Tag Archives: Christmas 2013

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: Aladdin – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

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Originally written for http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Writer: Eric Potts

Director: Jimmy Chisholm

Musical Director: Ian Vince-Gatt

Choreographer: Joanne McShane

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Crash, bang, wallop what a show, they don’t come any bigger than the full-on assault on the senses that is the annual King’s Theatre pantomime, which next year celebrates a 50 year unbroken run of festive shows. With a roster of Scottish acting and comedy talent and a storyline tailor-made for the Glasgow audience this is a year-on-year sell-out success and a long-held tradition with Glaswegian families. This year the story receiving the King’s treatment is Aladdin which, apart from some local in-jokes and the inevitable pop culture references for the tweenies, sticks to the traditional pantomime version of the story.

The success of any festive show is dependent on the strength of its actors and with a plot as holey as Widow Twankey’s capacious drawers; the casting of Scottish comedy icons Karen Dunbar (Mrs. McConkey/The Genie of the Ring), Des Clarke (Wishee Washee) and Gavin Mitchell (Abanazar) is inspired. The sublime comedy skills of the trio are the glue that binds the whole thing together. Dunbar, in particular is a star; a woman who merely needs to raise an eyebrow or flare a nostril to have an audience in stitches, that she is also in possession of a belter of a voice is a fabulous bonus. Mitchell is also in top form as evil baddie Abanazar; giving his best Tim Curry à la Rocky Horror voice and the best “Mwa ha ha” evil laugh you’ll hear in years. As the titular character Kieran Brown has little to do apart from a magic carpet riding rendition of Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ and a few bits of fluff, as has Jenny Douglas, under-used as Princess Jasmine. The pair are highly gifted performers both in possession of first class musical theatre voices but here we only get glimpses of the talent underneath. The sets and costumes too, are stars in themselves; no expense has been spared in their design and construction and they read supremely well on stage; the word stunning simply doesn’t do them justice.

This is everything a Christmas show should be, with plenty for both adults and kids alike: there’s sparkle and pizzazz, there’s music and dancing, sing-a-longs and slapstick and the highlights more than make up for the sometimes saggy plot. With Aladdin, the King’s upholds its long held position as the number one pantomime in Glasgow.

Runs until 12th January 2014

REVIEW: The Snow Queen – Cumbernauld Theatre, Cumbernauld

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This piece was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at;

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-snow-queen-cumbernauld-theatre-cumbernauld/

Writer: Hans Christian Andersen

Dramaturge: Roderick Stewart

Director: Ed Robson

Associate Director: Tony Cownie

Designer: Ed Robson

Composer: Philip Curran

Video Artist: Craig Kirk

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★★

The wish for any festive show is that you leave the theatre feeling thoroughly entertained, filled to the brim with Christmas spirit and if you’re really lucky, a little bit heart-warmed; Cumbernauld Theatre’s glorious production of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen delivers all of this and a whole lot more.

The eternally popular tale of friendship and the triumph of love over evil, The Snow Queen follows the story of a young girl Gerda who is forced to battle the wicked Snow Queen in order to save the heart of her best friend Kai. She journeys through the four seasons, facing a series of obstacles in the shape of a series of whacky and sometimes alarming characters, until she finally confronts the evil Queen in a battle for her friend’s heart.

Despite being a traditional fairy tale, this production is inventive and thoroughly modern, and unlike the usual pantomime fodder it has real heart and soul: for all the laughs and moments of physical comedy the piece never shies away from the darker aspects of the tale, and as with all great fairytales there are moments when there is a tangible sense of peril. It is testament to the fantastic writing skills of dramaturge Roderick Stewart and the impeccable eye of director/designer Ed Robson that those cynical at the start were quickly entranced and completely and utterly won over after the first scene; thoroughly gripped, they hung onto every word until the end. The interactions from the audience were elicited, not from cheap humour or the goading and haranguing that most Christmas shows resort to, but instead relied on enchanting storytelling, fine acting and an excellent script to prompt genuine emotion from the onlookers; the children and adults alike feeling actual concern for the characters. There’s plenty to laugh at too, the simple but clever humour elicits laughs from the children as do the subtle but equally clever asides designed for the adults.

Highly atmospheric, the excellent script and acting are wonderfully complimented by clever lighting design and video projections by Craig Kirk, the visuals are used judiciously and to great effect throughout. There’s magic in the tiny details: ice cracking underfoot as Gerda makes a perilous crossing of the frozen lake to reach the Snow Queen’s palace; the crow’s wings made from flapping socks, the teeny, tiny Welsh Guards and a fabulous frog in a rowing boat all delight the eyes.

The huge array of colourful characters are ably handled by the small ensemble cast, as well as Gerda (Samantha Foley) and Kai (Colin McGowan) and the titular Snow Queen (Julie Brown) there’s also Dougie the dug, a Glaswegian Labradoodle (and the highlight of the night, hysterically played by Nicky Elliot) the Flower Lady and a crow that sounds suspiciously like Sean Connery. The multiple and lightning-quick changes are seamlessly achieved by the actors and each different character is unique and distinct.

This is an utterly absorbing tale eloquently and magically told. It is genuinely uplifting and will leave even the coldest of hearts warmed. Captivating, intelligent, gripping, entertaining, and absolutely joyous. Miss it at your peril.

Image courtesy: http://www.cumbernauldtheatre.co.uk/