Tag Archives: Connor Going

NEWS: Jane McCarry & Colin McCredie to star in new outdoor production of The Wind in the Willows

Take a jaunt down to the banks of the River Tummel and join Mr. Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger on their magical adventures in Pitlochry Festival Theatre must-see, family, summer stage production of Kenneth Grahame’s enduring story of friendship, courage, consequence, and bravery – The Wind in the Willows.

Adapted for the stage by Mark Powell and performed in the spectacular setting of the banks of the River Tummel, The Wind in the Willows, runs from 2 July – 12 September.

When Mole wakes up after a particularly long winter, the whole world has changed around her. The riverbank seems to be bursting with new faces, fads, and fears. Luckily for Mole, with new friends like Rat, Badger and Mr Toad motoring along for the ride through the Wild Wood, life will never be sleepy again!

Playwright Mark Powell said:

“It’s been a treat spending lockdown with Mole and her friends and working out how to celebrate their classic adventure in a contemporary way. Knowing that audiences are also coming out of hibernation to join the animals on an actual riverbank will give our Willows an extra special sense of celebration!” 

Directors Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti added.

 “We think it is safe to say The Wind in the Willows by the brilliant Scottish novelist Kenneth Grahame, is one of the most loved family stories ever to be told, and retold. The characters have captivated audiences in theatres, on our screens and through the radio for many, many decades. As soon as we started pondering making work outdoors, it felt like we almost had to do The Wind in the Willows. After all, our beautiful Theatre sits on a Riverbank. As soon as we decided to tell this story, we leapt to commission the wonderful Mark Powell to write the adaptation. Some of the finest work we have seen made for families has been led by Mark. His humour, his love of life, his love of people – little and big – shines in everything he writes. 

We also felt producing The Wind in the Willows would give us a brilliant opportunity to continue to connect with new and established audiences we reached during the festive period when we made The Magic of Christmas.  As we have said, people love the story and right now it feels vital that PFT creates work for people of all ages to come together and experience a fantastic tale that makes them laugh and offers them a truly joyful afternoon or evening on the Riverbank! 

Audiences can expect all their favourite characters, new music and songs, dancing and Mr Toad exclaiming gleefully ‘Poop! Poop!’ from his motorcar for everyone in Highland Perthshire to hear.”

The production’s exciting cast will feature Jane McCarry (Isa Drennan in Still Game, BBC Scotland, and Granny Murray in Me Too! CBBC) as Badger; Colin McCredie (Taggart, ITV and River City , BBC Scotland) as Toad; Alicia McKenzie (Quality Street, Northern Broadsides and Blonde Bombshells of 1943, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Mole; Ali Watt (A Christmas Carol, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) as Ratty; Richard Colvin (Sunshine on Leith, UK tour and A Christmas Carol, Octagon Theatre Bolton) as Weasel; Connor Going (Footloose, UK tour and The Choir of Men, US and Australia tour) as Otter and Kate Milner-Evans (Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre and Crazy for You, Jamie Wilson Productions) as Rabbit. All other roles will be played by the cast.

Co-directed by Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director, Elizabeth Newman (Adventures with the Painted People and Faith Healer, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) and Associate Director, Ben Occhipinti (Blonde Bombshells of 1943 and Summer Holiday, Pitlochry Festival Theatre), The Wind in the Willows promises to be a real family treat this summer.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s determination to keep capacity safely reduced, and committed adherence to social-distances, reduces the potential for, and impact of, crowded spaces and any overwhelming busy-ness. The late, light nights of the Scottish summertime mean shows will never be in darkness and any chatter or loud sounds will be mitigated naturally by the outdoor acoustics. Anyone that feels the need to take some time out of a Riverside show can do so, and then return when they feel ready. The outdoor spacious setting in the Bandstand area allows the ability to move around more freely – and in the Amphitheatre at the interval, there is a beautiful setting to get some space if needed. Staff will always be on-hand wearing a name badge for any questions or help needed.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre is keeping things flexible so audiences can be too. They will honour no-hassle refunds and exchanges for any reason (including the weather!) if it is requested at least 24 hours before the performance time. So, audiences can book for summer with the confidence that if plans change, their tickets and money can too!

Tickets for The Wind in the Willows are priced from £9-£19. To book and for further information visit  www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com or call 01796 484626.

 

REVIEW: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – Cottiers Kelvinbrdge, Glasgow

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You would need to be cynical indeed not to fall for the charms of  The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the Tony Award-winning musical celebration of that peculiar and particularly American institution. Yes it’s tongue in cheek, yes it’s off-beat and up-beat, yes it’s unashamedly sentimental, but beneath its good-natured surface is a biting and very self-aware look at all that American society holds dear and the effect it can have on its young people.

In this inaugural production by Mad Props Theatre, the action cracks on apace under the pin-sharp direction of Sarah-Elizabeth Daly, allowing this new company to deliver an acutely observed and brilliantly executed show.

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As the six kids face up to the challenge of the big competition and pit themselves against each other and the four rival spellers (culled from members of the audience) the words get more unbelievable, the definitions more hilarious and the six young spellers in the throes of puberty, and each with their own demons to fight, even more hysterical: There’s the (home-made) superhero cape-wearing, home-schooled misfit and self-doubting spelling star Leaf Coneybear, whose cross-eyed trance induced spelling state is perfectly captured by Alex Lyne; Paula Russell is the magnificently monickered Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre, political activist, speech impaired, neat freak daughter of two over-bearing gay dads;

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On the face of it Niall Murray (below) who plays Chip Tolentino, boy scout, defending spelling champion, social animal and jock has it easy but Chip’s raging adolescent hormones decide to quite literally rear their ugly head at the most inopportune moment and Murray elicits laughs a plenty in his delivery of the lament ‘My Unfortunate Erection’!

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The allergy-ridden, chip on his shoulder, odious mega misfit William Barfée with the magic spelling foot is played convincingly by Ronan Radin (below), a young man who looks disturbingly like Peter Kaye’s love child; Laura McLusky turns in a nicely low key performance as sensitive soul Olive Ostrovsky whose mom is off on an ashram in India, whose dad is perpetually late to see her compete, and whose best friend is her well-worn dictionary, however if there’s any criticism to be made, she could have milked the sympathy angle even more to get the crowd on her side; Rachel Thomson ably charts the disillusion and downfall of Marcy Park – speaker of six languages, member of the hockey team, championship rugby player, player of multiple instruments, hider in bathroom cabinets and poster child for the over-achiever.

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If the kids aren’t off the wall enough for you, then their adjudicators:  former spelling bee winner Rona Lisa Peretti, the down-right unhinged Vice Principal Panch and Official Comfort Counselor Mitch Mahoney (a man completing his community service to the state of New York), round out the odd-ball cast. Meghan Crosby has a fine soprano voice and impeccable American accent as Peretti, there’s fabulous characterisation by Ben Galloway as Panch, his dead-pan delivery never failing to raise a laugh and Dominic Spencer as misfit Mitch has the most astonishing range and tone to his crystal clear voice.

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It takes clever direction to get the best from this minimally staged production and on this static set with simple props this story is seamlessly told. Credit must also go to John Gerard McFaulds for his inventive and cleverly varied choreography and Connor Going for his tight musical direction of his note-perfect and fantastic sounding ensemble.

This is the unlikeliest of  musicals on the unlikeliest of subjects with the most unlikely heroes, but the quirky and charming cast of outsiders, ably portrayed with unremitting drive and energy and spot-on characterisation by this tremendously talented cast make this a joyous evening of theatre that’s impossible to resist.

I urge you to get a ticket before it ends its run on Saturday.

Oh, and if all of that doesn’t convince you to go – there’s even an appearance from Jesus!

The show runs from Wednesday 12th June until Saturday 15th June (Saturday matinee 2.30pm)  tickets are £12 and are available by calling the box office on 0141 357 4000 or by visiting cottiers.com/events

Mad Props Theatre is a brand-new theatre initiative with all profits from its shows going to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. It was founded by Sarah Daly with the goal of raising money for the charity whilst bringing new theatre to the area. The group has recently been supported by Calendar Girls composer Tim Firth and Fresh Meat star Greg McHugh.

REVIEW: Footloose – Eastwood Park Theatre

When Ren and his mom move from Chicago to small town Bomont, Ren is prepared for big changes at his new high school, but what he isn’t prepared for is a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher, determined to exercise the control over the town’s youth. When the Reverend’s rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage his reputation. With many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid how can Ren turn them all around?

The movie turned into musical might be a familiar formula but this faultless company don’t put a foot wrong in this high octane version of Dean Pitchford’s Footloose.

The cast burst onstage with an exuberant flourish and their infectious charm carries the audience along on a wave of energy right to the end in this engaging and affable tale.

The Theatre Guild of Glasgow are renowned for the quality of their cast and here it’s no exception. Central to the action is Connor Going whose assured performance strikes the right balance between arrogance and affability as rebellious teen Ren, but where the production really shines is when the more experienced members of the ensemble take to the stage. In particular Cameron Lowe gives a finely tuned performance as Reverend Moore, the lynch-pin of the community with a strangle-hold on the town’s youth. Lowe perfectly conveys the inner turmoil of a man struggling with his duties as town leader and his true feelings. His beautifully nuanced performance is the highlight of the night. Adele Simpson and Suzanne Lowe as the mothers of the two central characters also deliver a “hairs on the back of the neck” scene in Learning to be Silent, where both actresses’ soaring voices are given a chance to shine. As well as these moments of drama, Andrew Neilson as Willard provides the comedy set piece of the night with his rendition of Mama Says. Pure comedy gold.

This is a show guaranteed to put a smile on your face – get a ticket if you can, go along and be swept away by its joyous charm, and be confident that where you see the name Theatre Guild of Glasgow you can be certain that’s it’s quality assured.