Tag Archives: Nigel Harman

REVIEW: Glengarry Glen Ross – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

There are no means, moral or otherwise, left unutilised to secure a sale, be it by lying, cheating or stealing, in David Mamet’s Olivier, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross. A searing portrait not only the dog-eat-dog world of US real estate in the 1980s, but of the consequences of a society inherently driven by capitalism and the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity.

Set over two days in the life of four Chicago salesmen and their quest to be top of the office leader board: Shelly Levene (Mark Benton), once top dog, now down on his luck and scrabbling for every potential lead from his younger superior; Ricky Roma (Nigel Harman) the man of the moment and front-runner to win the star prize of a Cadillac; George Aaronow (Wil Johnson), veteran salesman worn out by the work life he has to lead and veritable Pit Bull Dave Moss (Denis Conway) a seething ball of rage and fury.

The expletive-laden, staccato dialogue in Mamet’s 36 year-old play is delivered at machine gun pace from the mouths of four unscrupulous, highly flawed and hard to like protagonists, and at times the dense text and fractured phrasing proves to be a challenge to some of the cast. Whole swathes of the dialogue are swallowed by the vast auditorium – that coupled with some less than perfect American accents, relieves the play of some of its punch. While this is a cast of experience and quality, there are issues with some of the acting which appears forced at times and renders some of the characters more caricature than fully-formed forces of nature. That said, this is as strong an ensemble cast as you are likely to see, particularly Johnson and Conway.

Chiara Stephenson’s exquisite sets are some of the most finely detailed you will have the privilege to see on a UK tour: from the beautifully lit Chinese restaurant to the shabby down-at-heel real estate office, they are a feast for the eyes.

Glengarry Glen Ross remains a savage examination of a way of life that largely failed to pervade the UK, a snap-shot of a period of time that thankfully is all but gone, but, to be frank, it has lost some its power as the years have passed. Worth watching even if only to celebrate a culture and way of life best left behind.

Runs until 13 April 2019 | Image: Marc Brenner

This review was originally written for THE REVIEWS HUB

REVIEW: Shrek The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

The big, green, Scottish ogre is back on the road again, delighting audiences young and old in this joyful, colourful, in-your-face, fun night out for all the family.

Based on the award-winning 2001, Dreamworks movie, Shrek and Donkey join forces to rescue Princess Fiona from imprisonment in her tower. Standing in their way are not only a fire-breathing dragon and a great big secret, but a whole host of fairytale misfits and the evil Lord Farquaad.

Beneath the eye-popping colour and glitzy visuals, this is a story with real heart and it gently promotes a message of equality and acceptance in the best possible way: with intelligence and wit. For all the comic songs there’s a fair share of poignant and though-provoking ballads too.

This was never going to be anything other than a sure-fire hit, so beloved are the Shrek films, that coupled with the fact this truly is entertainment for the whole family. Much of the dialogue can be enjoyed at both adult and child level and a sensible start time (7pm) to accommodate the ‘school night’ crowd, make it a must-see for all the family. There’s also a challenge for musical theatre fans to see how many references they can spot to fellow West End and Broadway shows.

The main cast are solid and fine-voiced: Shrek Steffan Harri (largely) nails the Scottish accent in front of a Scottish crowd. Princess Fiona for this leg of the tour is the seemingly ubiquitous Amelia Lily who does a good job vocally and whose acting skills improve with every role she tackles, and Marcus Ayton gives an entertainingly ‘ramped up camp’ version of Donkey. But, of course, it is Samuel Holmes who steals the show with a refreshing take on the hysterical Lord Farquaad. No one can compete when he bursts on stage, not only does Holmes have impeccable comic timing, he has a fabulous voice too. Mention must be made of the multiple role playing ensemble who act wonderfully and sound sublime and the set and the transitions from scene to scene are as slick as you will see on any stage.

The night’s are getting darker, the temperature is dropping, so what better way to warm your heart and soul than to see this big-hearted beauty of a musical.

Runs until 6 October 2018 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub.



REVIEW: Shrek – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Fourteen years ago Shrek exploded onto our screens and redefined the ‘family film’: a movie so clever and sophisticated that it had both adults and children rolling in the aisles. But taking this beloved movie classic and making it into a musical? Unimaginable you’d think, but boy would you be wrong. Not only have they made it into a musical, they’ve done it in grand style.

The big-hearted Scottish ogre, Princess Fiona, Donkey and, of course Lord Farquaad are all here, as is the fire-breathing dragon and a whole host of fairy tale favourites. Retaining all of the humour of the film (and it’s storyline: anti-social ogre is duped into going on a quest to rescue a princess and finds true love in the process) and adding even more by giving a back story to each of the main characters, this is an impossible-to-resist night of laugh out loud fun.

There’s no discernible difference between this touring production and that in the West End and it reads as rich and lavish in the auditorium, there’s also a fine orchestra briskly conducted by Dave Rose.

The cast too, are first rate. The ensemble give strong support and special mention needs to be made of Candace Furbert whose soaring vocals give life to the Dragon. Dean Chisnall is an outstanding Shrek, the right mixture of gruff gross and good-hearted, he also has an unexpectedly melodious voice for an ogre. Nikki Bentley, stepping in to the role of Princess Fiona due to Faye Brookes tonsillitis, is a revelation, her comic timing is spot on and she’s a fine singer, but without doubt the night belongs to Gerard Carey’s scene-stealing and show-stopping turn as Lord Farquaad. I defy anyone not to be in hysterics at his antics.

This is a huge, big-hearted romp replete with frolics, farts and fun for all the family. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

*On a side note, musical theatre geeks can set themselves the challenge of identifying all the references to other shows dotted throughout. (I counted seven).

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at http://www.thepublicreviews.com/shrek-kings-theatre-glasgow/

REVIEW: I Can’t Sing – The London Palladium

The X Factor has become the touchstone for all that is abhorrent about Britain today: the unhealthy obsession with celebrity and the overwhelming lack of desire of young people to become anything other than ‘famous’. With its tear-jerking back stories, meant to tug at our heart-strings, but which are increasingly making us turn off in droves, the mockable and deluded ‘losers’, the plucky ‘triers’ eternally looking for their big break, it was with raised eyebrows and cries of derision that the news that Harry Hill was writing an ‘X Factor musical’ was met.

But surely Hill wouldn’t harness himself to a project that might ruin a reputation built up over 20 years, would he? And how far could it really go with Simon Cowell on board as one of its producers? Ever the optimist, it was with an open mind that this reviewer headed to the Palladium to see I Can’t Sing!

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 08.52.38The crux of the matter is; Is it entertaining? Simply, the answer is a resounding yes. Did I laugh? Yes – a lot. Are there any good tunes? Yes – a fair few. That said, there are as many moments of bemusement as amusement throughout. There’s a hearty dose of the eccentricity and surrealism that characterises Hill’s work, but as amusing as this all is to a native audience one can’t help but wonder how the foreign tourists, upon whom much of the West End’s economic health depends, will fare with it’s UK-centric plot and cultural references. Indeed, on the evening I attended there was a joke worked in about MP Maria Miller’s resignation which had happened that morning.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 08.52.49The plot is as flimsy as tissue paper (basically that of a modest young hopeful with a tear-jerking back story and the eccentrics that surround the circus that is the TV talent show circuit) and the material sometimes seems as if it’s spread a little thin over the two and a half hour running time, but it rocks along at break-neck speed and there are enough cheesy jokes, mayhem, high octane energy, good tunes and eye-popping visuals to keep the interest levels high throughout.

Its greatest strength however is its cast, made up of the great and good of the UK musical theatre world:

Nigel Harman is suitably oily as a Messiah-like Simon whose self-adoration knows no bounds. He particularly shines in a Las Vegas tap-dance spectacular.

sing004Cynthia Erivo is our ‘heroine’ Chenice, an orphan who lives in a caravan with one plug socket under a flyover with her grandfather in an iron lung who daily has to make the choice between toast or oxygen! Erivo has a knockout voice which she gets to showcase well, particularly in the title song.

Simon Lipkin is Barlow, Chenice’s talking (to the audience) dog (yes, you read that correctly).

Relative unknown Alan Morrisey shines as Max the plumber, Chenice’s love interest and fellow contestant, he has an excellent voice and a natural charm that communicates well to the audience.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 08.52.23

Simon Bailey is a knockout as Liam O’Deary and has the real X Factor host’s mannerisms down pat. The only gripe being that we don’t get to hear Mr. Bailey’s rather fine singing voice enough.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 08.54.37Charlie Baker delivers a show-stealing turn as hunchback(!?!) Trevor Modo. There’s also a Subo-like checkout operator from Wales and spawn of Jedward Irish duo Altarboyz thrown into the mix.

imageThe other judges are ably played by Ashley Knight as a doddery Louis and Victoria Elliot as Jordy, a Tyneside celebrity singer whose speech is peppered with familiar ‘pets’ and ‘loves’ and whose contestants are “like little brothers and sisters to me”, sound a bit familiar?

sing002Steve Brown‘s songs cover almost every genre of popular music and there are some standouts, in particular Trevor Modo’s hysterical rap number and the lyrics are often a hoot. The accompanying band are on fine form too, if at times, at ear-splitting volume.

I Cant sing palladiumLes Mis it ain’t but entertaining it certainly is. It’s crude, at times surreal, often nonsense, always ear-drum burstingly loud and completely and utterly bonkers throughout but there’s much to enjoy here. Leave your preconceptions at the door and go along for the super silly, surreal ride. You might just enjoy it.

All images courtesy: http://www.icantsingthemusical.com/media/

REVIEW: Shrek The Musical starring Nigel Lindsay, Nigel Harman, Richard Blackwood and Kimberley Walsh 20th October 2011

Oh no! I hear you cry – not another bloody musical based on a film!!!

above – the original cast including Amanda Holden who left after announcing her pregnancy.

below – Kimberely Walsh who took up the role on the 7th of October.

before and after

No matter what you think about Amanda Holden since her rise to fame as a talent show judge, but her background is in musical theatre and by all accounts her run in Shrek was a successful one.

Now to Miss Walsh, you must admit that she brings a lot of baggage to this, and if the first night scramble, when her Girls Aloud bandmates attended is anything to go by,  it might well take a lot to see beyond the publicity to her actual performance in the role.

Well give the girl her due she can really sing – it’s not exactly the most taxing role and she was a bit emotionless at times but she managed to hold her own and do a good job.

Shrek The Musical is everything you expect from Disney, the sets are huge and impressive and its large cast are of a high quality.

Nigel Lindsay’s Shrek is entertaining and impressively he manages to keep up Shrek’s Scottish accent even when singing. There’s plenty here for adults and children alike with jokes cleverly pitched at both. But it’s Nigel Harman who really steals the show. His Lord Farquaad had the audience in tears with his expressions and dance routines – as the midget meglomaniac he spends the entire time on his knees – the poor guy deserves a medal. Incidentally he has a fine singing voice and any memories of his former self in Eastenders are completely forgotten.