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Blindsided at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
Iím a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
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From soap opera to stage
Hayley Cropper's life may have come to a tragic end in Coronation Street but the actress who plays her is about to star in a world premiere at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre.

Julie Hesmondhalgh is kicking-off her post-soap career with a starring role in Blindsided by Simon Stephens. The play is set in Simon's home town of Stockport, as well as the Isle of Man. It centres on a girl, from a battered part of town, who falls in love with a man who breaks her heart.
Julie Hesmondhalgh Katie West Manchester Theatre
Julie Hesmondhalgh and Katie West

The actress last appeared at the Royal Exchange in September 2012, in Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster, for which she won a Manchester Theatre Award. The play by Simon Armitage was based on a real life fatal attack on a 20-year-old student.

Blindsided is the fourth play by Simon Stephens, written specifically for the Royal Exchange. Punk Rock, staged in 2009, dramatised the dark side of school life and built towards a shocking and violent conclusion.

Away from Manchester, Simon won an Olivier Award for the National Theatre's adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The new production will be directed by Sarah Frankcom who is a stalwart of the Royal Exchange. She directed That Day We Sang, the musical by Victoria Wood, which was the theatre's Christmas show.

Other actors appearing in the world premiere of Blindsided include Rebecca Callard, Jack Deam, Andrew Sheridan and Katie West.

Hayley Cropper broke new ground as a transgender character in a British soap opera. The character went on to become one of the best-loved in Coronation Street. Towards the end of last year, Julie Hesmondhalgh filmed scenes in Blackpool, alongside her on-screen husband Roy, played by David Neilson.

Blindsided has its first performance on Tuesday 23rd January and the run will end on Saturday 15th February. In addition to performances of the play, there will be the chance to ask questions of the writer, cast and director at pre and post-show events. See the Royal Exchange's website for more details.
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Why? New play features soap star
Phone: 0161 833 9833
Where: Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Cost: From £10
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