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Jun 10th

Puttin' On The Ritz - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

 

If you fancy putting on a top hat, tying up your white tie and brushing up your tails then strut those spats down to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow where this week you will be transported back to golden era of Hollywood.  Puttin’ On The Ritz – The Song & Dance Extravaganza is a celebration of many of the great songs from the movies of the 1920s, 30s and 40s including Easter Parade, Top Hat and An American In Paris to name but a few.

 This musical revue features songs by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, three composers who made significant contributions to what has become known as the Great American Songbook.  Songs such as ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Cheek To Cheek’ and ‘Anything Goes’ have become standards recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and even Lady Gaga and in this production you can’t help fall in love with these songs all over again. 

Brought to life by 6 singers and a troop of 8 dancers the evening races along with memorable hit after hit.  The dancers tap, flap and jitterbug their way through routines, created by choreographer/director Emma Rogers, that would not look out of place in a Busby Berkley movie.  Every lift and turn is delivered with panache and elegance.

 The singers all have their own special moments to shine throughout the evening.  Hannah Minster gives a beautiful understated rendition of ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ while Rick Rojas delivers a sexy, bluesy ‘Minnie The Moocher’.  Soprano Lucy Van Gasse breaks hearts with ‘But Not For Me’ while Adam Ellis shows off his vocal versatility in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ where he switches effortlessly between a rich baritone croon to a sweet light falsetto.  Simon Schofield proves himself to be a classic song & dance man in ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’ alongside Rebecca Lisewski who later gives a thrilling performance of ‘My Man’ a song originally performed by Fanny Brice and later Barbra Streisand in the movie Funny Girl.

 Providing a Fred & Ginger element to the evening’s proceedings are special guests, Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor, both stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.  Together they wowed the audience with their dazzling routines. Kristina having to do everything Robin does, only backwards and in heels as Ginger Rogers once jibed.

 The cast are dressed in dazzling gowns and sharp suits, designed by Heather Davis, that could easily have been lifted straight from the lot at Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios.

 My only gripe is the lack of live musical accompaniment.  The cast perform to pre-recorded music.  While the recordings are well produced it detracts somewhat from the live experience that you expect when you attend the theatre.  I appreciate it is expensive to tour a band to produce the full Hollywood sound but these songs can sound just as good, sometimes better, in stripped back arrangements for a small ensemble.  Live accompaniment also would allow the singers and musicians to interact with each other and really do these songs justice.

 That aside the superb dancing and sublime singing will keep you entertained and certainly brightened up this reviewers evening.

 Puttin’ On The Ritz runs at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow until Saturday, 13th June 2015 before continuing on it’s UK tour 

 Puttin’ on the Ritz

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Tue 9 – Sat 13 Jun

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)  

Jun 2nd

SPAMALOT at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Monty Python’s irreverent spin on the Arthurian legend returns to Glasgow to taunt us for a third time as SPAMALOT, plants a large pair of armored feet at the King’s Theatre this week.

 

“We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.”, sing the Knights of the Round Table in a jolly refrain that was the inspiration for the show’s title and a good indicator for the tone of this hilarious comedy musical.  Lovingly ripped off from Monty Python’s 1975 movie, “The Holy Grail”, the show “farts in the general direction” of the Arthurian legend.  Python fans will be delighted to learn that many of the original characters and songs from the movie are faithfully recreated while new elements and characters have been added to hilarious effect.  Rest assured that alongside King Arthur and his faithful knights, we are entertained by The Black Knight (“It’s only a flesh wound”), the French Taunter (“Your mother was a hamster …”), The King of Swamp Castle (“One day lad, all this will be yours …”) and the Knights who say “Ni”!  But King Arthur and the world of musicals are mocked in equal measure with references to Lloyd Webber, ‘star’ cast headliners, camp dance routines and blatant overacting throughout.

 

Joe Pasquale dons the crown of King Arthur this time around and brings an interesting “accountant” slant to the role which I had never before considered a possibility. Comic timing was, of course, impressive as evident in the quick-fire scene where he meets Dennis Galahad (Richard Meek) for the first time.  Sarah Earnshaw (as The Lady of the Lake) was wonderfully OTT, happily lampooning the role of diva with great gusto and singing “The Diva’s Lament” to great comic effect.  Joe Tracini joins the cast in the role of Patsy (King Arthur’s faithful companion) in this third national tour.  While rarely vocal, Patsy adds a great deal to the show through physical humour and Mr. Tracini’s rendition of “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life” was a big hit with the audience.  As in the Monty Python movies, the supporting cast played several roles throughout the show displaying diverse character talents.  Jamie Tyler was particularly enthusiastic with his French Taunting.

 

The cast were given some room to revel in the classic Python script … allowing the audience to fully appreciate some of the funniest lines ever uttered on stage.  Don’t miss out on your chance for some SPAM … to say this show is a laugh a minute would be a gross understatement!  I, for one, will never trust a “cute wee white bunny” ever again.

 

SPAMALOT

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Mon 1 – Sat 6 June

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

May 2nd

Shrek the Musical at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Music is a very powerful tool when it comes to rekindling fond memories.  It can remind us of good times past in a way that no other medium can.  And now musicals can transport us to yesteryear as Broadway and West End producers endeavour, with remarkable success rates, to recreate movie classics from our past like Ghost, Willy Wonka, Matilda, The Bodyguard ... and Shrek.  Shrek takes me back to a time when my son was very young.  A family favourite movie that could be played at home again and again and never failed to bring great big belly laughs – not just from the children, but from the adults, too.  So the producers of Shrek the Musical had some very high expectations to fulfil.

 

Shrek the Musical

 

Shrek the Musical is an ugly, green, odious, odorous, bad tempered, overweight, rip roaring success!   

 

Our favourite characters from the movie are brought to colourful three dimensional life, retelling the tale of the original movie to a broadly original score of catchy characteristic tunes.

 

In case you didn’t know, Shrek (Dean Chisnall) is a large green ogre who lives alone in a swamp close to the mythical town of Duloc.  His peace is shattered as a host of Fairy Tale refugees descend upon his home having been evicted by Lord Farquaad (Gerard Carey) – the evil, pint sized (yet ambitious) ruler of Duloc.  Farquaad doesn't  want these ‘freaks’ littering the streets of his perfect town as he seeks to climb the social ladder by winning the hand of a Princess.  Shrek visits Duloc with his somewhat unwelcome companion, Donkey (Idriss Kargbo) to have a short (and likely violent) conversation with Farquaad but is, instead, persuaded to rescue Princess Fiona (played in this case by understudy, Nikki Bentley) from a tower surrounded by a lake of molten lava and guarded by a fire breathing dragon in exchange for the deeds to his swamp.  Shrek and Donkey set off on their quest blissfully unaware that Princess Fiona hides a terrible secret and that the dragon is not the only creature in that tower with a fiery temper!

 Image by Helen Maybanks

Image by Helen Maybanks

 

The story translates well to stage as the road trip / buddy story transforms nicely to blossoming romance once Shrek and Donkey rescue the Princess.  The musical score from Jeanine Tesori compliments the well known characters and lyrics from David Lindsay-Abaire add a great deal of humour that can be appreciated by audience members of all ages.  Technically, the show astonishes with smooth scene transitions, a dazzling light show and an awesome dragon brought to life by the combined talents of 3 puppeteers and the vocal skills of Candace Furbert.

Dean Chisnall impressed as Shrek striking the right balance of cantankerous ogre and likeable hulk with an admirable singing voice (albeit with an accent which strayed a little south of the border from time to time).  Idriss Kargbo’s Donkey was wonderfully energetic and demonstrated his dancing skills well.  Nikki Bentley was wonderful as Princess Fiona – a self confessed sufferer of bi-polar disorder at the same time sweet, regal, feminine, flatulent and spoiled.  However, the show was well and truly stolen by Gerard Carey as Farquaad.  I don’t want to spoil too much by describing exactly WHY he was so fabulous but it is fair to say that this was the best demonstration of physical humour I have ever witnessed on stage.  Almost “Frank N Furter” esque in delivery he was the villain that we wanted to see again and again.  Perfect.

Image by Helen Maybanks

Image by Helen Maybanks

Look out for a cameo appearance from Puss in Boots and sing along to “I’m a Believer” at the end!

Beg steal or borrow a ticket to see this amazing production on tour.  It’s ridiculously entertaining!

Shrek the Musical

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Until 17 May

Tickets £15 - £60

 

 

Book tickets:

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/shrek-the-musical/kings-theatre/#performance_tabs=tab_performances

 

Mar 18th

The King’s Speech, Theatre Royal Glasgow 16th-20th March 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

A play based on historic events, already well known from the film adaptation, starring an ex-soap star (with less than glowing reviews for recent roles) and one of the regulars from the rather high camp “Hotel Babylon” as the leads....this was not one review I was looking forward to! But in true theatrical style, I now have to eat my words as this was a thoroughly entertaining, enjoyable and even emotional production.

 

(Jason Donovan as Lionel Logue & Raymond Coulthard as George VI (Bertie) photo by Hugh Glendinning)

The story follows “Bertie” (later King George VI) and his relationship with his maverick Australian born speech therapist as he tries to overcome his stammer. And it is this relationship which provides so much of the enjoyment. Jason Donovan seems totally at ease in this role, giving energy and life throughout. His contrast to Raymond Coulthard’s excellent delivery of the uptight and put upon royal provides lots of chances for humour as their relationship grows. The relationships elsewhere in the play provide the drama and interest. As Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth (the fondly remembered Queen Mother) we see a woman with warmth and wit. Claire Lams has lots of fun with the playful side of this character although her poise and diction never once falter as only a royal should. In opposition to this, we see Myrtle Logue, mirroring her husband in humour, wit and energy. Katy Stephens is the perfect foil to Jason Donovan’s Lionel Logue and the naturalness of their relationship provides a number of touching moments. Not one performance in this production could be faulted – the strong ensemble cast have managed to elevate what could easily have been a rather staid piece of theatre into something intelligent, fun and moving.

The wonderful set design by Tom Piper is put to excellent use in Roxana Silbert’s production. The wood panels that open to create the doorways to allow seamless scene and costume changes are a brave choice in a play where people would expect a more literal recreation of scenes, but this proves that theatre should trust in imagination. The opening scene where Bertie is dressed for a ceremony sets up perfectly the choreographed movements that keep the action and artistry flowing.

Bertie’s stammer, exceptionally well portrayed by Raymond Coulthard, seems immaterial once you realise that this is a play purely about relationships, relationships as couples, as family, as friends, as competitors and power struggles. The cast capture each of these perfectly and make an evening of theatre that is beautifully entertaining. So switch off Netflix, step away from the SkyPlus, walk away from the cinema and experience real theatre as it should be done.

 

Listing Information

Mon 16 – Sat 20 March                 

Evenings: 7.30pm                                            

Matinees: Thu & Sat at 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (booking fee)

0844 871 7647 (booking fee)

Mar 6th

The Bodyguard (King's Theatre, Glasgow)

By Cameron Lowe

Alexandra Burke leads a fabulous cast in this spectacular production at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow!

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - photo by Paul Coltas

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - photo by Paul Coltas

 

Let’s be honest, musicals based on movies don’t have the best reputation on the UK touring circuit.  But, when that movie was the Hollywood debut of pop superstar, Whitney Houston, and it is packed with her greatest hits, there is certainly enough to pique the interest of even the hardest cynic.  

For those who have not experienced the 1992 movie … The Bodyguard tells the story of Rachel Marron, a pop diva making her big break into movies (sound familiar?).  Rachel is being threatened by a mysterious assassin and those who care for her hire a new Bodyguard.  Frank Farmer is a professional and makes changes that most of Ms Marron’s entourage dislike and that Ms Marron herself detests.  However, when Farmer is proved correct in his assessment of the danger, Ms Marron comes to appreciate him more.  But mixing business with pleasure does not sit well with The Bodyguard.  Has he put his client in danger?

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - Photo by Paul Coltas

Alexandra Burke in The Bodyguard (Photograph of West End production) - Photo by Paul Coltas

Step forward Ms Alexandra Burke!  Alexandra doesn’t just “do” Whitney Houston … she is Whitney Houston for a new generation.  She has the power and, more importantly, the vocal finesse to deliver the full range of this amazing back catalogue of hits from the 80s and 90s.  Ms Burke went one stage further by generating a believable onstage chemistry with co-star Stuart Reid as Bodyguard, Frank Farmer.  Mr Reid had a difficult role as “the one who doesn’t sing” but he dazzled in other ways by balancing his sometimes ‘remote’ character with wit and comic timing.  In fact, both lead characters somehow manage to remain very likable despite their words and actions – very impressive.  Melissa James was delightful as downtrodden sister, Nicki.

Director, Thea Sharrock, delivered a pacey production without the tedious dramatic pauses evident in the West-End show.  The result was a lighter, more entertaining performance where the audience could appreciate the comedy sprinkled throughout the book by Alexander Dinelaris and delivered well by the supporting cast.  This show was an FX masterclass with real heat from flamethrowers felt on faces throughout the sizable auditorium of the King’s theatre.  Laser and light shows combined with breath-taking smoke effects and wonderfully cinematic wipe scene changes from Set Designer, Tim Hatley.  The set also delivered wonderful perspective effects giving the illusion of great depth; particularly in the mansion scenes.  The score features not only the best hits from the movie but the very best of the Whitney Houston catalogue prior to the movie too including “Queen of the Night”, “One Moment in Time”, “Greatest Love of All”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “I Will Always Love You”.

All in all, this is a breath-taking production which is well worth the ticket price.

THE BODYGUARD

4 – 14 March 2015

Mon - Sat 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat 2.30pm

Tickets: £18.50 - £57.50

Box Office 08448 717 648 (Bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Feb 10th

Return to the Forbidden Planet at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Glasgow’s King’s Theatre celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Return to the Forbidden Planet in style last night as a stellar cast blasted the audience into orbit!

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a musical revival based on a 1956 B-movie which, in turn, was based on a play written in the 17th century.  Sorry?  I’m not selling it?  OK, I’ll reveal that the sci-fi B-movie in question was the worldwide cult classic “Forbidden Planet” (the movie which introduced us to Robby the Robot) and the play upon which it was based was “The Tempest” written by the most famous bard of them all, William Shakespeare.  I will also add that the musical score is based on the best music from the late 50s and early 60s including hits like Good Vibrations, Gloria, Great Balls of Fire, Johnny B Goode and many, many more!

Captain Tempest (Sean Needham) leads the crew of the Starship Albatross on a routine survey mission when their ship is mysteriously drawn to the surface of Planet D’Illyria where we are introduced to scientist castaway Dr. Prospero (Johnathan Markwood) and his eerily pretty daughter, Miranda (Sarah Scowen).  Miranda falls instantly head over heels for Captain Tempest; blatantly ignoring the affections of young Cookie (Mark Newnham).  Meanwhile we discover that Prospero has some significant “previous” with the ship’s Science Officer (Christine Holman).  With all these hormones flying around, something was bound to blow … and that “something” comes in the form of a deadly tentacled “green eyed” monster which attacks the ship just in time for an interval cliffhanger (neatly delivered by Narrator, Brian May, via video feed).

So, with the scene set on the sturdy bridge of the Albatross and characters poised for love, lust and jealousy, surely all that is required for a successful musical is to add a hilarious script, a first class rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and a few dance moves?  Yes, yes and yes!  All of these are delivered in spades … but that is only HALF of the joy of this musical.  Into the mix comes some crazily complex handheld radio mic-ography, hilariously intelligent dialog which lampoons 17th Century prose, Sci-fi movies and everything in between, brilliantly delivered B-movie effects and a joyous sense of togetherness from the cast that tells the audience that every performance is special and fun! Oh, did I neglect to mention that all of the music is played live onstage by the cast themselves?  Yes indeed, if this production wasn’t impressive enough, each of the characters plays an average of FOUR instruments each!

Onstage we find that individual performances come together beautifully to form a great ensemble show.  Sean Needham plays the stoic Captain like an American Richard Hannay.  Jonathan Markwood is a great protagonist as Prospero, strutting the stage in Dr Who-like tartan trews. Christine Holeman and Sarah Scowen provide the sax appeal (in more ways than one) and vocals from Ms Scowen, in particular, were stratospheric.  Mark Newnham gave the audience a great comic character and a first class guitar solo while Joseph Mann (as robot, Ariel) gave a lovely physical comedy performance.

With the music covering genres from rock ‘n’ roll to country via a beautifully blended a cappella number, there is something here for everyone.  Book your tickets quickly before they vanish into a black hole!

KING’S THEATRE , GLASGOW

Mon 9 – Sat 14 February

Mon - Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £12.90 - £48.40

Box Office: 0870 060 6648 (bkg fee)

www.ambassadortickets.com/glasgow  (bkg fee)

 

Feb 4th

To Kill A Mockingbird, Theatre Royal Glasgow 3rd -7th February 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

Being such a well-respected novel, with a revered film adaptation – how will a stage production of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird relate to a modern day audience?

unnamed (1).jpg 

This ingeniously staged production has shown it to be a complete success. So many people have their own connection to reading the novel which follows the story of young Scout Finch as she narrates about her life 1930s Deep South, where life is balmy and warm and racism was still rife as her father, Atticus, defends Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Timothy Sheader’s production links everyone with their connection with this story – the novel itself. The cast appear on stage reading excerpts from their own paperback copies in their own regional accents, wearing modern day clothing. They then remain at the side of the stage throughout, adding jackets, hats, shawls (and a southern drawl) to become the various characters in the story. Jon Bausor’s design of the open stage surrounded by “corrugated iron”, with the only set piece being a large tree with a tyre swing, aloows the story to move seamlessly to any location with the simple movement of a bed, table, chair in a choreographed movement that only adds to the feeling and emotion of the show as opposed to acting as a distraction.

 

With this sparse staging, it puts a lot of pressure onto the actors themselves – in particular the young cast who lead the majority of the production. In this performance, Ava Potter (pictured below with Connor Brundish as Dil and Arthur Franks as Jem)   excelled as Scout – her consistent accent and feisty nature were coupled with a warmth and charm that endeared her to the audience. Her assured performance matched that of her adult counterparts, with Daniel Betts(pictured above) providing a gentle and respectful Atticus. As an ensemble piece this show had an exceptional cast with not one weak link – Natalie Grady’s Miss Maudie was the southern neighbour everyone wanted and her narration out of character was full of variety and interest. Victoria Bewick’s own North East accent made her a great storyteller and the contrast with her Deep South accent as the “victim” Mayella showed a real skill. Zackary Momoh was so subtle and understated as the accused Tom Robinson, that you felt his pain and injustice before he even opened his mouth.

 unnamed.jpg

With the news this week that a long lost sequel to the original novel is to be released after 55 years, this is the perfect time to be reminded of the original – and this production is the best way to do this – flawlessly performed by an exceptional cast, don’t miss the chance to see the classic novel brought to life at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, until the 7th February.

 

Listing Information

 

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 08448 717 647 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

images (1) - Johann Persson, (2) - Christopher Akrill 

Dec 17th

Peter Pan at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Suzanne Lowe

50 years of Panto!  Quite an achievement.  Having in the past never been a huge fan of Pantomime I went along hoping to be suitably enterta
ined on this special panto year with a family favourite performance of Peter Pan.

Peter Pan 

I was accompanied by my young niece and nephew who, having recently moved from France to Scotland had never been in a theatre before let alone experienced the delights of panto.  From the off they were intrigued by the theatre itself and its noisy audience.  They were delighted to join in with the booing, clapping, cheering and singing from “the clout”.  Although trying to explain to two French children exactly what a “clout” was proved to be a challenge.

On stage the performers didn’t disappoint.  With a standout performance from Greg McHugh best known for his hit television series “GaryTank Commander” and as Howard in the highly successful Channel 4 comedy “Fresh Meat”.  Playing the character of Smee he was a huge hit with the audience from the moment he made his rather flamboyant, yet not unexpected, entrance.  The stage always seemed a little brighter when he made an appearanceand his ad-libbing was second to none.  Captain Hook, played by Alex Bourne, was a convincing “baddie” and, despite his successful theatrical career, Peter Pan marked Alex’s pantomime debut.  The first of many I am sure.  His side kick pirates also provided the usual injection of slap stick comedy.  The character of Peter Pan himself was played by Scott Fletcher; currently on our TV screens in River City playing Angus Lindsay and previously seen on Gary: Tank Commander and Taggart to name but a few.  Scott proved to be an audience favourite too with his delightful singing voice and graceful flying skills.   

Joining the Kings Pantomime for a third year, Des Clarke played the character of Starkey.  Being a comedian, TV and Radio presenter, Des has slipped into the world of panto with ease.     Delightful performances were also given by Joanne McGuiness as Wendy and Jenny Douglas as Tiger Lily.  Tiger Lily being a particular favourite of my ten year old nephew!  A semi finalist at the age of 18 on the BBC1 programme Over The Rainbow, Jenny’s impressive vocals filled the theatre.   Perhaps of all the females the character of Tinkerbell played by Francesca Papagno made the biggest impression.  Her portrayal as the mischievous fairy protecting Peter Pan was so convincing that at times the audience almost booed.  Francesca also impressed the audience with her powerful vocals.

The juveniles onstage were as always a delight with some rising stars amongst them.

As Pantomimes go this one was perhaps not as side splittingly funny as one would expect.  Nevertheless, the children in the audience (and adults) seemed to enjoy it.  Peter Pan has everything you would expect from a Pantomime.  Colourful sets, energetic dance routines and sing-along songs for the audience to enjoy.  The audience needed very little persuasion in rising to their feet and joining in with the singing and dancing.  So, was I suitably entertained?  I have to say “Oh, yes I was”.

Runs until 11 January 2015 (excl. Dec 25th & Jan 1st)
Matinee performances every day.
 http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/peter-pan-2/kings-theatre/

Dec 4th

Top Hat, Theatre Royal Glasgow 2nd – 13th December 2014

By Jon Cuthbertson

Top Hat has been billed as an all singing, all dancing spectacle and it delivers on all those points – then offers even more on top!

 Charlotte Gooch & Alan Burkitt on Glasgow Theatre Royal's grand staircase

Charlotte Gooch & Alan Burkitt (photo: Marion Willshaw) 

From the energetic opening (Puttin’ On The Ritz) to the exciting encore, every tap step and high kick was delivered with precision and panache. Alan Burkitt, in the Fred Astaire role of Jerry Travers, was an enigmatic leading man with a great dance talent. However even he was edged on the dancing by Charlotte Gooch, in the Ginger Rogers role of Dale Tremont. As she put it herself, after joining Mr Burkitt in the outstanding dance routine for Cheek to Cheek, “I did exactly what you did, except backwards….and in heels!”

 

The opulence of the era was perfectly captured in Jon Morrell’s costumes and the brilliantly adaptable set by Hildegard Bechtler. With Matthew White’s clever direction this set was used brilliantly with clever little vignettes played in front of sliding sections that kept the audience amused and the action and humour ticking along. In the centre of this humour, Clive Hayward as the hapless Horace Hardwick delivered in every scene. His rapport with Bates (a very funny John Conroy) his manservant was only surpassed by his downtrodden responses to the biting wit of his wife played wonderfully by Rebecca Thornhill.

 

Top Hat has one of the wittiest scripts I’ve seen in a long time – a series of misunderstandings, a misplaced love story, cheesy jokes, snappy put-downs and a little bit of physical humour too had the audience giggling and laughing in all the right places. How could I reach this point and not even mention the music? All Irving Berlin’s classics are here, Puttin’ On The Ritz; Top Hat, White Tie and Tails; Cheek to Cheek; Let’s Face The Music And Dance – the list goes on, all performed with gusto by the live orchestra and the fantastic ensemble. Each of the ensemble have small character roles throughout the show but shine no brighter than when they work together in the stunning dance numbers. How they have the energy to throw in a little (and by little, I mean huge!) production number as an encore is testament to the talent and skill of the entire cast.

 

This is one production worth getting dressed up for, so look out those Tuxedos, Tiaras and all important Tickets and get down to the Theatre Royal to see Top Hat.

 

Listing Information

Theatre Royal Glasgow

Tue 2 – Sat 13 Dec 2014

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 08448 717 647 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Nov 26th

JEEVES & WOOSTER IN PERFECT NONSENSE - Theatre Royal Glasgow 24th-29th November 2014

By Jon Cuthbertson

PERFECT NONSENSE - PERFECTLY ENJOYABLE

 

“Jeeves, this nonsense must cease.”

“Travel is highly educational, sir.”

“I can’t do with any more education. I was full-up years ago.”

“Very good, sir.”

 

Fresh from its successful and award-winning run in London’s West End, Jeeves And Wooster in Perfect Nonsense breezed smoothly into the Theatre Royal in Glasgow last night for the start of its week-long run,

 JW.jpg

Starring Glasgow’s very own John Gordon Sinclair (Gregory’s Girl; World War Z) making his home-town stage debut as Jeeves and James Lance (I’m Alan Partridge; Black Mirror) as Bertie Wooster, the play won the 2013 Olivier Award for “Best New Comedy” and is based on P.G. Wodehouse’s book The Code Of The Woosters, first published in 1938.

 

Given that more than 75 years have passed since the story first appeared, you might be forgiven for expecting a slightly archaic and out-of-touch piece – but you couldn’t be more wrong!

 

As with the novel, the action is narrated by Bertie as he takes the audience through a twisted tale of misunderstandings, awkward confrontations, confessions of the heart and a silver cow-creamer. Although some minor cuts have been made to Wodehouse’s text to help smooth the transition from page to stage, the storyline and dialogue remain incredibly true to the original – guaranteeing laughs at both the farcical situations that Bertie find himself in and his clumsy attempts to extradite himself from them.

 

However, the element that really brings this show to life is the way that whole production is staged, not just in terms of set and production design, but also in terms of its ingenious approach to casting.

 

The performance opens with Bertie Wooster directly addressing the audience, setting up a “play within a play” theme as he, and his butler Jeeves, attempt to act-out a story for everyone’s enjoyment. They are joined by Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia’s butler, Seppings, played by Robert Goodale (Holby City; Doc Martin) and, between them, the two butlers take-on the parts of almost a dozen different characters during the course of the evening.

 

This leads to a hilarious moment where John Gordon Sinclair, as Jeeves, takes on the challenge of a conversation as two other characters at the same time – a brief two-minute scene which is both brilliantly conceived and wonderfully acted.

 

As well as character changes, all 3 cast members are forever moving pieces of set and props as the scenes transform from one to another – all the while, breaking the “fourth wall” by engaging the audience in what is happening.

 

Overall, the production really fizzes along with some of the character transformations taking place in seemingly impossible timescales. On this opening night in Glasgow, it was the turn of Joel Sams, as understudy, to play the role of Bertie Wooster and, despite not being a household name, he quickly drew the audience into his warm and welcoming style.

 

Comparisons with the television’s most famous Jeeves and Wooster pairing, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, are not necessary – this production offers its own take on these two characters and delivers something truly unique and refreshing throughout its two-hour running time.

 

So, if it’s an evening of good, clean fun and hilarity that you are looking for then this is the play for you. Perfectly enjoyable!


 
Listing Information

Theatre Royal Glasgow

Mon 24 – Sat 29 Nov

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 08448 717 647 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Review by Mark Ridyard