Tag Archives: MORGAN LARGE

REVIEW: Thoroughly Modern Millie – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews, which was itself inspired by the 1956 British musical Chrysanthemum, Jeanine Tesoro, Dick Scanlan and Richard Morris’ musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, has always had considerable shortcomings. While some outstanding cast members and a polished set design by Morgan Large elevate the source material in this production, this pastiche written in 2002, remains lacking that certain spark a show needs to be truly entertaining.

It’s 1922 and small-town girl Millie Dillmount comes to big city New York to marry for money rather than love, but events take a sinister turn when she checks into the Hotel Priscilla for single women, not knowing it’s owned by Mrs Meers, the leader of a white slavery ring.

Racky Plews’ current production does little to address the show’s many faults. Instead of skilfully evoking the era, it feels uncomfortably out of step and in 2017, increasingly offensive. While it may be argued that the character of Mrs Meers, a pantomime “Chinese” landlady, is sending up racial stereotypes, the recent yellowface casting controversy in Howard Barker’s play In The Depths of Dead Love, means that any director allowing such a grotesque characterisation, even if it’s played for comedy, as that of Michelle Collins (chopsticks in hair, unintelligible Pidgin English), really needs to be called to account for their choices. There are also some uncomfortably out of date sexual references which would make any feminist’s toes curl and the running time is an issue at a posterior-numbing two hours 45 minutes – some judicious trimming wouldn’t go amiss.

Save for the title tune, the music is utterly unforgettable despite clever borrowings from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore and Victor Herbert’s Naughty Marietta, most songs, like the musical itself, are over-long. So it’s down to the cast to save the show. Strictly Come Dancing‘s current champion, Joanne Clifton, is undoubtedly a fine dancer, and in possession of a surprisingly effective voice, but she lacks the acting chops to pull this off completely convincingly. In support, both Katherine Glover as Millie’s naive roommate Dorothy Brown and Graham MacDuff as her boss Trevor Graydon are superb. MacDuff, in particular, gives a masterclass in comic acting. The ensemble is universally first class.

Shining bright above all else in the production is Morgan Large’s Art Deco set (borrowed from a previous production staged at Kilworth House), shimmering silvery grey, it transforms seamlessly between the show’s locations.

This remains a show with a dodgy plot and characters, and a host of largely forgettable tunes, but the beautiful set and the hugely talented, well-drilled cast are enough to make it an amusing distraction for a dull winter’s evening.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

Image: Darren Bell

REVIEW: The Last Tango – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The Last Tango, the theatrical swan song from much-loved dancing duo Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace is more tear-jerking goodbye than a celebratory farewell.

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A musty attic stores a lifetime’s worth of treasured memories. As the dust is blown off, we travel back in time to relive the story of a couple, unnamed, but very much in love.

Beginning in the 30s, the journey takes us through most of the 20th Century, and we are treated along the way to a raft of classic tunes and the gloriously choreographed dances that accompany them. From standards such as Beyond the SeaBoogie Woogie Bugle Boy, a show-stopping At Last (sung beautifully by Matthew Gent) to Moondance and Save The Last Dance for Me, there’s enough variety musically and choreographically to highlight the considerable skills of the dancing duo and keep the interest levels high throughout.

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However, despite all the quality on show, there’s a niggling feeling that there’s something missing. Cacace and Simone are undoubtedly two of the world’s finest dancers and when they are onstage the auditorium comes alive. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the ensemble, apparently a man down, they looked less than sharp at times and the imbalance showed unfavourably on stage. The set also lacks the visual interest and innovation of the duo’s previous shows and despite the large stage at the Theatre Royal, it looks cramped.

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The narrative too has moments that lack clarity but the sheer quality of Cacace and Simone’s footwork renders the storyline secondary to the dancing.

One might have wished for a more celebratory tone to wish this beloved pair all the best for their future endeavours, what we get is the most tear-jerking of endings with audience members throughout the auditorium genuinely sobbing.

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Five stars for Cacace and Simone but for the narrative and the show as a whole, three and a half stars.

Runs until Saturday 5 December 2015 | Images: Manuel Harlan

Review originally written for and published by: www.thereviewshub.com