The Russians are coming

Rigoletto to be staged by the Russian State Ballet and Opera House
Rigoletto to be staged by the Russian State Ballet and Opera House

With an impressive cast and a live orchestra of more than 30 musicians, Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto is brought vividly to life by The Russian State Ballet and Opera House at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall next Thursday.

The tragic story revolves around the hunchbacked court jester his beautiful much-loved daughter Gilda (whom he kept secret from the Court) and the Duke of Mantua he serves.

A succession of stunning arias, including the famous La donna è mobile, combines with underlying tension and menace in a plot involving abduction, seduction and revenge.

Box office: www.opera-tickets.co.uk

Award-winning theatre company 20 Stories High present their latest production Black at Burnley Arts Centre on Thursday.

With live DJ soundscapes from Chunky (Riot Jazz /Hoya Hoya) and introducing the raw talent of Abby Melia, Black puts the spotlight on a real issue.

Nikki doesn’t think her Dad is racist; he just cares deeply about his community. But when a Zimbabwean family move in over the road…

Box office: 01282 458655 or www.burnleyartscentre.org

Following a success ful stage adaptation of Peter James’ The Perfect Murder, an all star cast bring claustrophobic Detective Roy Grace story Dead Simple to Manchester Opera House next week.

A host of familiar faces including Tina Hobley, Jamie Lomas, Gray O’ Brien and Michael McKell star.

Dead Simple is the second of James’ novels to be adapted by Shaun McKenna and produced by Peter James and Joshua Andrews in association with Paul Tyrer and Jamie Clark. Andrews recently co-produced the sell-out run of A Streetcar Named Desire with the Young Vic – the fastest selling show in the theatre’s history – which opened to rave reviews and starred Gillian Anderson.

In Dead Simple Michael Harrison thinks he has it all; great career, good friends and a beautiful fiancée. But when his stag night goes horribly wrong, he finds himself alone, buried alive and staring death in the face...

It runs from Monday to Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3018 or www.atgtickets.com/manchester

Manchester-based literary lunatics, the award-winning Lip Service, return to The Lowry in their 30th anniversary year with The Picture of Doreen Gray next week.

Written and performed by Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, and starring actors plucked from the North West it concerns velebrity presenter Doreen Gray who has it all, a drive time radio show and a high ratings lifestyle programme.

But hitting 50, she finds her face no longer fits the bill. At a school reunion she stumbles across a youthful self-portrait and makes a dark and dreadful pact.

Lip Service have twice won the Critics’ Award for Comedy and their achievements were celebrated at last year’s Manchester Theatre Awards, where the ladies walked away with the Stage Door Award for Excellence.

The Picture of Doreen Gray runs from Wednesday to Saturday.

Box office: 0843 208 6000 or www.thelowry.com

Art with Heart presents Secret Diaries at the Lowry in Salford as well as the Met in Bury.

It’s the story of Hayley, a girl finding her way in the world, and challenges opinions on friendship, love, society, family values and discrimination.

The acclaimed play spans significant shifts in political and cultural history, and productions will include an optional Q&A session after the performance with members of the cast.

The Secret Diaries team has also joined forces with LGBT organisations to raise awareness of some of the issues and discrimination that young students may face at school and in everyday life.

As a result of this a youth version of the production has been created for audiences over 14, which will be followed by a workshop to engage young people in understanding diversity, equality and homophobia.

Details: www.artwithheart.org.uk/current