Tag Archives: Johnny Collins

REVIEW: Evita – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

On one hand a masterclass in social climbing: B Movie actress and nightclub ‘hostess’ rises to become the saintly spiritual leader of the poorest and most disaffected in her country, on the other a portrait of a social climber who achieved riches and power in a finely calculated rise to the top. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita is both a love letter to the saintly Eva Peron and an expose, through Che’s contradictory narrative that highlights Eva’s part in husband Juan Peron’s violent dictatorship, their silencing of enemies and the misappropriation of ‘charity” donations.

Evita is also a show melodically complex and huge in its staging, so it’s a brave undertaking for an amateur company, but Runway Theatre Company prove they are more than a match for Rice and Lloyd Webber’s epic musical.

The stage teems with life and under the disciplined direction of Robert Fyfe the hugely talented cast keep it tight and focussed throughout. Worthy of note is Greg Robertson’s exceptionally clever choreography, which plays to the strengths of a cast that varies in age and ability. At all times it is on-point and highly effective. There are some shining stars in the cast: as Che, Johnny Collins’ performance would put some recent castings in professional productions to shame, his diction is crystal clear and his delivery of Che’s iconic songs, in particular “Oh What a Circus” and “High Flying Adored”, are beautifully judged. Runway regulars J. Campbell Kerr (Peron) and Tom Russell (Magaldi) are in supremely fine voice as ever, as is newcomer Christina Rose Leon as Peron’s mistress. Less successful is Caroline Telfer as Eva, strong in her lower range, she ventures into shrillness in the soaring high notes, she also struggles in duets with Kerr and Collins, appearing to fight against the pair, who are both vocally excellent, instead of harmonising as the melodies require.

Runway do full justice to the dramatic intensity of Rice and Lloyd Webber’s much-loved work. This is a hugely accomplished staging with a stunning ensemble and strong core casting. As ever it leaves you waiting and wondering – what’s next from this exceptionally fine company?

REVIEW: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Eastwood Park Theatre

How to Suceed in Business eastwood park6Glasgow Music Theatre really are a class apart: a happy hybrid of professional and trained performers and talented amateurs, each production team, from creative to performer, is built from scratch with the best talent on offer for each show – and boy does it show.

How to Suceed in Business eastwood park2It’s hard to overstate the quality of GMT’s output: their fearless artistic choices and innovative ideas are supported by excellent execution. Their latest offering is the little seen How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Frank Loesser, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert’s take on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 satirical self-help book of the same name. Described in the publicity material as Guys and Dolls meets Mad Men it has familiar echoes of both.

How to Suceed in Business eastwood park3It’s the early 60’s, armed with a ‘How to’ book, a bright, young window cleaner J. Pierrepont Finch, that’s F.I.N.C.H. as he likes to remind us, embarks on an ambitious climb to the top of the corporate ladder. With much manipulation and mischief he manages to get to the top of the tree with alarming speed. Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and full of innocent charm, this is a joyous piece of escapist entertainment bordering on the surreally silly at times. With tunes such as “A Secretary is not a Toy”, “Brotherhood of Man” and the hysterical “Old Ivy” it’s impossible not to be thoroughly charmed by the whole endeavour. The action cracks along at great speed and there’s so much to catch the eye that the audience’s attention never wavers.

How to Suceed in Business eastwood park4In a cast so talented it seems churlish to single out any particular performers for praise but there are some real stand-outs here: Neil Campbell as our (anti) hero Finch, Steven Dalziel (Bud Frump) and Johnny Collins (J.B. Biggley) are supremely talented and light up the stage at every entrance. The only weak link in the chain is Kelly Johnston as love-interest Rosemary Pilkington who struggles with keeping to the melody at times and has an air of immaturity about her performance, unfortunately highlighted by the supreme quality of the rest of the main cast and ensemble.

How to Suceed in Business eastwood park5Worth noting too, is Marion Baird’s innovative choreography, clearly evoking the original (uncredited) work by Bob Fosse, it is a joy to watch and beautifully executed by the cast.

This is a real treat – innocent, exuberant, good old-fashioned fun for all.

How to suceed 6 At Eastwood Park until Sat 1 Feb.

For more information about GMT visit: www.glasgowmusictheatre.co.uk

Photography by Abbie Mead and Colin Johnston