Tag Archives: Edinburgh

NEWS: Line-Up Announced For Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals Tour

With Strictly fever about to hit new heights, as the 16th series of the smash hit award-winning BBC One show returns to Saturday and Sunday night TV, fans will be delighted to hear that tickets for the 2019 Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals UK Tour are now on sale.

Starring 10 of the hugely popular and much-loved professional dancers from the Strictly Come Dancing television series, the 35-date tour kicks off at Salford’s Lowry Theatre on 3 May next year and will then dance its way around the country stopping at Edinburgh Playhouse on 10th – 11th May 2019.

The exciting line-up of magnificent dancers and Strictly TV favourites performing on the tour are: reigning Strictly champion Katya Jones; 2017 semi-finalist AJ Pritchard; two-time Strictly finalist Giovanni Pernice; 2016 Strictly finalist Oti Mabuse; Australian Open Champion Dianne Buswell; Professional World Mambo Champion and former Strictly finalist Karen Clifton; Two-time Ballroom and Latin World Champion Nadiya Bychkova; undefeated four-time British National Champion Neil Jones; three time Strictly semi-finalist Pasha Kovalev and 2017 Strictly finalist Gorka Marquez.

Audiences nationwide will enjoy the incredible talent of these multi award-winning world-class dancers as they perform stunningly choreographed Ballroom and Latin routines in exquisite costumes, with all the glitz, glamour, sequins and sparkle of the TV show – live on stage.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see this spectacular dance extravaganza as Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals returns to a venue near you next year for a Strictly limited engagement!

LISTING INFORMATION

STRICTLY COME DANCING – THE PROFESSIONALS

EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE

Greenside Place,

Edinburgh,

EH1 3AA

FRI 10 – SAT 11 MAY 2019

Eves 7.30pm | Sat Mat 2.30pm

HOW TO BOOK

Online: atgtickets.com/Edinburgh

Box Office: 0844 871 3014*

*fees apply.

 

WHAT’S ON OCTOBER: Barry Douglas joins the Russian State Symphony Orchestra for all-Russian programme at Usher Hall

Usher Hall gets its new Sunday Classics season off to a roaring start with some of the finest Russian music from one of the nation’s standout orchestras

Tickets range from £13.50 – £35, £10 student tickets are also available and under 16s can get a free ticket when booked with an adult.

A mighty all-Russian programme from one of Russia’s foremost orchestras kicks off the Usher Hall’s 2018-19 Sunday Classics concerts in spectacular style. The Russian State Symphony Orchestra will take audiences on a spellbinding journey of heart-stopping romance; mischievous wit; and one of the most moving tales in the whole of ballet. They will be joined in part from the world-renowned Belfast pianist, Barry Douglas.

The Moscow-based orchestra has a peerless pedigree in the stirring, deeply expressive music of its homeland, with a rich, noble sound that’s matched by the players’ incisive energy. Under conductor Valentin Uryupin, one of the most exciting young talents emerging from Russia’s fiercely competitive classical world, it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Uryupin and his Orchestra open with the unforgettable melancholy of one of the world’s best-loved ballet scores: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The dancers at the ballet’s premiere in 1877 protested at the piece’s difficulty to dance to – it was too rich and extensive to complement their movement. Despite this, today the piece is adored the world-over.

The Orchestra will also be joined by the multi-award-winning Belfast-born pianist Barry Douglas, who famously won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition back in 1986 and has forged a global career with his remarkable mix of muscular power and exquisite poetry. His musical talents also extend away from the classical music world with his work with Celtic Orbit – a group he set up to play traditional music from Scotland, Ireland and Brittany.

He’s the soloist in Shostakovich’s sunny, funny Second Piano Concerto, a touching birthday present from the composer to his 19-year-old son, which sandwiches a soulful, dreamy slow movement between two movements of sparkling wit and vivacious energy. It’s one of the composer’s standout works, and is a departure from much of his music that is often characterised by angst, fear and defiance in response to the oppression that he experienced under the communist regime. Shostakovich himself visited the Usher Hall in 1962 as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, and his music has been welcome addition to any programme in the venue ever since.

The afternoon of music closes with the overwhelming opulence of Rachmaninov’s epic Second Symphony, overflowing with outpourings of ecstatic melody, and charting a passionate journey through breath-taking romance to blazing triumph.

Listings information:

Sunday 14 Oct 2018, 3pm

Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Edinburgh

Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Valentin Uryupin  Conductor

Barry Douglas  Piano

 

Tchaikovsky  Swan Lake Suite

Shostakovich  Piano Concerto No. 2

Rachmaninov  Symphony No. 2

 

Tickets available at www.usherhall.co.uk

 

Prices

£35 | £29 | £24 | £18 | £13.50

Concessions available

Full time students are entitled to tickets for £10 which can be booked in advance

Under 16s are entitled to free tickets when booked with a paying adult

**Please note a £1.50 transaction fee applies on the overall booking when purchasing online or over the phone (non-refundable)**

NEWS: Tim Minchin Comes To Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2019 As Part Of New UK Tour

TIM MINCHIN, award-winning comedian, actor and composer, will return to the stage for his first UK tour dates since 2011.

The UK premiere of BACK will commence in October 2019 and includes performances in Oxford, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Plymouth, Cardiff, Portsmouth, London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Brighton and Southend.

BACK is billed as Old Songs, New Songs, F*** You Songs, hinting at a set list of material from all corners of Minchin’s eclectic – and often iconoclastic – repertoire.

It will be the long-awaited follow up to his sold-out national arena tour of Tim Minchin and his Orchestra in 2010-2011.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public through Ticketmaster and venue box offices on Thursday 6 September at 10am GMT.

Fans will be given priority access to tickets via Ticketmaster Verified FanTM registration. Registration to become a Ticketmaster Verified FanTM will be open until 11:59pm, Sunday 2nd September. Successful fans will receive a unique code for Ticketmaster Verified FanTM pre-sale which will open at 10am Wednesday 5 September for 24 hours.

The music virtuoso also announced that profit from a number of top price seats will be donated to a UK charity – details of which will be announced through his website soon.

Minchin has been celebrated globally for writing the music and lyrics for Matilda the Musical, which has gone on to become one of the most acclaimed musicals of the last 20 years, winning a record seven Olivier Awards, 13 Helpmann Awards and five Tony Awards. It continues to run in the West End and has already played in over 50 cities worldwide. He also wrote music and lyrics for the musical adaption of Groundhog Day, which after an acclaimed limited run at The Old Vic in London in 2016, debuted on Broadway in April 2017 and won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2017.

Meanwhile, Minchin has ruffled feathers in Australia with his ARIA-nominated charity single, Come Home Cardinal Pell and the Marriage Equality parody, I Still Call Australia Homophobic. His UWA Graduation speech has been watched by tens of millions of people worldwide.

BACK will mark Minchin’s return to the stage, following several film and TV appearances which earned him a handful of acting accolades, including the Qantas Orry-Kelly Award at the 2017 Australians in Film Awards and a 2016 Logie Award for Most Outstanding Supporting Actor for The Secret River.

He most recently starred in the ABC 2018 comedy series Squinters and will appear as Friar Tuck in the upcoming Hollywood release Robin Hood in cinemas November 2018. In 2019 he will also star in UPRIGHT, a new eight-part drama series, which he will co-write with The Chaser’s Chris Taylor, actor-writers Leon Ford and Kate Mulvaney, and coproduce with Lingo Pictures for Foxtel and Sky UK.

REVIEW: Sinatra Raw – Bier Keller Frankenstein’s Pub, Edinburgh

This isn’t the Sinatra who screaming Bobby-soxer’s threw themselves at, nor the rose-tinted twilight years legend, this is Palm Springs, 1971, Frank Sinatra is in the biggest decline of his illustrious career. The era of Glam Rock beckons and retirement looms. We’re gathered here for one, last, intimate show.

This is a night filled with memories, both bitter and brilliant. Behind-the-headlines anecdotes intersperse this collection of greatest hits. British-born, now Las Vegas based Richard Shelton delivers this brand new, self-written play with both sass and class. There’s meat on the bones of this show, the memories private and painful, show a little seen side of the showbiz Titan, illuminating the breadth and depth of Sinatra’s many grudges and regrets. Hugely entertaining, this is a classy little number housed in the basement of a tatty Edinburgh pub.

Shelton is a class act and this play a little gem.

 

 

REVIEW: Maxim Vengerov with the Würth Philharmonic – Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Arguably, the greatest living string player in the world, and undoubtedly the most in-demand musician in all of classical music, Maxim Vengerov returns to Edinburgh as both soloist and conductor in this finale to the Usher Hall’s season of Sunday Classics.

In the first half, Vengerov performs one of the most popular violin concertos in the classical repertoire, and one of the best works of the Romantic period, Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor, Op. 26, in the second, conducting the newly formed Würth Philharmonic in Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony. In addition we are treated to Strauss’ Die Fledermaus Overture and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.

Under the confident baton of Stamatia Karampini, the Würth Philharmonic begin the afternoon gloriously with the overture of J. Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, the smiles that appear instantaneously on the faces of the audience, testament to both the popularity of the piece and the virtuosity with which it is played by this stunning orchestra.

When Vengerov takes to the stage, the ex-Kreutzer Stradivari in his hand, there’s no doubt who everyone is here to see, and boy does he deliver. Bruch’s Violin Concerto is already one of the greatest loved works in the repertoire, but in the hands of a maestro it is utterly ravishing. While there’s a theatricality in his playing style, there’s little interaction with the audience, that said, there’s no need, this traditional approach takes nothing away from the musical experience, and Vengerov radiates sincerity and enthusiasm from every pore. His finger work as close to perfection as it’s possible to get. As he leaves the stage at the end of the first act there’s no greater compliment than the reaction of the audience, a rousing ovation and smiles, smiles everywhere you look, proof that music has the power to change your mood, to make you feel alive.

In the second half Vengerov takes the baton, conducting the Würth in Shostakovich’s rousing Symphony No.10. Created in 2017, the 72 piece from mainly European countries, the orchestra aims to unite young musicians across the world form a virtuosic symphony orchestra and on this first hearing they have achieved this. The power of Shostakovich’s rings out throughout the auditorium, stirring the soul.

A concert programme and performance of infinite quality. A fitting end to the Usher Hall’s Sunday Classics International Concert Series, a programme of work that stirs and inspires and leaves you wanting more.

NEWS: LES MISÉRABLES TO RETURN TO EDINBURGH IN 2019

After nearly a decade since the last UK tour sold out in only a few days, Cameron Mackintosh is delighted to announce his acclaimed Broadway production of Boublil and Schönberg’s musical “LES MISÉRABLES” will be at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh from 22 January – 16 February 2019.

Cameron Mackintosh said, “Since I first conceived the new production of “Les Misérables” to celebrate the shows 25th anniversary in 2009, this production has taken the world by storm – more than matching the success of the original, which can now only be seen in London.  I am thrilled that modern audiences have embraced this production as Les Mis for the 21st century and it is playing to packed houses all over the world in many languages. It also inspired the hugely successful movie version starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne.

This latest version comes hot from its recent Broadway triumph (now once again on a sell-out tour of North America) and is even more spectacular than the original.  I am very proud that this extraordinary Boublil and Schönberg musical remains as fresh, thrilling and exciting as ever – and people are still storming the barricades for a ticket.”

This brilliant new staging has scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, and has been seen in North America, South America, Korea, Japan, Canada, Australia, Spain, France, Manila, Singapore, Dubai and Broadway.

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Boublil and Schönberg’s magnificent score of “LES MISÉRABLES” includes the songs, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “On My Own”, “Stars”, “Bring Him Home”, “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, “One Day More”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, “Master Of The House” and many more.  Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 45 countries and in 22 languages, “LES MISÉRABLES” is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals.

TUESDAY 22 JANUARY – SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2019

FESTIVAL THEATRE EDINBURGH

edtheatres.com – 0131 529 6000

ON GENERAL SALE 12 MARCH 2018; ON SALE TO FRIENDS FROM 26 FEB; ON SALE TO GROUPS FROM 5 MARCH

REVIEW: Love Song To Lavender Menace – Platform, Glasgow

It’s easy to forget about Section 28 and it’s ramifications, living life closeted in the shadows, the Gay scene largely, if not entirely underground, the height of the AIDS crisis and the fact that homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1980. While things aren’t exactly perfect now, a lot has changed.

James Ley hadn’t even heard of Lavender Menace, the Edinburgh LGBT bookshop founded by Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielson, that existed from 1982 to 1986, when he won a LGBT History Month Cultural Comission to write a new play.

But that is exactly the subject matter of his celebratory play, Love Song to Lavender Menace.

Bookshop workers Lewis (Pierce Reid) and Glen (Matthew McVarish) spend the last night of Lavender Menace packing up the remaining stock while rehearsing their “homage” to Bob and Sigrid. The dreaded ‘W’ word – Waterstones is moving to town, LGBT literature is becoming available in mainstream bookshops, and Bob and Sigrid are moving on. With every book packed away comes a memory, from the early days as a bookstall in the cloakroom of Princes Street nightclub, Fire Island, through life as a Gay man in Edinburgh in the 80s, to the spectre of Section 28, which looms on the horizon. All the while, exploring the significance of some seminal pieces of LGBT writing, and all done with humour and pathos.

This is a tiny slice of life, from a very specific time and place, and because of that, all the more engaging and relatable. While the tone can be almost flippant at times, its serves as a timely reminder of the groundwork that has gone in to raising the profile of the LGBTIQ community in the public eye. Pierce Reid is mercurial as the idealistic Lewis, Matthew McVarish endearing as the more pragmatic Glen. Pierce in particular looks to have a glittering career ahead of him.

Charming, amusing, though-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny. A worthwhile work, written and performed in such a way that it will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It also leaves you wanting to see what’s next for playwright Ley and these talented actors.

Images: Aly Wight

REVIEW: An Audience With…- Festival Theatre Empire Rooms, Edinburgh

A more life-affirming, moving and ultimately inspiring “happening” (in the words of the performers), you are unlikely to experience than An Audience With… Created after choreographer and dance-maker Janice Parker put a call out to dancers from the Variety era who had performed on the stage of the Empire (now Festival) Theatre in Edinburgh. Answering that call from Parker were: Marie Duthie (94), June Don Murray (90) and Doreen Leighton-Ward (85), all seasoned stars of the Variety stage.

June Don Murray, Janice Parker, Marie Duthie, Doreen Leighton-Ward, Daisy Douglas and Katie Miller

Their rich lives and legacy are the core of this promenade performance. And oh, what lives they’ve lived. Their memories of the golden age of Scottish variety are a glimpse into an almost lost world.

June Don Murray still shows the spark that served her so well as a performer. Born into a family of performers and theatre managers (one of her father’s illustrations adorns the walls of the performance space, an illustration that the theatre knew no backstory to, until June herself spotted it), she takes us through our paces in a dance lesson, performs a dying swan ballet sequence and recounts some of the hair-raising feats she performed. Along with being a Moxon Girl, Scotland’s answer to the Tiller Girls, June was Australian illusionist The Great Levante’s assistant and was shot out of a cannon into a basket in the gallery of the theatre on a nightly basis.

June Don Murray

Doreen Leighton-Ward as well as being acclaimed for her dancing skills, organised a strike to obtain a pay rise and better contracts and conditions for Scottish dancers. An act that led one spiteful theatre manager to sack her, however, this quiet, but strong woman, expresses no regrets.

Marie Duthie née Pyper, began her dancing career as a toddler at her father’s amateur concert parties. In 1932, at the age of 9, she performed the dying swan solo and Edinburgh’s Evening Dispatch newspaper said, “memories of Pavlova are brought to mind”. By 1940 she toured the country with The Ganjou Brothers and Juanita and in 1942 became one half of The Raymond Sisters, extensively touring the UK on the renowned Moss Empire Circuit, ending the act in a mini kilt singing and tap dancing to Macphersin’ is Rehearsin’ to Swing.

The Ganjou Brothers and Jaunita with whom Marie Duthie toured.

We are led through the private corridors and side rooms of the theatre, experiencing different aspects of these remarkable women’s careers. They are joined by two more generations of dancers, creator Janice Parker, and two young dancers, Daisy Douglas and Katie Miller, whom the women are teaching to tap dance.

These women have never stopped dancing, and to this day are still passing on their techniques and wisdom to a new generation of dancers. Their legacy too, is getting the recognition it deserves with a book and film due next year.

Celebratory, moving and inspirational in turn, the joy in the room is palpable. The enthusiasm they transmit for dance is measured by the scrum to don tap shoes and take part in a lesson at the end. This life-affirming production proves that love for, and participation in dance, has no age limit, it will leave you with a song in your heart and wings on your heels. Truly joyous.

There are further performances of An Audience With… on 26 and 28 October 2017 at The Empire Rooms in Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Header image: Niall Walker

REVIEW: Hedda Gabler – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

This stark and sleek version of Ibsen’s classic play, adapted by Patrick Marber and directed by Ivo van Hove, demonstrates Hedda Gabler has resonance far beyond its time.

An ice-cold but electrifying Hedda (Lizzy Watts) returns from her honeymoon with new (but already unwanted and undesired) husband Tesman (played by Abhin Galeya as more youthful and vibrant than those that have come before him, but still more interested in his academic buddies, and still treating his wife like a trophy in a display cabinet), to the blank walls of her marital prison. Apparently lacking the means or self-motivation to free herself, Hedda sets out on a path of universal destruction.

The production plays out at a uniform pace which makes the unfolding horror all the more insidious. Hedda is a master manipulator, taking perverse pleasure in her malevolence. Whilst hurting and harming all those around her, every act of cruelty is ultimately harming only one person, Hedda herself. Her self-annihilation is uncomfortable to watch and every action, foreshadows the inevitable ending.

Jan Versweyveld’s whitewashed representation of Hedda and Tesman’s new marital home is cell-like, and despite it’s vast size, feels claustrophobically confining. The sparseness reflecting Hedda’s own view of the physical and psychological walls between which she’s trapped. Indeed, van Hove and Marber’s adaptation shines a modern light on Hedda’s actions, actions that we would now associate as classic symptoms of depression. Versweyveld’s lighting is a triumph, almost a character in itself, subtly shifting the mood in the auditorium.

However, for all that does work, there are details that jar: video intercoms, but no mobile phones, Løvborg’s precious manuscript in handwritten form only, characters discussing riding coats and whether they should call each other by Christian names while swanning around in modern dress. While much resonates, it has been robbed of much its power to shock in transporting it to the 21st Century. While it is depressing to think that over a century on, gender imbalance still exists and many women are still trapped in stifling marriages due to financial and familial pressure, but most have, or can find, an avenue of escape or support. The nagging question keeps coming to mind: “Why in today’s world, doesn’t she just pack up and leave?”

Watts is impressive in the titular role as is Annabel Bates (below) as old schoolmate Mrs. Elvsted. While an object of Hedda’s torture both in the past and present, she has much that Hedda envies, and Bates imbues her with a steely backbone hidden behind the soft exterior. Adam Best, in an uncomfortably resonant display of sexual harassment, (in light of the Weinstein allegations) is suitably abhorrent as the bullying Brack.

Despite some questionable directorial choices, Hedda Gabler, while no longer shocking, remains unnerving, and this National Theatre production deserves to be seen by a wide audience.

Production photography Brinkhoff/Mögenberg

INTERVIEW: Gina Isaac star of Rapture Theatre’s Streetcar Named Desire

Gina Isaac is currently starring in Rapture Theatre Company’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire as Stella. I caught up with Gina just before the final week of the production at Edinburgh King’s Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire is an American classic, for those who are less familiar with it could you tell us a little bit about the play. 

It’s a story full of the heat and vibrancy of the city where it is set, in New Orleans. Blanche and her sister Stella, who is married to the brutish Stanley, find themselves thrown together and the story unfolds from there. You see the old world and the new clashing up against each other in the various characters in the play. There are too many spoilers in there to go into detail but it’s a wonderful story.

And your role…

Blanche is a fading Southern Belle who is desperately trying to hold onto a world that no longer exists. Like all of Tennessee Williams characters she is deeply flawed and yet striving with hope for something more.

How much preparation and rehearsal time did you get before the tour started? 

The rehearsal period was four weeks, with a week of sitting around a table discussing and then ‘getting it on it’s feet’. Streetcar is a very complex play with layers upon layers for the actors to discover. It was a very intense but satisfying process.

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

We’ve had a really terrific reception from all of our audiences, and every audience is different of course. The play is quite ‘light’ in the first act, and the story is very engaging, which seems to invite the audience in and they are really with us. Come the second act, things get dark pretty quickly but by then the audience seem to have really invested in the characters and you can hear a pin drop…with the occasional rustle of sweet packets.

What is life like backstage on tour? 

I wouldn’t know on this job as I never leave the stage or the wings. I’m pretty sure they’re having a good time though. It’s normally a strange mixture of high and lows on any tour – it can be quite an intense experience working in such a bubble for months at a time.

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

Touring actually really helps to keep a performance/play feeling fresh. Every venue and auditorium is different with it’s own set of challenges, so you never really ‘settle’, which is great. You learn to listen to your body as an actor, as it will always let you know if you’re burning the candle too much. Some parts that you play will demand you look after yourself more than others…it’s a delicate balancing act but common sense really.

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 used to watch a lot of the old MGM movies when I was a kid and I guess that’s what sparked things for me. I was lucky, in that I never wanted to do anything else so I was quite a clear about the path I wanted to take. I studied drama at school and attended a group at weekends. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to go to a drama school as opposed to university and I spent three years at the Central school of Speech and Drama and then entered the industry from there. The hardest part about being an actor is once you’ve graduated and become part of a very big, very competitive industry. You learn quite quickly if the life of an actor is for you.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Gosh, that’s a tricky one. I guess one of the main things I have realised, is that every job you do informs and moulds you as an actor. You are constantly learning as an actor, always. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it for. You take something from every job, the good ones and the ‘not so good’ ones. Also, always brush your teeth and if you’re on an OK wage, get a round in now and then.

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

Because ‘Streetcar‘ is the most brilliant story…and everyone loves a good story. It’s totally engaging from the off and I think you really care about the characters and what happens to them. This is our final week at The Kings, Edinburgh, so do yourself a favour and come see it.

Gina will be appearing in Rapture Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the King’s, Edinburgh from 3 – 7 October 2017.

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