Category Archives: AMATEUR THEATRE

WHAT’S ON MAY: Runway Theatre Co bring Betty Blue Eyes to Eastwood Park

Following the success of last year’s PRISCILLA – QUEEN OF THE DESERT, Runway Theatre Company is delighted to bring a new musical comedy BETTY BLUE EYES to Eastwood Park Theatre from 8-12 May 2018.
 
Belts are being tightened and the country’s long-suffering citizens are being told by the government that there will be fair shares for all in return for surviving austerity Britain. Meanwhile local officials feather their own nests by taking far more than their own fair share. It is of course 1947, and having won the war Britain seems to have lost the peace, and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment and the coldest winter for decades. The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
 
Twenty six years ago Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray wove this story into a hilariously funny but sharply observed comic film called A Private Function, which centred around Betty, an adorable pig, who is being illegally reared to ensure the local dignitaries can celebrate the Royal Wedding with a lavish banquet while the local population make do with Spam. George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have written a deliciously infectious, toe-tapping, retro contemporary score. The result is an utterly British musical, full of eccentric characters, such as the strange odd couple, Gilbert – an evangelistic chiropodist, and Joyce – a nobody determined to be somebody; Inspector Wormold – an obsessive destroyer of illegal meat; Mother Dear – ‘She’s seventy four and ravenous’; along with a weird assortment of bullies, spivs and snobs and of course, the star, Betty the pig.
See flyer below for ticket details.

FEATURE: ACAOS present The Wedding Singer in Airdrie

Following on from their hugely popular 2017 production of Rock of Ages, Airdrie and Coatbridge Amateur Operatic Society are back this March with the hilarious musical comedy The Wedding Singer.

It’s 1985.  Hair is huge, greed is good and rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart is New Jersey’s favourite wedding singer. When his own fiancée dumps him at the altar a seriously bummed out Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own.

Can sweet natured Julia and her best friend Holly lure Robbie out of the dumpster and back into the limelight? Or is he going to see her head off down the aisle with Wall Street bad boy Glenn? Only Grandma Rosie seems to be able to see that Robbie and Julia are the couple that are meant to be.

Don’t miss your chance to join the party of the year – with a musical that promises to get you up dancing faster than your Dad at a wedding, packed with songs which capture all the fun and energy of the Adam Sandler smash hit film.

Robbie, Julie and co will being hitting the stage at the Sir John Wilson Town Hall in Airdrie from Tuesday 13 March 2018 to Saturday 17 March 2018.

Tickets are £16/£12 (concessions) and can be ordered online at http://www.acaos.co.uk. 

Alternatively call our booking hotline on 07517376501 or email tickets@acaos.co.uk.

ACAOS are also thrilled to announce that in March 2019 they will be the first ever amateur adult club in their NODA region to be granted the elusive rights to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

This is without doubt one of the most vibrant, riveting, feel-good family musicals out there and everyone at ACAOS is unbelievably excited to bring it to life on stage.

But before they start memorising all of those many colours, in September 2018 ACAOS will be taking their production on the road to a temporary home in Motherwell Civic to perform none other than the gritty and emotional cult 90’s favourite Rent.

ACAOS are always on the look for new members to join them on stage, check their website for details.

NEWS: Sweeney the Demon Barber hits Eastwood Park next week

Glasgow Music Theatre are bringing Stephen Sondheim’s Victorian musical thriller SWEENEY TODD – THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET to Glasgow next week, transporting theatregoers at Eastwood Park Theatre to 1800s London in the 1800s.

This masterpiece, which details the exploits of murderous barber Sweeney Todd who kills his unsuspecting customers before baking them into meat pies, originally debuted on Broadway in 1979, where it won Tony awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. It was also notably adapted for the silver screen by Tim Burton in 2007,  in the critically acclaimed film starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

The deadly story fuelled by love and revenge will have you at the edge of your seats (and sometimes covering your eyes!). The infamous roles of Sweeney Todd and his able baking accomplice Mrs Lovett will be played by Chris McLeish and Kerry Burley.

Both experienced performers, they are thrilled to be taking on these characters. Chris explains: “Having worked for years as an actor, most recently as the lead in a production of Beauty and the Beast, I’m looking forward to bringing my experience from panto to pies!”

Kerry Burley, who will be transforming into the devious Mrs Lovett, has waited her entire 30 year acting career for this opportunity to get into her ‘meatiest’ role to date. She laughs, “I’m excited to take on such an iconic role, but I’m slightly concerned about what I’ve been doing to my four-year old’s development with sinister music blasting out at home night and day – the other day after singing ‘Worst Pies in London’ in the other room, she popped her head in to ask if we could go to Greggs for some pies!”

 

 

The two star- crossed lovers in the story, Johanna and Anthony, will be played by Glasgow’s very own Ross and Rachel, and the dynamic duo offers the audience welcome romantic relief in the gruesome tale. Ross Pollock, a barman from Glasgow, had his debut with GMT in summer 2017, while the lovely Rachel Thomson, a doctor currently working in Ayr, originally from Rutherglen has worked with the company for over seven years.

Backed by a brilliantly talented principal and ensemble cast tackling this complex and wildly entertaining musical, the audience are sure to leave the theatre thrilled by this unique show – .and hopefully ‘hungry’ for more!
Tickets £15, available from the Box Office: www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk

For more information, visit www.glasgowmusictheatre.co.uk

www.facebook.com/glasgowmusictheatre

Photocredit: Erik Igelström 

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.

GUEST REVIEW: One Night Only – Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld by Fraser MacDonald

Musical Director: Fraser Morrison

Ensemble: Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society

Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald

As a brand-spanking new company, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society waste no time in showcasing their talent in a number of One Night Only shows.

The intimate setting allows the audience to interact with its cast, whilst still keeping a strictly professional feel. Production values are high for an amateur company.

As musical revues go, One Night Only caters for all. It offers a selection of hit Broadway shows that are known to the masses as well as off-Broadway musical numbers. Combining the two offers a platform for less known standards that is refreshing to see in an amateur show.

Carousel’’s You’ll Never Walk Alone is a stand out piece, delicately arranged with the a cappella section ringing out to a dewy-eyed audience. Once We Were Kings from Billy Elliot is another gem in a packed set.

The extensive set may be lengthy, but it affords almost all of the ensemble a solo number. Each is of a standard far beyond expectations of a fledgling company on their first showcase.

The efforts of musical director president Fraser Morrison are rewarded in this first series of shows for the Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society. If One Night Only is anything to go by, the Cumbernauld Musical Theatre society has a long and successful future ahead of it – this show certainly hits the right note!

Reviewed on 4 November 2017

Critic Contact: fmacdonald@live.co.uk 

 

NEWS: EGTG audition call for Glen Mhor’s The Ram in the Thicket and Caryl Churchill’s A Number

EGTG will be holding auditions for Glen Mhor’s The Ram in the Thicket and Caryl Churchill’s A Number on Wednesday 8th November 19:00, and Sunday 12th November 12:00. For performance at the SCDA One-Act Festival (15-17 February) 2018 with possible additional performance Mid-March at the Church Hill Theatre in Morningside, Edinburgh.

 

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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