale in 2010, returning again last year, in the role of Justin Gallagher.

Kieran Hill returns to the Octagon stage in the role of Lennie. Kieran has worked with Thacker on numerous productions at the Octagon over the past three seasons, including exceptional performances in Romeo and Juliet, Love on the Dole and A Streetcar Named Desire.

His performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, playing the role of Nick, earned him a Manchester Theatre Award nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actor.

Of Mice and Men runs from January 17 to February 16.

Box office: 01204 520661 or