Tag Archives: Tim Mitchell

REVIEW: Nativity! The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

The clocks have gone back, Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night are over, so, of course, Christmas is here. Seven weeks early, but who’s complaining when it’s the stage version of Bafta Award-winning Debbie Isitt’s hugely loveable 2009 movie, Nativity?

For those familiar with the big-screen trilogy, the stage plot is lifted entirely from the first film. Mr. Maddens (Scott Garnham) is a less than effective primary school teacher, having previously been an even less than successful actor. With the festive season approaching, the school Nativity show looming and a broken heart courtesy of his ex-girlfriend Jennifer (Ashleigh Gray) who dumped him to pursue her career dreams in Hollywood, things can’t possibly get worse. Unfortunately they do. Competition arrives in the form of his former best friend, Gordon Shakespeare (Andy Brady), who is now receiving plaudits for his festive extravaganzas at a rival primary school. Maddens declares that a Hollywood producer is coming to film his Christmas show, needless to say they’re not, and mayhem ensues, aided and abetted by hyperactive classroom assistant Mr. Poppy (Simon Lipkin).

With such well-loved source material, the cast need to step up and fortunately they more than match, and in some cases exceed that of the film. For West End theatre buffs, this is dream casting. Scott Garnham is entirely believable as the lovelorn Mr. Maddens with a gorgeous voice to boot, Ashleigh Gray makes her mark in the relatively small role of Jennifer and manages to showcase her phenomenal vocal skills, Andy Brady is a suitably manic Mr. Shakespeare (his Herod is a gem) but it is the utterly irresistible Simon Lipkin as Mr. Poppy who thoroughly steals the show. Lipkin is a star in everything he’s in and here he gets to showcase his formidable talents while still bringing out the best in everyone around him.

But what about the kids?, after all, this really is a children’s show. The local children cast as the pupils of Oakwood Primary School are drilled to perfection, but the pupils of St. Bernadette’s are truly phenomenal. Added to an already spectacular cast, there’s also an irresistible pooch called Cracker to crank up the cute factor.

The production values are high and the set looks as good as anything your likely to see on a West End stage, and the choreography from the always reliable Andrew Wright is perfectly reflective of that of children in 2018. The roster of musical numbers has been significantly upped from the half a dozen songs in the movie and each is a catchy delight.

Nativity! starts on a high and the entertainment factor never diminishes for the entire running time. It knows how to tug at the heart strings without becoming over schmaltzy, you’d need to be hard-hearted indeed not to be touched by this. This is a show of infinite quality from start to finish and stands head and shoulders above most festive offerings.

It preaches a laudable message of the power of a positive mindset and that sometimes the good guys can win in the end. Ultimately it’s a festive, feel-good, feast for the eyes that fills you with the warm and fuzzies.

Beg, borrow or steal to get a ticket, this really is an unmissable show.

Runs until November 2018 | Image: Richard Davenport

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub. The UK’s leading and most prolific digital portal for the performing arts. With 150 reviewers spread across the UK, managed by 10 editors, The Reviews Hub publishes reviews, previews, features and interviews on entertainment throughout the whole country.

 

REVIEW: Yer Granny – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Were you a cynic, you could accuse the National Theatre of Scotland of cashing in on the rising tide of nationalism and the appetite for locally sourced produce in its choice of Yer Granny, a Glaswegian version of Roberto Cossa’s 1977 Argentinian hit comedy La Nona. Rolling out a cast of homegrown TV comedy favourites and capitalising on the seemingly never ending appeal of farce, certainly wouldn’t seem to do Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation any harm either.

Be it cynical or clever, Yer Granny plays to its audience: it’s still 1977, but now reset to a flat above the family’s Glasgow chip shop, it explores how far a family on the financial brink will go to rid itself of its problems.

Gregor Fisher goes for the grotesque as the titular granny who’s eating the family out of house and home and there is strong support from Jonathan Watson as patriarch Cammy and Paul Riley as the wannabe composer and full time shirker Charlie,  but it’s Barbara Rafferty’s hysterical transformation from mild mannered Aunt Angela to gun-toting drug dealer, that stays in the memory.

Undoubtedly laugh out loud funny, there’s a darker heart that the surface laughs mask, but one can’t help feeling opportunities were missed and a descent into crudity in the second half robs the piece of potential depth.

Undeniably watchable, laugh-out-loud funny in parts, but the descent into easy stereotypes and Mrs. Brown’s Boys territory, render it a two, rather than three dimensional production.

reviewed at Glasgow King’s Theatre 27 May now touring Scotland and Northern Ireland

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/yer-granny-kings-theatre-glasgow/

Image credit: Manuel Harlan

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Returning to the stage three years after its award-winning debut, Nancy Meckler’s direction, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s choreography and Tennessee Williams’ sublime words unite once again to create a richly atmospheric, captivating, Streetcar Named Desire from Scottish Ballet.

From her first fragile appearance fluttering around a bare lightbulb as a moth to a flame, it chronologically charts the agonising demise of fragile southern belle Blanche DuBois. From Blanche’s girlish innocence shattered on her wedding day when her husband’s homosexuality is discovered to his subsequent suicide, through the loss of her family home (startlingly realised onstage), her wilderness years relying on the kindness of paying strangers in sleazy motels, to her arrival on the doorstep of her younger sister Stella and her violent and boorish husband Stanley.

What is most surprising about this masterfully executed production is the fact that in the 100 minute running time, the creative team have not only stayed faithful to the source work but managed to pack in its contents in their entirety. A series of short, sharp scenes drives the narrative at break neck speed .

This is also a ballet that borrows heavily from the conventions of musical theatre, indeed there are hints ofGuys and Dolls and West Side Story in both the staging and the choreography, but instead of diminishing its power it all serves to enhance the storytelling and the audience’s enjoyment.

The design by Niki Turner is spare but effective and there is a knock-out score from Peter Salem, evocative and transixing it transports us right to the heart of the tale.

Eve Mutso is elegant and hugely accomplished as the wide-eyed, other worldly Blanche, indeed, she possesses a natural acting ability to complement her supreme dancing skills, however she is a striking presence, one of strength and power which is at times at odds with the butterfly-like fragility that is required for Blanche. Mutso is capably supported by Sophie Martin as sister Stella and Erik Cavallari is a suitably menacing Stanley.

This is production which strikingly breathes life into William’s classic tale  and one which will leave a lasting impression long after the curtain has gone down.

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/a-streetcar-named-desire-festival-theatre-edinburgh/