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Brett Herriot Review

9 To 5 The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

9 To 5 The Musical, 

***** 5 Stars

“A Comedy Musical Joie De Vivre!

Can you believe the motion Picture of “9 to 5” was released in cinemas in 1980 yes! Almost 40 years ago, the story of three women leading the charge for female empowerment in the business world of the high rises of New York gave Dolly Parton perhaps her most recognisable hit.

The film was adapted to a musical and premiered in 2008 and gained some success however it didn’t arrive in the west end of London until just this year, and its that production which is still currently playing at the Savoy Theatre which is now on tour throughout the UK and what a treat it is.

Telling the story of Violet Newstead ( a wonderful turn from Laura Tyrer stepping in for the indisposed Louise Redknapp) a strong willed woman with aspirations of being CEO, Judy Bernly (Amber Davies in powerhouse turn) an office newbie who facing up to life without her husband must get on the work ladder and Doralee Rhodes (Georgina Castle who channels Dolly Parton wonderfully well) who every one thinks is a tart with a heart but in fact this tart has the brains to match.

The three women are stuck in a male dominated world, and repressed with a boss, Franklin Hart Jnr (a snide and excellently judge performance from Sean Needham) who is nothing more that a sexist pig. Having put rat poison in the boss’s coffee which he survives its sets off a chain of comedy events that see’s the woman finally find there feet in the business world and each other and change there world for the better.

This 2019 production is without a shadow of doubt the best ever of the show, with Director Jeff Calhoun taking the show in new direction, this is musical theatre for adults, with sexual innuendo, bare buttocks and S and M references aplenty and it’s a comedy musical joie de vivre.

Dolly Parton’s Music and Lyrics and Patricia Resnick’s book is better served by this retooling one which works so well as rather than trying to please family audience’s it harnesses the power of the original film and explores the empowerment of women in business so well.

Lisa Stevens Choreography is sharp with nods to Bob Fosse scattered throughout added to Simone Manfredini’s 8-piece band all the ingredients are mixed together for a superb night of musical fun. Special mention must also go to Tom Rogers inventive set design which really transport the show to New York and an office setting brilliantly and even allows Dolly herself to act as Narrator ( sorry folks she is on pre tape not live in the theatre) which adds extra charm. With excellent lighting design from Howard Hudson and Poti Martin’s Sound design you have all the trappings of a west end calibre show on stage at the playhouse.

9 to 5 remains an enduring hit as both a film and musical because of its heart and putting women at the centre of the story something which even now 40 years letter remains as relevant as ever. So tumble out of bed and pour yourself a cup of ambition and head to the playhouse for a real treat!

Dolly Parton Presents, 9 To 5 The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 16th November, UK tour continues for tickets go to: www.atgtickets.com/shows/9-to-5-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/

Arts News!

Dance Horizon’s 5th Birthday and Launch Evening

Dance Horizon’s 5th Birthday and Launch Evening

The Cannon Gait, Edinburgh

Edinburgh based creative producer for dance, Dance Horizons have marked there 5th birthday with a special evening celebration held on Friday 8th November in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. We at scotsgay arts were honoured to have been invited along to enjoy the evening.

Dance Horizons first emerged in 2013 when a small group of entrepreneurial dance graduates presented “Dance Horizons Industry Night”, this was an evening of dance development held in the North west of England in partnership with Dance UK which is now know as One Dance UK.

Horizons Dance 1

The launch of the companies “Innovations, Contemporary dance platform” came in November 2014 and has gone on to the be the flagship event for the company and is now an annual feature of there work with editions being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and further afield around the UK.

As well as developing their own work in the dance art form they work as producer and co producer to bring some of the greatest emerging dance talent to the stage. 2019 has been a very busy year for the team at Horizon’s with Genesis– a double bill by Kennedy Muntanga Dance Theatre, London, Innovations Platform- presenting works by 8 artists/companies from the UK, Brittany & Spain. And Mastication- performance artwork by independent dance artist Paul Scott Bullen based in Northwest England all being part of Sold out Edinburgh Fringe run.

Horizons Dance 2

2020 is promising to be equally busy with Innovations Spring 2020 coming on Friday 1st May 2020 to
The Studio at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, this is an evening of four contemporary dance works including a matinee showing aimed at dance students in training. This will be followed by Innovations EdFringe Edition Building on this year’s successful run, Innovations have confirmed it will return for the third consecutive year to Greenside Venues and will be expanded to a two-week run. Also, as part of the overall Fringe 2020 programme Kennedy Muntanga Dance Theatre Will return to Edinburgh with a double bill performance as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2020. Horizons will also welcome Sketch Dance Theatre London as part of EdFringe 2020 at the Greenside Venues. Sketch is an emerging company of graduate artists from Roehampton University currently touring across the South of the UK. 2020 will then be rounded out by Innovations Winter Edition 2020 which will return to The Studio of the Festival Theatre in November for another exciting platform of contemporary works.

Its Certainly been a busy year for the company with an even bigger year planned! And the evening celebrations were completed with the announcement of the Innovations awards, the Innovations 2019 Award went to Unearthed Dance Company for there production of ‘You, Me & Them’ presented at Innovations Spring 2019 @ The Studio. The Innovations 2019 EdFringe Award went to Fuelled Dance Theatre for their production of “y.O.u” at Innovations EdFringe 2019 Greenside Venues . The big award of the night the Innovations Development Award 2019 was awarded to Peter Twyman Dance For the development of “Emotions” through Innovations Platforms across 2019.

Horizons Dance 3

We at Scotsgayarts also managed to sit down with Horizons Creative Director and Producer Oliver Anwyl as we asked him, what does next year ahead for the company mean to you? Oliver: “Next year is going to be such an exciting and action-packed year. Seeing these plans coming to fruition is rather overwhelming as we continue to expand. Being able to announce a year’s line up is something we hadn’t thought possible this time last year. It has not been an easy journey getting Dance Horizons to where it is now, and there are still obstacles to overcome. When I founded it, I was told by a lot of people it was a dead end, but five years later, here we are! I am so grateful to be supported by a group of incredible people who are as passionate about dance and its possibilities as I am.”

Horizons Dance 4

Thanks to all at Dance Horizons for a wonderful evening and this is definitely a company to keep an eye on through out 2020 and the years ahead! Here’s to what the future brings!

Dance Horizons will present work in 2020 in The Studio at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh and During the Edinburgh Fringe at the Greenside Venues, please check respective Websites for ticket details. To follow the work of the company go to www.dancehorizons.co.uk

Mary Woodward Review

Still No Idea, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Review

Still No Idea by Lisa Hammond, Lee Simpson and Rachael Spence

***** (5 stars)

I can’t get that refrain out of my head – cheeky face, cheeky face – as I come out of the Traverse and head for home after an evening which challenged, moved, frustrated and angered me as Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence invited us to join them on an expedition to find the material for a new show, the results of which they presented to us in a mixture of styles and formats that had us both laughing and crying – crying not with laughter but with frustration that, despite anything anyone may think or say about how “it’s so much easier/ so much better/ things are more equal” for people with disabilities, the demoralising fact is that things are much, much worse than they were ten years ago…

The loudest laughs came from the audience members with mobility issues – laughing as they recognise the situations in which they so often find themselves, and the constant struggle to be seen as a person, not as a disability: to be taken seriously, given real parts to play in the world, not sidelined, patronised or spoken to in a special voice Wow! didn’t she do well…

So many of the suggestions made by members of the public when asked to suggest characters or plot lines arose from embarrassment and/or an inability to see Rachael and Lisa as two people of equal worth and importance, who might equally play a central character rather than an also-ran.  Cheeky face exquisitely highlighted the way people’s discomfort is expressed in a cheery bonhomie – you don’t know what to say to someone in a wheelchair and so try to wrap it in what is thought to be humour – here comes trouble! or my you’ve got a cheeky face: I bet you’re a barrel of laughs: i.e. don’t try to engage with a real live adult human being, treat them as you might an engaging puppy or a bouncy toddler.

And this in an age which prides itself on an equal society which doesn’t hide disabled people away… But what good is celebrating the successes of paralympians if it makes people think that every disabled person ‘ought’ to be able to do what they can?  What sort of society do we live in when people who are seen walking as they transfer themselves from one wheelchair to another are insulted and called scroungers and benefit cheats? What sort of government proposes policies based on kicking away their crutches will make them stronger??

Under all the humour there’s an anger and a despair that our current society is so hostile to people with disabilities that they are led to commit suicide rather than continue the struggle against unjustly reduced or discontinued benefits, and sometimes die of their medical condition before their appeal has been heard or dealt with.

What can be done?  Laugh rather than cry; try to see people as human beings rather than ‘conditions’; imagine the hero or heroine of your favourite novel, play, tv series or film as someone with a disability – see them as central to the action rather than as a bit player or moving wallpaper – in short, try to create the picture of a world in which there is equality of opportunity for everyone.

Still No Idea has toured extensively in England: the Traverse gig is the sole Scottish appearance. Don’t miss it – and be prepared to have a good laugh while having all your comfortable notions turned upside down.

Still No Idea by Lisa Hammond, Lee Simpson and Rachael Spence, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, run ends 9th November for tickets go to: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event/still-no-idea

 

Brett Herriot Review

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, 

**** 4 Stars

“We Belong!”

It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed since the original motion picture of the Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert first entered the cinemas, its story of two drag queens and a transsexual criss crossing the Australian outback in a 1960’s tour bus was ultimately a story of acceptance, love and discovering that ultimately we all belong in this world.

12 years after the film the stage production debuted in Australia, with a juke box collection of classic hits and warm heart at its core, the musical took the world by storm with both extended west end and Broadway runs.

After several previous UK tours the show is back in a brand-new reimaging and with previous star of the show Jason Donovan now producing its time for a fresh take on a modern classic. The Story remains fully intact, with Tick ( a wonderfully charming Joe McFadden) and his drag alter ego Mitizi discovering its time to get to know his son who lives with his mother in a casino in Alice Springs, he rounds up his Friends, a big hearted transsexual Bernadette (an emotionally truthful turn from Miles Western) and young know it all Adam with his drag persona Felicia ( a strong physical performance from Nick Hayes) packing there lives into the bus known as Priscilla they set out on a voyage of discovery.

Director Ian Talbot and Choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves have really brought the heart out in this production and rely on that to carry the show and it works to great effect, in amongst the pop and disco classics such as Boogie Wonderland, Pop Muzik and I will survive which have stunning and crisp dance moves through out. There are also moments which genuinely touch the heart.

When the queens come face to face with the most horrible homophobia and discover they must never forget the cost of the choices they make, it’s a rendition of “True Colours” that speaks volumes, a beautifully judged performance from Miles Western truly captures the hurt, paint and ultimately hope for something better.

Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels Set and Costume Design does overall bring new life to the show, with many of the iconic costumes being refreshed or completely altered to great effect, even the set works for the majority of the time. However, the reveal of Priscilla herself is hugely underwhelming to the point of disappointment. The divas don’t fly, and the spectacular moments of previous productions have been lost. It does mean the show can visit smaller venues on the tour but thanks to excellent performances it doesn’t cheapen the production overall.

Ben Cracknell’s Lighting design is excellent and sparkles in Technicolor glory to the intimate lighting of Ayr’s rock at dusk combined with Ben Harrison’s rich sound design that brings the 7-piece pit band to life with aplomb the production elements succeed in fully supporting the overall production.

Priscilla’s greatest message is that we regardless of colour, class, sexuality or creed do belong in this world and deserve to be accepted for the individuals we are. It’s a message that’s more potent than ever in the current climate we live in. So why not pop along to the Playhouse and join the queens on the most epic of adventures!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 9th November, UK tour continues for tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/priscilla-queen-of-the-desert-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/

Brett Herriot Review

CHER, Here We Go Again, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Review

CHER, Here We Go Again, 

***** 5 Stars

“The Icon Turns Back Time !”

After 325 farewell performances in 2014 and then 49 more, the iconic legend is back at the age of 73 for one final roll of the dice and maybe she really does mean to say farewell with the “Here we go again tour”

Everything about Cherilyn Sarkisian known to the world as Cher defines the words living legend, a pop and rock music goddess, an award-winning actress, there is nothing that she hasn’t be able to turn golden in a career that’s spans 55 years and counting.

This production is pure Cher at her very best, bedecked in sumptuous costumes, backing dancers, dazzling lighting design, aerial acrobatics, and giant video screens that document Cher’s career across the decades.

Opening with “Woman’s World” Cher enters flying high above the stage in shimmering blues from her wig to her frock, landing on stage and bursting into “Strong Enough” and showing the years don’t slow her down, she joins in the polished chorography with her dance troupe.

Then in a break from tradition, Cher goes into a 10-minute conversation with her audience, telling the story of David Letterman and the many luminaries she has met in her life. It was fascinating but perhaps not well judged as it became obvious some of the audience were there for the music and not the anecdotes. However, as she revelled in saying how old she is and then asked the audience, so tell me, what is your gran doing tonight? With that she turned and delivered an explosive extravaganza from illustrious back catalog.

“all or nothing” “the beats go on” bring the 60’s back to life with Cher in a jewel encrusted pink pant suit looking as fresh in 2019 as she did in 1965. Then the most touching and emotional moment of the show occurs as thanks to modern technology is able to duet one more time with Sonny Ono on “I got you babe” a wonderful moment indeed.

The show then plows through 70’s disco, the hits “the shoop shoop song”, “ walking in Memphis” all make an appearance. Cher’s latest album a tribute to abba is covered well along with the platinum blonde look she adopted for the film Mamma Mia 2.

So how does an icon and legend bring to a close her third and very possibly her last farewell tour? The answer is simple, you turn back time and believe in life after love. Glad in skin tight cat suit, leather boots and jacket and the worlds biggest perm wig Cher defies age and blasts “If I could turn back time” with such energy, the hydro literally shakes in its wake, a rock classic that will truly stand the test of time.

All that’s left is one last quick costume change and what must be Cher’s greatest pop hit, “Believe” with a stunning light show and performance power that would put x factor winners and rejects to shame, its all over, Cher stands triumphant and basks in the glow of her achievements.

If this really is the final farewell those in the Hydro must count there blessing for they were there, and basked in the glory! Thank you Cher! For a memory that will live forever we can only hope you turn back time just once more.

CHER! Here We Go Again Tour, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Run Ended.

Kieran A Wilson Review

The Rocky Horror Show, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

The Rocky Horror Show, 

**** 4 Stars

“dancing in the aisles; from start to finish”


After first taking to the stage in 1973, Richard O’Brien’s musical and comedic spoof rocketed to success in London, before transferring over to take the US by storm. Since then, the award winning musical has hit the big screen – along with over 75 professional theatrical productions worldwide. Christopher Luscomb’s take on the musical doesn’t stray too far from the original; whilst adding a modern and unique feel to the production.

The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad (James Darch) and his fiancée Janet (Joanne Clifton) who’s fortune changes when their car breaks down outside an unusual and mysterious mansion; owned by the charismatic Dr Frank-n-Furter (Duncan James).

As cult theatre comes, this is perhaps the world’s most revolutionary and famous of them all; with it’s instantly recognisable show tunes, and not to forget the more noticeable: dressed up fan base. With timeless classics such as Sweet Transvestite and The Time Warp, this production will definitely have you dancing in the aisles; from start to finish.


Luscomb’s direction emphasises the audience’s role in the show; using audience participation to break the 4th wall and spring all the overdressed (or underdressed) butch men to life – as they sit, having emptied their wives (or their own) wardrobes prior to the event. This extra emphasis adds a somewhat pantomime aspect to the show, giving the patron what they expect and more.

The show couldn’t open on a stronger note as The Usherette (Laura Harrison), who also stars as Magenta, opens with a show stopping number – featuring gorgeous vocals and a taste of what’s to come. In fact, these vocals are the first of many impeccable vocals throughout the show – as every cast member brings the musical score to life.

The Narrator (Philip Franks) performs a 2 hour masterclass, taking control of the stage and delivering every line with strong intent. As he strays from the script to lash out at vocal audience members, Franks has truly perfected the comedic value required for this role. It is clear that Darch understands the role of Brad and is able to portray that fully onstage, but he is overshadowed by Clifton as she shines in the role of Janet – allowing the audience to fully follow her character’s transformation. Blue Star, Duncan James, owns the stage as the sensual and playful character ‘Frank-N-Furter’, appearing almost too comfortable in his corset and heels; raising suspicion of his other performance related hobbies.

The role of Rocky falls on the talented, and muscular Callum Evans, as he flies around the stage making use of his award winning acrobatic skills; although this feature is slightly overused – losing its impact within minutes of him entering the stage.

Despite the few technical issues, the sound was of great quality throughout; although deemed rather quiet at points. Nick Richings has created a beautiful and complex lighting design for the show; truly capturing the different dynamics portrayed within the storyline.

Where this production seems to fall short is with the cleanliness of the choreography. With a new innovative set, outstanding costumes and a cast that are more the qualified to play the part; this show has the audience in the palm of their hand. So I urge you to get along to the Edinburgh Playhouse this week to truly experience The Rocky Horror Show first hand.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Edinburgh Playhouse, runs until Saturday 2nd November; for Tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/ shows/the-rocky-horror-show/edinburgh-playhouse/

 

Mary Woodward Review

PRISM, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Review

PRISM 

**** (4 stars)

homage to a genius of cinema

The curtain rises on something that looks like a film sound stage, whose sliding door’s upward passage is constantly interrupted by someone who won’t allow it simply to open but keeps commenting on the ratio of length to width of the slowly-increasing aperture beneath it. The legs we see beneath the door turn out to belong to an irascible older gentleman, an impatient younger man and a young woman who stands awkwardly in the background, taking no part in the argument.

The shutter finally slides upwards completely, allowing the three to enter the room, which turns out to be a garage: a convolutedly cyclic conversation ensues between the two men and tries to include the young woman – This is the garage: if it’s a garage, where’s the car? Outside the pub – mine’s a scotch and soda – no, she’s not the barmaid, and this isn’t the pub, it’s the garage: well, if it’s a garage, where’s the car? It’s a somewhat illogical conversation which alerts us to the fact that the older gentleman is suffering from dementia. The man who turns out to be his son tries constantly to bring his father into the here and now by demonstrating the absurdity of many of his remarks: the father is constantly sliding between alternate realities and making responses that could be utterly illogical, or completely sane wisecracks.

And so we enter the multi-layered world of Jack Cardiff, cinematographer and director, known as “the man who makes women look beautiful”, who knew better than almost anyone else how to use the Technicolor process to make films look gorgeous. The prism of the title is the one that sits inside the Technicolor camera and splits the light entering it into three separate colours, recorded on three separate strips of film and reunited after processing to produce a richness of colour previously unknown to cinematography.

Jack much of his time living in his memories – particularly of Katherine Hepburn and the filming of African Queen: his son, Mason, is trying desperately, and almost aggressively, to keep his father in the present to finish the autobiography he has begun. Jack’s wife Nicola is heartbroken that Jack no longer recognises her, but uncomplainingly takes Hepburn’s part in the conversations he continually holds with her while Lucy, who has been engaged as a care assistant for Jack, tries to put into practice the ‘correct’ ways of dealing with people who are dementing that she has learned in her all-too-brief training.

Robert Lindsay gives a magnificent performance as the man who was obsessed with light, the different ways in which it illuminates everything it touches, and the gorgeous emotional atmospheres it can create in films. Tara Fitzgerald is desolate and yet stoically pragmatic as she watches the man she loves slowly disintegrate – remembering the wonderful women he worked with in the past but failing to see the reality of the one who’s living with him now. I couldn’t quite decide whether Oliver Hembrough’s Mason was solely motivated by a desire to get his father’s autobiography completed and made into a film: was he desperately trying to complete the project as a way to come out from his father’s shadow and make a name for himself? Victoria Blunt’s Lucy was a curious mixture, too: what was the point of making her tragic backstory part of the play, and would Jack’s wife and son really engage a carer with so little knowledge and experience? Yes, she had compelling reasons to make a success of the job, but it felt almost as though her character had been invented to tick a number of boxes needed to make the plot work and to provide ‘dumb blonde’ responses for the audience to laugh at.

What is real? The lines blurred between Jack’s ‘present’ and the past he increasingly lived in. At one point we were transported to the African jungle, where Jack watched Bogie and Bacall and tried to persuade Kate to leave Spencer and accept his love instead; at another, a scene which had played out in the first act was repeated, but with different characters – Marilyn instead of Lucy, Arthur Miller replacing Mason, and, as ever, Katherine – which makes the motivation for the first scene instantly clear: Jack is living in his own world, and the other three become the players in it.

How true is it all? Terry Johnson says “I never intended to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. He’s combined an engaging narrative and homage to a genius of cinema with a moving portrayal of the effects of dementia not only on the sufferer but also on all the people around them to produce a piece which raised a lot of laughs and was greeted with appreciative applause both, I think, for the actors, and for the man who inspired the play – Jack Cardiff, cinematographer extraordinaire.

PRISM written and directed by Terry Johnson, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, run ends 2nd  November, then UK tour continues. for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/prism