Our reporters have been out and about reviewing some of the best events taking place across the region.
Olly Murs, Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
If the opening night of the latest Olly Murs tour is anything to go by it will certainly live up to its Never Been Better billing.
Kicking off his 30-date European tour in the Steel City last night, the showman gave a polished performance despite admitting to nerves and fearing that he may be a ‘little bit rusty’.
But he had the crowd on their feet before he even hit the stage, with screams reaching fever-pitch as he made his much-anticipated entrance with the track Did You Miss Me, to which his fans raised the roof as they replied ‘YES!!!’
Hits including Right Place, Right Time; Dear Darling, Troublemaker and Heart Skips a Beat followed, mixed in with some trademark Olly Murs dance moves, cheeky hip thrusting and laughs.
Pyrotechnic flames during Never Been Better gave the X-Factor runner-up’s show the wow-factor but Olly dancing above the crowd on a bridge linking to a satellite stage in the centre of the Arena had his army of fans reaching for their mobiles to capture their idol just feet away.
A medley of Play That Funky Music, Chic-Le Freak and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk turned up the tempo and turned the Arena into a club with euphoric dancing fans filling the floor.
Support act Ella Eyre, who celebrated her 21st birthday last week, warmed the crowd up with an eight-song set including her hit Gravity, but the applause for her was deafening when she joined Olly on stage for a duet of his hit Up.
Thanking his fans for their support, Olly , who has released four albums, described them as ‘the best’ and declared the Sheffield crowd ‘amazing’.
He said ‘blood, sweat and tears’ went into choosing his set and with Hope You Got What You Came For one of the tracks he performed, the standing ovation at the end would suggest they did.
Visit www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk tio see a slideshow of pictures of Olly’s fantastic performance.
Future Islands, Plug, Sheffield
It’s an ancient showbiz cliche – the overnight sensation that took years to make the big time.
But for Baltimore synth poppers Future Islands, it’s all too true.
They were virtual unknowns before an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman last year created such a buzz that Seasons (Waiting On You) has since been viewed 1.5 million times on YouTube.
Plenty were at Plug in Sheffield tipped off by that success and the quality of parent album Singles – and the band did more than enough to show they won’t be condemned to that other pop stereotype, the one-hit wonder.
Samuel T Herring proves to be a compelling front man who dominates the show, part of a mini-tour leading to two major London appearances.
Back In The Tall Grass, Song For Our Grandfathers and Doves are among the Singles highlights, with Fall From Grace and Inch of Dust saved for encores.
Some of the earlier material sounds uneven but nine years into their careers at last Future Islands have real momentum.
To Kill a mockingbird, West Yorkshire Playhouse
Whether you’ve read the novel, seen the film, or are a newcomer to Harper Lee’s work, this marvellous production of To Kill a Mockingbird will leave you entranced.
The book’s complex themes of love, loyalty and racial prejudice seen through the eyes of both children and adults are sensitively explored and portrayed exquisitely by the ensemble cast.
When they’re not inhabiting a particular character, each cast member reads out extracts from the book which keeps the narrative flowing smoothly.
Christopher Sergel’s adaptation is true to Lee’s novel and, unlike other stage adaptations, director Timothy Sheader has cast children in the roles of the three main characters Scout, Jem and Dill rather than young adults. This decision could so easily have been the wrong one but the three youngsters taking on the parts on the night we visited were, without exception, superb.
Jemina Bennett, making her professional theatre debut, is a perfect Scout, her real-life brother Harry portrays Jem in a sensitive and sympathetic way while Leo Heller as the eccentric Dill, with his mop of unruly hair is a delight to watch.
Taking on the part of Atticus is a daunting one for any actor – the spectre of Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning performance in the film looms large.
However, Daniel Betts steps up to the mark and carries the part with so much nobility and integrity, that spectre is laid firmly to rest.
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