Tag Archives: Steven Houghton

REVIEW: The Sound of Music – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-sound-of-music-kings-theatre-glasgow/

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s, musical theatre classic The Sound of Music is still managing to delight audiences, almost 60 years on since its first appearance on stage.

On Gary McCann’s impressive set, complemented by Nick Richings’ perfectly judged lighting design, with an exquisite sounding orchestra led by David Steadman, and under Martin Connor’s sure-footed direction, this polished production is a quality piece of musical theatre.

Danielle Hope is a fresh-faced and youthful Maria (saddled however with a rather unfortunate wig) who has clearly been taking lessons at the Julie Andrews’ School of Musical Theatre Diction, her dialogue is razor sharp and her enunciation would make Miss Andrews proud. She is also in possession of an impressive vocal range which she uses to great effect in these much-loved classics. If criticism were to be made though, she does lack a little of the vitality and spark that the role requires.

Hope has in support, a strong ensemble cast: the troupe of von Trapp children are a beguiling bunch, delightfully un-precocious and singing like angels, they manage to bring a realism to roles which have, in other productions, tended to verge upon the saccharine sweet. Jan Hartley’s Mother Abbess rendition of the anthem “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is also worthy of praise; quite literally a show-stopper, bringing as it does the curtain down on Act One and Steven Houghton is a solid, if at times a little stiff, Captain von Trapp, he does however deliver a well-judged, heart-felt “Edelweiss” as the show builds to its conclusion.

Where the 2015 tour deviates from previous productions is that it trims Maria’s “I Have Confidence” (possibly due to its already lengthy running time) and the Nazi threat that pervades the big screen version is somewhat missing here. However, when the swastika background drops down during the family’s appearance at the music festival, there is a tangible mood shift in the auditorium.

It remains a great story, with truly great songs and there is much to praise here in this deftly-handled production with its solid and highly accomplished cast. It is so well-loved, by so many, that to criticise it is like kicking a puppy. If a show can make the corners of your mouth turn up involuntarily into a smile on recognition of the first notes of a tune, then it has got to be a winner in anyone’s book.

Runs until Saturday 28 February 2015 then touring

Photo credit: Pamela Raith

REVIEW: White Christmas – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

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This post was originally writen for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/irving-berlins-white-christmas-festival-theatre-edinburgh/

Book: David Ives & Paul Blake

Music & Lyrics: Irving Berlin

Director: Andrew Corcoran

Choreographer: Randy Skinner

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

If it’s a great big glittery Hallmark card of a show you are after, filled with nostalgia, sentiment and good old-fashioned Christmas spirit thenIrving Berlin’s White Christmas at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre is the show for you.

Based upon the 1954 Paramount Pictures’ classic movie, and following its storyline with a few edits here and there for the stage, fans of the original film will not be disappointed. It tells the story of two army veterans Phil Davis (Paul Robinson) and Bob Wallace (Steven Houghton). De-mobbed after WWII the pair become TV stars and at the height of their fame are contacted by an old army pal with two sisters trying to get their big showbiz break. Instead of rehearsing their new show in Miami the guys follow the gals to an inn in Vermont where they are performing for the winter season. There they find the owner, their old General, Henry Waverly (Graham Cole) and his feisty concierge (and Broadway veteran) Martha (Wendi Peters). Unseasonably warm weather has driven the tourists away and General Waverly is in danger of losing everything. Mayhem, mishaps, misunderstandings and munificence ensue and the true spirit of Christmas shines through.

This is a sparkling, sumptuous and sure-footed show staged with great charm. Beautifully realised, the production scores highly on period detail; Anna Louizos’ sets are as much of a star as the talented cast. The songs of Irving Berlin, in particular ‘Blue Skies’, ‘I Love a Piano’ and, of course, the title song, are a treat for the ear and will delight both fans of this musical era and those new to the tunes.

There are a brace of fine central performances, in particular Wendi Peters as Martha, a pint-sized Ethel Merman with a Broadway belt and Paul Robinson as Phil, a true triple threat, he has fine comic timing to add to his acting, dancing and singing skills. As sister act Betty and Judy Haynes, Rachel Stanley and Jayde Westaby perfectly evoke that glamorous feisty 1950’s gal. The ensemble too are universally worthy of the highest praise particularly in the big, show-stopping production numbers and tap-dance fans will delight at their execution of Randy Skinner’s vibrant choreography.

There were undoubtedly a few opening night nerves which shook a bit of the Christmas glitter off and ultimately robbed the show of a fifth star in the rating but as the cast bed further into their roles I’m sure it will fulfill its potential to be the show to see this Christmas.

Vivid, vibrant and visually stunning, a treat for the ears and eyes and set to be as timeless a classic as its movie namesake.

Runs until 4th January 2014 at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

All images courtesy: http://www.edtheatres.com/