Tag Archives: Meredith Willson

REVIEW: The Music Man – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Runway Theatre Company again prove their worthy position at the top of the tree of amateur companies in Glasgow, reviving Meredith Willson’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning, little-seen, musical theatre classic, The Music Man, with aplomb. A timely choice too, with the announcement that in 2020, Hugh Jackman will lead the first Broadway revival in nearly two decades.

It’s 1912 and the people of sleepy River City, Iowa really don’t know what’s in store for them when smooth talking swindler Harold Hill rolls into town. However, Hill’s plans to con the innocent townsfolk are foiled when his heart finally starts to rule his head.

Old-fashioned in the nicest possible way, this is a light-hearted, undemanding tale with a bunch of quirky characters and two of musical theatre’s most enduring tunes: the oom-pah-pah-ing 76 Trombones and the much-loved classic ballad, Till There Was You.

Its old-fashionedness is both its strength and its weakness. The public’s appetite for nostalgia is sated with the homely, feel-good storyline, the period costumes and score. However, the hokey dialogue has aged badly and the heightened characterisations required by the script, render it too caricatured at times. That said, any criticisms of this production are entirely at the hands of the source material not the actors or musicians.

This is a show with a rousing chorus, the ensemble fill the auditorium with the biggest, most glorious sound you will have the pleasure to hear, and the quartet comprising Tom Russell, Ross Nicol, Cameron Leask and Bob McDevitt are just heavenly sounding. Brendan Lynch (Harold Hill), once again proves to be an adept leading man and a true triple threat, and Catherine Mackenzie (Marian Paroo) is a beautifully toned soprano. The costumes are of an excellent quality. The set and lighting are functional and easy on the eye and the transitions, especially in a theatre with no fly tower, are smooth and pacy. The child actors, of which there are many, are drilled to perfection as are the dancers – it’s unusual in an amateur production to have such universal quality.

A warm and comforting and very welcome blast from the past that will leave audience members of all ages thoroughly entertained.

Runs until Saturday 18 May 2019


REVIEW: Miracle on 34th Street – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Hoping that this was the start of it beginning to look a lot like Christmas, expectations were high for the latest touring production of Miracle on 34th Street. However, instead of opening the festive season by warming the cockles of your heart, this below par, lacklustre production left this reviewer stone cold.

A sprinkle of glitter starts the show, and it is one of the few moments that sparkle in this two-hour production. With a book as dull as ditchwater and songs that do nothing to alleviate the boredom, it is astonishing that such a bad job could have been done with one of the best-loved Christmas movies of all time.

A previous cast of Miracle on 34th Street. Photo Credit Darren Bell

Single mother Doris and her daughter, Susan, don’t believe in Santa,  but when a suitor of Doris’ attempts to charm her daughter with a visit to Santa in Macy’s department store, things change for the pair when they meet the charismatic Kris Kringle. Could he be, as he claims, the real Santa? It takes a whole lot of faith and a court case to get the answer.

With dialogue pitched so far above the children in the audience’s heads that it is practically in the clouds, a malfunctioning, simplistic set that lacks festive sparkle, and only one tune that the audience knows, (Pine Cones and Holly Berries, otherwise known as It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas) there is little to capture the imagination and even less to keep it.

A previous cast of Miracle on 34th Street. Photo Credit Darren Bell (3)

From curtain up, the mistakes just keep coming: with a misbehaving curtain; fairy lights that don’t work; out of synch dancing; glitches with props; a dated script; two-dimensional characters; a ‘child’ actress who appears a decade older than the part, this couldn’t be further from what you want from a festive show. With the volume pitched at road-drill level and a cast spitting out its lines at breakneck speed, it also takes considerable time to key the ear into what is going on.

There are only two people who escape from this unscathed, Danny Lane’s Kris Kringle is warm and charming, exactly what the role requires and David Muscat’s Judge Group lends some much-needed gravitas to the proceedings.

This has all the hallmarks of a village hall production instead of the glitter-spangled Hallmark greetings card you would want it to be. Thoroughly disappointing.

Images: Darren Bell

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub