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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

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

Jun 9th

That’s Entertainment, Theatre Royal Glasgow - 7th-11th June 2016

By Jon Cuthbertson

Billed as “The Dazzling Song and Dance Extravaganza” and “The Greatest Hits of the 40s and 50s”, That’s Entertainment sells itself to be quite a show. With a rather strange mix of songs and guest stars who don’t seem to exactly fit the remit of the show, the promise seemed to be going amiss. However, the energetic cast turned all that around and the show title says exactly what they provide and That’s Entertainment.

 

It’s actually hard not to like this show, 4 excellent lead vocalists, 10 energetic ensemble dancers and Elaine C Smith doing what she does best – entertaining a crowd. The show doesn’t get off to the best start – opening with the title number – when the tap dance routine is “enhanced” by recorded tapping. Such a shame as the cast looked like they could easily have coped without this extra help (and that goes for the recorded voices too!). And while we are discussing music – my biggest bugbear in this kind of show – no live band! Billed as an Extravaganza should mean that we at least see some live musicians! Trying to ignore these bad points (difficult as the recorded tapping appears another 3 or 4 times) is made a lot easier by the talent that is on the stage. The dancing during “Puttin’ On The Ritz” was wonderful. The lead vocalists all take a turn of wowing the audience. Sean Smith (famous as one half of X Factor Act, Same Difference) showcases the clarity in his vocal with On The Street Where You Live and Some Enchanted Evening amongst others. Simon Schofield and Emma Kate Nelson not only show off brilliant vocals, but great dancing skills too during “Good Morning”, “A Couple Of Swells” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and Simon continued to show his excellent range of voice in the closing of Act 1, a simply staged and very rousing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Loula Geater gave a wonderful version of The Trolley Song (with very clever choreography and staging) and pitched her version of Stormy Weather just perfectly. The 10 strong ensemble gave great support and it seems a shame to single anyone out, but Bethany Dows’ routine with the boys during Luck Be A Lady was dynamic and it was hard not to be drawn to her during other routines too – much like Charlie Barker who was full of character during his dancing too.

Throughout the tour the show has a different guest star, and I’m sure they will all bring something different to the show – Jane McDonald was in Edinburgh and Ruthie Henshall and The Overtones join at other points on the tour. In Glasgow, we were presented with our very own Elaine C Smith (suppose it saved the producers another hotel room!). In her first spot, it seemed like this didn’t entirely fit with the style of the show, but if anyone knows how to work an audience, it’s Elaine C Smith. In each of her guest spots we had our own little mini cabaret – some stories, reminiscing about the movie musicals and also some songs too. Getting the crowd going with an a cappella version of Deadwood Stage lead seamlessly into her version of Secret Love. In later appearances she covered some Billie Holliday (My Man) and Jack Jones (Wives and Lovers) showing off a warm and rich voice that easily works without all the comedy too.

 

Although the set is simple, the lighting design by Martin Perkins elevates the class of the production. With the beautiful costumes (of which there are many – the ensemble females barely make an entrance to the stage without changing costume each time) and the slick transitions make it a visually pleasant show and minus the few flaws (the cockney knees up section? Yes, they even played the spoons – and even those were recorded too!) it could make itself an exceptional show. If you are looking for a west end type musical – then head to the Kings this week for Guys and Dolls. However, if you are looking for an evening of laughter, classic songs and energetic, enthusiastic and polished performances, then head to the Theatre Royal and catch That’s Entertainment – this is a cast that deserves and audience and deserves their applause.

 

Listing Information

 

Tue 7 – Sat 11 June 2016

Evenings: 7.30pm                                            

Matinees: Thu & Sat at 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (booking fee)

 

0844 871 7647 (booking fee)

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

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

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

 

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dreamcoat-2016/kings-theatre

 

Apr 27th

END OF THE RAINBOW - THE KING'S, GLASGOW

By Mark Ridyard

 

End Of The Rainbow
PHOTO: PAMELA RAITH PHOTOGRAPHY

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…”

Probably the most famous words ever sung on film will forever belong to the legendary Judy Garland, from the 1939 movie The Wizard Of Oz. However, despite her huge fame and star-status, her life itself has all the characteristics of one of the greatest stories ever told. Last night, at The Kings Theatre in Glasgow, End Of The Rainbow attempted to tell at least some of that story.

Concentrating on Garland’s five-week-run of shows at The Talk Of The Town in London, shortly before her death, the show dramatises her relationship with her fiancé, Mickey Deans, and her pianist friend Anthony. Some of Garland’s biographers, such as Gerald Clark and David Shipman, have theorised about the dynamics of Garland and Dean’s relationship, and End Of The Rainbow explores their complex bond and inner demons.

The audience filing into the auditorium were greeted with an open curtain - the inside of a large hotel suite. As it turned out, this room was the main setting for most of the action, with scenes set within the nightclub taking place with most of the walls and furniture still in situ. This may sound a little jarring at first, but was in-keeping with the production’s overall feel.

A glance at the programme revealed a very small cast – just three main performers supported by one other. It was obvious that strong stage presence, coupled with polished acting, would be required from each of them, and it’s here that the production really came to life.

In the lead role of Judy Garland was Lisa Maxwell – star of No Limits, The Lisa Maxwell Show, The Bill and Loose Women – and possibly not everyone’s first thought when it comes to casting the role. However, any reservations the audience may have had were soon swept away by both Maxwell’s credibility when acting as Garland, but also when singing as Garland.

Rattling-off numbers such as Come Rain Or Come Shine, The Trolley Song from Meet Me In St Louis and, of course, Over The Rainbow, Maxwell’s singing was a wonderful attempt at capturing the voice of an aging, troubled star, but one who could still hold an audience spellbound as they reminisce about times-gone-by.

Playing Mickey Deans was Sam Attwater, known for his appearances in Eastenders and Dancing On Ice, and he provided a well-rounded, constantly conflicted character who was just desperate to get Garland to the end of her singing engagement. Lastly, and by no means least, the stalwart Gary Wilmot (So You Want To Be Top, Me And My Girl, Copacabana) gave a loveable performance as the pianist Antony who, over the course of the story, tried to persuade Judy to turn her back on her fame completely.

With some surprisingly strong language in places, the production highlighted the challenges faced not only by Garland but by those people closest to her who thought they knew how to protect her. In particular, the changes in those who loved her, but the lack of deep-rooted change in Garland herself, provided moments of comedy and tragedy in equal measure.

End Of The Rainbow was a sympathetic look at a small but pivotal time in the life of one of America’s greatest ever stars and, last night, that star shine a little brighter on a chilly April evening in Glasgow.
END OF THE RAINBOW
at The Kings Theatre, Glasgow
Tuesday 26th – Saturday 30th April 2016
Click here to buy tickets 

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

 

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (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.

 

 

 

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

Dec 10th

Jersey Boys - Theatre Royal Glasgow - Tues 8 Dec 2015 – Sun 3 Jan 2016

By Jon Cuthbertson

Glasgow's Theatre Royal have once again bucked the Christmas trend for their festive show, following up last year's Saturday Night Fever with the West End and Broadway smash hit, Jersey Boys. With not a Christmas song in sight this is still a winning choice for a great night out over the festive season.

 

Following the real story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, this is grittier than you might expect - with a smattering of adult language to match. Finding out that for most of the band, their first record was of the judicial variety will come as a surprise to most. This was an era where that kind of background would never sell records, so this was hidden from any record producers and labels, and most definitely never spoken about in the press - who ironically had deemed the Four Seasons as too clean cut and not interesting enough to warrant too many interviews - particularly when compared to the long hair and "exotic accents" of The Beatles!

(L-R - Sam Ferriday, Matt Corner, Stephen Webb, Lewis Griffiths -

photo by Helen Maybanks)

 

Marshall Brickman's background in film writing is evident in this production and along with co-writer Rick Elice they've created a unique way of telling the story - letting each of the Four Seasons step forward and tell it from their side. This was created by interviewing the three surviving members (sadly Nick Massi had passed away in 2000, 5 years before the show opened) and using this to create a Rashomon style story where we see the conflicting opinions of how events took place. This gives a great chance to use some of the songs in dramatic form and share them out amongst all the characters, male and female. However, if you are expecting a Four Seasons concert - there are many of the songs saved for concert style performances from the guys throughout the show. 

 

Matt Corner takes on the difficult role of Frankie Valli and draws you in from the very first notes he sings. His transition from naive young boy to world weary father is delivered with ease. Stephen Webb as founder member Tommy DeVito opens the narration of the story with loads of energy - and provides a great mix of humour and drama. Lewis Griffiths is the steady hand as Nick Massi - with a beautiful bass voice and a warm tone he makes you really care for Nick and his flaws. Last to join the group is Bob Gaudio, played by Sam Ferriday. As the writer of most of their hits, Bob was an important part of the story - and Sam pitches it just right, both vocally and in his character choices as Bob matures in the band.

 

The supporting cast cover a variety of roles, in particular the three girls, Amelia Adams-Pearce, Leanne Garretty and Samantha Hull, who seem to change wigs and costume for every entrance! It would also be remiss of me not to mention Musical Director Andrew Corocoran and his fantastic band (in particular Rob Parsons on drums who keeps the whole show on track from all areas of the stage) who work their magic with Ron Melrose's arrangements. Director Des McAnuff and Choreographer Sergio Trujillo have made great use of Klara Zieglerova's slick set design, which means the show moves seamlessly from scene to scene.

 


Listing Information

Tue 8 – Sat 19 Dec 7.30pm

Thu 10, Sat 12, Thu 17 & Sat 19 Dec 2.30pm

Sun 13 & Sun 20 Dec 3pm

Tue 22 & Wed 23 Dec 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Sat 26 Dec 7.30pm

Sun 27 Dec 3pm & 7.30pm

Tue 29 – Thu 31 Dec 7.30pm

Tue 29 & Thu 31 Dec 2.30pm

Sat 2 Jan 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Sun 3 Jan 3pm & 7.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7647 (bkg fee)
www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)
Nov 22nd

Miracle on 34th Street - The Musical at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Our evening began with a false start as the red velvet curtain was raised two feet and then lowered hurriedly revealing that the cast were not in position for their opening tableau! Sadly, this was the first of many technical hitches on the opening night of Miracle on 34th Street in Glasgow's King's Theatre.

The show itself began with some promise as the energetic cast burst into a cartwheeling and high kicking rendition of "Big Ca-lown Balloons" which segwayed directly into the colourful Macy's Parade. However the energetic performances on stage could only briefly mask the electronic soundrack underscore which we can only assume was pre-recorded because we were never introduced to the band or musical director. The opening number also overstayed its welcome revealing that this show might be somewhat out of touch with the modern musical theatre audience who prefer short punchy (catchy) numbers and a story that pulls us in. Sadly, the narrative falls a little short in that department, too ... and there is NO PLACE for a dream ballet in 2015!

The cast certainly gave it their all with solid delivery from all the principals backed by a talented and effervescent chorus. Hannah Thompson was delightful and charming in the central role of Susan Walker. Ms Thompson's youth was wonderfully balanced by a consummate Kris Kringle (Santa to you and me) who was played by a remarkably youthful Danny Lane! Mr Lane gave the audience exactly what we wanted from this most famous of characters - no mean feat from one so young. Brendan Matthew gave a wonderfully OTT performance as Shellhammer - a great distraction for the younger members of the audience. Claire Hawkins and Carl Lindquist delivered the romantic interest well; within the limits of a somewhat old fashioned script.

Technically, the production was quite a disappointment with christmas lights on the blink, misplaced spotlight specials and a truck sliding into the wings. The show was also a victim of that annoying habbit that lighting crews have on opening night of 'nudging' gobos into place bit by bit as though the audience will not notice the 8 foot "window pane" illumination moving across the set if it only moves 2 inches at a time. Many things did go well, though and the set was well designed by David Shields. The snow effects were delightful and much appreciated by the audience.

The production certainly has the ingredients to deliver a little early Christmas cheer but, for me, was only saved by performances which (thankfully) outshone the faulty Christmas Lights onstage.

 

Miracle on 34th Street

Tour continues:

MANCHESTER Opera House

23-25 November

CHESTERFIELD Winding Wheel

26-28 November

CARDIFF New Theatre

1-5 December

EASTBOURNE Royal Hippodrome

9-12 December

WORTHING Connaught Theatre

14-17 December

PETERBOROUGH Broadway

18-19 December

WATFORD Colosseum

21-28 December

 

Oct 21st

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE - THEATRE ROYAL GLASGOW - MONDAY 19 – SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

100 years after writing her first novel, Agatha Christie still has audiences in the palm of her hand. And Then There Were None was the first time Christie had adapted one of her own novels for the stage - even altering the ending during rehearsals. However in this Anniversary production the ending has been changed (don't worry - I'm not going to tell you whodunnit in the opening paragraph!) - but all the dialogue has been lifted from Christie's own words from the novel itself.

 

Christie's clever writing is a both a dream and a curse for a director. All the scenes take place in one set over a finite period of time - therefore no huge scene changes to worry about. However, the downside means that you rely heavily on the dialogue. Luckily, the writing itself has some wit and humour alongside some instantly recognisable characters. Joe Harmston is an old hand with Christie, having directed every production since the inception of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company nearly 10 years ago, and his skill shows in this production too. The first scene in this play is a difficult one for any director - with 10 characters to introduce, 10 back stories to tell and a "whodunnit" scenario to set up, this scene can be very slow and wordy. However, with such a vibrant cast, this production manages to save this scene from monotony.

 

Stand out is Kezia Burrows as Vera Claythorne - showing off Roberto Surace's costumes to full advantage - whose energy and timing is excellent. Her chemistry with Ben Nealon, in his regular role as the charmer with a past, provides much of the central frisson of this show. The story is one of Agatha Christie's more complicated plots - 10 people are brought to an island home, where each of them are murdered one by one, seemingly in line with a rhyme they find on the wall - 10 Little Soldier Boys (although this title has been changed a number of times to be "politically correct"). The cast work well together to create the characters and the subtext between each other. Mark Curry (former Blue Peter presenter) was a revelation in the role of Rogers, the manservant of the home. He handles some very difficult scenes very well and showed what an excellent actor he is, particularly among such a strong, well known cast. Deborah Grant brings her acerbic wit and superb delivery and timing to the role of the pretentious Emily Brent (although I'm hopeful for a further tour of Black Coffee to see her excellent performance as Miss Caroline Amory again!). Star billing was given to Paul Nicholas, as Sir Lawrence Wargrave - a rather hawkish old Judge who had very staunch views on justice. I've not always been a fan of Mr Nicholas' work, but this role has pulled him back on track and has let me see what Mr Kenwright must see in him.

It would be remiss not to mention Simon Scullion's excellent design - the epic circular window and art deco ornaments and flooring instantly set the period for this piece. It's just a shame that the rigours of touring are starting to show with some patchy areas at the edges of what is a majestic set being the only downside to this entire production. However, this small detail will not get in the way of your enjoyment of another fantastic recreation of a classic Agatha Christie tale.

 

Don't wait too long to get your tickets for this production - you'd hate to eventually get all built up to see the show, go to get tickets, "And Then There Were None"...(sorry - it was just too much of a line to resist trying to make it fit in about tickets somewhere!). Ignoring the poor pun - don't miss another stunning Agatha Christie Theatre Company production at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, or touring to Edinburgh and Aberdeen over the next few weeks.

Listing Information

And Then There Were None

Theatre Royal Glasgow

Mon 19 – Sat 24 Oct 2015

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7647 (bkg fee) Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)