Tag Archives: Theatre Royal

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet’s Wee Hansel and Gretel – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Scottish Ballet present “a wee version of a big ballet”, a perfectly distilled version of their family favourite Hansel and Gretel, specifically aimed at children aged three to eight.

A dangerous (well, mildly perilous but age-appropriate) adventure into the deep dark wood with the inquisitive siblings – Wee Hansel and Gretel faithfully follows the traditional tale: there’s the worrisome witch, her mysterious raven companion, the magic forest and the enchanted gingerbread house.

The addition of a narrator (James Siggens) who presents a rhyming introduction to set the scene and explanation of the unfolding action, is a neat touch. He engages the audience from curtain up with a whole heap of audience participation, including magically controlling the lights, much to the amazement of the tiny theatre-goers.

Set to the music of Engelbert Humperdinck, recorded by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, the production includes students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The tutu-clad trio provide the traditional costumes expected by the mini-ballet buffs, though these three tutus on stage are vastly outnumbered by the gloriously clad audience who are decked in their best ballet finery for the occasion. In the role of Hansel, Constant Vigier is, as always, a safe pair of ballet slippers and his Gretel, Alice Kawalek is a star in waiting.

This 50-minute tiny treasure of a production is small, but absolutely perfectly formed. The run time is ideal, the storytelling judiciously edited to fit in everything it needs to shine. It captures and keeps the attention for the entirety of the performance and provides a satisfying morning’s or afternoon’s entertainment for adults and children alike. More of this please!

The tour continues until October :  Glasgow tomorrow (Sunday 14 July) 

For complete touring dates and venues visit: scottishballet.co.uk/event/wee-hansel-gretel

Images: Rimbaud Patron

 

REVIEW: The Lady Vanishes – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Relatively obscure British crime writer Ethel Lina White’s greatest legacy is her 1936 novel, The Wheel Spins, two years after publication Alfred Hitchcock directed the film The Lady Vanishes, widely regarded as one of British cinema’s greatest works, based on her book. Through the decades popular adaptations have appeared both on TV and film. This time it’s the turn of the Classic Thriller Theatre Company who bring the timeless tale to the stage.

It’s Austria, 1938 and Nazism is on the rise. Socialite Iris Henderson (Lorna Fitzgerald) is travelling back to London to marry, more for her fiancé’s title than for love. Before climbing aboard the crowded and already delayed train home, she receives an accidental blow to the head. She’s helped aboard by kindly, former governess Miss Froy (Juliet Mills) and the pair strike up a conversation on board, but Iris soon falls asleep. On wakening, Iris finds Miss Froy has disappeared and all her fellow travellers deny ever having seen her. She enlists the help of engineer and part-time musicologist Max (tonight played by understudy James Boswell) to get to the bottom of the mystery of the vanishing lady.

With a cast of curious characters including two cricket-loving Brits (stage veterans Robert Duncan & Ben Nealon), a suspicious Austrian doctor (Maxwell Caulfield), an Italian magician (Mark Carlisle), a stuck-up London lawyer and his mistress (Philip Lowrie & Elizabeth Payne), a Nazi officer (Joe Reisig) and a nun (Natalie Law), The Lady Vanishes mines every trope of the golden age of crime and proves that classic mysteries never go out of fashion. Also evidenced by the fact the theatre is packed on a sunny Monday evening in summer.

From the opening scenes on the station platform in Austria, through the train journey, back home to Blighty, Morgan Large’s set (coupled with Charlie Morgan Jones’ lighting) manages to conjure up the feel of Hitchcock’s black and white masterpiece. The 13-strong cast are solid, with understudy Boswell managing to shine brightest.

This is a well-constructed production, that, though undemanding, provides a thoroughly entertaining, escapist evening of entertainment.

Image: Paul Coltas

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Leah MacRae – My Big Fat Fabulous Diary – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It takes a brave actress indeed to decide to create your own solo show and take it on the road, especially an already successful one. Leah MacRae is well-known and loved as Julie in Gary: Tank Commander, Ellie in the Scottish soap River City and the lead in the spoof 50 Shades of Maggie, so you think she’d rest on her laurels. To lay bare your embarrassing teenage diary musings with the world and open up about your daily struggles with fat-shaming, and rejection in your industry, takes courage, even if it is couched in a musical comedy show.

The first impression of MacRae is that she is a fearless, bold, bigger than life personality, un-moved by the criticism of others, and to a certain extent that’s true (she bounds on stage looking like a bubblegum pink pantomime fairy), she even says: “if I were a size 10, I’d be a complete w****r”. However, as we scratch beneath the surface to get to the real message behind these stories and songs, there’s a world of hurt that’s had to be overcome. MacRae is here to spread the word about us all being a bit kinder to each other, that however positive a face we present to the world, these constant barbs and the constant career rejection because of your size, does hurt. That we should embrace and have confidence in who we are, whatever we look like. To never give up on our dreams. She hysterically cites Victoria Beckham as her unlikely inspiration, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think!

Split into two acts, there are few theatrical conventions the Glaswegian powerhouse doesn’t cover: there’s drama, lots and lots of comedy, funny songs, heart-breaking songs, big ballads, a mix-tape section!, dancing and a ton of banter with her hometown audience. While the first act is a mixture of all these, the second becomes a bit more reflective and the mood does take a bit of a dive, until we end with the ubiquitous This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.

There’s some good material here, but there’s a feeling it’s not all it could be. MacRae, talks about constant comparisons to fellow Glaswegian Michelle McManus. McManus has had her own one-woman show, also autobiographical, also funny and also featuring some knock out hits. While MacRae is a talented comedy actress, McManus is a natural born storyteller with an innate comic timing that can’t be learned, and an ability to gauge exactly what makes a perfectly pitched show. MacRae possibly needs some outside eyes to take this raw material with great potential and make it a knock-out from start to finish. There’s also the issue of nerves. MacRae is home, not only in front of her local fans, but her family and friends, and the pressure shows. She looks nervous and as a result the dialogue comes out so fast that it’s impossible to hear a lot of it from anywhere above the stalls.

It’s easy to warm to MacRae, this is an entertaining evening and it’s great to hear her unleash her big voice at full force, but there’s a lot of potential that’s not being fulfilled. Hopefully, there’s more to come. If this is the first version of her stage show, I can’t wait to see the next.

Leah MacRae continues to tour until June. See her website for details.

REVIEW: The Magic Flute – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Set in a steampunk landscape inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne: a wicked queen, a handsome prince, a damsel in distress, high priests, a comedy side-kick, magical instruments, a serpent and some sorcerers are all given new life in Scottish Opera’s revival of Sir Thomas Allen’s joyous production of The Magic Flute. 

While the work’s misogyny and Masonic undertones have been long debated, it is impossible to judge an opera written in 1791 by 2019’s standards and this utterly charming, gorgeous looking and sounding version is guaranteed to win over even the hardest of hearts. Its three-hour run time passing by in the blink of an eye.

Of note are the irresistible Papageno, so cleverly and cheekily played by Richard Burkhard, his bang up-to-date, witty asides and ability to wrap the audience around his little finger are a delight; Dingle Yandell’s beautifully sung Speaker; a sure-sounding Sarastro in James Creswell; Gemma Summerfield – a radiant and glorious Pamina, and talent to look out for, Julia Sitkovetsky, who handles Der Hölle Rache, one of the most famous arias in all opera, absolutely beautifully.

This five star production is thanks to the stars aligning in every aspect of its creation: sure-footed direction, lively conducting, a laugh-out-loud and oh-so clever translation, perfect casting, an orchestra on top form and an innovative and captivating stage design. It’s not often achieved, but this is as near to perfection as it’s possible to get. 

Runs until 18 May 2019 then touring. Images – James Glossop.

 

NEWS: Following the success of Rapture Bites Lunchtime Theatre, Michael Emans will direct Patrick Marber’s Olivier Award nominated play The Red Lion starring Brookside’s John McArdle.

Following the success of Rapture Bites Lunchtime Theatre, Michael Emans will direct Patrick Marber’s Olivier Award nominated play The Red Lion starring Brookside’s John McArdle.

It will tour to 16 venues in Scotland ending with a week’s run at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.

The Red Lion FC is an English non-league side that has dreams of the big time.

However, the club’s manager, Kidd, will stop at nothing to realise his own ambitions of achieving money and fame. So, when young Jordan, who ‘plays like a God’, joins the club, Kidd sees his golden opportunity.

One man stands in his way – the kit-man, Yates – club legend and footballing ‘hero’– has other ideas. A ‘Clash of the Titans’ ensues between Yates and Kidd over the future of Jordan and the football club.

Award-winning writer Patrick Marber’s hit play unfolds like a Greek Tragedy, transcending ‘the beautiful game’, in a tale of heroism, hubris and handballs!

The Red Lion offers a funny, profound and unmissable night at the theatre. Starring Emmerdale and Brookside star John McArdle, Brendan Charleson (Coronation Street) and rising young star Harry MacMullen.

Patrick Marber commented: I am thrilled Rapture Theatre are giving ’The Red Lion’ its Scottish premiere and very excited to see this terrific cast performing in a country that loves football with a passion.”

Director Michael Emans said: Having been a huge fan of Patrick Marber since I was at drama school, it is a fulfilment of a long held ambition to direct one of his plays. Patrick, in his writing combines humour, pathos and a sensitivity to the human experience that is deeply moving. When I first read The Red Lion in 2017, I knew that I had to direct it: the way Patrick used the milieu of the local football club as a microcosm of the wider world, to explore the themes of collective ethic versus individual ambition and the way the play articulated the need and desire to both be heroic and to have heroes in your life, I found to be totally compelling.

We seem to live in world of villains both political and otherwise so a play that focuses on heroes, tragic heroism and the hubris of the individual feels prescient. Like all the best tragedies it also very very funny!  I hope that audiences, like me, can fall in love with this wonderful play!”

Alongside the production Rapture will be running a series of post-show discussion panels. Rapture is working in partnership with Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) to help raise awareness of issues such as racism, sexism and bullying, which can still occur within the game of football.

These post-show events will offer a great opportunity to engage with community groups and audiences and promote the significant work Show Racism The Red Card undertake, as well as discussing the themes raised within the play. Rapture want to provide an insight into the philosophy, passion and behind the scenes workings of a football club.

The panels will consist of Director Michael Emans, members of the cast and invited guests from local football clubs and SRTRC.

TOUR DATES

Palace Theatre Kilmarnock Preview 8 May & 9 May 7.30pm

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh 11 May 7.30pm

Howden Park, Livingston16 May 7.30pm

Tolbooth, Stirling18 May 8pm

Motherwell Theatre 20 May 7.30pm

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock 23 May 7.30pm

Lanark Memorial Hall 24 May 7.30pm

Harbour Arts, Irvine 25 May 7.30pm

Eastwood Park, Giffnock 26 May 7.30pm

Village Theatre, East Kilbride, 28 May 7.30pm

Ryan Centre, Stranraer, 31 May 7.30pm

Theatre Royal Dumfries, 1 June 7.30pm

Byre Theatre, St Andrews 7 & 8 June 7.30pm

Falkirk Theatre 13 June 7.30pm

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy 15 June 7.30pm

Theatre Royal, Glasgow 18 – 22 June 7.30pm ( matinee 22 June at 2.30pm)

NB: There will be a post show discussion lasting 30 minutes at each venue

REVIEW: The Girl on the Train – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

British writer Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel The Girl on the Train became a runaway best-seller around the globe, with a Hollywood movie adaptation following on its heels quickly a year later, albeit with a re-setting to New York instead of London. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s 2018 stage version restores it to its original location and a somewhat less glossy and more realistic environment.

Binge drinking Rachel Watson passes her old house and her ex-husband and his new life (and wife and baby) every day as she commutes to work. While her attention is initially on ex Tom and trophy wife Anna, whom she harassed relentlessly, it strays to a house a few doors down where she fixates on “Jason & Jess” as she’s dubbed them and their seemingly perfect life. Little does she know that “Jess” is far from happy. When she wakes up one day bloody and injured with little recollection of what has happened she finds out “Jess”, actually Megan, is missing. She inveigles her way into the investigation, befriending Megan’s husband Scott and visiting her psychotherapist Dr. Abdic under false pretences. As Rachel slowly sobers, her memories become gradually clearer and there’s a whole school of red herrings before we come to the shocking conclusion.

Unlike the book and movie, the lion’s share of the action takes place in Rachel’s hovel of an apartment, it’s more The Girl in the Flat rather than The Girl on the Train but that said, the design by James Cotterill is clever enough to portray multiple locations including Megan and Scott’s and Tom and Anna’s homes, a police station, a psychiatrist’s office, the crime scene and the train itself. There a few sound and lighting effects thrown into the mix to keep the interest.

It’s must be said that it is a little slow to get into gear, possibly necessitated by the establishment of the complex layers of the story, but the tension does ramp up in the second half. Where it also differs from both previous incarnations of the story is the frequent black humour, which provides light relief in this dark tale. The scenes between Rachel and sardonic D.I. Gaskell (John Dougall) are particularly well-played.

TV veteran Samantha Womack is Rachel, and delivers a well-measured, low-key performance, keeping it entirely within the bounds of believability in her portrayal of a woman on the brink. There are no cheap histrionics here, and certainly no glamour, much to Womack’s credit. It is refreshing to know that in having a star like Womack, the producers haven’t traded talent for ticket sales. She is ably supported by a sure-footed ensemble cast.

Another question that deserves addressing (almost the elephant in the room) for those who have read the book or seen the movie – does it affect the enjoyment knowing the sting on the tail? Not entirely. While knowing what’s coming, it is still sufficiently interesting to see how it has been achieved.

Runs until 20 April 2019 | Image: Manuel Harlan

INTERVIEW: Karen Gibson, the conductor/musical director of The Kingdom Choir who found global fame at Royal Wedding last year

Global audience of two billion watched The Kingdom Choir perform Stand By Me at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 25 years after she founded the choir, Karen and her singers are preparing for their first UK tour. The tour will visit 18 towns and cities, with the choir sharing the experience with young choirs in each destination. Karen answers some question ahead of their appearance in Glasgow on the 22nd of May.

Twelve months ago, Karen Gibson was travelling around London giving workshops in gospel music, when she received a phone call which was to change her life – and the lives of her closest friends, the members of The Kingdom Choir.

And in May, as HRH Prince Harry and the Duchess Of Sussex prepare to celebrate their first wedding anniversary – while adjusting to life as first-time parents – Karen and the choir will be embarking on their debut tour.

The Kingdom Choir’s stunning version of Stand By Me was a standout moment during the Royal wedding. The performance has been an internet sensation with more than 10 million views on YouTube.

A former IT worker and music teacher, Karen Gibson formed the choir 25 years ago, drawing together singers from in and around London, from various Christian traditions. For their first two years together, the choir didn’t even have a name – it was only an invite to appear on the BBC’s Songs Of Praise which saw Karen decide on The Kingdom Choir. Karen has worked around the world as a gospel choir conductor, travelling as far a-field as Japan, Nigeria and the USA.

2018 was a whirlwind year for the choir, with TV performances on shows such as Good Morning Britain and alongside Madness for the BBC1 New Year’s Eve concert, releasing their debut album Stand By Me after signing to Sony, and closing the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Now they’re preparing to take their musical message of ‘love, hope and inspiration’ on the road. We spoke to Karen Gibson about how life has changed and what’s next for the choir.



Looking back, to this time last year – can you believe everything that’s happened?

This time last year, I had absolutely no clue what was going to come. I was living my ordinary life; giving gospel workshops, teaching in schools, travelling to do those things. I was jumping on public transport, missing busses and trains, all just going about my life.

There were some lovely things going on – a few of us had just filmed with Call The Midwife, which had been a lot of fun… Little did they know what was going to then happen to the singers they booked.

It has been all change, and not without challenges, but it’s been a brilliant, wonderful blessing of a time.

So how did it all start……..

I had been told I would get a phone call, that it would be something big, but I had no clue at all what it was about. The person who initially told me said ‘I can’t tell you what it is, but it’s going to be big’…

That call didn’t come for a few days, and I’d put it out of my head. I was on a number 87 bus and a very posh voice came through on a call and said: “We would like to invite you to sing at the Royal Wedding”. I was so shocked I just said: “You’re joking.” They said absolutely nothing, so I knew it wasn’t a joke at all.

It was so exciting to call all the choir members, even though I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I just had to make sure they were available on that certain date, and that maybe the date might ring a bell with them. One gentleman said he wasn’t available, and yes, I’m pretty sure he kicked himself when it emerged what was happening.

Has the Royal Wedding experience changed the way The Kingdom Choir works?

Oh, yes, it definitely has. When we went into the studio [to record the album] I realised we couldn’t do what we were used to doing; presenting gospel in that very full-on, in-your-face way. God showed me that you can bless people without being in your face, and that stripping it back can be very meaningful – it must be, people are still talking about that performance all these months on.

I’ve realised we can reach more people by also take a different approach to our music. The couple’s [The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s] version of Stand By Me was the one which caused our website to crash, for our Instagram following to go from 700 to 35,000 in one weekend. That taught me something; maybe it’s not always about doing what you do in the way you do it. In faith terms, that’s a huge lesson.

How did you bring together the choir’s original approach with the new outlook to create the album?

We chose songs we had previously performed, like Something Inside So Strong, a self-penned song from one of the members Chases, Amazing Grace and Hark The Herald Angels Sing. But then we also looked to songs we like, not necessarily from the Pentecostal realm, but songs we found inspiring and that carried a positive message.

Golden, has the lyric “Living My Life Like It’s Golden”; I love that. And then something like To Make You Feel My Love, we turned it from being about a relationship love to a faith love.

Now you’re getting ready for a UK-wide tour. How is that going and what can people expect from the tour?

It’s all going very well and we are starting to put the show together. It’s going to feature songs from the album, and of course we’ve got to do Stand By Me. But it’s all very exciting.

You’re going to get a bit more of The Kingdom Choir that people have heard or seen on the TV or radio, but in a more raw state – freedom, and love, hope and inspiration, as the album says. We’re really looking forward to making the connection with people – to see the people who’ve been listening to us, and to introducing gospel to people who maybe hadn’t experienced it before. Our music is powerful, moving and inspiring, people come in with one mindset and leave with another.

The Kingdom Choir has selected local youth and children’s choirs to join them in each town or city they’re visiting on the tour. Are you looking forward to working with them?

The choirs we’ve chosen really are very, very good, and it’s lovely to know there are so many singing communities out there.

Singing is so good for our children – well, for everyone. From personal experience, I know what it can do for a person; it’s a skill for life, it builds confidence and it’s brilliant for them.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with the children and I hope we will impact on them in some way, through the power of music. It’s going to be really special and I love the idea of us spreading that joy to these groups. A lot of the choir’s members have worked in schools, so we have that connection with young people – some of the choir’s members are people I taught in schools or worked with in youth choirs, so it goes back a long way.

A year on from where it all began, the tour will coincide with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first wedding anniversary, what happens next for The Kingdom Choir?

We just don’t know how it’s going to pan out – who could have predicted this last year? We are praying for longevity, we just want to impact the world for good. The album strap line is ‘Love Hope and Inspiration’, and I was thinking recently ‘hope’ is in pretty short supply right now, I feel the world is hungry for hope and good news – so we want to bring more of that about; that’s the long vision.

Tickets for the tour are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.cuffeandtaylor.com

KINGDOM CHOIR UK TOUR 2019 – FULL DATES

APR

Tue 30th SHEFFIELD, CITY HALL

MAY

Thu 2nd SOUTHEND, CLIFFS PAVILION

Sat 4th LEICESTER, DE MONTFORT HALL

Sun 5th NOTTINGHAM, ROYAL CONCERT HALL

Tue 7th MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL

Wed 8th YORK, BARBICAN

Thu 9th GATESHEAD, SAGE

Fri 10th BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL

Sun 12th IPSWICH, REGENT THEATRE

Mon 13th CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE

Thu 16th BATH, THE FORUM

Sun 19th LONDON, ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Tue 21st LIVERPOOL, PHILHARMONIC HALL

Wed 22nd GLASGOW, THEATRE ROYAL

Thu 23rd EDINBURGH, USHER HALL

Mon 27th CANTERBURY, THE MARLOWE THEATRE

Tue 28th BOURNEMOUTH, PAVILION THEATRE

Thu 30th CARDIFF, ST DAVID’S HALL

 

NEWS: Scottish dates for ‘HORMONAL HOUSEWIVES’ starring Vicki Michelle and Julie Coombe

HORMONAL HOUSEWIVES the comedy sketch show starring VICKI MICHELLE with JOSEPHINE PARTRIDGE and JULIE COOMBE will be touring to Scotland on these dates:

April 20th/21st Kilmarnock Palace Theatre

May 4th Arbroath Webster Theatre

May 5th Dunfermline, Alhambra Theatre

May 19th Edinburgh Festival Theatre

May 31st Dundee Caird Hall

June 2nd Glasgow Theatre Royal

Hormonal Housewives is a witty, topical, rude and extremely funny three hander starring Vicki Michelle (‘Allo ‘Allo, Emmerdale) with Josephine Partridge (Top Girls) and Scottish co-writer Julie Coombe, this no-holds-barred show blasts its way through a catalogue of women’s bits: weight gain, weight loss, mood swings, housework, homework, electrolysis, men, sex, working out, staying in, going out, celebrity gossip, a lot of chocolate…and you get the idea. 

For these ‘Hormonal Housewives’ no subject is taboo and no thought too private as the challenges of modern womanhood are sliced, diced and put to rights by this vivacious cast.

Co-writer and performer Julie Coombe says “I come from a big, working class Glasgow family dominated by strong, wonderful women.  They’re also loud, crazy and fun!  I grew up in Kilwinning in Ayrshire, close to Kilmarnock and Glasgow and was raised by my mum and granny.  We weren’t well off materially but the house was always full of laughter.  If struggle and hardship bring people together I believe it’s laughter that makes it bearable and gets you through – laughter definitely got my gang through.  There is a saying “if you didnae laugh you’d greet”!  It’s true and really, who wouldn’t want to laugh till the tears roll down your face in the company of good pals.  I’ve always been drawn to comedy Scotland’s tremendous comedy heritage is hugely inspiring.  I’m really looking forward to performing ‘Hormonal Housewives’ in Scotland – I hope audiences will find it as funny as I do!”

Vicki Michelle is known globally for her role as waitress Yvette in the award winning and long running British comedy TV series ‘Allo ‘Allo; she has been a regular cast member of Emmerdale and Doctors and has starred alongside Ray Winstone and Idris Elba in All In The Game, Hugh Bonneville in Silent Hours and Keith Lemon and Robbie Williams in The Keith and Paddy Picture Show. Vicki’s many TV credits include I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Celebrity Masterchef, The Wright Stuff; she made her West End debut with Dudley Moore in Play It Again Sam, and her theatrical credits range from playing Marilyn Monroe in Hello Norma Jean to Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. 
Film credits include The Greek Tycoon with Anthony Quinn, and the award-winning Grimaldi: The Funnest Man In The World with The Chuckle Brothers and David Essex.  Vicki hosts her own weekly radio show Vix Mix on Phoenix 98FM in Essex and has presented numerous awards ceremonies.  She served as Executive Producer on the Ray Cooney film Run For Your Wife and was awarded an MBE in 2010 for her extensive services to charity.  She is patron of two young people’s theatre schools in London and Kent and the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage.

In her final term at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in 2005 Josephine Partridge met her future husband, moved to Wales, raised a family and ran drama classes for young children.  In 2017 she decided to return to the stage and landed the leading role of Marlene in Caryl Churchill’s classic 1982 play Top Girls which had a successful run at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre.  Recently she performed a piece she’d written for the London-based theatre company Bee In My Beanie.  “I’m so excited about joining the cast of Hormonal Housewives,” says Josephine.  “It’s my first theatrical tour and I’m really looking forward to working with Vicki and Julie and going to different theatres around the country.  My character is well into keeping fit and tries to get the other two involved! I have a physical fitness background and I’m training to be a personal trainer – Vicki’s and Julie’s characters are definitely not on the same page as my character when it comes to going to the gym!”

David Janson has directed numerous pantomimes, plays and children’s theatre productions.  He started his career as an actor at the age of 9 appearing in the West End production of Oliver!, the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, and in the RSC season at Stratford.  He spent three years in one of TV’s first soap operas, The Newcomers, and gained acclaim in Get Some In, Don’t Rock the Boat and Grundy. He played Herr Flick in the last series of ‘Allo ‘Allo.

David’s directing credits include Ray Cooney’s Tom Dick & Harry, Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends and The Other Side of Chris Barrie.  He was a member of the creative team for Bloodbath – The Musical featuring Antony Costa, which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009.  David’s extensive pantomime credits include Dick Whittington, Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Peter Pan and he has worked with many household names including Gareth Gates, Bobby Davro, Matthew Kelly, Sue Hodge, Toyah Willcox, Lorraine Chase, John Altman, Kerry Ellis.

David is also an established voiceover artist and director and was UK voice director for the Disney Corporation on My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Pooh Halloween and The Heffalump Movie. 

 

REVIEW: Glengarry Glen Ross – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

There are no means, moral or otherwise, left unutilised to secure a sale, be it by lying, cheating or stealing, in David Mamet’s Olivier, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross. A searing portrait not only the dog-eat-dog world of US real estate in the 1980s, but of the consequences of a society inherently driven by capitalism and the pervasive culture of toxic masculinity.

Set over two days in the life of four Chicago salesmen and their quest to be top of the office leader board: Shelly Levene (Mark Benton), once top dog, now down on his luck and scrabbling for every potential lead from his younger superior; Ricky Roma (Nigel Harman) the man of the moment and front-runner to win the star prize of a Cadillac; George Aaronow (Wil Johnson), veteran salesman worn out by the work life he has to lead and veritable Pit Bull Dave Moss (Denis Conway) a seething ball of rage and fury.

The expletive-laden, staccato dialogue in Mamet’s 36 year-old play is delivered at machine gun pace from the mouths of four unscrupulous, highly flawed and hard to like protagonists, and at times the dense text and fractured phrasing proves to be a challenge to some of the cast. Whole swathes of the dialogue are swallowed by the vast auditorium – that coupled with some less than perfect American accents, relieves the play of some of its punch. While this is a cast of experience and quality, there are issues with some of the acting which appears forced at times and renders some of the characters more caricature than fully-formed forces of nature. That said, this is as strong an ensemble cast as you are likely to see, particularly Johnson and Conway.

Chiara Stephenson’s exquisite sets are some of the most finely detailed you will have the privilege to see on a UK tour: from the beautifully lit Chinese restaurant to the shabby down-at-heel real estate office, they are a feast for the eyes.

Glengarry Glen Ross remains a savage examination of a way of life that largely failed to pervade the UK, a snap-shot of a period of time that thankfully is all but gone, but, to be frank, it has lost some its power as the years have passed. Worth watching even if only to celebrate a culture and way of life best left behind.

Runs until 13 April 2019 | Image: Marc Brenner

This review was originally written for THE REVIEWS HUB

NEWS: Oor Wullie tour announced with dates at Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Dundee Rep Ensemble and Selladoor Productions in association with Noisemaker, today announced a new musical adventure bringing to life Scotland’s favourite comic strip scamp DC Thomson Media’s Oor Wullie.  The world premiere stage show opens at the Dundee Rep Theatre from 23 Nov – 05 Jan before touring across Scotland with dates at Theatre Royal, Glasgow from 21  – 25 January 2020. Tickets on sale soon.

Oor Wullie has featured in DC Thomson Media comic strips in the Sunday Post for over 80 years, earning him the title of ‘Scotland’s Favourite Son’ in a public vote in 2004.  The iconic laddie from Auchenshoogle is much loved for his big heart, constant war against boredom and his mischievous energetic pranks which often land him in a scrape or two! Now you can see the spiky-haired scallywag live on stage as he embarks on an adventure with pals Fat Boab, Soapy Soutar, Wee Eck, and the rest of the Sunday Post gang – the only question is; where’s his bucket?!

In their 80th anniversary year Dundee Rep is one of Scotland’s most awarded theatres and the only theatre in Scotland to have a permanent company of actors, established 20 years ago as the Dundee Rep Ensemble. Oor Wullie will be directed by Dundee Rep’s Artistic Director Andrew Panton, and adapted for stage by Noisemaker whose previous collaborations include the hugely successful The Snow Queen in 2018 and a brand new musical premiering in the US this Spring Hi, My Name is Ben.

Oor Wullie also marks an ongoing partnership with the internationally acclaimed Selladoor Worldwide who recently commissioned and produced another DC Thomson Media favourite The Broons directed by Andrew Panton in their 2016 critically acclaimed tour.

Noisemaker’s Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie tell us: “We’re very excited to be bringing Scotland’s Oor Wullie to the stage in this unique collaboration between DC Thomson, Selladoor and Dundee Rep. Like so many of us, we grew up reading Wullie’s stories and they’ve remained a treasured part of our childhood. But the enduring appeal of “Oor Wullie” is that he doesn’t remain in the past; the comic has changed and adapted across its 80-year history, heralding Wullie not only as a figure of tradition, but also of Scotland today. We’re thrilled to be bringing his latest adventure to Dundee this Christmas, and to continue our ongoing relationship with the Rep.”

Andrew Panton, Artistic Director at Dundee Rep says: “Oor Wullie is a character that immediately connects with Dundee. I’m thrilled that as part of our anniversary season we’ll be once more collaborating with Noisemaker to bring this story to life on stage at the Rep – surely the only stage he could start this new adventure?”

David Hutchinson, CEO of Selladoor Productions says: “We couldn’t be happier to follow our production of The Broons working in partnership with such a fabulous creative team and theatre to share a story of the superbly observed and fantastically funny Wullie.  He and his gang hold a very special place in many hearts with a history spanning generations and we can’t wait for what promises to be a memorable night at the theatre for the whole family”.

Priority Tickets go on sale to ‘Friends’ of Dundee Rep on Monday 18th March and general sale on Tuesday 19th March across the tour.  See listings for booking details and join the cheeky chap who will prove that even at 80-years old he’s still Oor Wullie! Your Wullie! A’body’s Wullie!

 

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