Tag Archives: Tour

REVIEW: Giovanni Pernice, il ballo è vita – The Town House, Hamilton

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Sicilian dance superstar and Strictly Come Dancing alumnus Giovanni Pernice is the latest TV dance pro to take his own personal show on the road and it is arguably, the best one yet.

What this stunning show, il ballo è vito (Dance is Life), demonstrates is that the TV dance behemoth Strictly suffocates the personality of its stars. As a regular viewer of the show, I would be hard pressed to express what I thought Pernice’s personality was – the tabloid gossip about a romance with his celebrity partner the only hint of the man behind the smile. In reality Pernice has a winning and highly charming personality and instead of show-boating in the limelight, he is so comfortable in his ability to shine that he creates a show in which all of his cast get a turn in the spotlight.

cast of dancers il ballo e vita dance is life gianni pernice

There is real artistry here, and under the direction and choreography of Strictly director of choreography Jason Gilkison, there’s so much that delights. The first act has a charming Italian theme, with innovative and beautifully staged classics such as: Volare, Mambo Italiano, That’s Amore and Tu Vuo Fa’ L’Americano. There’s also a funny interlude when a member of the audience joins Giovanni on stage to share some food, Lady and the Tramp style – much to the amusement of the audience. Unlike many of these contrived moments in other dance shows, Pernice’s ease with the audience and genuine charm allows him to pull it off with aplomb. The second act is a tale based on the love story of Pernice’s grandmother and grandfather set to a contemporary and classic soundtrack.

The choreography is simply stunning and the sheer speed and originality of the footwork on display is breath-taking. Pernice is truly a class apart. Mention must be made too of the excellent set and lighting (and shadow) design that enhances the choreography beautifully throughout.

Pernice shows he is a team player, more than ably supported by a team of professionals (including the highly talented Russian dancer Luba Mushtuk), he allows each their chance to shine.

There’s a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere throughout and the ease in the interactions with the audience make this show stand out. This is a classy affair, beautifully staged, and the best Stricty alumni show so far. Catch it if you can.

REVIEW: Shirley Valentine – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

jodie prenger against a greek seaside background

Willy Russell’s track record of successfully writing about ordinary women is almost unparalleled in popular theatre: Educating Rita, Blood Brothers and this, his 1986 effort Shirley Valentine, have repeatedly touched the hearts of the nation in both stage and film versions.

Shirley Bradshaw (Jodie Prenger) is 42, with two teenage kids who have flown the nest, an emotionally distant husband, her day to day existence leaving her resigned to (literally) talking to the egg-yolk yellow walls of her pine-clad kitchen. When her best friend offers to pay for a well-needed holiday for the pair, Shirley jumps at the chance to escape.

In the 30 years that have passed since it was written, much has changed, and women have come a long way. Despite a few dated references, and the fact that at 42, an age when many women in 2017 are only starting to contemplate having a family, 1980’s Shirley feels washed up and unable to escape her situation, Russell’s script has largely weathered the years well. That he can wring so much humour and pathos from the life of a working class Liverpudlian housewife, is a testament to his talent. It is in turn touching, resonant and laugh-out-loud funny.

That said, it’s not without fault. Essentially a 16000-word monologue, the weight of the production’s success is set firmly on the shoulders of the lead. Here, Prenger can’t rely on her impressive singing voice. Shirley’s cheeky chat and charisma, coupled with Prenger’s vivacity and heightened characterisation make it hard to believe that she doesn’t have the confidence to leave her dreary life behind. However, Prenger’s natural warmth transmits brilliantly to the audience, making us forgive her less than on-point Liverpool accent, and the audience is never not rooting for her every step of her journey.

Amy Yardley’s set design is simple, the 80s kitchen familiar to anyone who lived through the decade. Less successful is the rendering of the sun-drenched Greek island, the azure blue Mediterranean Sea more plastic camping tarpaulin than lapping waves. That said, it’s the words that matter, and those are glorious.

There’s enough here to still resonate with an audience in 2017; it’s a perfect balance of thought-provoking, self-searching, inspirational and life-affirming. It will make you, as Russell says in his script, “fall in love with the idea of living.” A British theatre classic and deservedly so.

Runs until 6 May 2017 | Image: Manuel Harlan

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE REVIEWS HUB HERE

REVIEW: Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

The master of musical theatre Michael Ball and Britain’s best-loved tenor Alfie Boe join forces on a UK tour to promote their recently released album Together.

The whole evening rattles along amiably and the pair has an easy charm that transmits well to the audience. The programme is rich and varied: from an Elvis medley, a James Bond segment to a selection from Les Mis, a show that both have a history with – Ball as the first Marius and Boe as a critically lauded Jean Valjean on both Broadway and the West End. However, surprisingly, it is a Rat Pack segment that blends these two contrasting voices to best effect.

The pair have ample opportunity to showcase their considerable vocal skills; Boe has the power and drive and Ball the mellow honeyed tones. For Boe, the highlight is undoubtedly his rendition of The Who’s Love Rain on Me, a powerhouse performance that has the audience on its feet at its conclusion, for Ball it’s his personal anthem Love Changes Everything.

This is a rare opportunity to see two singing giants together on one stage and the result is a hugely entertaining evening – a rare treat, and a class act from start to end.

REVIEW: The Elixir of Love – The Concert Hall, Motherwell

Scottish Opera’s latest touring production, Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, is a wonderfully witty, beautifully staged and finely sung treasure. An utter joy from start to finish, this is opera for people who think they don’t like opera. Donizetti’s gloriously melodic score is a treat for the ears and Oliver Townsend and Mark Howland’s charming and clever design – re-set from the 19th Century Mediterranean to a country garden in 1920s England, is simply gorgeous.

Humble gardener Nemorino is hopelessly in love with wealthy landowner Adina, but her head (if not her heart) is turned by the flashy Sergeant Belcore. But all is not lost when quack medicine man Dr Dulcamara literally rides into town, selling our hero a powerful love potion that promises to deliver the girl of his dreams into his arms within a day.

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Ellie Laugharne and Elgan Llyr Thomas as Adina and Nemorino in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

This effervescent production bubbles and fizzes throughout, thanks largely to the delightful cast, and as befitting this ‘male Cinderella’ story, it is the boys who dominate. Elgan Llyr Thomas is thoroughly appealing as our love-lorn hero Nemorino and his show-stopping Una furtiva lagrima (one single tear falls silently) is a real crowd-pleaser, but he doesn’t have the limelight solely to himself thanks to scene-stealing turns from Toby Girling as the preposterously pompous Sergeant Belcore and the outstanding James Cleverton as the dodgy Doctor Dulcamara, whose timing, sonorous tones and perfect diction are a masterclass in comic opera acting.

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James Cleverton as Dulcamara Scottish in Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

Mention must be made of music Derek Clark, who deserves plaudits for trimming Donizetti’s score from 53 instruments to five without losing any of its richness and the brisk baton of conductor Stuart Stratford who drives the score along.

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Ellie Laugharne, Elgan Llyr Thomas and Toby Girling in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

For a work that was written, if not in the two weeks that opera folklore claims, but certainly astonishingly quickly nearly 200 years ago, this sunny, funny, dazzling and delightful work is a five-star, must-see production.

Currently touring Scotland, booking information here: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/our-operas/16-17/the-elixir-of-love

FEATURE: Behind the scenes at the Citz – historic backstage tours

Last weekend GTB went on a field trip behind the scenes at the historic Citizens Theatre.

The Citizens’ Company, founded in 1943 by Tom Honeyman, James Bridie and Paul Vincent Carroll, was based at first in the Glasgow Athenaeum (now the Conservatoire) moving in 1945 to its present site, then the Royal Princess’s Theatre (below, opened 1878), to become what we now know and love as the Citizens Theatre.

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As atmospheric and captivating backstage as it is onstage, here are some pictures from the informative tour.

Tours can be booked on the Citz own website at: http://www.citz.co.uk/whatson/info/backstage_tours/

The tour includes tea and cake if any incentive were needed!

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REVIEW: Brendan Cole – A Night to To Remember, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Removed from the constraints of competing in Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan Cole gets the chance to highlight his considerable choreographic and performance skills to a packed house in Glasgow on his Night to Remember tour.

brendan cole night to remember 2

Despite suffering from pneumonia, a visibly pale and thin Cole presents the most spectacular and professional production of any of the Strictly alumni. The programme carefully curated to appeal to a wide audience: the music a mix of old and new and the choreography both modern and classic.

brendan cole night to remember tour

The dancing is interspersed with songs from vocalists Iain MacKenzie and Julie Maguire and there’s the ubiquitous Q & A session where fans get the chance to ask their dance hero some personal questions.

 

brendan cole devil went down to georgia

To his great credit Cole performs with gusto despite suffering from serious and debilitating illness and his cast, band and singers are of the highest quality. The set and costumes also set Cole’s production head and shoulders above his peers. A class act from start to finish, Cole’s show always delivers.

Images – Visual Devotion

 

REVIEW: Michael Ball – If Everyone Was Listening Tour, Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

Michael Ball returns to Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium to showcase his latest album If Everyone Was Listening, a selection of songs with personal resonance for Ball.

There’s a heavy modern country vibe about the songs from the new album which as unlikely as it may seem, sit well with Ball’s voice, the evening is also interspersed with pop hits, Avici’s “Wake Me Up” and Katy Perry’s “Roar” among them, and of course, a selection of West End standards including Les Mis’ “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” the song that brought Ball to the nation’s attention.

Whilst Ball more than does justice to the pop standards, the true power and resonance of his impressive voice only truly gets a chance to shine in the musical theatre numbers.

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What makes every concert from Ball a winner, is his engaging personality. He shares personal memories about his career, the downs as well as the ups, gives heart-felt reasons for his song choices and revels in the self-awareness that he’s phenomenally uncool but he’s happy with that – and so are his audience.

The crowd are on their feet from the opening notes and throughout the evening, culminating in a mass storm of the front of the stage for the concert finale. Ball could easily claim to have the most avid fandom around and it’s hard to resist the love in the air, the sheer joy with which the songs are delivered and received, is infectious.

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Ball allows his backing vocalists their moment in the spotlight too and West End performers Sandra Marvin and Adrian Hansel’s duet on “A Whole New World” is particularly impressive, as are the seven piece band who provide rich accompaniment to the whole evening.

The evening ends on a high with Ball’s career changing hit “Love Changes Everything” and the audience leave even higher. This is a master of his craft at the top of his game, a better quality performance you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere.

INTERVIEW: 10 minutes with the stars of The Lion King – Ava Brennan and Nicholas Nkuna

Anticipation has been building throughout the country since the announcement in January that Disney’s legendary musical The Lion King would make its Scottish premiere at the Edinburgh Playhouse this autumn. The international cast of 52 performers from 18 different countries have arrived this week in Edinburgh with 23 trucks and to the news that over 210,000 tickets have been sold before the first performance. Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to meet the show’s stars Ava Brennan (Nala) and Nicholas Nkuna (Simba) and chat about being part of this global phenomenon.

How are you settling in to Edinburgh?

Ava: I’ve been doing a bit of exploring already, along Princes Street and just walking around and getting to know the city. I’ve got a list of places I want to go to: the castle and I’d love to do one of the city tours to see all the sights; I also really want to see Mary Stairs Close the haunted underground city.

How has Edinburgh compared to other cities you’ve performed in?

Nicholas: It’s been different in every city, every city brings its own energy to the show and the show has a lot of local references added for each place we go, they just love it, especially here. We couldn’t believe the reaction those parts got. When we walked out and heard the reaction from the 3000 people in the auditorium it was unbelievable.

Ava: The first preview was daunting, the theatre is so huge and the whole cast felt more nervous than we have done anywhere we’ve been.

Why do you think the Lion King has been such a long-running and well-loved show?

Nicholas: First of all for me, it’s the story, it’s universal and touches all ages. I think that’s what makes it so successful. It means I can take my little brothers, my mum and dad, it touches all age groups.

Ava: Coupled with the story is the show itself; the puppetry, the costumes and the amount of detail that’s gone into every aspect of the show, all the fabrics are African in origin and along with the wonderful actors, it all comes together to make it feel so real and authentic.

 What is your history with the Lion King?

Ava: I’m going into my fourth year with the company; I was in the Hamburg production and in the West End for two years and now on the tour.

Nicholas: This tour is my first experience in the Lion King and I’m going in to my second year now.

What is your favourite aspect of being in the show?

Nicholas: My favourite song is “He Lives in You” I think everyone relates to the song, It’s that time when you grow up and you realise that you have to face your responsibilities. Rafiki is knocking some sense into Simba and that’s the moment in the show when the light really goes on for him. I also love the whole experience of being on tour and having the chance to travel from city to city too.

Ava: I love the first act where we hear “They Live in You” and it’s Mufasa and Simba, I have a son myself and when Mufasa tells Simba he is never alone and that his ancestors are always watching over him, it gets me every time.

It’s such a huge company what is the atmosphere like backstage?

Ava: We really are like a family; we spend so much time with one another, eight shows a week and all the rehearsals, it’s made us quite close. It’s a really nice atmosphere where everyone is really looking out for one another.

Nicholas: We are blessed being out on tour together, firstly to get the chance to meet all of these amazing people from so many wonderful countries. There are five continents represented in this one production, so few people will ever get to experience all those diverse cultures.

Ava: The fact that we are from all over the world but have the privilege of telling this one fantastic story together is wonderful.

How do you keep it fresh when you are on a long tour, how do you keep up the energy and enthusiasm?

Ava: It’s the audience that keep us going as well as the people we are working with, of course it’s the same show every day but we never feel the same way every day. There are always different people to bounce off of each day and the audience may be different from what we’ve experienced before, so that keeps it fresh.

Nicholas: I always remember that each and every night there are people in the audience who are getting to see the show for the very first time. So I think of it as a premier every night, each and every single night the show has to be at its best.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring actors?

Ava: This industry is audition after audition and knock back after knock back, it happens to every performer, all I can say is keep going, if you want to go for it, if you want it to happen, it will, if you work hard enough for it.

Nicholas: This was my third attempt to get into the show, I had been turned down twice before and then on the third try I landed the principal role in the show. If you want it enough, go for it, there is nothing that should stop you. If you really believe in it then someone will see that in you and it will happen.

Disney’s The Lion King is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 18th January 2014.

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