Tag Archives: BILL DEAMER

REVIEW: La Cage aux Folles – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

The much-loved La Cage aux Folles has had a long history: from Jean Poiret’s original 1973 play, then the 1978 French/Italian movie production, it became a stage musical in 1983 before becoming the English language film The Birdcage in 1996. It’s surprising to learn that despite numerous Broadway and West End revivals this is the first professional UK tour.

IMG_7159

 

Georges (Adrian Zmed) and Albin (John Partridge) run the most glamorous nightclub in St. Tropez, where Albin stars as the glamorous drag artist Zaza. When Georges’ son Jean-Michel (Dougie Carter) announces his plans to marry the daughter of a straight-laced homophobic politician set on closing the nightclub, mayhem ensues.

IMG_7157

It’s astonishing to think that this show is nearly 45 years old and even more astonishing to think how long it has taken for attitudes to change. This story of tolerance and acceptance is wrapped up in a blinding amount of sequins and feathers, and yes, it is awash with every camp cliché, but thankfully, Tony Award-winning Harvey Fierstein’s adaptation does justice to both the original subject matter and the message it conveys. It may sound glib to say it, but La Cage aux Folles is truly heart-warming, and the oohs, aaaahs, whistles and boos it elicits from its audience and the absolute warmth with which the whole production is received is enough to melt the most frozen of hearts.

IMG_7156

Gary McCann’s design reads well in the auditorium, the full-on glamour of the club contrasting well with the faded glamour of Georges and Albin’s apartment and the costumes are universally on-point.

IMG_7155

Partridge is an oustanding Albin/Zaza, it is a role tailor-made to showcase his acting, dancing and singing skills and US TV favourite Adrian Zmed is a fine Georges, there’s a deftness of touch in his portrayal of a character that could easily have been rendered a caricature, he is also in possession of a fine singing voice. Dougie Carter as son Jean-Michel is also a stand-out, a fine actor, his classic, musical-theatre tenor voice is a joy. Unusually, and wonderfully, there isn’t a single weak-link in the entire production.

IMG_7158

This is a production that will put a spring in the step and a song in the heart of even the most jaded theatre-goer. In a theatre scene brimful of repeated revivals and lacklustre works, this is a breath of fresh air – a genuine must-see.

Runs at Glasgow, King’s Theatre until Saturday 29 July 2017

All images: Pamela Raith

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: The Glenn Miller Story – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

There’s no denying the star quality and pulling power of Tommy Steele, the rousing ovation from the packed to the rafters auditorium as he merely steps on stage is proof of that, that coupled with the public’s enduring fascination with the music and mysterious disappearance of Glenn Miller and you have a show that promises to fill the house every night.

Seventy years since Miller vanished over the English Channel, Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright present a musical biographical journey through the all too short life of the legendary band leader.

BKL Glenn Miller Story_242 With a sixteen piece orchestra, a six-piece ensemble of fine-voiced singers and dancers and a top-notch central cast there is much to praise here, most of all the rousing band – at their best when blasting out glorious tunes such as: In The Mood and Pennsylvania 6-5000. Less successful though is the casting of Britain’s first rock ‘n’ roll star as Miller. Tommy Steele is a legendary song and dance man and has a raft of musical theatre experience behind him, the legendary twinkle in the eye is still there and much of his voice remains, however his advancing years (78) stretch the boundaries of believability playing a man who tragically died at the age of forty, especially when cast beside a very youthful actress as his wife.

BKL Glenn Miller Story_052

That said, this is an enjoyable, brisk gallop through the life and times of a man who changed the face of popular music and a chance to see a legendary British stage performer in the flesh, and there should be enough to entertain fans of both Steele and Miller alike.

Runs until Saturday 19th September 2015 at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Tickets available at: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-glenn-miller-story/kings-theatre/

Dinner and ticket offers available at: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-glenn-miller-story-band-a-ticket-and-2-course-meal-at-teatro-only-55/kings-theatre/

REVIEW: The Sound of Music – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-sound-of-music-kings-theatre-glasgow/

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s, musical theatre classic The Sound of Music is still managing to delight audiences, almost 60 years on since its first appearance on stage.

On Gary McCann’s impressive set, complemented by Nick Richings’ perfectly judged lighting design, with an exquisite sounding orchestra led by David Steadman, and under Martin Connor’s sure-footed direction, this polished production is a quality piece of musical theatre.

Danielle Hope is a fresh-faced and youthful Maria (saddled however with a rather unfortunate wig) who has clearly been taking lessons at the Julie Andrews’ School of Musical Theatre Diction, her dialogue is razor sharp and her enunciation would make Miss Andrews proud. She is also in possession of an impressive vocal range which she uses to great effect in these much-loved classics. If criticism were to be made though, she does lack a little of the vitality and spark that the role requires.

Hope has in support, a strong ensemble cast: the troupe of von Trapp children are a beguiling bunch, delightfully un-precocious and singing like angels, they manage to bring a realism to roles which have, in other productions, tended to verge upon the saccharine sweet. Jan Hartley’s Mother Abbess rendition of the anthem “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is also worthy of praise; quite literally a show-stopper, bringing as it does the curtain down on Act One and Steven Houghton is a solid, if at times a little stiff, Captain von Trapp, he does however deliver a well-judged, heart-felt “Edelweiss” as the show builds to its conclusion.

Where the 2015 tour deviates from previous productions is that it trims Maria’s “I Have Confidence” (possibly due to its already lengthy running time) and the Nazi threat that pervades the big screen version is somewhat missing here. However, when the swastika background drops down during the family’s appearance at the music festival, there is a tangible mood shift in the auditorium.

It remains a great story, with truly great songs and there is much to praise here in this deftly-handled production with its solid and highly accomplished cast. It is so well-loved, by so many, that to criticise it is like kicking a puppy. If a show can make the corners of your mouth turn up involuntarily into a smile on recognition of the first notes of a tune, then it has got to be a winner in anyone’s book.

Runs until Saturday 28 February 2015 then touring

Photo credit: Pamela Raith

REVIEW: Top Hat – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

This article was original written for and published by www.thepublicreviews.com at http://www.thepublicreviews.com/top-hat-theatre-royal-glasgow/

Adapted from the 1935 RKO musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, writer Howard Jaques and director Matthew White transport us back to the golden age of Hollywood and a glamorous, if more simple time: an era when plot lines were lighter than air and fluffier than a cumulus cloud. Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.57.47 Broadway star Jerry Travers has arrived in London to star in a new show; there he meets the glamorous and aloof Dale Tremont whom he sets out to win over. However, complications arise when she mistakes him for the husband of a friend. Throw in glamorous locations, comedy characters, fabulous costumes and jaw-dropping dance routines and you’ve got the multiple Olivier Award-winning Top Hat. Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.02.07 Played out upon a stunning design by Hildegard Bechtler, the set pieces include a rain-soaked bandstand, a horse-drawn carriage ride, a plane landing over Venice and stunning Art Deco hotels to highlight just a few. The costumes too are a treat for the eyes, beautifully designed with hints of Schiaparelli and Fortuny. But what makes the whole production sing with life is the fact that this is all realised in glorious technicolor bringing the much-loved tale to life in a way the old black and white movie never could. Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.58.04 As mentioned before the storyline is somewhat simplistic and some of the characters are drawn a little too broadly: the over the top “foreign” fashion designer and co-pursuer of Dale, Alberto Beddini being a case in point, that said, actor Sebastien Torkia manages to raise the biggest laughs of the night along with an hysterical Rebecca Thornhill as Madge, wife of Jerry’s manager; whose one-liners are gold dust. Mention too must be made of John Conroy as valet Bates, whose homilies from a diverse range of relatives include such gems as: “fair words never buttered any parsnips”; these asides delivered delightfully by Conroy punctuate the proceedings throughout.  As a nod to the original stars, the writers also cleverly manage to include a paraphrase of the famous quote from Bob Thaves about Ginger Rogers: “don’t forget…everything he did, I did backwards and in high heels”. Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.03.26 Charlotte Gooch (Dale Tremont) is one of the country’s finest dancers and she executes each routine with enviable ease, but the stand out star is Alan Burkitt as our hero, Jerry Travers. You would be hard-pressed to find a better dancer on any stage, anywhere around the globe, that he also has the most perfect, era-evocative voice and razor sharp timing is just beautiful icing on the cake. But it’s the glorious music of Irving Berlin and the exceptional dance routines that accompany it that makes this musical magical, songs such as: “Isn’t it a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain”, “Putting on the Ritz”, “Cheek to Cheek” and of course, “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” that never fail to put a smile on the face of any lover of classic musicals. The choreography by Bill Deamer is the best you could wish for: elegant, inventive and seemingly effortless, it is no more spectacular than in the title number, where a chorus line of silk top-hatted dancers tap together in perfect synchronicity. In these cash-strapped, doom-laden times, a dose of perfectly executed, elegant escapism is the order of the day and this is old-school glamour at its best. This simply is top class – not to be missed.

Runs until Sat 13 December