Tag Archives: Giffnock

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

REVIEW: Back to Bacharach – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

The back catalogue of Burt Bacharach comprises some of the world’s most recognisable hits. In a career spanning six decades (that arguably reached its zenith in the mid-to-late 60s) there’s a rich vein of material to be mined here.

Bach to Bacharach – The What The World Needs Now Concert Tour, delivers not only the big hits: I Say A Little Prayer, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, Anyone Who Had A Heart, Walk on By, The Look of Love, Make it Easy on Yourself, 24 Hours From Tulsa, the list goes on and on, but there are a few surprises too: Keep Me In Mind covered by Elvis and Don’t Make Me Over from Dionne Warwick.

Backed by an eight-piece band, the principal vocalists Martin Neely, Chloe Du Pre and Arabella Rodrigo have a wealth of experience behind them from the West End stage to backing/session work and cruise/cabaret performance. There’s a warmth from the trio that transmits to the audience and they work hard to keep the energy levels up and the audience engaged throughout.

There’s plenty of bang for your buck here, the hits keep coming and the two-hour show is packed with familiar song after song.

 

The only issue the cast are fighting against is that these songs are synonymous with some of the most legendary vocalists in pop history: Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones and Cilla Black, to merely touch on a few, indeed Black’s trials and tribulations when working with control freak Bacharach, are vividly documented in the recent musical of her life Cilla. These are big shoes to fill and while there are some show-stopping moments, Rodrigo’s Anyone Who Had A Heart is a stunner, they never quite hit the heights of the originals. That said, this a top quality production with an on-point band and hugely talented vocalists, one could never tire of hearing these pop classics and the packed audience is testament to the enduring draw of Bacharach. Just sit back, relax and enjoy.

Back to Bacharach is currently touring the U.K. – details here: http://www.back-to-bacharach.co.uk

 

INTERVIEW: Zoe Halliday star of Little Red Riding Hood

Classic kids’ tale with a modern twist, Little Red Riding Hood is coming to Eastwood Park Theatre on Saturday 13 February at 3pm.

From the creative team behind the hugely popular Hairy Maclary Show, Little Red Riding Hood is a fun, original musical for children, with live music and loveable characters.

The show has toured from Edinburgh to Hong Kong and Singapore and comes to Eastwood Park Theatre as part of its 45th anniversary programme.

Recommended for pre-school children, the show features a forest full of family fun as Scarlet and her side-kick Stanley the Squirrel try to outwit Walter the Wolf. 

Zoe Halliday, from Milton on Campsie, studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s musical theatre course. She will play the lead role of Scarlet and Glasgow Theatre Blog caught up with Zoe to find out about the show.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The play follows the story of 16yr old Scarlet who is lives in the woods with her father. Not having many friends and feeling a bit alone has left Scarlet longing for an adventure which falls into her lap (literally) in the form of letter from her grandfather. After some indecision about her own bravery Scarlet embarks on the quest her grandfather has sent her. Along the way she meets some wonderful forest friends including Stanley the Squirrel but also faces someone hairy not so nice enemies! The story is a whirl wind of adventure with catchy tunes all the way!

And your role…

I play the fearless “Scarlet”

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

The play did a run over Christmas at  Roxy Assembly in Edinburgh. The audiences were fantastic and got right into the spirit of the show by singing along and joining in the madness.

What is life like backstage on tour?

It is exciting! Every day we are in a different theatre/venue and face whatever challenges that presents. Whilst it can be hard going being away from family and friends we have become really close as a cast and always manage to have a laugh! Bringing the show to new audiences every day is really special and even better when you have a strong, fun filled cast.

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?

I wish I could say I eat lots of vegetables and exercise regularly but that would be a lie. The performance is fresh every day because it’s my job and I love doing it. That and some orange Lucozade and we are laughing.

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 decided I wanted to become an actor very early on. I loved dancing as a young child  and was inspired by my mum who had her own dance school. I had grown up with old school musicals and dance films.  I think I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers so many times the video broke!

When my parents put me in stage school at 10 it just all made sense.

At the age of 13 I was one the first cohort of the Preparatory Musical Theatre programme at the Dance School of Scotland were I studied all through my high school years. I then went onto study a BA in Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at just 17yrs old.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

If you really want it, it is worth waiting for. The performing arts is an extremely hard industry but worth every ounce of effort!

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

You should come and see Little Red Riding Hood for some exciting, fun and catchy enjoyment! Life isn’t as fun without a little adventure!

Tickets for Little Red Riding Hood are priced £10 standard and £8 concession, available from eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/boxoffice.

 

 

INTERVIEW: Paul Beeson on playing Robert Burns in Ae Fond Kiss at Eastwood Park

The first tour of new Robert Burns show Ae Fond Kiss, is touring around Scotland this February. Featuring many of Burns’ famous poems and songs, including Red, Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss and Auld Lang Syne, it will be a show to remember whether you love literature or just want to find out a bit more about the Bard.

Rabbie Burns is played by Paul Beeson who will guide you through the show with amusing and poignant interactions with key characters, played by cast members Gilchrist Muir, Shawney Henderson and Zoe Halliday. Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to catch up with Paul to answer some quick questions about the show.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

Ae Fond Kiss is a play with songs that tells the fascinating story of the life of Robert Burns. It does this using modern original verse, interspersed with Burns’ traditional writing and songs; a Burns’ Greatest Hits if you will! We get to meet the family, friends and (many) women who shaped his life and work along the way.

And your role…

I play Robert Burns himself, at various ages and stages of his life… it is a challenging role but one I am relishing playing!

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

The last time the play was produced was nine years ago during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was performed at the Mining Museum in Newtongrange. It was received extremely well then; however being outside the city centre meant it did not get the audience it truly deserved. This newly staged version boasts a completely new set and directorial approach, and will touring in major venues across the country.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Being part of a small-scale touring company is incredibly rewarding and so much fun – if a little challenging at times! The cast and stage manager are responsible for driving the tour vans between venues, unloading and building the set before a performance and loading the set back in the vans afterwards… oh, and performing of course! It’s a valuable experience, as everyone involved takes ownership of the production to make it the best it can be and becomes completely invested in it. You do feel like you are in a little tour bubble at times, as you are living the show (and in each other’s pockets) almost 24 hours a day… but that’s why we love it so! Your cast mates become like family and some of my greatest friendships have been made this way.

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?

Every audience is different and responds in different ways… some are incredibly noisy and responsive, some are absolutely silent! As performers, we respond to the energy the audience creates and feed off it, so every performance is fresh in that respect. Also, when you get on the road after the rehearsal process, you start to find the moments that the audience really love and perhaps moments that pass them by. We have to tweak moments like these to ensure we are doing the piece justice and that can keep us on our toes!

As for looking after yourself, it’s finding a balance in your touring life… Eating healthily can be tough when the only eatery near your hotel is a fast food joint! I try to make sure I get enough sleep, drink lots of water, eat a banana for energy and regularly steam the vocal chords… and you just have to be careful that the post-show socialising doesn’t get too out of hand!

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 chose to do Higher Drama when I was in 6th year at high school. I had no aspirations, needed another subject to study and thought Drama would be fun (and if I’m completely honest, a bit of a skive!) After the first few lessons, I realised how much fun it was and it was far from being easy… it was also the first time in my life I found something I felt I was really good at and capable of taking further. A good friend of mine had left school a couple of years before and done a Year Out Drama course in Stratford-Upon-Avon. So, after I left school, I applied and was accepted, then progressed to Drama college the following year.

I became a Drama teacher a few years after graduating, as I struggled to find work and decided to get a full time job where I could use my skills. I taught for ten years before getting back into performing. Towards the end of my teaching career, I began dabbling in amateur theatre and remembered my love of performing… the pull was too much for me!

Any advice for aspiring performers?

It may be a cliché, but never give up, believe in yourself and be prepared to work extremely hard! When I first left college, I think I was too lazy to truly pursue a career in performing… you have to be proactive, the work won’t come to you! Every performer is unique, so play to your strengths. Do not shy away from what makes you ‘you’. Take risks when you can… Despite my performing experience, I had a fear of singing in front of an audience until very recently… and I am 38! I have had to work very hard to get past that and I am all the better for it.

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

Ae Fond Kiss has everything; it’s entertaining, heartfelt, funny, sentimental, sad, exciting… it is crammed full of facts about Burns’ life, so everyone will learn something they never knew before… some of the poems and songs will be familiar to the audience and participation is encouraged… and everyone loves a bit of Burns don’t they!

Ae Fond Kiss is touring around Scotland this February and comes to Eastwood Park Theatre on Tuesday 13 February. Tickets cost £15 standard and £12 for concessions and are available to book now: www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/boxoffice.

REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Wee Muppets – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

It may be Snow White whose name is on the poster, but it’s the boys (dressed as women) who totally steal the show in Eastwood Park’s 2017 fun-filled panto.

With nods to the Snow White story, it’s a new take on the familiar tale. The baddie this time is wicked step mother Spella Binding (Stephen Arden), a former 80s pop diva who’s competing with ingénue Snow White in Pantoland’s version of the X-Factor. Spella’s side kick is Siri, a real live version of Apple’s famous app, (a fine-voiced Lisa McKecknie) and while there’s an apple involved it isn’t the poisoned kind but an i-Pad with a virus that infects our Snow. True love as always is the key to saving her, but refreshingly it’s all girl power here, and there’s no need for a prince to save you when you’ve got the love of your friends and family.

Snow White played by Charis Murray, Molly Muppet played by Lee Reynolds, Siri played by Lisa McKecknie, Lady Marmite played by Greig Adam and Evil Stepmother and 80s pop diva Spella, played by Stephen Arden

The goodies and the baddies are well-defined: Greig Adam’s Lady Marmite is a heroine you really want to root for and evil Spella is the perfect panto villain. Both Adam and Arden shine, the pair’s stage presence is so strong that while the others are a pleasant distraction, and undoubtedly talented, you are willing either, or both of them back on to the stage – they are where the action is. It’s heartening that there’s so much local talent in the cast and the local jokes and banter hit their mark.

This truly is entertainment for all the family, there’s no smut, just a lot of sass, songs we can all sing and dance to and a perfect running time of under two hours including the interval.

Snow White and the Seven Wee Muppets runs until Saturday 30th December at Eastwood Park Theatre and is truly family friendly.

Info, including how to book can be found at: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/8908/Snow-White

Title image: Siri played by Lisa McKecknie, Evil Stepmother and 80s pop diva Spella, played by Stephen Arden, Snow White played by Charis Murray, Molly Muppet played by Lee Reynolds and Lady Marmite played by Greig Adam

Image credit: Mark Gibson

SEAT REVIEWS: Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

OVERVIEW:

Eastwood Park Theatre is a 338 seat, tiered auditorium.

Sight lines from all seats are excellent due to the high rise between each row.

The auditorium is a good size but even at back views don’t feel too far removed from the action.

Good leg room in most seats.

The seats are a good width and are firmly upholstered. There’s a bit of wiggle room if you are starting to feel uncomfortable.

The auditorium is comfortably heated/ventilated.

INDIVIDUAL SEAT REVIEWS:

ROW Seat Review
A
B
C
D 8/9 – Great view, comfortable, unobstructed view

19/20 – just off-centre. Excellent unobstructed view as with most seats in the theatre.

E 11/12/13 – Central view, no site line problems, comfortable seats
F 19/20 – just off-centre but the curve of the auditorium and the wide stage means this is an excellent view. Good leg room.
G
H
J
K
L
M
N
P

IF YOU HAVE A REVIEW OF A SEAT IN THIS THEATRE PLEASE CONTACT glasgowtheatreblog@gmail.com or on Twitter @LaurenHumphreyz for your review to be added.

**PLEASE GET IN TOUCH EVEN IF THE SEAT YOU SAT IN HAS ALREADY GOT A REVIEW – WE WANT ALL OPINIONS OF THE SEAT – VIEW/LEGROOM/COMFORT/TEMPERATURE/IS SEAT OFF-SET OR DIRECTLY BEHIND ONE IN FRONT/ IS IT OK FOR TALL or SHORT THEATRE-GOERS? LET US KNOW.

INTERVIEW: Barrie Hunter on brand new musical The Sunshine Ghost currently touring Scotland

New musical The Sunshine Ghost tells the comic story of the acquisition of Castle MacKinnon by a love-struck billionaire and property tycoon, Glen Duval, for his fiancé, Astrobeth – Hollywood’s favourite astrologer. Brought stone by stone from a remote rocky outcrop on a small Scottish Island all the way to Naples, Florida, they soon discover that the castle’s previous owner has not quite ‘left’ the building… 

Tell us a little bit about the musical and your role…

My name is Barrie Hunter, and I play the role of Glen Duval, a 1950’s American billionaire property tycoon in The Sunshine Ghost. He has promised to move an old Scottish castle from Scotland to the US to win the affection and the hand in  marriage of Astrobeth, a celebrity radio clairvoyant. Little does he know there is a spiritual entity from the past who’s not quite ready to give up his ancestral seat.

Barrie Hunter (left)

Tell me about life backstage.

Life backstage on tour is a moveable feast, as no two venues are the same, so you cut your cloth accordingly, depending on how much room you have on and offstage/dressing room situations/where you can grab some dinner etc. It’s a daily adventure!

Performing in musicals can be physically demanding, how do you keep your performance fresh/ look after yourself when you have to be on top form on stage every night?

Looking after yourself whilst touring is vital – I rest up whenever I can, take on lots of water, and if we go for a small refreshment after, it’s good if you can find a place that’s not too noisy, as talking over loud environments is a sure-fire way to damage you vocally. This show is a big sing for all of us, as there are only five actors and a musician singing the whole show (23 numbers!), and it’s technically quite tricky too at times – lots of lovely harmonies and the like-so we have to be on it all the time!

Keeping the show fresh is a fairly easy ask, especially on a job like this, as it’s a fairly quick process to get it up and running, and the tour is done and dusted within a month, so there’s no time for it to get stale! It’s always useful to remember that every audience is seeing the show for the first time, so that helps too.

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

I was inspired to be an actor after getting involved with my local youth theatre, Harlequin, on the south side of Glasgow. I then moved on to Giffnock Theatre Players, doing plays, and subsequently auditioned (twice!), for the RSAMD (now RCS), and graduated from there 22 years ago…wow, I’m old. Since then, I have worked in theatre, doing plays, musicals, pantos (this is my 7th year as the Perth Theatre Dame), and done the usual bits of telly, radio etc.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

The advice I would give to aspiring actors would be: be punctual, do your research, listen to others, and whatever you may be doing, just try to find the truth of it-these things really help me, and others, in getting the job done.

The Sunshine Ghost - eoincarey_THEPALMER (2)

Image by Eoin Carey

Finally, why should people come along to see the show?

Folk should come along to The Sunshine Ghost because they will have a hoot watching a very funny show with lots of lovely music being performed by a bunch of folk who really know what they’re doing…and me! Oh, and we have a very shiny floor and flashing lights and ladders and crates and…Ach, just come along and you’ll find out for yourself…

The Sunshine Ghost is now on tour in Scotland and will be at Eastwood Park Theatre on Thursday 19 October 2017 at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £17 standard and £15 concession. If you bring a group of ten people one person goes free.

More info here: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9044/The-Sunshine-Ghost#booknow

REVIEW: Blanche and Butch – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Robert Softley Gale’s Blanche and Butch is a thoughtful, provocative, gorgeous-to-look-at powerhouse of a production.

Inspired by Noel Greig’s dark and macabre 2006 play with songs, Heelz on Wheelz, this isn’t your quota filling diversity production, it is the poignant, thought-provoking, bitingly funny story of three men, that just happens to feature two wheelchair-bound drag queens.

It’s backstage in a hotel in Wigan and a somewhat down-at-heel (as ragged around the edges as its actors) production of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Blanche, Butch and Betty find out a West End (or nearly West End) producer is in the audience, cue bickering, back-stabbing and bitching. But underneath the brittle exterior and the brutal words, we gain an insight into the heart-breaking disappointments and astonishing back stories of three men who span the generations.

Softley Gale’s work challenges our assumptions about gender, sexuality and disability and is particularly thought-provoking in his affecting monologues. As the trio discuss in the play, there’s nothing more patronising or dispiriting than being judged as “very good…considering”. The sheer quality of Softley Gale’s writing allows us to see clearly past the wheels and through to the talent of the actors onstage.  As Butch’s T-shirt proclaims ‘PISS ON PITY’ – this is a perfectly formed and powerful piece of writing, that deserves to be seen by the widest audience.

Blanche and Butch is fully accessible with integrated BSL interpretation, surtitles and audio description. 

It can still be seen at:

Tuesday 10th October 2017@ 8.00pm: The Gaiety, Ayr

Wednesday 11th October 2017 @ 7.30pm: CatStrand, Castle Douglas

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th October 2017 @ 7.30pm: Summerhall, Edinburgh

INTERVIEW: Medhavi Patel star of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! – currently touring the UK

Medhavi Patel is taking on the role of Jayaben Desai in the world premiere of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!, which is currently touring the UK.

Patel’s previous stage work has seen her star in Tales of Birbal, Trident Moon and Fragile Land, and she has starred in TV shows including Doctors and Holby City. The role of Jayaben Desai holds particular significance to Patel after she learned she is a distant relative of the iconic leader.

The play will be at Eastwood Park Theatre on 29 October 2017.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! is a beautifully written play by Neil Gore about the Grunwick strikers back in 1976. The play is based on the strong and courageous journey of Jayaben Desai, a South Asian women of Gujarati descent. Jayaben fought along with the many that supported her for the right to have a union represent them in the factory they worked for – this was due to the mistreatment of immigrant workers at the factory.

Medhavi Patel as Jayaben Desai in We Are The Lions, Mr Manager

And your role…

I will be playing Jayaben Desai. She was a woman of incredible strength, courage and determination. She fought a battle at a time where the odds were against her, simply because she was a woman and an immigrant. Many say she was ahead of her time and strived to show that Asian woman can be strong and outspoken too.

The real Jayaben Desai

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

Many are excited at the prospects of such a strong play based on real-life experiences which are still a struggle for many in today’s society. I believe it will be received strongly everywhere we go, as we have kept the energy levels high and used elements of humour and emotion at the right balance.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Rehearsals are fun but gruelling and trying to get the right tone of the play and characters is important. Louise Townsend (Director) and Neil Gore (Playwright and Actor) have gone to great lengths to ensure the production is as close to real life events as possible. There have been many moments of laughter but equally many moments of discussion and thought about why the play is so important right now. Life backstage can be tiring but when you love what you do, that feeling takes second place.

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?

I try to be as active as possible on a regular basis, whether this means walking, going to gym, for a gentle run, dancing in my room, practicing yoga and even getting enough shut eye. I also make sure I drink plenty of water and keep healthy snacks to hand. I warm up before performances and ensure I have time to silence the world from my thoughts before the show in order to go on sharp, focused and energised. Rest and play should be in the right balance and looking after oneself is essential to any performer as we are our tools.

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 chose this path as I always loved performing from a young age. I didn’t see it as something particularly unique or special, as it feels like home when I’m performing – it really feels like I’m doing what makes me happy and that is my life’s mantra.

People spend so much time working and worrying that they forget about feeling, whether it’s happy or sad. When you incite feelings in your audience and bring them into your world it is the most amazing feeling. When you are able to touch people and make them aware of these feelings, it’s a job well done. I love the physical, mental and emotional challenges, the creativity, the people and the experiences that being a performer brings.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Keep learning and be open to new challenges, don’t let yourself fit in just one category as you’ll never know your true potential.

Know your value and never be scared to question if you don’t understand or you don’t agree with something. An actor never stops learning and developing as their environment and life is their inspiration. Keep your craft alive through moments of quiet through attending workshops, shows or even trying to learn a new skill. You’ll never regret it.

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

I think it will touch anyone who has ever had to fight for something important. It shows that together any difficulty can be faced and overcome. To see and know the story of a strong South Asian woman who has fought so valiantly for the rights we have today, to understand that we can question the systems in place and strive to make changes not just for ourselves but also for the people around us.

The play will also be on tour UK-wide and comes to Glasgow’s Eastwood Park Theatre on 29 October. Tickets are on sale now, priced £15 standard and concession £12 from: http://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/boxoffice .

Further dates and show locations on can be found: www.townsendproductions.org.uk

 

INTERVIEW: Robert Softley Gale talks about Blanche and Butch

Robert Softley Gale is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over sixteen years of experience in diverse and varied roles – including actor and performer, director, writer and advocate of equality within the arts.

Robert’s professional acting debut was in 2002 and since then he has appeared in many productions – including co-writing and performing in ‘Girl X’ for National Theatre of Scotland. His award-winning solo performance – ‘If These Spasms Could Speak’ – was a hit of the 2013 Made in Scotland programme and has subsequently toured internationally to countries including Brazil, Estonia, the USA, Ireland and India.
A graduate of Glasgow University, Robert is an Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company.

For BOP (Birds of Paradise) he has directed the smash-hit sex comedy Wendy Hoose and Purposeless Movements, for which he was nominated for a CATS Best Director award. Glasgow Theatre Blog had the pleasure of talking to Robert about his play Blanche and Butch which is at Eastwood Park Theatre on 7th October.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

Blanche & Butch is set backstage at a touring performance of the iconic 1960s film ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’. The film starred Bette Davies and Joan Crawford, with Joan playing Blanche, who is a wheelchair user – the three drag queens in Blanche & Butch are presenting the first stage version of Baby Jane to star an ‘actually disabled’ Blanche. There’s a lot of bitchiness and power struggles, camp show tunes and touching ballads – something for everyone!

And your role…

I play Blanche, the youngest of the three drag queens we meet. Blanche wants to make it big – wants to get his name in lights and be a star. But everyone else keeps reminding him that there are limits to what he can achieve.

 

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

So far we’ve opened at the Tron in Glasgow and toured to Greenock and Stirling – audiences have been loving the show so far. There are a lot of funny one-liners and much crudeness but there are also songs about trying to be the best dad you can be and a very funny number about intersectionality. Like I said, something for everyone.

What is life like backstage on tour?

I feel like I should write something cruel and bitchy about how difficult they all are the work alongside, but honestly we all get on really well and have a great laugh. The hardest bit to being backstage is putting on tights every night when you’re a guy who has cerebral palsy!

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?

It is pretty knackering – you learn a lot of tricks over the years to make things easier. Grabbing food whenever you can is important, as it isn’t always easy to find your next meal between shows and travelling. Keeping each performance fresh is about remembering that for every audience tonight is their first night – ever show is a unique event between us and that audience. It sounds cliché but no two shows are the same, we’re always finding new things within the show.

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

You can read quite a bit about this here http://www.softley.co.uk/biography.htm#22 – but the short answer is that I was studying Management at Glasgow Uni – thinking that a disabled guy could never be an actor – when I got a call from a theatre company in Edinburgh asking me to audition for them. I thought I had no chance – but what the heck! Long story short I got the job and 15 years later I’m still here!

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Be nice to work with – you could be the best actor in the world but if you’re difficult to work with then directors will find someone else. And have fun – it’s called a  ‘play’ for a reason.

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

If you want to have a really good night out – with a lot of laughs and moments of “They didn’t just say THAT, did they?”, then this is the show for you.

You can see it at Eastwood Park Theatre in Glasgow on Saturday 7 October and buy tickets from https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9098/Blanche–Butch

The rest of the tour dates are available: www.boptheatre.co.uk/blanche-butch/

Header image of Robert Softley Gale by Eoin Carey

« Older Entries Recent Entries »