Monday 29 November 2021

Manchester Theatre Review Visit: Waterside, Sale ~ The Not So Ugly Sisters

Last Thursday we were guests of Waterside theatre in Sale, Manchester, for the press night of their 2021 festive family musical - The Not So Ugly Sisters. Brought to us by theatre group Wrongsemble, and suitable for anyone aged 5 or over, this is a family show and very much a family theatre. And it was excellent... 

Waterside festive family musical the not so ugly sisters tickets and programme

Waterside is incredibly easy to get to - it's right opposite Sale Tram Station and there is loads of parking nearby too. Next to the river, it's a gorgeous area with lots of reasonably priced food and drink available nearby too. 

Inside the theatre, the set for The Not So Ugly Sisters is big, bold, bright and airy, and instantly recognisable as a hairdressers, so you know this isn't going to be a familiar Cinderella story.

The story is moved to present day, and we are with the 2 sisters left behind when Cinders finds media fame because of her connection with, and imminent wedding to, the Prince. 

Not So Ugly Sisters on stage

The cast of just two performers sing, act and dance their way through the story, which is funny and light-hearted, and always hopeful. Dolly (Daisy Ann Fletcher) and Barb (Lucy Rafton) were absolutely excellent - and almost perfectly together at all times. They flow so well you could believe they actually were sisters. 

I'm not always a fan of reimagined theatre, but I really enjoyed The Not So Ugly Sisters. It's so very different, and it tells an untold story - from someone else's point of view... maybe they weren't as mean sisters as we've always assumed... 

Milk and cookies Waterside family festive musical performances

My boys might be 11 and 13, but visiting Waterside in Winter when it's cold and dark outside is very much a part of our annual festive tradition, and they were very keen to have milk and cookies again. This is a special treat for during the performance, ordered in advance, and it has obviously created some amazing memories for my boys. The simplest things are often the cleverest and those we have most nostalgia for...  Milk and cookies can be ordered for any show at the same time as buying tickets. 

Wrongsemble finale not so ugly sisters dancing and singing and snow

At the end we finish with the big musical number, and a bonus of snow! The sisters have good news and are off to the party, with the festive warmth of family, and singalong Mariah Carey. I shed a tear or fifteen, it was very sweet. I actually found the whole thing very emotional - I've barely been out for 2 years, and it was truly amazing to see familiar faces and do something 'normal', even if it's also very special. (I also got in trouble for throwing the paper snow with some kids - sorry - you're probably best not to be tempted by that...)  

The entire performance lasts just under 1 hour and there isn't an interval, but younger family members should be fine. We felt it was probably best suited for age 8+, and grown ups can get just as much enjoyment from The No So Ugly Sisters as children can. My 13 year old says it's probably his favourite festive theatre at Waterside so far... 

The Not So Ugly Sisters cast waterside arts Sale Manchester

Tickets to The Not So Ugly Sisters cost £12-£14, and there are public performances at weekends and school holidays (daily from 20th December) at 11am, 2pm and 6pm. There is a relaxed and BSL interpreted performance on Saturday 11th Dec at 11:00, and another BSL interpreted performance on Saturday 18th Dec at 11:00.

Audience members are welcome to come to 6pm showings in your pyjamas - which any parent of young children knows makes it 100 times easier when they arrive home tired! Don't forget to order any milk and cookies when you buy your tickets online, or from this crazy gang at the box office... 

3 members of Staff at Waterside Arts behind the ticket booth screen and pulling crazy faces, waving arms and thumbs up

Find out more about The Not So Ugly Sisters and all of the other festive performances at Waterside this Winter, and book tickets online at The Not So Ugly Sisters runs until January 1st 2022. 

For a different perspective, see what Jane and Ben at Hodgepodgedays thought, or Colette and her family at Going On An Adventure

If you visit Waterside between now and Saturday 8th January, you can also pop into the Postman Pat exhibit and get up close and personal with loads of original models from the TV show. It's free to enter, no ticket required, absolutely fascinating, and open most days Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm...

collage of 4 photos from the Waterside Postman Pat exhibit with Greendale Christmas free entry

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