It’s oft been quoted, but it bears repeating: “If God had a singing voice he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli”, so said pop diva Celine Dion of the vocal phenomenon and 90 million album selling superstar, and she’s not wrong, Bocelli’s voice is so sublime it’s almost divine.
The world’s biggest selling classical artist is accompanied on this spectacular evening by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cuban soprano Maria Aleida, flautist Andrea Griminelli, the Edinburgh Choral Union, some classical dancers and Britain’s own R&B queen Beverly Knight.
It’s hard to describe adequately the atmosphere, but it’s almost reverent, the audience are entirely rapt for the whole evening, it’s a warm, comforting feeling, old-fashioned but just, well…lovely. Every detail has been thought of and every artist a master of their craft, every note, every bit of staging (including massive panoramic projections) is of the highest quality. There’s no facile chit-chat, the music does the talking and does so, beautifully.
There’s a perfect mix of classical favourites, some personal choices from Bocelli, his classical crossover hits and duets with his guest stars, interspersed with clips from his recent movie The Music of Silence which provides some background on Bocelli’s childhood and sight loss. There’s also exquisite dancing accompaniment and a selection of Spaghetti Western themes from flautist Griminelli. Soprano Aleida delivers impressive vocal gymnastics including those on The Doll Aria from Les Contes d’Hoffman, Knight sings a relaxed version of her hit Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, and duets with Bocelli on Canto della Terra. The sentimental Glasgow audience erupt at Neapolitan classic O Sole Mio, Con te Partiro and Nessun Dorma which sends the audience home floating on a cloud.
Bocelli’s beaming smile at the rapturous reception says all that’s needed to be said about this perfect evening’s entertainment.
Eight years in the making and after months of anticipation since its announcement, Hugh Jackman is finally in town to kick off his world tour.
The man is truly a global superstar, there are few corners of this world where he’s not recognised. He’s Wolverine for goodness sake! the star of a legion of other hit movies, a Tony Award-winning stage superstar and let’s not mention the star of a certain movie and its soundtrack from 2017. As a result, the atmosphere is tangible and the reception he receives as he steps onstage is ear-splitting. When the night is over, the reaction is actually deafening – and deservedly so.
This is a great big, old-fashioned variety show delivered by a truly gifted, multi-talented performer. Accompanied by a 20-strong orchestra, ten backing dancers, a local choir, two didgeridoo players, two indigenous singers, and fellow star of The Greatest Showman, Keala Settle, Jackman manages to encompass his entire life and career and a greatest hits of popular entertainment, in the space of a few hours.
The atmosphere is a joy throughout, a coming together of fans of the man – utterly celebratory. There’s singing, of course: from the inevitable tunes from TGS, through the songs of the golden age of Hollywood movie musicals to some personal stage favourites, including a touching rendition of fellow Ozzie Peter Allen’s Tenterfield Saddler, there’s also a celebration of Australian music with a moving Aboriginal song; there’s a bit of acting – Jean Valjean’s soliloquy from Les Mis; tap dancing à la Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire – Jackman proves to be a stunning dancer; many anecdotes from his life and career, including a very personal moment about his world turning on its head at eight years old (referring his mother leaving him and his brother in Australia with his father, as she took his sisters back to England); we’re treated to the famous Wolverine roar and a drumming section. Is there anything this man can’t do? – err…no.
It’s one of those nights that will truly blow you away. It’s taken a few days to write this down, but the feeling stands, the warm and fuzzies are still here – one of the greatest shows I have ever seen.
Originating in Montreal in 2009, and created to celebrate Cirque du Soleil’s 25th anniversary, OVO is making its way around the country on its debut UK tour. Billed as: “a headlong rush into a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The insects’ home is a world of biodiversity and beauty filled with noisy action and moments of quiet emotion. OVO is overflowing with contrasts. The hidden, secret world at our feet is revealed as tender and torrid, noisy and quiet, peaceful and chaotic. And as the sun rises on a bright new day the vibrant cycle of insect life begins anew.”
While many of Cirque du Soleil’s themes seem either esoteric or downright baffling, OVO’s insect inspiration seems a match made in heaven for these otherworldly performers. Opening on a colony of foot balancing red ants, the dexterity with which the act manipulates the ‘kiwi fruits’ and ‘sweetcorn’ is mind-boggling.
A plethora of creepy creatures follow, the most stunning of which is the throbbing colony of shimmering beetles that pulsate into life above the auditorium, giving way to the most awe-inspiring, herculean show of strength on the Russian Cradle, their split second timing is heart-stopping.
Impressive too are the unicycling Slack Wire artist, the Diabolo act who manages to keep four illuminated diabolos in constant motion, never missing a beat and the final act, with a dozen acro-athletes trampolining, tumbling and scaling a vast wall in the arena, seeming to defy gravity.
While undoubtedly talented, some acts don’t leave as lasting an impression, the Cocoon aerial silk act, the Slinky-like Creatura and the Acro Trio are skilled performers but lack that certain sparkle that marks the truly memorable and while the ‘clowning’ seems to be less in this production there’s still too much slapstick filler that takes up a lot of time but with little pay-off.
OVO is truly awe-inspiring, a mesmeric showcase of what the human body is capable of. Another must-see from Cirque du Soleil.
Runs at the SEE Hydro Glasgow until Saturday 9 September 2018.
Having grown from 20 street performers in Quebec in 1984 to the largest theatrical producers on the planet, every superlative that could be, has been bestowed on the global cultural phenomenon that is Cirque du Soleil.
Varekai, in Glasgow this week, is one of the company’s oldest shows, and attempts to weave a narrative around what is basically a jaw-dropping display of what the human body can achieve.
Meaning ‘wherever’ in the Romany language, it draws on the myth of Icarus. However, after flying too close to the sun there the similarities with the Greek myth ends, and instead of plummeting into the sea and drowning, our hero lands in a verdant forest filled with magical creatures.
This enchanted realm teams with life and the magical creatures are attired in Cirque du Soleil’s trademark style, eye-poppingly coloured, the fabulously adorned costumes prove to be a visual feast.
But it’s not the eye-catching costumes, nor the gloriously voiced singers or first-rate musicians delivering the pounding soundtrack that steal the show, rather it’s the astoundingly talented cast, displaying feats of physical prowess that are frankly unbelievable.
Among many stand-outs, the male Aerial Strap duo, the stick balancing act and the Russian Swing troupe, particularly impress.
Despite the scale of the arena production, there is an intimacy to the show and the heart-stopping moments of astonishing courage and skill, register ever more greatly because of this.
Cirque du Soleil is everything people say it is – jaw-dropping, eye-popping and heart-stopping – quite simply the very best of the best.
Catch the global phenomenon at The Hydro Glasgow until 19 March 2017.
All images provide by and used with permission from Perla Global Media for Cirque du Soleil.
There’s an air of trepidation as you approach Glasgow’s massive Hydro arena, just how well would one of Scotland’s best-loved TV comedies Gary Tank Commander translate to the (massive) stage? Well, in the hands of comedy genius Greg McHugh, brilliantly is the answer.
Hapless, naive and utterly loveable national treasure Gary and his mates in the “armeh”, parachute into their Afghan camp and deliver their usual brand of madness and mayhem featuring camels, chaos, cheesy pasta and chips.
With appeals not to give too much away, this is a story of heroism and doing the right thing – two things not entirely easy for our Gary.
Huge credit must go to McHugh’s script which sustains the laughs over a two hour period and while there a few little lulls it really is hysterically funny. The set design is also worthy of mention, cleverly filling the huge stage.
Like it’s predecessor that transitioned from TV to the stage Still Game, the resounding success of this live show will hopefully mean a return to the small screen for Gary and the gang. Based on the reaction of this audience alone, the BBC would be foolish not to bring it back.
The man who, Liz Taylor said gave her “golden goosebumps” and about whom Celine Dion once proclaimed: “if God had a singing voice, he would sound like Andrea Bocelli”, is in Glasgow for one night only as part of his Cinema World Tour.
To satisfy the broadest range of tastes, and to showcase his undoubtedly outstanding voice, the programme includes the most popular classical arias as well as highlights from latest album Cinema. La donna è mobile from Rigoletto, La Traviata’‘s famous Brindisi: Libiamone’ lieti calici and Puccini’s Nessun Dorma are inevitably here, but there are less familiar pieces too, Come un bel di’ di Maggio and Vicino a te s’acqueta from AndreaChénier. The cinema-inspired second act is just as diverse, ranging from Be My Love, made famous by Mario Lanza, through musical theatre standards Maria andThe Music of the Night to the stirring Nelle Tue Mani (Now We Are Free) the theme from Gladiator.
If any reassurances are required about the quality of the evening, Bocelli is backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union and a series of hand-picked guests from the classical musical world: Soprano Elisa Balbo is outstanding in O mio babbino caro and Casta Diva and in the encore duet with Bocelli, Con Te Partiro. American violinist Caroline Campbell brings some spice in the form of Bizet’s L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera) from Carmen and drama with Nino Rota’s Brucia La Terra better known as the theme from The Godfather. Less successful is ‘pop guest’ Christine Allado, delivering a decidedly ropey I Will Always Love You, however, she redeems herself in Canto Della Terra, her duet with Bocelli.
Bocelli polarises critics and continues to suffer from the snobbery afforded to anyone who dares to move between the classical and pop worlds, but the reception he receives from the sold-out Hydro arena leaves you in no doubt about this audience’s opinion. There’s no denying the beauty of his voice, the sound is delivered effortlessly and is so perfect that it seems truly otherworldly at times – this is a class act from start to finish. Bocelli is one of only a few artists who can claim true global superstardom – and it’s easy to see why – not bad for a one-time lawyer and piano bar singer.
Scottish performer Lilly-Jane Young is a star in Europe thanks to her leading role as Wendy in the critically acclaimed production Peter Pan The Never Ending Story. This September Lilly-Jane and the rest of the talented cast will be heading to Scotland for three nights to perform at The Hydro in the stunning show. Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to interview Lilly-Jane about her career and her triumphant return to Scotland.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your training.
I was born in Glasgow and grew up in Cumbernauld. I was always a dreamer at school, living in my own little world! When I was fifteen, I was accepted on the Musical Theatre Course at the Dance School of Scotland and that was the beginning of my professional training. We did all our normal school subjects alongside singing, dancing and acting. It was heaven for me. From there I moved to London to further my studies at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. When I graduated in 2011, I signed with my agent and hoped to take my training into the real world.
You are currently playing Wendy Darling in Peter Pan the Never Ending Story, how did you come to be involved in this international production?
I was in exactly the right place at the right time! I was playing Fleur de Lys in the Notre Dame de Paris Asia tour. Whilst we were performing in Seoul, the choreographer of the show came to watch us and audition dancers for his new project; Peter Pan the Never Ending Story. As soon as heard about the ideas for the show I knew that it was going to be something very special and I had to be a part of it. Before I knew it, I was back in Europe for the auditions in Antwerp and the rest all just fell into place. I wasn’t sure if they would even consider me for such a huge role given my lack of experience, but thankfully the creative team believed I could do it.
Tell us all about this new arena production of Peter Pan, What can we expect?
I would say to expect the unexpected. Our show is really exciting and also full of new and innovative technology. It becomes more like a movie on stage. Wind turbines, 3D flying techniques, bungees, digital mapping to name but a few… Also, our music was written and arranged by Matt Dunkley who is a film writer. He has worked on massive blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge, The Black Swan, Love Actually and The Pirates of the Caribbean. The music alone is stunning!
Mix it with the energy from some of the most talented people in the world (we have 20 nationalities in the show) and you are really watching something special.
The tour has travelled to Belgium and The Netherlands and will tour to France, Germany and Switzerland as well as the UK; what has it been like travelling around Europe, how has the show been received so far?
Travelling Europe is great fun. I love turning up in a new city and seeing what it has to offer. And living in hotels is great because you don’t have to cook! The show has been doing extremely well. The audience reception has been overwhelming. With this being a brand new show, of course you are terrified that people just wont think it is good. But up until now I have heard only that people love it.
The show will be one of the first to be performed at Glasgow’s newest mega-venue The Hydro; are you excited about coming to Scotland to play in front of a home audience in this spectacular new arena?
All I can say about coming to the Hydro is that it is truly a dream come true and playing this show for a Scottish audience will definitely be the highlight of my life so far.
What do you miss about Scotland when you’re off touring the world?
Everything. I miss my family, my dog, tattie scones and being able to make a good cup of tea.
Are there any home comforts you take with you on the road?
To be honest, I always try to pack as light as I can because the worst part of my job is dragging a heavy suitcase around. But usually my mum will send me a little gift from home just to keep me smiling if I get home sick.
Finally, tell us why we should all come and see Peter Pan the Never Ending Story?
Everyone should come to see the show because it is just a night of pure magic for children of all ages, and believe me, you have never seen anything like it before!