Tag Archives: Lisa Wright

REVIEW: Nashville Live – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Capitalising on the current insatiable appetite for all things Country and aiming to “transport you right into the heart of downtown Nashville, celebrating the atmosphere and energy of an evening in the home of country music”, Nashville Live at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall features a cast of seasoned West End performers recreating the great and the good of the country music scene.

Framed as an evening from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, where the world-famous venue broadcasts its radio show to the nation, complete with red on-air sign, silence/applause banner and peppered with vintage radio ads enacted by the cast, it’s an uneven evening that doesn’t know quite what it is.

To it’s credit the set list manages to cover an impressively comprehensive number of Country music eras and genres: Blue Moon of Kentucky sets the tone, quite literally, with heavy reverb on the microphones and slightly mushy sound mixing to start, it takes a while to get in to its stride. Robbie Durham elevates the proceedings with a duo of Hank Williams tunes, Hey Good Lookin’ and Jambalaya. However, there are technical glitches with Helena Gullen’s accompanying, silent fiddle.

Gullen tackles the incomparable Patsy Cline in Walking After Midnight and is competent, if a little lacklustre, again there are plenty of effects on the mic to support her voice, she fairs better in the classic, I Fall to Pieces. Chris Grahamson delivers Willie Nelson’s, On The Road Again and Always on my Mind and to the production’s credit, returns the anthem Crazy to its writer Nelson to deliver. Grahamson has a strong, clear voice and does justice to these well-loved tunes.

There are some unexpected detours courtesy of a few Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard songs and a bluegrass interlude, but it’s soon back to the big-hitters with Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man, Dolly Parton’s Jolene and I Will Always Love You performed by Lisa Wright. Wright has an excellent voice, but lacks rapport with the audience. Durham gets the audience singing along to Kenny Rogers’ foot stomper,The Gambler.

Robbie Durham, fresh from a London run and UK tour of Million Dollar Quartet, again plays Johnny Cash and showcases his astonishing vocal range and tone. Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line are particular highlights.

Grahamson returns with Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places and If Tomorrow Never Comes, again, Grahamson’s rich, clear voice is a stand out among the cast.

While there’s quality throughout the cast, the staging is incongruous. While the artists are introduced as “Dolly Parton” and “Patsy Cline” the costumes for the most part are modern, and there’s no attempt to look like the artists featured save for a few shirt changes amongst the men. That coupled with the ‘radio show’ staging and the vintage adverts in between. It doesn’t work. Either full-on tribute in wigs and costume or a band of musicians just playing covers of these songs, both of these would have worked, this mash-up just confuses. While the auditorium is full, the audience are singing along, the atmosphere is ‘flat’ and there’s a LOT of chat from the audience throughout most of the ballads and the songs that are less familiar.

A great set list and some flawless vocals but the show lacks the passion and energy from the performers that marks a truly entertaining night out.

Touring Scotland – more info at: http://www.mapletreeentertainment.com/currently-touring/Nashville+Live/16/tourdates/

REVIEW: Sunny Afternoon – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Book: Joe Penhall

Original Story: Ray Davies

Music and Lyrics: Ray Davies

Director: Edward Hall

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

From Muswell Hill to the top of the charts, via endless discord, constant ripping off from their managers, unexpected parenthood, depression and a war with the US trade unions, Sunny Afternoon is a spirited, celebratory, witty, joyous departure from the usual musical theatre biography.

The Kinks were a band that defined the 1960s, a band whose legacy is still firmly felt today, a band that grew out of an era where the media were peddling the idea of a classless society, a society where ordinary blokes could rule the world. But Ray Davies and The Kinks took a more realistic view, writing about working class families stuck on Dead End Street and upper-class aristos bemoaning “the tax man’s taken all my dough” in the seemingly benign Sunny Afternoon, the song that this glorious musical takes its name from.

The raw aggression and heavy guitar riffs of their early hits You Really Got Me and All Day and All of the Night don’t tell the whole story of the sensitive lyrical and melodic genius crippled by new found fame, nor the perpetual strife, not only between brothers Ray and Dave Davies but the whole band. Playwright Joe Penhall has managed to take Ray Davies’ story of love and war and create an absolute corker of a show around it.

Directed by Edward Hall with a quirky originality that elevates it far above and beyond any ‘jukebox’ musical, there are no gratuitous attempts to shoe-horn the hits into the story, (some are rendered merely as short bursts) instead, there’s a real sophistication in the way the songs have been utilised, growing naturally from the narrative. The characters too are fully realised and truly three dimensional. It has a strong sense of the period and cleverly captures the real melancholy behind the chirpy tunes.

Central to the success of the piece are the pivotal performances of Ryan O’Donnell and Mark Newnham as warring siblings Ray and Dave Davies. Newnham’s turn as little brother “Crazy Dave” captures the rebellious spirit of the age – in what other musical would you see a man in a baby pink chiffon nightie swinging from a chandelier? There’s a rawness and reality as well as a sensitivity to the two performances that makes the whole dynamic utterly believable, it’s also accompanied by an impressive musical talent in both men.

The acting throughout is first rate and by no means is this a two man band, Garmon Rhys as bass player and reluctant star Pete Quaife, is nicely measured as is Andrew Gallo as drummer Mick Avory.

And what about those tunes? The production team, have to their credit, resisted giving them a musical theatre gloss and they are delivered here live concert-style onstage in order to do them full justice. When the ear-splitting, chest-pounding first chords ring out from All Day and All of the Night its nigh on impossible to resist the urge to jump onstage and join in the fun. Particularly moving too is the return of Quaife to the band where Ray pleads, “I’ve got this song – it’s got this strolling bassline…” and they segue into the utterly stunning Waterloo Sunset…lumps in the throat all round.

Save for the lack of tables front of stage to create a club vibe, very little has been lost in its translation from the West End stage to touring production. It remains as vibrant as it did two years on from its first appearance at Hampstead Theatre and it’s easy to see why it was utterly deserving of its sweep of the boards at the Olivier Awards.

An unmissable show. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket – just go.

Runs until 15 October 2016 | Image: Kevin Cummins

This review originally appeared online at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/sunny-afternoon-kings-theatre-glasgow/