Tag Archives: SEC

REVIEW: Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Lomond Auditorium, Glasgow

Unlike the 2011 film version, Florence and Richard Atwater’s 1938 book has been returned to its original era (with a change in location from the US to the UK) in Pins and Needles’ production of Mr. Popper’s Penguins and it’s all the better for it.

House painter Mr. Popper lives a quiet life with his wife in Stillwater, but Mr. Popper has dreams, dreams of being an Antarctic adventurer, reading everything he can on the subject and listening for every radio broadcast from his hero Admiral Drake at the South Pole. After he sends a letter to his hero, he receives a strange crate in return – that crate contains a penguin (Captain Cook) and the Poppers’ life is inevitably turned upside down. When Captain Cook starts to fall ill, Admiral Drake sends him a female penguin companion and lots of little penguins soon appear. With their finances under stress, the Poppers train the waddle as a Music Hall act. Animal activists need not get themselves in a twist – an entirely appropriate ending ensues.

This is good old-fashioned storytelling at its best. With a spare but effective set, warm lighting, a gaggle of pleasing songs, simple but appealing penguin puppets and a captivating finale with some gentle audience participation, this endearing show held the attention of the mostly under fives who filled the auditorium for the entirety of the hour-long running time. Sometimes, simple and charming is best for small children. Altogether a warm and thoroughly enjoyable show for tiny theatre-goers.

Runs until 6 January 2019

TICKETS HERE 

 

REVIEW: Six – Lomond Auditorium, Glasgow

DIVORCED, BEHEADED, DIED, DIVORCED, BEHEADED, SURVIVED – who would have thought that a musical about the sextet this mnemonic inspired, would end up taking the UK musical theatre scene by storm?

Written in ten working days over a period of six months, Six creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss had no formal musical theatre training. It started life at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, performed by the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society and such has its impact been that it has had a second run at the Fringe, a West End run, a UK tour and an up-coming second stint in London.

Inevitable comparisons will be made with theatrical juggernaut Hamilton which also mixes 21st century music with historical subject material. However, Six manages to plough its own original and irresistible furrow. Staged like a mash-up between a stadium concert and a musical, it blends spot-on humour and history with a refreshing dose of self-awareness. Each Queen gets her chance to stand centre stage and state her case in an X-Factor style competition to see who had it worse at the hands of the infamous King. These women are here to kick ass and tell all. This they do in an array of musical genres: pop; rock ballad; R&B; electro euro-pop (the hysterical Kraut-rock/House mash up Haus of Holbein) and soul.

Each of these six women playing these six queens is phenomenally talented and all shine – equally, a rare and wonderful thing to see on stage, and are backed by the fine sounding, all-woman band, The Ladies in Waiting.

Jarneia Richard-Noel (Catherine of Aragon) starts the ball rolling with the sassy No Way followed by Millie O’Connell’s hysterical Anne Boleyn delivering the Lily Allen-ish Don’t Lose Your Head with the lyrics: “I tried to elope but the Pope said ‘nope'” and “everybody chill, it’s totes God’s will”. Natalie Paris (Jane Seymour) tugs at the heart-strings in the power ballad Heart of Stone. Alexia McIntosh (Anne of Cleeves) gives us the Rhianna-like Get Down and brings the house down with her “I’m the Queen of the castle, get down you dirty rascals” when ‘exiled’ to a life of luxury and independence after her divorce from Henry. Aimie Atkinson is a natural born comic throughout but when she delivers Katherine Howard’s All You Wanna Do, the lyrics make you question (in light of the #MeToo movement) has anything really changed for women in the past 500 years? And sheds new perspective on how she has been remembered in history. Maiya Quansah-Breed brings the women’s stories to an end absolutely beautifully with Catherine Parr’s torch song I Don’t Need Your Love. Each of these woman has is an utter power-house of a vocalist and would tear up any stage they appeared on. That said, the songs they are asked to deliver are pitch perfect and an utter joy to listen to.

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography is sharp and original and perfectly executed by the cast. Gabriella Slade’s costume design is Ariana Grande does Tudor and it works fabulously as does Emma Bailey’s simplistic but effective set design and Tim Deiling’s rich lighting.

The face-off between the women is definitely a twisted sisterhood, they each fling the other’s sob story back in their faces, but this show of fierce womanhood is utterly irresistible. The dawning realisation by each woman that they only claim their place in history because of the man they married, reduced to: “just one word in a stupid rhyme” is actually heart-breaking. Thankfully they get “five more minutes” to set the record straight and send the audience to the street on an absolute high.

The succinct story telling packs a punch and the compact 75 minute running time is audience friendly. Marlow and Moss prove again that HISTORY + MUSICAL THEATRE = HIT. They have successfully distilled 500 year-old history into a perfect piece of entertainment for the 21st Century. SIX is one of the best things this reviewer has seen all year. Get a ticket while you can, you won’t regret it.

Runs until 30 December 2018 – TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

REVIEW: Cinderella – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

The SEC Armadillo pantomime has gone all-out in its efforts to sparkle and shine brighter than its rivals: even before you enter there’s the dazzling 5 foot high letters spelling out the title of the show, then there’s the twinkling lights from the 20 foot Christmas tree, the flashing neon of the big wheel and the rainbow-hued SSE Hydro right next door. For sheer sparkling extravagance in set, costume and lighting design, no expense has been spared in this year’s offering, Cinderella. Cinder’s starlit crystal coach is a particular highlight, sparkling as it flies out above the audience.

There’s the cast too, Scottish TV comedy giants Jonathan Watson and Gavin Mitchell, music, theatre and River City star Frances Thorburn, musical theatre star Keith Jack and veteran comedy duo The Krankies.

The storyline is a simplistic and very streamlined version of the traditional tale: the two ugly step-sisters are mean to poor old Cinders (though not as mean as they could be); Cinders can’t go to the ball; the prince masquerades as a servant and falls in love with our heroine in the woods; Cinders gets her glad-rags on and goes to ball in disguise; Prince and Cinders are re-united; slipper gets lost; slipper finds its owner; the lovestruck pair get married, and yes, they all live happily ever after.

There’s no slapstick, no audience participation and no sweetie throwing as expected from a ‘traditional’ panto. There is however heavy reliance on The Krankies to provide the light relief, but their smut-laden and entirely inappropriate dialogue is woefully outdated in 2018 – and this comes from someone who is very much not of the ‘snowflake generation’. Watson and Mitchell are fine comic actors and do their best with the material given and Thorburn and Jack, both gifted singers only have a few short moments to show their considerable talents. They are all supported by a hard working, top-notch adult ensemble and a well-drilled children’s troupe from JazzartUK.

Very much geared towards adults, this is a beautifully staged panto, but I can’t help think that opportunities were wasted by the script writers and director with such a talented cast of actors.

Runs until 30th December 2018

Tickets available HERE

NEWS: War Horse’s Joey visits Glasgow before its run at the SEC Armadillo

The National Theatre’s acclaimed production of War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo arrives at The SEC Armadillo from 15 January – 2 February 2019 as part of a national tour.

Joey, the life-size equine puppet from War Horse made a special early appearance in Glasgow next to The Duke of Wellington Statue last week as well as his home for January – The SEC Armadillo. The event also included a talk about the history of the show from War Horse’s Assistant Puppetry Director, Matthew Forbes.

 

The puppeteers operating Joey in Glasgow are: Gareth Aled (Head), Michael Taibi (Heart) and Antony Antunes (Hind).