Tag Archives: Lauren Humphreys

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.

REVIEW: Brendan Cole – A Night to To Remember, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Removed from the constraints of competing in Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan Cole gets the chance to highlight his considerable choreographic and performance skills to a packed house in Glasgow on his Night to Remember tour.

brendan cole night to remember 2

Despite suffering from pneumonia, a visibly pale and thin Cole presents the most spectacular and professional production of any of the Strictly alumni. The programme carefully curated to appeal to a wide audience: the music a mix of old and new and the choreography both modern and classic.

brendan cole night to remember tour

The dancing is interspersed with songs from vocalists Iain MacKenzie and Julie Maguire and there’s the ubiquitous Q & A session where fans get the chance to ask their dance hero some personal questions.

 

brendan cole devil went down to georgia

To his great credit Cole performs with gusto despite suffering from serious and debilitating illness and his cast, band and singers are of the highest quality. The set and costumes also set Cole’s production head and shoulders above his peers. A class act from start to finish, Cole’s show always delivers.

Images – Visual Devotion

 

REVIEW: Private Lives – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The mere sight of one another from their hotel balconies on their respective honeymoons is enough to tell the previously married Elyot and Amanda that they are still in love. Noël Coward’s brittle, bickering, perennially popular pair return in Tom Attenborough’s new production of Private Lives, but does it still charm a modern audience?

Famously written in three days in 1930 and premiered at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh the same year, any new production has to tread carefully to prevent Coward’s venomous barbs from slipping into parody. Attenborough’s production doesn’t deviate from the well-trodden path of his predecessors, this is very much a traditional production and at an economical two hours including interval, you’ll be out in time for the last train home.

Tom Chambers (Elyot) has recently been making a successful career out of playing louche lotharios from the 20s and 30s, and indeed, his talents are fully exploited here. The former Strictly Come Dancing and Top Hat star gets an opportunity to show some nifty dance moves as well as his singing and piano playing skills in a medley of Coward classics. Chambers’ Elyot isn’t as fully-fleshed-out as one would want it to be and some of the pithiest and wittiest lines are thrown away in his delivery. This is not a duel of equals as Coward intended it to be, Laura Rogers’ Amanda is a far more feisty foe than her former spouse. That said his performance is both engaging and entertaining. Indeed, his entry alone prompts applause from the appreciative audience and there are murmurs of anticipation before each of these oft-quoted lines.

In support Charlotte Ritchie as second spouse Sybil and Richard Teverson as ‘rampaging gasbag’ Victor have little to do, but what they do, they do well.

Attenborough’s production offers nothing new and may not be as ‘jagged with sophistication’ as it could be, but Coward’s wonderful words retain their ability to amuse and entertain over 80 years after they were written.

Runs until 27 February 2016 | Image: Alasdair Muir

This article was originally published at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/private-lives-theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: Annie – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

As a populist piece of entertainment Annie, Thomas Meehan, Martin Charnin and Charles Strouse’s 1977 musical has always appealed to those who love their shows schmaltzy and sentimental and taking it as such, Nikolai Foster’s revival will surely entertain many. There are sunny tunes a-plenty, wall-to-wall energetic tots and a tug at your heart strings story, but high art it isn’t and the plot that threads together the musical theatre mega-hits is paper-thin.

The tale of 11-year old Annie left on the steps of a New York orphanage as a baby, still clinging to the desperate hope that her parents will return to claim her, is one of hope and optimism in the face of adversity. Set during the Depression, the plot has a familiar resonance – the wide-spread poverty and desperation are not so far removed from the world outside the doors of the theatre, however, the uneven book has its lulls and at times the attention drifts (a fact seemingly acknowledged by the director, who sends the cute canine member of the cast, Sandy (Amber) on stage to enliven any moments of boredom).

Foster’s new production has more than the hint of the RSC’s Matilda about it, from the jigsaw piece decorated set (building blocks in Matilda) to the sharp, modern choreography (which is absolutely first-rate), it shows its influences on its sleeve. That said, the set design and lighting are a visual treat.

The first-rate cast is deserving of high praise: Alex Bourne’s Oliver Warbucks is fine-voiced, fleet-footed and assured and Holly Dale Spencer’s Grace is a pitch-perfect, well-judged delight. The pint-sized orphans are well-drilled, energetic and characterful, the ensemble is universally razor-sharp and Elise Blake’s Annie is highly competent if lacking a little warmth.

Musicals have come a long way since Annie’s appearance in 1977 and Foster’s production delivers visually for a modern audience, but there’s just something missing in the musical itself that a great director, innovative choreographer, talented set designer and first-rate cast just can’t overcome. If you like your entertainment sweet, syrupy and sentimental and thoroughly family-friendly then you’ll love it – those looking for something with a bit more grit should look elsewhere.

Runs until 20 February 2016 |Image: Matt Crockett

REVIEW: Piaf! The Show – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Celebrating the centenary of Edith Piaf’s birth, and partly inspired by the 2007 Oscar-winning La Vie En Rose, Anne Carrere’s Piaf! The Show is the shining star of the 2016 Celtic Connections festival partnership with France.

From La Môme Piaf under a streetlamp in Montmartre, up the steps of the Sacré Cœur, through the seedy clubs of Pigalle to Carnegie Hall, Carrere takes us on a musical journey through the life of the legendary French chanteuse.

There are Piaf impersonators a-plenty but this is so much more than that, Carrere manages to embody not only the indomitable spirit of the tragic legend but her unique sound too. The legendary vibrato is captured with aplomb as is the sheer energy and emotion of the Little Sparrow (if delivered with a little more polish and less rawness than the original). Accompanied by a four-piece band comprising accordionist, pianist, bassist and percussionist, this finely tuned show is a true celebration of the French chanson, and all the familiar hits are here: L’Hymne à L’Amour, Milord, La Vie en Rose and the legendary Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

Back-projected, previously unseen photographs from the life of Piaf, a streetlamp, a park bench, a bar and cafe tables provide the requisite background atmosphere, but the music alone is enough to thoroughly entertain. Carrere has found a winning formula here, minimum fuss, maximum attention to the music, and the result – a hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck-raising night’s entertainment.

Runs until 28 January 2016 | Image: Alain Biguet

This review was originally written for http://www.thereviewshub.com at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/piaf-the-show-theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: The Devil Inside – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Novelist Louise Welsh and composer Stuart MacRae continue the creative partnership that started in 2009 with the 15 minute Remembrance Day, with new work The Devil Inside. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1891 short story The Bottle Imp, there’s much to applaud in delivering a brand new opera but musically it falls short in pleasing the ear.

The imp grants the bottle’s owner everything their heart desires, but, as with all good horror stories, there’s a catch – if the owner dies in possession of the bottle, their soul is eternally damned. The only way to get rid of the bottle is to sell it for less than you paid.

The 100-minute piece scored for 14 instruments and a cast of four is set in the present day and played out on a minimalistic, monochrome set. The only real splash of colour coming from the eerie effectively realised bottle itself.

The four performers are without fault and manage admirably with the complicated score. The biggest issue with the work is the predominantly atonal score, whilst modern and original, grates uncomfortably when sustained over the entire length of the opera. There are four fine voices onstage and one can’t help feel that they haven’t been served well here, and the insufficient variety in the score leaves one wishing for something to break the monotony.

One must applaud new, original work, especially in opera, and the direction, set, performers and the virtuosity of the orchestra and conductor are exceptional, but musically this audience member wants a little more music that one can remember after the curtain has fallen.

Image: Bill Cooper

REVIEW: Cinderella, Scottish Ballet – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Christopher Hampson’s production, originally created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, finally arrived in Glasgow this month after a European premiere and a festive stint in our capital city. Set to Prokofiev’s 1945 score and on Tracy Grant Lord’s grand set, it faithfully follows Charles Perrault’s much-loved, rags to riches story as we know it.

Whilst there is much to admire here, the complex choreography will delight ballet aficionados and the dancers largely deliver their roles with aplomb, the nearly two and half hour running time and the lack of visual ‘sparkle’ leaves it lacking that certain something that makes for a truly spectacular festive ballet treat, and the tiny audience members (of whom there were many) were wriggling and restless by the end.

Bethany Kingsley-Garner as the titular heroine is a divine dancer, but her fixed expression lacks the range of emotion the character requires. Christopher Harrison, usually a sure-footed and assured performer, suffered from some serious wobbles as the Prince and again the lack of emotion left one feeling cold. Most successful are Eve Mutso and Sophie Martin as the ‘wicked’ step-sisters, the pair are an absolute delight and their acting skills admirable (the company will feel the loss of Mutso greatly as she leaves to pursue a career as a freelance dancer/choreographer after this tour). This is a company with undoubtedly talented dancers, but one can’t help feel that they are lacking somewhat in the acting/emotion department.

Richard Honner and the Scottish Ballet Orchestra are on fine form and the sound throughout is sumptuous. This is a thoroughly entertaining production, with some real highlights but one can’t help feeling it could have been so much more.

Image: Andy Ross/ Scottish Ballet

REVIEW: Jersey Boys – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

More mobster tale than musical, the multi-award-winning Jersey Boys was a welcome addition to the musical theatre canon when it burst onto the stage back in 2005. Managing to eschew all the usual musical theatre cliches, it presented the gritty story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in a way that not only delivered hit after hit, but made those who hate musicals love it. Seven years on and the public’s enthusiasm for the show hasn’t waned and neither, thankfully, has the quality of its hugely talented cast.

Jersey Boys

Rather a play with music than a tune-a-minute, all-out musical, there are plenty of surprises and enough drama in the storyline to keep the interest levels high throughout. Coupled with the sublime tunes that you may not know you know – but you do, it’s a winner on many levels.

(L-R) Lewis Griffiths, Matt Corner, Sam Ferriday and Stephen Webb in JERSEY BOYS UK and Ireland tour credit Helen Maybanks

The simple but effective set means that the action is firmly focused on the cast, and this is a cast that are universally deserving of praise. The sharing of the spotlight between all of the Four Seasons means that each man gets his chance to shine; Matt Corner’s Frankie Valli takes a little time to warm up vocally but was quickly in his stride, Sam Ferriday is a fine-voiced and wittily wry Bob Gaudio, Stephen Webb a convincingly hot-headed Tommy DeVito and Lewis Griffiths deserving of a medal for maintaining Nick Massi’s booming bass voice throughout.

Jersey Boys

The Theatre Royal should be applauded for providing a truly first-rate show as an alternative to the usual festive fodder and I’m glad to say it still remains a five star favourite with this critic all these years on.

Runs until Sunday 3rd January 2016

Tickets: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jersey-boys/theatre-royal-glasgow/

Image copyright Helen Maybanks

REVIEW: The Bootleg Beatles – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

As an alternative to the usual Christmas fodder, there’s no better night’s entertainment than the annual Bootleg Beatles show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Thirty six years, several line up changes, and the fab four are sounding better than ever.

Keeping it fresh with a new set list and costumes every year, the crowd as ever, went wild on hearing the expertly chosen and played, selection of hits.

You’d be hard pressed to pick a highlight but as the first chords ring out on the earliest hits you can’t help but smile, and the hits just keep on coming, coupled with the accuracy and skill with which they’re played, the night never fails to be anything less than a rousing success. Worth mentioning too is the especially moving show of solidarity with our friends in Paris during All You Need is Love.

You would need to be incredibly hard of heart not to love this – expertly crafted, this is entertainment at its finest.

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