Tag Archives: Scotland

NEWS: Outlander, The Musical writer pays homage to fellow Scottish writer in upcoming theatre tour of Doorways in Drumorty

Born and raised in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, Lorna Moon was an author, poet and leading Hollywood screenwriter. For years, she was its highest paid female scriptwriter writing screen plays for movies starring the biggest film stars of the era; Norma Shearer, Gloria Swanson, Lon Chaney Jr, Lionel Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Greta Garbo. Yet her book of short stories ‘Doorways in Drumorty’ was banned from the local Strichen library for 50 years because the town’s inhabitants were horrified at recognising themselves in the book’s characters.
First staged in 2010, this new production of Mike Gibb’s hugely successful play, ‘Doorways in Drumorty’ – based on a book of Moon’s collected short stories – will tour to 18 venues across Scotland between 18 April – 18 May 2019 supported by North East Arts Touring and Aberdeenshire Council. This updated version is produced by Awkward Stranger in association with Hame Productions, and directed by Andy Corelli.

Speaking about this latest tour, Mike Gibb said, “The question I get asked most about my stage work is ‘when are you doing Doorways in Drumorty again?’ and I am therefore delighted that Andy Corelli has put together this amazing tour that will introduce the wonderful world of Drumorty to so many people the length and breadth of Scotland.”

Set in a 1920s gossipy, rural Aberdeenshire community, this witty play is laugh-out-loud funny. Yet it steers through a sharply satirical observation of the personal agonies that individuals endure when beset by the strict observance of moral codes and prohibitions, all for the sake of outward appearance. It is as moving as it is amusing.
‘Doorways in Drumorty’ follows the story of Jessie McLean who seemed destined to become a spinster when at 16 the young man she fell in love with left town never to return, leaving her alone and unfulfilled. 35 years later, a girl in a similar though more extreme version of her own circumstances, helps her discover an inner courage which she uses to foil the myopia of those around her. Set alongside Jessie’s tale, are six vignettes depicting the experiences of other characters in the town.
Playwright and author Mike Gibb has been writing for the theatre since the late nineties and has produced a stream of Scottish-themed musicals and plays including the internationally acclaimed Outlander the Musical.

2019 is the 90th anniversary of Lorna Moon’s critically acclaimed novel ‘Dark Star’ which provides one of the stories for the play.

 

 

Doorways in Drumorty | 1hr 40 minutes plus interval.

Images: Colin Lindsay

INTERVIEW: Kieran Brown, Scottish star of Titanic the Musical

Scottish actor Kieran Brown has an enviable theatrical CV, having appeared in Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Les Mis, Wicked and our own Glasgow King’s Theatre pantomime, to name just a few. He’s a member of the hugely successful Barricade Boys and a concert star in his own right. Kieran from Larbert, returns home to Scotland this week to appear in Titanic – The Musical at Glasgow King’s and at Edinburgh Playhouse from June 12th – 16th. I had a chance to catch up with him about life onboard the world’s most famous ship before it sets sail in Glasgow!

Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect in Titanic the Musical?

It is a multiple Tony award winning musical written by American composer Maury Yeston with book by the late Peter Stone. It tells the tale of some of the real life passengers and crew onboard the ill fated ship. It was first produced by Danielle Tarento with direction from Thomas Sutherland and musical staging by Cressida Carre at the Southwark Playhouse in London, before transferring to the Charing Cross Theatre, and then crossing the Atlantic to Canada. This is the first major professional production of the show in the UK. I should state, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the 1997 James Cameron movie…! It has a stunning score with not a hint of Celine Dion..!
What about your role?

I play First Officer William McMaster Murdoch, who was essentially second in command of the ship, and was in charge at the time it hit the iceberg. He was Scottish, from Dalbeattie. He was treated quite unfairly in the film (which Cameron apologised for), but this is a much more sensitive treatment of his character. He very much blamed himself for the tragedy that unfolded. In actual fact, there were a great number of factors which led inevitably towards the sinking. It’s fascinating to learn throughout the show exactly what went on, but without ever placing judgement on anyone…

What songs or scenes should we particularly look out for?

The opening is really pretty epic..! It’s about 20 minutes long, and doesn’t pause for breath..! To be honest, it is such a stunning score and the sound of our 25 strong ensemble make accompanied by our 6 piece orchestra under direction of musical wizard Mark Aspinall is incredible! The audience are frequently blown away by the wall of sound that washes over them. It’s so humbling to be part of it!

How has the show been received as it’s toured around the country?

Phenomenally. Instant standing ovations practically every show. There’s the odd grumble about people expecting the film onstage, but those who have either informed themselves or allow our beautiful touching story to be told are usually left very affected by it. It’s a very emotional night at the theatre – because it’s not just a film – it’s true – I often wonder if people have forgotten that! We all know the ending of course but the final scene features direct quotes from the survivors – It’s very touching, but ultimately uplifting.

What’s life like on tour/backstage with such a large cast?

It’s been a while since I’ve toured and I actually enjoy it. We have a very mixed company age wise, but we do genuinely all get on great, and organise nights out, day trips to the countryside castle hunting etc. It’s a very supportive company onstage and off, and it’s a real joy to share this experience with them all.

Why should we come along to see the show?

It’s a story we all think we know, especially those who have seen the film (much of which was fiction), so I think it’s important to retell the story with tremendous respect and honour those who died (and survived). It’s not tap dancing and feathers, there are no hydraulic lifts and razzle dazzle spectacle, but there is a poignant layered story, accompanied by a beautiful, beautiful score, told by one of the most talented bunch of actors and musicians I’ve had the honour to work with. I think of all of the jobs I’ve done, this really ranks as one of those I’m most proud of. I love it. And I am particularly proud to be telling this story at the Kings in Glasgow. Last time I was here I was riding a magic carpet as Aladdin! I love the city (I lived and studied here at the RCS) and it feels very much like home. I’m curious to see how Scottish audiences respond to it…

Any roles you’d love to perform/shows you’d like to be in that you haven’t yet?

To be honest I’m keen to do a play – it’s been 7 years since I last did a play (The Woman In Black in Vienna). I love singing and musicals, but I’d love to do something where I don’t have to worry about my singing voice for a while..!

What’s been your favourite role to date?

I think playing the Phantom probably ranks as a major career tick and I was lucky that I managed to get on a lot during my two years at Her Majesty’s. The feeling I had inside when I stepped on to take my bow at the end of my first show was something I can’t really describe..!

What’s next after Titanic?

Who knows! The life of a jobbing actor..! TBH we are all loving this Titanic experience so much we are all hoping it may not be ending mid August in Hamburg! Crossing everything there is another life, whether continuing the tour or sailing into the west end, who knows…!
You can catch Kieran in Titanic – The Musical at Glasgow King’s Theatre from Monday 28 May until Saturday 2 June 2018 – tickets here
Edinburgh Playhouse from Tuesday 12 June until Saturday 16th June 2018 – tickets here.
Titanic photography: Scott Rylander
Kieran Brown headshot in article: Kate Scott

REVIEW: News Hacks – Òran Mór, Glasgow

Political satire may not be dead in Scotland, but it’s demise on the comedy scene has left it in dire need of resuscitation. Producers Karen Townsend and Rikki Brown have applied the defibrillator and delivered News Hacks, a monthly riff on the great, the good and the not so clever making the headlines in Scotland.

No political stone is left unturned and no Scottish political figure of any worth escapes examination. While Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, diminutive Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie and Scottish Lib Dem’s Willie Rennie come in for some cutting comment, it is the SNP and it’s leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, one Fiona Hyslop, who are on the receiving end of the most biting satire.

While the lion’s share of the night is given over to national politics, it spreads its gaze further: Putin’s Russia, TV show Shetland (a highlight of the evening), Lorraine Kelly’s somewhat idiosyncratic interview style (having Ed Sheerin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in the same segment), local TV news anchor John MacKay and newspaper The National and it’s independence referendum spin on even the most ridiculous subjects, all come under scrutiny.

The sharply observed script is given greater punch by the three hugely talented actors delivering it. Stand up comedian, actor and presenter Des McLean has the requisite comedy chops to pull this off with great aplomb and his accents are (largely) on the nose, hugely experienced actor and comedy veteran Elaine MacKenzie Ellis has the chance to shine with her spot-on take on a wide range of Scottish female worthies, and Scottish national treasure Jimmy Chisholm’s comic timing and ability to get an audience on side, all amount to an absolutely hysterical look at Scotland today and all our quirks.

News Hacks is a hugely welcome addition to the comedy scene: biting, brilliant and about time too for a resuscitation of satire in Scotland.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub 

The next News Hacks will be at Òran Mór on 20 June 2018 | Image: Contributed

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.

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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.

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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.

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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