Tag Archives: Alison Rona Cleland

REVIEW: The Pure Amazing Wizard of Oz – Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 08.55.14There may be bigger casts, more expensive sets and smatterings of well-known faces on stages around the city this Christmas, but this year no one can beat the Cottiers panto The Pure Amazing Wizard of Oz for its infectious charm, fast moving and engaging plot, and its cast, without doubt, the best sounding in Glasgow.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 08.54.58Following the classic tale (reasonably closely!) with a few local add-ins, oh, and a Toto who’s a flatulent toad, poor star-struck Dorothy from Partick finds herself sucked into the tornado and transported to the strange land of Oz. There she meets a few new friends and learns a valuable lesson about home and heart.

The piece is punctuated with familiar chart hits (and ‘One Short Day’ from Wicked), cleverly adapted to fit seamlessly into the storyline and each is sung gorgeously by a cast who are universally deserving of praise.

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The set is small but eye-catching and brilliantly inventive and the costumes manage to be both modern and witty but reassuringly familiar.

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The cast are, to a man, faultless and the whole endeavour is well-judged, acted and staged with tremendous verve and utterly irresistible.

It proves that you don’t need fading comedians or minor TV actors to stage the perfect festive show. This quintet of gifted performers: Joanne McGuinness (Dorothy), Connor McAllister (The Wicked Witch of the West End), Neil McNulty (The Scarecrow), Alison Rona Cleland (Tin Wumman) and Lee Reynolds (The Lioness) pack a punch that many massive casts can’t muster, they radiate such charm that you can’t help but warm to them, and prove whole-heartedly that true talent will always win out.

A glittering little emerald-hued jewel of a show that will fill you to the brim with Christmas spirit and send you back into the cold December air with a spring in your step and your heart well and truly warmed. Give yourself a festive treat and get along and see it while you still can.

Runs until Sunday 29th December 2013

Cottiers Theatre, 93 Hyndland St, Glasgow G11 5PU

Box office: 0141 357 4000 or http://www.cottiers.com

REVIEW: Jacqueline Hughes From East to West and Back – The Arts Centre, East Kilbride

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This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

Currently appearing in the West End production of Wicked, Jacqueline Hughes returns to her home town with her debut cabaret, From East to West and Back Again.

Hughes starts as she means to go on, opening with the Streisand classic “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and the parade of show-stoppers just keeps coming, from “All That Jazz” to “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, each selection perfectly showcasing her powerhouse voice.

As well as Hughes’ engaging personality and the welcoming intimacy of the venue, what elevates this above the run of the mill cabaret fodder is the well devised programme. There’s an eclectic mix of the classic: “Broadway Baby”; the familiar: “On My Own”; some cleverly re-worked pop numbers: “Poker Face”, “Imagine”, “Songbird” and a smattering of the downright obscure: “Alto’s Lament” and “Taylor the Latte Boy” (sung by MD Alison Rona Cleland) both by cult composers Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler and “An Old Fashioned Love Story” from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, all of which delight. There’s a pleasing mix of solos and duets, guest performances, interaction, emotional and celebratory moments.

This is an intensely personal show and Hughes acknowledges both her roots and her beginnings as a performer, indeed one of her guests is her first singing teacher whom she cites as the person who started her on her performing career and who touchingly performs “The Look of Love” and “Over the Rainbow”. Hughes’ other guest is life-long best friend Lyndsey Gardiner, currently appearing in Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s. Gardiner delivers a touching rendition of  “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom and a stunning display of vocal gymnastics in Jeanine Tesori’s “The Girl From 14G” originally made famous by Kristin Chenoweth. Both women then sing “For Good” a touching tribute to their friendship. To her credit Hughes isn’t afraid to share the spotlight and her two special guests more than hold their own, both having their own moments in the spotlight. Mention must also be made of MD Alison Rona Cleland whose impressive accompaniment on both piano and guitar and characterful vocals reveal her to be yet another star in the making.

Hughes (and her guest Gardiner) are perfect examples of how good you need to be to even stand on a West End stage and the reality is that both of these stunningly talented performers are ensemble members. This cabaret allows Hughes her rightful place in the spotlight and with her rendition of  ”The Wizard and I” and the revelation that next year she will be understudying the role of Elphaba in Wicked after over two years in the production, hopefully, she will finally get her chance to shine and gain the plaudits she so richly deserves.