Tag Archives: Ben Elton

REVIEW: Tonight’s The Night – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Writer: Ben Elton

Director: Caroline Jay Ranger

Choreographer: Denise Ranger

It’s down in Gasoline Alley, Detroit. Here we meet Stuart, madly in love with garage receptionist Mary but unable to declare his love, the lovelorn lad makes a deal with the devil to trade his soul for that of his idol Rod Stewart. He then learns the hard way to be careful what he wishes for, as in the pursuit of fame and fortune, he loses not only the girl he loves but everything he ever was.

Ben Elton’s plot of Tonight’s The Night is holier than Swiss cheese and has not so much been shoe-horned around the hits of Rod Stewart as crow-barred. Seriously outdated, the storyline and the humour regularly fail to meet the mark: essentially a well-worn love story with a bit of a morality tale about losing oneself in the pursuit of fame, it has all been done before and better. What saves the whole endeavour is the cast who, to a man, work their socks off.

Ben Heathcote turns in a creditable performance as our hero Stuart and is ably supported by Jenna Lee-James as love-interest Mary, it must be said though, that Miss Lee-James voice was cracking under the pressure at times throughout the night. The real stars however are the supporting cast, in particular Andy Rees as mechanic Rocky,  Rosie Heath as Dee Dee whose delivery of ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ brings the house down and Ricky Rojas as Mick Jagger/Keith Richard hybrid Stoner, who not only is in possession of an excellent voice but also manages to deliver the shows only funny lines with considerable aplomb. This trio are seriously underused, as the action and quality of the singing elevates when they are given their moment in the spotlight. The onstage (but camouflaged) band are also deserving of credit, fine-sounding, they help to drive the action along apace.

If you forgive the holey (almost non-existent) plot and concentrate on the music you’ll have a half decent night, and indeed the first night Glasgow crowd who sang their hearts out along with the cast at the biggest hits, were on their feet, (free) sailor hats on head, belting out the encore megamix at the end. Possibly of interest to Rod Stewart fans – musical theatre lovers might well do themselves a favour and steer clear.

Runs until Sat 14 June 2014

REVIEW: The Boys in the Photograph – Cottiers Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

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The Boys in the Photograph is a reworking of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton musical The Beautiful Game,set in the troubled Northern Ireland of 1969. The musical is the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and follows the fortunes of a group of teenagers, all members of a local football team, and their friends.

Under the watchful eye of team coach Father O’Donnell, John and Del both show enough promise to pursue careers as professional footballers. When they find love they become swept up in the events that engulf their community and, as time passes, each has to decide whether or not to follow their hearts.

A show about the northern Irish troubles isn’t the likely choice for a musical, nor a typical subject for your average evening’s entertainment but that is exactly what The Boys in the Photograph is – and boy does it pack an emotional punch.

Unlike its short-lived existence on the West End stage, this production, here in Glasgow by Motherwell College’s BA(Hons) Musical Theatre graduating class, has found a home and an audience with whom its themes of sectarianism and bigotry still resonate.

This is a clever choice of material to showcase the talents of the actors, avoiding the well-worn classic fare as well as the recent preponderance of Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown productions, allowing as it does the opportunity for powerful and highly emotive acting as well as strong vocal skills. Packed with memorable and vibrant songs from heart-rending ballads to stirring Irish anthems, it would be a hard heart indeed who failed to be moved this piece.

The show benefits from a strong ensemble that deserves credit for effectively supporting the central cast. In the pivotal role of John Kelly, Martin Murphy not only delivers a perfectly judged performance of powerful emotion but also demonstrates fine vocal talent. As Mary, Fiona Harris subtly travels the path from spirited anti-violence protestor to dispirited wife and Bobby Weston turns in a highly-charged performance as Thomas, the classic angry young man blinded by a cause. Credit must also go to Steven Dalziel who deftly handles the only moments of comic relief as the tragic Ginger and the strong-voiced Gill Beattie as Christine.

The spare staging and costume design, also deserve mention, allowing the focus to be firmly on the cast, yet perfectly conveying a sense of place and time. 

I can’t overstate how powerfully this material speaks to its audience or the quality of this cast – the audience remained transfixed from start to finish. This is an arresting tale, expertly realised and richly deserving acclaim – leaving a lasting impression long after the final note has rung out. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of this musical or this fine cast.

 

 

 

REVIEW: We Will Rock You – King’s Theatre Glasgow starring Noel Sullivan & Jenny Douglas 19th February 2011

This is in its 10th year in the West End and despite always staying at a hotel which is literally 10 steps from the front door of the theatre where this plays, I have so far never felt any attraction to go. However it’s playing on tour here, and always willing to go with an open mind, I thought I’d check it out. The premise is this;

Mmm…really?

Anyway I’m going to take the advice of the British Theatre Guide;

“If we regard it, not as a piece of traditional musical theatre, but as a celebration – indeed, an almost tribal celebration – of some of the greatest rock music ever, then we have to go along with the audience who were delirious with pleasure and excitement.”  I’m expecting neither delirious pleasure or excitement but it might be a nice few hours out!!! I’ll let you know when I get back.

Post Script…

Well I’m back and it was brilliant! The biggest revelation was just how fantastic a voice ex-Hear’say singer Noel Sullivan has. The rest of the cast included Jonathan Wilkes free from his usual role as ‘Robbie Williams best friend’ and ‘Over The Rainbow’ finalist Jenny Douglas.

The audience were, to a man, on their feet at the end of this and there was a fantastic moment when the audience sang the beginning of the encore Bohemian Rhapsody so tunefully it would have brought a tear to your eye. Put all your prejudices aside and just go and enjoy this if it’s touring near you.

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