Tag Archives: Theatre Royal

NEWS: Cast announced for the only Scottish date of Strangers on a Train

Christopher Harper (Coronation Street), John Middleton (Emmerdale), Jack Ashton (Call The Midwife) and Hannah Tointon (Mr Selfridge) lead the cast in a brand-new production of the spellbinding thriller Strangers on a Train.

Based on the world renowned 1950 novel by Patricia Highsmith made universally famous by the classic Oscar-Winning Alfred Hitchcock film. In the great tradition of Hitchcock, this spine-chilling tale aims to delight you with its dark wit while having you on the edge of your seat from the start.

A fateful encounter takes place between two men in the dining carriage of a train crossing America. Guy is the successful businessman with a nagging jealousy; Charles is the cold, calculating chancer with a dark secret. A daring and dangerous plan develops from this casual conversation setting in motion a chain of events that will change the two men’s lives forever.

Mon 22 – Sat 27 Jan 2018 at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow 

NEWS: Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson & Stephen Tompkinson to star in Yasmin Reza’s Art at the Theatre Royal

David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers will produce the 2018 UK & Ireland Tour of the Old Vic production of Yasmina Reza’s Olivier, Tony and Moliere award-winning comedy ART, translated by Christopher Hampton.

The production will star Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson as Serge, Marc and Ivan respectively. The tour will stop off at Theatre Royal, Glasgow from Tuesday 9 April until Saturday 14 April.

David Pugh said, “It is twenty years since Dafydd [Rogers] and I first produced the comedy masterpiece ART in the West End, and the original post-London tour played for 78 weeks. This time, we want to break our own record; in fact, we want to play as many theatres as Sir Ken Dodd has played in his wonderful career, and with this marvellous cast, we think we have every chance!”

Nigel Havers’s films include Chariots of Fire, A Passage to India, Empire of the Sun and The Whistle Blower. He has starred in many television productions, including The Charmer, Dangerfield, Manchild, and, more recently, the hit US series Brothers and Sisters, Lewis Archer in Coronation Street, Benidorm and Lord Hepworth in Downton Abbey.  His numerous theatre work includes The Importance of Being Earnest and Harold Pinter’s Family Voices, both directed by Sir Peter Hall for the National Theatre, Richard II and Man and Superman for the RSC, the hugely successful touring productions of Rebecca and Alan Bennett’s Single Spies.

Denis Lawson is known for his roles as John Jarndyce in the BBC’s adaptation of Bleak House, for which he was nominated for an EMMY award, and as DI Steve McAndrew in BBC1’s hit series New Tricks.  In film, his notable credits include the roles of Gordon Urquhart in the film Local Hero and Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars trilogy.  On stage, he won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as Jim Lancastar in Mr Cinders at the Fortune Theatre, and he was nominated for an Olivier for his performance as George in La Cages Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre.

Stephen Tompkinson’s television credits include five series of DCI Banks, four series of Trollied, seven series of Wild at Heart, six series of Drop the Dead Donkey (British Comedy Award Winner for Best TV Comedy Actor) and three series of Ballykissangel, and his films include Phil in Brassed Off.  His theatre work includes Spamalot, Rattle of a Simple Man and Arsenic and Old Lace in the West End, Cloaca (Old Vic) and Tartuffe (National Tour).


Theatre Royal, Glasgow

9-14 April 2018


Thur & Sat matinees, 2.30pm


0844 8717647

Image: John Swannell

REVIEW: The Kite Runner – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is a literary juggernaut, spending over two years on the New York Times best-seller list, spawning a 2007 film and this adaptation for the stage in the same year by playwright Matthew Spangler (inspired by a meeting with Hosseini a year earlier). Originally performed at San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2009, surprisingly, it took until April 2013 to make its UK/European debut. Translated into 42 languages, it has also appeared as a graphic novel.

Amir, once a wealthy and privileged Pashtun from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, is now a refugee in the US. Covering a multi-generational period, it looks back at an incident from his Afghan childhood, involving his friend Hassan, Amir’s failure to act to help his friend, and the guilt that has undoubtedly shaped his subsequent life.

It tries, and largely succeeds in outlining a period of monumental political upheaval. Exploring themes of friendship, the relationship between fathers and sons, guilt and redemption, the divide between Sunni and Shia and the refugee experience, but it is Amir’s difficulty in coming to terms with the fate of Hassan, a poor Hazara, and the son of his father’s servant, that forms the backbone of the tale.

As with any page to stage adaptation, the narrative has been condensed and the expansive detail of the novel is, by necessity, lost. That said, it remains largely faithful to the novel’s central themes, it is moving and thought-provoking, but without the gut-wrenching emotion. The over-long second act that almost out-stays its welcome, is partly to blame, padding elements of the story in its desire to build tension and neatly come to a resolution.

Amir is played as both child and adult by David Ahmad, taking him from the streets of Kabul as a child to San Francisco in the 2000s. Ahmad gives a well-measured performance (of a largely unsympathetic character) as both young and older Amir, however, it is Emilio Doorgasingh and Jo Ben Ayed that deliver an emotional punch with their portrayals of Amir’s father and Hassan/Sorab respectively.

The set, though simplistic, evokes the heat and dust of Kabul as well as San Francisco’s skyscraper skyline with cleverly designed changes of lighting. The atmosphere is further enhanced by Hanif Khan’s tabla playing.

Emotive, informative and atmospheric, it gives a human face to a country that remains largely a mystery to the outside world. Well worth watching, but not an easy night at the theatre.

Runs until 16 September 2017 | Image: Robert Workman


WHAT’S ON OCTOBER: Kenneth MacMillan ballet classic returns to Glasgow

Kenneth MacMillan’s original choreography of The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) will be brought back to life in a stunning new production by Scottish Ballet this Autumn. Scottish-born MacMillan created the work in 1960 for The Royal Ballet, and this revival marks the 25th anniversary of his death and its first presentation since 1986.

The work will be performed as part of the MacMillan Festival at the Royal Opera House in October – a celebration of this iconic 20th century British choreographer. Several Scottish Ballet dancers will also perform alongside artists from Britain’s other ballet companies in MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations. This will be the first time the company performs at the prestigious London venue.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ice Maiden, MacMillan’s The Fairy’s Kiss stays true to the original tale’s dark edge and in the words of Clive Barnes ‘not only appears as a telling homage to the 19th-century Russian ballets that inspired it, but also as a work full of noble, singing poetry.’

Scottish Ballet’s new production features sets and costumes designed by Gary Harris, who worked closely with MacMillan. The choreographic score has been tirelessly re-constructed by professional Benesh notator Diana Curry over a 3-month period from fragmented records including piano reductions, rehearsal notes, and poor quality video recordings.

The Fairy’s Kiss will be performed alongside Christopher Hampson’s The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps). Previously performed by the company at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2013, The Rite of Spring is a brutal and physical response to the raw energy of the Stravinsky score.

The Fairy’s Kiss and The Rite of Spring, Scottish Ballet’s Stravinsky season, will tour to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Inverness this October/November 2017. The Fairy’s Kiss will be performed at The Royal Opera House, London in October 2017.

Scottish Ballet CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson comments: ‘It is thrilling for Scotland’s national dance company to revive Le Baiser de la Fée, an early work showing the prodigious talents to come from one our most cherished choreographers. Reviving this formative work will allow generations to come to better understand Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s journey from a nurtured, young choreographer to becoming the 20th Century’s most iconic storyteller through dance.’

Scottish Ballet’s Stravinsky season:
6-7 OCT

11-13 OCT

24-25 OCT

3-4 NOV



The passionate and flamboyant production of Verdi’s La traviata by Sir David McVicar, who wowed audiences and critics earlier this year with his production of Pelléas and Mélisande, opens Scottish Opera’s 2017/18 Season in Glasgow this October.

First performed by Scottish Opera in 2008, La traviata will also tour to Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh and is a revival of the co-production with Welsh National Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu and Teatro Real, Madrid.

Verdi’s magnificent opera tells the story of Violetta and Alfredo, set in the demi-monde of 1880s Paris. McVicar’s production gets to the core of their doomed love affair, finding a heartbreakingly human story in the midst of hedonistic high society. Russian-Dutch soprano Gulnara Shafigullina, recently Violetta at The Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, and Anush Hovhannisyan, who represented Armenia at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World this year, head the cast of international talent as Violetta.

Multi-award-winning Dutch tenor Peter Gijsbertsen as Alfredo is joined by British baritone Stephen Gadd (Le Villi 2017) as Giorgio Germont, Simon Thorpe as Baron Douphol, Christopher Turner as Gastone and James Platt as Doctor Grenvil.

Three of Scottish Opera’s 2017/18 Emerging Artists also perform. Robertson Trust Scholarship Emerging Artist Catherine Backhouse, Alex Otterburn (Greek 2017) and Laura Zigmantaite play Annina, Marchese D’Obigny and Flora Bervoix respectively. David Parry (Carmen 2016) conducts. The beautiful period set and costume design is by Tanya McCallin with Stephen Powles reviving Jennifer Tipton’s original lighting design.

La traviata’s run in Glasgow coincides with the special milestone of Theatre Royal’s 150th anniversary on November 28. Home to Scottish Opera as well as Scottish Ballet, the Victorian theatre first opened in 1867 with a new extension featuring a spiral staircase and roof terrace added in 2014.

Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera’s General Director said: ‘Sir David McVicar’s La traviata has been in great demand in opera houses around the world since its Scottish premiere almost a decade ago. Verdi’s opera is one of the most popular in the world, and I am delighted that audiences in Scotland have another opportunity to see this wonderful production with an exciting international cast.’

Audiences also have the chance to attend La traviata Unwrapped, a one-hour taster delving further in to the show and how it was created, as well as Pre-show Talks. Those who are visually impaired can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, which have live commentary that describes the action on stage without compromising the music.

Theatre Royal Glasgow, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA

Thu 19 Oct, 7.15pm

Sun 22 Oct, 3pm

Tue 24 Oct, 3pm (Dementia Friendly Performance)

Wed 25 Oct, 7.15pm

Sat 28 Oct, 7.15pm

Tue 28 Nov, 7.15pm (150th anniversary of the opening of Theatre Royal Glasgow)

Thu 30 Nov, 7.15pm

Sat 2 Dec, 7.15pm

Free events

La traviata Unwrapped

Thu 26 Oct, 6pm

La traviata Pre-show Talk

Sat 28 Oct, 6pm

La traviata Touch Tour

Sat 28 Oct, 6pm

La traviata Audio-described performance

Sat 28 Oct, 7.15pm

Images: Drew Farrell

REVIEW: The Railway Children – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Edith Nesbit’s 1905 tale is as quintessentially British as strawberries and cream and cucumber sandwiches. The subject of four television series, a feature film, a made for TV movie and a radio dramatisation, The Railway Children lives long in the hearts of the nation. That, and the seemingly endless appetite for nostalgia is doubtless the reason why it is currently touring the country.

Dave Simpson’s family-friendly adaptation is faithful to Nesbit’s original. Three affluent children whose father has left, (it transpires that he works for the foreign office and has been imprisoned, suspected of spying) move to Three Chimneys, a cottage in a small Yorkshire village next to a railway, and to impoverishment. The children befriend, then enlist the help of an ‘old gentleman’ to help prove their father’s innocence.

Fans of the piece will be glad to know that all the story’s famous moments are here, the red petticoat scene, the game of Paper Chase and the famous reunion. However, key scenes seem rushed and there’s unnecessary time spent on extraneous detail.

Timothy Bird’s set design manages to overcome the potential technical challenges, bathed in sepia tones, and looking like a scene from a picture book, it is staged cleverly and with imagination. The use of projections allows the trickier effects to be realised.

Firstly, it must be said that the ‘children’ are played by adults. Millie Turner as eldest child Roberta is a perfect mix of childish naivety and earnestness, deftly portraying her blossoming maturity.  Katherine Carlton shows spirit and provides the moments of humour as middle child Phyllis and Vinay Lad’s character Peter, underdeveloped in the first act, livens up, as does the action, as the piece progresses. Stewart Wright as station master Perks (the backbone of the tale) provides the narration.

It’s largely undemanding and while it all bobs along very nicely and is undoubtedly hugely charming, some scenes are over-long for a production aimed at children. There’s a degree of unnecessary padding and the saccharine sweet dialogue is a tad too twee at times for modern ears. That said, it looks beautiful and it remains as heart-warming as it has always been, touchingly sentimental, it harks back to a gentler era and is a welcome escape from the harsh realities of the world outside the theatre doors.

Runs until Sunday 9 July 2017 | Image: Mark Dawson

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Scottish Opera La bohème – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

flea market scene la boheme scottish opera

A sharply crafted, visually stunning and beautifully sung La bohème is a triumphant finale to the 2016/17 Scottish Opera season.

The creative team of André Barbe and Renauld Doucet, last seen in 2014 with the glorious Don Pasquale, have taken Puccini’s masterpiece of Italian opera and reset it to the 1920s. The era of ‘The Lost Generation’, when the world’s creative souls converged on Paris to live the bohemian life among the flea markets, jazz clubs and free spirits.

woman and man mimi and rodolfo hye youn lee luis gomes la boheme

What the pair have achieved is to take the world’s most frequently performed opera, tone down the schmaltz and restore its humour and joie de vivre. Despite the frozen bohemians burning their books, the warmth of their spirits shine through in this production.

papier mache big head mannequins street scene christmas la boheme scottish opera

This is a production whose success is a result of a perfect coming together of all its parts: composer, conductor, cast, design, direction and orchestra. Vital and vibrant it is a winner in every area.

a woman in flapper dress atop a table in la boheme

There are a brace of fine vocal performances: Hye-Youn Lee is a vocally elegant Mimi with an incredibly ear-pleasing and distinctive tone. She perfectly expresses Mimi’s demise without descending into melodrama. Luis Gomes (Rodolfo) is a beautifully toned tenor, however, he is frequently overpowered by the orchestra and Jeanine de Bique is an eye and ear-catching, Josephine Baker-ish Musetta, complete with pet cheetah.

André Barbe’s set is a star in itself. Bristling with life, it is a lavish cacophony of colour and meticulous detail. You will be hard pressed to see a more visually stunning production all year.

This perennial favourite’s standing as the world’s most popular opera shows no sign of abating and this stunner of a production from Scottish Opera will live long in the memory. A stand-out 5 stars.

All images: Sally Jubb

Tours to Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh – more information at: http://www.scottishopera.org.uk/



REVIEW: All or Nothing – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

A guitar smashes, someone storms off stage and so starts the story of seminal Mod band The Small Faces.

Following in the footsteps of the Kinks’ musical Sunny Afternoon, All or Nothing capitalises on the wave of nostalgia for 60s bands, and covers the four short, turbulent years (1965-1969) from the band’s inception to frontman Steve Marriott’s departure, leaving the story of his replacement, (Rod Stewart) and reinvention as The Faces, for another show.

Narrated by an older incarnation of Marriott (Chris Simmons), the show retains the raw, rough-at-the-edges quality of the band whose story it tells. The story is depressingly familiar to fans of 60s music: exploitation, both financially and artistically by their management (in this case by Don Arden, famously the father of Sharon Osborne); gruelling schedules of endless touring and promotion, drugs, disappointment and creative differences. Along the way, there are cameos from musical contemporaries Dusty Springfield, Sonny and Cher, and Marriott’s one-time girlfriend P.P. Arnold as well as the word-mangling Stanley Unwin and Tony Blackburn.

The anger and swagger of the participants are well represented here, Marriott famously decrying Lennon and McCartney’s output as “Merseybeat girl music.” Described as a band that ‘looked sharp and sounded even sharper,’ the quality of the ‘band’ is critical to the show’s success. There’s a gig-like atmosphere throughout that adds an extra element of realism to the proceedings. The central quartet (Samuel Pope, Stanton Wright, Stefan Edwards and Josh Maddison) is completely on-point, and the group’s signature sound bounces off of the walls of the auditorium. The only gripe would be that we don’t hear enough of it. However, to its credit, the story doesn’t bend to fit the band’s hits. Instead, they occur naturally throughout the narrative.

All or Nothing is a highly detailed biography of a band that came from “bomb sites with no bathrooms,” and no stone is unturned in telling their story. However, it does result in a long set up and the sacrificing of some pace.

This bittersweet, raw, visceral show is a long overdue homage to a band that has sometimes been cruelly overlooked and a fitting tribute to not only Steve Marriott but Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, early member Jimmy Winston and Ian McLagan. Both long-time fans and those unfamiliar will be satisfied and it’s a welcome change from the fluff-filled, happy-ever-after jukebox musicals of old.

Runs until 15 April 2017 | Image: Contributed


REVIEW: The 8th Door / Bluebeard’s Castle – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Karen Cargill David Hayward Bluebeard's castle theatre Royal Scottish opera glasgow

You must admire the bold, brave, artistic choices that have characterised Scottish Opera’s current season. However, whether these choices resonate with its current, loyal audience remains to be seen.

Lliam Paterson and Vanishing Point’s Matthew Lenton’s new commission The 8th Door has been devised as a companion piece to Béla Bartók’s sublime Bluebeard’s Castle, the intention being that they, (according to the programme notes) “complement each other’s artistic ambition and vision, through a provocative evening”. This world-premiere work provides plenty food for thought.

A relationship plays out before us from its inception to its demise, two actors, facing video cameras, their backs to the audience, their emotions projected onto screens. From the pit, six voices, accompanied by a stunningly good orchestra, sing a text based on the works of Bartók’s artistic contemporaries: Endre Ady, Judit Frigyesi, Sándor Weöres and Attila József, as well as Edwin Morgan.

While Paterson’s score is innovative in its approach and delivery, it wears the influence of Bartók’s work on its sleeve. However, it suffers in comparison. While Bluebeard’s Castle is a masterpiece, a shimmering, intensely unsettling, but beautifully scored existential tragedy, The 8th Door feels unremittingly dull and repetitive. This coupled with Matthew Lenton’s direction and Kai Fischer’s design, which instead of bringing freshness and modernity, is oddly outdated. Locked in their own vision of ‘modernity’ they seem to have failed to notice the real innovations in staging that are currently happening in theatre. (On a side note, among the clock-watching and harrumphing, there were two different walk-outs at around the 10-15 minute mark in my corner of the auditorium, both only returning to hear Bartók’s piece).

While Paterson’s brand spanking new work seems long at 40 minutes, Bluebeard’s Castle whips along at a cracking pace. Bartók’s 1918 modernist horror work feeling more innovative, more compelling and more resonant. As Bluebeard and Judith, Robert Hayward and Karen Cargill are in stunning vocal form and the orchestra of Scottish Opera, in particular its brass section, have rarely sounded finer.

While a journey into darkness and an unremitting blackness unite the two works, it’s the near 100 year-old piece that really resonates.

Runs on selected dates until 1 April then touring to Edinburgh Festival Theatre on 5 and 8 April 2017

For more information visit http://www.scottishopera.org.com

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