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Oct 20th

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Kings Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe



The show certainly bursts onto the stage with a bang (bang), but can you believe the hype?


Seven years on from my first sight of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on tour and I must confess that the “wow” factor has diminished a little.  It’s still a great show with many positive elements and little to say that is actually ‘wrong’ with it … but the action was not quite as gripping for me as the first time around (and, before you suggest otherwise … I wasn’t 12 when I last reviewed the show!).


Even if the car had been a huge disappointment, the show would have proved itself as to be a good piece of musical theatre.  The sizable cast of adults and children filled the stage with energetic performances, solid vocals and entertaining dance routines.  The large scale set added a childlike sense of drama as it dwarfed everything and provided a dynamic backdrop for the extensive use of animated projections.  Choreography was characteristic and entertaining in equal measure and flawlessly executed throughout – including a musical theatre favourite – a tap routine!  The adapted script was bold in both cuts from and additions to the original 1968 movie screenplay and delivered rounded characters who were quickly lovable (or loathable) as required.


As I said; very little to complain about.  Picking nits I might suggest that some principal characters lacked a little verve and there was a sense that the show lacked freedom as everything had to click along at a fixed pace to match the projected animations.  But this was a small criticism of a polished (and expensive looking) gem.  It’s true to say that this is a family show which is firmly aimed at the younger members of the family.  There was the occasional double entendre (Spotted Dick was mentioned twice!) but this is no Shrek in the script department.


The score is packed with childhood favourites like Toot Sweets, The Ol’ Bamboo and Truly Scrumptious and the principal cast together with the large and talented ensemble delivered all to a good standard and to the delight of the audience of young and old alike. Headliners Jason Manford (Caractacus Potts), Phill Jupitis (Baron) and Claire Sweeney (Baroness) don’t disappoint while Charlotte Wakefield proves to be a sweet Truly Scrumptious (pun intended).


But the car … oh, the car is the star (as they say)!  Take every wish that you may have dared to fanaticise upon for the delivery of your childhood dream Chitty and it is produced as a reality on stage.  There is a seemingly endless escalation of awesomeness as the car performs one miracle after another from its first spotlight reflecting reveal through a speeding countryside journey to a jaw dropping slow motion fall from a clifftop!  Chitty deservedly takes the final bow at the end of the show to the strains of the Superman movie theme!  WOW!


If you have kids (or can ‘borrow’ one) don’t miss this fantastic show … its fantasmagorical!


Listing Information


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Wed 19-Sat, 29 Oct

Wed-Sat eves,7.30pm

Wed (26 Oct), Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge (bkg fee)







Oct 5th

Sister Act at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe


Review by Cameron Lowe


Sister Act is raising spirits at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre this week!


Based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, this musical has found its shining star in Alexandra Burke.  Having thoroughly enjoyed Ms Burke’s performance in the recent tour of The Bodyguard I had high expectations for this production which were quickly surpassed.  Alexandra Burke is “Heaven sent” to play the role of Deloris Van Cartier!


The show itself has a fantastic blend of comedic characters and a score that hits the high notes with original songs from Alan Menken (famed for Disney’s musical revival in the 90s) which fit the late 70s era perfectly.  The story puts our heroine in ‘peril’ but the delivery from Director Craig Revel Horwood is very light hearted.


There are some brilliant supporting performances.  Sarah Goggin shines as Sister Mary Robert – the mousy quiet nun who finds her voice – and what a VOICE!  Those who are new to this show may be surprised by the laughs generated by the ‘bad guys’ who hunt our heroine down while she seeks shelter in the convent.  The laughs come loudest from the performance of Sandy Grigelis as “TJ” – the nephew of the gang leader whose strange habits are said to “skip a generation”!  Karen Mann delivers some impressive “wow” moments as Mother Superior.  The power and vocal range of this diminutive performer was phenomenal.


The production is well presented with a very solid looking church interior and balcony designed by Matthew Wright.  This was swiftly (and minimally) converted into a bar, police station and street exterior as required.  The only element that didn’t quite work for me was the ‘confession scene’ which I think might have been better served by a simple confessional truck.  The sound and light show was seamlessly delivered and suitably atmospheric.


But back to Alexandra Burke who completely in-habit-ed the role of Deloris (#punsareNOTweapons).  I expected the vocals to be flawless and impressive (they were) but I was equally impressed with Ms Burke’s comic timing and her high energy delivery of the character as Deloris lifted the spirits of everyone around her.  A fabulous performance from an all-rounder leading lady. 


You MUST see this show!  There is nothing quite as entertaining as a nun in a sparkly habit singing and dancing to a hip hop beat!!



SISTER ACT – King’s Theatre, Glasgow


Tues 4 Oct-Sat 8 Oct


Tues-Sat eves, 7.30pm


Wed & Sat mats, 2.30pm


Please note Alexandra Burke will star in evening performances only


Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost up to7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. (bkg fee)



Sep 16th

CATS at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Suzanne Lowe


Cats holds a special place in my heart having seen it in the past countless times.  Being an avid lover of all things “dance” this show ticks all the boxes for me.


The show is based on the book of poems from T.S. Elliot’s “Old Possums’s Book of Practical Cats” a childhood favourite of its creator Andrew Lloyd Webber.  A completely “sung through” musical it has the added challenge for all characters, except “Old Deuteronomy” and “Grizabella”, to be accomplished dancers.


From the opening number, the iconic dance moves did not disappoint.  High energy and great vocals draw you into this show from the start with the exceptional level of dance awe inspiring.


Lucinda Shaw (Jennyanydots) gives a superb performance of The Old Gumbie Cat accompanied by her impressive troop of tap dancing Cats.


I was slightly bemused by the revamped version of The Rum Tum Tugger.  Having been a big fan of the original version and character this hip hop/rap style number didn’t sit well with me.  My first thought was “If it ain’t broke…….”  However my much younger companion who was experiencing Cats for the first time was completely enthralled by this number.  Marcquelle Ward (Rum Tum Tugger) produced some impressive dance moves even if it was not quite to my taste.  I felt the characters normally strong presence was perhaps diminished by the changes.


Marianne Benedict’s (Grizabella) moving performance of the iconic song “Memory” was a particular highlight of the night.  Her outstanding vocals ensured that the audience gave the longest applause I have heard in a long time for a solo number.   Joe Henry and Emily Langham (Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer) delighted the crowd with their high impact routine while still delivering impressive vocals.  Lee Greenway’s (Skimbleshanks) performance of the railway cat was a joy to watch.  Always a crowd pleaser this was excellently backed up by the Cats Chorus.   Mr Mistoffelees, played by Shiv Rabheru, executed a visually entertaining phenomenal dance routine.  His impressive “spin” skills a particular highlight.  Special mention also has to go to The White Cat played by Sophia McAvoy.  A joy to watch her beautiful transitions between moves and exceptional balancing skills were a particular favourite of mine.


I did however, feel that the first half of the show seemed to be a little less impressive than that of the second.  Perhaps this was due to finding myself in the Gallery.  A little high up to be drawn into the cat like movements which are always carried out superbly by cast members.  Although looking down from that height gave a great view of the overall dance numbers anything happening upstage on raised levels could not be seen.  I think perhaps this did spoil the spectacle that is “Cats”. 


Overall, another superb performance of “Cats” by the cast and well worth seeing.  However to immerse yourself fully in this show it is well worth spending the extra money on good seats.


CATS – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Tues 13 Sep-Sat 17 Sep

Tues-Sat eves, 7.30pm

Wed, Thurs & Sat mats, 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost up to7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. (bkg fee)


Jun 15th

Footloose the Musical at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

When one of your favourite shows comes to town you are faced with a choice … either to enshrine your beloved memories forever, or to see the show again and again.  For the theatre lover, the natural choice is to see that show over and over but there is always that small risk that you might taint those hallowed memories …

I was faced with just such a choice as one of my all-time favourite musicals comes to the King’s Theatre in Glasgow this week … and as ever the theatre lover in me won the day.

Footloose, the Musical is, in many ways, irrepressible.  It’s got that uplifting 80s soundtrack (Footloose, Let’s Hear it for the Boy, Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, …) and a heart rending coming of age storyline of personal loss and overcoming impossible odds.  There are plenty of comedic characters and a laugh out loud script to lighten the drama too.  This production aims to capitalise on all of those positive elements and to add another impressive factor – a cast who play live instruments!  On the face of it, it’s a great idea.  What’s not to love!?  

But, while the onstage band / cast are certainly accomplished in their delivery of this fabulous score, the inventive choreography from Matthew Cole is inevitably somewhat stifled by a cast who are carrying some extra weight – in the form of instruments! And, for many fans, this is a dance show.

Direction from Racky Plews felt a little over engineered to me.  Characters were rightfully at the heart of this show but there was a little too much pacing around the stage when Dean Pitchford’s excellent script should be left to do the talking.

On the positive side, the cast are vocally talented as well as great musicians.  Hannah Price, as Ariel, delivers a knockout big hitter in the form of “Holding Out for a Hero” but also impresses with subtle harmonies in “Learning to be Silent” where she is joined in perfect harmony by Nicky Swift and Maureen Nolan as Ethel McCormack and Vi Moore.  Joanna Sawyer,  as Rusty,  delivers possibly the best rendition of "Let's Hear it for the Boy"  I've ever heard! Comedy is delivered in spades by former 911 heartthrob, Lee Brennan, as Willard along with his talented sidekicks.  Luke Baker as Ren ticks all the boxes in an impassioned performance which showcased his many talents.

From the choreography, fans of the film should look out for a mock car race scene and a great ‘angry dance’ from Ren.

All in all, I felt that this production punched a little below its weight.  But this is a heavyweight musical with many knockout elements and it should be seen nonetheless.

Footloose the Musical

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Mon 14 – Sat 18 June 2016

Evenings 7.30pm

Wed and Sat 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge (bkg fee)


Jun 10th

Into The Woods at West Yorkshire Playhouse

By Cameron Lowe

Review by James McShane

Billed as the first major artistic collaboration between Opera North and West Yorkshire Playhouse, director James Brining delivers an accomplished production of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods, with solid performances across the board from Opera North's talented cast.

The first act of Into the Woods sees Sondheim cleverly interweave the events of classic fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel) with the original tale of the Baker and his wife seeking to break his family's curse. Inevitably much of the action happens off stage, and the narrative gets a little jerky at times as a result - still it is on the whole effectively done, and comes to a satisfying "happily ever after" style conclusion for all the heroes.

Happily, that is, until act 2, when the perfect fairy tale ending is shattered when the consequences of their actions catch up with them, and the characters get a dose of reality, death and betrayal. It is an interesting idea, but it lacks the coherence of the first half, and the show ends a little weaker than it begins.

To Brining's credit, he handles the transition much better than the recent film version (starring Meryl Streep). The stage direction in particular is strong - we begin in a school classroom where fairytales are told by the narrator (brilliantly played by Nicholas Butterfield) and are gradually drawn in to the woods as the mood and the setting grow darker and more realistic.

It's not all darkness of course - there is laughter, too, in the Woods. David Llewellyn delivers a memorable turn as the sleazy Big Bad Wolf, before being skinned by Rachel J. Mosley's hilariously violent Granny. Gordon D. Shaw's comic delivery as the angry Scottish Steward was excellent. Cinderella's step-family (Garrick Forbes, Miranda Bevin, Cordelia Fish, Anna Barry) are laughably tacky and dysfunctional. And of course, the ridiculously macho and melodramatic "Agony" by the two princes (Dean Robinson and Warren Gilespie) is one of the musical highlights.

In fact, the entire cast are to be commended on their performances. Claire Pascoe does justice to the challenging role of the Witch. Gillene Butterfield is a charming Cinderella. The Baker and his wife (Dean Robinson and Louise Collett) provide polished vocals. The "children" of Helen Évora (Red Riding Hood) and Nicholas Watts (Jack) are comfortable in their roles. Rapunzel's innocence and misfortune is captured admirably by Amy Freston. Even the minor roles of the Mysterious Man (Jeremy Peaker) and Jack's mother (Hazel Croft) are notably well played.

For all the show's flaws, it is still thoughtful and engaging. If you want to see it done right, skip the film and see Opera North's production at West Yorkshire theatre.

Book Tickets

Into The Woods

West Yorkshire Playhoue (Quarry Theatre)

Until 25 June

Jun 2nd

Green Day's American Idiot at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

The King’s Theatre in Glasgow offers an introduction to a rare musical beast; the “Punk Rock Opera” Green Day’s American Idiot.  This truly is a ‘beast’ of a show in every aspect; powerful, wild, (at times) ugly but also AWESOME!

Green Day’s 2004 release of the album “American Idiot” saw the modern punk rock band take a new direction.  It wasn’t originally intended that the album should convert to stage; more that it emulate a more thoughtfully developed album like the great rock operas ‘Quadrophenia’, ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ or even ‘Sgt. Pepper’.  In creating their Punk Rock Opera they were able to throw away their unwritten “rule book” and approach song writing from a whole new direction – a concept album.  What was written may well have started as a ‘concept', but what emerged on stage was REAL – very real, deep and (sometimes) purposely repellent.

Brit singer / songwriter, Newton Faulkner, leads the cast as Johnny (or Jesus of Suburbia) on a year-long journey against the backdrop of reality for the lower middle classes of America following the 9/11 terror attacks.  Johnny’s experience forms the basis of social comment on a nation which was fighting a culture war to determine its own morality while desperately trying to put a face on faceless enemies overseas.  Faulkner’s image, presence and voice are perfect in this role – I found his presentation of the ballads particularly appealing and a great contrast to heavier sections of the score.  Kudos to him for playing a lead role largely in his underpants, too!

Johnny is joined by two competing characters.  “Whatshername” (beautifully voiced by X-factor’s Amelia Lily) represents ‘love’ while “St. Jimmy” (played with suitably manic fervour and equally powerful vocals by understudy Llandyll Gove) represents ‘rage’ – Johnny’s inner demon.  Both characters are a massive influence on Johnny’s actions and lead to a dramatic downward spiral.

The supporting cast are small but fantastically talented.  Each gets a chance to shine in this dark dystopian world.  The band clearly play a strong role on stage and Steve Rushton (as Johnny’s mate, Will) plays a double role as guitar #2 – typical of this multi-talented cast he sings, dances, acts and play’s some serious licks!

The choreography from Director / Choreographer, Rocky Plews, is also a major player in the show as the story unfolds almost like a ballet.  Being a rock musical, Billy Joe Armstrong’s lyrics can sometimes be overtaken by drums and guitar, so the choreography often plays a key role in outlining the lyrical intent.  The exciting (and often comedic) movement is delivered with verve by the energetic cast.

I highly recommend you see this show!  It’s not for the faint hearted – it’s deep, dark, thought provoking, lyrically colourful (they swear a lot) and sexually provocative … but this serves to deliver Green Day’s original message in a powerful format that is the perfect fit for your first ever Punk Rock Opera!


American Idiot

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Tue 31 May – Sat 4 June 2016

Tue, Wed, Thu evenings 7.30pm

Fri 5pm and 8.30pm

Sat 4pm and 8pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge (bkg fee)


May 17th

UK Theatre Network Announces Resignation of North East Editor

By Cameron Lowe

It is with sadness and regret that I have accepted the resignation of Steve Burbridge as UKTN’s North East Editor. Steve leaves us to focus on ever-more-demanding family commitments in parallel with his career as a theatrical writer and producer.

Steve has occupied this role for an amazing 8 years following recruitment by UK Theatre Network Founder, Douglas McFarlane in 2008. His contribution to UK Theatre Network will certainly be missed - not merely his prolific works, which are recorded on our pages, but also his contribution to the culture of UK Theatre Network driven by his infectious spirit and his passion for theatre and the creative industries.  His influence will, indeed, be long-lived. However, that being said, UKTN will not be the same without him.

I would like to thank Steve for his years of service and wish him the very best for the future.


Cameron Lowe

Editor, UK Theatre Network

May 11th

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Cameron Lowe

If I was to try to identify a show that first got me interested in musical theatre, it would be Joseph.  Growing up in the seventies, my generation was among the first to enjoy the experience, the fun, the outright joy of learning, loving and performing the school version of what has now become a worldwide favourite. I took my seat fully aware that I would set high standards for this production.


The first collaboration of the fantastically successful partnership of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the show was originally written for schools as a short teaching and performance piece.  Their second work was what made this duo household names, though, as Jesus Christ Superstar became an instant hit. Buoyed by this success, Webber and Rice revisited Joseph; extending the piece and staging for a ticket paying audience.  The result of this labour was, once again, a smash hit.


The story is well known … if you are unfamiliar with it, I’m sure that you can find a copy of the Book of Genesis nearby!


So what about this latest incarnation of the family favourite?  Is it hitting the high notes like an x-factor winner … or scraping the bottom of an empty grain barrel?


Let’s begin with our hero, Joseph, played by Joe McElderry.  X-factor winner, Joe, really impresses in this role.  Traditionally this is a headliner part – a none-too-demanding character for a soap star or a presenter to easily step into (putting bums on seats into the bargain).  Joe was certainly a popular choice with the Glasgow audience.  However, he totally excels here.  His energy levels were excellent and he presented easily the most impressive vocals of all of the Josephs I have seen over the years.


Joe was ably supported by Lucy Kay who delivered impressive vocals and tangible charisma as the Narrator.  Lucy was a graduate of Glasgow’s own Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  Further support came from a talented male cast playing Joseph’s 11 brothers and the various key characters as the story unfolds.  I did feel that (as uplifting as their songs and characters were) some of the male cast could have given an extra 5% of energy to their performances to add that ‘sparkle’ to an already good performance – particularly when out of the limelight.  The 3 female supporting cast members held nothing back, giving their all throughout.


Technically, the show was deceptively simple in presentation but anyone who has programmed lighting and sound cues in a theatre would be most impressed.  With these effects added, the show was a dazzling display! Sadly, I could only see the Musical Director playing live music in the pit and the lack of a live band detracted somewhat.


Joseph is a great family show.  A production of this caliber cannot fail to bring a whole series of smiles that will be sure to merge into a massive grin!  Don’t miss your chance to catch this enduring classic of musical theatre.


King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

10-14 May 2016

Tue at 7.30pm

Wed at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Thu at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Fri at 5pm and 8pm

Sat at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm

Tickets £17.90 to £46.40


Mar 30th

Priscilla Queen of the Desert at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Chris Lowe 


If you are looking for an evening of glitz, glamour, hysterical laughter and some deeply moving moments look no further than Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the King’s Theatre Glasgow for this week only!


The story begins with three drag queens Tick/Mitzi (Duncan James), Adam/Felicia (Adam Bailey) and Bernadette (Simon Green) set off on a road trip through Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs to perform a show at a casino. Unknown to Felicia and Bernadette, Mitzi has a wife and son Marion (Naomi Slights) and Benji (Jack Burns/Connor Paton) who reside at the casino. The trio set off on their adventure with a bus they christen Priscilla. Needless to say fun and frolics ensue.


It was an absolute pleasure to watch Simon Green as he played one of the most complex characters of the show (Bernadette). Oozing style and sophistication with a hard exterior but a soft gentle side.


Adam Bailey (Felicia) was by far the most energetic and enthusiastic of the trio. With his care free and almost naive approach to life he is a wonderful display of youth and he is absolutely fearless.


After a successful career in Blue and various TV and Theatre performances, Duncan James gives a very convincing performance as Mitzi. It’s a role that requires the perfect balance of masculinity and femininity; which he managed to achieve.


Another strong performance was delivered by the three divas of the show who performed for the lip syncing drag queens. Played by Lisa-Marie Holmes, Laura Mansell and Catherine Mort their strong and soaring voices left the audience stunned.


Catherine Mort plays another character named Shirley the Bartender. The character is nothing short of a red-neck stereotype with a mullet, poor hygiene and bouncing breasts. The reaction of the audience was priceless. Truly one of the funniest moments of the show.


The ensemble cast could not be faulted in their performance. Great effort and enthusiasm all round.


The costume plot delivers everything that an audience could wish for from a tale of three musical drag queen divas touring Australia in a multi-coloured bus named Priscilla! With a flamboyant display of colour and sparkle they provide a dazzling spectacle.  A true delight to the eyes.


You will find yourself absorbed in the story and falling in love with the three fashionable drag queens. Priscilla is a real feel good musical with lots of excitement and plenty for you to enjoy. I urge you to go see Pricilla Queen of the Desert you will not be disappointed!


Priscilla Queen of The Desert The Musical

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Tue 29 March – Sat 2 April 2016

Tues – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge (bkg fee)


 Photography by kind permission of Paul Coltas

Feb 11th

Annie The Musical at The King's Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Chris Lowe


For those of you looking for a great night out, look no further than the touring production of Annie at the King's Theatre Glasgow! This is an evening filled with music, song and dance.

The story is set in the 1930s in New York during the great depression. Young Annie (Elise Blake) is forced to lead a life of pain and misery at Miss Hannigan's (Elaine C. Smith) orphanage. Annie is hopeful that one day she will meet her real parents. Her luck turns when she is chosen to spend Christmas with a famous billionaire named Oliver Warbucks (Alex Bourne). However, Miss Hannigan is determined to spoil her fortune.

The musical started off with a bang with Annie and her fellow orphans singing the well known 'Hard Knock Life'. These child stars were fantastic and showed outstanding rhythm and vocal skills. Natasha Arabestani, who played Molly (the youngest of the girls) stood out amongst the rest with her totally adorable performance. The dancing, as you might expect, from the rest of the cast was stunningly flawless.

Elise Blake is an incredible actor with amazing talent. Her voice was nothing short of breathtaking in the lead role. Other honorable mentions would include the dynamic duo Rooster (Jonny Fines) and Lily (Djalenga Scott) who showed great chemistry while performing together. Grace Farrell (Holly Dale Spencer) was superb. Let’s not forget Sandy the dog who melted every member of the audiences’ hearts.

This is an excellent cast who take their performance very seriously and pull it off with huge success.  Although the production is not the same as the original film it is still filled with explosive song and dance numbers that will not leave you disappointed.

The set and costume designs were spectacular. Together, these gave the audience a real taste of what it was like during the great depression and the conditions in which ordinary Americans lived.   

With breathtaking choreography and amazing performances, Annie is a musical production not to be missed. 10 out of 10.


Annie The Musical

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Mon 8 – Sat 20 Feb 2016

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee) Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.
 (bkg fee)