Tag Archives: Ray Quinn

REVIEW: Summer Holiday – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Taking as its source the classic 1963 Cliff Richard movie, Summer Holiday is a feather light piece of escapism for all the family with a hard-working, talented cast and more than a few much-loved, familiar tunes.

It’s yet another miserable British summer, when Don and his fellow London bus mechanics persuade their bosses to let them borrow a double-decker bus to escape the grey skies. They set off for the south of France. On they way, they encounter a trio of female singers (the Do Re Mi’s) who have broken down on the way to a gig in Athens. Thrown into the mix is an American singing sensation (Barbara) disguised as a boy, on the run from her over-bearing mother and her agent. Cue some old-fashioned frolics and farce.

First turned into a stage musical in 1996, it has become a favourite of amateur dramatic societies up and down the UK, and as a work that’s fondly regarded by the great British public, it is ripe for a revamped professional tour. In order to ensure mass appeal, some of Cliff’s earliest releases have been shoe-horned into the song list along with those culled from the soundtrack of the movie. It must be said that there are more than a few that are pure filler, and unnecessarily extend the running time without adding much entertainment value, but for the most part the hit songs are a winner: Do You Wanna Dance, The Young Ones, Move It, Living Doll, Bachelor Boy and the famous title song get the audience on-side the moment the first bars ring out.

The energy level of the cast is critical in a work as lightweight as this, and thankfully they are giving their all. Their commitment to their roles is universally deserving of praise. In the ‘Cliff Richard’ role of Don, Ray Quinn is a hugely reliable, likeable and sure-footed leading man, he’s more than proved his chops in the singing department, but he’s also a gifted dancer. His trio of mates: Rory Maguire (Cyril), Billy Roberts (Steve) and especially the hugely talented Joe Goldie (Edwin) provide solid support, each singing, dancing, acting and breathing life into their roles with energy.

The Do Re Mi’s prove a likeable trio and Alice Baker (Alma) Laura Marie Benson (Angie) and especially Gabby Antrobus (Mimsie) do their best with the slim material they are given. Sophie Matthew is pleasant enough but unremarkable as Barbara and Becky Bassett as her mother Stella, is at least two decades too young to play the part.

Racky Plews choreography is as reliable and inventive as ever and is executed with precision and energy throughout. The scene to Move It in particular, is cleverly realised with ski poles and pairs of Heelys.

The minimal (read for that cheap looking) set doesn’t do much for the production, it is played out to a stark black background throughout which lends no sense of place, it is clear all the money has been spent on the realisation of the double decker bus, which is thankfully effective.

The script is weak and the characters are utterly two-dimensional, however, the fact that the cast are clearly giving their all makes up for the short-comings in the writing. The humour gets to the levels of mildly ‘seaside saucy’ and there are some lazy stereotypical ‘Johnny Foreigners’ replete with dodgy accents, if you’re being kind you could say it’s a hark back to a more innocent and simplistic time, less kindly you could call into question the taste/judgement levels of the production team. Criticism could also be made of an all-white cast in a musical in the UK in 2018.

It’s simplistic, it’s undemanding but it’s ultimately good old-fashioned, feel-good fun.

Runs until 3 November 2018 | Image: Contributed

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

REVIEW: The Wedding Singer – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Based on the 1998 Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore romantic comedy of the same name, The Wedding Singer cashes in our nostalgia for the decade that taste forgot: big hair, big shoulder pads, and even bigger mobile phones.

Jilted at the altar, hapless romantic Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns), is resigned to living in his grandma’s basement and consigned to making a living singing at other people’s weddings. When he meets waitress Julia (Cassie Compton), she sets his broken heart a-flutter. Unfortunately, Julia is already engaged to oily, Wall Street banker Glen (Ray Quinn). As it always is in musical comedies, there’s many a misstep until the duo are ultimately united.

If you are a regular theatre-goer, you would be justified in being cynical about the seemingly never-ending trend of film to stage adaptations. With an audience almost guaranteed and less work required to convert an already written script, (here, it’s down to original screenwriter Tim Herlihy to adapt his own work) they are appearing from the woodwork at an alarming rate.

The flimsy plot is formulaic, and instead of being ‘hilarious’ as billed, it’s amusing. There’s also a high cringe factor with heavy-handed 80s references and cheesy jokes shoe-horned in. That’s those that you can hear over the over-amped band. And, yes, it’s supposed to be fluffy entertainment, but the two-dimensional characterisations of the women are woefully stereotypical: good girls longing to get married, slutty side-kicks and mad old grannies.

Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin’s score is largely forgettable. A few real-life 80s hits (as there were in the movie) may have elevated it above mere pastiche. That said, there’s a stand-out tune in Ray Quinn’s rendition of the ode to the dollar, All About The Green.

Nick Winston has laced the choreography with nods to MTV’s greatest video hits. There’s some impressive footwork in the all-male Single, and Ray Quinn shines in the few chances he gets.

Disappointingly Francis O’Connor’s costumes are less 80s excess than they could be, it all looks a bit polished, and ‘modern’ and the set design is functional rather than visually stimulating.

While the plot is thin and the music lightweight, there are a few stand-outs in the cast: Jon Robyns has been a West End leading man in waiting for years, here, he finally gets the chance to shine in a leading role. The talented Ray Quinn is underused and the biggest cheers of the night go to stage and screen veteran Ruth Madoc, who kicks up a storm as Robbie’s potty-mouthed, rapping granny.

There’s so much unmined potential here, an already well-loved film has been reduced to a mere ghost of itself and this over-long adaptation with its often unnecessary, repetitive and uninspiring songs, render this a shadow of what it could have been.

Runs until 22 April 2017 | Image: Contributed

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED BY THE REVIEWS HUB

REVIEW: Judy – The Songbook of Judy Garland – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

An artist who means so much to so many: both tragic victim of the studio star system and ultimate Hollywood legend, the ever-enduring appeal of Judy Garland is enough to ensure a full house wherever her name appears.

Judy – The Songbook of Judy Garland is the only production officially sanctioned by the Garland estate and features youngest daughter Lorna Luft accompanied on this whistle-stop journey through the musical career of her mother by West End leading lady Louise Dearman, X-Factor, Brookside and Dancing on Ice alumni Ray Quinn, an array of seasoned musical theatre veterans and backing dancers The Boyfriends.

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The show format is a familiar one, live performances are interspersed with video snippets of Garland’s most famous movies and a few unseen interview clips of the star, looking it must be said, fragile and vulnerable, as well as some personal anecdotes from Luft about life with her famous parent. These personal reminiscences are a welcome touch and provide a tangible link from audience to superstar, that said, it would have been nice to utilise this very real connection and allow Luft more show time talking rather than singing songs which only her mother can truly give justice to.

There is a quality which permeates the whole production, from the set design of Colin Rozée (a Hollywood studio stage) with its black, red and white motif that carries through to the costume design, to the first class cast. Dearman and Quinn are the standouts in a universally talented line-up. Dearman’s “Stormy Weather” is a showstopper and Quinn surprises and delights, most notably in his duet with Darren Bennett, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, being both fleet of foot and in extremely fine voice. Bennett, it must be said is a class act, singing and dancing beautifully throughout. Dearman and Luft also memorably recreate the now famous 1962 duet between Garland and a then unknown Barbra Streisand.

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The musical arrangements are excellent as is the choreography and there are some nice touches in the projections especially in “The Trolley Song” where background and onstage action merge beautifully and to great effect. For all its quality there are a few quibbles though: a couple of technical glitches were handled quickly and professionally but an out of synch video of Garland singing “Mr. Monotony” did ruin what could have been a powerful moment.

The celebratory tone is brought to an end by a melancholy tribute to Garland and her most famous song, as the first notes ring out from “Over The Rainbow” the production to its credit, realises that no one else could come close to the star’s iconic rendition, leaving Judy in her gingham dress to sing alone.

This is very much a production that gives its target audience what it wants. With nigh-on 30 songs on the bill and a first-rate cast, the audience can’t complain it doesn’t get its money’s worth. A fine, quality tribute to a Hollywood legend.

Runs until Sat 6 June 2015 then touring

This article was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/judy-the-songbook-of-judy-garland-theatre-royal-glasgow/