Tag Archives: Motherwell Concert Hall

REVIEW: Me and My Girl – Motherwell Concert Hall

It is the girls who shine brightest in Hamilton Operatic and Dramatic Club’s latest production of the much-loved Me and My Girl at Motherwell Concert Hall this week.

The multiple Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Me and My Girl is the tale of humble Cockney costermonger Bill Snibson, his unexpected inheritance of the title of Earl of Hareford and the trials and tribulations he has to endure to keep the girl of his dreams by his side.

As the Duchess of Dene, Cathy Taylor and Marianne Millard, Lady Jaqueline are the stand-out talents of the night, the pair are fine actresses, with glorious voices and enviable stage presence, and the stage completely enlivens when they are there. The ensemble too are deserving of praise, and sound utterly gorgeous when singing as one. Less succesful is Gillian Black as Bill’s paramour Sally, whilst in possession of a beautiful singing voice her accent travels through virtually county and shire in England and at no point visits the borough of Lambeth. Accents seem to be an issue throughout, with one character beginning an act in RP English and ending it in Scots.

Quibbles aside, Hamilton ODC deliver high production values, with a rich-looking set and a fine chorus and orchestra under the baton of Mike Smith, and there are some professional quality performances throughout. An enjoyable evening of a little seen musical theatre classic.

REVIEW: The Elixir of Love – The Concert Hall, Motherwell

Scottish Opera’s latest touring production, Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, is a wonderfully witty, beautifully staged and finely sung treasure. An utter joy from start to finish, this is opera for people who think they don’t like opera. Donizetti’s gloriously melodic score is a treat for the ears and Oliver Townsend and Mark Howland’s charming and clever design – re-set from the 19th Century Mediterranean to a country garden in 1920s England, is simply gorgeous.

Humble gardener Nemorino is hopelessly in love with wealthy landowner Adina, but her head (if not her heart) is turned by the flashy Sergeant Belcore. But all is not lost when quack medicine man Dr Dulcamara literally rides into town, selling our hero a powerful love potion that promises to deliver the girl of his dreams into his arms within a day.


Ellie Laugharne and Elgan Llyr Thomas as Adina and Nemorino in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

This effervescent production bubbles and fizzes throughout, thanks largely to the delightful cast, and as befitting this ‘male Cinderella’ story, it is the boys who dominate. Elgan Llyr Thomas is thoroughly appealing as our love-lorn hero Nemorino and his show-stopping Una furtiva lagrima (one single tear falls silently) is a real crowd-pleaser, but he doesn’t have the limelight solely to himself thanks to scene-stealing turns from Toby Girling as the preposterously pompous Sergeant Belcore and the outstanding James Cleverton as the dodgy Doctor Dulcamara, whose timing, sonorous tones and perfect diction are a masterclass in comic opera acting.


James Cleverton as Dulcamara Scottish in Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

Mention must be made of music Derek Clark, who deserves plaudits for trimming Donizetti’s score from 53 instruments to five without losing any of its richness and the brisk baton of conductor Stuart Stratford who drives the score along.


Ellie Laugharne, Elgan Llyr Thomas and Toby Girling in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

For a work that was written, if not in the two weeks that opera folklore claims, but certainly astonishingly quickly nearly 200 years ago, this sunny, funny, dazzling and delightful work is a five-star, must-see production.

Currently touring Scotland, booking information here: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/our-operas/16-17/the-elixir-of-love

REVIEW: Parton sings Parton – Motherwell Concert Hall

As one of Country legend and global superstar Dolly Parton’s 11 siblings, singer and actress Stella Parton, like most of her family, has been performing since childhood, and enjoyed chart success in the 70s with a series of singles including Danger of a Stranger and Undercover Lovers, I Want to Hold You in My Dreams Tonight.

In Parton sings Parton: a Sister’s Tribute, Stella Parton presents a night of country music based on the recently released tribute album to her sister, Mountain Songbird.  Punctuated with images from her own personal photograph album, Parton shares her sister’s inspiration for her songs and performs her own chart hits with her five-piece band.

mountain songbird stella parton

Concentrating on the so-called ‘story songs’ that hold personal meaning, it’s undoubtedly her sister’s big hitters that get the best reception, but the younger Parton’s own efforts largely hold their own. A competent singer, (there are some pitch issues at the higher end of her range) she has a good belt that goes down well with the crowd.

This entertaining production is undertaken with her older sister’s blessing, and while some may perceive it as cashing in on her sibling’s success, it comes across as a genuine and heartfelt personal tribute.

Touring the UK throughout spring.

REVIEW: Sister Act – Motherwell Concert Hall

With a fresh outlook and some new faces, the 111 year old Hamilton Operatic and Dramatic Club are a society with a renewed spring in its step.

This year tackling Sister Act, the strong central casting raises this above the usual amateur theatre fodder.

Based on the much-loved 1992 movie, Cheers writers Cheri and Bill Steinkellner have revamped the story for its musical incarnation and while the movie features a raft of Motown hits, copyright issues mean that Broadway and Disney veteran Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater are charged with creating an all-new score.

When lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses her mobster boyfriend murder one of his low-life associates, she is put in protective custody in a convent. While transforming the tone-deaf choir into the hottest ticket in town, Deloris puts herself back in the firing line of the very gangsters she is hiding from.

Following on from her role as Dorothy in last year’s Wizard of Oz, Marianne Millard stars as Deloris. Millard has found her perfect role here, the larger than life singer with the powerhouse voice is the perfect fit. There are some knock-out nuns too (if there could be such a thing): Anne Morrison is a delight as the doubting Mother Superior as is Emma Rodger as the eternally optimistic Sister Mary Patrick and Cathy Taylor delivers a hysterical turn as the deadpan Sister Mary Lazarus.

There is extremely strong vocal support too from a fantastic (almost all-female) ensemble who are an absolute delight when singing as one.

While it really all is about the women in Sister Act, the boys manage to hold their own. Gordon Watson wins the audience’s sympathy and support as put-upon cop with a heart of gold, Eddie, it’s just a shame that there’s little opportunity here to exercise his impressive vocal skills in this part. In fine voice too is Peter Scally as mobster Curtis, who gets to deliver the hysterical When I Find My Baby, his acting however lacks conviction. As the trio of intellectually challenged, would-be hoodlums: Joey, Pablo and  T.J., Cameron King, Marc Costello and Allan Cochrane provide laughs as does Roland Russell as Monsignor O’Hara.

Former performer, now director, John Carr delivers a sure-footed production which cracks on apace and the finished result is a polished, tight and ultimately entertaining evening’s theatre.

If they continue to bring new talent, new ideas and a clear focus on the future, then this can only mean a sure future for Hamilton Operatic and Dramatic Club.

*as a footnote to the production, (and nothing to do with HODC) mention must be made of the appalling behaviour of the audience throughout the production. With constant latecomers (some half an hour after curtain, clutching a drink from the bar in each hand); incessant talking and sweetie eating and rustling; endless trips in and out to the bar accompanied by the theatre staff helping them in and out with full beam torches; there was little respect for the performers onstage and no respect for the people sitting around them. The only concern for the staff seemed to be the use of mobile phones.

If the venue wishes to operate as a professional one then the management and the staff need to act accordingly.


REVIEW: Aled Jones – Motherwell Concert Hall

Despite releasing more albums than Madonna and Queen (30 to be precise), and three decades since first appearing on the nation’s conscience, Aled Jones is still working to shake his image as the rosy cheeked choir boy who went walking in the air.

Now 44, Jones has recently been in the public eye from his two year stint on the ITV breakfast time sofa with Lorraine Kelly and as one of the principal presenters of the BBC’s flagship religious show Songs of Praise.

He is now back on tour doing what what he loves the most – singing from the heart. This concert, Songs of Hope and Inspiration delivers exactly what it says on the tin, a selection of pop-standards, religious, Scottish and Welsh folk ballads and traditional tunes all with a “hymn-like quality” to soothe the soul or inspire.

Despite the tiny audience in this cavernous concert hall, Jones gives his all during the programme, interspersing the diverse song choices with amusing anecdotes and (due to the intimate numbers) lots of one to one banter with members of the audience.

Thirty years on Jones is still in fine voice and manages to breathe new life and some interesting arrangements into old favourites as well as ably tackling the more modern folk-inspired numbers. His voice remains rich and melodious throughout.

This is an evening of musicianship of the highest standards and quality, it’s just a pity that the locals didn’t turn out in greater numbers to see it.


REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz – Motherwell Concert Hall, Motherwell

With the musical theatre behemoth that is Wicked (the untold story of the witches of Oz) currently treading the boards and packing the auditorium at the Edinburgh Playhouse on its record-breaking UK tour, Hamilton Operatic and Dramatic Club present the perfect opportunity to return to the source material that made it all possible; Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz.

Baum’s century old tale of little Dorothy Gale and her adventures in the magical land of Oz is presented here in John Kane’s 1986 overhauled stage version, featuring the classic and much-loved movie score from Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg, it also includes extended dialogue and the re-instated “The Jitterbug” sequence which was cut from the 1939 film.

With a new production team on board and a fresh influx of talent, the society have decided to kick of the theatrical festive season with a bang. The Wizard of Oz is no small undertaking: most of the audience being more than familiar with this beloved story and its classic soundtrack, and the team are to be applauded for the sheer scale of their ambition in staging this technically demanding and lengthy show. The actors must also be applauded for agreeing to share the stage with the inevitably scene-stealing Toto (played here by Alfie, who is a professional from the tips of his toes to his shiny nose and whose expression throughout was an entertainment in itself).

Key to the success of the piece is the casting of the central quartet: Marianne Millard is a competent Dorothy, vocally capable of carrying the role, she moves well too, however in the more emotive moments her dialogue defaults to an ear-piercing shrillness and at times her line delivery is a tad slow, especially when working off the other, more experienced actors. Stand-out however are the magical trio of the Scarecrow (John Carr), Tin Man (Gordon Watson) and the Cowardly Lion (Colin Vincent) the three men more than live up to expectations both vocally and in their acting. Vincent in particular could not have been better cast, his Cowardly Lion perfectly encapsulating the much-loved character and providing the biggest laughs of the night. Notable too are the impeccable American accents from the principal players which remain on point throughout,

There are many moments where the ensemble get their chance to shine too, but they are a little protracted in a show that comes in at just under three hours and add little to the storytelling, however this is no fault of the hard-working performers rather it is a criticism of the show itself.

There are an impressive number of scene/setting changes in the production, providing much to keep the interest levels high and a lot of nice small detail such as a crackling fire and pyrotechnic effects throughout, the costumes too are suitably colourful and liberal use is made of projected backgrounds to enhance each location. For the most part the transitions are handled very well by this amateur company, the only wish being that they were a little more brisk.

Mention must be made of the outstanding orchestra, ably directed by the youthful Christopher Duffy their playing remains tight and sharp and a delight to the ear for the duration of the show.

If this ambitious show is a glimpse of what the new creative team have to offer then I am keen to see what comes next. An impressive debut to build upon.







REVIEW: Oliver! – Motherwell Concert Hall

Bringing vividly to life Dickens’ timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more, Lionel Bart’s sensational score includes Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You’ve Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two, I’d Do Anything, Oom Pah Pah, As Long As He Needs Me and many more.

Six months on from The Producers, this is Hamilton Operatic Society’s latest offering. With another enormous cast (50 adults and 50-55 children – yes, you read that correctly!) and a change of venue a few miles north to the cavernous Motherwell Concert Hall – It’s time for Oliver!

The last production by this society was of such high quality  that I was looking forward to this enormously. So did it live up to expectations? Well if I’m being honest – no. 

But first to the highlights; Yet again, John Carr was a fine Fagan – both his acting and singing were of excellent quality and he played the role with a engaging warmth and charisma. Gordon Watson, stand-out performer from The Producers, was again in fine voice in the small, but key role of Bill Sykes. Peter Scally as Mr.Sowerberry made an impact in the short time he was on stage and the children playing Oliver and the Artful Dodger did so effectively – Oliver possessing a clear voice (but a bit lifeless) and the Dodger full of life (but constantly hauling up his trousers!)

One highlight of the evening were the ensemble members who sang Who Will Buy, each, to a man (and woman) were fine, fine singers so much so, that I wonder why some of them were passed up for bigger roles. Which brings me to the most jarring note of the performance – yet again. Now I took two guests to see this with me and in the interest of bringing an unbiased opinion here, I asked them what they thought of the performances before I shared what I was going to write. Both were astonished at the casting of Nancy – Now as anyone who has seen, heard or read about this show will know that it is one of the pivotal roles. So why oh why was the dialogue mangling Suzanne Gilliland cast as such a key character again. Not a line of dialogue or lyric was intelligible. The only line that was decipherable was the belting out of –  as long as heeeee neeeeds meeeeee! at the end of said song. I wasn’t exactly a fan of hers from the last show but was willing to cut her some slack if she proved me wrong here. Well she only confirmed that she was woefully miscast yet again. Both my guests agreed as did some colleagues who expressed their dismay at her performance.

Once again the scenic team provided some unexpected moments of slapstick in their scenery- removing. My special favourite was the gent, who, in the middle of Fagin’s big dramatic number Reviewing The Situation decided to dismantle the fireplace directly behind Fagin’s head in full view of the audience. I wondered if he was a disgruntled reject from the casting process who was getting his moment in the spotlight – quite literally – RIGHT in the spotlight  – pure comedy gold. Another slightly alarming addition were the crinoline-clad ladies who wafted down the aisles, waving their hands in the air then promptly wafted off again out of sight. I personally think it was just an excuse to wear a big pastel coloured satin frock!

Now back to the performance – credit must go to the children of the ensemble – they were absolutely charming, step-perfect, and of fine voice throughout. They kept up levels of energy and professionalism that the adults would have been proud of.

This production had many plus points – John Carr and Gordon Watson especially and some very good supporting performances, but ultimately there was something missing – it didn’t have the heart or the warmth that would have made it great. I keep my fingers crossed for their next production Fiddler on the Roof in November.

Until the production photos are posted here are some rehearsal shots from STV online.


REVIEW: Katya Virshilas and Pasha Kovalev – Motherwell Concert Hall 3rd May 2012

Strictly Come Dancing’s Katya and Pasha took to the stage for an evening of exhibition dance routines, audience participation, a bit of Q&A and some video highlights, and danced their way into the hearts of the enthusiastic crowd in Motherwell.

Joining Katya and Pasha were two rising stars in the world of dance, Lindsey Muckle & Ryan Hammond (below), the undefeated British Latin Show Dance Champions. They took part in Strictly Come Dancing in South Africa which Lindsey went on to win, and both recently appeared in the hit Sky 1 show Got to Dance, reaching the semi finals.

Linked by an joke-cracking host, the evening began with an energetic Samba, then a slow Cha Cha Cha, before being joined on stage by Muckle and Hammond for a Salsa. The dances then flowed in quick succession (in a dazzle of gorgeous costumes): Foxtrot, Quick-Step, Argentine Tango, Viennese Waltz, Rhumba, Paso Doble and Jive.

The evening was interspersed with a Q&A session, a lesson in how to Merengue and a Cha Cha Cha competition, which the natives had nearly to be restrained from leaping onstage to join in with.

The two stars came across as extremely engaging and the warmth radiated from them both – which was nice to see as Katya is often portrayed as a bit of a hard task master – here she showed her softer side. A hugely enjoyable evening with the most phenomenal dancing and, as good as Muckle and Hammond were, it showed that Katya and Pasha are simply in a different class. The dancing was phenomenal and it was a chance to get closer to these stars of Strictly –  if you have the chance to see Katya and Pasha in a theatre near you – GO – you’ll love it!