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Dec 8th

Sleeping Beauty, The Kings Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 Review by Suzanne Lowe

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

(Images courtesy of Ambassadors Theatre Group) 

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

Sat 2 Dec 2017 - Sun 7 Jan 2018

Tue-Sat at 7.00pm, Sun at 5.00pm

Matinees daily at 1pm, 2pm or 11am

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

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

Dec 7th

Mamma Mia! – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tue 5-Sat 30 Dec 2017

Mon-Sat, 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

 

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

 

Dec 5th

JANUARY-MARCH SEASON AT THE FINBOROUGH THEATRE ANNOUNCED

By Carolin Kopplin

During 2018, the Finborough Theatre celebrates 150 years of the Finborough Theatre building with the FINBOROUGH150 series, an anniversary selection of the best plays from 1868. Our first season of 2018 features the first rediscovery from 1868 in the FINBOROUGH150 series, alongside five premieres of new writing – three from brand new British and Irish writers in their formal professional debuts, and two multi-award-winning American playwrights with two hard-hitting and controversial new plays.

Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson said: "A recent article in the press bemoaned the lack of new British playwrights at some of London’s funded “new writing” theatres. As always, it is up to venues such as ours to redress the balance. This season features three new debut plays from British and Irish playwrights, alongside two new plays from multi-award-winning American playwrights. Three of the new plays this season were first seen in our acclaimed Vibrant – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights seasons which will celebrate its tenth consecutive year in 2018. As always, too, we celebrate the old alongside the new, and this season we begin celebrating the 150th anniversary of our building with the first in our new FINBOROUGH150 series.”

Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Nanking massacre, the season opens with the European premiere of Into the Numbers by the multi-award-winning playwright Christopher Chen, commemorating the 80th anniversary of ‘The Rape of Nanking’, one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, playing for a four week limited season from 2-27 January 2018. It is accompanied by the world premiere of Imaginationship by Sue Healy, a new play on love, sex, obsession and death in Great Yarmouth, originally seen as a staged reading as part of Vibrant 2017 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, playing on Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between 7-23 January 2018.

The season continues with the world premiere of a debut by Cornish playwright Henry Darke, Booby’s Bay, a passionate, comic fable about the housing crisis in Cornwall and beyond, and a maverick’s mission to turn the tide, playing 30 January-24 February 2018. It plays alongside the opening production of the FINBOROUGH150 series – the first London production since 1890 of the 1868 hit, Cyril’s Success, a semi-autobiographical satire on playwrights and theatre folk, by local resident Henry J. Byron, playing for nine Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from 4 February 2018.

We end the season with the world premiere of the first English-language adaptation of the classic novella by Ghassan KanafaniReturning to Haifa, adapted for the stage by Naomi Wallaceand Ismail Khalidi, a compelling story of two families – one Palestinian, one Israeli – forced by history into an intimacy they didn't choose. It concides with the 70th anniversaries of both the Nakbaor “catastrophe” (the mass dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948) and the foundation of the State of Israel, and plays from 27 February-24 March 2018. This production marks the play's world premiere, following its banning by the Public Theater, New York City. It plays concurrently with the world premiere of Checkpoint Chana by Jeff Page, a new play examining the point where pro-Palestinian criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism blur. Originally seen as a staged reading as part ofVibrant 2017 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, it runs on Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees between 4-20 March 2018.

From 30 January 2018, by popular request, we will be moving to a new ticketing provider, Spektrix, for all ticket bookings. The website address will remain www.finboroughtheatre.co.ukFrom 30 January 2018, telephone bookings will be on a new number 01223 357851 and will be free to call. There will no booking fees on online, personal or postal bookings, but there will be a 5% booking fee on telephone bookings.

The Finborough Theatre has had a superlative year to date with acclaimed sell-out productions, transfers in London and to New York City, our tenth Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme Playwright in Residence Bursary, and nominations for both The Stage Debut Award and an Olivier Award.

For full information, please visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk