Tag Archives: Hamilton Town House

REVIEW: Milton Jones and Chums – The Town House, Hamilton

The king of the one-liner Milton Jones and star of Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and Comedy Roadshow, is touring the country with a slew of local comedians in tow. Luckily for Lanarkshire, Jones and chums are stopping off in Hamilton for one night only.

Compered brilliantly by stand up and star of Scot Squad, Chris Forbes, this is a well-curated showcase that delivers a satisfying night of comedy to the packed crowd.

Chris Forbes

Unenviably, it’s down to Edinburgh-based Gareth Waugh to open the show. Waugh is a personable and polished comedian and his self-deprecating stories have enough relatable material to get the crowd nodding and laughing along. It must be said though that for anyone who has seen him in the last few years, much of the material has been culled from his past two Edinburgh Fringe show: granny’s mad childhood games, the teenage gang asking him to buy them a carry-out and his jogging exploits to name a few. There’s also a fair amount of awkwardly familiar stories to make you cringe in recognition. It’s funny enough, and it serves its purpose as a warm up for the acts to come, but there’s nothing new or particularly ground-breaking here.

Gareth Waugh

Next up is the Santa Claus bearded and board shorts and t-shirt wearing veteran Graham Mackie. Mackie’s look may be benign and affable but his material is deceptively subversive, a combination that goes down well with the Hamilton crowd.

Graham Mackie

Second-to-top-billing falls to recent social media viral sensation Gary Meikle, whose rant on his daughter’s obsession with her eyebrows has struck a chord in these self-absorbed times. Meikle a single dad and youthful granddad at 40, delivers a knock-out selection of hugely relatable anecdotes that really do have the audience almost rolling in the aisles. What shines through is his love for his daughter and granddaughter, who provide rich material for the deft story-teller.

Gary Meikle

The wild-haired Jones is well worth the wait and the intellect behind the drolly delivered one-liners is sharp, sharp, sharp. Jones is well aware that some are so clever that they need a moment to land and his deft-touch with an audience allows this to happen.

This is really is a bumper evening of comedy, without a weak link on the bill. Each comedian is well worth seeing on their own and an even bigger treat altogether.

Milton Jones

REVIEW: La traviata – Scottish Opera, Town House, Hamilton

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Violetta, a famed escort, leads a seemingly charmed existence amidst the cream of Paris society. But, in fragile health, she is tired of living an empty life and when Alfredo introduces himself she finally sees a way out of her tawdry lifestyle. Deeply in love, all is blissful contentment until some home truths convince her to leave Alfredo and head back into the arms of another…

La traviata/The Fallen Woman

Opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after Alexandre Dumas’ play La dame aux camelias

Sung in English translation by Edmund Tracey

Performed in an orchestral reduction by Tony Burke

This new production of Verdi’s beloved tearjerker is part of Scottish Opera’s 50th anniversary celebrations, an unprecedented 50 date tour across the country fulfilling the company’s promise to bring Opera to the whole of Scotland no matter how remote. This production re-imagined in 1950’s Paris aims to get to the heart of the story by concentrating on the turbulent relationship at its core.

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Robyn Lyn Evans as Alfredo Germont and Elin Pritchard as Violetta Valery

Though enjoyable in parts and laudable in its aim to make opera accessible to the masses, this production is not without its flaws. The decision to sing it in English made it no more accessible than it would have been sung its original Italian with surtitles: Elin Pritchard in the principle role of Violetta is a fine singer however the nature of her and indeed any other sopranos voice, means that at the highest end of its range every word is changed to mere sound, losing all meaning, only the male singers (and not all of them) were, in any way understandable, though praise must go to Robyn Lyn Evans as Alfredo who possessed the most impressive vocals of the evening and the most convincing acting skills.

The truncation of the storyline also meant that anyone not already familiar with the tale, would be lost. That said, the programme is of  impressive quality providing comprehensive and essential notes on the production, and is an entertaining, informative and well-written read. However the length of the notes meant that it was impossible to read them in the minutes between taking your seat and the production beginning (the interval chatter from many saying that they wished they had time to read the notes beforehand as they might have had a chance of understanding what was going on).

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The 18 piece chamber orchestra sounded tight and strong throughout, however the same could not be said for the singers; in this 700+ seat venue the sound was at times lost and some of the blame I fear must be laid at the door of the “shoebox” set. Though clever in its design and pleasing to the eye, it seemed to smother much of the sound. There were also some uncomfortably lengthy scene changes which left the audience somewhat restless.

The costume design also failed to truly reflect the setting; the sharper suits of the men were era-appropriate as were the “New Look” designs of Kathryn McAdam’s characters Flora and Annina, though the top hats and capes of the men in evening dress were more of a nod to the Opera’s origins and Violetta’s long-flowing Pre-Raphaelite curled locks and 80’s style dresses were an avoidable annoyance given the size of the wig and wardrobe departments of this national company.

The intention of Scottish Opera to “bring the widest possible range of opera, performed to the highest possible standards, to the maximum audience throughout Scotland” is laudable however I fear a little more thought and care needs to go into matching the staging to these many and varied venues in order to maximise the quality of experience.

REVIEW: Casablanca The Gin Joint Cut – Hamilton Town House

Since its debut in 2010 at Oran Mor, Casablanca The Gin Joint Cut, has had two successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival and arrives here in the middle of a comprehensive UK tour.

At once, reverential and irreverent, it is a loving parody of the classic film but with some “DVD extras”. Gavin Mitchell,Claire Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm provide a truly laugh-out-loud evening’s entertainment. The love, care and quality of this just shines through. The script, the props and the physical comedy never descend into cheap farce – this is clever and original.  I urge you if you get the chance go and see it.

Thursday 1st November – Sunday 4th November Eden Court INVERNESS 01463 234234

Thursday 8th November  Town Hall RUTHERGLEN 0141 613 5700

Friday 9th November Corran Halls OBAN 01631 567333

Saturday 10th November Queen’s Hall DUNOON 01369 702800

Sunday 11th November Victoria Hall HELENSBURGH 01436 673275

REVIEW: Let’s Hang On – The Music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Hamilton Town House, 18th May 2012

In this production Let’s Hang On take you on a musical journey through the prolific career of one of the most successful bands of all time – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The show tells the story of some blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks who wrote their own songs, invented their own sound and took the world by storm all before the age of 30. Mmm…sounds a bit like a rather well-known, long running West End show you might have heard of. Well let’s hang on…

In the first part of the show Let’s Hang On take you back to where it all began for the Four Seasons. There are tracks from the early 50’s when Frankie Valli first joined the group, and then, with the addition of song-writing giant Bob Gaudio, you’re treated to even more classic hits of the era.

Also in this first section of the show the stage is transformed into a street corner in New Jersey, with the group, under a street lamp singing doo-wop music a capella style.

In the second part of the show its back to back favourite hits; Dec ’63, Beggin’, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Grease, Working My Way Back To You, Who Loves You, Bye, Bye Baby and many more…

The show leads up to the finale when out come the red Jersey Boys jackets and you hear the falsetto vocals in the songs; “Rag Doll, Sherry, Walk Like A Man and Big Girls Don’t Cry.

This was an absolutely fantastic show from the first note ringing out to the standing, or should I say dancing, ovation at the end. The sheer quality of the musicianship and the detail and care with which this was done was impressive. Robin Maughan in the role of Frankie Valli was outstanding: with a pitch perfect falsetto throughout, as was Dino Buttarazzi on lead guitar. A fabulous night out and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to everyone. Brilliant music, brilliant musicians – simply just brilliant.

Find out more about them and their up-coming tour dates here

REVIEW: The Producers – Hamilton Operatic Society, Hamilton Town House 22nd November 2011

Another adventure into the world of the Am-Drams, this time Hamilton Operatic & Dramatic Club. Now I’ve seen this at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane with Lee Evans in the starring role so I wasn’t exactly expecting anything on that scale, but, based on their high quality track record I was looking forward to this. The story goes…

“After putting together another Broadway flop, down-on-his-luck producer Max Bialystock teams up with timid accountant Leo Bloom in a get-rich-quick scheme to put on the world’s worst show.”

Well with a cast of 46, a musical ensemble of 18 and 17 scene changes, in a theatre that last hosted Bill Kenwright’s Joseph production, this was a huge undertaking. Apart from a few stray hands creeping out from the curtains to grab bits of scenery, this was approaching professional standards.

The most impressive thing were the singing voices of the two male principals; Gordon Watson as Max Bialystock and Paul Gilliland as Leo Bloom – just fantastic professional quality, both of whom also maintained excellent American accents throughout. Also deserving of a mention were Peter Scally as Franz Liebkind and John Carr and Ray O’Sullivan as Roger De Bris and his “common law assistant” Carmen Ghia. All three appeared to be more than relishing their roles!

The only weak link in the leads was Ulla played by Suzanne Gilliland who had the worst comic Swedish accent – totally unintelligible – now I know this is meant to be a caricature but she needs to be at least clear in the words she’s mangling to get the laughs. The fact that she was short and wearing a really badly fitting wig didn’t help either.

While not matching the 1968 Mel Brooks film for sheer hysteria it was packed with plenty of laughs. Oh and special mention must also go to the fabulous quality of the programme. On the basis of this it will be well worth checking out their future productions. Highly recommended.

all production pics from here

REVIEW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat starring Keith Jack, Hamilton Town House 6th May 2011

               

This was playing 5 minutes walk from my front door so there wasn’t really any chance I was going to pass up the opportunity to see a musical that convenient!

 It stars Keith Jack, the 22-year-old Scot was a finalist in Any Dream Will Do, the BBC show to find a new star to play Joseph on the West End stage, but lost out to Lee Mead.  Jack has finally got his hands on Joseph’s technicolour dream coat and has said “It is strange, though, to think I will finally be doing Joseph. I look back on Any Dream Will Do now and I don’t think I was ready for it all then. I feel like in the two or three years that have gone by I have really grown up and am more prepared to take on a lead like Joseph now – and I know all the songs.”

 By sheer accident rather than design I’ve got front row seats for this.

 So the (re-) view from the front row is… fabulous. In the confines of a pretty small stage this was just joyous and totally unexpected. Well acted with energy and sparkle from a fantastic cast. The audience’s hands and throats were raw from applauding and singing. If this is touring near you I urge you to go. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

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