Author Archives: glasgowtheatreblog

WHAT’S ON: FEATHER PRODUCTIONS in association with the BEACON ARTS CENTRE present the world premiere of LENA by Tim Whitnall

1999. LENA ZAVARONI (born in Greenock in 1963) has sung for presidents and royalty, topped the bill at the London Palladium, and become the youngest artist ever to have had a Top Ten album. But now, the fallen child star is fighting for her future – and her life. Waiting anxiously in a Cardiff hospital, her father VICTOR wonders how fate and fortune have conspired against him and his ‘wee lassie wi’ the pipes o’ Shirley Bassey’. Surrounded by ghosts he must endure a white-knuckle ride through the past; an ordinary man with one last chance to save his extraordinary daughter. 
 
Written by BAFTA and OLIVIER award-winner TIM WHITNALL (MorecambeThe Best Possible Taste) and directed by LESLIE FINLAY (The MisanthropeThe Reader), this dynamic new work also features a wealth of classic songs including Ma! Hes Making Eyes At MeRoses and Rainbows, and (Youve Got) Personality. 
 
LENA stars ERIN ARMSTRONG (Shetland/10 Rillington Place), ALAN MCHUGH (Scot Squad/The Limmy Show), JULIE COOMBE (River City/Hope Springs) as Hilda Zavaroni, HELEN LOGAN (River City/A Mugs Game), JULIE COOMBE and features the incredible JON CULSHAW (Dead Ringers/ The Impressionist Show) as TV’s original “Mr. Starmaker”, Hughie Green.
 
Other creatives include Musical Director/Arranger: MATTHEW BROWN and Set and Costume Designer: BECKY MINTO
 
Anna MurphyProducerFeather Productions said: “We are thrilled to be working in a co-producing partnership with the Beacon Arts Centre on this new important play with music, about Scottish singing sensation Lena Zavaroni. It is a privilege to work with the such a talented cast and crew and to be able to bring live theatre back to audiences with the support from Creative Scotland.”
 
LENA will premiere at the Beacon Arts Centre from 16 – 19 March before touring in 2023. 

WHAT’S ON FEBRUARY: BLACK IS THE COLOR OF MY VOICE comes to The Horsecross Theatre Perth on 3rd & 4th February

Inspired by the life of Nina Simone and featuring many of her most iconic songs performed live.

Apphia Campbell’s acclaimed play follows a successful jazz singer and civil rights activist as she seeks redemption after the untimely death of her father. She reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

This extensive national tour follows sell-out seasons in Shanghai, New York, Edinburgh, and in the West End of London.

Apphia Campbell is very excited and honoured to be the IASH playwrighting fellow for 2021. She is originally from United States and graduated from Florida International University with a BFA in theatre performance.

She wrote Black Is The Color Of My Voice in 2013. In 2017 her new show with Meredith Yarbrough, Woke, was presented as part of the Made In Scotland Showcase, where it won a Scotsman Fringe First, a Highly Commended from Amnesty International Award, and was shortlisted for The Filipa Bragança Award and Scottish Art Club Theatre Award.

In 2019, she made her West End debut with Black Is The Color Of My Voice at Trafalgar Studios and had a London premiere of Woke at Battersea Arts Centre.

Venue:    Horsecross Theatre PERTH

Dates               Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th February

Time:               8.00pm

Box Office:        01738 621 031

Online:             horsecross.co.uk

NEWS: Scottish Ballet will be completing their tour of The Nutcracker in Inverness

Following today’s Scottish Government announcement that there will be no further extension to current event restrictions, Scottish Ballet will be completing their tour of The Nutcracker to Inverness (Eden Court 26-29 Jan), after the Glasgow and Aberdeen runs were cancelled. The tour will then move on to Newcastle and Belfast in February. The Company of dancers have been rehearsing The Nutcracker and future productions and maintaining fitness levels at their headquarters in Glasgow during the restrictions.

 

NEWS: FROM THE QUEEN VIC TO THE QUEEN OF NARNIA SAMANTHA WOMACK TO PLAY THE WHITE WITCH IN THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE

THEATRE ROYAL, GLASGOW

TUESDAY 1 – SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2022

Theatre Royal, Glasgow has announced that TV and theatre star Samantha Womack will appear at the venue next year in a new stage adaptation of C.S Lewis’ beloved classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

 Samantha Womack, who known for her role as Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, takes on the role of The White Witch when the show runs at the Hope Street venue from Tuesday 1 until Saturday 5 March 2022  as part of a UK tour, which will also visit Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe broke box office records upon opening at the Leeds Playhouse and went on to sell out shows and receive critical acclaim at the Bridge Theatre in London in 2019.

The show tells the story of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter who embark on a magical journey through the wardrobe into the enchanted kingdom of Narnia. Waving goodbye to wartime Britain, they adventure the frozen, faraway land where they meet a faun, talking beavers, and of course noble king of Narnia, Aslan and the coldest, most evil White Witch.

Samantha Womack returns to the theatre after her recent success playing the lead role in the sold-out production of The Girl on the Train in the West End and on tour.  Sam’s past theatre roles include the Tony award-winning production of South Pacific in which she starred alongside Patrick Swayze, Guys and Dolls at London’s Piccadilly Theatre (directed by Michael Grandage) and playing Emma in an award-winning production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (directed by Sir Peter Hall). Her varied work on television has seen Samantha moving from comedy to drama with the cult success of BBC’s Game On and Babes in the Wood to ITV’s gritty crime drama Liverpool 1Imogen’s Face and Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders.  Films include playing the unhinged mother of Eggsy in The Kingsman franchise sharing the screen with Colin Firth and Samuel L Jackson and playing Hazel in Jon Godbers  Up ‘n Under.

She said“Having been a huge fan of C S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for as long as I can remember, I am thrilled to be playing The White Witch. The book has always been a magical read and having watched incredible actors interpret this role in the past, I am excited to see what she holds for me. This production is so beautifully conceived with thrilling sets and costumes and an amazingly talented cast and creative team. I can’t wait to seduce, plot and terrify Narnia into a permanent winter.”

James Haworth, Theatre Director at Theatre Royal, Glasgow, said: “What a treat to it is to welcome the magical land of Narnia to our stage as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe arrives for what will be a fabulous run.”

Joining Samantha in the cast are: Ammar Duffus (Peter Pevensie), Shaka Kalokoh (Edmund Pevensie), Robyn Sinclair (Susan Pevensie) and Karise Yansen (Lucy Pevensie).   Aslan is played by Chris Jared, Mr Tumnus by Jez Unwin, Mr Beaver by Sam Buttery and Maugrim by Michael Ahomka-Lindsay.  They are joined by Oliver Bingham (Mr Brinkworth, March Hare and Aslan Puppeteer), Scott Brooks (Mr Pope, Fox Trot, Associate Music Captain), Rachel Dawson (Miss Chutney, Blue Badger and Spirit of the Moon), Oliver Grant (Mr Wilson, Schrodinger, Red Squirrel and Aslan Puppeteer), Matthew James Hinchliffe (Mr Marsden, Mauve Mole), Tash Holway (on stage Swing, Dance Captain), Shaun McCourt (Mr Granville, Jack Rabbit, Aslan Puppeteer), Sophie Naglik (on stage Swing) Kate Parr (Miss Gumley-Warmley and Phoenix), Anthony Starr (on stage Swing), Christina Tedders (Mrs Beaver), Brad Veitch (on stage Swing). Johnson Willis (Professor Kirk, Father Christmas, Wise Owl and White Mouse) and Grace Wylde (Mrs Pevensie, Robin and Falcon)

The tour will be directed by Michael Fentiman, based on the original production by Sally Cookson with original Set and Costume design by Rae Smith.  Michael’s previous productions include the Olivier Award-nominated Amélie (Watermill Theatre/The Other Palace/UK Tour and currently running in the West End), The Windsors: Endgame (also running in the West End), The Importance of Being Earnest (Vaudeville Theatre), the 50th anniversary production of Joe Orton’s Loot (Park Theatre/Watermill Theatre), Titus Andronicus and Ahasverus (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Taming of the Shrew (Sherman Theatre/Tron Theatre) and, as director and writer, CinderELLA (Nuffield Southampton) and The Last Days of Anne Boleyn (Tower of London).

Joining Michael Fentiman on the creative team are Tour Set and Costume Designer Tom Paris, Dramaturg Adam Peck, Composer Benji Bower with additional composition by Music Supervisor Barnaby Race, Choreographer Shannelle ‘Tali’ Fergus, Lighting Designer Jack Knowles, Sound Designers Ian Dickinson and Gareth Tucker for Autograph, Puppetry Director Toby Olié, Puppetry Designer Max Humphries, Aerial Director Gwen Hales, Illusionist Chris Fisher, Music Director Toby Higgins, Movement Consultant Dan Canham, Casting Director Will Burton, Fight Director Jonathan Holby, Costume Supervisor Joanna Coe, Wigs and Make Up Supervisor Susanna Peretz, Props Supervisor Lizzie Frankl, and Associate Director James Callàs Ball.

Image: Seamus Ryan

WHAT’S ON: NEW STAGE PLAY BASED ON THE CLASSIC CLUEDO BOARD GAME TO TOUR THE UK IN 2022

Was it Miss Scarlet, with the revolver in the dining room, or was it Professor Plum, with the lead pipe in the library…?

Producers Joshua Andrews and Stuart Galbraith of Kilimanjaro Theatricals, in collaboration with their US producing partners Work Light Productions, Lively McCabe Entertainment & The Araca Group, are pleased to announce that Cluedo, a new stage play based on the classic Hasbro detective board game loved by generations and the hit 1985 Paramount film CLUE, is to tour the UK between January and July 2022. Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, the play is written by Sandy Rustin with additional materials by Hunter Foster and Eric Price and for the UK production, Mark Bell. Tickets are on sale now from Cluedostageplay.com.

When Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs Peacock, Revered Green, Mrs. White and Colonel Mustard all arrive at a country house one dark and stormy evening, they are concerned to find they have all received the same mysterious invitation from Lord Boddy. What’s clear is that they all have something to hide and the mystery and hysteria grows, as the inhabitants and guests of Boddy Manor start being killed, with a variety of familiar weapons, leaving everyone to wonder, who will be next! Casting will be announced soon.

This UK premiere production is directed by Mark Bell, director of the award winning The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy About A Bank Robbery and just like the game, it promises audiences of all ages a nostalgic, fun and thrilling evening of entertainment.

This hilarious spoof of a thriller, will keep you guessing right up to the finale as both the audience and actors onstage try to work out whodunnit…. with what… and where!!

Week Commencing  09 May 2022                                     Edinburgh: Kings Theatre – ON SALE

Week Commencing 04 July 2022                                      Glasgow: Theatre Royal – ON SALE

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.

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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

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

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