Category Archives: AMATEUR THEATRE

REVIEW: The Music Man – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Runway Theatre Company again prove their worthy position at the top of the tree of amateur companies in Glasgow, reviving Meredith Willson’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning, little-seen, musical theatre classic, The Music Man, with aplomb. A timely choice too, with the announcement that in 2020, Hugh Jackman will lead the first Broadway revival in nearly two decades.

It’s 1912 and the people of sleepy River City, Iowa really don’t know what’s in store for them when smooth talking swindler Harold Hill rolls into town. However, Hill’s plans to con the innocent townsfolk are foiled when his heart finally starts to rule his head.

Old-fashioned in the nicest possible way, this is a light-hearted, undemanding tale with a bunch of quirky characters and two of musical theatre’s most enduring tunes: the oom-pah-pah-ing 76 Trombones and the much-loved classic ballad, Till There Was You.

Its old-fashionedness is both its strength and its weakness. The public’s appetite for nostalgia is sated with the homely, feel-good storyline, the period costumes and score. However, the hokey dialogue has aged badly and the heightened characterisations required by the script, render it too caricatured at times. That said, any criticisms of this production are entirely at the hands of the source material not the actors or musicians.

This is a show with a rousing chorus, the ensemble fill the auditorium with the biggest, most glorious sound you will have the pleasure to hear, and the quartet comprising Tom Russell, Ross Nicol, Cameron Leask and Bob McDevitt are just heavenly sounding. Brendan Lynch (Harold Hill), once again proves to be an adept leading man and a true triple threat, and Catherine Mackenzie (Marian Paroo) is a beautifully toned soprano. The costumes are of an excellent quality. The set and lighting are functional and easy on the eye and the transitions, especially in a theatre with no fly tower, are smooth and pacy. The child actors, of which there are many, are drilled to perfection as are the dancers – it’s unusual in an amateur production to have such universal quality.

A warm and comforting and very welcome blast from the past that will leave audience members of all ages thoroughly entertained.

Runs until Saturday 18 May 2019

 

NEWS: Rarely seen The Music Man is coming to Eastwood Park Theatre

By turns wicked, funny, warm, romantic and touching, The Music Man is family entertainment at its best. Meredith Willson’s six-time, Tony Award-winning musical comedy has been entertaining audiences since 1957 and is a family-friendly story to be shared with every generation. However, it is rarely staged and Runway Theatre Company provide a rare chance to see this much-loved show at Eastwood Park Theatre from 14th to 18th May, every evening with a 2:30 Saturday matinee.
 
The Music Man follows fast-talking traveling salesman, Harold Hill, as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band that he vows to organise – this, despite the fact that he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when he falls for Marian, the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by curtain’s fall.
Tickets are onsale now – HERE

AMATEUR FOCUS: Theatre South Productions present The Wedding Singer at Eastwood Park

Theatre South present The Wedding Singer at Eastwood Park Theatre from Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 March.

Following the sold-out performances of 9 to 5 and Hairspray, Theatre South Productions bring you this hilarious 80s musical, based on the hit Adam Sandler film.

Go back to 1985, when New Jersey wedding singer Robbie Hart’s life crumbles around him after his own fiancée leaves him at the altar.  Devastated, Robbie plots to make every wedding as disastrous as his own until he meets Julia, a winsome waitress who wins his affection.  Much to Robbie’s dismay, Julia is about to be married to a Wall Street shark, and unless Robbie can pull off the performance of a lifetime, the girl of his dreams will be lost forever.

Prices

  • £15 – £17

www.theatresouthproductions.co.uk

Tickets also available from club members or theatresouthproductions@hotmail.com

AMATEUR FOCUS: Harlequin Youth Theatre present Little Shop of Horrors

Harlequin Youth Theatre present Little Shop of Horrors at Eastwood Park Theatre

Wednesday 13 – Saturday 16 March
7.30pm each evening
Sat matinee, 2.30pm

Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film of the same name. The music is in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, and includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, “Skid Row”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly, Seymour”.

Yet another lively show by the Harlequin Seniors – not too many of whom we hope will be eaten during the run!!

Prices

  • £16

www.harlequinyouth.co.uk

Tickets also available from Harlequin on 07593 093028 or email tickets@harlequinyouth.co.uk

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REVIEW: Octave GLO Celebr8 – GLO Auditorium, Motherwell

The classiest choral group around are back in town. Octave bring their eighth annual concert, GLO Celebr8 to the GLO Auditorium in Motherwell.

With a programme of 35 songs, and as the title of their debut CD, Music for Everyone proclaims, there truly is something for everyone here. From pop classics such as Blame it on the Boogie and Son of a Preacher Man, through traditional British classics The Crookit Bawbee and The Foggy, Foggy Dew to movie and stage musical theatre big-hitters old and new, the evening’s programme is a carefully curated gem.

Musical Director David Fisher has a canny ability to programme a concert to please an audience. That said, he has some of the finest amateur vocalists in the region to sing his specially selected songs. While there are some stand-out solo efforts, the concert elevates when the eight performers sing as one. Particular highlights include beautiful ensemble renditions of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Your Song and Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The superlative acoustics in the auditorium mean that these wonderful voices have the chance to soar and prove that Octave still have the ability to give you goose bumps.

A welcome, new feature of this year’s concert is the inclusion of a Master of Ceremonies, Bill Craig. Craig is a natural raconteur and the witty, professionally delivered introductions are both informative and amusing. It allows the singers to concentrate on singing and move the proceedings from one section to another with aplomb.

Octave deliver something fresh and new every year and long may it continue.

REVIEW: Elf – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

elf musical logo

The festive season is off to a grand start with The Pantheon Club’s production of Elf. Based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie, Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin, Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin’s musical version is a treat for the whole family and bound to become a holiday favourite.

Motherless toddler Buddy Hobbs crawls into Santa’s sack by mistake and is transported to the North Pole where he grows up to be one of the elves working in Santa’s toy factory. Standing several feet taller than his fellow ‘elves’ Buddy finds out he’s actually human and return to New York to find his father. Dad is firmly on the naughty list and Buddy endeavours to help his dad and New York City re-discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Pantheon’s amateur production is high on production values (it puts many recent professional touring productions to shame) and impressive in its casting. Graeme Wallace is outstanding as the naïve Buddy, his comic timing and assured vocals are on-point throughout. He is ably supported by a universally impressive ensemble. The acting, vocals, choreography and its execution are of professional quality.

No it’s not the most demanding show, it’s not going to win any awards for the quality of the writing, and the tunes are pleasant but not spectacular, but it’s the kind of show that will warm even the hardest of hearts and set you up perfectly for the festive season ahead. A triumph for the Pantheon Club (dare I start an appeal for a repeat run? Same time, same place – next year).

Image courtesyPantheon Club.

REVIEW: Me and My Girl – Motherwell Concert Hall

It is the girls who shine brightest in Hamilton Operatic and Dramatic Club’s latest production of the much-loved Me and My Girl at Motherwell Concert Hall this week.

The multiple Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Me and My Girl is the tale of humble Cockney costermonger Bill Snibson, his unexpected inheritance of the title of Earl of Hareford and the trials and tribulations he has to endure to keep the girl of his dreams by his side.

As the Duchess of Dene, Cathy Taylor and Marianne Millard, Lady Jaqueline are the stand-out talents of the night, the pair are fine actresses, with glorious voices and enviable stage presence, and the stage completely enlivens when they are there. The ensemble too are deserving of praise, and sound utterly gorgeous when singing as one. Less succesful is Gillian Black as Bill’s paramour Sally, whilst in possession of a beautiful singing voice her accent travels through virtually county and shire in England and at no point visits the borough of Lambeth. Accents seem to be an issue throughout, with one character beginning an act in RP English and ending it in Scots.

Quibbles aside, Hamilton ODC deliver high production values, with a rich-looking set and a fine chorus and orchestra under the baton of Mike Smith, and there are some professional quality performances throughout. An enjoyable evening of a little seen musical theatre classic.

REVIEW: Carrie – Webster’s Theatre, Glasgow

Louise Creechan Carrie Websters theatre Glasgow mad props

It takes a brave theatre company to tackle a show based on a 1974 Stephen King novel, notoriously dubbed the “most legendary flop musical ever produced”, well Glasgow-based Mad Props Theatre are just that, staging Michael Gore, Lawrence D Cohen and Dean Pitchford’s Carrie.

Debuting in 1988, (unbelievably) at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, it was met with decidedly mixed reviews, but that was nothing compared to its Broadway run, plagued with script and technical problems and the near-decapitation of musical theatre legend Barbara Cook, it closed after five performances, the most expensive theatre flop of its time. Thankfully, time has been kind, and after a successful 2015 revival at the Southwark Playhouse, Mad Props present the Scottish premiere.

Told in a series of flashbacks by her only ally Sue, Carrie is a telekinetic teen with an oppressive religious fanatic of a mother, humiliated by her classmates at prom, she wreaks her revenge on those who’ve wronged her.

The problems that have always existed with the production – weak script, forgettable music are still here, but thankfully judicial trimming, tight direction and some fine performances elevate this production above its source material.

Stand out among the talented cast is Katy Allan as Carrie’s controlling and abusive mother,  hers is a finely measured performance, that, despite the titters from some of the audience, treads the fine line between hysterical exaggeration and frightening believability. Louise Creechan’s acting skills are also worthy of note, she delivers the requisite intensity and naive vulnerability of the put-upon teen perfectly (as well as bearing a startling resemblance to movie Carrie, Sissy Spacek). There is also a brace of fine performances from the ensemble, the only gripe being a lack of dancing skills that rendered this very professional looking production a bit shambolic at times.

The small stage at Websters fits the production like a glove and the special effects are impressive from an amateur company.

Hugely entertaining and impressively delivered, mad props must go to Mad Props for continuing to deliver something different to musical theatre audiences in Glasgow – long may it continue.

 

REVIEW: Calamity Jane – Motherwell Theatre

The Deadwood stage has galloped into Motherwell courtesy of Our Lady’s Musical Society. Using the real-life adventures of Wild West frontierswoman Martha Jane Cannary as its inspiration, the musical of Calamity Jane is based on the much-loved 1953 Doris Day movie.

With a quite frankly preposterous plot, that at times is unfathomable: saloon owner Henry Miller is under the impression he’s hired famous actress Frances Fryer to perform, but when very male Francis arrives, Calamity rides out to bring backstage sweetheart Adelaide Adams to save the day (why it’s not the elusive Frances Fryer, I don’t know) thus ensues yet another case of mistaken identity that does nothing to help Calamity’s disastrous reputation. Throw into the mix some unrequited love and there you have it.

This is a musical choc full of familiar tunes, so familiar the audience sing along to the overture, however, they are delivered with mixed success. The big ensemble show-stoppers are the winners of the evening – The Black Hills of Dakota is particularly fine. A lack of crisp diction and tuning issues (and at times wandering off score, especially in a peculiar Secret Love) rendered many of Calamity’s best-known tunes almost unrecognisable. There’s also a fine line to tread when playing this part, whilst Calamity is as tough as they come, there’s also a vulnerability to her, which here, was completely trampled over in the gruff characterisation.

The issue of diction was prevalent throughout, not helped by under-amplification – many of the dialogue sequences were very garbled, particularly Calamity’s (Shiranne Burns). This year Christopher Morris, arguably the most talented company member, is the object of Calamity’s desire Lt. Danny Gilmartin, and only gets to showcase his wonderful voice in Love You Dearly. Along with Morris, it is Ray O’Sullivan’s Wild Bill Hickok that shines, his fabulously toned voice is perfectly suited to the era when this piece was created.

There’s still enough here to entertain, but with such iconic and well-loved material you have to tread carefully and deliver the highest quality. An admirable attempt but not without its faults.

REVIEW: The Gorbals Vampire – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Above the Gothic gatehouse of one of Glasgow’s cities of the dead, the Southern Necropolis, the sky flames red from the fiery furnaces of the nearby Dixon Blazes Iron Works. Hundreds of local children, from toddlers to teens, armed with stakes and knives, storm the graveyard in search of a vampire, not the highly romanticised version of modern times, but a seven foot, iron-toothed killer of two young boys. It’s 1954, it’s Glasgow’s Gorbals and it really happened…well…

Inspired by local myths and bogey man stories, and fuelled by US horror comics, an urban legend is born – The Gorbals Vampire.

There are “two wee empty chairs” at the back of a Gorbals’ primary school class, Chinese whispers in the playground escalate into full-blown hysteria as the “creative thinking” kids debate the fate of their two school pals. Night after night until the sun goes down, the pint-sized vigilantes return to hunt their man, and only the rain and the intervention of local headmasters puts an end to the marauder’s madness.

What would have been consigned to the local archives gained worldwide media coverage and a backlash against the American horror comics that were gaining popularity in the country. This mass indignation also spawned the 1955 Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, laws still in force today.

National treasure in the making, Johnny McKnight has not only created a work filled with humour, it is also a work cleverly and subtly interwoven with a social commentary on tenement life in Glasgow in the fifties – the overcrowding, neglect and social injustice, how this section of the city was unloved and unlistened to. This was the hardest part of town, and in the eyes of the police, if they were cowering indoors frightened of a 7-foot vampire then they weren’t on the streets bothering them.

The community cast of over 50 players makes the stage throb with life against the brilliant set design of Neil Haynes and the wonderfully atmospheric lighting of Stuart Jenkins, all enhanced by Kim Beveridge’s subtle but highly effective video projections – you can almost feel the metal tang in the air from Dixon Blazes.

This is a glorious celebration of Glasgow and what it means to be Glaswegian – when the chips are down, the community pulls together as one, the city’s divisions are forgotten and the people unite in a common cause.

A real gem of a production.

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