Tag Archives: Theatre Guild of Glasgow

REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Fiddler-on-the-Roof_StrapThis article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at:

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/fiddler-on-the-roof-eastwood-park-theatre-giffnock/

Book: Joseph Stein

Music: Jerry Bock

Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick

Director: Alasdair Hawthorn

Choreographer: Jonathan Parsons

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

There are few musicals which rely so heavily on a single central character to carry the show, but Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Fiddler on the Roof is one.

The success (or failure) of this show hangs on the casting of the iconic role of Tevye; the poor Jewish dairyman, father of five free-thinking daughters and defender of the much cherished and long-held traditions of his Jewish faith. In the hands of Jonathan Proctor, Theatre Guild of Glasgow have a star quality Tevye, a rich baritone of exquisite tone and power, Proctor imbues the role with wisdom, wit and a winning warmth, which will charm even the hardest of hearts. Proctor lights up the stage with every appearance and the stage feels less bright when he’s not there.

Fiddler is a show about tradition, however it is anything but traditional: it is unusual subject matter for a musical, at its heart the story is undeniably bleak, focussing as it does on a turbulent time in Russian history: the pogroms, the victimisation of the Jewish people and the eventual Russian diaspora. Depressingly, the story still retains a resonance today as society fights to hang on to traditional values in turbulent times. Yes, there are moments of reflection, yes, it’s touching and yes, there are moments of utter sadness, but overwhelmingly it is a joyful celebration of life and of hope.

The staging here is relatively simplistic however, it is highly effective in evoking the bustling life in the shtetl Anatevka at the turn of the century. There is a large ensemble and the company are at their finest when singing as one. The evocative score has some stand out tunes too: “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”, “Sunrise, Sunset” and of course, “If I Were a Rich Man”, principle among them.

If any criticism is to be made with the production it is in some of the supporting roles, there were some pitch issues with a few of the cast, which were highlighted due to principal characters such as Proctor as Tevye and Suzanne Shanks in the role of daughter Hodel, being of such fine voice that it threw up any faults in those who had to sing alongside them. That said, it did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the evening.

A vivid re-staging of a classic show with a strong ensemble and a star leading man.

REVIEW: Footloose – Eastwood Park Theatre

When Ren and his mom move from Chicago to small town Bomont, Ren is prepared for big changes at his new high school, but what he isn’t prepared for is a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher, determined to exercise the control over the town’s youth. When the Reverend’s rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage his reputation. With many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid how can Ren turn them all around?

The movie turned into musical might be a familiar formula but this faultless company don’t put a foot wrong in this high octane version of Dean Pitchford’s Footloose.

The cast burst onstage with an exuberant flourish and their infectious charm carries the audience along on a wave of energy right to the end in this engaging and affable tale.

The Theatre Guild of Glasgow are renowned for the quality of their cast and here it’s no exception. Central to the action is Connor Going whose assured performance strikes the right balance between arrogance and affability as rebellious teen Ren, but where the production really shines is when the more experienced members of the ensemble take to the stage. In particular Cameron Lowe gives a finely tuned performance as Reverend Moore, the lynch-pin of the community with a strangle-hold on the town’s youth. Lowe perfectly conveys the inner turmoil of a man struggling with his duties as town leader and his true feelings. His beautifully nuanced performance is the highlight of the night. Adele Simpson and Suzanne Lowe as the mothers of the two central characters also deliver a “hairs on the back of the neck” scene in Learning to be Silent, where both actresses’ soaring voices are given a chance to shine. As well as these moments of drama, Andrew Neilson as Willard provides the comedy set piece of the night with his rendition of Mama Says. Pure comedy gold.

This is a show guaranteed to put a smile on your face – get a ticket if you can, go along and be swept away by its joyous charm, and be confident that where you see the name Theatre Guild of Glasgow you can be certain that’s it’s quality assured.

REVIEW: Crazy For You – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Today saw another visit to the Eastwood Park Theatre this time to see The Theatre Guild of Glasgow’s week-long, sell-out production of Gershwin’s Crazy For You. 

CRAZY FOR YOU is the story of Bobby Child, a well-to-do 1930’s playboy, whose dream in life is to dance. Despite the serious efforts of his mother and soon-to-be-ex-fiancee, Bobby achieves his dream. In doing so, he travels to Deadrock, Nevada, ostensibly to foreclose on the mortgage of the failing Gaiety Theatre. However, he falls for local girl, Polly, and he sets out to impress her. He decides to pose as New York theatre producer Zangler and put on a show to save the theatre using the deadbeat local townsfolk as the entertainment! Turning the sleepy local cowboys into dancers is not easy but, aside from that, all seems to go well until the real Zangler shows up with Bobby’s mother and the “Zangler’s Folly’s” in tow.

It’s a high energy comedy which includes mistaken identity, plot twists, fabulous dance numbers and classic Gershwin music. It played for 1,622 performances on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre and won 3 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Songs include They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Bidin’ My Time, Embraceable You, Someone To Watch Over Me and I’ve Got Rhythm.

This is a high quality amateur performance. The ensemble were of such fine voice that you would be hard pressed to hear better in the West End. There was a perfect balance of every vocal range and each note rang out perfectly for the whole performance. The orchestra were also top notch. This was a huge cast (over 40+) and there were few weak notes. If any criticism could be levelled it would be at the two leads – Adele Simpson as Polly Baker was a strong performer and when singing the “belting” numbers she was competent, but her voice in the lower range was less than reliable. I was also slightly distracted by thoughts of her resemblance to a young Margaret Thatcher! David McCurrach in the lead role of Bobby Child was rarely off stage and his voice was competent enough but he really was no mover! There is a lot of dancing for the leading man in this show and he looked ungainly and a bit embarassed throughout. As a seasoned performer (according to the show notes) he should know that a poor dancer with confidence and conviction can get away with a lot! He also lacked charisma which this role really needs. (Oh and next time please  make sure the poor guy has a suit that fits him!) On the whole however, this was a visual delight – the set design, costumes and sheer size and quality of cast meant it was an impressive and entertaining show.