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Jan 17th

Tango Moderno, The Kings Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

Vincent and Flavia (Simone and Cacace of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing fame) present a wonderfully diverse evening of entertainment at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre this week featuring their famous style of choreography.

 

Let’s face it … we’ve all been there, right?  We have a ‘significant other’ who is super excited to see a new show and we go along … doing the right thing to be there (reluctantly) while our loved one grins enthusiastically at the stage for a whole evening.  It has to be done!

 

But anyone arriving (reluctantly) to this latest production featuring Vincent and Flavia might be pleasantly surprised as this remarkably varied production has something to entertain even the most jaded of persuaded partners!

 

So, it’s basically an evening of dance.  That is a given.  And we should celebrate that dance element first and foremost.  Strictly fans will be delighted to see Vincent and Flavia deliver some lovely routines throughout the show including some steamy hot Argentine Tango choreography.  Most impressive to me was the powerful subtlety of the lifts – less “look at me” in a ‘Strictly’ style and more emotive and powerful; relying as much on Flavia’s core strength as that of Vincent. 

 

But the show adds so much more through the ensemble cast.  Each routine is presented as a short vignette – telling a short story of couples or groups.  Lovers, work colleagues, groups of friends, etc.  The stories are connected through a loose theme of couples coming together and there is a real sense of conclusion at the end of the show which is quite satisfying – not bad for a show with no dialogue! 

 

The vignettes are introduced and connected by a narrator (Tom Parsons) who speaks in cool contemporary prose.  There have been a spate of TV adverts in this style recently and for good reason … it is so on trend!  Tom also sings lead vocals on the majority of numbers – beautifully accompanying the dance activity and covering a broad range of modern artists from Ed Sheeran to Rag ‘n’ Bone Man to Lucus Graham and many more.  Tom is joined by Rebecca Lisweski on vocals.  Rebecca takes the lead from time to time, too, and together they deliver first class entertainment worth the ticket price alone.

 

The choreography from Karen Bruce is excellent throughout.  Each piece advances the story or theme and the variety is astounding covering the spectrum from hilarity to pathos.  The dancing cast deliver all of this with aplomb – in particular, their characterisation is evident with every step and leap.  The piece accompanied by Lucas Graham’s “7 Years” was astonishing and moving and left we wanting to pause and rewind to see it again.

 

I’ll confess that I was already looking forward to seeing this show …  but, having seen it, I’m bursting to tell people who might not normally buy a ticket to see a “dance show” to go and see this one!

 

Tango Moderno, King’s Theatre, 297 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JN

Tue 16 - Sat 20 Jan 2018

Tue-Sat, 7.30pm

Thu & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

Dec 8th

Sleeping Beauty, The Kings Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 Review by Suzanne Lowe

It’s that time of year again (oh yes it is….) when children and adults flock to theatre’s around the country to see their favourite pantomime.  The Kings Theatre, Glasgow has always produced top quality productions featuring top quality stars and this year was no exception.

 

The audience were transported to the magical city of Glasweedgia and the delights of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.  This is the classic fairy tale of the beautiful Princess cursed by a spell as a baby, who falls into a deep sleep on the night of her 21st Birthday after a rather unfortunate incident with a spinning wheel.  You know the story….

 

The show opened with the usual colourful singing and dancing one would expect.  A stage filled with beautiful people dressed in very pastel shades belting out a rather forgettable opening number!

 

However the arrival on stage of Johnny Mac as ‘Muddles’ set the tone for the rest of the evening.  A veteran of pantomimes all over the country, this award winning comedian delivered the usual corny jokes with great enthusiasm endearing himself to the audience instantly.  His interaction and comedy timing made this the stand out performance of the night.

 

Making a welcome return to The King's Panto for the first time in 8 years was the hugely talented Elaine C. Smith.  Taking on the role of ‘Fairy Bella Houston’ saw her opening number announce her great return.  Perhaps this felt a little self-indulgent and unnecessary for someone with her acting repertoire.  However this was soon forgotten as we moved through the show.  Her usual comedic delivery had the audience laughing for the rest of the evening.  Perhaps her most memorable moment would be that of taking on the classic Adele Song “Hello” and of course re-naming it “Hey You” in her best Glaswegian accent.  She was a perfect match to her onstage son ‘Muddles’ and the two played off one another brilliantly.

 

Juliet Cadzow played the panto baddie this year taking on the role of ‘Carabosse’, the evil witch who placed the spell on poor Princess Beauty.  Perhaps best known for her roles in Balamory and River City she received the usual ‘Boo’s’ from the audience one would expect from the villain of the show.  Playing along-side her, was Paul-James Corrigan (also of River City fame) who took on the role of ‘Slimeball’.  As the son of ‘Carabosse’ the two worked well together giving the audience the roles they love to hate.

 

As a stalwart of Scottish theatre and television George Drennan played the part of ‘King Hector’ ably accompanied by Louise Ludgate as Queen Morag.  Their rendition alongside ‘Fairy Bella’ and ‘Muddles’ of the classic Scottish version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” had the audience crying with laughter.

 

Will Knights as ‘Prince Calum’ and Maggie Lynne as ‘Princess Beauty’ also delivered faultless performances as the romantic leads.  They brought a sense of calm to the chaotic proceedings going on around them.

 

Perhaps the stand out, jaw dropping moment of the evening has to go to the flying car!  Yes indeed while trying to get to Dunoon, ‘Fairy Bella’ and ‘Muddles’ decided not to take the conventional ferry but instead take to the skies in a sports car.  Having seen many things ‘fly’ over the years on The Kings stage this has to take the crown.  Not only did it lift up on stage it then ‘flew’ out over the audience above the stalls.  An amazing piece of theatre wizardry.

 

As panto’s go this has to be one of the funniest I have seen in a while.  Written by Alan McHugh the up to date topical references have to receive credit.

 

If you want a great night out then get yourself along to The Kings to watch ‘Sleeping Beauty’, you will not be disappointed.

 

(Images courtesy of Ambassadors Theatre Group) 

Sleeping Beauty The King's Theatre, Bath Street, Glasgow

Sat 2 Dec 2017 - Sun 7 Jan 2018

Tue-Sat at 7.00pm, Sun at 5.00pm

Matinees daily at 1pm, 2pm or 11am

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

Dec 7th

Mamma Mia! – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

The warmth of a Greek Summer will be keeping the Winter blues at bay at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal throughout December  as the ultimate feel-good musical, Mamma Mia!, takes up residency there throughout the Christmas period.

Mamma Mia! (in case you haven’t heard) is the wonderfully crafted musical woven around the hits of 70s and 80s pop sensations, Abba.  Sophie (delightfully characterised by Lucy May Barker) is a 20 year old girl about to marry the love of her life.  Her idyllic upbringing on a sun kissed Greek island seems to have only missed one thing – her father.  But, a quick look at her mother’s diary is all it takes to discover that the lucky man could be one of … 3 men.  So, she does the natural thing and invites all 3 to her wedding in the hope that her real father will step forward and walk her down the aisle – while keeping the plot a secret from her doting mother of course!

This was my fourth time in the audience for Mamma Mia! – and it NEVER gets old!!  It is an absolute joy from start to finish … and I think that this touring production may just have been my favourite so far.  It wasn’t “perfect” … the vocals were not the strongest I’ve heard from the principals … but this was more than made up for in quality characterisation and outright GUSTO!  And, anyway … Mamma Mia! is not a show to get too tied down in artsy critical detail over.  It's how it makes you feel that is important - and that is simply wonderful!

Lucy May Barker was wonderful as Sophie.  She immediately won the audience over with her “girl next door” charm and then set about wowing us with an energetic performance and some beautiful shared scenes with stage mum, Donna (played by Helen Hobson).  Ms Hobson led the ‘older’ generation cast in confident style; portraying extremes of fun and drama with solid believability.  Her combination of “Slipping Through My Fingers” as she describes her changing relationship with her growing daughter followed immediately in the second act by the showstopper “The Winner Takes It All” overpowered the audience with emotion.

Supporting performances were all of an incredibly high standard.  Jon Boydon, as Sam, impressed with vocals that left Pierce Brosnan in the dust.  Brilliant character performances from Emma Clifford, Gillian Hardie, Jamie Hogarth and Christopher Hollis had us all in stitches as they brought Catherine Johnson’s book to hilarious life.  I must also credit Louis Stockil who brought acrobatic skill to the role of Pepper along with pin sharp comic timing.  Energy and vocal harmonies from the ensemble cast were second to none.  The music was note perfect on the night (a must for such popular tunes) but I also noticed that the volume was tempered when underscoring important dialogue and this kept the audience fully engaged with the story – 10 out of 10 from me.

If you have seen Mamma Mia! before, my advice to you is to see it again – this month!  Saying you don’t like this show is like saying you don’t like Christmas!

 

Mamma Mia! Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA

Tue 5-Sat 30 Dec 2017

Mon-Sat, 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

 

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

Oct 27th

Our Fathers at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

 

Rob Drummond and Nicholas Bone need divine intervention!

Growing up as atheists in religious households has left them both in a quandary. Loving their fathers but unable to talk to them about their lack of faith has had them questioning all aspects of their lives, and particularly the relationship between fathers and sons.

It all began when Bone’s father, a bishop in the Church of England, referred him to a book by a preacher’s son who gradually lost his faith in God.

Now the two friends have got together to write and perform a play based on Father & Son by Victorian poet, writer and critic Edmund Gosse.

In Our Fathers, Drummond, whose dad is a Church of Scotland minister, and Bone re-enact Gosse’s story of his growing up in a strict Plymouth Brethren household.

But it is far from just an account of Gosse’s life. Both actors dip in and out of the story to interact about their own lives, often on a very personal level as they argue and debate, even to the point of Drummond leaving the stage on one occasion to leave Bone to ‘get on with it’.

It’s a little contrived but adds another level to this 75-minute performance which is not only thought-provoking but also at times highly entertaining as well as moving.

Drummond particularly connects with the audience, beginning before the play begins by asking members for the 10 Commandments so he can write them up on a chalk board. But both deliver as if talking to a group of friends.

Our Fathers is the first collaboration between the Traverse Theatre and Bone’s Magnetic North theatre company, and certainly gives its audience food for thought.

 

Our Fathers is at the Traverse Theatre until Oct 28.

www.traverse.co.uk

0131 228 1404

It then commences touring:

Nov 1-4: Tron Theatre Glasgow

Nov 8: Eden Court Inverness

Nov 9: The Barn Banchory

Nov 10: The Lemon Tree Aberdeen

Nov 11: The Beacon Arts Centre Greenock

Nov 15: Platform Glasgow

Nov 16-17: Byre Theatre St Andrews

 

Nov 18: Eastgate Theatre Peebles

 

Oct 5th

Sunset Boulevard at the Edinburgh Playhouse

By Clare Brotherwood

With all the glamour and melodrama of a bygone age, Sunset Boulevard played to impromptu cheers and a standing ovation from an ecstatic Edinburgh audience on opening night.

And in the centre of it all was Ria Jones, who memorably took over from Glenn Close in London’s West End production and has now made the role of tragic Norma Desmond all her own.

Every inch as charismatic as any big Hollywood star, this Welsh songstress movingly brings to life the faded silent screen actress who returns to Paramount Pictures, where she was once ‘queen of the lot’, with horrific consequences.

It’s a performance which holds me spellbound, from her first glamorous entrance down a sweeping staircase to her cackling descent into madness. It is something of a shock when Jones takes her curtain calls for she seems so young and small compared to the character she plays. In one of the scenes when someone says, ‘You used to be big’, Norma Desmond retorts, ‘I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.’ Well, what with her stage presence and soaring voice, everything around Ria Jones seems small by comparison. It’s not just with one look that this production is a triumph. But she is not alone in making it so.

When Adam Pearce, as Max, her stiff, expressionless butler, comes on the scene, he reminds me of Lurch in the Addams Family movie, but his singing voice is extraordinary; rich and deep for the most part but with such an incredible range it leaves me open-mouthed.

Sunset Boulevard is very much like an opera, with performances worthy of any opera house… though you don’t get many opera singers with the matinee idol looks of Danny Mac (who, incidentally, gets to demonstrate his Strictly Come Dancing skills) as the object of Norma Desmond’s desires.

Some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s numbers bring me in mind of The Phantom of the Opera – in fact, the stories aren’t that dissimilar. Both have damaged leading characters who haunt performances spaces – in Sunset Boulevard, Paramount Pictures’  Stage 18 is an interesting montage of vintage spotlights and cameras against a backdrop of old black and white movies, courtesy of Colin Richmond, who also designed the sumptuous costumes.

But there are some really upbeat numbers which shout ‘musical’, such as New Year Tango, and, of course, such well known songs as The Greatest Star of All and The Perfect Year. On my way home a young girl passed me in the street singing them…

Sunset Boulevard is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Oct 7.

www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh

 

Box office: 0844 871 3014

Sep 27th

Our House, King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Madness broke out at The King’s Theatre in Glasgow last night – Madness of the best possible kind!

 

For some people, it might appear to be “madness” to fork out up to £50 for a ticket to see a show that you might never have heard of before.  I can understand that; a visit to a live theatre event is a luxury for most of us.  It’s a lot out of your monthly pay packet and sometimes it can be something of a gamble.  But this is a show that is exciting, engaging, full of life, packed with music that you’ll love and probably already know and with a storyline which has proven its pedigree.  You’d be mad not to go and see it!  But sadly, the King’s was only half-full last night.  Glasgow … you’re missing a bargain!

 

The story has similar themes to that smash hit Brit-flick from the 90’s, “Sliding Doors”.  Joe Casey (played by the fabulously talented Jason Kajdi) is a typical 16 year old kid who makes decisions that will affect the rest of his life on a daily basis.  The show splits into two separate narratives when Joe is faced with a decision that will change his world.  He takes his girlfriend (Sarah played by Sophie Matthew) to a building site to get a view of their London neighbourhood from the scaffolding.  When police sirens sound, what should Joe do?  Should he run … or should he stay to face the music?

 

Talking of music … Joe’s worlds (both of them) are accompanied by a fantastically raucous soundtrack from 80s pop legends; Madness.  From “Baggy Trousers” to “Welcome to the House of Fun”, “Embarrassment”, “Driving in my Car”, “My Girl” and, of course, “Our House”, all are delivered with real conviction and a sympathy to the story.  “It Must Be Love” was a beautifully crafted scene.  Choreography from Fabian Aloise was brilliantly bonkers and true to the inspirational soundtrack.  “Wings of a Dove” was my favourite – I know this because I grinned until it hurt!

 

Performances were superb across the board.  It was one of those shows where you feel that the entire cast completely gel and deliver an energy greater than they should be able to combined.  From the first beat to the last body-pop the cast gave their all.  Jason Kajdi was an outstanding lead in this role. Full of energy, talent and above all a likeable character in both halves of the story.  Sophie Matthew was ideal as Sarah. Pretty, principled and brainy in equal measure she kept Joe on the straight and narrow ... more or less.  George Samson was a believable bully as Reecey and his dance ability stood out even in this exceptional company.  Sidekicks Billy Roberts, Will Haswell, Jessica Niles and Etisyai Philip were given a chance to shine and shine they did with funny individual characters which contrasted well.

 

This is a show that really needs the Sound department to be on their game.  There were a couple of hiccups but nothing major.  I do have to complain that the balance was a little too much in favour of the band over lyrics.  Lighting was dynamic if a little repetitive but the clever set and (hopefully not trademarked) use of sliding doors was very effective. For Theatre buffs, the costume changes for lead character, Joe, are worth the ticket price alone!

 

Don’t miss this show.  I think that there are offers to be had online so search around and get twice the fun for half the price!  An awesome night’s entertainment that you’d be mad to miss!

 

 

Listings Information

 

Our House

 

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

 

Tuesday 26 -Saturday 30 September

 

Mon-Sat eves, 7.30pm

 

Wed & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

 

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

 

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

Sep 20th

Cilla the Musical at the Edinburgh Playhouse

By Clare Brotherwood

Cilla the Musical already has an impressive pedigree.

Penned by Jeff Pope and based on his award-winning TV mini-series Cilla, it is produced by those masters of feel-good, semi-bio music shows about past icons and eras, Laurie Mansfield and Bill Kenwright - who also directed the show.

Even so, Cilla the Musical is in a different stratosphere - thanks to Kara Lily Hayworth in the title role.

I reckon I am well qualified to judge. As a young teenager I hung on Cilla’s every lyric and even travelled down from Carlisle to see her at the London Palladium. I still remember her mannerisms and how she delivered her songs so, for me, anyone playing her has to be spot on. And Kara Lily Hayworth is!

When she makes her first entrance, apparently giving an interview to Kathy (Kathy McGowen, I presume. She’s not introduced!), I am disappointed - she doesn’t look like Cilla for a start. But as the show progresses she quickly grows into the role, both physically and vocally. Hayworth may come from Buckinghamshire but she’d pass for a Scouser any day, and it’s not hard to see why she also has a career as a singer. She’s a real little belter! At times, I really think Cilla Black is there on stage, performing all her old hits such as Anyone Who Had a Heart, You’re My World, and It’s For You. It makes for an emotional evening, and is deserving of the standing ovation.

This fast-paced, vibrant show isn’t all down to her, however. Pope’s script contains more than a sprinkling of the humour Liverpool is so famous for (no doubt with contributions from Liverpudlian Kenwright - and as chairman of Everton FC did the reference to that team come from him?). Cilla’s son Robert Willis is executive producer, so with his seal of approval you know the story is authentic, and the cast really does bring to life the star’s early days.

As Bobby, Carl Au plays the role of Cilla’s soul mate with conviction, starting out as a swaggering youth with not much confidence but with a belief in Cilla’s talent which knows no bounds. Likewise, Andrew Lancel is a totally believable Brian Epstein, manager of both Cilla and The Beatles. In this role he is a million miles from Corrie villain Frank Foster, cutting a tragic figure as a man whose private life was a mess and who died from an overdose. His reprise of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away comes as a total, pleasurable, though moving, surprise.

As in this type of show, the supporting cast are extremely versatile, acting, singing, dancing and playing various instruments. The Beatles are especially good, particularly Michael Hawkins’ cheeky portrayal of John Lennon, and Alan Howell, though looking nothing like him, sounds just like Gerry Marsden.

Cilla’s career spanned 50 years, and this is a fitting tribute to her, especially in the expressive hands of Kara Lily Hayworth - who is also making the transition to stardom.

 

Cilla The Musical continues at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Sept 23.

Box office: 0844 871 3014

www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh

It will then continue touring:

Sept 26-30: Milton Keynes Theatre

Oct 10-14: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Nov 7-11: New Wimbledon Theatre

Nov 14-18: Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

Nov 21-15: Palace Theatre, Manchester

Jan 23-27: Grand Opera House, York

Jan 30-Feb 3: King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Feb 13-17; New Theatre, Oxford

Mar 13-17: Bristol Hippodrome Theatre

 

Mar 20-24: New Victoria Theatre, Woking

 

Aug 18th

Margarita Dreams

By Kirstie Niland

Until 28th August 2017, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

There’s no doubt that Margarita Dreams - a cocktail of absurd comedy - is written by a past master. Step forward Richard Sparks, creator of the Schoolmaster Sketch made famous by Rowan Atkinson and material for Not the Nine O'Clock News. 

It begins with Dave on a beach in Mexico, drinking margaritas. An alcohol-induced dream catapults him through a series of sketches, starting with paranoia about his phone and ending with a surreal Abba-esque disco dancing therapy session - with divorce, cross-dressing, a medium and a flasher in between.

Earning praise from comedy royalty Jack Black, Kathy Lette and Griff Rhys Jones, this show brings classic daft comedy into the modern world.

 

Book tickets here

Aug 18th

The Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show 2017: Dream Sequence

By Kirstie Niland

Until 28th August 2017, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The world-renowned Cambridge Footlights troupe has launched comedy household names such as Stephen Fry and Sue Perkins, and the Edinburgh Fringe is just one stop on their global tour of London, California, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York and more.

As expected the show was packed ready to see what the latest esteemed new talent would be like. It was exactly the kind of slapstick British character comedy you would expect to see from those following in the footsteps of the greats.

The current troupe – Sam Knights, Ruby Keane, John Tothill, Ania Magliano-Wright and Henry Wilkinson – gel well together and show real promise.

The scene which drew the biggest laughs was the hilariously accurate sketch portraying primary school teachers on a day out: "Fingers on lips…what are we doing Year 4? We're looking at YOU Toby!" This scenario was clearly relatable to one and all as we replied obediently in chorus: "Representing the school”. A series of mishaps occurs, including the teachers losing the theatre tickets..."We'll do what we always do, we'll pin it on Toby".

Other highlights included a cross-dressing parody of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and some grotesque face-pulling by Sam Knights over the sensation of a warm sheet of paper from the photocopier - uncannily reminiscent of Rowan Atkinson.

Altogether an hour well spent - and possibly an opportunity to have seen some more British stars of comedy in the making.

 

Book tickets here

Aug 18th

Murder She Didn’t Write

By Kirstie Niland

Until 28th August 2017, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 

Who can improvise a whodunnit and make it fabulously funny? The finger of suspicion points to Degrees of Error with their murder mystery, Murder She Didn’t Write.

It begins with the usual formula of suggestions from the audience, except this time there’s an extra challenge in that the actors have to create a drama surrounding a victim and killer, as well as motives for the rest of the cast, without giving the game away or losing the plot.

And so we, henceforth referred to as the groundsmen, look out for clues as the cast is gathered at a séance for The Case of the Straight Banana. The cast’s comic timing and ability to think on their feet is outstanding, with many flashes of brilliance - such as the quick response from Madam Scarlett (a clairvoyant author) when a fellow actor tests her with the question - what does her book title ABCDEFG stand for? "And Because Clues Don’t Exactly Flourish – Ghosts!"

With Cluedo-inspired names and some first class acting and improv, the result is a rip-roaring, polished performance.

 Book tickets here