Category Archives: NEWS

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: Scottish Ballet and Ballet Black to collaborate on The Crucible at the Edinburgh International Festival

Scottish Ballet has announced that the company will be joined by Senior Guest Artist Cira Robinson for the world premiere of Helen Pickett’s The Crucible. The first major commission of Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary year, the production will open the dance programme at the Edinburgh International Festival, 3–5 August 2019.

Cira Robinson in The Suit

As part of a longstanding collaboration between the two companies, Ballet Black’s Senior Artist Cira Robinson will join Scottish Ballet to dance the role of Tituba. Bringing a breadth of experience, Cira will play a vital role in developing this rich and complex character in Arthur Miller’s drama of power and persecution. A story as relevant today as when it was first written, Miller’s 1953 masterpiece explores the impact of the 17th-century Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts.

Ballet Black is the UK’s professional ballet company for international dancers of black and Asian descent. Their goal is to see a fundamental change in the number of black and Asian dancers in UK ballet companies. By creating a central black female character, rarely seen in the UK outside of Ballet Black repertoire, the two companies aim to openly address the challenges of diverse representation in UK ballet (on and off stage), and particularly the lack of black British female ballet dancers.

Scottish Ballet CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson is a Board Member of Ballet Black and has choreographed two works for the company. Continuing the creative collaboration, Scottish Ballet’s former dancer and Artist in Residence, choreographer, Sophie Laplane was commissioned by Ballet Black to create her latest work CLICK!, which premiered at the Barbican in March 2019.

Christopher Hampson, CEO / Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, said:

‘We are very excited to present the world premiere of The Crucible at the Edinburgh International Festival, as part of Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary. Furthermore, we’re delighted to be working with our friends at Ballet Black and welcoming one of the UK’s leading dancers, Cira Robinson, into Helen Pickett’s production. We’re also thrilled to be giving the U.S. premiere of The Crucible at the prestigious Kennedy Center in 2020.’

Cassa Pancho MBE, Founder & Artistic Director of Ballet Black, said:
‘I’m delighted that Scottish Ballet have invited Cira to guest with them at the Edinburgh International Festival this summer. Cira is one of the most exciting and versatile artists I have worked with, and I am thrilled that she will have the opportunity to share her talent with audiences at the Festival.’

Cira Robinson, Senior Artist at Ballet Black and Senior Guest Artist with Scottish Ballet said:
‘I am thrilled to be guesting with Scottish Ballet in their performances of The Crucible at Edinburgh International Festival, and honoured to be given the opportunity to explore this role.’

Helen Pickett, Choreographer of The Crucible, said:
‘It has been an incredible collaborative process working with Scottish Ballet to bring my vison of Arthur Miller’s play to the stage. I am working with an exceptional creative team, Peter Salem, James Bonas, Emma Kingsbury and David Finn, and together we have translated this iconic drama into the powerful medium of dance. I am also thrilled about the partnership between Scottish Ballet and Ballet Black, this collaboration highlights the strength of unity and inclusion. We are honoured to present The Crucible at the Edinburgh International Festival among the very best arts companies in the world.’

Fergus Linehan, Artistic Director of Edinburgh International Festival said:
‘Scottish Ballet has been inspiring audiences at the International Festival with unforgettable performances since the 1970s and we’re thrilled to welcome back the company as it celebrates 50 years. It’s especially exciting to open our 2019 dance programme together with a premiere of this scale and scope and look forward to sharing The Crucible with audiences from all over the world’.

Following the world premiere of The Crucible at Edinburgh International Festival, the production will tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness in autumn 2019, before transferring to the USA in spring 2020.

The Crucible will have its U.S. premiere at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in May 2020. The company will also return to perform in New York and other U.S. cities in 2020, with full programme to be announced. This comes after Scottish Ballet’s hugely successful USA tours of A Streetcar Named Desire in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

The Crucible will be the first major commission of Scottish Ballet’s Five in Five, an ambitious new commitment to stage five new full-length ballets over five years; one for every decade of their history. In total, the company seeks to raise £5 million over five years to deliver these new works, and associated access and engagement programmes.

As part of the Five in Five fundraising campaign, Scottish Ballet launches the Millinery Appeal to help make this production of The Crucible possible. Designed by Emma Kingsbury, hats play an essential role in adapting Arthur Miller’s play for dance: they help to define the hierarchy and status of each character. In total, 36 different hats, that each take up to eight hours to make, are being handcrafted by an experienced milliner.

For more information, to book tickets to The Crucible, and to donate to the Millinery Appeal, visit: scottishballet.co.uk/event/crucible

NEWS: Cast announced for the revamped The Steamie at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro

A starry cast has been announced for Scotland’s much loved play, The Steamie. The revamped show – with more songs, more music and more laughs – will see The Dolls, Louise McCarthy and Gayle Telfer Stevens, marking their Steamie debut and playing the feisty Magrit and gullible Dolly respectively. Fiona Wood returns to the show for the third time to portrait the young, full of hope Doreen whilst Mary McCusker reprises the poignant role of Mrs Culfeathers. Harry Ward joins the cast as the lovable drunk handyman Andy.

Written and directed by Tony Roper with songs by David Anderson, this Hogmanay the show takes over Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, the largest entertainment venue in Scotland. Due to popular demand, an extra show on 28th December has been added to this special, limited run.

The Steamie is a Scottish theatre classic; an ode to the hard-working women of the 1950’s and to a bygone Glasgow. The young Doreen envisions a new future, while Mrs Culfeathers looks back to the past – the play is a snapshot of a society, of a time and a cross section of strong women, all rolled up in Roper’s hilarious comedy. As The Scotsman said in 2017, it is a “superb, funny and perfectly-observed play.”

This is the fourth time Neil Laidlaw has produced a tour of The Steamie, first in 2009, the 25th anniversary tour in 2012, the 30th anniversary tour in 2017 and now the revamped, steamier than ever special run at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.

Neil Laidlaw said: “The Steamie is one of Scotland’s best-loved plays and I am extremely proud to be able to bring it back for another generation to enjoy, this time with new songs and a bigger cast and set.”

“We have brought together a fantastic cast: the inimitable Dolls – Louise McCarthy and Gayle Telfer Stevens who I know decided to be actors because of The Steamie – and Harry Ward are our newbies with the wonderful Fiona Wood and Mary McCusker reprising their roles of Doreen and Mrs Culfeathers. I can’t wait to get into the rehearsal room to witness another cast making this legendary play their own.”

Tony Roper said: “In my late forties I sat down with a biro and a jotter and wrote my first ever play. Over three decades later, the play is still getting the laughs and the cries, connecting with another generation of Scots. The Steamie is the nation’s favourite night out and I cannot wait to bring the show – with more music and a spectacular cast – to the country’s biggest entertainment venue, SSE Hydro.”

THE STEAMIE AT THE SSE HYDRO

SATURDAY 28 DECEMBER 2019 – 2.30pm

SUNDAY 29 DECEMBER 2019 – 6.00pm

MONDAY 30 DECEMBER 2019 – 7.30pm

TUESDAY 31 DECEMBER 2019 – 1.00pm & 5.30pm

Tickets on sale on Friday 30 November at 10am

https://www.thessehydro.com/events

Box office: 0844 395 4000

Louise McCarthy – Magrit

Gayle Telfer Stevens – Dolly

Fiona Wood – Doreen

Mary McCusker – Mrs Culfeathers

Harry Ward – Andy

Written and directed by Tony Roper

Songs by David Anderson

NEWS: National Theatre film season continues at Eastwood Park Theatre

Eastwood Park Theatre in Giffnock continues its film screenings from the National Theatre:

Small Island

Thursday 11 July, 7pm

Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel Small Island comes to life in an epic new theatre adaptation.  Experience the play on the big screen.

The Lehman Trilogy

Thursday 25 July, 7pm

This critically acclaimed and five-time Olivier Award nominated play features stunning set design from Es Devlin (NT Live: Hamlet) and will be broadcast live from London’s West End.

One Man Two Guv’nors

Thursday 26 September, 7pm

Featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from host of the The Late Late Show, James Corden, the hilarious West End and Broadway hit One Man, Two Guvnors returns.

TICKETS: http://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/?dm_i=1I2P,69FSM,81KJHH,OP2XS,1

 

NEWS: OPERA POPS UP IN EAST RENFREWSHIRE PARKS

Scottish Opera is packing up its theatre on wheels and bringing The Pop Up Opera Roadshow to two of East Renfrewshire’s most popular parks this June.

Three short operas for all the family will be brought to life by a storyteller, singers, musicians and a series of colourful illustrations, performed in a specially-adapted, fully accessible trailer.

Hosted by East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, the performances take place on Friday 7 June at Cowan Park in Barrhead and Saturday 8 June at Rouken Glen Park in Giffnock.

Anthony McReavy from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure said:

“Scottish Opera’s pop up shows offer a fantastic, unique opportunity for the whole family to experience the magic of opera in a unique way, in the heart of our best local parks this summer.

“The three shows offer something for everyone, from those experiencing opera for the first time to seasoned fans and there is even an opera show specially written and performed for a younger audience.”

 

A Little Bit of Iolanthe kicks off the pop-up opera show at 4pm on Friday 7 June at Cowan Park, a light-hearted satire which is full of fun, followed by A Little Bit of Magic Flute at 6pm, a beguiling mix of comedy, fantasy and pantomime, with a profound story of the search for love, wisdom and truth.

A schools’ performance of Puffy MacPuffer and the Crabbit Canals comes to Cowan Park on 7 June and stops by Rouken Glen Park at 12pm on Saturday 8 June. Suitable for 5-8 year olds, Puffy MacPuffer and the Crabbit Canals is a tale of five waterways that link Scotland from the North Sea to the Atlantic. Each one is different: Caledonian – the longest; Crinan – the most beautiful; hard-working Monklands; Union – the fastest; wise old Forth & Clyde. Each one thinks they’re the best. Can an ordinary little puffer boat make them think again?

A Little Bit of Iolanthe follows at Rouken Glen Park at 2pm and A Little Bit of Magic Flute finishes the sessions at 4pm.

Prices are just £6 standard, with 30 minute approximate running times for all performances. Book online at: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/10073/Opera-Roadshow or call 0141 577 4956.

NEWS: Fun for all the family this summer at the Usher Hall

  • Singalong to some of your favourite songs with outstanding choirs
  • Learn about the animation and music behind family-favourites Wallace and Gromit
  • Experience family cinema classic Back to the Future on the big screen with a live orchestra
  • Tickets on sale now at www.usherhall.co.uk

A summer season full of variety and excitement awaits families at Edinburgh’s favourite venue.

Continuing its ongoing support of local schools, the Usher Hall welcomes back the George Heriot’s Junior School for their fabulous summer concert on 15 May! Featuring a wide range of music from Abba, the Royal Fireworks, Toy Story and the Wizard of Oz, and much, much more. Groups performing include the P6/7 Concert Choir, P6/7 Boys’ Choir, P6/7 Girls’ Choir, P4/5 Choir, P3 Choir, Junior School Pipe Band, Junior Flute Ensemble, Junior Brass Ensemble, Junior School Wind Ensemble and Junior Strings.

Another very special choir comes to Edinburgh on 23 May, this time with Royal approval! The Kingdom Choir became a household name after performing at the HRH Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Royal Wedding and went on to make high profile appearances on the likes of Songs of Praise, The One Show, Good Morning Britain and many more. The choir consists of seasoned male and female vocalists, chosen for their high-quality delivery of choral meets gospel. The choir’s Usher Hall performance follows the release of their debut album Stand By Me, which features the choir’s rendition of the title track, performed at last year’s Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and sure to get audiences singing along in Edinburgh.

Power up your DeLorean…recharge your flux capacitor…and get ready to experience this unforgettable movie classic as you’ve never seen and heard it before! Back to the Future is the 1.21-gigawatt blockbuster that topped the 1985 box office chart. The story follows Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), a typical American teenager of the ’80s, who is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a plutonium-powered time machine, invented by the slightly mad Dr Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Experience the thrill of Back to the Future on the big screen as Alan Silvestri’s dazzling score is performed live by the RSNO in synch with this iconic movie. Plus, you’re in for an exclusive treat with an extra special performance of music by composer Alan Silvestri written especially for the film’s 30th anniversary.

Join everyone’s favourite dynamic duo in Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels on 8 June. Watch and laugh as Wallace prepares to perform his musical masterpiece My Concerto in Ee Lad with help from his faithful canine companion Gromit…what could possibly go wrong?! This interactive experience features specially created animations as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp. Followed by a screening of the Academy Award®️ winning ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers’ with the soundtrack performed by the orchestra live on stage, it’s set to be a grand day out for the whole family.

And if that isn’t enough Wallace and Gromit action for one day, why not try making your own version of the loveable pooch? Teaming up with Aardman, the creators of Wallace & Gromit, the Usher Hall is delighted to offer some model making workshops. These provide a great opportunity to learn from the experts and try your hand at making your very own Gromit. And the fun doesn’t stop there…. you can take your masterpiece home and have a go at animating it using Aardman’s easy to use Animate It! software. You’ll also get a rare chance to ask questions about Aardman Studios from one of their expert model makers, learning the tricks of the trade about the animation processes involved in their award-winning films. These workshops provide a creative, fun and hands-on activity for all ages. All materials are provided and you’ll be able to take your masterpiece home with you, along with an Aardman Model Maker certificate.

On 20 June, Sing! Scotland features Keith & Kristyn Getty and their band of virtuoso Irish and Bluegrass folk music to perform the modern hymns that have a had a huge impact on congregational singing and church music around the world. Enjoy a night of music and a time of devotion with Pastor John Piper. This is a fundraising event for 20schemes, a church planting ministry that brings the light of the gospel to Scotland’s schemes. Known for their song “In Christ Alone” (co-written with Stuart Townend) Keith & Kristyn Getty have been featured in many of the great concert halls in America and the UK and on BBC worldwide broadcasts. Their tours are seen by many thousands each year and their music is sung by millions around the world.

Listings information

George Heriot’s School Junior School Concert

7:00pm, Wednesday 15 May 2019

Tickets: £14.50 adults, £10.50 school children

The Kingdom Choir

7:30pm, Thursday 23 May 2019

Tickets: £38.50, £31.90 and £27.50 – includes b/fee

RSNO at the Movies Back to the Future in Concert

7:30pm, Friday 24 May 2019

Tickets £72.00, £55.00, £42.50, £25.00

Gromit Model Making Workshops

Saturday 08 June 2019

Tickets £11 – includes b/fee

Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels

Saturday 08 June 2019

Tickets £44, £33, £22 & £19.80 – includes b/fee
Half price concessions for children, disabled and carer/companion

Sing! Scotland

Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends

7:00pm, Thursday 20 June 2019

Tickets £27.50 – includes b/fee

Tickets available at:

www.usherhall.co.uk

0131 228 1155

Please note a £1.50 transaction fee applies on the overall booking when purchasing online or over the phone (non-refundable)

Concessions and offers may vary between concerts. For more information please contact the box office or check the Usher Hall website.

Box office: Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH1 2EA

NEWS: Following the success of Rapture Bites Lunchtime Theatre, Michael Emans will direct Patrick Marber’s Olivier Award nominated play The Red Lion starring Brookside’s John McArdle.

Following the success of Rapture Bites Lunchtime Theatre, Michael Emans will direct Patrick Marber’s Olivier Award nominated play The Red Lion starring Brookside’s John McArdle.

It will tour to 16 venues in Scotland ending with a week’s run at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.

The Red Lion FC is an English non-league side that has dreams of the big time.

However, the club’s manager, Kidd, will stop at nothing to realise his own ambitions of achieving money and fame. So, when young Jordan, who ‘plays like a God’, joins the club, Kidd sees his golden opportunity.

One man stands in his way – the kit-man, Yates – club legend and footballing ‘hero’– has other ideas. A ‘Clash of the Titans’ ensues between Yates and Kidd over the future of Jordan and the football club.

Award-winning writer Patrick Marber’s hit play unfolds like a Greek Tragedy, transcending ‘the beautiful game’, in a tale of heroism, hubris and handballs!

The Red Lion offers a funny, profound and unmissable night at the theatre. Starring Emmerdale and Brookside star John McArdle, Brendan Charleson (Coronation Street) and rising young star Harry MacMullen.

Patrick Marber commented: I am thrilled Rapture Theatre are giving ’The Red Lion’ its Scottish premiere and very excited to see this terrific cast performing in a country that loves football with a passion.”

Director Michael Emans said: Having been a huge fan of Patrick Marber since I was at drama school, it is a fulfilment of a long held ambition to direct one of his plays. Patrick, in his writing combines humour, pathos and a sensitivity to the human experience that is deeply moving. When I first read The Red Lion in 2017, I knew that I had to direct it: the way Patrick used the milieu of the local football club as a microcosm of the wider world, to explore the themes of collective ethic versus individual ambition and the way the play articulated the need and desire to both be heroic and to have heroes in your life, I found to be totally compelling.

We seem to live in world of villains both political and otherwise so a play that focuses on heroes, tragic heroism and the hubris of the individual feels prescient. Like all the best tragedies it also very very funny!  I hope that audiences, like me, can fall in love with this wonderful play!”

Alongside the production Rapture will be running a series of post-show discussion panels. Rapture is working in partnership with Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) to help raise awareness of issues such as racism, sexism and bullying, which can still occur within the game of football.

These post-show events will offer a great opportunity to engage with community groups and audiences and promote the significant work Show Racism The Red Card undertake, as well as discussing the themes raised within the play. Rapture want to provide an insight into the philosophy, passion and behind the scenes workings of a football club.

The panels will consist of Director Michael Emans, members of the cast and invited guests from local football clubs and SRTRC.

TOUR DATES

Palace Theatre Kilmarnock Preview 8 May & 9 May 7.30pm

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh 11 May 7.30pm

Howden Park, Livingston16 May 7.30pm

Tolbooth, Stirling18 May 8pm

Motherwell Theatre 20 May 7.30pm

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock 23 May 7.30pm

Lanark Memorial Hall 24 May 7.30pm

Harbour Arts, Irvine 25 May 7.30pm

Eastwood Park, Giffnock 26 May 7.30pm

Village Theatre, East Kilbride, 28 May 7.30pm

Ryan Centre, Stranraer, 31 May 7.30pm

Theatre Royal Dumfries, 1 June 7.30pm

Byre Theatre, St Andrews 7 & 8 June 7.30pm

Falkirk Theatre 13 June 7.30pm

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy 15 June 7.30pm

Theatre Royal, Glasgow 18 – 22 June 7.30pm ( matinee 22 June at 2.30pm)

NB: There will be a post show discussion lasting 30 minutes at each venue

INTERVIEW: Karen Gibson, the conductor/musical director of The Kingdom Choir who found global fame at Royal Wedding last year

Global audience of two billion watched The Kingdom Choir perform Stand By Me at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 25 years after she founded the choir, Karen and her singers are preparing for their first UK tour. The tour will visit 18 towns and cities, with the choir sharing the experience with young choirs in each destination. Karen answers some question ahead of their appearance in Glasgow on the 22nd of May.

Twelve months ago, Karen Gibson was travelling around London giving workshops in gospel music, when she received a phone call which was to change her life – and the lives of her closest friends, the members of The Kingdom Choir.

And in May, as HRH Prince Harry and the Duchess Of Sussex prepare to celebrate their first wedding anniversary – while adjusting to life as first-time parents – Karen and the choir will be embarking on their debut tour.

The Kingdom Choir’s stunning version of Stand By Me was a standout moment during the Royal wedding. The performance has been an internet sensation with more than 10 million views on YouTube.

A former IT worker and music teacher, Karen Gibson formed the choir 25 years ago, drawing together singers from in and around London, from various Christian traditions. For their first two years together, the choir didn’t even have a name – it was only an invite to appear on the BBC’s Songs Of Praise which saw Karen decide on The Kingdom Choir. Karen has worked around the world as a gospel choir conductor, travelling as far a-field as Japan, Nigeria and the USA.

2018 was a whirlwind year for the choir, with TV performances on shows such as Good Morning Britain and alongside Madness for the BBC1 New Year’s Eve concert, releasing their debut album Stand By Me after signing to Sony, and closing the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Now they’re preparing to take their musical message of ‘love, hope and inspiration’ on the road. We spoke to Karen Gibson about how life has changed and what’s next for the choir.



Looking back, to this time last year – can you believe everything that’s happened?

This time last year, I had absolutely no clue what was going to come. I was living my ordinary life; giving gospel workshops, teaching in schools, travelling to do those things. I was jumping on public transport, missing busses and trains, all just going about my life.

There were some lovely things going on – a few of us had just filmed with Call The Midwife, which had been a lot of fun… Little did they know what was going to then happen to the singers they booked.

It has been all change, and not without challenges, but it’s been a brilliant, wonderful blessing of a time.

So how did it all start……..

I had been told I would get a phone call, that it would be something big, but I had no clue at all what it was about. The person who initially told me said ‘I can’t tell you what it is, but it’s going to be big’…

That call didn’t come for a few days, and I’d put it out of my head. I was on a number 87 bus and a very posh voice came through on a call and said: “We would like to invite you to sing at the Royal Wedding”. I was so shocked I just said: “You’re joking.” They said absolutely nothing, so I knew it wasn’t a joke at all.

It was so exciting to call all the choir members, even though I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I just had to make sure they were available on that certain date, and that maybe the date might ring a bell with them. One gentleman said he wasn’t available, and yes, I’m pretty sure he kicked himself when it emerged what was happening.

Has the Royal Wedding experience changed the way The Kingdom Choir works?

Oh, yes, it definitely has. When we went into the studio [to record the album] I realised we couldn’t do what we were used to doing; presenting gospel in that very full-on, in-your-face way. God showed me that you can bless people without being in your face, and that stripping it back can be very meaningful – it must be, people are still talking about that performance all these months on.

I’ve realised we can reach more people by also take a different approach to our music. The couple’s [The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s] version of Stand By Me was the one which caused our website to crash, for our Instagram following to go from 700 to 35,000 in one weekend. That taught me something; maybe it’s not always about doing what you do in the way you do it. In faith terms, that’s a huge lesson.

How did you bring together the choir’s original approach with the new outlook to create the album?

We chose songs we had previously performed, like Something Inside So Strong, a self-penned song from one of the members Chases, Amazing Grace and Hark The Herald Angels Sing. But then we also looked to songs we like, not necessarily from the Pentecostal realm, but songs we found inspiring and that carried a positive message.

Golden, has the lyric “Living My Life Like It’s Golden”; I love that. And then something like To Make You Feel My Love, we turned it from being about a relationship love to a faith love.

Now you’re getting ready for a UK-wide tour. How is that going and what can people expect from the tour?

It’s all going very well and we are starting to put the show together. It’s going to feature songs from the album, and of course we’ve got to do Stand By Me. But it’s all very exciting.

You’re going to get a bit more of The Kingdom Choir that people have heard or seen on the TV or radio, but in a more raw state – freedom, and love, hope and inspiration, as the album says. We’re really looking forward to making the connection with people – to see the people who’ve been listening to us, and to introducing gospel to people who maybe hadn’t experienced it before. Our music is powerful, moving and inspiring, people come in with one mindset and leave with another.

The Kingdom Choir has selected local youth and children’s choirs to join them in each town or city they’re visiting on the tour. Are you looking forward to working with them?

The choirs we’ve chosen really are very, very good, and it’s lovely to know there are so many singing communities out there.

Singing is so good for our children – well, for everyone. From personal experience, I know what it can do for a person; it’s a skill for life, it builds confidence and it’s brilliant for them.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with the children and I hope we will impact on them in some way, through the power of music. It’s going to be really special and I love the idea of us spreading that joy to these groups. A lot of the choir’s members have worked in schools, so we have that connection with young people – some of the choir’s members are people I taught in schools or worked with in youth choirs, so it goes back a long way.

A year on from where it all began, the tour will coincide with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first wedding anniversary, what happens next for The Kingdom Choir?

We just don’t know how it’s going to pan out – who could have predicted this last year? We are praying for longevity, we just want to impact the world for good. The album strap line is ‘Love Hope and Inspiration’, and I was thinking recently ‘hope’ is in pretty short supply right now, I feel the world is hungry for hope and good news – so we want to bring more of that about; that’s the long vision.

Tickets for the tour are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.cuffeandtaylor.com

KINGDOM CHOIR UK TOUR 2019 – FULL DATES

APR

Tue 30th SHEFFIELD, CITY HALL

MAY

Thu 2nd SOUTHEND, CLIFFS PAVILION

Sat 4th LEICESTER, DE MONTFORT HALL

Sun 5th NOTTINGHAM, ROYAL CONCERT HALL

Tue 7th MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL

Wed 8th YORK, BARBICAN

Thu 9th GATESHEAD, SAGE

Fri 10th BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL

Sun 12th IPSWICH, REGENT THEATRE

Mon 13th CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE

Thu 16th BATH, THE FORUM

Sun 19th LONDON, ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Tue 21st LIVERPOOL, PHILHARMONIC HALL

Wed 22nd GLASGOW, THEATRE ROYAL

Thu 23rd EDINBURGH, USHER HALL

Mon 27th CANTERBURY, THE MARLOWE THEATRE

Tue 28th BOURNEMOUTH, PAVILION THEATRE

Thu 30th CARDIFF, ST DAVID’S HALL

 

NEWS: OPERAVISION TO STREAM FULL PERFORMANCE OF SCOTTISH OPERA’S ANTHROPOCENE IN MAY

Anthropocene, the acclaimed new work commissioned by Scottish Opera from composer Stuart MacRae and librettist Louise Welsh, will be available to watch on OperaVision from May.

Directed by Matthew Richardson, designed by Samal Blak and conducted by Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford, Anthropocene had its world premiere in January at Theatre Royal Glasgow, and tells the story of an expeditionary team of scientists who become trapped in the frozen Arctic wastelands.

The film of Anthropocene, directed for OperaVision by Jonathan Haswell and produced by Andrew Lockyer, was made at a performance at London’s Hackney Empire, on 9 February. The full performance will be available to view worldwide on the free streaming platform from 17 May to 17 November, and is the first time a Scottish Opera production has been featured on OperaVision.

Launched in 2017, OperaVision – curated by Opera Europa, the European association of opera companies and festivals – streams performances from all over the world, allowing viewers to watch productions from the greatest European opera houses from the comfort of their own home. As well as full-length performances shown with subtitles, it features extracts, interviews and behind the scenes footage.

Anthropocene’s superb ensemble cast includes former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Jennifer France (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018), Scottish soprano Jeni Bern and Stephen Gadd (Rigoletto 2018.) They are joined by Benedict Nelson (The Burning Fiery Furnace 2018), Mark Le Brocq, Paul Whelan, Anthony Gregory and Sarah Champion (Opera Highlights 2018).

Anthropocene is the fourth collaboration between MacRae and Welsh, a fruitful partnership initially born of Scottish Opera’s Five:15 Opera Made in Scotland series, which paired composers and librettists to create five 15-minute operas. The composer-librettist team went on to create Remembrance Day in 2009, Ghost Patrol in 2012, which won a South Bank Sky Arts Award and was nominated for an Olivier Award, and 2016’s The Devil Inside, based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Inverness-born MacRae’s work has been performed at the Royal Opera House and Edinburgh International Festival, and by ensembles including Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Hebrides Ensemble. He is currently Composer in Association at Lammermuir Festival.

A Professor of Creative Writing at University of Glasgow, Welsh is the author of a number of popular novels including award-winning The Cutting Room and Plague Times Trilogy.

Scottish Opera General Director Alex Reedijk said: ‘This film of Anthropocene by OperaVision is a very important first for Scottish Opera. Performing at Hackney Empire was a double win for us, as it brought Anthropocene to a London audience and, through this film shot there, allows us to introduce this exciting new work to an international audience. It’s a great opportunity to show off the incredible work of Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh, who are such an important part of Scottish Opera’s history, as well as the talented cast and The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.’

Nicholas Payne, Opera Europa Director said: ‘Anthropocene grabbed me from the start and held me throughout with the twists and changes of its riveting story. Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh skilfully deploy music and words to create tension. They do not preach to us in the audience, but we are compelled to reflect on its relevance to our contemporary world. Chilling!’

Anthropocene is available to watch from 17 May at https://operavision.eu/en

NEWS: Legendary Scottish theatre show The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black Black Oil returns for nationwide tour

One of Scottish theatre’s most iconic and influential productions returns to the stage in 2019, in a special revival from the National Theatre of Scotland. First staged by the 7:84 company in the 1970s, John McGrath’s The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil has become a cornerstone of contemporary Scottish theatre. Successfully restaged by director Joe Douglas in 2015, the show broke box office records at Dundee Rep Theatre before touring Scotland to critical and audience acclaim.

Echoing the play’s original tour in the 1970s, this 2019 revival will see it visiting art centres and community spaces in Dundee and across rural Scotland, before a 2-week run at Newcastle’s Live Theatre, where Joe Douglas is now Artistic Director.

Forty-five years on from its original tour John McGrath’s pivotal political play has lost none of its vitality and relevance, expertly weaving, songs, poems, scenes and sketches into a freewheeling Highland ceilidh. From the ruthless croft clearances of the 18th century to the fashionable Victorian game hunts, and the scars left by the ‘70s North Sea oil boom right up to the political upheaval of the current day, The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil presents the stories and experiences of Scotland’s land, sea, and people across the centuries.

Cast members from the 2016 production, Stephen Bangs, Jo Freer, Christina Gordon, Calum Macdonald, Billy Mack and Aly Macrae are reunited and joined by actor musician Reuben Joseph for the new 2019 tour.

Joe Douglas, Director said:

This play has power. Or more specifically, it hands power back to audiences. It shows up the historic hypocrisy and systemic cruelty of wealthy landowners, aristocrats, oil tycoons and politicians – all in the name of profit – and shouts loudly and directly that “enough is enough”. Change is occurring in many rural parts of the country and the position of Gaelic language and culture within the wider Scottish psyche is changing too – but change takes time, which is why this play is still so relevant almost 50 years on. It will be fascinating to see how The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil sits in village halls and other more intimate venues in 2019 and to see what it stirs up. At the very least, we promise a good night out.”

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil is the most famous production of the 7:84 company, set up by John McGrath alongside his wife Elizabeth MacLennan and her brother David in 1971. Avowedly socialist in its outlook, its aim was to take popular, political theatre to the working classes and they performed in alternative venues throughout Scotland, England and Wales. The title of the company derived from a 1966 statistic that 7% of the population of Great Britain owned 84 % of the wealth.

This show sees the National Theatre of Scotland collaborate with Newcastle’s Live Theatre for the first time since the immensely successful co-production Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, which toured to the theatre following its debut in 2015, and went on to enjoy significant success across the world, most recently touring to London’s West End and winning an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2017.

The National Theatre of Scotland is committed to minimising the carbon footprint of its productions. As part of an investigation into making this a reality, the Company is piloting new initiatives and adjustments to the way they work, in their endeavour to make this production of the Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil as carbon neutral as possible. The long term aim is to make these initiatives part of a new model of best practice going forward.

Examples include: banning the use of single use plastic, recycling old National Theatre of Scotland sets to make the new set for the show, minimising print runs for marketing, minimising the purchase of new items, using low energy technical equipment, using digital technologies to reduce use of paper and measurement of energy consumption across the tour.

The National Theatre of Scotland is also part of the Greens Arts Initiative, a community of Scottish arts organisations working to reduce their environmental impact.

Join the conversation: #Cheviot

Touring to Ardler Centre, Dundee (16 May); Eden Court, Inverness (19-20 May); Mareel, Lerwick (23 May); Stenness Community Centre, Orkney (25 May); Macphail Centre, Ullapool (28 May); Dornie Village Hall (29 May); Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye (31 May); Aros Centre, Portree, Skye (01 June); Aberdeen Arts Centre (04 June); Perth Theatre (05 June); Macrobert, Stirling (06 June); Charlestone Centre, Dundee (07 June); Live Theatre, Newcastle (12 to 22 June).

Listings Information

Ardler Centre, Dundee – 16 May @ 7pm
Tickets: £12 (£10, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com

Eden Court, Inverness – 19 May @ 4pm, 20 May @ 7pm
Accessible Performances: 19 May – AD, CAP, Touch Tour; 20 May – BSL
Tickets: £17 (16 & £10 student, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / eden-court.co.uk

Mareel, Lerwick – 23 May @ 7pm
Tickets: £12 (£10, (£5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / shetlandarts.org

Stenness Community Centre, Orkney –
25 May @ 4pm
Tickets: £12 (£10, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: orkneyfolkfestival.com

Macphail Centre, Ullapool – 28 May @ 7pm
Accessible Performance: 28 MayAD, CAP, Touch Tour
Tickets: £12 (£10, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com

Dornie Village Hall – 29 May @ 7pm
Tickets: £12 (£10, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office:nationaltheatrescotland.com

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye – 31 May @ 7pm
Tickets: £15 (£13, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: seall.co.uk

Aros Centre, Portree, Skye – 01 June @ 7pm
Tickets:  £15 (£13, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / aros.co.uk

Aberdeen Arts Centre – 04 June @ 7pm
Accessible Performance: 04 JuneBSL
Tickets: £16-£18 (£5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / aberdeenperformingarts.com

Perth Theatre –
05 June @ 7pm
Tickets: £12-£18 (£5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / horsecross.co.uk

Macrobert, Stirling – 06 June @ 7pm
Accessible Performance: 06 JuneBSL, AD, Touch Tour
Tickets: £17.50 (£15.50/£6, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / macrobertartscentre.org

Charleston Centre, Dundee – 07 June @ 7pm
Accessible Performance: 07 June –  BSL, AD, Touch Tour
Tickets: £12 (£10, £5 for Futureproof Passport holders)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com

Live Theatre, Newcastle – 12-15 & 18-22 June @ 7.30pm; 16 June @ 4pm*;
15, 20 & 22 June @ 2pm
Accessible Performance: 14 June – BSL
Tickets: Off peak £22 (£15), peak £26 (£18)
Box Office: nationaltheatrescotland.com / live.org.uk

*Post show discussion

All National Theatre of Scotland performances are Autism Friendly.  The National Theatre of Scotland is working in partnership with the National Autistic Society, in 2019, to increase access to theatre for neuro-diverse audiences.

Image: Tomm Ga Ken Wan

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