Brett Herriot Review

A Little Theatre Company, A Love Letter to Theatre, Review:

A Love Letter to Theatre:

***** 5 Stars

Newly formed Glasgow based A Little Theatre Company make their debut with a digital concert that gives the audience a beautiful hour of gorgeous vocals as they set out on a journey to explore the best of musical theatre. There are some interesting artistic choices made that benefit the overall production so well.

The Concert will be available from Sunday 14th February but we at Scotsgay Arts were given an advance copy to take a peek for review and what a joy it is.

Opening with a comedy sketch as a lament to those famous pre show announcements the company then launch into “ Some things Never Change” from Disney’s “ Frozen 2”. Cleverly filmed it ensures the entire company make their mark from the off.

Swiftly moving on to a medley of Love songs from the Pen of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chris McLeish  gives a full throated rendition of “Love Changes Everything” from “ Aspects of Love”  his honey soaked vocals are at full power from the off. Blending into Matt Howells “Unexpected Song” from “Tell me on a Sunday” his voice soars and it’s always nice to hear a male take on the female intended song. Completing the Medley is Sally Swanson with “I don’t know how to love him “from “Jesus Christ Superstar” which is powerfully sung with the right amount of emotional punch behind it.

Next up is Stephen Schwartz and Bob Fosse’s “Pippin” and a performance of “corner of the Sky” sung with conviction by Richard Dalrymple whose piercing eyes truly sell the song; it’s an assured and touching performance. This is followed by the return of Chris McLeish singing “out there” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. This has to be the most vocally challenging song in the musical cannon with complex timing and rhythm. McLeish literally slays it this is a west end worthy performance.

A throw back to 80’s high hair and shoulder pads comes next with Sally Swanson and Julie Henery performing “I know him so well” from “Chess” the monster hit that saved a lacklustre show. The vocals are on point and attention to detail would Make Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson proud.

Its then time for a touch of “Cabaret” with Jen Park and Richard Dalrymple performing the titular “Money” using  film effects and Fosse choreography to create a suitably fun “Cabaret” section that’s equally well performed.

Things then slow down into a ballad section kicking off with Jen Park performing “Where did the rock go?” from Webbers “ School of Rock” Park has a unique voice that flows with emotion but retains enough timing to make you feel the passion of the song. Leading into Matt Howells “You don’t need to love me” from the Broadway smash “If/Then”. This has to be emotional high point of the production, the audience can almost touch the emotion of Howell its equally captivating as it is compassionate.

The company then join together for a mash up of “If I never knew you” and “You’ll be in my heart” from “Pocahontas” and “Tarzan” respectively.  The company let loose with Disney songs really get to showcase the vocals they have and the joy that awaits when they make their stage debut.

Turning to “Finding Neverland” Howells and Henery’s performance of “What you mean to me” both performers shine in a song that imbues love from a forgotten time but never the less remains strong.  Simply beautiful musical theatre at its very best.

Love takes its view through same sex relationships with Intrabartolo and Hartmere’s “Bare, A Pop Opera” and the title song “Bare” with McLeish and Michael Lynch taking on the emotions of the shows lead characters, Peter and Jason, delivering in depth, Style and grace its wonderfully performed.

The company stay state side with a performance of “Screw Loose” from “Cry Baby” Jen Park gets to showcase her acting chops well in this comedy infused number.  Sally Swanson then takes on the musical based around Pie’s namely “Waitress” and “When he sees me” and does the song real justice.

Next up is DreamWorks monster hit, literally, “Shrek, The musical” and “Who I’d Be” with Dalrymple, Park and Howells taking on the vocal, this is the most poignant moment in the show as we get to see inside the performers lives on stage for all of us in the arts in truly shows how much we miss our home, but we stand together, strong working to see the curtains rise once more.

Michael Lynch brings the production into the home straight with a stunning performance of “ Being Alive” from Sondheim’s “Company” it’s clear Lynch is an industry professional with a big career ahead with faultless vocals, timing and sheer passion for performing all coming through.

The company then bring the curtain down by turning to Jonathan Larson, (No not Rent and seasons of love) “Tick Tick Boom” and the outstanding song “ Louder than Words” this is a rousing and fabulous curtain call. Utilising every single ounce of the company’s vocal talents to a rousing conclusion.

“A love letter to theatre” does just that, it celebrates love of theatre, performing, friendship and each other and the Little Company truly deliver the magic of musical theatre that continues to flicker like a burning candle during these dark times for the industry. I for one applaud them and can’t wait to see what comes next! Hopefully live on stage. For now however grab a ticket for this hour long treat!

 A Little Theatre Company Presents, A love Letter to Theatre. For tickets by donation to “Acting For Others” go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-little-company-presents-a-love-letter-to-theatre-tickets-137304269767

Mary Woodward Preview

PREVIEW: Scottish Opera present Hansel and Gretel

Scottish Opera: On Screen

Scottish Opera premieres Humperdinck’s enchanting Hansel and Gretel in the latest Scottish Opera: On Screen, filmed at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on 19 December. The whole family can immerse themselves in this modern adaptation of the classic fairy tale from Wednesday 10 February at 6pm, via the Scottish Opera website. Before then, BBC Radio Scotland will feature audio excerpts from the performance as part of Classics Unwrapped, presented by Jamie MacDougall, on 7 February now availble on the BBC Sounds App.

Sung in English, with staging by Daisy Evans, this vivid and joyful reimagining of Humperdinck’s opera tells the heart-warming story of two children and their journey from an impoverished home, into the mystery and danger of the woods. Brought to life by Daisy’s unique staging, with a Christmas-crazed witch and a shopping trolley full of sugary sweets and garish goodies, Hansel and Gretel seem a long way from their simple family life. Packed full of charm and sparkle this production is an ideal anytime treat for children and adults alike, sure to lift spirits and transport audiences from behind the screen to a world of hope and wonder. Although Hansel and Gretel is an opera traditionally associated with Christmas, Daisy’s new production celebrates the opera’s joy and hope that are just as powerful and relevant whatever the season.

David Parry conducts a cast including Kathleen Ferrier Award-winner Kitty Whately as Hansel, Rhian Lois (La bohème 2020) as Gretel, ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin as Mother and The Witch, Phillip Rhodes as Father and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Charlie Drummond (Così fan tutte, 2020) as The Sandman and The Dew Fairy, in a translation by David Pountney and with a reduced orchestration by Derek Clark. Humperdinck’s chorus of gingerbread children is performed by a chorus of four adults.

Speaking to Scotsgay Arts, Daisy Evans said: ‘This show is fun for all the family, bright colours, big energy and plenty of glitter! With the current pandemic, everybody has had a difficult Christmas, so I wanted it to be about finding joy where we can, and about families celebrating together. And I also want it to encourage people to come back to the theatre, and to bring their children with them – to make them want to be part of this experience, and to invest in it as part of our culture.’

Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark said: ‘Despite a prolific composing career, Humperdinck’s reputation rests solely on this one opera. The combination of a straightforward fairy tale with a musical language which owes a heavy debt to Wagner may seem an unlikely one, but in Hansel and Gretel, the mixture of simple tunes, like the famous Dance duet, thrilling orchestral passages such as the Witch’s Ride and the Dream pantomime, and the tender emotion of the children’s Evening Prayer produces a masterpiece which has kept its popularity for well over a century.’

Available to watch via Scottish Opera’s website www.scottishopera.org.uk.

Find out more about Daisy Evans staging of Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera in an exclusive interview: www.scottishopera.org.uk/news/an-exclusive-interview-with-daisy-evans-staging-hansel-gretel/

Arts News!

Seyi Omooba and the Color Purple

The Arts in Court!

Even during the ongoing lockdown and complete closure of our theatres, the theatre industry is still in the news for many reasons. Alongside the battle to survive for the entire industry there is the ongoing story of Actress Seyi Omooba who is suing The Curve Theatre Leicester and her former agents, Michael Garret Associates Ltd (Global Artists) for breach of contract and religious discrimination for a total of £128,000.

Omooba was cast in the lead role of Celie for the 2019 Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome co production of the Musical “The Color Purple” based on Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel famously adapted for the Cinema by Steven Spielberg.

Omooba was successfully cast in the role by the producers following a transparent audition process which would begin rehearsals in late April 2019 with scheduled performances in May and June of that year.

On the 15th March 2019, Aaron Lee Lambert of the “Hamilton” company tweeted a screen shot of Omooba’s tweet from 2014 that laid bare her bigoted homophobic views, which she justifies by her religious Beliefs.

From the publication of that Tweet came the justified public back lash based around one simple question! “How can an openly homophobic actor truly portray an openly gay Character and not see the hypocrisy of that choice?”

That question amongst others were what the producers and production team faced, they gave Omooba the chance to respond and explain, as with all humanity we grow and learn and her thoughts and opinions may well have changed over the 5 year gap of the original tweet and its re-tweet.

Omooba stood by her original tweet and her homophobic belief’s which she again justified by her religious scruples. These beliefs were not shared by the Curve, and she was given the chance to resign from the production. She chose against that and therefore was removed by contract termination. She was also subsequently terminated by her Agents.

Clearly stung by this decision and the ongoing public backlash Omooba backed by Christian Concern (which is governed by her Father Ade Omooba who supports Gay Conversion therapy and unbelievably was awarded the MBE in the Queens Honours) have launched legal proceedings which have led to the ongoing Tribunal currently taking place in London.

Everyone has the inalienable right to their religious beliefs irrespective of what those are even if to others there wrong or against their own personal beliefs. There are many performers in the arts with strong faith; they however don’t use that to espouse homophobic rhetoric.

Many interesting issues have come out of the hearing to date, and here are our thoughts on them and the case thus far:

  • Omooba is justifying her homophobia by way of “this is what the bibles tells me” that is exactly the downfall of her argument. The bible is interpretive, we all interpret it differently. If the bible tells her that homosexuality is wrong (even if legal) she is entitled to that belief. What she isn’t entitled to is to hurt others with that belief which she has done on an epic scale.
  • The Tribunal has revealed that Omooba is claiming £4309 as part of the overall financial tally as this was the figure she would have been paid for the role. Omooba has been offered that sum by the Curve from the moment her contract was terminated. She made the choice not to Invoice the theatre to claim the payment. The offer of that payment remains open to this day. Therefore Seyi why didn’t you invoice for the payment?
  • Omooba has also said in court she hadn’t read the script of the musical and thus didn’t know Celie was a lesbian character. This is interesting; in 2017 Omooba performed the show in a “Concert” production at the Cadogan Hall, London in the role of Nettie. She clearly did this without reading the script or understanding the show entirely.
  • Omooba went on to say, if she had known that Celie was a gay character or it was brought to light during rehearsals that was the creative direction for the character she would have withdrawn from the production. Leaving both the cast and production team high and dry. She defends that by simply saying “that’s why theatre uses “covers” and “alternate” performers. Defence council then said to her in court, this is a most unprofessional method of working. We fully agree with the defence, how many performers would accept a role without reading the script, then finding out it doesn’t match your religious beliefs simply walk away even if that leaves just days before the opening curtain?
  • Alice Walker the author of the source book confirmed in court papers that “Celie” is based on her mother who was open in her sexual attraction to women confirming the character of “Celie” from her creation was homosexual. Therefore it’s somewhat mystifying that Omooba maintains her belief that “Celie” is not a lesbian character.
  • Two expert reports submitted by Omooba by respected director and arts Critic Lloyd Evans and Theologist Dr Martin Parsons were disallowed but can be read in full on the Christian Concern website. We have examined both documents especially Lloyd Evans which is a long winded defence document that delves into the theory of classical Greek drama’s by way of defending Omooba’s homophobia and thus justifying her suitability to play “Celie”. Its therefore clear Omooba maintains her homophobic views and her ability to play any character irrespective of the hypocrisy that might engender.
  • Hypocrisy is the very heart of the issue, the arts especially the theatre has a lifelong and unbreakable bond with the LGBTQI+ community they are often the life blood of one another. This situation is not an attack on a woman of colour, or indeed her incredible talent as an actor and vocalist. Omooba is blinded by religious belief that she simply cannot see she is the walking embodiment of a selfish hypocrite. She is fully allowed to express her belief that homosexuality is wrong, irrespective of how hurtful that is to not only her fellow cast members, the arts industry and indeed the non homophobic world. The fact she can absorb that hurt and still justify she can perform a role of a character she truly and utterly believes is wrong and a sin is sheer hypocrisy.
  • No Matter how good her portrayal of Celie would have been, it would have been a lie to the audience who would have either boycotted the production or worse still turned up to boo her from the stage. The law does protect the right to free speech and Omooba is fully entitled to share her views but she must be willing to accept the consequences of that decision. Something this tribunal shows she isn’t willing to do.
  • Oomba has a red line in her casting choices, she said she would not play a homosexual character due to her religious beliefs. She never informed the Curve or to a certain degree her agents of that decision. She still however accepted the role of Celie which defies logic.

Final Thoughts:

 The tribunal is ongoing until 11th of February, and we at Scotsgay arts hope the court find in favour of the Curve Leicester and Omooba’s former agents. The only person to blame for this situation is Seyi Omooba herself, No one is denying her religious freedoms but she is happy to deny the freedom of human sexuality based on that religious belief, is it really ok for her to say it’s wrong to be homosexual yet whilst being wrong can happily play one of the great LGBTQI+ characters?. Seyi, once your homophobic truths came to light you were then no longer a suitable actor to portray the role of Celie, it really is that simple.

Theatre is a family we all stand by one another when one person hurts we all hurt together, Omooba’s words in that original tweet cut deep but what cuts deeper still is her inability to accept her actions have consequences and these now include costing her the career she so cherished.

In the video posted to youtube by Christian Concern, Omooba says just wants those who are Christian to be able to perform in theatre. Seyi yes they can perform in Theatre but when you spread homophobic hate and defend it by Christianity that isn’t Christian and isn’t in the heart of what Theatre making is all about. 

Have a look at the video from Christian Concern but do remember this is purely one side of the argument; we shall update this article once the verdict comes in. For now however what do you think?

Christian Concern Youtube Video

Preview

Glasgow Film Festival 2021

Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Preview:

Although Cinema’s the length and breadth of the country remain closed under covid restrictions, cinema and film is enjoying a boom period especially in streaming and online services.

As we make our way through March the Glasgow Film Festival has announced their programme for 2021 and have also confirmed the entire event will be held digitally. The 2021 festival will run from Wednesday 24th February to Sunday 7th March inclusive.

The festival itself will feature a strong LGBTQI+ strand and festival Co-Director Allan Hunter spoke to Scotsgay arts saying “The Glasgow Film Festival is happening entirely online this year so there is no excuse not to stay home and watch films. The Festival always reflects the wide range of LGBTQI+ stories being told around the world and this year is no exception. I would particularly recommend Marley Morrison’s Sweetheart in which a teenage lesbian experiences a bittersweet family holiday. It is sharp, funny and features a star-making performance from Nell Barlow . Poppy Field is a real nail biter. Inspired by true events it follows a closeted Romanian police officer in a work situation that threatens to out him. The documentary Steelers celebrates the 25th anniversary of the world’s first gay rugby club and is full of personal stories that will definitely bring a tear to the eye.”

So lets take a look at the pick of the LGBTQI+ offerings coming up at the 2021 Glasgow Film Festival!

Sweetheart – World Premiere

Billed as a nostalgic coming of age tale for a new generation, Marley Morrison’s debut feature Sweetheart is a story inspired by her own teenage battles with gender identity and sexuality. The film follows AJ (Nell Barlow), a socially awkward, environmentally conscious teenager who is dragged by her mum to a holiday park in Dorset. She is determined to have the worst week of her life, but her plan comes unstuck when she meets flirty, free-spirited lifeguard Isla (Ella Rae Smith) who might just be the girl of her dreams.

Steelers, The World’s First Gay Rugby Club – UK Premiere

The Kings Cross Steelers were the world’s first gay rugby team, created in 1995 when legal same sex marriage was decades away and very few straight teams would even agree to play them. Twenty-five years on, they are heading to Amsterdam for the world gay rugby tournament – The Bingham Cup. Eammon Ashton-Atkinson’s uplifting documentary focuses on the individual stories of those whose lives have been changed by the club. From lesbian head coach Nic Evans who still has to fight to be recognised as a senior official on the pitch, to a player who is as fierce in drag competitions as he is on the pitch.

Poppy Field – UK Premiere

Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer) is an officer with the Romanian police. He has a long-term, long-distance relationship with Hadi (Radouan Leflahi) who lives in Paris. An oppressive, macho work culture convinces him to remain in the closet. One evening the police are called to a cinema where protesters have stopped the screening of a queer film. Tensions are high, tempers are fraying. One man in the audience clearly recognises Cristi. How far will he go to prevent himself from being outed? Inspired by true events, this is a taut, compelling tale of prejudice and the cost of living a lie.

Cowboys – UK Premiere

Anna Kerrigan’s award-winning debut shows a rare understanding of the complexities and challenges of modern family life. Troy (Steve Zahn) is on a camping trip with his transgender son Joe (Sasha Knight), an 11-year-old with a passion for cowboy yarns and the great outdoors. As they travel through the majestic beauty of the northern Rockies, television news reports emerge claiming that Joe is missing. As detective Faith (Ann Dowd) investigates we see a bigger picture involving Joe’s conservative mother Sally (Jillian Bell) and her inability to let go of the little girl she loves.

Truman and Tennessee – UK Premiere

Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were friends for the best part of 40 years. Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s poignant documentary captures the complexity of a relationship that journeyed from fond regard to bitchy disdain and back again. A wealth of archive material confirms the two literary giants as central to American cultural life in the 20th century. Jim Parsons (Capote) and Zachary Quinto (Williams) voice their words in a celebration of what the two men achieved and what it cost them.

The LGBTQI+ strand makes up a small proportion of the films on offer, films that challenge, inform and entertain in equal measure, and while we wait for cinemas to fully reopen supporting independent cinema and our film festivals has never been more important. So grab the popcorn and settle down on the sofa!

For full details on the films we have selected and all the films across the festival and to book your screening tickets go to:

https://glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival/whats-on/all

Brett Herriot Review

BBD Productions Big Burns Night Bash

Big Burns Night Bash Review

***** 5 Stars

Edinburgh based Big Band Does Productions continues its collection of Online offerings. Following Halloween and Christmas inspired productions they turn to Scotland’s national Bard Robert Burns and all things Scotland for a production that see’s them return to form.

Opening with a visually stunning and vocally haunting rendition of “Sky Boat Song” performed with touching Grace by Natalie and Danielle Logan. The perfect blend of Scotland’s lands and  truly accomplished vocals get this thirty minute production off to a beautiful start.

Next up is Lewis Watson with a “Burns” inspired ode “Tae a Sesh” pithy, witty and charming this is contemporary Scotland reflecting on its heritage and both writing and performance blend in a perfect marriage.

Caledonia, Dougie MacLean’s hit from 1977 has become somewhat of alternative national anthem for many Scots. Here Luca Manning and Rosie Graham give it a touchingly simplistic covering. They let the lyrics speak for themselves and it shines! Luca must have the best ear rings of the production to boot!

Moving on to our first dose of actual “Burns” Sally Cairns delivers “To a Louse” yes that’s not a mistype of the more well known “To a Mouse”. Cairns deliver’s with excellent accession and dialect that blazes through the screen.

 We then get some Scottish pop in the form of Amy McDonald’s “This is the Life” performed by Georgia Fish, her rich “indie” style vocals give extra charm to this punchy number.

The Devine Chris McLeish takes us back to 1841 and “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond” this song will always be eternal and McLeish delivers something truly special, he sings from his soul and its achingly beautiful.

Returning again to “Burns” himself Rebecca Gordon Scott delivers a charming “A Red, Red, Rose”.

Producer Scott Coltman takes to the screen next, performing “Wee Andy Webber’s Scottish Medley” which proved a hit for Dean Park back in 1998. The medley see’s Lord Webbers greatest hits given a Celidh twist. Coltman brings the comedy to the production along with a costume change or two! Its a fun change of pace.

If you’re going to have a “Burns” bash you have to have a haggis! Joe Hunter delivers the “address to a Haggis” in a flawless performance of depth that showcases Scotland’s love for its National Dish.

The Haggis eaten, the Dram’s drunk it’s time for “Auld Lang Syne” performed by Hazel Beattie, well know to Scottish Audiences for “Rabbie” and “Sunshine on Leith” this is the ultimate high point of the production. A vocal that touches the heart, and moves the soul. Made all the more powerful by the touching tribute to the great “Andy Gray”. Musical performance at its best.

To close the show, the company turn to monster hit musical “Sunshine on Leith” and full cast rendition of “Over and Done with” it brings the video to a rousingly Scottish curtain down.

Superbly edited by Tommie Travers BBD have returned to form with the Big Burns Night Bash let’s hope it rolls over into their next venture, BBD does Valentines. Beyond that lets all wish the company are back performing Live soon. For now this is well worth half an hour of anyone’s evening.

BBD are Supporting Acting for Others please donate what you can at:

www.actingforothers.co.uk/donate

BBD Big Burns Night Bash is available digitally at the link below: