Tag Archives: Lauren Humphreys

REVIEW: The Magic Flute – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Set in a steampunk landscape inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne: a wicked queen, a handsome prince, a damsel in distress, high priests, a comedy side-kick, magical instruments, a serpent and some sorcerers are all given new life in Scottish Opera’s revival of Sir Thomas Allen’s joyous production of The Magic Flute. 

While the work’s misogyny and Masonic undertones have been long debated, it is impossible to judge an opera written in 1791 by 2019’s standards and this utterly charming, gorgeous looking and sounding version is guaranteed to win over even the hardest of hearts. Its three-hour run time passing by in the blink of an eye.

Of note are the irresistible Papageno, so cleverly and cheekily played by Richard Burkhard, his bang up-to-date, witty asides and ability to wrap the audience around his little finger are a delight; Dingle Yandell’s beautifully sung Speaker; a sure-sounding Sarastro in James Creswell; Gemma Summerfield – a radiant and glorious Pamina, and talent to look out for, Julia Sitkovetsky, who handles Der Hölle Rache, one of the most famous arias in all opera, absolutely beautifully.

This five star production is thanks to the stars aligning in every aspect of its creation: sure-footed direction, lively conducting, a laugh-out-loud and oh-so clever translation, perfect casting, an orchestra on top form and an innovative and captivating stage design. It’s not often achieved, but this is as near to perfection as it’s possible to get. 

Runs until 18 May 2019 then touring. Images – James Glossop.

 

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

Adapted from Jeff Pope’s own acclaimed 2014 TV mini-series starring Sheridan Smith, Cilla The Musical cashes in on the never-ending nostalgia for all things 1960s as well as deftly portraying Cilla Black’s rags to riches journey from Liverpool’s ‘Scotty’ Road to stardom.

Behind the toothy smile of the girl next door, Black was a woman of blinding ambition, and Pope doesn’t shy away from highlighting the sometimes less than palatable aspects of Black’s personality: forcing her clearly talented husband Bobby Willis to abandon a promising career is only one example.

Pope has realised the world of the 1960s on stage with a sure touch: a world that will be familiar to anyone who lived through the era. Portraying the comparative ordinariness of the stars of the 60s – waiting in the phone box at the end of the road to find out if your song has hit number one. There’s also a particular resonance with the sectarian divide in Liverpool reflecting Glasgow’s own.

The narrative has drive, the first act filled with youthful ambition, the second taking a darker turn as it portrays Brian Epstein’s untimely demise and Willis and Black’s crumbling relationship.

It’s the three B’s who feature largest in the show: Black, Bobby Willis and Brian Epstein. Carl Au is a standout as husband Bobby with a fantastic voice of his own and Andrew Lancel is impressive as the tortured and troubled Epstein, both capture the hearts and minds of the audience. It’s refreshing to see Willis given due credit for the role he played in making the woman who was to become his wife, a huge star.

Fans of the era will also be delighted to know that another B, The Beatles, who played a critical role in Black’s success also appear, played with aplomb by Joshua Gannon, Michael Hawkins, Alex Harford and Bill Caple. The energy levels lift at their gifted musicianship. Among the supporting characters, Pauline Fleming and Neil MacDonald as Cilla’s parents make their mark as do Billie Hardy and Gemma Broderick-Bower as pals Pat and Pauline and Tom Christian as Bobby’s brother Kenny Willis. In their entirety, the cast are top-notch and much of the whole endeavour’s success is due to their considerable talent.

In the title role Kara Lily Hayworth looks nothing like Black, but manages to convey her larger than life personality. Vocally she’s utterly on-point, indeed she has one of the finest voices I’ve heard in a very long time. Her continued success looks assured.

The story stops in 1967 and Black had relatively few hits: Anyone Who Had a Heart, You’re My World, Love of The Loved and Something Tell’s Me are all here, but it’s necessary to utilise the hits of other 60s stars to drive the story along, there are songs from fellow Liverpudlians Gerry and the Pacemakers and US stars The Mamas and Papas (fabulously portrayed by members of the ensemble), laudably all the songs featured feel necessary to the narrative.

This is a hugely entertaining and nigh-on unmissable production thanks to Pope’s sure-footed script and a cast of supreme quality. There’s so much to enjoy here, well worth seeing even if you are not a particular fan of the woman herself.

Runs until Saturday February 2018 at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Famous theatre scenes recreated brick by (Lego) brick

Can you recognise these iconic theatre scenes from a pile of bricks?

Travel and theatre break provider, National Holidays commissioned model designer Elspeth De Montes from Azurebrick to recreate miniature theatre scenes out of toy bricks.

Elspeth built four of the most iconic theatre scenes which took over a month to complete, involving great precision and an incredible eye for detail.

Check out the pictures of these famous productions below…lego dirty dancing national hoidaysDirty Dancing – The famous lift, capturing one of the most romantic moments in musical history, when Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey to the now-classic Time of my Life.

les mis lego national holidays les miserables

Les Misérables, Enjolras and his comrades storming the barricades.phantom of the opera lego musical theatre national holidaysThe gondola scene from the classic The Phantom of the Opera.lion king simba pride rock lego musical theatreThe Lion King, the presentation of Simba at Pride Rock.

The Circle of Life loved by both children and adults alike, this emotionally filled scene pulls on the heart strings. 

 

 

REVIEW: Guys and Dolls – Edinburgh Playhouse

So successful is Chichester Festival Theatre’s 2014 production of Guys and Dolls, that not only has it made the transfer to the West End but has also spawned a comprehensive national tour. Sad to say, however, it appears to have lost some of its five-star sparkle in transit.

An amalgamation of three of Damon Runyon’s Broadway fables; The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown, Pick the Winner and Blood Pressure: shifty, small-time crook Nathan Detroit (Maxwell Caulfield), in need of money to host ‘the oldest established, permanent floating crap game in New York’, bets charismatic cool-cat and inveterate gambler Sky Masterson (Richard Fleeshman), that Masterson can’t get frosty missionary Sarah Brown (Anna O’Byrne) from the Save-A-Soul Mission, to go with him to Havana on a date. A merry band of misfits help colour the tall tale, from eternally engaged, fourteen years a fiancée Miss Adelaide (Louise Dearman), to local low-lives Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Harry the Horse.

guysanddolls2

The witty words of Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows are regarded as among the funniest in the musical theatre canon and they remain intact in Gordon Greenberg’s revival. However, the pace and direction of Greenberg’s production lacks the spark required to bring Runyon’s stories fully to life, playing like a poorly connected series of stand-alone scenes rather than a flowing whole.

guysanddolls

None of the faults of the production can be blamed on the cast, with West End leads Louise Dearman, Anna O’Byrne, and Richard Fleeshman and seasoned actor Maxwell Caulfield at the helm, then quality is assured. Dearman turns in an especially effective turn as a Lucille Ball-like Miss Adelaide, managing to balance the humour and pathos brilliantly and Fleeshman conveys the easy charm and charisma of Masterson with aplomb. The supporting cast too is of the highest quality.

guys and dolls 3

Peter McKintosh’s set design is essentially simple, an arc of lightbulb-ringed adverts and a series of roll-on-roll-off accents, which only really brings the vivid world of New York alive when fully lit. The choreography of Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta and West End stalwart Andrew Wright has been placed firmly centre stage, with extended dance sequences throughout. The duo’s work is especially effective in the ballet-inspired crap game in the sewers with its athletic, inventive sequences and a nod to Acosta’s ballet background in the Swan Lake line up.

With such a top-notch cast and first-rate creative team, it’s hard to see how this could go wrong, but Greenberg’s production falls flat in too many places that if fails to do full justice to the stellar cast and this musical theatre classic. Ultimately unsatisfying.

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

Images: Johan Persson

REVIEW: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Woodside Hall, Glasgow

In the atmospheric surroundings of Glasgow’s Woodside Hall, Psycho-like screeching strings from the barefoot orchestra clad in Edwardian garb and flashing strings of fairground lights, transport the audience back to turn of the century and the world of Dr. Caligari.

Taking as its inspiration the 1920 silent movie classic of the same name, Scottish Opera’s Connect company’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari moves back in time to 1901 and resets the action to Glasgow instead of Germany.

Francis takes his girlfriend Jane and her best friend Ellen to the fair at Glasgow Green, among the fortune tellers and snake oil salesmen, in his Cabinet of Fate, Dr Gallagher presents a somnambulist, Cesare who can predict the future while in his sleeping state. When Cesare’s prophecy that Ellen will die that very night comes true, and Francis comes under suspicion for the murder, he and Jane begin to investigate with devastating consequences.

Under Julie Brown’s sure-footed direction, and enhanced by Lisa Sangster’s set and Kate Bonney’s lighting design, a comprehensive cast of characters colour the stage in Karen MacIver and Allan Dunn’s atmospheric and melodic work. The music and libretto are compelling throughout and its short running time (around 75 minutes) ensures that the audience is gripped from start to finish.

Despite the small size of the performance venue there are issues with projection from the young company who are often overwhelmed by the fine-sounding orchestra and dialogue is lost in several places, however, in the cast of 32 there are some stand-out performances which bode well for the future of opera in Scotland. Previous Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Andrew McTaggart and Sarah Power’s experience clearly shows, both delivering strong vocal performances as Caligari/Gallagher and Jane, the female chorus too are beautifully harmonious. Young tenor Glen Cunningham shows promise but needs to work on projecting his melodious voice and as Cesare, Daniel Keating Roberts provides novelty with his countertenor voice, but is somewhat lacking in his delivery.

Scottish Opera’s Connect programme provides the only opportunity for young Scottish musicians aged 14-21 to explore the world of opera and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is the third world premier in eight years for Connect. The company’s commitment to innovation and the creation of new work must be applauded and if future works are of as high quality and as engaging and entertaining as Caligari then the future of opera in Scotland looks bright.

 

FEATURE: NARS team up with Scottish Ballet for David Dawson’s innovative Swan Lake

In preparation for their innovative production of David Dawson’s Swan Lake, Scottish Ballet in partnership with NARS makeup invited some guests for a behind the scenes glimpse of the creation of the work which receives its world premiere this month.

swan lake christina reilly

Sophie Martin in rehearsal for David Dawson’s Swan Lake Image: Christina Reilly

David Dawson is a choreographer in demand throughout the world, and his work has been described as visceral and daring, always pushing dancers to their limits, challenging and extending the realms of classical technique. In the rehearsal room Dawson’s infinite eye for detail is clearly apparent, striving for perfection, making minute corrections to ensure his creative vision is represented on stage. Expect strength, darkness and precision as well as lyrical beauty when it premieres at the Theatre Royal.

548823021569e1cd62ab392.70580517

Constance Devernay in rehearsal for David Dawson’s Swan Lake. Image: Christina Riley

From the rehearsal room to makeup; the creative artists at NARS have been challenged with creating the dual looks for the infamous black and white swans Odette and Odile. Dawson’s Swan Lake is more naturalistic and the makeup look reflects this, an easily wearable day look for Odette with a nude lip and with the mere change to a strong red lip colour – the dramatic look of Odile. The looks created are also durable and easily recreatable.

scottish ballet swan lake nars cosmetics

scottish ballet swan lake nars 2 swan lake nars 3

nars swan lake

nars swan lake 5

To achieve this stunning change for yourself the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil’s used were: Belle de Jour a flattering universal nude tone and Cruella a vibrant, classic red.

nars belle de jour matte pencil

NARS Belle de Jour

nars matte lip pencil cruella

NARS Cruella

The NARS counter in Frasers Department Store Glasgow offers comprehensive skin care and make up advice. Find out more here.

Scottish Ballet’s Swan Lake is at the Theatre Royal from Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 Apr 2016, for more information, see Scottish Ballet’s own website. To book tickets see the Theatre Royal’s box office on 0844 871 7647.

 

REVIEW: Rusalka – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Antonin Dvořák’s rarely seen lyrical fairy tale for adults, Rusalka, is performed for the first time by Scottish Opera and for only the second time ever in Scotland, and it has been absolutely well worth the wait.

Intertwining the human world with an unearthly realm, Rusalka, a water nymph, longs to be human so she can win the love of the Prince who comes to bathe in the waters where she lives. Rusalka strikes a deal with the witch Ježibaba, who grants her wish but as with all true fairy tales, wishes come at a price.

Anne Sophie Duprels as Rusalka. Scottish Opera 2016. Credit James Glossop. (3)

The libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil is Czech to its core, written at the height of his powers, inspired by the fairy tales of Erben and Nemcova, as well as Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqués Undine, it is widely regarded as one of the greatest European libretti and here under the baton of newly appointed Music Director Stuart Stratford, it truly has the power to move.

This production from Antony McDonald originates from Grange Park Opera in 2008 and sets the story firmly in the fairy tale realm. The atmospheric staging is filled with visual delights and changes from eerie forest glade to below stairs and the ballroom of the palace with aplomb. Lucy Burge’s innovative choreography compliments the production beautifully and its originality and humour are a treat.

Sir Willard White as Rusalka's father and Anne Sophie Duprels as Rusalka. Scottish Opera 2016. Credit James Glossop.

The performances across the piece are universally deserving of praise: Anne Sophie Duprels’ Rusalka moves eloquently through all three stages of the character: other-wordly creature, mute human and exiled spirit. Sir Willard White delivers a show of strength as Vodník, Rusalka’s father, Peter Wedd is a solid Prince, Leah-Marian Jones’ is a gleefully evil Ježibaba and Natalya Romaniw is an eye and ear-catching foreign princess.

Rusalka2-large_trans++rWYeUU_H0zBKyvljOo6zlvh-mg3k_tLn4lJhUg2MIbY

A five-star production in every way from Scottish Opera, catch it in Glasgow at the Theatre Royal on April 7th and 9th and at Edinburgh Festival Theatre on April 14th and 16th 2016.

Image credit: James Glossop

REVIEW: Oh! What a Night with The Sherry Babys

The popularity of Jersey Boys seems to know no bounds, with the first national tour running for nearly two years, the West End production in its eighth year and numerous tribute acts touring the length and breadth of the country. It’s the turn of The Sherry Babys (formerly The Rag Dolls) to deliver the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as well as some of the most famous songs of the Doo-Wap era in their production Oh! What a Night.

The hits of the Four Seasons are delivered with slick choreography clearly influenced by Sergio Trujillo’s signature choreography for Jersey Boys and some chat in American accents of varying degrees of success. The vocals are universally on-point, the only bug-bear being the changing (forgetting?) of lyrics by the singer with the Frankie Valli falsetto which prompted a bit of interval chat – these songs are now so well known by the audience that they really need to be perfect. The live backing band are competent and add an immediacy and energy to the production that is lacking in some tribute acts who sing to backing tracks, though the levels in the venue were a little over-amped at times. The doo-wop hits are delivered with the same enthusiasm Overtones-style.

The almost universal popularity of this music means that you are always going to be on to a winner. A highly entertaining evenings entertainment, thoroughly enjoyed by the sell-out crowd.

 

REVIEW: The Jerseytones – The Village Theatre, East Kilbride

With the national tour of Jersey Boys finishing in Edinburgh last week, fans of the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons needn’t despair. Four piece vocal group The Jerseytones deliver their own take on the fabulous hits of the 50s and 60s.

With a refreshing mix of favourite tunes from the Four Seasons, some greatest hits of the rock n roll era, a Dirty Dancing medley, a bit of Uptown Funk and a few modern classics with a doo-wop twist, it’s a programme of wall-to-wall winners with the packed auditorium at the East Kilbride Village Theatre.

The slick choreography and winning set-list are backed up by some first-rate vocals and rather than having a lead there are four fine singers here.

A thoroughly entertaining evening that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a spring in your step – highly recommended.

REVIEW: Parton sings Parton – Motherwell Concert Hall

As one of Country legend and global superstar Dolly Parton’s 11 siblings, singer and actress Stella Parton, like most of her family, has been performing since childhood, and enjoyed chart success in the 70s with a series of singles including Danger of a Stranger and Undercover Lovers, I Want to Hold You in My Dreams Tonight.

In Parton sings Parton: a Sister’s Tribute, Stella Parton presents a night of country music based on the recently released tribute album to her sister, Mountain Songbird.  Punctuated with images from her own personal photograph album, Parton shares her sister’s inspiration for her songs and performs her own chart hits with her five-piece band.

mountain songbird stella parton

Concentrating on the so-called ‘story songs’ that hold personal meaning, it’s undoubtedly her sister’s big hitters that get the best reception, but the younger Parton’s own efforts largely hold their own. A competent singer, (there are some pitch issues at the higher end of her range) she has a good belt that goes down well with the crowd.

This entertaining production is undertaken with her older sister’s blessing, and while some may perceive it as cashing in on her sibling’s success, it comes across as a genuine and heartfelt personal tribute.

Touring the UK throughout spring.

« Older Entries