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Apr 19th

Thriller Live at the King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

This celebration of Michael Jackson’s music and unique dance style returns to the King’s Theatre with a performance powerful enough to turn your socks white and blow one glove off your hand!

 

Thriller Live

Thriller Live delivers the MJ magic in spades with a loosely chronological review of his music from the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” through to his 1995 release “Earth Song”.  The presentation style was unusual for a stage show, delivering a documentary of Michael Jackson’s musical history and record breaking achievements rather than a more traditional biopic.  This lent itself to a focus on the music and dance rather than the star’s controversial live story.  With such a rich back catalogue of music to choose from over a 30 year period, the delivery did not disappoint the audience.  The deceptively simple fixed set proved to be incredibly dynamic as a huge movie screens featuring dazzling effects, movie clips and photos became transparent on several occasions to reveal the live onstage band.

 

The unique Jackson 5 sound was authentically reproduced from the off, but the glove (quite literally) came off in the second act as tens of millions of pounds of the worlds most expensive music promotion videos were reproduced live on stage!  The choreography, styling and effects of “Smooth Criminal” were just mind blowing.  There was a very moving performance of “Man in the Mirror”– the song which topped the UK charts following Michael Jackson’s untimely death in 2009.  Other MJ high notes were hit by Samantha Johnson and talented fellow vocalists John Moabi, Andrew Derbyshire and “Oggie”.  The signature fedora hat should also be tipped forward in recognition of the diminutive talents of Emmanuel Sakyi who played young Michael in his first professional role.  My ‘plucked from obscurity’ award for this production goes to dancer, Kamilah Beckles, who was simply mesmerising!

 

Live onstage

This production was so slick it had my “click track” senses tingling (particularly in reference to the backing vocals), however I was won over by astonishing solo vocals and high energy dance routines that followed the unique MJ style flawlessly through three decades of hits.  This show will have you moonwalking in the aisles.  Shamone!

 

THRILLER LIVE

Thu 18 – Sun 21 Apr

Fri 5pm & 8pm

Sat & Sun 3pm & 7.30pm

Tickets: £10 - £32

Box Office 08448 717 648 (Bkg fee)

Book Online (bkg fee)

Apr 9th

Birdsong - King's Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Nicol Gilmour

Birdsong

Sebastian Faulk’s much-loved bestseller was always going to be hard to transform to the stage especially in only 2 hours and 40 minutes.  Rachel Wagstaff’s stage version is a fantastic and much loved piece of writing that I urge anyone, to go and see.  Alistair Whatley’s direction is exquisite, having his actors play between past and present moments throughout the play.  He also uses lighting and sound to his advantage, having the audience jumping out of their seats at times with explosions of war.  That being said, my review should start with the opening; a fantastic set designed by Victoria Spearing is displayed to the audience which is wreathed in smoke and looking rather dirty. The design is complex, with makeshift tunnels and an upper platform where, for me, the most important part of the set is revealed but never referenced at any time through the play; a makeshift cross up stage centre.  The use of lighting and the sound of live music make it an eerie entrance to any audience member.

The cast begin by playing an open stage that turns to song with the banter of men at war away from their wives and mothers.  For me, this was a rather weak opening and it took me around 10 minutes to start enjoying not only the performance of the actors but the writing of Wagstaff.  This left me to wonder why this scene was included in the play; a poor opening from which it was difficult to recover.

But recover it did, thanks to an outstanding cast headed by Tim Treloar (Jack Firebrace) as one of two leading men alongside Jonathan Smith (Stephen Wraysford).

For those that have read the book, the characters of Stephen, Jack, Tipper and Gray all recreate the horror and fear felt by those fighting in France in the early 20th century.  At the same time they share with the audience the sense of camaraderie, and even humour, they express as the men try to deal with the terror of being on the front line over and underground.

We are taken on a journey as Jack Firebrace, a former miner and the joker of the group, learns from his letters from home that his young son John, who is in poor health and been hospitalised, is not in a good way and seeks leave from his captain.  Treloar’s performance is nothing but sensational.  His choices of subtle changes in emotion are outstanding and his scenes in the 2nd act alongside Stephen were so powerful that the audience could feel raw emotion brewing.

Smith’s performance as Stephen is strong and rooted playing his scenes with a sense of snobbery. This leads us to his affair with a married woman (Isabelle Azaire) in Amiens (France) prior to the war. The affair is played out through flashbacks in his mind.  He dwells on memories of Isabelle to try and see him through his darkest periods.  Smith’s character is played with innocence during his and Isabelle’s affair but he becomes desolate and traumatised as he leads his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme.

The cast are fantastically supported by Sarah Jayne Dunn (Isabelle Azaire), Malcolm James (Rene Azaire) with the fantastic comic timing of Tim Van Eyken (Evans) who also accompanies himself on accordion.  Musically, Joshua Higgott’s (Brennan) singing voice and recorded piano playing are a joy to listen to and set the scene for him to underscore other cast members.  If I could ask anything further of this cast it would be diction.  The dialogue features several different accents and dialects and, at times, lines were rushed and the audience could not keep up with some of the more amusing lines with words being garbled.

Scenes to look out for are a superb ballet section between Stephen and Isabelle on starting their affair and Jack and Stephen’s final scene in a tunnel blown up by the Germans and close to death.

This production is proudly supporting the help for hero’s charity and brings home not only the truth of WW1 but also the fear, astonishment and sadness that was WW2.

Birdsong

Kings Theatre Glasgow

Mon 8 – Sat 13 April

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £10 - £25.00

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (Bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Mar 27th

The Blues Brothers - The Smash Hit at King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
The Blues Brothers - ApprovedReview by Christopher Lowe

The smash hit show Blues Brothers arrives at the King’s Theatre for a limited time only!

Last time around they smashed box office records, crashed, crooned and rocked their way into the lives of anyone with a heartbeat! This show brings you all of those amazing, favourite and classic moments once again.

This upbeat musical, based on the cult 1980 film starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, follows Jake and Elwood on an eventful tour of the US.  Armed with new twists, moves and freshly laundered suits, Jake (Brad Henshaw) and Elwood (Chris Chandler) are on a mission to bring ‘Soul and Blues’ into the heart of Glasgow.  Joining them are the fabulous ‘Bluettes’ (Played by Alexus Ruth, Jenny Fitzpatrick and Jenessa Qua).

Once up and running the audience are treated to the fast paced energy associated with Blues Brothers performances, belting out all the well-loved songs including “Soul Man”, “Everybody Needs Somebody”, “Gimme Some Lovin’”, “Rawhide”, and many more.

Chandler and Henshaw share the spirit of the original in this high energy, fast paced show. Both are vocally capable, and Fletcher does a good job in recapturing the deadpan persona of Aykroyd's creation. The two leads share the majority of the songs and are happy belting out the well-known tracks.

The other stars of the show are the fantastic band and supporting singers whom as well as providing backing vocals, step up centre stage and provide fantastic highlights of the evening that include ‘Minnie the Moocher’ and ‘Think’ (gaining easily the loudest cheers of the night).

Bring out your fedora’s and dig out your shades and prepare to party like never before because The Blues Brothers are back in town!

The Blues Brothers Approved
King's Theatre, Glasgow
Mon 25 – Wed 27 March
Mon – Wed eves 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 - £25
Box Office 0844 871 7648 (Bkg fee)
www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)
Mar 23rd

Punch Pandemonium Goes To ... The Theatre

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Cameron Lowe

Punch Pendemonium Goes To ... The Theatre

Punch Productions present the latest in their series of adult sketch shows as part of Glasgow's established Magners International Comedy Festival.

The venue for this two night event is Jaks Nightclub on Sauchiehall Street. Not a bad space at all for this popular festival with the only real compromise being the ambient temperature.  One punter claimed he had to push aside a polar bear to get a good seat in this sell out gig!

The Punch writing team have really hit their stride as they cover a topic close to their hearts.  Previous Pandemonium outings include "The Pub" and "The Hospital" but their enthusiasm for this latest destination really shone through.

The variety of characters across the dozen or so sketches was impressive.  Old lady members of the audience who hum the tunes and rustle loud plastic bags, overconfident performers, angry choreographers, biscuit munching committee members and competitive members of the chorus were just some of the highlights.  Roy McGregor as "Chav" and Patricia Welch as "Professional Director" delivered particularly strong performances in the workshop sketch but the cast's universal commitment to delivering strong, believable and easily identifiable characters was key to the success of the sketch format.

The company demonstrated a broad range of talents by incorporating music and choreography.  Lyric rewrites of well known musical numbers were occasionally juvenile but the original opening number from David Sturgeon "Short, Fat And Baldy Leading Man" was a big hit with the audience.

The writing of the amdram committee sketches was inspired.  The Production Committee, Tea Committee and Biscuit Committee sketches were a stand out, particularly as the script played outrageously with the amdramer's tendency to name their societies with contrived acronyms.

All in all, this was a very entertaining evening and well worth the £10 ticket price.  A few seats are still available for Saturday 23rd March.  Buy a ticket and start a great night out in Glasgow at 7pm ... just remember to wear your thermals!

Tickets from: http://glasgowcomedyfestival.com/shows/#!/shows/543

Punch Productions: http://www.punch-productions.com/index.html

Mar 13th

The 39 Steps - Theatre Royal, Glasgow (11 – 16 March 2013)

By Cameron Lowe

The 39 StepsThe 39 Steps is one of the cleverest and most entertaining productions on stage today.  A hilarious tribute to Hitchcock’s 1935 movie, this play is a must for any fan of classic spy thrillers or lampoon comedy.

 

John Buchan’s famous story follows Richard Hannay (Richard Ede) as he is caught up in a tale of pre WWII espionage and murder.  While he tries to unravel the mystery of ‘The 39 Steps’ he is constantly pursued by the police for a murder he did not commit.  He is reluctantly (at first) joined by Pamela (Charlotte Peters) as they try to track down the fiendish Professor (Tony Bell) who has orchestrated a plot to steal top secret military data.  The play is amazingly faithful to the Hitchcock movie incorporating the famous Forth Railway Bridge scene and an ambitious chase across the Scottish highlands.

 

“All well and good” you may say.  So what is so special about this production?  Well, for one thing all 30 characters on stage are played by 4 actors.  And quite convincingly so!  In fact, between them, Tony Bell and Gary MacKay play 26 characters with more costume changes than I could count.  It is difficult to pick a favourite from so many strong characters but Gary MacKay’s Crofter was a great reminder of James Finlayson (the ever present baddie in the Laurel & Hardy flicks) and had me in stitches.  Together these two created the chaotic situations to set our hero against.  Richard Ede was the perfect straight man to highlight their antics.  Charlotte Peters’s contribution should not be underestimated as her characterisation of the 2 ‘love interest’ females as well as the “ridiculously Scottish” Hotelier’s wife was flawless.

 

Richard Hannay flees the police

The script, staging and direction were equally intelligent and funny.  Sometimes the use of set and props would get as many laughs as the performances.  The entire ‘train to Scotland’ sequence was hilarious and watch out for the cameo appearance of Hitchcock himself during a remarkable biplane chase sequence!

 

This is a simply brilliant production with some truly first class touches.  It does for the Spy Thriller genre what Carl Reiner’s 1982 film “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and Larry Gelbart’s hilarious musical “City of Angels” did for Film Noir.  Five stars – no less.

 

The 39 Steps

Theatre Royal Glasgow

Mon 11 – Sat 16 Mar

Mon  - Sat eves @ 7.30

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £12.50-£27

 

Box Office: 0844 871 7647 (Bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (Bkg fee)

 

Feb 26th

Rocky Horror Show, King’s Theatre, Glasgow (25 Feb – 2 Mar 2013)

By Cameron Lowe
Written for UKTheatre.net by Christopher Lowe

Rocky Horror UK TourCelebrating 40 years of stage success, Rocky Horror Show is back at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow! Mixing rock musical with the campest of pantomimes, innuendo and something a little bit naughty, Richard O’Brien’s story is so far-fetched it is almost believable (and certainly enjoyable)!

The film adaptation in 1975 has given even more people around the world a chance to enjoy Rocky Horror's peculiar delights, but its roots lie firmly in the theatre, where an audience gets a real chance to not only experience the production live but, in some cases, to interact with it.

The immensely talented Oliver Thornton delivers a faultless and stand-out performance as Frank-n-Furter. Thornton takes on the persona with incredible ease and is, without doubt, the star of the show!

Brad and JanetReality TV winner Ben Forster (Jesus Christ Superstar) delivers a fantastic performance as Brad.  Soap star, Roxanne Pallett, portrays both Janet’s gentle and wild sides incredibly well.  Both characters are a delight to watch as they unravel from the geek chic couple to slinking about the stage in stilettos.  The performance of X Factor’s Rhydian as Rocky is something to be admired, displaying the highly elaborate and zany personality of the man in the leopard print briefs!

With an impressive set, an excellent live band and a strong cast, this production offers fans exactly what they are looking for, a faithful reproduction of a well-loved original which is bursting at the seams with timeless classics, including “Sweet Transvestite” and of course, the pelvic thrusting “Time Warp”!

The Rocky Horror Show
Mon 25 Feb – Sat 2 Mar
Mon – Thu eves 7.30pm Fri & Sat 5.30pm & 8.30pm
Tickets: £10 – £32
Box Office 0844 871 7648 (Bkg fee) http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx (bkg fee)
Feb 14th

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, A Gothic Romance - King’s Theatre, Glasgow – 12th – 16th February 2013

By Jon Cuthbertson

Sleeping Beauty.jpg

Billed as “A Gothic Romance” this is a re-imagining of the story of Sleeping Beauty for the Twilight Generation – and yes, I mean the Vampire books/movies.

 

Initially I wasn’t convinced this was going to make me happy – vampires in the story of Sleeping Beauty, still performed to Tchaikovsky’s original score? However, like his previous productions The Car Man (based on Carmen) and Highland Fling (based on La Sylphide), Matthew Bourne has once again pulled it off more than successfully. That said, the production is not without faults. Some of the choreography does not appear to fit well with the original score (even with some noted cuts and adaptation) with certain frantic moments of choreography being played out to softer parts of the score. There are very witty moments of choreography to portray character, something Mr Bourne has become famous for over the years, however on occasion there is more style than substance here (particularly in the strange running section for the hero) and it detracts from the story itself. But, once you see past these very few negatives, you will still be amazed by a wonderful production filled with clever choreography, stunning costumes, beautiful sets and extremely skilful dancing.

 

Aurora was danced beautifully by Hannah Vassallo. Her youthful exuberance and wilfulness in act 2 contrasting with the stillness and maturity of her movements in the 3rd act gave her a chance to show off a vast array of skills. Adam Maskell looked a little awkward in the high heels of the glamorous evil Fairy Carabosse, but when portraying her son Caradoc in the later acts he really came into his own. Christopher Marney, who was also Associate Choreographer, was the standout performer as Count Lilac (the vampire version of the Lilac Fairy). His range and depth as a performer was evident from the opening of the show and gave a well rounded, character driven performance that is the hallmark of Matthew Bourne’s company.

 

Setting the original part of the story in 1890 gives a timeline that brings the conclusion into modern day, with a chance to utilise some modern choreography in a wonderful 4th Act. The use of “Vogue” dancing and some rather daring new styles could easily have fallen flat, but works well in the rather louche nightclub setting. The cast very rarely get a break in this show as many of the principal cast double up in the ensemble for other acts, so with a number of quick changes, this small cast create a myriad of mythical characters for us to enjoy. The addition of puppetry (used to wonderful effect) to create a characterful baby is a sight to behold and gave some of the best moments in the production.

 

I have to fire one criticism at this production – yet again, Matthew Bourne has chosen to present the piece without live music, and instead uses a recording. This really does impact on the production as a whole and although you can see where the money has been spent in terms of costume and set, it is a shame to see the cuts being made at the expense of live music from a ballet orchestra. However, he has created a spectacle that makes for an entertaining night out – worth the ticket price alone for the Pas De Quatre in Act 3, which was witty, emotional and beautiful, and made to look so effortless. These amazing moments of classical ballet amongst ingenious theatre are what typify the talent of Matthew Bourne.

 

Listings Info:

Tue 12 – Sat 16 Feb

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

 

Tickets: £15 - £33.50

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (Bkg fee)

http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Feb 6th

New Jersey Nights - King's Theatre, Glasgow, 5-9 Feb 2012

By Cameron Lowe

Written for UKTheatre.net by Christopher Lowe

The international hit show “New Jersey Nights” comes to Glasgow’s Kings Theatre for one week only!  The show takes you on a journey down memory lane celebrating the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

New Jersey Nights

The musical takes a look back at the lives of the Four Seasons throughout the ages.  The main focus of the performance is the music, with a dash of story-telling scenes in between.

The show features four fantastic singers (John Hawkins, Duncan Heather, Ricky Rojas and Damion Scarcella) executing perfect harmonies accompanied by a rock n roll live band and amazing dancers who deliver stunning choreography.

From start to finish the audience were drawn in by the star striking performance.  The crowd will cheer and sing along to every nostalgic record. The atmosphere was electric!

New Jersey Nights delivers all of the Four Seasons greatest hits including: Sherry, Rag Doll, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Silence Is Golden, Oh What A Night and many more!  The show includes other hits from various artists such as “Blue Moon” by Frank Sinatra and “By By Baby” by the Bay City Rollers.

The combination of humour, style, fantastic voices and dancing accompanied by a live rock band make “New Jersey Nights” an unmissable production!  If you like music from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons you really must see this show!

“New Jersey Nights” plays at The Kings Theatre in Glasgow before continuing its UK tour.

New Jersey Nights

Tue 5 – Sat 9 Feb

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Sat mat 2.30pm

Tickets: £10 - £27.50

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (Bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)
Jan 16th

Soul Sister, King's Theatre Glasgow (14-19 Jan 2013)

By Cameron Lowe

Written exclusively for uktheatre.net by Christopher Lowe

Soul Sister, a musical inspired by the music and lives of Ike and Tina Turner, is as much a gig as a theatrical performance.

Emi Wokoma as Tina Turner

The show begins at the end, with the appearance of the fabulously dressed Tina Turner (Emi Wokoma) that we know preparing for a solo performance - a key part of the story that will develop into a flashback portfolio of music and memories revealing the ulterior motives of her husband Ike Turner (Chris Tummings).

The wonderful Emi Wokoma plays a knock-out star performance as Tina Turner.  The twenty-something Londoner owns the stage in this tribute to the girl from Tennessee who conquered the charts and tussled with her manipulative husband Ike.  Wokoma can certainly hold her own in a little sparkly number!  It is clear that she has studied Turner’s voice, mannerisms and facial expressions.  Her singing is loud, husky and determined; just like the star we all know and love.

The abusive husband, Ike, is portrayed with a perfect balance of cockiness, delusion and paranoia.  The relationship between Ike and Tina forms the basis of this musical; with an emphasis on the chemistry of the two around the highs and lows of their relationship and career.

Wokoma and Tummings aside, the band impresses most.  With epic guitar solos from Tony Qunta and smooth sax from Kenton Noel it truly leaves the audience in shock and awe.  From a production standpoint, the set design allowed incredibly smooth scene transitions with characters appearing and disappearing behind moving set pieces with mesmerising fluidity.

The show covers many of Tina’s greatest hits such as “Private Dancer”, “River Deep Mountain High” and finishes with the climatic “The Best”.  With strong instrumentals, well trained voices and a strong influence on audience participation you’re in for a real treat!

Soul Sister was played at The Kings Theatre in Glasgow.

Listings Info:

 

SOUL SISTER

Mon 14 – Sat 19 Jan

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 230pm

Tickets: £10-£29.50

Box Office 08448 717 648 (Bkg fee)

www.ambassadortickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)
Dec 7th

Cinderella – King’s Theatre, Glasgow (until Sun 6 January 2013)

By Cameron Lowe

Glasgow’s King’s Theatre deliver another fairytale performance with an all-star cast in “Cinderella”.

 

Cinderella Glasgow Kings

If you are ever in doubt over the magic of Christmas you have only to step inside the King’s Theatre in December.  When the onstage fairy waves her wand and hundreds of children (and adults) around you gasp with delight your faith in all things good and magical and Christmassy will be restored!  The Kings Theatre has, once again, created a magical formula of laughs, songs, costumes, dance, glitter and downright silliness to ensure that everyone who experiences it leaves the theatre happier than they arrived.  Even in the midst of the post credit-crunch blues, that feeling is priceless!

 

Karen Dunbar leads a talented cast in the role of Mrs. McConkey (rhymes with donkey) / Fairy Godmother.  Karen Dunbar is undoubtedly the funniest woman in Scotland and seems completely in her element onstage in panto.  She delivers the Glasgow patter with fluid ease and the audience hang on her every word like Santa on his sleigh ... “laughing all the way”!  Ms. Dunbar also happens to have a great singing voice which is well exploited in this production.  Gavin Mitchell and Gordon Cooper support brilliantly as Pixie and Peaches (the ugly step-sisters).  Their characters were deliciously repulsive but this was backed up by superb physicality which the young audience particularly enjoyed.  Panto newcomers Des Clarke and Jenny Douglas delivered on all counts as Buttons and Cinderella with Ms. Douglas providing beautiful vocals to compliment the role.

 

Writer, Eric Potts, delivers a classic pantomime script with a combination of a gazillion one-liners backed up by a few brilliantly executed “gaps”.  The gaps are part of panto tradition where the writer sets up a situation and then leaves a ‘gap’ in the script for the actors to fill with ... whatever they feel like!  Watch out for the Honey Cocktail ‘gap’ in the second act ... I can’t remember having laughed so hard!  Fifteen minutes of pure ad-libbed joy!

 

From a production standpoint the audience get every penny of the ticket price in value with fabulous costumes, solid set and more glitter than a discount card shop!

 

Don’t miss your chance to catch some classic family friendly fun at The King’s this Christmas!


Review by Cameron Lowe 

Listings Info:

Cinderella

Friday 30 Nov - Sun 6 Jan 2013 (please call the box office for full details)

 

Signed Performances: Thu 13 Dec 1pm & Wed 19 Dec 7pm

Audio Described Performances: Wed 19 Dec 1pm; Fri  28 Dec @ 7pm

Captioned Performances Mon 17 Dec 1pm & Thu 27 Dec 7pm

Ticket prices: £9 – £25

Box Office: 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

Schools and group bookings: 0141 240 1122

ONLINE BOOKING (bkg fee)