Tag Archives: Edinburgh

NEWS: Crowd-funder campaign to support spoof documentary FOH (Front of House) filming at King’s Theatre Edinburgh

CROWDFUNDER CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO MAKE NEW EPISODES OF SPOOF DOCUMENTARY ‘FOH’.

Tom Read Wilson, Harriet Thorpe, Grant Stott and Andy Gray join the cast of mockumentary series ‘FOH’, filmed at the iconic King’s Theatre Edinburgh.

FOH, the spoof documentary that charts the ups and downs of life working front of house in a theatre has started a Crowdfunder campaign to make three brand new episodes featuring a starstudded cast. Edinburgh writer and director Andrew Dyer filmed the pilot for FOH two years ago which quickly gained over 50,000 views online and developed a strong fan base.

The show was inspired by his time working front of house in London and at the King’s and Festival Theatres in Edinburgh. On how the pilot came to be:  “Working front of house is a great place for people watching as the audiences are completely different from one show to the next and there is always a brilliant mix of staff working. Over the years I started to take note of funny situations that would happen and characters that stood out and it seemed only natural that a fly on the wall comedy was the best way to share some of them!”

Dyer is an Edinburgh native, he studied acting at Queen Margaret University before training at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He turned his hand to writing and directing comedy in 2014 where he developed his first Edinburgh Fringe show with comedy partner Michelle Whitney who he met while studying at RAM. (Whitney also features in ‘FOH’ as Linda the Front of House Manager.)

The pilot proved so popular that he has decided to create more episodes, with some famous faces now joining the original cast, and is turning to crowdfunding where they need to raise £8,000 to make three short episodes. “We made our pilot on basically zero budget and pulled in a lot of favours to do so and as proud as we are of our pilot we are not able to produce more episodes in the same circumstances. We want to pay for our professional cast and crew as well as cover the various production expenses so any donations made would be greatly appreciated but even just a ‘like’ and ‘share’ to spread the word will go a long way!”

‘Celebs Go Dating’ star Tom Read Wilson is the latest to join the line up of star cameos that includes Harriet Thorpe (‘Absolutely Fabulous’, ‘The Brittas Empire’) and King’s Theatre panto stars, Andy Gray and Grant Stott. 

The King’s where ‘FOH’ is filmed (but not set) is an Edinburgh institution and has been welcoming audiences since 1906. The new episodes will be made in advance of the theatre’s major redevelopment in 2021.

You can find out more about ‘FOH’ and make a donation by visiting: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/foh-the-mockumentary.

The original episode can be viewed on their Facebook page: https:// http://www.facebook.com/fohthemockumentary

“If you’re a theatre fan I hope you will enjoy ‘FOH’ but I also hope that anyone who has ever worked a customer service job can relate to the people in the show or recognise similar situations they’ve experienced!”

REVIEW: Confetti and Chaos – Imagination Workshop, Edinburgh

Interactive Theatre International’s Confetti and Chaos is back at its spiritual home, smack bang in the middle of the madness of the Edinburgh Festival.

The world’s worst wedding reception still has the ability to surprise and delight and it’s all down to the pin-sharp script and the enviable comedy acting and improvisation skills of its talented cast.

The whole idea is a winner, because we’ve all been there: the excruciating speeches, the wild cannon relatives, secrets tumbling out of the closet, lips getting looser as the alcohol flows freely, drunken dancing and worse, much, much worse. Just when you think it couldn’t get any crazier, it does. Did I mention that while all the madness unfolds we, the wedding guests, are all enjoying a three course meal?

While there’s a face-achingly funny script at its backbone, it’s the ability of the cast to interact and react with the ever-changing nightly audience that makes this more than just a performance but an event for the ‘guests’. No matter how effortless this looks, it takes phenomenally talented actors to pull it off. Nerine Skinner, Otis Waby, Helen Colby and Hayden Wood, double and triple-up on roles and manage to give each their own individual characterisation, and each is funnier than the last. The energy required is astonishing and the effort the actors put in is laudable.

Confetti and Chaos (formerly The Wedding Reception) remains as hysterical as it ever was, and stands up to multiple viewings. A show where quality is assured night after night.

Runs until 26 August 2019 | Image: Contributed

REVIEW: West End Producer: Free Willy, Assembly Studio Two, Edinburgh

The infamous and anonymous mystery man of London theatre, West End Producer has finally taken the plunge and headed north of the border to Edinburgh for the summer season with his rubber Willy under one arm and baby grand under the other.

WEP is in town to audition hopefuls for his proposed West End mega hit-to-be Free Willy: The Musical. In the process we are let in on a few theatrical secrets, partake in a lesson on the perfect jazz hands and are led in a theme appropriate dolphin vocal warm up, there are even some genuine soiled West End show pants on offer to one lucky auditionee.

The fun starts before the show does with our idol interacting with his public in the queue, we are assigned our audition numbers and given a mini task to perform. Audience participation-phobes don’t despair though, it’s all very non-threatening – what else would you expect, we know WEP is an absolute #dear.

As befitting WEP’s status among the stagey folks, the place is packed on this sunny afternoon and the large crowd really helps the atmosphere. This is a show that knows its audience – everyone is in on the West End gossip and the jokes and digs land, and the addition of a different guest each day, a fellow Fringe performer (today’s was comedian Patrick Monaghan) is a nice touch that delivers variety and a sense of what on earth is going to happen next? to the proceedings.

WEP is a man of many talents, as well as this being a well-conceived and executed show, he’s a gifted pianist and singer, and the comic songs are actually, in some cases, better than some of the drivel I’ve had to endure in real West End shows. WEP’s entrance on a blow up whale is also a sight once-seen – hard to forget.

If you are of a stagey disposition – this is a chance to get up close and personal with the enigma that is WEP. Go along and help West End Producer find his Willy – you won’t regret it.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

REVIEW: Keith Moon: The Real Me – Gilded Balloon Teviot Wine Bar, Edinburgh

Mick Berry endeavours to delve deep into the psyche of the world’s greatest rock drummer – The Who’s Keith Moon, but succeeds only in proving how decent a drummer he is himself  (he’s the author of The Drummer’s Bible), in this odd mish-mash of a show. 

There’s material a-plenty to plunder in Moon’s life, both actual and mythical, but this one-man version misses the mark in so many ways. Berry has apparently been working on this show since 2013, when a version appeared at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, that time with the support of some fellow musicians playing his band-mates in The Who. This one-man version is neither straight biography, though there are many dis-jointed biographical moments, nor musical tribute to the great musician.

As the famous chords of Baba O’Reilly ring out and Berry batters out the ear-splitting, accompanying beat, there’s a sense of optimism that this might be a rollicking rock ‘n’ roll tale, but that quickly subsides the moment Berry opens his mouth and the worst British accent since Dick Van Dyke’s Bert in Mary Poppins comes out. During the course of the show it travels from Cornwall to Cockney to Canberra. There’s also the issue of Berry’s insistence in shouting out disjointed sequences of dialogue that are drowned out by the backing track and Berry’s own drumming. Other minor issues are Berry’s insistence on replicating Moon’s famous two-handed drumstick twirling that looks laboured, something he continues to try to do throughout. Despite his evident drumming skills, to a Who fan’s ears there are moments when he quite evidently fails to keep on these famous beats. Berry also looks uncomfortably nervous, whether with the material itself or the muted reaction of the small audience, it’s hard to tell. Moon managed only 32 years on this earth, and Mr. Berry is a man of advanced age that’s hard to hide in a small venue.

There’s little attempt to “pierce Moon’s insane exterior to get inside of this rock legend” or provide a “deeper, more personal, volatile and intimate exploration” as promised in the advertising material. It merely grazes the surface in the most superficial and confusing way. It smacks of self-indulgence and is badly in need of a pair or two of outside eyes to take what could be a dynamite story to the place where it should be to be a fitting tribute to one of the rock and roll greats. On a more positive note, the drumming’s good and there are snippets of some of the biggest hits of the greatest rock band Britain ever produced.

REVIEW: Phoenix – Pleasance 10 Dome, Edinburgh

If you’re looking for a creative team of infinite quality and a performer of prodigious talent (sometimes rare at The Fringe), then look no further than Richard Marsh and Jessica Sharman’s musical play, Phoenix.

Marsh and Sharman’s enviable track records include Marsh winning a Fringe First Award, a BBC Audio Drama Award, and a run in the West End with previous show Dirty Great Love Story, and in Sharman’s case, co-writing Ward Thomas’ record-breaking No.1. Country album Cartwheels.

This play is so much more than its simplistic blurb. It’s a big story in a small-sized show. On the face of it, it’s a tale of a wannabe rock star for whom fatherhood subsumes his hopes and dreams of stardom, but its themes are much greater than these few words, instead delivering a highly-relatable story of love and sacrifice.

There’s an elegant fluency to the writing, the beautifully constructed script has a completely developed story arc, fully rounded characters, all interwoven with some expertly crafted songs, and all packed into a 70-minute running time. The combination makes for an irresistible, gripping, funny, life-affirming show.

In a piece of master casting, multi-instrumentalist (guitar – electric and acoustic, keys, drums, looping) singer and actor Andy Gallo  plays Ash, and proves to be a rare find. He manages to perfectly pitch the gamut of emotions required of this marvellously layered tale, all the while banging out tunes on a plethora of instruments and singing. He has the audience transfixed from the start.

This is an astute piece of theatre. Well thought out, cleverly crafted and refreshingly surprising. This is the perfect five-star start to this year’s Fringe.

Runs at The Pleasance 10 Dome Edinburgh

Aug 3-12, 14-26

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical – Edinburgh Playhouse

With its origins as the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2010 festive show, nine years down the line, Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda has been seen by over eight million people around the globe. Winning awards and smashing box office records wherever it goes (and deservedly so) the transformation of a much-adored but thematically and emotionally challenging children’s book was never going to be easy, taking its creators seven years to develop from page to stage – but boy was it worth it.

There are few other musicals, let alone one largely written for a child audience, that is a genuine emotional rollercoaster, laugh-out-loud funny and entirely entertaining from curtain up to curtain down for an audience of all ages. Never shying away from the darker corners of human nature, it re-iterates throughout that despite this one having one, not all stories have a happy ending. An unexpected and unwelcome addition to the grotesque Wormwood family, five-and-a-half-year-old prodigy with telekinetic powers Matilda (Scarlett Cecil), takes solace in books – from Austen and Brontë to Dickens and Dostoyevsky and finds a kindred spirit in her gentle and downtrodden new teacher Miss Honey. While she relishes starting school, the cruelty she seeks to escape at home is heaped upon her and her classmates ten-fold by their larger than life, ex-Olympic hammer throwing head mistress Miss Trunchbull (played to utter perfection and with great relish by Elliot Harper).

With a two-hour 40-minute running time, jam packed with dialogue, tricky lyrics and hugely inventive choreography and scene changes, Matilda’s success relies in no small part to a well-drilled cast, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better quality one than this. Scarlett Cecil, one of four Matildas is an absolute star, it must be remembered that this is a child taking on this role, a child who rarely leaves the stage during the entire production, a child who is delivering complex dialogue and lyrics that those treble her age would find challenging. The entire child cast are exceptional (the adults are pretty spectacular too) not a foot or word is out of place and the energy and gusto with which they attack every scene adds a youthful realism.

Both Kelly’s words (perfectly adapted from Roald Dahl’s original book) and Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics are clever, clever, clever and prove that there’s no need to dumb down to provide entertainment with mass appeal. As perfect as it’s possible to be, Matilda remains an outstanding musical in the British theatrical canon.

Runs until 27 April 2019 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for THE REVIEWS HUB

NEWS: The Lion King Returns to Edinburgh

The Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland has today announced that the award-winning musical THE LION KING will return to the Edinburgh Playhouse in December 2019, the only Scottish dates on the second UK and Ireland tour.

Tickets will go on sale in March 2019. Fans can sign up for priority access to tickets at http://www.thelionking.co.uk

The tour coincides with THE LION KING celebrating 20 years at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Since the UK premiere in London on Tuesday 19th October 1999, THE LION KING has entertained over 15 million theatregoers and remains the West End’s best-selling stage production and the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

Colin Marr, Theatre Director, the Edinburgh Playhouse said: “We are incredibly excited to have Disney’s THE LION KING return to the Playhouse. I saw it for the first time in London recently and was blown away by the size and scale of the production. It’s an incredibly exciting show – a great spectacle but with brilliant humour too. I can’t wait to see it on our stage. The previous visit had a huge impact on the city attracting hundreds and thousands of visitors and generating millions of pounds for the local economy.  As the only Scottish venue, we are looking forward to welcoming audiences of all ages from Edinburgh, the rest of Scotland and internationally.”

The first tour of THE LION KING broke box office records at the Edinburgh Playhouse with a 15 week sell-out season playing to more than 325,000 people, 60% first time visitors to the venue with 29% from Edinburgh postcodes.

The hit production generated £17.2 million for the local economy with advertising in the city in 9 different languages including Gaelic, Dutch and Chinese attracting visitors from as far afield as Argentina, Malaysia and Canada.

With a cast of over 50 actors, singers and dancers, the story of THE LION KING is miraculously brought to life using masks, puppets and striking costumes to tell the story of young Simba’s epic adventures as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and becoming king.
The stunning simplicity of THE LION KING is the work of a team of designers which drew on diverse cultural influences to recreate the rich colours and vast expanses of the African savanna in this daring and inspiring reinvention of one of the most successful animated films of all time.

Julie Taymor’s internationally-celebrated stage adaptation opened on Broadway in 1997 and 25 global productions have now been seen by more than 95 million people. Performed in nine different languages (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese), productions of THE LION KING can currently be seen on Broadway, London’s West End, Hamburg, Tokyo and Sapporo, Madrid, Scheveningen in Holland, Daegu in South Korea and on tour across North America – a total of nine productions running concurrently across the globe. Having played over 100 cities in 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica, THE LION KING’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.

 

Julie Taymor, one of the world’s most innovative directors, brought a vast array of disciplines to THE LION KING, including extensive experience staging epic theatre and opera productions, exploring classic myths through ritualised puppetry, mask, and movement. THE LION KING was the first musical she directed in the commercial theatre, and Taymor made Broadway history by becoming the first woman to win the Tony Award® for Best Director of a Musical.

The show’s full creative team, which won five Tony Awards® for its work on THE LION KING, reunited in 1999 to recreate the show in London. Julie Taymor and Michael Curry created hundreds of masks and puppets. Scenic design is by leading British designer Richard Hudson and lighting is by Donald Holder. Costume design is by Julie Taymor, and choreography by Garth Fagan. The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay.

The original score from the animated film was expanded for the stage and now features 15 musical numbers.

As well as writing completely new songs, South African composer Lebo M created an evocative blend of African rhythms and chorales, with additional material by Julie Taymor and Mark Mancina. Elton John and Tim Rice have added three new numbers to the five that they wrote for the award-winning score of the animated film. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, including the Academy Award®-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the haunting Shadowland.

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.

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