Tag Archives: Review

REVIEW: Rudolph – Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

Esmerelda is one unhappy chicken, not only does she want to be called Joyce now, she’s also in no mood to provide the much needed eggs for the poor storytellers Christmas dinner – two poor storytellers who have no cards and no presents either. Esmerelda decides that she’ll only lay an egg if the pair re-tell her favourite story, that of Rudolph the famous red-nosed reindeer.

Rudolph (for pre-schoolers) is as far removed from the brash, candy-coloured pantomimes on offer around the city, this is the gentlest of storytelling, played out on a beautiful, naturalistic cottage-yard set, illuminated by the most beautiful lighting effects from Sergey Jakovsky.

While it does tend to stray on the side of the bizarre – there’s a strange ‘birthing’ sequence for Rudolph and Olive (the other reindeer) relishes her torment of poor Rudolph at reindeer school, it’s a gentle introduction into modern theatre for the tiniest of audience members.

The highlight of the night is when the only song of the evening plays from the radio Edwin Starr’s HAPPY Radio and the tiny dancers in the auditorium burst into life. The creators would do well to take note of the effect of music on young children – it speaks to their very soul. At only 45 minutes long it should fly by but it lacks the necessary life it takes to make it a real hit with its target audience, there’s a lot of restlessness around. A work of quality but not without its faults.

Runs until 17 December at various times

Tickets from £4.50 (local links) /£5/ £8.50

https://platform-online.ticketsolve.com/shows/873580110/events/128296769?_ga=2.1147190.662329583.1512841957-1557944836.1492164954

Sun 10 Dec
2:00pm—3:00pm
Tues 12 Dec
10:00am—11:00am
Tues 12 Dec
1:15pm—2:15pm
Weds 13 Dec
10:00am—11:00am
Weds 13 Dec
7:00pm—8:00pm
Thurs 14 Dec
10:00am—11:00am
Fri 15 Dec
10:00am—11:00am
Sat 16 Dec
10:30am—11:30am
Sat 16 Dec
2:00pm—3:00pm
Sun 17 Dec
2:00pm—3:00pm

REVIEW: The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera Sunday Series) – City Halls, Glasgow

Masochistic obsession, black magic, demons, mass possession, exorcism, skeletons, nuns, appearances from Faust and Mephistopheles, it’s no wonder Sergei Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, often called lurid and sensationalist, is seldom staged. This latest production in The Sunday Series from Scottish Opera sees the work given a stripped back concert style treatment and it’s all the better for it.

Rehearsal for The Fiery Angel
Photos by Julie Howden

While lacking a set, it lacks for nothing else. The principal cast is largely made up of native Russian speakers and some fellow Eastern Europeans and is supplemented by current students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland opera school. The expertise with the language is partly the reason for the quality of this production, that and the considerable singing and acting skills of its principal players. Russian soprano Svetlana Sozdateleva is fine-voiced and gives a convincing, emotive performance throughout as the mentally unsound Renata, as is Azerbaijani baritone Evez Abdulla as Ruprecht and Russian tenor Dmitry Golovnin as Agrippa von Nettesheim, though it must be said that at times they, and their fellow singers find it hard to be heard over the outstanding orchestra (itself swelled in number by students from the Conservatoire), who, under the commanding baton of Mikhail Agrest, have rarely sounded more powerful.

Rehearsal for The Fiery Angel
Photos by Julie Howden

For all its, quite frankly insane subject matter, the score is an absolute winner: powerful, hypnotic, dissonant, majestic, bold and gripping.

Every aspect of this largely concert hall venue is utilised well: singers enter through the auditorium, sing from the balconies, orchestra stalls and act out the considerable drama in an arrangement of simply staged, but hugely effective scenes.

An absolute triumph for both Scottish Opera and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a fantastic opportunity to hear Prokofiev’s masterpiece sounding at its best.

 

 

REVIEW: Lauder – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It’s been a dream come true for much-loved Scottish tenor Jamie MacDougall to bring Jimmy Logan’s ‘play with tunes’ back to the stage. Lauder is being staged in the very theatre that launched Sir Harry Lauder to stardom. The place, the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, where in 1905, Lauder in the leading role in the Howard & Wyndham pantomime Aladdin, wrote the now, world-famous I Love a Lassie. The place that is this week celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Lauder’s story truly is one of rags to riches: from leaving school at 12 to go to the coal faces of Lanarkshire, his first steps on the music hall stage, through fame in London (appearing in six theatres a night) then international stardom, to becoming the highest paid entertainer in the world, his skill at self-promotion and his ambition set him apart from the start. This is a man who carefully cultivated his tight-fisted Scotsman image and who, on arriving in the US (in the days before the mass media) rode behind a pipe band in an open-topped car down Broadway to generate a sell-out audience for his shows. He also spotted the potential in his young, inexperienced US agent, one William Morris whose company continues to be the king among acting agencies today. He left an indelible impression on all those he met. His eventual Knighthood though, wasn’t for his fame and skill as a performer, it was for his humanitarian work, raising money (over £1 Million) for the returning troops of World War 1, despite suffering incredible personal loss.

Over a century on from the height of his fame, his legacy lives strong. You may think that you don’t know the words to his songs – but you do. There must be something in the Scottish DNA that pre-programmes them into our psyche, either that or the sheer cleverness of the songwriting, that, by the second verse and chorus, you’ve learned the lyrics and are singing along with the best of them. Indeed, the audience, before the lights dim and the story begins, are gently singing along to these beloved tunes (something they continue to do whenever given the chance throughout the performance).

Besides a gripping tale, jokes that are as fresh and funny 100 years on, and those astonishingly catchy songs, it’s an incredible central performance from MacDougall that elevates this to an unmissable evening of theatre. MacDougall looks as if he’s having the time of his life and his energy and utter immersion in the role transmit to the audience. His rendition of Stop Your Tickling Jock is the most infectiously funny thing I’ve seen on a stage in a long time – I defy anyone not to laugh. This is a joyful experience, both to watch and to feel a part of. MacDougall is a fine tenor and his beautiful diction and impressive acting skills showcase Lauder’s work at its very best.

An in-missable, five-star tribute to one of Scotland’s greats by a production and performing team of the highest quality.

Images: James Glossop

REVIEW: London Road- Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Chandler Studio Theatre, Glasgow

That anyone thought that a musical about the serial murders of five sex workers in sleepy Ipswich in 2006 would be suitable source material for a musical, might rightfully have been called utterly misguided – thoroughly insensitive, in fact, but that’s the premise for Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork’s London Road.

Delivered verbatim style, the lyrics are culled from interviews that creator Alecky Blythe conducted with the real inhabitants of London Road. The musical a reflection of how the residents, sex workers and media dealt with the terrifying and sensational events unfolding around them.

This work defies every preconception you might have about it. It is thoughtful, intelligent and utterly compelling and there’s not a whiff of exploitation or sensationalism throughout (neither the killer, Steve Wright (dubbed the Suffolk Strangler) nor his victims appear (save for a ‘blanket over the head’ moment when Wright is rushed to the courthouse). Each group involved are given their voice, no matter how unpalatable or un-PC it might be. The honesty and raw truth of it all is what sets it above its contemporaries. The plaudits the work received on its debut at the National Theatre, utterly deserved.

The work is in the safe hands of the 3rd year BA Musical Theatre students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, under the direction of Philip Howard, and their quality and commitment to the work, make it unmissable. The large ensemble cast is faultless. The set design from Meghan Grieve, suitably dark and atmospheric, with an abundance of beautifully realised tiny details, the choreography by EJ Boyle is innovative and eye-catching. The only gripe would be the ear-splittingly loud band which overpowers the vocals and drowns out the lyrics at times.

This is a work of the utmost quality and a refreshing change to the lightweight musical theatre fluff that abounds – tickets are like gold dust, but if you can secure one – you won’t regret it.

Runs until 1 December 2017

REVIEW: An Evening with Collabro with special guest Carly Paoli – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

2014 Britain’s Got Talent winners, Collabro have had an enviable career since the TV talent show. Unlike some of their fellow winners, they have scored three top-20 albums including the number one Stars, have completed worldwide tours, appeared at Proms in the Park and performed at exclusive engagements around the world.

Tonight their Home tour arrives in Glasgow with support act Country/Christian/pop act Philippa Hanna and a guest appearance from classical/crossover singer, Carly Paoli.

Collabro are undoubtedly a class act and the quality of the set/stage presentation reflects this, though the video intro with BGT/X-Factor style voice over is unnecessarily cheesy, the lighting design, video projections and the quadruple staircase staging are all visually pleasing.

The set comprises the great and good of musical theatre as reflected in their current album Home. There’s a pleasing variety in tone throughout the night, but it’s the big-hitting Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera medleys that have the fans in raptures. They are at their best when singing as one, their harmonies are incredibly impressive, though the solo vocals are largely of a high quality, it is Jamie Lambert who has the most original voice.

Special guest vocalist and rising star of the classical/crossover world Carly Paoli is an impressive talent. She, like headliners Collabro, is a class act and her beautifully toned voice soars in the Theatre Royal (fittingly owned by and the home to, Scottish Opera), she is the perfect fit for the vocal quartet. As well as showcasing songs from her debut album Singing My Dreams she performs a beautiful duet on Over The Rainbow.

This is an evening of quality throughout, from the choice of songs, the production value and the superb quality vocals – it’s hard to fault.*

The Collabro Home tour continues until 2 December 2017.

*The only gripes about the evening would be the excessive promotion of merchandise which permeated the entire evening from the support act Philippa Hanna, guest star Carly Paoli to Collabro themselves. Each one interrupted their set to push product. That, and the incongruous Country/Christian pop support act Philippa Hanna, who while a gifted singer was an odd musical choice for the headline act.

 

REVIEW: Philippa Hanna – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

As the opening act for audience favourites Collabro you will always have a hard job of winning over the band’s loyal following, even if you are currently the No.1 selling UK Country Chart act. On paper, Philipa Hanna, seems like an unusual musical fit for the musical theatre/crossover classical singing group.

Hanna is warmly received by the audience and as with any Glasgow crowd, is accompanied with gusto on the many occasions for audience participation, both vocally and percussively.

Hanna is a gifted singer with a crystal clear country voice and her output is very firmly placed in the current pop-country world (she is also a proponent of Contemporary Christian pop). The problem is that while entirely pleasant to the ear, the music is a tad similar-sounding. Another, more concerning aspect of the performance is the highly detailed introductions to the songs. Each appears to have been inspired by the knocks in life that Hanna has experienced and she explains each at length, along with her belief in the support network around her and her faith in God. While, undoubtedly the intention is to inspire – indeed the title of her current album is Come Back Fighting and another song I Am Amazing, unfortunately the audience interaction, coupled with the lengthy interlude to promote the sale of her current album and book, pressed all this reviewers cynicism buttons (indeed, the merchandise plugging was a device used throughout the evening with all acts on the bill trying to sell something). I am a great believer in letting the music do the talking, if it, and you, are good enough, then they alone will win any audience over.

While undoubtedly a talented singer and a competent songwriter, Hanna has huge potential in her chosen genre(s), there are more suitable tours for an artist of this genre. While this will garner her huge exposure on Collabro’s almost sell-out tour, it’s an odd choice and an uncomfortable fit with the acts to come.

REVIEW: Elf – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

elf musical logo

The festive season is off to a grand start with The Pantheon Club’s production of Elf. Based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie, Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin, Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin’s musical version is a treat for the whole family and bound to become a holiday favourite.

Motherless toddler Buddy Hobbs crawls into Santa’s sack by mistake and is transported to the North Pole where he grows up to be one of the elves working in Santa’s toy factory. Standing several feet taller than his fellow ‘elves’ Buddy finds out he’s actually human and return to New York to find his father. Dad is firmly on the naughty list and Buddy endeavours to help his dad and New York City re-discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Pantheon’s amateur production is high on production values (it puts many recent professional touring productions to shame) and impressive in its casting. Graeme Wallace is outstanding as the naïve Buddy, his comic timing and assured vocals are on-point throughout. He is ably supported by a universally impressive ensemble. The acting, vocals, choreography and its execution are of professional quality.

No it’s not the most demanding show, it’s not going to win any awards for the quality of the writing, and the tunes are pleasant but not spectacular, but it’s the kind of show that will warm even the hardest of hearts and set you up perfectly for the festive season ahead. A triumph for the Pantheon Club (dare I start an appeal for a repeat run? Same time, same place – next year).

Image courtesyPantheon Club.

GUEST REVIEW: One Night Only – Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld by Fraser MacDonald

Musical Director: Fraser Morrison

Ensemble: Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society

Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald

As a brand-spanking new company, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society waste no time in showcasing their talent in a number of One Night Only shows.

The intimate setting allows the audience to interact with its cast, whilst still keeping a strictly professional feel. Production values are high for an amateur company.

As musical revues go, One Night Only caters for all. It offers a selection of hit Broadway shows that are known to the masses as well as off-Broadway musical numbers. Combining the two offers a platform for less known standards that is refreshing to see in an amateur show.

Carousel’’s You’ll Never Walk Alone is a stand out piece, delicately arranged with the a cappella section ringing out to a dewy-eyed audience. Once We Were Kings from Billy Elliot is another gem in a packed set.

The extensive set may be lengthy, but it affords almost all of the ensemble a solo number. Each is of a standard far beyond expectations of a fledgling company on their first showcase.

The efforts of musical director president Fraser Morrison are rewarded in this first series of shows for the Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society. If One Night Only is anything to go by, the Cumbernauld Musical Theatre society has a long and successful future ahead of it – this show certainly hits the right note!

Reviewed on 4 November 2017

Critic Contact: fmacdonald@live.co.uk 

 

FEATURE: Peachy Brew Launched With the Appointment of Fallen’s New Lead Brewer

Our friends at Fallen Brewing, the craft brewery in the old Kippen railway station, has launched a 5.4% (ABV) Peaches and Cream Pale Ale designed and brewed by new Lead Brewer, Jamie Lockhart.

Formerly of Williams Bros, Lockhart has a degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot Watt and has been brewing beers for six years. He will be taking over the day to day brewing of the Fallen Brewing range comprising eight core craft beers, with responsibility for a further 16 special brews including his first creation a Peaches and Cream Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV.

Owner and MD Paul Fallen comments, “Jamie’s technical brewing knowledge will be a real asset to the team and it frees my time up to be able to focus on other areas of the ever-expanding business.”

“Since the installation of our new building and fermenters and implementation of our new canning line earlier this year our output has increased significantly, sales are growing week-on-week and it is the right time for Fallen Brewing to bring in a Lead Brewer to look after daily activities in the Brewhouse.”

“It’s an exciting time to be working at such a dynamic brewery. Paul is really committed to creating an interesting range of rich, full flavoured beers and I’ve been given the go-ahead to add to this range. My first brew is a Peaches and Cream Pale made with lactose, vanilla and the peach which goes in during conditioning. We used Magnum hops for bittering and Simcoe and Cascade which were added at the end of the boil and during fermentation.” Says Jamie Lockhart, Lead Brewer at Fallen Brewing.

Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to do a bit of reviewing of the new brew.

This cloudy ale poured with a good head, it has a gentle fruity aroma as befitting its peaches and cream origins, this is a smooth, easy drink with a pleasant, full, lingering aftertaste. Highly recommended.

The Peaches and Cream Pale Ale will be called Southbound, in line with Fallen Brewing’s railway station theme inspired by its location in the Old Kippen Brewery. And the reason it is south bound is that peaches and cream is a traditional dessert in the southern states of America.

It will be available in keg and cans, RRP from £2.80 for 330ml from independent stockists and off-licences across Scotland and the North of England, and online. For a full range of Stockists visit: http://www.fallenbrewing.co.uk/findourbeer/

For our previous review see here

REVIEW: The Wipers Times – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman take the quite frankly unbelievable true story of Captain Fred Roberts (James Dutton) and Lieutenant Jack Pearson (George Kemp) of the 24th Division, Sherwood Foresters, and produce an old-fashioned celebration of the Great British spirit.

1916, the mud-soaked trenches of Ypres, and arguably the most horrific conflict of the 20th Century. As the “gas-gongs” and “whizz-bangs” explode above their heads, Sergeant Tyler, a member of Roberts and Pearson’s troop, finds an abandoned printing press and so is born The Wipers Times (named for the Tommys mispronunciation of Ypres). Due to censorship the emphasis is on humour, the content entirely satirical: wry in-jokes lampooning the dire conditions of the trenches, spoof advertisements, gallows humour evident throughout.

It is subject matter usually treated with gravity, but as befitting the editor of Private Eye, Hislop has gone down the humorous route. Best described as a play with music, it is presented as a series of short scenes punctuated with music hall spoofs of the actual articles and ads, rather than a smooth narrative. Therein lies its problem. There is an overall feeling of disjointedness and an unnecessary amount of padding that hinders the pace of the production, at two hours twenty minutes, it outstays its welcome by a good half hour.

The performances are universally good, each cast member utilised to best advantage. However, there is an issue with diction and projection in this vast, unamplified auditorium, the rapid-fire dialogue lost at times. That said, this is a highly interesting, gently amusing and enjoyable evening at the theatre and a welcome relief from the more cynical blockbusters and celebrity-filled productions currently touring the country.

The Wipers Times itself may only have been flimsy newsprint, but it meant so much more to the morale of the troops in the trenches, and the fact that this almost lost piece of WW1 history is being seen by audiences the length and breadth of the country is a fitting tribute to the men involved.

Runs until 11 November 2017 | Image: Philip Tull

Originally written for the Reviews Hub at: www.thereviewshub.com/the-wipers-times-theatre-royal-glasgow/

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