Author Archives: glasgowtheatreblog

NEWS: National Theatre of Scotland launches PLAY DATES – a new eight week online interactive programme for children and families

PLAY DATES  –  a new eight week online interactive programme for children and families

Produced by National Theatre of Scotland in association with Starcatchers and Imaginate

From 26 May 2020, Tuesday to Friday at 2pm, online.

National Theatre of Scotland in association with leading children’s arts organisations Starcatchers and Imaginate is connecting with families at home during the COVID crisis. A new digital Play Dates programme of online arts workshops and activities has been created specially for this ongoing period, whilst schools are off, offering children and young people, parents and carers online educational inspiration and theatrical home entertainment.

Launching on Tuesday 26 May 2020 at 2pm, Play Dates is an eight week digital programme of fun, interactive, participative and entertaining activities for children and their families created by some of Scotland’s leading creative practitioners and freelance artists.

From Tuesday to Friday over the next eight weeks, a new Play Dates workshop will be released every day on the National Theatre of Scotland website and social media channels for online audiences to access and take part in. All the activities are free. The Play Dates programme, which will continue to be developed, across the next few months, will include activities for all ages.

The Play Dates programme includes:

Weekly Activities

CONNECT, CREATE AND PLAY

Tuesday 26 May, 2, 9, 16 June 2020 at 2pm

Workshops by theatre artist Fraser MacLeod looking at creating tongue twisters, playing games online with friends and family and how to make your own stop motion film.

For ages 8 plus

STORIFY- how to create stories

Wednesday 27 May, 3, 10, 17, 24 June, 1, 8, 15 July 2020 at 2pm

An interactive video series about how to create and tell your own stories at home using imagination and everyday surroundings presented by theatre-makers Sarah Rose Graber and Ruxy Cantir.

For ages 5 plus.

GROW YOUR OWN GESAMTKUNSTWERK (GYOG!) – how to make a show in your house

Thursday 28 May, 4, 11, 18, 25 June, 2, 9, 16 July 2020 at 2pm

A video series about how to make a show in your house focusing on different areas of the arts created and presented by arts enthusiast Veronika Velvette, facilitated by Claire Eliza Willoughby and Rob Jones.

For ages 7 plus.

UNICORN DANCE PARTY

Friday 29 May, 5, 12, 19, 26 June, 3, 10, 17 July 2020 at 2pm

Also created by practitioners, Sarah Rose Graber and Ruxy Cantir, Unicorn Dance Party is an inclusive new video series about finding the joy within us. Everyone has an inner unicorn, but sometimes it takes a bit of dancing to bring it out.

For all ages.

EVERYTHING’S A MOVING PICTURE – how to set the scene with video

A week of workshops – 30 June, 1 July and 2 July 2020 at 11am

Workshops with leading Scottish theatre audio visual designer Lewis den Hertog using video to tell stories with “stock” and archive footage, making your own footage at home and being creative with text and subtitles to make shows more interesting for people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.

For ages 10 plus

This series celebrates and offers fee-based employment to a number of talented freelance artists, technicians and practitioners who work regularly behind the scenes on the creation of world-class Scottish theatre.

All the Play Dates videos will be hosted together on the National Theatre of Scotland website so families can catch up with all the activities. In addition, a selection of curated online resources, including artistic demonstration videos, relating to previous National Theatre of Scotland projects will be hosted online.

Further summer Play Dates activities will be announced over the coming weeks.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland says

“Scotland has a brilliant community of theatre-makers and creative practitioners who are unable to make theatre on our stages during these challenging times.

We have commissioned this Play Dates series, alongside leading children’s theatre organisations, Starcatchers and Imaginate, to enable a group of facilitators to share their unique talents and skills with children and families at home. We hope to offer creative inspiration and high quality entertainment to children as well as fun for all the family to take part in whilst the schools are closed”

Rhona Matheson, Chief Executive of Starcatchers says

We’re delighted to be working with National Theatre of Scotland to help develop a Digital Play Dates programme that includes some fantastic arts experiences designed especially for families with babies and younger children.

We’ve seen so many examples over the past few weeks of young children and their families’ wonderful capacity for creativity. We hope Play Dates will help bring more inspiration, magic and joy – particularly on those tough days – remembering that it’s the process that matters. All of the experiences will allow children to explore the world around them, develop curiosity and imagination and, most importantly, provide opportunities for connection.”

Paul Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive, Imaginate

Imaginate is really proud of this association with the National Theatre of Scotland and Starcatchers on Play Dates. As well as offering new artistic experiences for children and families to inspire their imagination and exercise their emotions, Play Dates will also create new, paid work for artists in Scotland. Imaginate’s Ideas Fund Projects has already reached thousands of children so we’re excited to reach even more children with Play Dates.”

#playdates #playathome

nationaltheatrescotland.com/playdates

PLAY DATES PROGRAMME

Connect, Create and Play – Tuesdays at 2pm (4 weeks)

A series of videos by theatre artist Fraser MacLeod with games and exercises to do at home and suggestions on how to connect with friends online and have fun together, through platforms such as Skype, Zoom WhatsApp and Facetime. The series will look at how to get your voice working, creating your own unique tongue twister, playing games online with friends and family and how to create stories and share them by making your own stop motion movie.

How to Create a Stop Motion Movie (26 May); How to Create Your Own Tongue Twister (2 June); Play Online with Family & Friends. With Jack & Max edition (9 June); Play Online with Family & Friends. With Jack, Max, Grandma and Clare (16 June).  For ages 8 plus

Storify  – how to create stories – Wednesdays at 2pm (8 weeks)

Theatre makers Sarah Rose Graber and Ruxy Cantir lead a series of interactive videos about how to create and tell stories at home. Imaginations will be unleashed and stories created from everyday surroundings. From using different story structures and bringing characters to life to discovering new and exciting ways to engage with the objects at home, each new episode will result in at least one original tale to share with friends and family. For ages 5 plus

Grow Your Own Gesamtkunstwerk (GYOG!)how to make a show in your house – Thursdays at 2pm (8 weeks)

A video series about how to make a show at home. Each episode focuses on a different area of the arts, building up each week, so that by the end of the series, you have all the ingredients to make a piece of theatre to be performed in your own home. Created and presented by Glasgow based arts enthusiast Veronika Velvette. Facilitated by Claire Eliza Willoughby and Rob Jones, GYOG! is also supported by Snap – Elastic. For ages 7 plus

Unicorn Dance Party  – Fridays at 2pm (8 weeks)

An inclusive new video series from Sarah Rose Graber and Ruxy Cantir about finding the joy within us. Everyone has an inner unicorn, but sometimes it takes a bit of dancing to bring it out! Join Melody and Luna as they celebrate what makes us unique by groovin’ around our homes. Each episode will highlight different, fun ways to move our bodies and uncover inspiration from the spaces and materials around us. So pop on some sweet tunes because there’s a party around every corner and a bit of unicorn magic inside all of us!  For children, young people and families of all ages.

Everything’s A Moving Picture – how to set the scene with video (3 daily sessions)

A series of three video workshops created by leading Scottish theatre audio visual designer Lewis den Hertog which look at how to approach using video to help tell stories. The videos will explore ways you can do this with “stock” and archive footage (footage that already exists), interesting ways for young people to make footage at home and how you can be creative with text and subtitles to make shows more interesting for people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. For ages 10 plus

Where to watch PLAY DATES

nationaltheatrescotand.com/playdates

www.facebook.com/NationalTheatreScotland

www.youtube.com/NTSOnline

Image: John Moore

INTERVIEW: Star of Taskmaster, Derek and Afterlife, Kerry Godliman

Kerry Godliman is a woman who gets things done, as anybody who saw the comic win series seven of Taskmaster in 2018 knows. And now she is touring her new stand-up show, BOSH, the title of which is inspired by that experience.

She explains: “Greg Davies [Taskmaster’s presenter] used to say, ‘Here comes Godliman, boshing along’. I wouldn’t describe myself as intellectual but I am quite a rational person and don’t over-complicate things. I work out what’s useful and then crack on, and that seemed to work on the show.”

She stops and recalls with a laugh: “I certainly didn’t overthink it, and one time Greg said I was like Phil Mitchell, which wasn’t very complimentary.”

She describes BOSH: “It’s just me talking about the last year or two, observations I’ve made and experiences I’ve had. I suppose it’s essentially about being in your mid-forties and being a parent and trying to be a good human being.

“One of the themes of the show is about what it is like living in 2020, trying to manage modern life, my slight bewilderment at consumerism and trying to be ethical.”

Much of Godliman’s material comes from her own life – “a cartoonish, exaggerated version of it” or “sometimes a line might come from something I’ve said on Twitter and it’s caused a response that I find interesting”. But she’s not the kind of comic who listens to other people’s conversations in cafes or on buses for material. “Oh no, I don’t do that,” she says, laughing. “People can chat away with no fear of turning up in my show.”

Godliman admits she can be a bit of a worrier, and reads a lot of lifestyle books and articles, taking “positives from some and discarding others that are less helpful. The trick is in knowing which is which, of course”.

She reserves scorn for the modern profusion of parenting books, many of which she finds judgmental or downright unhelpful. “There used to be just one parenting book and now there are whole sections of bookshops with them.

“I talk a lot about parenting in the show, although it’s not specifically about my kids [a son and daughter aged 12 and nine] because they didn’t ask to be on stage.

“It’s more about my failings as a parent, of always trying to do the right thing. I read a lot of parenting books and I always seem to fall short of what they expect – I think for a lot of people parenting is just managing guilt to varying degrees.”

Aside from her stand-up, many will know Godliman through her extensive acting CV, including starring in two of Ricky Gervais’s comedy dramas, Derek and After Life. “I had met Ricky at gigs and had bit parts in his other shows before he asked me to appear in Derek,” she says.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve always done both acting and comedy, and I love what I do so none of it is arduous or a pain. But the work-life balance is something I always have to keep an eye on, and I’m getting better at saying no to some work.”

That means Godliman can spend more time at home with her husband and children in south London. She’s a homebody nowadays, she says. “When I was younger I went travelling and was out all the time and did a lot of partying, but now I want to be at home as much as I can. I miss the kids and try not to be away for more than a couple of nights.”

She did have to be away for a few weeks last year [2019] to film Treadstone, a US television series based on the Jason Bourne films. She loved the experience.

“It was so out of my comfort zone,” she says, “but that was good. For a start I was playing an American, the first time I’d done that. It was a big, high-production-values, flashy US TV series. It was unlike anything else I have ever done.”

She adds drily: “Most parts I’ve played as an actress have involved a tabard, and here I was on set watching this amazing fight scene being put together. It was a like a dance – the choreography was extraordinary – and it was amazing being part of this world.

“I love acting because I get to work with other people, it’s storytelling and I can play a character I’ve never played before. But in a big Hollywood production like Treadstone you are a small cog in a very big machine. I had something like 20 recalls before I got the part and although I loved it, it made me grateful that I do stand-up as well.”

Stand-up brings different rewards, Godliman says, and she made her debut in the Royal Variety Show in December [2019]. “I enjoyed it. It’s a long day doing teching and so on but it’s fun. It’s always difficult to find some appropriate material, but I did some stuff about parenting because the Cambridges can relate to it. They seem nice people, it was a nice gig and it’s for a good charity.”

We get back to BOSH. “I’m bringing my kids up in the 21st century and we have to wrestle with social media and smart phones,” the comic says. “But I was brought up in the 20th century, when I was allowed to be bored, and kids now don’t get much opportunity for that. It feels now that you have to be engaging with your children all time, which is ludicrous.”

One of the ways she would like to engage more with her children, though, is camping, which they now think is boring. But Godliman loves it and is sad they have already outgrown it. “My parents used to take me and I suppose it’s in my bones,” she says. “I have a bizarre love of camping; it starts with concertina’d colanders and goes from there.”

Veronica Lee

Kerry Godliman’s new show  BOSH  reaches  The Stand, Glasgow  on  Wednesday, 25th March.

NEWS: West End star and Sunday Times bestseller Carrie Hope Fletcher reveals title of Ballet Shoes inspired children’s book endorsed by Noel Streatfeild estate

Carrie Hope Fletcher, West End star of Les Mis and the forthcoming Andrew Lloyd Webber version of Cinderella, has today announced the title of her forthcoming book inspired by the much-loved classic Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and created with the official endorsement of her estate.

INTO THE SPOTLIGHT is a timeless yet contemporary tale of three adopted children who live in a rickety-old-theatre with their eccentric Great Aunt Maude; told throughout with exquisite humour, heart and warmth.

Inspired by the much-loved classic Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and created with the official endorsement of her estate, Fletcher’s middle grade debut is a timeless yet contemporary tale of three adopted children who live in a rickety-old-theatre with their eccentric Great Aunt Maude; told throughout with exquisite humour, heart and warmth.

Carrie Hope Fletcher is an actress, singer and vlogger with over a million subscribers. Her first book, All I Know Now, and first novel, On the Other Side, were both released to critical and commercial acclaim and each became No.1 Sunday Times bestsellers.  On Stage, Carrie won a WhatsOnStage Award for the role of Eponine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End, was acclaimed as Truly Scrumptious in a six-month run of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, toured the UK as Wednesday Addams in the national UK theatre tour of The Addams Family musical and was part of the original West End cast of the musical Heathers.

Carrie Hope Fletcher said: ‘Writing my first children’s novel is exciting enough but to be writing a Ballet Shoes inspired novel with the endorsement of Noel Streatfeild’s estate? It’s more than I ever could have imagined. When I was growing up, books were pure magic. A sense of escapism when the world got a bit too loud and scary. It feels very special to now be able to provide that escapism for other children.’

The Noel Streatfeild Estate said: ‘By a leap of imagination, Carrie uses Ballet Shoes as the backdrop in this tale of the theatre and inspiration.’   Carmen McCullough, Commissioning Editor at Penguin Random House Children’s said: ‘I could not be more thrilled to have acquired this very special book from Carrie in conjunction with the Noel Streatfeild estate. Carrie is a powerhouse of talent – I have long been a fan of her writing and her innate ability to balance contemporary settings with a classic nostalgic feel and a touch of magic. Writing for children is such a natural next step for Carrie and we are incredibly excited to welcome her to the Puffin family.’

To accompany this release and in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Noel Streatfeild’s birth, Puffin will also reissue the original Ballet Shoes in a beautiful new package.

REVIEW: Educating Rita – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

There’s an undeniable affection for Willy Russell’s 40-year-old, Pygmalion-like drama Educating Rita, from the great British theatre-going public. Originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and staged at what is now the Donmar Warehouse, it saw a much-loved and much-lauded film adaptation in 1983 starring Julie Walters and Michael Caine.

The story of 26-year-old, married, Liverpudlian hairdresser Rita (actually Susan) and her foray into the world of academia on an Open University course, and her tutor Frank, a career academic faded and jaded by university life, seeking solace in drink, this OU tutorship paying nicely for his alcoholic fix. Each feeds from the other: Rita’s world expands as she is exposed to the bohemian lifestyle of the students and Frank is energised by Rita’s lust for life. Each shines a light on the other: some truths are exposed, some assumptions shattered and inevitably, both Rita and Frank undergo changes, not necessarily for the better.

Four decades on (admittedly with a bit of updating from Russell himself for the 21st Century and this 40th anniversary tour) it still feels relevant, maybe depressingly so. Is it really still as hard for working class women, or those living in poverty to better themselves as it was in 1980? The ‘them and us’ world so prevalent then, is frighteningly familiar today.

Jessica Johnson and Stephen Tompkinson reprise their roles from the last national tour. Tompkinson’s natural hang-dog expression is perfectly suited to the world-weary Frank and he has time and time again proved himself to be one of the country’s most adept stage actors. Johnson’s Rita (Susan) is hugely likeable but her accent wavers frequently and her projection is such that it leaves you straining to hear much of her dialogue. That said, it is deservedly a British theatre classic, and still well worth watching.

Image: Robert Day

This post was originally written for The Reviews Hub

 

REVIEW: Sinderella – Motherwell Theatre

Capitalising on the British public’s insatiable appetite for all things Drag, producer Joseph Purdy has brought adult pantomime to the nation this winter with their naughty fairy-tale Sinderella, starring UK drag royalty Divina De Campo as the evil Baroness DDC and RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Stacey Layne Matthews as the Fairy Drag Henny.

Essentially it has all the elements of the traditional Christmas pantomime tale: wicked step-mother; two ugly sisters; Buttons, the lovelorn side-kick; Dandini; Prince Charming and our heroine Cinders. There are colourful sets and lavish costumes, dance routines and high energy pop hits, however, that’s where the similarities with the family story start and end. Not for the faint-hearted, it’s an innuendo-packed smut fest from start to finish. That said, it is absolutely hilarious and the hugely talented cast feed off the audience energy so much with quick-fire asides, it all runs 45 mins over the running time.

rptoz

Queen Divina is a polished pro, from head to foot, word, note and step perfect, De Campo is phenomenally talented and adds that extra level of gloss on top of the glitter-sprinkled festivities. Davey Hooper has the stand-up comedian’s gift of audience manipulation as the cheeky Buttons and US Drag favourite Stacey Layne Matthews is in fine form but croaky voice as the Fairy Drag Henny, often looking slightly bewildered at the insanity that is UK pantomime. Worthy of note are our two ugly sisters Jamie Campbell – THE Jamie of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie fame and Troy Harris – are truly fantastic, Harris in particular is a superstar in the making. Britain’s Got Talent’s Rob King and Ibiza Weekender’s David Potts, give it their all to round out the cast as Prince Charming and Dandini.

Combining two of Britain’s best-loved entertainment traditions – drag and panto – means that it’s no surprise that this is a sell-out success. Bawdy British fun at its best.

NEWS: The Glee Club Go Bananas to Mark First Anniversary

The Glee Club Glasgow served up a slice of comedy gold last night at their eagerly awaited first birthday bash. An edible pair of The Big Yin’s ‘big banana boots’ took centre stage and proved to be the icing on the cake at the popular comedy club’s celebratory show.

Guests were able ‘to fill their boots’ with slices of the eye catching life-size birthday cake which was created by award-winning Scottish cake designer 3D cakes. Handcrafted from toffee sponge and airbrushed to depict detail, the comedy cake was the brainchild of The Glee team who voted Billy Connelly’s famous fruity booties their favourite Scottish comedy icon.

A stellar line-up of Scottish comics entertained the crowd throughout the evening, including the award winning Mark Nelson, the hilarious Christopher KC and Ashley Storrie and up and coming stars Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Shona Lawson . Freshly made food, drinks and a lively after party ensured that a fun-filled evening was had by all to mark the one year milestone.

Since opening its doors in early 2019, The Glee Club Glasgow has welcomed a raft of top comedians to its stage, including Sean Lock, Joel Dommett, Larry Dean, Janey Godley, Suzi Ruffell, Tom Stade, Fern Brady, Rosie Jones, Gary Meikle and Des Clarke. In addition to its popular weekend shows, the club has hosted a series of sell-out events such as book tours, drag shows and a hugely successful series of Christmas and Hogmanay comedy nights.

To further fly the flag for Glasgow’s thriving creative and entertainment industries, The Glee Club partnered with leading Scottish festivals throughout the year to deliver a series of unmissable events including Celtic Connections, Glasgow Film Festival and Glasgow Comedy Festival.

The Glee Founder Mark Tughan commented: “Billy Connelly has some pretty big boots to fill in terms of Scottish comedy, so what better way to celebrate our first year in the city than by paying tribute to him with our wonderfully banana’s cake.

We opened the club to showcase and support stand-up comedy in the city and we are thrilled that our first year has been such a success. Glaswegians are known for their humour, so the top notch acts that the club has attracted and sold out shows really is testament to this. Our team is incredibly excited to bring more must-see shows to the city and fly the flag for Scottish comedy’”.

The Glee Club Glasgow’s 400 seater interior, is theatre-style with great views to the round Glee stage, plus excellent lighting, acoustics and atmosphere. An extensive menu of delicious freshly made food and a great quality drinks offering enables guests to enjoy both an evening of entertainment and dining experience under one roof.

Prices: Friday night tickets £11 / students £8 / ticket + food £20, Saturday night tickets £17 / students £8 / ticket + pizza + drink £27

The Glee Club box office: 0871 472 0400 / info@glee.co.uk

www.glee.co.uk

www.facebook.com/gleeglasgow, www.twitter.com/GleeClubGlasgow

www.instagram.com/gleeclubglasgow

INTERVIEW: Stage star Kerry Ellis set for new Queen Machine Symphonic tour

She’s one of the UK’s biggest musical theatre stars – and has forged a career in music with the guidance and mentoring of Queen’s Brian May – and now Kerry Ellis is preparing for a brand-new show which will tour the UK in the spring.

The all-new show Queen Machine Symphonic featuring Kerry Ellis will see Queen’s greatest hits performed by leading European tribute band Queen Machine accompanied by the London Symphonic Rock Orchestra and conducted by Matthew Freeman, creating an unforgettable night of rock anthems.

Kerry Ellis is the UK’s leading lady of musical theatre, who originated the role of Meat, in Queen musical We Will Rock You. Since then, she’s forged a long-standing musical relationship and friendship with Queen guitarist Brian May, who describes the stage star as having “Britain’s most beautiful voice”.

Brian produced Kerry’s debut album Anthems, and they jointly released the follow up Golden Days in 2017, as well as extensively touring the UK and Europe together.

Queen Machine Symphonic received rave reviews when it premiered at Scarborough Open Air Theatre in August ahead of the tour in April 2020.

We caught up with Kerry for a chat about her long-standing relationship with Queen’s music and preparations for the Queen Machine Symphonic tour.

Photo Geoff Ford: Queen Machine Symphonic with Kerry Ellis, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, 31 August 2019

HOW DOES A MUSICAL THEATRE LEADING LADY END UP LINKED TO ONE OF THE GREATEST ROCK BANDS OF ALL TIME?

I met Brian May a long time ago. Before I auditioned for We Will Rock You I was in My Fair Lady and he ask me to audition for the show. I met him and Roger Taylor and worked with them closely, developing the musical. I have gone on to work with Brian for almost 15 years now, touring the UK and Europe, writing songs, putting albums together. I feel comfortable, grateful and special to be singing those songs in that environment, and that I have Brian’s blessing to do it.

SO, TELL US ABOUT QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC…

There are orchestral versions of Queen’s music out there, their music has been translated for an orchestra, and people do concerts celebrating Queen – but this set up hasn’t been done before; an orchestra, the rock band and then me singing. I’m so excited about it.

It’s going to be really unusual. It’s going to be something quite special, and I can’t wait to get started. When the offer came along, it sounded interesting and like a unique experience, and I love singing these songs and in different environments, and with passionate groups of people – which I know the band and orchestra are.

HOW ARE PREPARATIONS GOING FOR THE SHOW?

It’s not easy to put all that together, a band and orchestra will naturally pull in different ways, so it’s challenging but really interesting as we get into rehearsals. And then there’s putting a rehearsal schedule together for everyone to come together… It’s a logistical nightmare, but there’s already a huge amount of work going into everyone’s preparations and pre-production and I can’t wait for it to come together.

Photo Geoff Ford: Queen Machine Symphonic with Kerry Ellis, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, 31 August 2019

YOU PLAYED A PREMIERE PERFORMANCE OF THE QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC SHOW AT SCARBOROUGH OPEN AIR THEATRE IN THE SUMMER. HOW WAS THAT?

Open air shows are such a British thing; we like braving the elements and hoping for the best and this was no different.

Scarborough was a brilliant night, the fans loved it and we all had so much fun on stage. I’d been to Denmark for rehearsals with Queen Machine and had the chance to watch them perform there. To then join them, and have the wonderful musicians from the London Symphonic Rock Orchestra with us, and Matthew Freeman bringing it all together made for a very special night.

We were excited about the tour before doing the Scarborough show, and now we can’t wait to get into a full rehearsal programme ready to travel the UK with the show.

If you’re a fan of Queen’s music it’s going to be a real ‘must-see’.

YOU’VE DONE A LOT OF WORK WITH BRIAN MAY, HOW DOES HE FEEL ABOUT BANDS PAYING TRIBUTE TO QUEEN’S MUSIC? HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO HIM ABOUT THIS SHOW – AND WILL HE BE COMING ALONG TO THE TOUR?

When the Queen Machine Symphonic opportunity came up, I let Brian know about it and asked what he thought. The Queen Machine guys have played for one of the Freddie celebrations and are very much welcomed in the Queen family. They’re very well established, and they are huge in Europe.

Brian enjoys that people play their music still today and embraces that tribute bands are able to take it out there around the world. And that’s another reason why the music is so timeless – that so many people are still performing it and honouring Queen.

I hope Brian will be coming. He does come and support a lot of what I do, whatever he can get to, so I’m sure if the schedule permits he’ll be there, but it’s often a nightmare – with touring the world.

YOU’VE BEEN SINGING QUEEN’S SONGS FOR MANY YEARS NOW. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE?

The song that is very close to my heart is No One But You. I sang that in We Will Rock You way back when and have recorded it and performed it with Brian around the world. We did it on our tour and at one point he said to me ‘It’s your song now, love it and enjoy it’. I’ve just got so many connections with it now – and it works brilliantly with an orchestra, so I’m sure we’ll be creating new memories with it in this show and tour.

WERE YOU A FAN OF QUEEN’S MUSIC BEFORE WE WILL ROCK YOU CAME ALONG?

I grew up with it; my dad was a fan and played a lot of rock music, and I listened to bands and acts like Meat Loaf, Status Quo, Bon Jovi, but also artistes like Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion. I was brought up with it but it became such a part of my life.

But really, everybody knows Queen’s music. The interesting thing today, is there’s a new generation of people interested in the music, because of the Bohemian Rhapsody film, with Queen touring with Adam Lambert, and the music is always used in films and adverts – you’re always hearing it.

I’m very proud that have a very deep connection with the music and the band and I’m very grateful for that. I always feel honoured and privileged to be doing their music with their blessing.

It’s been a big thing for me too; I always had a music career alongside musical theatre, but it probably wouldn’t have happened in the same way without that connection with Brian. He has influenced me in so many ways. Performing together on tour, and in the studio, he has educated me on putting an album together, something I had never done before. He’s been a kind of mentor to me and has helped me use the tools to make my own music.

BESIDES PREPARING FOR QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC, WHAT ELSE ARE YOU WORKING ON?

I’m working on some new music. I’ve not done an album of all originals before, so I’m working with writers again now. And I’m in talks with Brian again about touring or new music. A lot of concerts are in the diary throughout the summer, and I’m off to Japan again next year – I went earlier this year and it was magical, as well as the Queen Machine Symphonic tour.

Photo Geoff Ford: Queen Machine Symphonic with Kerry Ellis, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, 31 August 2019

ALONGSIDE WE WILL ROCK YOU, THE OTHER SHOW YOU’RE BEST KNOWN FOR IS WICKED; AND A FILM IS IN THE MAKING…

Wicked was a huge show for my career. It took me to Broadway – that was on my bucket list but I never thought I would actually get to do it. And to be the first British girl to play Elphaba, amazing. It has been a big part of my life, and it’s a show and role which resonates with fans all over the world, who go on supporting you for years after too; it’s a worldwide phenomenon. I’ll always be grateful to Stephen Schwartz and to director Joe Mantello for that opportunity; people still want me to sing that song [Defying Gravity] even though I left the show years ago.

I would love to get involved with the film! I’m sure it will be cast in America, and of course they are young girls at school – and I’ve just had a big birthday so maybe it’s not going to happen, but maybe a little cameo would be wonderful.

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com / www.ticketmaster.co.uk

QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC FEATURING KERRY ELLIS – 2020 TOUR

April

Wed 15th EDINBURGH, Usher Hall

Thu 16th GLASGOW, Royal Concert Hall

Fri 17th DERBY, Derby Arena

Sun 19th CANTERBURY, The Marlowe Theatre

Tue 21st LONDON, Hammersmith Eventim Apollo

Wed 22nd CARDIFF, St David’s Hall

Thu 23rd NEWCASTLE, O2 City Hall

Sat 25th LEEDS, Leeds Arena

REVIEW: The King and I – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s The King and I is undoubtedly one of the finest musical’s from the Golden Age of musical theatre and so rarely seen that this touring version of New York’s Lincoln Centre production has been waited on with baited breath. Thankfully this sumptuous staging with its universally first class cast, deserves every plaudit thrown its way.

There has been plenty of artistic license taken when adapting Margaret Langdon’s Anna and the King of Siam, which was in turn taken from British governess Anna Leonowens’ own memoir of her time teaching the children of King Mongkut of Siam’s children. However, the good old-fashioned plot gives the audience something to hold on to, it’s richly drawn, there’s humour, pathos, laughter, tears, and the roller coaster of emotions in the beautifully constructed script, make the three-hour running time race by.

As much as the lavish set and costumes, the familiar rich tunes and the atmospheric lighting transport you, it’s the cast on whose shoulders the experience lies. Annalene Beechey delivers an assured central performance as Anna, she has a formidable but perfectly controlled presence and diction that would make Julie Andrews jealous. Kok-Hwa Lie as Kralahome the King of Siam, manages to balance the duality of the monarch – on one hand striving to modernise his country while still enjoying the trappings of tyrranical rule, and all with some humour thrown in. Cezarah Bonner delivers a regal performance as no.1 wife Lady Thiang and on as Tup Tim, Jessica Gomes-Ng is an absolute revelation, a real star in the making, she has a sublimely beautiful voice. Worthy of note are Ethan Le Phong as Lun Tha and Aaron Teoh as Prince Chulalongkorn, as are the most adorable and talented children as the off-spring of the King. It’s a rare thing – there isn’t a weak link anywhere, every single person on the stage is the finest actor/singer/dancer for the role.

Worth mentioning too, and utterly mesmerising, is the ballet within the play, Tup Tim’s adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Small House of Uncle Thomas, is so beautifully executed that you can’t peel your eyes from the stage.

This production of The King and I is an entirely satisfying evening of theatre, richly deserving acclaim. It is masterfully executed, replete with gorgeous detail, it looks and sounds glorious and has a phenomenally talented cast. From the overall design to the tiniest details in the fabrics and lighting, and the rich orchestra, it all adds up to an evening of infinite quality. The word unmissable is thrown about lightly but this is a truly unmissable show.

Runs until 8 February 2020 | Image: Matthew Murphy

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: God of Carnage – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

As with her almost universally acclaimed 1994 play Art, Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage is another comedy of middle class manners. This time, as it was in Art, the behaviour of the seemingly sophisticated adults involved descends into something akin to a playground fight, all the more ironic, as that’s precisely what’s brought them together in the first place.

Alan and Annette’s 11 year-old son Henry has had two teeth removed, incisors to be precise, by fellow pupil Freddie. The two sets of parents meet in that frustratingly PC way to civilly decide what action should be taken to facilitate the children having “a reckoning” and to teach them about “the art of co-existence”. As the alcohol is increasingly imbibed, the adults’ best intentions go by the wayside and the mud starts to get slung and everyone’s true colours come to the fore.

Reza has a masterful touch at highlighting the foibles of the middle classes and delivering them with a punch, but it needs a strong cast to deliver. As author Veronica (currently writing a book about Darfur) Elizabeth McGovern is seemingly the voice of reason, pushing the apology/reconciliation agenda between the two boys. Household goods salesman husband Michael (Nigel Lindsay) doesn’t quite fit seamlessly into this middle class idyll, a bit rough around the edges his loyalties are tested and exposed as the evening progresses. McGovern takes a little while to hit her stride, but she ramps up the emotion and elicits the laughs as the piece reaches its conclusion. As always, Lindsay delivers an absolute masterclass in comic acting, each word and action perfectly timed, as does Simon Paisley Day as driven lawyer Alan, when not throwing well-timed barbs, he’s barking advice to his clients down his constantly ringing phone, the ever-impressive Samatha Spiro as “wealth manager” Annette, is, as always, on-point.

The dialogue is as expected, razor sharp, Reza knows her audience well, and while this couldn’t be described as cutting edge, it is hugely entertaining, escapist fun, scratching the surface of the well-polished veneer of the middle class. Well worth an evening of your time.

Review originally written for The Reviews Hub

INTERVIEW: Peppa Pig talks ahead of ‘Peppa Pig: My First Concert’ UK Tour

Peppa Pig: My First Concert is a fun and interactive introduction to a live orchestra will take Peppa Pig fans on a magical musical journey. Peppa visits Glasgow on the 9th and 10th of February.

This production is based on Entertainment One’s popular animated television series, Peppa Pig, and gives children a chance to experience their first concert in a way that is truly meaningful to them. Specially designed for the youngest audience members, this allows them, together with Peppa, to discover an orchestra for the first time. Perfect for little ones, to capture their imagination and introduce them to a whole new world of music.

We talk to our favourite little piggy, Peppa Pig, before she goes back on the road with the second leg of her first ever concert.

My First Concert opens in February – for all tour dates, visit: https://www.peppapiglive.com/my-first-concert.php

So Peppa, are you excited to be going to a concert with your family this summer, and of course to see an orchestra for the first time?

Yes. Oink! Oink! Hee Hee Hee! I’m very excited to visit all these new places and I hope I get to make some more nice friends.

Have you been to a real-life concert before?

This is my first one! I can’t wait to see all the instruments being played on stage and hear all the different sounds they make.

Who are you going to the concert with?

Mummy, Daddy and George will also be there with me. I think we might even get to join in!

What are you looking forward to the most about the concert?

Listening to all the lovely music and joining in on all the songs I already know, like my favourite, the ‘Bing Bong Song’!

What’s your favourite instrument?

My favourite instrument is the French horn. It looks so fun to play and the noise it makes is so loud! I think George is probably going to like the drums the best.

 

  • 9 – 10 February 2020
  • GLASGOW
    Royal Concert Hall
  • 0141 353 8000
  • BOOK NOW

 

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