Tag Archives: Kelly Johnston

REVIEW: On the Town – Eastwood Park Theatre

Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s 1944 musical On The Town, is one of the great New York musicals and arguably, one of the great American musical theatre classics. This mating dance of a musical follows three sailor buddies: wide-eyed farm boy Gabey (Andi Denny), nerdy Chip (Ross McNally) and ladies man Ozzie (Kris Morrison) on 24 hours of shore leave during World War II. When Gabey spies an advert for Miss Turnstiles on the subway, the trio set out to find his dream girl. As they chase around the city, the pals are inevitably side-tracked by a cast of kooky characters.

While remembered today for its glorious score, the show was expanded from the great Jerome Robbins’ ballet Fancy Free, and remains dance-heavy, that, coupled with the sound of Bernstein’s jazzy, brassy, bluesy symphonic score (usually played by an orchestra of 28), would seem to be impossible for an amateur company to recreate, and it’s a truly brave company that tackles a Titan of a project like this, but boy do Glasgow Music Theatre succeed.

Indelibly marked in our memories are the performances from the 1949 film version, in particular Gene Kelly’s Gabey and Frank Sinatra’s Chip, and you would think that unfair comparisons would be made, but the three male leads are a joy from the first notes ringing out in New York, New York to the sunrise at the end of their eventful day. The quality of the singing, the crispness of the diction and the sheer talent of these actors, would put many professional touring productions to shame. The women are an absolute delight too: the show-stopping voice of Christina Leon as man-eater Hildy and Julie Henery’s brilliantly judged ditzy turn as anthropologist Claire de Loon, particularly make their mark, as do the supporting performances of Lindsey Ross as the tipsy Miss Dilly and Kelly Johnston as Hildy’s sneezy roommate Lucy. Vocally, Denny’s Lonely Town and Morrison, Leon, McNally and Henery’s Some Other Time are simply beautiful.

Mention must also be made of the eight-piece orchestra briskly lead by Erik Igelström, who do a fine, full-blooded job, recreating the sound of the 1940s.

Any faults lie with the piece itself rather than the company: it has always been a little disjointed – playing like a musical revue rather than an out-and-out musical, but this is a minor quibble in an outstanding production from this innovative company. It’s old-fashioned, corny but charming and as frothy as a bath full of bubbles, but it’s none the worse for that. You’d be hard-pressed to find finer performances on the professional stage – catch it while you can.

At Eastwood Park Theatre until Saturday 4 February 2017

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