Author Archives: glasgowtheatreblog

REVIEW: Nativity! The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

The clocks have gone back, Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night are over, so, of course, Christmas is here. Seven weeks early, but who’s complaining when it’s the stage version of Bafta Award-winning Debbie Isitt’s hugely loveable 2009 movie, Nativity?

For those familiar with the big-screen trilogy, the stage plot is lifted entirely from the first film. Mr. Maddens (Scott Garnham) is a less than effective primary school teacher, having previously been an even less than successful actor. With the festive season approaching, the school Nativity show looming and a broken heart courtesy of his ex-girlfriend Jennifer (Ashleigh Gray) who dumped him to pursue her career dreams in Hollywood, things can’t possibly get worse. Unfortunately they do. Competition arrives in the form of his former best friend, Gordon Shakespeare (Andy Brady), who is now receiving plaudits for his festive extravaganzas at a rival primary school. Maddens declares that a Hollywood producer is coming to film his Christmas show, needless to say they’re not, and mayhem ensues, aided and abetted by hyperactive classroom assistant Mr. Poppy (Simon Lipkin).

With such well-loved source material, the cast need to step up and fortunately they more than match, and in some cases exceed that of the film. For West End theatre buffs, this is dream casting. Scott Garnham is entirely believable as the lovelorn Mr. Maddens with a gorgeous voice to boot, Ashleigh Gray makes her mark in the relatively small role of Jennifer and manages to showcase her phenomenal vocal skills, Andy Brady is a suitably manic Mr. Shakespeare (his Herod is a gem) but it is the utterly irresistible Simon Lipkin as Mr. Poppy who thoroughly steals the show. Lipkin is a star in everything he’s in and here he gets to showcase his formidable talents while still bringing out the best in everyone around him.

But what about the kids?, after all, this really is a children’s show. The local children cast as the pupils of Oakwood Primary School are drilled to perfection, but the pupils of St. Bernadette’s are truly phenomenal. Added to an already spectacular cast, there’s also an irresistible pooch called Cracker to crank up the cute factor.

The production values are high and the set looks as good as anything your likely to see on a West End stage, and the choreography from the always reliable Andrew Wright is perfectly reflective of that of children in 2018. The roster of musical numbers has been significantly upped from the half a dozen songs in the movie and each is a catchy delight.

Nativity! starts on a high and the entertainment factor never diminishes for the entire running time. It knows how to tug at the heart strings without becoming over schmaltzy, you’d need to be hard-hearted indeed not to be touched by this. This is a show of infinite quality from start to finish and stands head and shoulders above most festive offerings.

It preaches a laudable message of the power of a positive mindset and that sometimes the good guys can win in the end. Ultimately it’s a festive, feel-good, feast for the eyes that fills you with the warm and fuzzies.

Beg, borrow or steal to get a ticket, this really is an unmissable show.

Runs until November 2018 | Image: Richard Davenport

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub. The UK’s leading and most prolific digital portal for the performing arts. With 150 reviewers spread across the UK, managed by 10 editors, The Reviews Hub publishes reviews, previews, features and interviews on entertainment throughout the whole country.

 

REVIEW: The Comedy About a Bank Robbery – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The mighty Mischief Theatre return. Hoorah! On the heels of their world-wide success with The Play That Goes Wrong (Olivier Award-winning, a run on Broadway and around the globe and several UK tours) and Peter Pan Goes Wrong (West End, UK tour and a screening on the BBC), it’s now the turn of The Comedy About a Bank Robbery. Needless to say, this isn’t the Hatton Garden Robbery or Brink’s-MAT.

It’s summer 1958, Minneapolis, USA. A clutch of utterly clueless Canadian crooks attempt a diamond heist on Prince Ludwig of Hungary’s priceless jewel, cue the astonishing physical feats, witty wordplay and visual puns a-plenty with which this indefatigable theatre company are now synonymous.

The whole production plays out like a glorious 1950s, screwball B-Movie with harks back to the Golden Age of British comedy, there are nods to Morecambe and Wise and Two Ronnies sketches, and the wonderful stage adaptation of The 39 Steps (the show Mischief Theatre followed into the Criterion Theatre in the West End). The visual and physical gags are as jaw-dropping and inventive as ever (to state here what they are would ruin the effect).

The cast are universally top-notch, but it’s great to see Mischief founding member Dave Hearn (seemingly replacing Sean Carey) as con artist Sam, his pin-sharp timing is a joy, Julia Frith as bank manager’s daughter Caprice, is a glorious mix of Lucille Ball and Gloria Grahame, Jon Trenchard is hugely entertaining as the put-upon Warren and Ashley Tucker’s Mrs. Monaghan has more than a touch of Karen Walker from TV’s Will and Grace. The cast also do a brilliant job in their sung scene changes, fabulous 50s Doo-Wop hits cover all the transitions.

There’s a ‘turn up your nose’ snobbery about slapstick and farce, but there’s no denying that Mischief Theatre’s trademark comedy is universally appealing. It also has to be acknowledged how much intellect and acting skill is required to pull this off so successfully.

It does take a while for the first half to get into its stride and there are a few too many filler moments but, though it feels hackneyed to use the phrase ‘a laugh a minute’, it really ramps up to being just this, the visual and verbal comedy is relentless.

Mischief Theatre still have the power to please an audience. It leaves you wanting more and wondering what’s next from this powerhouse production team.

Runs until November 2018 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

NEWS: Platform announces Eastern Promise 2018 festival line-up

Now in its eighth year, Platform’s Eastern Promise festival brings a thrilling mix of live music, performance and visual art to Glasgow’s East End over two evenings on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November 2018.

This trailblazing event offers a stellar line up of gigs, performances, film screenings and installations to inspire, provoke and entertain. Platform opens up its performance and studio spaces, creating a dynamic festival atmosphere, with food and drink available all evening.

FRIDAY 16th NOVEMBER

Platform is delighted to welcome keyboard and accordion maestro Hailu Mergia back to Scotland. The Ethio-jazz funk pioneer recently released Lala Belu, his first full-length album in nearly two decades. The album builds on Mergia’s remarkable career resurgence over the past few years and features Ethiopian traditionals alongside Mergia originals. His old recordings are cherished revelations for Ethiopian music fans; however, Mergia’s return to the stage has been just as inspiring and electrifying.

Turner prize nominated Monster Chetwynd presents a screening of her subversive and magical short film, Face Cream. Commissioned by GoMA in partnership with Platform as part of Glasgow 2018 with a focus on play, the film used museum venues across Glasgow and Platform, working with some of the groups that meet there. Inspired by the novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, this joyous, fun and surreal short film reveals a magical Glasgow discovered through the natural power of face cream.

POST is a new theatre show presented by performance maker Xavier de Sousa exploring national identity. We live in an ever-shifting political and geographical landscape. Some believe we are heading towards a world without borders, without countries or nations whilst others vouch for protectionism and more borders. The audience is invited to join de Sousa at the table, eat Portuguese food, drink potent Cachaça, get merry, make new friends and challenge what constitutes a nation.

SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER

Legendary West coast jazz mavericks, Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids make a welcome return to Platform announcing their new album release, An Angel Fell (Strut) with intergalactic jazz funk, afro-beat grooves and hypnotic licks. The album has been celebrated by Quietus magazine as #2 album of the year and the band will also be performing music from their lauded 2016 album We Be all Africans. Expect psychedelia, cosmic jazz and the healing power of music from this theatrical spiritual jazz ensemble.

Apostille is a man who’s torn through enough sound-systems to know the difference between gesture and meaning. Michael Kasparis, who runs Night School Records whilst making forays into hardcore punk with groups Anxiety and The Lowest Form brings his solo electronic venture Apostille to Platform. At once minimal and courageous Apostille songs race off with unchecked abandon, skittering drum machines, thick walls of sequenced synth and decidedly elastic basslines. His recent album Choose Life is full of life and energy, and like his live show as disobedient as it is heroic in its pursuit of liberation.

Chivas/Reid/Smekot present Decline, a dynamic relationship instantly and continuously transforming, told through the bodies of three distinct performers. This collaboration is a meditation on things that draw us together and those that fall away using the distinct voices of dance and live music. Directed and performed by Monika Smekot, Penny Chivas and Jer Reid Decline offers a unique, honest and open viewpoint into human relationships, it asks us to challenge others and ourselves to delve into our inner world.

Glasgow-based artist and musician Sarah Glass presents 13 +/-, an opportunity to watch a desperate act of self-care made manifest, reflected and refracted back. The performance uses light and sound to explore coping mechanisms for social anxiety and similar maladies. Glass works predominantly in sound, light and performance art and her work reflects interest in themes such as social control, feminism, noise, and the distortion and re-appropriation of (sub)cultural media.

Jumbies is presented by Ashanti Harris in collaboration with Zephyr Liddell and Paul Shofolahan. Jumbies is an exploration of Derrida’s concept of Hauntology (haunting and ontology) in the form of an Afrofuturist masquerade. Working with dance, sculpture, sound and printed fabrics, Jumbies creates a layered fictional dimension, a space of alternate realities, apparitions and re-presentation. It is a ritual wearing of thresholds and a place of absence, repetition and continual transformation.

Food and drink is available all evening from Platform’s cafe bar with pop up food from Soul Food Sisters.

 LISTINGS

Friday 16 November, 7pm till late

●       Hailu Mergia

●       Monster Chetwynd presents Face Cream

●       Xavier de Sousa presents POST

Saturday 17 November, 5pm till late

●       Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

●       Apostille

●       Sarah Glass presents 13 +/-

●       Chivas/Reid/Smekot present Decline

●       Ashanti Harris, Zephyr Liddell & Paul Shofolahan present Jumbies

TICKET INFORMATION 

£10/£7.50 (local links) per night

£15/£10 (local links) weekend

platform-online.co.uk / info@platform-online.co.uk / 0141 276 9696 (opt 1

Platform is running a return bus from Mono, Kings Court to Eastern Promise. Please pre book to ensure a space – either purchase your £5 ticket from Mono in person or email info@platform-online.co.uk to reserve your place.

Platform, 1000 Westerhouse Road, Glasgow, G34 9JW

NEWS: ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS SHOW ANNOUNCED FOR EASTWOOD PARK THEATRE

Eastwood Park Theatre is rounding off its 45th anniversary celebrations with an original Christmas show penned by the writer of many successful festive shows for the Citizen Theatre and produced by Showroom, one of Scotland’s most exciting theatre companies.

Tickets are on sale now for Jack and the Beanstalk II: Return of the Farmer, brought by four renowned Scottish theatre talents – written and composed by Andy McGregor, directed by Julie Brown, designed by Claire Halleran and produced by Callum Smith of Showroom.

This unique Christmas show is a twist on the traditional tale, centring on Jack McJack, who is now living a life of fame, fortune and fanciness. He owns Giffnock’s most successful supermarket and everything is going his way – until the trickster of a farmer who gave him his magic beans returns and demands his share of the profits. In the hilarious new tale he recalls the story of his heroic trip to the top of the beanstalk, before facing the farmer in an epic showdown.

The show will take centre stage at Eastwood Park Theatre from 11-30 December, with dedicated British Sign Language Interpreted (21st December, 7.30pm) and “relaxed” (15thDecember, 1pm) performances for audience members with Additional Support Needs.

Anthony McReavy from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure said: “We’re delighted to attract a quartet of Scottish theatre talent to Eastwood Park Theatre. Our Christmas show is full of fun, with lots of laughs and plenty of local references to keep all the family entertained.”

Producer Callum Smith, originally from Clarkston, a theatre producer who has worked for a variety of the UK’s leading theatres said: “This is a Christmas show for all ages – a magical, wacky and hilarious twist on a traditional pantomime, personalised for Eastwood Park Theatre starring top Scottish acting talent, who will be announced soon…”

Tickets are priced at just £11 standard, £8 for concessions and a family of four can catch the show for £35. The show also qualifies for the group discount – buy ten tickets and one person can go free.

Book now:  https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9742/Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-II

WHAT’S ON NOVEMBER: GLOC present Oklahoma at the King’s Theatre

The Glasgow Light Opera Club is proud to present their production of the much-loved classic, Oklahoma!

The popular story tells of farm girl Laurey Williams’ struggle to choose between two rival suitors – cowboy Curly McLain and the sinister farmhand Jud Fry.

Oklahoma! was the first collaboration between the legendary duo Rodgers and Hammerstein and changed the face of musical theatre with its innovative use of storytelling through song.

The production stars Sarah Laing as Laurey, John Trevor Hughes as Jud and Peter Robson as Curly.

With memorable including Oh What Beautiful Morning, Kansas City, and of course the title track Oklahoma, this is the perfect night out for all the family.

Oklahoma!

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Tue 13-Sat 19 Nov 2018

Tue-Sat evenings, 7.30pm

Wed & Sat matinee, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

 

REVIEW: Summer Holiday – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Taking as its source the classic 1963 Cliff Richard movie, Summer Holiday is a feather light piece of escapism for all the family with a hard-working, talented cast and more than a few much-loved, familiar tunes.

It’s yet another miserable British summer, when Don and his fellow London bus mechanics persuade their bosses to let them borrow a double-decker bus to escape the grey skies. They set off for the south of France. On they way, they encounter a trio of female singers (the Do Re Mi’s) who have broken down on the way to a gig in Athens. Thrown into the mix is an American singing sensation (Barbara) disguised as a boy, on the run from her over-bearing mother and her agent. Cue some old-fashioned frolics and farce.

First turned into a stage musical in 1996, it has become a favourite of amateur dramatic societies up and down the UK, and as a work that’s fondly regarded by the great British public, it is ripe for a revamped professional tour. In order to ensure mass appeal, some of Cliff’s earliest releases have been shoe-horned into the song list along with those culled from the soundtrack of the movie. It must be said that there are more than a few that are pure filler, and unnecessarily extend the running time without adding much entertainment value, but for the most part the hit songs are a winner: Do You Wanna Dance, The Young Ones, Move It, Living Doll, Bachelor Boy and the famous title song get the audience on-side the moment the first bars ring out.

The energy level of the cast is critical in a work as lightweight as this, and thankfully they are giving their all. Their commitment to their roles is universally deserving of praise. In the ‘Cliff Richard’ role of Don, Ray Quinn is a hugely reliable, likeable and sure-footed leading man, he’s more than proved his chops in the singing department, but he’s also a gifted dancer. His trio of mates: Rory Maguire (Cyril), Billy Roberts (Steve) and especially the hugely talented Joe Goldie (Edwin) provide solid support, each singing, dancing, acting and breathing life into their roles with energy.

The Do Re Mi’s prove a likeable trio and Alice Baker (Alma) Laura Marie Benson (Angie) and especially Gabby Antrobus (Mimsie) do their best with the slim material they are given. Sophie Matthew is pleasant enough but unremarkable as Barbara and Becky Bassett as her mother Stella, is at least two decades too young to play the part.

Racky Plews choreography is as reliable and inventive as ever and is executed with precision and energy throughout. The scene to Move It in particular, is cleverly realised with ski poles and pairs of Heelys.

The minimal (read for that cheap looking) set doesn’t do much for the production, it is played out to a stark black background throughout which lends no sense of place, it is clear all the money has been spent on the realisation of the double decker bus, which is thankfully effective.

The script is weak and the characters are utterly two-dimensional, however, the fact that the cast are clearly giving their all makes up for the short-comings in the writing. The humour gets to the levels of mildly ‘seaside saucy’ and there are some lazy stereotypical ‘Johnny Foreigners’ replete with dodgy accents, if you’re being kind you could say it’s a hark back to a more innocent and simplistic time, less kindly you could call into question the taste/judgement levels of the production team. Criticism could also be made of an all-white cast in a musical in the UK in 2018.

It’s simplistic, it’s undemanding but it’s ultimately good old-fashioned, feel-good fun.

Runs until 3 November 2018 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub

WHAT’S ON JULY: The Classic Thriller Theatre Company presents The Lady Vanishes

The Lady Vanishes
Mon 1 – Sat 6 July 2019
Theatre Royal
Tickets from £13

Husband and wife Juliet Mills and Maxwell Caulfield lead the star cast in the latest installment of the Classic Thriller Theatre Company.

The cast also features Lorna Fitzgerald, fresh from her shock departure from the role of Abi Branning in BBC’s EastEnders, Matt Barber, Atticus Aldridge in Downtown Abbey and Robert Duncan, Drop The Dead Donkey.

When Socialite Iris’ unexpected travelling companion suddenly disappears, Iris is perplexed to find that all the other passengers deny ever having seen her. But with the help of musician Max, she turns detective, and together they try to solve the mystery of why the lady vanished…

WHAT’S ON FEBRUARY: Ian Hislop and Nick Newman reunite for Trial by Laughter

Trial By Laughter
Mon 11 – Sat 16 Feb
Kings’s Theatre, Glasgow
Tickets from £13

Following critical acclaim for The Wipers Times, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have once again taken inspiration from real life events for their new play Trial by Laughter.

William Hone, the forgotten hero of free speech, was a bookseller, publisher and satirist. In 1817, he stood trial for ‘impious blasphemy and seditious libel’. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. Worse than that he was funny by parodying religious texts. And worst of all, he was funny about the despotic government and the libidinous monarchy.

WHAT’S ON JANUARY: Rebus – Long Shadows comes to Glasgow

Tue 29 Jan – Sat 2 Feb
Theatre Royal
Tickets from £13
By Ian Rankin, adapted by Rona Munro.

Featuring Charles Lawson as John Rebus, Cathy Tyson as Siobhan Clarke and John Stahl as Big Ger Cafferty, directed by Robin Lefevre.

The new story exclusively on stage. Detective Inspector John Rebus is retired but the shadows of his former life still follow him through the streets of Edinburgh. Whisky helped but now he’s denying himself that pleasure. But when the daughter of a murder victim appears outside his flat, he’s back on the case and off the wagon.

NEWS: Citizens Theatre announce cast for A Christmas Carol.

The Citizens Theatre today introduced the cast of A Christmas Carol – including lots of Citz familiar faces. Leading the ensemble as the miserly Scrooge is Benny Young (Hay Fever), while Peter Collins (Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel) and John O’Mahony (Hansel & Gretel, A Christmas Carol 2014) return for another festive season. Andy Clark has a long list of credits at the Citizens (Lampedusa, The Libertine, Othello, Hamlet, Peter Pan). They will be joined by Elisa de Grey, Reuben Joseph and Jess Murphy, who make their Citizens debut. The cast is completed by Jamie Marie Leary, and current Actor Interns Malcolm Cumming and Anna Russell-Martin.

Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill leads the creative team with his trademark theatrical style. The 2014 team return with Rachael Canning designing set, costumes and puppets, Lizzie Powell designing lighting and the inimitable Nikola Kodjabashia providing music and sound. 

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