Tag Archives: Eastwood Park Theatre

REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Despite it being the first day in December, pantomime season is well and truly in its groove. Eastwood Park Theatre in Giffnock have hit the ground running with the well-oiled machine that is The Wizard of Oz.

Largely a re-telling of the L. Frank Baum tale, it does take a few diversions off of the yellow brick road, (there’s a magic microphone involved) but it is very much a traditional family panto with wide appeal. The double-entendres are at a minimum and there’s enough slapstick for the little ones, TikTok dances and familiar chart hits for the teens and political jokes for the grown-ups.

It all starts with a bang, when we are treated to a rip-roaring version of Proud Mary in the first five minutes: the fine-voiced cast have their first of many chances to shine. With the interest levels up, the audience is carried along on a wave of energy.

To their absolute credit, there isn’t a weak link anywhere in the compact cast and there’s a palpable chemistry between Dorothy’s three chums: Jamie Lemetti (Scarecrow), Alan Mirren (Tin Man) and Liam Webster (Lion) who have an ease and fine timing with each other that ensures each joke lands its punchline. Stand out among the cast is the engaging Garry King who manages to deliver an eye-watering number of roles with a glint in his eye and a spring in his step, getting the audience firmly onside from the get-go. The dancers are well-drilled, and the choreography is sufficiently diverse to keep the interest up. For those wondering, yes, there are Munchkins, many, many, Munchkins, played by members of local dance and drama organisations. The Wicked Witch is sufficiently over-the-top camp and Stephen McLaughlin who plays her, has a powerful but soulful voice which he utilises to great effect here as does Kate Richards as the Good Witch (and Aunt Em).

If it’s bang for your buck you are looking for then you need look no further than Eastwood Park. At almost two and a half hours long, the show is packed with content, delivered by an enormously talented cast, everyone giving their all no matter what their role.

Eastwood Park is an exemplary theatre: great programming; a theatre with excellent sight lines; accessible; friendly, helpful staff and family affordable tickets – what more could you want?

Runs until 30 December 2022 – Tickets here

REVIEW: Downs With Love – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Cutting Edge Theatre’s Downs with Love, explores love and disability and the complex and challenging problems that ensue.

Beth (Abigail Brydon) has Down’s Syndrome. She lives a simple, independent life. Helping with this independence is her new support worker Tracy (Rachel Still). The pair become friends and Tracy expands Beth’s horizon by taking her to the local pub with her to watch singer Mark (Calum Barbour). Beth falls head over heels for Mark, but Mark is in love with Tracy who loves them both. Boundaries are crossed that drive a wedge between the trio. Difficult questions need to be asked and answered.

Writer Suzanne Loftus has approached a difficult and rarely talked about issue with sensitivity and a light touch, taking into consideration many of actor Abigail Brydon’s personal experiences to add authenticity to the piece. It shines a beacon on the issue of who should ‘police’ a disabled person’s love life? What right do those who are not disabled to ‘protect’ or indeed make decisions on their behalf? It highlights the frustrations of having to deal with constant, patronising behaviour and assumptions. It also tackles the issue of non-disabled/disabled relationships and society’s discomfort with the idea of them. All of this it does in a non-aggressive, non-confrontational way.

It presents carer Tracy as the one with lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence and gripped with a raft of fears, unlike her charge, the gutsy Beth. It does, to its credit, also highlight the importance of routine to Beth and love and relationships from her (often simplistic, black and white) point of view.

Abigail Brydon is magnetic in the central role of Beth; she has a verve and charm that wins you over from the first scene and Loftus’ words delivered by a Down’s Syndrome actor and written in collaboration with Brydon, have added weight. Calum Barbour as Mark, the object of everyone’s affection, gives a nicely nuanced performance, sensitively but strongly questioning Tracy’s idealistic views on Disabled people and relationships. Barbour also sings and plays guitar beautifully throughout the play. Rachel Still’s Tracy is probably the least rounded character, well-meaning, sweet, but lacking any depth or intellectual curiosity. Still does her best with an under-written role.

Theatre should be a mirror of society. The world is a large and diverse place and it’s refreshing to see different types of representation on a mainstream stage. Theatre needs much more of this in order to truly appeal to the largest possible demographic, and to question and expand our artistic horizons.

Well-worth seeing – both a charming and challenging piece of theatre.

(This production features fully integrated BSL)

NEWS: Cast Announced for Eastwood Park Theatre’s Wizard of Oz

Eastwood Park Theatre has announced its pantomime cast for The Wizard of Oz, which takes to the stage for almost sixty shows from 25 November – 30 December.

The line-up features Scottish talent who have trained and performed across the UK, as Spillers Pantomimes returns to the Giffnock theatre for a second year.

25-year-old Alex Rea, from Lanark, secured the role of Dorothy after wowing panto producers during her audition. Alex trained at the University of Chichester and the International College of Musical Theatre and already has a string of theatre, film and music credits to her name.

Alex said: “I’m thrilled and extremely grateful for the opportunity to perform back on home soil as part of the Spillers cast – there really is no place like home! I’m excited for my journey along the yellow brick road at Eastwood Park Theatre and can’t wait for audiences to see what we have in store this panto season.”

Alex will be joined on her journey to the Emerald City by Alan Mirren, who plays the Tin Man, Liam Webster who seeks courage as the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, played by Jamie Lemetti. The trio are reuniting for the second year in a row, having performed the roles at Motherwell Theatre last year.

Scottish actor Garry King returns to take on the role of The Wizard of Oz in this year’s panto production and will co-direct Eastwood Park Theatre’s panto for the second year running. Garry, who trained at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, has been a permanent fixture on the UK pantomime scene for a number of years. Garry’s dog Sandra, a three-year-old highland maltie, will join the team as Dorothy’s faithful dog, Toto.

Stephen McLaughlin, from Cambuslang, will take on the villainous role of the Wicked Witch. Stephen, who graduated from the Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre in 2019, has played a number of roles in a variety of productions and is also known by his drag stage name, Bonnie Banks. The Good Witch will be played by Kate Richards.

The panto’s head dancer will be Emma Willis Richards. Emma has performed in pantomimes since she was nine years old and has pursued a professional career on stage, graduating from Performers College in 2019.

The cast will be supported on stage by talented junior performers who will take on the role of the Munchkins. The rising stars come from a range of dance and theatre schools including Eastwood Park Theatre Juniors, Go Kids Scotland, Karen Burns School of Dance, Fab Stars School of Dance and East Kilbride Stagecoach.

Anthony McReavy from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure added: “We’re excited to announce the cast for The Wizard of Oz and can’t wait for them to grace our stage at Eastwood Park Theatre. Thousands came to sell-out shows last year and this year, we’re planning an even bigger panto production, with a magical journey along the yellow brick road to Oz. Panto season is fast approaching so book your tickets now.”

British Sign Language and relaxed performances will be available.

Tickets for The Wizard of Oz are on sale now priced from £12 with Family tickets available from £50

Buy tickets at https://www.ercultureandleisure.org/events/the-wizard-of-oz/ or call Eastwood Park Theatre box office on 0141 577 4956.

REVIEW: Cinderella – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre Arts (GAMTA) have teamed up with Eastwood Park Theatre to present this year’s festive pantomime, Cinderella.

The set and costumes are a feast for the eyes, the glittering, decorated proscenium adds to the wonder before the curtain even rises. There’s glitz, glamour and special effects, all adding to the magic of the production.

While the youthful cast win in the energy and effort department, it is however, a dance-heavy, slow to get going, take on the traditional tale. There are some baffling additions to the story which seem to have been shoe-horned in to showcase GAMTA’s dance credentials, unfortunately they only add to an already over-long run time. It also suffers from the fact Buttons is being played by a young child and the object of his affections a clearly mature teen, it all adds a creepily uncomfortable element which will no doubt go over the heads of the children in the audience, but feels a tad uncomfortable for the adults.

Where it succeeds is in its comedy elements, Ciara Flynn and Rebecca McComb are a perfectly matched comedic double act as Ugly Sisters and provide the majority of the true highlights of the show.

The cast can’t be faulted for their skill or talent, however, they suffer from an over-long and overly-dull script that dilutes the magical potential the show could have had.

REVIEW: Eaten – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Lionel McLion has been roaming the plains of the Serengeti and is having a rest after having eaten his dinner, but all is not as usual. Lionel gets a bit of a fright when Mamoru, the human he’s just eaten, starts talking back.

The highly acclaimed, children’s theatre piece Eaten, starts not only a conversation between the eater and the eaten, but a wider discussion about our relationship to food (including Lionel’s impossible dream of becoming a vegetarian), where it comes from, and what happens after we’ve chomped it down.

For the kiddie audience there are many moments that engage: there are poos, farts and vomit involved and some audience participation where the tiny folk get to be a giraffe, a monkey, a cow or a frog – what’s not to love for the 6+ target audience.

It slips into the surreal often and is hysterically funny in parts: there’s a Q and A session when the tiny audience are confronted by Dr. Poo (from Pooniversity) imploring them to ask a question to their faeces – it’s hard to keep a straight face at their reactions and an off-the-wall dance section to Engelbert Humperdinck’s Last Waltz. 

The ideas are sound, but the script at times smacks of someone who doesn’t know how to pitch to small children – when the question is asked of a puppet cow Are you real or just a concept? you know that this isn’t someone who spends time with a lot of  6-year-olds.

Mamoru Iriguchi plays both predator and prey simultaneously, both he and co-performer Suzi Cunningham are engaging. It must be said though that Iriguchi needs to hone his child interaction and wrangling skills to make this a truly successful endeavour. That said, Eaten raises not only some important questions but many smiles too.

A worthy watch.

 

 

REVIEW: The Music Man – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Runway Theatre Company again prove their worthy position at the top of the tree of amateur companies in Glasgow, reviving Meredith Willson’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning, little-seen, musical theatre classic, The Music Man, with aplomb. A timely choice too, with the announcement that in 2020, Hugh Jackman will lead the first Broadway revival in nearly two decades.

It’s 1912 and the people of sleepy River City, Iowa really don’t know what’s in store for them when smooth talking swindler Harold Hill rolls into town. However, Hill’s plans to con the innocent townsfolk are foiled when his heart finally starts to rule his head.

Old-fashioned in the nicest possible way, this is a light-hearted, undemanding tale with a bunch of quirky characters and two of musical theatre’s most enduring tunes: the oom-pah-pah-ing 76 Trombones and the much-loved classic ballad, Till There Was You.

Its old-fashionedness is both its strength and its weakness. The public’s appetite for nostalgia is sated with the homely, feel-good storyline, the period costumes and score. However, the hokey dialogue has aged badly and the heightened characterisations required by the script, render it too caricatured at times. That said, any criticisms of this production are entirely at the hands of the source material not the actors or musicians.

This is a show with a rousing chorus, the ensemble fill the auditorium with the biggest, most glorious sound you will have the pleasure to hear, and the quartet comprising Tom Russell, Ross Nicol, Cameron Leask and Bob McDevitt are just heavenly sounding. Brendan Lynch (Harold Hill), once again proves to be an adept leading man and a true triple threat, and Catherine Mackenzie (Marian Paroo) is a beautifully toned soprano. The costumes are of an excellent quality. The set and lighting are functional and easy on the eye and the transitions, especially in a theatre with no fly tower, are smooth and pacy. The child actors, of which there are many, are drilled to perfection as are the dancers – it’s unusual in an amateur production to have such universal quality.

A warm and comforting and very welcome blast from the past that will leave audience members of all ages thoroughly entertained.

Runs until Saturday 18 May 2019

 

REVIEW: Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera) – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Four singers, one piano, seventeen venues, Scottish Opera’s much-anticipated Opera Highlights returns (yippee!) and as always, it never fails to delight.

Director Daisy Evans has framed this year’s production as an electronically created playlist of opera gems. An “on-stage opera newbie” goes on an “emotional musical voyage” discovering, via Spotify and Google via Alexa, just how music has the power to move. Evans is a director to watch, and her staging undoubtedly adds greatly to the enjoyment of the evening. It’s funny, clever, accessible, inclusive, all the things that good theatre of any genre should be. It also looks great. A neon door and window and a few wooden crates serve as the only stage dressing, but coupled with the brightly coloured suited, booted and co-ordinating nail-varnished cast, it works brilliantly.

Freed from the constraints of remaining in a single character, the singers’ personalities are given the chance to shine in a variety of roles, and the warmth just radiates from the quartet. The acoustics in this small auditorium are as close to ideal as it is possible to get in a theatre and the voices give goose bumps. Soprano Sofia Troncoso, Mezzo Sarah Champion, Tenor Richard Pinkstone, Baritone Dawid Kimberg are exceptional as is pianist Jonathon Swinard.

The programme, designed by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark, delivers something for everyone. The range of composers, styles and moods, genuinely runs the gamut of human emotion.

Scottish Opera’s annual ‘Highlights’ tour, and indeed the whole of the company’s programming, is a model for how a national company should operate. A hands-down, five star, exemplary evening of entertainment.

Currently on tour to: Ayr, Drumnadrochit, Wick, Forres, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Lanark, Helensburgh, Dundee, Inverurie, Laurencekirk, Perth, Dumfries, Musselburgh and St. Andrews.

More information at Scottish Opera

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: The Wedding Reception – Carmichael Hall, Eastwood Park, Giffnock

Interactive Theatre International already have a well-established hit on their hands with their much-loved Faulty Towers Dining Experience. Created in 2015, The Wedding Reception offers the same mad-cap, interactive, who-knows-what’s coming next, evening of adventure.

Will and Kate have got married, and while the groom is under the illusion that their wedding reception is a quiet, intimate affair, his bride and his in-laws have other plans…

Every aspect of The Wedding Reception is startlingly familiar, the seating plan, the circular linen covered tables, the gilded chairs, sparkling silver cutlery, top table resplendent with a multi-tiered cake, a three course meal and over a hundred guests decked out in their finery. There’s also the jack-the-lad best man, an eye-poppingly clad mother of the bride, the snobby aunt, the uninvited mother of the groom and a somewhat out of his depth wedding planner.

A cast of just four gamely portray the motley cast of characters with great gusto. Ben Hood is a particular star as best man Ricky and bride’s dad Ray, his physical comedy garners the biggest laughs of the night and is the catalyst to the audience relaxing and enjoying the craziness. Dave Tremain’s expressions as put-upon bridegroom Will are a masterclass in comic acting: sometimes subtlety is key. There’s mild audience (guest) harassment but nothing that would make anyone uncomfortable and the mixture of madcap comedy and time to enjoy your food is well worked out.

The cast have to be lauded for not only keeping the action going throughout the two-hour plus running time, but also dealing with the unpredictable and unscripted responses of the ‘guests’.

This is an original take on a night at the theatre and delivers an exciting entertainment experience for those looking for something different. Great fun and highly recommended.

 

INTERVIEW: Rebecca Norris, actor and co-deviser of The Wedding Reception coming to Eastwood Park Theatre’s Carmichael Hall in May.

Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to talk to Rebecca Norris, co-creator of The Wedding Reception coming to Eastwood Park Theatre this May.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The Wedding Reception is a unique immersive theatrical dining experience. It invites you to be a guest at a surprise wedding reception for newlyweds William and Kate. You join the family (and a few uninvited guests) through two hours of a muddled attempt at traditional wedding celebration rites where nothing seems to go as planned. They cry, laugh and dance, and hopefully you will too! (maybe not the cry bit).

And your role…

Four actors play nine roles in The Wedding Reception. I play two roles: Lynn (the mother of the bride) and Marge (the groom’s aunt). Lynn is a great role to play She’s a wonderful and warm northern lady. A bit of a mum to everyone and will talk about anything. Nothing is off limits with Lynn. Aunt Marge is much colder. A stuck up ‘wanna-be’ who’s faked most things in her life to get her where she is today.

 

How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations?

The Wedding Reception has been performed all over the UK, including Scotland and Wales – although this is our first time in Glasgow. We have even been lucky enough to do tours across Australia and a show in Singapore. Depending on the location, we change a few references in the show for audiences to relate to but on the whole we’ve found wherever we are the universal truth is that everyone loves a good wedding so everyone always has a great time.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Backstage on tour can be a bit crazy, really. We have a lot of quick costume changes throughout the show so backstage can be manic. Especially when we are out and about on tour and the size of our changing area can vary quite some bit. We’ve all been very close together in some shows.

Touring can be demanding, how do you keep your performance fresh/look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night?

Keeping this show fresh isn’t so much of a challenge, as it’s very different to traditional theatre shows. The audience members are not just watching a show, they become an integral part of it so with their input we never perform never same show twice. It certainly keeps us all on our toes. Good planning and keeping it all in good fun is key to staying healthy and fighting fatigue on the road. We spend a lot of time in each other’s company so trying find ways of making long journeys and mundane jobs fun is really important.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?

I didn’t get into acting until quite late – I was 30 before I’d even considered it. Although I remember having a love of theatre when I was younger, I never considered it to be an option. It was only by chance that I did a workshop in Brighton which actually changed everything. Suddenly my sole focus and drive was on acting. I went to drama school and worked full-time while attending to fund myself. Once I graduated I tried to make sure each job I got would lead to another until it became my full-time job and I’ve never looked back.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

It’s never too late! If it’s something you have a passion for then go get involved. Maybe do some courses and see where it takes you.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? And where else can we see it?

Everyone should come to see this play! – though it’s PG, because of some sexual innuendo and partial nudity. That aside, each show is truly different as audiences react in various ways to being swept up in the raucous action. Whatever happens though, one thing’s for sure – it will be an unforgettable experience.
You are all invited to the most madcap marital celebration of them all and get to eat a 3-course meal as well.

We are playing at Carmichael Hall in Eastwood Park Theatre on Saturday 12 May at 7:30pm.

We’re also visiting:

Birmingham REP (10-11 May)

Greshams in Ipswich (18 May)

Bedford Swan Hotel (also 18 May)

Hadley Park House in Telford (19 May)

AFC Portchester Club House (22 June)

Nottingham Theatre Royal (6 July)

– and Edinburgh Fringe 2-27 August.

REVIEW: Gary Lamont Dropping The Soap – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

It’s hard not to love Gary Lamont. From the moment he walks onto the stage with a giant wedge of cheese on his head – yes, no typo, singing This is my Moment in tribute to his spirit animal Martine McCutcheon, there isn’t a minute he doesn’t have the audience eating out of his hand.

Hugely likeable and hugely talented, Lamont takes the audience on a break-neck journey on life after soap (operas), musing on the somewhat rocky path many much-loved actors have trodden since stepping away from small screen fame. Roping in his showbiz pals, there are mascara ruining sequences with Claire from Steps, Claire from Stepps, Graham Norton, Juliet Cadzow (his mum in the soap River City), Martine McCutcheon and a belly-achingly funny duet of I Know Him So Well with best buddy Michelle McManus. There’s no lull for the entire running time – a feat many so-called comedians would be hard pressed to achieve, this is a show that genuinely has you leaving the theatre, feeling the world is a happier place.

As he says in the show, in Soapland you either leave in a hearse or in the back of a taxi – Lamont left in a silver limo – hopefully a portent for his future career. Lamont has a gigantic gift for comedy, a fine voice and an irresistible personality – Lamont’s brand of joy should be available on prescription. Do yourself a favour and catch this if you can.

On Tour:

Sat 24 Mar – Cumbernauld Theatre – 7.30pm www.cumbernauldtheatre.co.uk

Fri 27 Apr – Stirling MacRobert 7.30pm www.macrobertartscentre.org/

Sat 28 Apr – Paisley Arts Centre – 7.30pm www.boxoffice.renfrewshire.gov.uk

Fri 04 May – Adam Smith Theatre – 7.30pm www.onfife.com

Fri 11 May – Lochgelly Centre – 7.30pm www.onfife.com

Fri 25 May – Livingston Howden Park 7.30pm www.howdenparkcentre.co.uk

Sat 26 May – Byre Theatre St Andrews – 8pm www.byretheatre.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/G_aryLamont

Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatariddy

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