Tag Archives: King’s Theatre

REVIEW: The Band – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Firstly, a fact needs to be stated that this is not the Take That story. The words Take That are never uttered in the entire two and a half hours of the show. You would also be mistaken for thinking that the boyband recruited from the BBC reality show Let It Shine were the crux of the production, and while they feature large, they are far from the centre of the story.

Instead, it’s a story of five friends that spans 25 years. A story of growing up, love and loss, opportunity unfulfilled, of hope, peppered throughout with the hits of the biggest British boy band of the past quarter of a century. It is also more story with music rather than jukebox musical.

Writer Tim Firth clearly has the target demographic in his sights. The mature version of these 90s teens are the heart of the show. Take That the soundtrack to their lives. The pop culture references abound: Smash Hits posters on bedroom walls, Top of the Pops, Ceefax, cassette taping Top of the Pops, it unashamedly taps into the unquenchable thirst for nostalgia.

This is clearly a show of two halves: the central quartet of Heather (Emily Joyce), Rachel (Rachel Lumberg), Claire (Alison Fitzjohn) and Zoe (Jayne McKenna) are fine actresses with a wealth of talent, and it is only when the story fully centres on this quartet that it achieves any real depth. Tim Firth’s dialogue for the mature characters is utterly believable, it is less so for their teenage versions, where it is largely contrived and one-dimensional.

The quartet’s younger selves are played by Katy Clayton (Heather), Faye Cristall (Rachel), Sarah Kate Howarth (Claire) and Lauren Jacobs (Zoe) with Rachelle Diedricks as teenage pal Debbie. Their schoolgirl antics, while familiar, are a tad contrived and their diction is poor, rendering most of the lines a garbled mush. The first half also suffers from a strange selection of Take That songs that don’t exactly fit the narrative. With a back catalogue as fine as this, the choices seem plain odd.

‘The Band’ as played by Five to Five: A.J. Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T. Johns, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon prove just how good Take That were, and still are. These songs, while seeming easy to sing, just aren’t, and the quintet while having a solid go at it, never fully do the songs justice.

For anyone who has ever seen Take That live, the set design will look familiar. The production values of the band who are the producers of the show are replicated here. It’s big and bold and the stage is jam-packed with effects.

This show has had it’s fair amount of flak, its detractors have been many, but there’s a fundamental question to be asked: are they the target audience? I am pretty sure that the producers made no claims to enlighten or educate. Indeed, the programme notes say it’s a “love letter to the fans”. It’s intended for the Take That fandom, if you’re here and you’re not a fan of Take That, I’d question your choices. Sometimes theatre is made just to be entertaining. But, this reviewer is very much the target demographic, like most of the audience, knowing the words to every one of these tunes and willing this to be a joy, and while the second half was superior to the first, it ultimately doesn’t do enough to overcome its faults. I am sure The Band will be a satisfying night’s entertainment, a piece of pure escapism and nostalgia for many and it may fulfil its brief as ‘a love letter to the fans’, but for this audience member, there are more feelings of disappointment than delight.

Runs until 7 July 2018 | Image: Matt Crockett review originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub.

 

REVIEW: Sunshine on Leith – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Stephen Greenhorn’s original musical, Sunshine on Leith, predates the movie version by seven years. Originally commissioned by Dundee Rep’s artistic director James Brining. Brining, now artistic director at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, returns to the work, breathing new life into the piece for this 2018 tour and you can almost hear the fanfare of trumpets that herald the musical’s return to its homeland.

Greenhorn’s tale is Scottish to its very core, but the themes of love, loss and opportunities taken or missed, are universal. Soldiers Davy (Steven Miller) and Ally (Paul James Corrigan) return from Afghanistan home to Leith. Ally pursues his former love Liz (Neshla Caplan), Davy, her best pal Yvonne (Jocasta Almgill), but in the joy of their return home there are problems too, not least with Davy’s parents Rab (Phil McKee) and Jean (Hilary MacLean).

The political and social climate has changed much in the 11 years since its creation, but the story still has the power to move, and it’s in no small way down to the music and lyrics of Craig and Charlie Reid. At first glance the songs of The Proclaimers may not seem like a match made in heaven for a musical, but they are. Playing a crucial part in driving the plot along. The familiarity of the lyrics to the Scottish audience, heightens the emotion in the parts of the narrative they serve to enhance. That said, the emotional moments aren’t exactly subtle, but the narrative is treated with such a deft hand and sufficient originality elsewhere, that it’s easy to forgive any tiny quibble. Greenhorn’s dialogue is pitch-perfect for this story of ‘normal’, ‘ordinary’ people, a hard thing to pull off in musical theatre and every joke lands slap-bang on its mark. Greenhorn also manages to address the eternal issue of the emotionally stunted, stereotypical Scottish man with thoughtfulness as well as humour.

Worthy of note is Emily-Jane Boyle’s outstanding choreography. It is intricate and original, but still looks like real people dancing – a feat that’s hard to achieve convincingly.

The cast are joined on the transforming pub set (comparisons will inevitably be made with the musical Once) by the seven-piece band who (as they are not hidden in the pit) bring a raw immediacy to the music. The arrangements of these familiar songs are worthy of note too: the ears pricking up at some of the original treatments of them.

Paul James Corrigan (Ally) returns to a stage he is more than familiar with and feeds off of the energy of his home crowd. There’s an extra spring in his step which transmits to the auditorium, well-known and loved for his comedy performances, he impresses as a singer and dancer too. The crowd with him every step of the way. Steven Miller (Davy) is a fine dramatic actor and has an even finer voice to match, he gets the chance to show off his comedy chops here, Jocasta Almgill is excellent as Davy’s love interest Yvonne, and Phil McKee and Hilary MacLean as Davy’s parents are perfectly played.

This story (to its credit) resists the urge to tie everything up in a neat bow and resolve every plotline, ultimately, this is a life-affirming story about ‘real lives’ that will resonate with most, if not all, of its target audience. If the eardrum bursting reaction of this audience at the end is anything to go by – it more than hit all the right notes. To borrow from The Proclaimers themselves, this is guaranteed to make your heart fly.

Runs until 23 June 2018 | Image: Contributed

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED BY THE REVIEWS HUB

INTERVIEW: Scottish star Jayne McKenna talks The Band and coming home to Glasgow

Jayne McKenna trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has an enviable CV in theatre, TV, radio and film. She returns home to Glasgow to star in the much-anticipated The Band, when it come to The King’s in Glasgow from 26 June to 7 July 2018. I had a chance to catch up with Jayne before she arrives in town.

How does it feel coming home to Glasgow with such a hugely anticipated show?

Thrilling. I trained there so for me it’s full circle. And I’ve never played The Kings so that’s another treat.

Tell us a bit about your role in The Band.

It’s about a group of girls you meet when they’re young and then again as women, and about the changes and surprises life springs, so, while the younger me thinks her life is going to be all books and study, I turn out quite differently, but no spoilers.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Bring tissues, it gets emotional – laughing one minute and crying the next. And our musicians are stunning, not to mention the ‘boyband’ Five to Five – brilliant all-rounders a joy to work with.

Do you have any favourite moments, scenes or songs from the show that we should look out for?

The song ‘Get Ready For It’. I hadn’t heard it before and it’s become favourite. Incredibly uplifting.

The show has had an enviable amount of publicity, the main male roles being cast on the show Let It Shine, how have audiences received the production as it’s toured the country.

Tremendously. Every night on their feet. Apparently 62% of our audience have never been to the theatre before, and some have now seen it 14 times. People identify with the characters – they tell us at stage door all the time: “Thanks for being me up there”.

What’s life like on the road with a show like The Band?

Tough, especially as a mum. I’m very lucky I have my husband. FaceTiming home is a vital part of my day.

You have an impressive (and if I may say heavy weight) theatrical CV, what have been your favourite roles so far?

The show where I met my husband, of course. Playing Goneril in King Lear with Nicol Williamson is up there. We had an incredible connection as fellow Scots. I stayed in touch with him and even had the honour of singing jazz with his band.

Is there any Play/Musical you’d love to be in?

More Shakespeare would be nice: I’ve tuned into him more as I’ve got older. Not just the language, the thoughts, and being able to express things that in life only occur to us (if they do) in hindsight when the moment has passed! But more singing too: this is my first musical and I’m loving rocking it out!

Tell us a bit more about your career path from Glasgow to touring the country singing the songs of Take That to thousands of adoring fans.

I moved to London after a stint at The Lyceum with the late greats Kenny Ireland and Gerard Murphy and continued mainly in theatre. For example, Macbeth in the West End, the Peter Hall Company, National Theatre, but, TV and radio as well and even a Bollywood film in India. Now I live in Brighton with my family.

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

Because it might change your life. The characters are real. Their journeys are your journeys and what they survive you can survive. It’s about friendship and looking forward. Plus it’s fabulously well written and produced and the music will ‘Take you back’… and the acting’s not bad either!

Catch Jayne in The Band at the King’s Theatre from 26 June to 7 July 2018

Images: Matt Crockett

WHAT’S ON JULY: The Little Mix Show comes to Glasgow King’s Theatre

A highly energetic tribute show that follows in the footsteps of the award winning girl band, Little Mix.

This iconic 5-star rated show has live vocals and is full of commercial pop-video choreography.

Suitable for kids, tweens, teens and adults alike, The Little Mix Show brings the full pop concert experience to your local theatre.

There are lots of added extras including Dance Competitions, Free Giveaways and even a Meet & Greet with the girls after the show!

The Little Mix Show features all of Little Mix’s chart topping hits including the most recent releases from the Glory Days album. 

Dance & scream to a packed out playlist of hit songs that includes Black Magic, Power, No More Sad Songs, Wings, Shoutout To My Ex and even a few covers from their time on the XFactor.

GLASGOW KING’S THEATRE

TUESDAY 31 JULY 2018

WHAT’S ON SEPTEMBER: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Show at the King’s

WANNABE is a concert created to celebrate the career of the World’s biggest girl band, the Spice Girls.

Featuring the greatest Spice Girls hits, this musical celebration recreates the era of Girl Power.

From the chart stomping ‘Spice Up Your Life’ through to the hip shaking ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, WANNABE takes you on a Spice World journey through the Spice Girls group and solo careers that will make you Zig-A-Zig-Ahhhh.

Swing it, shake it, move it, make it down however you can. Costumes, groups & families all welcome for the biggest 90s party in town.

Hi, si, ja, hold tight!

GLASGOW KING’S THEATRE

SAT 22 SEPTEMBER 2018 (EVENING AND MATINEE SHOWS)

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Following on from the critically-acclaimed new work, The Red Shoes, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures delve deep into the back catalogue to 1997 to revive their much-loved production of Cinderella.

Re-set to World War 2, Cinderella and her shell-shocked, RAF pilot beau, meet and part during the horrors of The Blitz. The familiar elements of the story remain: the ‘wicked’ step-mother and (not so wicked) step-sisters (with a few step-brothers thrown into the mix), and while there’s no Fairy Godmother, there’s the (somewhat malevolent) platinum-haired Angel, whose sinister presence punctuates the action. Instead of facilitating the fairy-tale ending, it feels more like manipulation. The setting, and Bourne’s handling of it, perfectly encapsulates the fragility of love during wartime.

As ever, Lez Brotherston’s design is stunning, from bombed out buildings, the London Underground, the (ball substitute) evening at The Café de Paris, The Embankment to Platform 12 at Paddington Station, each element is breath-taking. The limited colour palette of greys, and blacks is darkly atmospheric and draw the eye to key features of the narrative: Cinders pure white dress, the red cape of a Red Cross nurse, it is a masterpiece of theatre design. It perfectly reflects Britain in its ‘darkest hour’. Paul Groothuis’ sound and Neil Austin’s lighting design only add to the magic.

Sergei Prokofiev’s haunting score has been edited down in Acts 1 and 2, but remains intact for Act 3. The music written contemporary to Bourne’s re-setting of the story adds a dimension of authenticity to the production. The two together a match made in heaven. It just feels right, and draws on Bourne’s own love for classic black and white movies and their music.

As with much of Bourne’s work there’s always humour to light the darkness. Including the foot-fetishist step brother, and a myriad of tiny details in both setting and action, that will raise a smile.

It’s hard to find fault in any aspect of this production, the dancers led by Ashley Shaw and New Adventures favourite Dominic North as Cinders and her Prince, are exquisite and unlike many Ballet companies, their acting ability and deftness at conveying the emotions of the story, not only match their dancing abilities but are head and shoulders above their contemporaries. Liam Mower as always leaves his mark as the Angel, as does Anjali Mehra as Sybil the exquisitely clad and coiffed, Step Mother.

With the now legendary Swan Lake to tour again next year, one can only wait with bated breath to see what new adventures are next for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. As ever, there are never enough superlatives for this incomparable company – simply unmissable.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

NEWS: Guitar legend Duane Eddy to appear at the King’s in Glasgow

Guitar legend Duane Eddy is to perform at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow as part of a rare UK tour.

Duane, who celebrated his 80th birthday in April, will appear on stage on Sunday 28 October.

Duane is one of the original guitar heroes, who put a deep and resounding twang into Rock ‘n’ Roll – the signature sound of a string of late ‘50s and early ‘60s instrumental masterpieces. Infused with elements of country, blues, jazz and gospel, his many hits include: Rebel Rouser, Peter Gunn, Shazam, Ghost Riders In The Sky, Cannonball and The Lonely One.

Duane Eddy performing Rebel Rouser at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otaIZoW0dtg

Duane has become the most successful instrumentalist in rock history, charting 15 Top 40 singles from 1958 through 1963 and selling more than 100 million records worldwide. He has won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental, Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist from The Americana Music Association and was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

A true pioneer and living legend, Duane looks forward to returning to the UK for his three celebratory shows in October.

LISTINGS

Duane Eddy

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Sun 28 Oct 2018

www.atgtickets.com

0844 871 7648

NEWS: Go wild for Matt Terry in Madagascar, coming to Glasgow

Matt Terry, winner of 2016’s X-Factor is confirmed to play Alex the Lion in the brand-new stage adaptation of Madagascar – The Musical which arrives at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow from Tuesday 7 – Saturday 11 August 2018.

Since winning X-Factor, Matt has been recording music around the world including Miami, LA and Scandinavia. After a top three hit with Ed Sheeran penned winner’s single When Christmas Comes Around, he released his debut album Trouble in November 2017. His first single from the album, Sucker For You has had nearly 60 million streams on Spotify. After Sucker For You, Matt went back to his Spanish childhood by featuring on Enrique Iglesias’s smash single, Subeme La Radio alongside Sean Paul.

Matt said: ‘I am so excited to be making my acting debut in the brand-new production, Madagascar – The Musical. It’s a childhood memory for all of us! I can’t wait to be playing the lead role of Alex and bringing him to life. Expect incredible costume, set and cast. And the music is immense! It will be an awesome night for everyone to enjoy. See you all there.’

Matt will be joined by cast including Antoine Murray-Straughan, Timmika Ramsay, Jamie Lee-Morgan, Shane McDaid, Laura Johnson, Jessica Niles, Victoria Boden, Matthew Pennington and Darren John.

Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – The Musical  follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.

Alex the Lion is the king of the urban jungle and the main attraction at New York’s Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the hippo, have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public, with regular meals provided for them. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his escape – with the help of some prodigious penguins – to explore the world.

This wacky adventure for the whole family is brought to life by Selladoor Family, the producers behind James and the Giant Peach, Seussical and The Owl and the Pussycat and Hartshorn-Hook, producers of the Olivier Award winning Rotterdam, Murder Ballad, Urinetown and American Idiot. Madagascar – The Musical is directed by award-winning Kirk Jameson with choreography from Fabian Aloise. Designed by Tom Rogers, with Lighting design by Howard Hudson, Sound Design by Chris Whybrow, Musical Supervision from Mark Crossland and Puppet Direction from Emma Brunton.

Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip, hip Hippo and those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime. Filled with outlandish characters, adventure galore and an upbeat score, you’ll have no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”

LISTINGS

Madagascar

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Mon 6-Sat 12 Aug 2018

Mon-Sat, 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

 

REVIEW: 20th Century Boy – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Four decades after his untimely death, 20th Century Boy aims to shine a light on the man once dubbed “The Electric Warrior”, the “King of Glam Rock” and the “Godfather of Punk”, Marc Bolan. Setting out on a path for fame since childhood, the story takes us from young Marc Feld’s early years in Stoke Newington to stardom as Marc Bolan.

Bolan’s untimely death a few days shy of his 30th birthday, almost assured him a legacy as the glittering epitome of an era of excess, but it’s to its credit that 20th Century Boy is more docu-drama than jukebox musical. It shows Bolan’s failures and flaws equally as it does his triumphs and talent.

We never got the opportunity to see the ageing pop star, to see where his career trajectory would eventually take him, to see what happened when the effects of his life of excess finally took their toll. However, this musical certainly gives us a glimpse of what might have been. You see a cock-sure, but ultimately nice guy, become consumed by the self-created myth he wove around himself. To see the rise of Punk on the horizon, the uncertainty creep in as to where he could go next.

Last seen in 2011, this new, touring version of John Maher’s show has been re-written with new material added by Nicky Graham and Colin Giffin. The first act covers the early 50s to early 70s, the second, takes a darker turn towards the inevitable tragic end.

The set is simplistic but utterly effective, enhanced by projections that move the timeline along, but it’s the music that’s key and boy, is it utterly, utterly brilliant. The live musicianship is astonishing, it’s pure rock concert, not a watered-down musical theatre version of these tunes, and as a result it stands head and shoulders above its peers.

The cast is headed up by Olivier Award-winning George Maguire as Bolan. Maguire is a star, a magnetic presence in any role he tackles, and it’s no different here. A fine musician as well as actor, he manages to perfectly capture Bolan’s idiosyncrasies, as well as his distinctive voice. He achieves what every actor playing a legend dreams of doing, he makes you forget this is an actor playing a role, he IS Bolan in this show. There can be no compliment greater than to say he utterly convinces. Ellena Vincent is a strong presence as Bolan’s lover Gloria Jones as is Sarah Moss as Bolan’s wife June Child and Derek Hagan as producer Tony Visconti. But, there’s not a weak link anywhere. The choreography by Cressida Carré and its execution are faultless, neither parody or pastiche, it is utterly evocative of the eras it represents.

As with any show with a tragic ending, there really has to be an uplifting musical encore, a celebration where the audience can dance away the tears, and so we are treated to a roof-raising medley of Bolan and T-Rex’s greatest hits, so enthusiastically received, it makes the famous dress circle at The King’s Theatre literally bounce.

“Will people remember me?” a ghostly Bolan asks after the car crash that ends his life and starts this show. That this production is touring the UK 40 years after his death, filling theatres, and having people quite literally dancing in the aisles and singing every lyric, answers that question resoundingly.

This review was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub

 

REVIEW: Titanic The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s Titanic: The Musical first appeared on Broadway in 1997, winning five Tony Awards in the process. Director Thom Southerland’s stripped back production, first seen at the Southwark Playhouse in 2013, was revived to great acclaim in 2016, and is now touring the UK.

While the subject matter may seem unlikely (an event where 1517 people lost their lives), even morbid, composer Yeston has himself claimed that the musical isn’t based on tragedy alone. Instead, it represents the hopes and dreams of all those on board: the 3rd Class passengers, their dreams of immigration to a new life; those in 2nd Class with their aspirations to live life like those in 1st Class; the 1st Class passengers hoping to forever maintain their positions of privilege in the New World. Writer Peter Stone achieves this. There’s yearning, optimism and a finger firmly on the pulse of society (both high and low) in the early years of the 20th Century.

It also neatly catalogues the seemingly endless list of wrong decisions that set the ship on its tragic course, the desire to make history eerily prophetic: ignoring warnings not to push the ship hard; constantly pushing the speed; ignoring almost constant warnings of icebergs from fellow ships on the same journey; the feeling of invincibility over common sense; changing course to save a few hours (to get some publicity) which puts the ship on a collision course with tragedy, the list is too long to chart here. This is a work of infinite quality, wonderfully researched, that manages to stir the heart and soul. These are the stories of the real people who boarded the ship for that fateful journey, this is no lazy dramatization.

Whilst written by Americans, this is a uniquely British story. Stylistically the music too is quintessentially British: heavily influenced by both Elgar and Vaughan Williams it is simply beautiful. The ensemble shine and when singing as one, have the ability to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

In a cast that is uniformly excellent, it seems churlish to single out any member but Matthew McKenna as First Class Steward Henry Etches is an actor of exceptional quality, who is infinitely watchable throughout.

If any criticisms can be levelled at the work it is the sheer number of characters who appear, as each is given their moment, it makes the running time a hefty two hours 40 minutes, that said, this is also laudable as it gives voice and equal weight to every type of passenger and crew. The actors do a fine good job of paying respectful tribute to these real people’s lives, Titanic – The Musical truly has the power to move.

Don’t be put off by the subject matter or puerile previous adaptations of the story on screen, this is a respectful, perfectly judged piece of writing that packs an emotional punch.

Runs until 26 June 2018 | Image: Scott Rylander

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

 

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