Much-loved journalist and broadcaster Cat Harvey, has her finger firmly on the pulse of West of Scotland woman (and man) in her new comedy play Love Me Tinder.
Exploring the minefield of dating in the 21st Century, it follows the story of a group of Glaswegian workmates who decide to embark on an online adventure in internet romance. There’s career girl Fiona (Cat Harvey) forever single and looking for Mr. Absolutely Utterly Perfectly Right; Nicola (Michelle McManus) the eternal good-time girl who is ready to swap parties for nappies; Cathy (May Miller), married for 40 years to Willie, who has apparently ran away with a 28-year-old Polish yoga teacher; Ryan (Liam Dolan) unaware of his sexual orientation, unlike everyone who knows him; Davie (Andrew Agnew) who is so commitment-averse he’ll date anyone and everyone “from legal to still breathing” and Davie (Johnny Mac) really Cupid in disguise, currently living in Cumbernauld and working his magic from the side-lines.
Harvey has an ear for Glaswegian patter and the naturalistic dialogue certainly strikes a chord with this largely female, sold-out audience. The laughs are sustained from start to end, and it’s no small thanks to a knock-out cast. From local cabaret star May Miller, the epitome of a ‘wee Glasgow wummin’ to TV stalwarts Andrew Agnew and Liam Dolan to panto royalty Johnny Mac and Pop Idol winner and Scottish national treasure Michelle McManus, a woman with the most enviable natural comic timing (and of course, a fabulous voice), each is an absolute gem.
Mac gets the chance to demonstrate his natural comedic talents and his exceptional audience wrangling skills, honed from years as a panto star. His fourth wall breaking turn as Cupid/Danny is warm, good-natured and laugh out-loud funny. As is McManus’ turn as the gobby Nicola. She manages to get the audience in tears with just a look, particularly hysterical is her disgust at Polish yoga teacher Klaudia stealing her big karaoke number, (which in an absolute belter of a theatrical trick) turns out to be McManus’ real-life Pop Idol winning tune ‘All This Time’.
The show is peppered throughout with party hits (you can’t not let Miller and McManus demonstrate what made them famous in the first place) and there’s even a chance for the audience to get in on the act with a rousing rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’.
The path of true love never does run smooth, and so it is here. To its credit there’s also a large dose of reality in the mix to temper the laughs. This is a relatable, realistic portrait of love and friendship in the 21st Century and it’s delivered with real heart and soul. Hopefully there’s more to come from the pen of Cat Harvey.
It’s hard not to love Gary Lamont. From the moment he walks onto the stage with a giant wedge of cheese on his head – yes, no typo, singing This is my Moment in tribute to his spirit animal Martine McCutcheon, there isn’t a minute he doesn’t have the audience eating out of his hand.
Hugely likeable and hugely talented, Lamont takes the audience on a break-neck journey on life after soap (operas), musing on the somewhat rocky path many much-loved actors have trodden since stepping away from small screen fame. Roping in his showbiz pals, there are mascara ruining sequences with Claire from Steps, Claire from Stepps, Graham Norton, Juliet Cadzow (his mum in the soap River City), Martine McCutcheon and a belly-achingly funny duet of I Know Him So Well with best buddy Michelle McManus. There’s no lull for the entire running time – a feat many so-called comedians would be hard pressed to achieve, this is a show that genuinely has you leaving the theatre, feeling the world is a happier place.
As he says in the show, in Soapland you either leave in a hearse or in the back of a taxi – Lamont left in a silver limo – hopefully a portent for his future career. Lamont has a gigantic gift for comedy, a fine voice and an irresistible personality – Lamont’s brand of joy should be available on prescription. Do yourself a favour and catch this if you can.
Sat 24 Mar – Cumbernauld Theatre – 7.30pm www.cumbernauldtheatre.co.uk
Fri 27 Apr – Stirling MacRobert 7.30pm www.macrobertartscentre.org/
Sat 28 Apr – Paisley Arts Centre – 7.30pm www.boxoffice.renfrewshire.gov.uk
Fri 04 May – Adam Smith Theatre – 7.30pm www.onfife.com
Fri 11 May – Lochgelly Centre – 7.30pm www.onfife.com
Fri 25 May – Livingston Howden Park 7.30pm www.howdenparkcentre.co.uk
Sat 26 May – Byre Theatre St Andrews – 8pm www.byretheatre.com
The recently engaged Ballieston belle has had more than her fair share of knocks in the showbiz world, but if medals were given out for being a survivor, then Michelle McManus would surely win gold.
Well over over a decade has passed since winning Pop Idol with a landslide number of votes in 2003, and Reality: The Musical charts McManus’ roller coaster ride with fame. From her Pop Idol win and her relationship with Simon Cowell, to weight battles (an hilarious tale of ten months with healthy eating guru Gillian McKeith), being dumped by both her record company and management team, relationship troubles and the contestant struggle to find work, (she admits she even toyed with the idea of becoming “Britain’s foremost Adele tribute act”, until the global megastar lost weight “that was 80 quid lost to Vistaprint on business cards!”), her redemption as a presenter on radio and TV, and her new career in this one woman show.
For all her comedy prowess, and boy is she hysterically funny, it’s her mega-decibel voice that shines. The repartee is punctuated with matching songs from the musical theatre world: the story of her relationship with Cowell accompanied by Calamity Jane’s Secret Love and tales of relationship woes with Les Mis’ On My Own and Grease’s There Are Worse Things I Could Do, you get the idea. There are some gems among the power ballads, in particular a roof-raising rendition of When You’re Good to Mama from Chicago and Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers, a musical she wishes she had been in (getting down to the last two to play Mrs Johnston in a touring production). There’s even some audience participation in a ‘duet’ of Chess’ I Know Him So Well.
After all she’s been through, (just Google her name to experience a slice of the vitriol she’s had to put up with) you want to root for her. She’s incredibly humble about what she has achieved and genuinely moved by the audience’s response to her, and when it comes, the rendition of her Pop Idol number one hit All This Time is unexpectedly emotional.
It would seem that McManus’ life and work are now in happy harmony, hopefully this makes for more comedy and more one-woman shows.
Currently touring the country and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.