Tag Archives: Michael Praed

REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Another production fresh from a run in the West End and now hoofing it up and down the UK is David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, bringing the sunny south of France to a chilly Glasgow this week.

Based on the 1988 Steve Martin/Michael Caine movie where two rival con men vie for the attention and the bank balances of rich ladies, old and young, in beautiful Beaumont sur Mer.

Suave, sophisticated charmer Lawrence Jameson’s (Michael Praed) ruse is to pose as a prince to fleece his victims of their fortunes, whilst rival Freddy Benson (Noel Sullivan) is a masterclass in vulgarity, a fraudster who will do anything to pay for his next feed.

When the pair realise the town ain’t big enough for the both of them, a wager is laid down – the first to swindle €50000 from soap heiress Christine Colgate, gets to stay in town, the loser, packs his bags.

It may seem like an unlikely source of musical theatre material, it was always a lightweight story and writer Jeffrey Lane has done little to elevate the original movie script, leaving it languishing as a piece of fluff, albeit a very attractive looking piece of fluff.

David Yasbek’s songs are more set piece than plot-driver, but they are pleasant enough and feature just about ever style of song you can think of in the theatrical cannon: ‘Oklahoma’ (not that one) is a tongue in cheek country and western treat, Oompah number ‘Ruffhousin’ mit Shuffhuasen’ delivers the laughs, there’s tango and salsa too, and there’s even a great big power ballad (replete with X-Factor style backing choir) ‘Love is my Legs’. Worthy of note though is the exemplary band under the lively baton of Ben Van Tienen, who sound rich and musically on-point throughout.

The cast do their best with the material at hand, the fourth wall is broken throughout but this often misused device works well here. Michael Praed in a role he’s born for, is a smooth, suave, sophisticated charmer with a sonorous voice. Noel Sullivan actually brings a warmth and charm to the previously uncharming Freddy, Carley Stenson is a fine voiced Christine, and Phoebe Coupe wrings the most out of her hick-from-the- sticks character Jolene, but it’s the ever-popular Mark Benton as Lawrence’s right hand man and unlikely lothario, French police chief Andre, who garners the biggest laughs.

The comedy often feels like it’s from another era and considering the source material is almost 30 years old and the musical itself, though only appearing in the West End in 2014, has been doing the rounds in the US since 2004, it’s may be no surprise, but it really does need revision – is there really a need for saucy maids in suspenders and bottomless dresses in 2015 – c’mon.

There’s nothing new here, it’s not a groundbreaking work but it’s glitzy, glamorous, undemanding and undeniably entertaining and the cast and band are of the highest class.

Runs until Saturday 27th June 2015 then touring.

This article was originally written for and published for The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/dirty-rotten-scoundrels-kings-theatre-glasgow/

REVIEW: Dangerous Corner – Theatre Royal, Glasgow 4****

In J.B. Priestley’s Dangerous Corner, it takes nothing more than a chance remark to set in motion a chain of revelations that have devastating consequences for the guests at publisher Robert and Freda Caplan’s country house dinner party.

Opening and closing like an intricate Chinese puzzle box, the plot unravels as each guest reveals their part in the suicide of Robert Caplan’s brother a year earlier.

Priestley’s first play, written in 1932 isn’t the world-renowned masterpiece that An Inspector Calls is, but it is a work that clearly highlights the promise of its writer. Whilst in many ways the piece is very much of its time: the country house setting, the upper class at play, it is also astonishingly ahead of its time, dealing as it does with drug abuse, homosexuality and adultery, themes rarely touched upon in 1930s theatre.


Played out against the detail-perfect Art Deco set and costume design of Gary McCann, director Michael Attenborough does a fine job of keeping the interest high in what is essentially a static piece. He does however have an easy job thanks to the top-notch cast. Michael Praed is particularly note-worthy as the debonair and devilish cad Charles Stanton, who as well as poking and prodding his fellow guests into revealing more than they they would ideally wish to, delivers his own startling revelations and elicits the lions-share of the laughs with a biting wit. Finty Williams as Caplan’s wife Freda, is effective in portraying both her own disparate emotions and the social dilemma of whether or not to serve sandwiches to her guests, one of whom may or may not be a murderer. Rosie Armstrong, assuming Kim Thomson’s pivotal role as Olwen Peel is also impressive.


The trio are more than ably supported by familiar TV faces Colin Buchanan (Dalziel and Pascoe) as a solid Robert Caplan and Matt Milne (Downton Abbey) as Gordon Whitehouse, though at times Milne looks a little ill at ease in his transition from downstairs to upstairs as troubled (and slightly hysterical) toff Gordon.

Don’t go looking for any controversial comment on the themes that are mentioned in the play, go along and enjoy a hugely entertaining piece of theatre from a highly talented cast and a skilled director and writer.

Runs until Saturday

Tickets at: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/dangerous-corner/theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: High Society – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh


Wealthy socialite Tracy Lord is in the midst of planning her lavish summer wedding to dull but reliable George Kittredge, when ex-husband, C. Dexter-Haven turns up to disrupt the proceedings in an attempt to win her back.

Meanwhile the notorious Spy magazine, in possession of embarrassing information about Tracy’s father, sends reporter Mike Connor and photographer Liz Imbrie to cover the nuptials. Tracy begins an elaborate charade as a means of revenge on the pair, pretending that her Uncle Willy is her father Seth Lord and vice-versa. To complicate matters Connor falls in love with Tracy. Amid the farce she must choose between three very different men. As the day of the wedding draws nearer we’re left guessing which groom the bride will eventually choose.

There are few musicals that are as beloved as High Society, starting life in 1939 with Philip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story, then coupled with the classic songs of Cole Porter for the 1956 MGM musical, even the hardest of hearts can’t fail to enjoy this tale of true love.


This production oozes class from start to finish, reminiscent not only of a time and way of life gone by, but also a style of musical from another era. That said, with both Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat riding high in the West End, the public’s appetite for golden era shows is at a peak, and indeed the packed house at this performance is testament to that.


The cast, principals and ensemble alike, carry the show with refinement and skill. Michael Praed ( C. Dexter Haven) and Sophie Bould (Tracy Lord) both turn in highly polished, delicately refined performances: deftly handling the glorious songs of Cole Porter as well as the moments of drama and comedy.

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In support Teddy Kempner as roguish Uncle Willie raises the biggest laughs and little sister Dinah (Katie Lee) is the 12 year-old voice of reason in the piece.


As reporters Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie, Daniel Boys and Alex Young provide a healthy disregard for the ways of these high society folk, the highlight of Boys’ performance being his delivery of the classic You’re Sensational. However, Young’s tendency to resort to comic voices in almost every line she delivers only serves to garble much of what she says and grates as the show goes on.


Special mention must go to the ensemble who are particularly slick here: executing the intricate and period-perfect choreography of award-winning Andrew Wright flawlessly. The set design by Francis Connor and the beautiful lighting by the talented Chris Davey are also particularly effective.


This is pure escapism, go along and allow this show to take you on a beautifully performed, picture perfect journey to a world of glamour and style.

High Society comes to Glasgow from 30th April to 4th May – tickets and information here 

All production photographs copyright Pamela Raith 2013 – http://pamelaraith.com/ 

INTERVIEW: Sophie Bould – Bringing some High Society to Scotland

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In the last few years Sophie Bould has been steadily gaining a reputation as one of the most gifted stage actresses in the country. From her West End debut in the original Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The Sound of Music, to her recent role as Lily in The Secret Garden, Sophie has been winning lead roles and rave reviews. This week Sophie comes to Scotland in High Society at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre alongside Michael Praed and Daniel Boys. Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to chat to Sophie about this much loved show.

You’ve just embarked on an extensive UK tour; how does it feel to be out on the road for such a prolonged period of time?

I’m pretty excited actually as I’ll be visiting a lot of cities I’ve never been to before. I’ve been on a national tour before with the Michael Frayn play Noises Off which visited Glasgow, but this time because it’s six months I’ll be seeing a lot more of the country. I do miss home though.

Do you take any home comforts with you on tour to make things a bit easier?

I always take a few bits and pieces, I have lots of photographs with me: some wedding ones to pin to my pin board and ones of my little nephews, oh and the odd scented candle, just a few little creature comforts to remind me of home.

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High Society is such a well-loved story, why do you think it still has such appeal after all this time?

I think it can resonate with anyone, anyone of any age or any walk of life. At the heart of it it’s about love and finding the person you truly love, I think will resonate with anyone who comes to see it. In this production in particular we have some wonderful people in the roles. Michael Praed (Dexter Haven) and Daniel Boys (Mike Connor) are wonderful, the boys are beautiful and I love them, so I’m just grateful to be playing opposite such lovely and talented men.


Michael Praed


Daniel Boys

You’re following in the footsteps of Grace Kelly in the movie musical and Katharine Hepburn in the original Philadelphia Story; what have you done to make the character of Tracy Lord your own?

As you say they are quite large shoes to fill in that sense and I am quite wary of that. I haven’t watched the Grace Kelly movie since I was a child and when I found out I had the part I deliberately chose not to watch it in case I inadvertently picked up any of her mannerisms. I wanted to create Tracy Lord for myself in the rehearsal room with the director and the rest of the cast I’m playing opposite. We’ve talked a lot about the Philadelphia Story and I personally have done a lot of research on that and where the character of Tracy Lord actually came from. Philip Barry who wrote the original play, based the character on Philadelphia socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott and I researched her. It’s really interesting to base a character on a real life human being and make my own choices how to play her.


The choreography for the tour has been created by the award-winning Andrew Wright, he’s  known for his innovative and often intricate work, are you a natural dancer or have you had to work hard at it?

Well I trained as a dancer years ago so it was in me somewhere and even though I haven’t done it in a while it was lovely to put the tap shoes back on.  Andrew is such a genius, he is such a talented man and a lovely one too, it really was an honour to work with him especially after just winning his award for Singin’ in the Rain. Yes, the choreography is tricky and its intricate but its not impossible, and as my mum always says practice makes perfect – I just watched repeated and thankfully by the end of rehearsals I’d got it. The ensemble are wonderful, they really carry all the amazing dance routines.

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Do you have any favourite songs or scenes from the show?

There are so many I don’t think I could choose. There’s a wonderful scene at the beginning of act two which starts with Let’s Misbehave and goes into Well Did You Evah and its such a big, feel good, group number. I love the really meaty scenes in this though, the script is wonderful, Arthur Kopit who wrote it worked really closely with us, altering the script as we went along, it is an absolute honour to have him on board. All the scenes with Tracy and Dexter and the scenes with Tracy’s father who is played by Craig Pinder I love.

Finally, do you have any plans for when the tour finishes apart from putting your feet up?

Definitely putting my feet up! But at the moment no plans. I guess auditioning will start again relatively soon. I will probably be going back into auditions in the next couple of months.


High Society opens Tuesday 5th March and runs until Saturday 9th March at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh and visits Glasgow from Tuesday 30th April until Saturday 4th May.

For more information about the show and booking details: http://www.highsocietymusical.com/

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiebould

All production photographs copyright Pamela Raith 2013 – http://pamelaraith.com/