Tag Archives: Motherwell

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: Anything Goes – Motherwell Theatre, Motherwell

Anything Goes is classic musical theatre, complete with tap numbers, cheesy jokes, unlikely happy endings and an unforgettable score by the legendary Cole Porter, it includes some of his best known tunes: “De-Lovely,” “I Get a Kick Out Of You” and of course the title song itself, to name a few.

Set aboard the ocean liner S. S. American, nightclub singer Reno Sweeney is en-route from New York to England, her young pal Billy Crocker has stowed away to be near his love, socialite Hope Harcourt, but the problem is Hope is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Joining this love triangle on board the luxury liner are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin and his sidekick-in-crime Erma. With the help of some elaborate disguises and some good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart.

This latest offering from Our Lady’s Musical Society has all the hallmarks of a winning night’s entertainment, great songs, great costumes and a light-hearted storyline, it’s the perfect piece for a large ensemble cast and there are some delightful highlights to be had: Christopher Morris shines as Billy Crocker, his era-evocative voice and golden-age of Hollywood characterisation are perfect in this pivotal role; Robert Kirkham is a delight as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, his spot-on accent and comic timing provide some of the biggest laughs of the evening and Jonathan Procter, a stalwart of many musical societies, proves why he is such an asset to any cast – his professionalism and ease on stage are a delight to watch.

However, unlike previous productions from this top-notch society, this one suffers from a lack of the requisite high energy that the show requires. This is a show renowned for its large ensemble tap numbers (and the tap skills of its leading lady) and to be frank the dancing just wasn’t up to scratch and whilst Marie Hannigan was in very fine voice as Reno Sweeney her maturity of years and lack of dancing skills were at odds with what is expected from the role. Heather Slamin too seemed somewhat miscast as Hope Harcourt, at times rather lifeless, she appeared to suffer from pitch issues throughout, though this may have been thrown into more sharp focus acting alongside the fine-voiced Hannigan and Morris.

That said, there was plenty of fun (and dodgy American accents) to be had throughout and the mature members of the audience around me seemed to be having an absolute ball. One can only hope that Our Lady’s Musical Society will be back on track next time and hopefully with an injection of some youthful new talent to balance out the high number of more mature performers they will be.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Octave GLO 4th – At the GLO Auditorium, Motherwell

Vocal ensemble Octave return to the GLO Auditorium for their fourth annual charity concert and deliver a jewel-coloured kaleidoscope of music from the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries.

Any musical director who can programme songs as diverse as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Nella Fantasia’, ‘Puttin on the Ritz’, ‘Phil the Fluter’s Ball’ and Tom Lehrer’s ‘A Spring Song’ a barmy little ditty about “poisoning pigeons in the park” into a recital schedule and make it seem like the most natural marriage in the world deserves not only praise, but respect for bravery, creativity and a sure artistic vision: David Fisher your audience salutes you.

The programme of songs delivers something for every musical taste and as expected from this supremely talented ensemble, has as many surprises as familiar favourites, but always provides the best showcase for the singers. This year is no exception; highlights include Esther O’Hara’s version of Lloyd-Webber’s ‘Love Changes Everything’, Janis Cunningham’s ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and the female members of the ensemble’s hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck-raising rendition of ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. The boys don’t do too badly either, each managing to let their big personalities shine through especially in their tongue in cheek delivery of the Monty Python classic ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’.

Always guaranteed to put a smile on your face and send you onto the street with a song in your heat, it is rare to find performers of this quality in the amateur spectrum. Octave are the ensemble to watch out for – do yourself a favour and catch them wherever you can.

REVIEW: Kiss Me Honey, Honey – Motherwell Theatre, Motherwell

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This article was originally written for and published  by The Public Reviews at:

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/kiss-me-honey-honey-motherwell-theatre-motherwell/

Writer: Philip Meeks

Director: Sam  Kane

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★½☆

A Gilded Balloon commission for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Philip Meeks’ Kiss Me Honey, Honey is on the surface a farcical romp about the lives of two single middle aged men, reduced to living in less than salubrious digs, who bond over a mutual appreciation of Shirley Bassey and a desperate desire for love. But as with all of Meeks’ work it masks a deeper, much sadder and sadly resonant tale of loneliness and the perils of dating in the digital age.

This amiable two hander plays out for the most part like an episode of a risqué 1970′s sitcom: there’s innuendo, female impersonation, in-jokes and misunderstandings a-plenty. There’s also more than a whiff of the panto about the whole endeavour, deftly handled by both Andy Gray, as recently divorced Ross and Grant Stott as naive dating newbie Graham. Gray is well known as a comedy actor and it is no surprise that he elicits the biggest belly-laughs from the crowd, but it is Stott that is the revelation here, usually seen as the pantomime villain, his finely tuned portrayal of the innocent Graham displays an up until now unseen dramatic talent.

There is an undeniable rapport between the two actors, honed over years as stalwarts of the Edinburgh pantomime scene and they manage to wring every last laugh from the material. However, the comedy is broad and the jokes too obvious, and whilst they elicit laughs from the largely older audience, the 70′s sexism and (at times) misogyny, is a little hard to accept in the 21st century and lessens rather than heightens the impact of the more thoughtful moments of tragedy and reflection.

That said, its easy to forgive its faults and the mirth continued as the audience exited the venue. A funny but undemanding and somewhat old-fashioned evening’s entertainment, but it could have been so much more.

Reviewed on 13th October 2013 then touring.

Photo credit: Steve Ullathorne

REVIEW: The Collection – Motherwell Theatre, Motherwell

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This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-collection-motherwell-theatre-motherwell/

Writer: Mike Cullen

Director: Michael Emans

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★½☆

Mike Cullen’s The Collection is a tale of desperation, conscience, poverty, avarice, inevitable tragedy and depressing relevance and resonance, despite being written almost twenty years ago. After ten years, Bob Lawson (Jimmy Chisholm) is at the top of his “profession”, something to be proud of you would think, well it would be, were it not for the fact that his “profession” is debt collection. But Lawson’s life is shattered forever when one of his female clients commits suicide. Charting the sordid dealings and the financially, morally and spiritually bankrupt characters who pass through the collection agency’s doors, this is a grim tale for our grim times.

The smell of testosterone and desperation hangs heavy in the air and Cullen’s work wears its influences on its sleeve: the gritty dialogue, grim humour and male egos at their worst, particularly in the interactions between the wholly repellent hard man Joe played with chilling detachment by David Tarkenter and naive new boy Billy (Tam Dean Burn) can’t help but remind one of the work of David Mamet.

The dialogue is, as expected raw, the humour black and the drama intense, however, there is an overwhelming sense of inevitability and predictability about the whole affair. The storyline, whilst compelling never fully develops: it makes no comment on the causes of debt nor does it offer any solutions or judgements, and the portrayal of women as easy victims, willing to sell themselves for “a mutually beneficial business agreement” is quite frankly, offensive.

The small cast of actors more than makes up for its faults though, and Jimmy Chisholm’s central performance as Lawson is flawless. Tam Dean Burn too, turns in a convincing portrayal of the eager to impress new employee Billy who, despite initial reservations, throws the conscience he once had to the wind, in order to impress his boss.

Nearing the end of a national tour, this company is a well-oiled machine, both the scene changes and the interactions between the actors are seamless, slick and well-honed. Entertainment it is not, rather it is an often bleak but utterly compelling portrayal of an all too real and hellishly common problem enacted by a hugely talented cast.

REVIEW: Octave, One…Two…Three…GLO – GLO Auditorium, Motherwell

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Following their recent triumph at The Glasgow Music Festival where they were crowned Best in Class in the Mixed Voice Choir competition, Octave return for their third annual concert.

This is a musical ensemble that is almost impossible to find fault with, the entire group are worthy of the highest praise. The programme, by Musical Director David Fisher, is impeccably put together:  a well-judged mix of the familiar and the lesser known with a smattering of the unexpected thrown in for good measure. The narrative which threads the evening together is also an amusing and informative addition to the show.

The relationship between the singers and the warmth they have for one another, communicates itself well to the audience and the fastidious staging, specially created for the circular auditorium, ensures both the full engagement of the audience and full use of the excellent acoustics.

Octave richly deserve acclaim, not only for the quality of their glorious vocals, but also for the originality of their musical choices. On the basis of this concert their reputation as the best in their field remains unassailable.

 

 

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