Tag Archives: Andrew Lancel

REVIEW: Cilla The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Adapted from Jeff Pope’s own acclaimed 2014 TV mini-series starring Sheridan Smith, Cilla The Musical cashes in on the never-ending nostalgia for all things 1960s as well as deftly portraying Cilla Black’s rags to riches journey from Liverpool’s ‘Scotty’ Road to stardom.

Behind the toothy smile of the girl next door, Black was a woman of blinding ambition, and Pope doesn’t shy away from highlighting the sometimes less than palatable aspects of Black’s personality: forcing her clearly talented husband Bobby Willis to abandon a promising career is only one example.

Pope has realised the world of the 1960s on stage with a sure touch: a world that will be familiar to anyone who lived through the era. Portraying the comparative ordinariness of the stars of the 60s – waiting in the phone box at the end of the road to find out if your song has hit number one. There’s also a particular resonance with the sectarian divide in Liverpool reflecting Glasgow’s own.

The narrative has drive, the first act filled with youthful ambition, the second taking a darker turn as it portrays Brian Epstein’s untimely demise and Willis and Black’s crumbling relationship.

It’s the three B’s who feature largest in the show: Black, Bobby Willis and Brian Epstein. Carl Au is a standout as husband Bobby with a fantastic voice of his own and Andrew Lancel is impressive as the tortured and troubled Epstein, both capture the hearts and minds of the audience. It’s refreshing to see Willis given due credit for the role he played in making the woman who was to become his wife, a huge star.

Fans of the era will also be delighted to know that another B, The Beatles, who played a critical role in Black’s success also appear, played with aplomb by Joshua Gannon, Michael Hawkins, Alex Harford and Bill Caple. The energy levels lift at their gifted musicianship. Among the supporting characters, Pauline Fleming and Neil MacDonald as Cilla’s parents make their mark as do Billie Hardy and Gemma Broderick-Bower as pals Pat and Pauline and Tom Christian as Bobby’s brother Kenny Willis. In their entirety, the cast are top-notch and much of the whole endeavour’s success is due to their considerable talent.

In the title role Kara Lily Hayworth looks nothing like Black, but manages to convey her larger than life personality. Vocally she’s utterly on-point, indeed she has one of the finest voices I’ve heard in a very long time. Her continued success looks assured.

The story stops in 1967 and Black had relatively few hits: Anyone Who Had a Heart, You’re My World, Love of The Loved and Something Tell’s Me are all here, but it’s necessary to utilise the hits of other 60s stars to drive the story along, there are songs from fellow Liverpudlians Gerry and the Pacemakers and US stars The Mamas and Papas (fabulously portrayed by members of the ensemble), laudably all the songs featured feel necessary to the narrative.

This is a hugely entertaining and nigh-on unmissable production thanks to Pope’s sure-footed script and a cast of supreme quality. There’s so much to enjoy here, well worth seeing even if you are not a particular fan of the woman herself.

Runs until Saturday February 2018 at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow.

REVIEW: Twelve Angry Men – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Reginald Rose’s enduring 1950s classic Twelve Angry Men still has the power to enthral 70 years on.

Now touring the UK, fresh on the heels of an extended run in the West End. The play follows the deliberations of an all-male, all-white jury in the (at first glance) open and shut case of a 16 year old black boy accused of killing his father. With the threat of the electric chair looming, one juror has the courage to question the evidence and begins to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of his fellow jurors.

Rose wrote the play after his own involvement in a manslaughter trial in the early 50s, the experience leaving such an impression he felt compelled to write the piece. First broadcast as a TV play in 1954, it was adapted for the stage in 1955 before hitting the big screen in 1957 under the direction of Sidney Lumet. There’s a good chance if you’ve seen the classic movie you will remember the famous ending, but there is so much to enjoy here that it really doesn’t matter: it is a compelling and emotionally charged tale of how our prejudices can wrongly cloud our judgement.

The staging perfectly captures the stifling heat of the claustrophobic jury room in the New York courthouse: Michael Pavelka’s effective set almost imperceptibly revolves, cleverly shifting our perspective on the proceedings.

Tensions and resentments arise as the evidence is unpicked and the strong performances from the outstanding ensemble cast, grab you and keep you in a vice-like grip until the verdict is reached.

It seems churlish to single out any performances such is the sheer quality throughout but Juror 8, famously played by Henry Fonda, is tackled by stage veteran Tom Conti. Conti has a natural charisma that even in his stillest moments makes you hang on every word and he imbues the role with a gentle authority lacking in the movie. Andrew Lancel’s belligerent Juror 3 is a powder keg waiting to blow, barely containing a simmering rage that has little to do with the trial and TV and theatre veteran Denis Lill perfectly captures Juror 10, a bigoted, bellicose blusterer. All that said the cast are, to a man, faultless.

The fast moving script still grips after all these years and Twelve Angry Men remains undeniably a theatrical tour de force.

5 STARS * * * * *

Runs until Saturday 27 June 2015 then touring

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/twelve-angry-men-theatre-royal-glasgow/