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The Lion King Returns to Edinburgh!

The Edinburgh Playhouse, Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland has today announced that the award-winning musical THE LION KING will return to the Edinburgh in December 2019, the only Scottish dates on the second UK and Ireland tour.

lion king 2

The tour coincides with THE LION KING celebrating 20 years at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Since the UK premiere in London on Tuesday 19th October 1999, THE LION KING has entertained over 15 million theatregoers and remains the West End’s best-selling stage production and the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

Colin Marr, Theatre Director, the Edinburgh Playhouse said: “We are incredibly excited to have Disney’s THE LION KING return to the Playhouse. I saw it for the first time in London recently and was blown away by the size and scale of the production. It’s an incredibly exciting show – a great spectacle but with brilliant humour too. I can’t wait to see it on our stage. The previous visit had a huge impact on the city attracting hundreds and thousands of visitors and generating millions of pounds for the local economy.  As the only Scottish venue, we are looking forward to welcoming audiences of all ages from Edinburgh, the rest of Scotland and internationally.”

lion king 3

The first tour of THE LION KING which ran from 2012 – 2015 broke box office records at the Edinburgh Playhouse with a 15 week sell-out season playing to more than 325,000 people, 60% first time visitors to the venue with 29% from Edinburgh postcodes.

The Christmas slot at The Edinburgh Playhouse is a legendary with the biggest and best of the west end seeking to fill the Greenside Place venues massive house. The Lion King which brings together the very best creatives from the musical theatre word and promises to be the ultimate festive treat.

the lion king

So Edinburgh get ready, The biggest show of all time is getting ready to Roar its way back into Scotland!

Disney presents The Lion King, Edinburgh Playhouse, December 2019

Tickets will go on sale in March 2019. Fans can sign up for priority access to tickets at http://www.thelionking.co.uk

 

Mary Woodward Review

Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur­ – Metropolitan Opera, New York – Review

Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur­ – ( Via Live relay to British Cinemas)

***** (5 stars)

This rarely-seen opera was performed by a stellar cast demonstrating exactly why it’s such a rarity: you need more than superb voices – magnificent acting and a brilliant ensemble are also mandatory if this piece is to catch fire and not flop embarrassingly, as some Met productions I’ve seen have done.

At its most basic, the story is a battle between two strong women – the eponymous actress and the Princess de Bouillon – in love with the same man – Maurizio, Count of Saxony.  Add in the Prince, a philandering husband jealous of his wife and suspecting her of infidelity, Michonnet, the stage manager who silently loves Adriana, and the bickering and gossiping cast of the Comédie Française, and you have the bald outline of the plot of Adriana – but this is to ignore the many subtleties which twist and turn the plot into a kaleidoscope of fluctuating emotions and propel it to its tragic end.

Premiered in 1902, the opera pays homage to the bel canto tradition while also looking forward to verismo but, as conductor Gianandrea Noseda said, not blood and fire verismo but real emotions, with passion tearing people apart.  The superb score with its detailed orchestration was brilliantly played by the Met orchestra, painting pictures of the backstage bustle prior to a performance, the joyous outpourings of the happy lovers, the agitation and concealed menace as the plot thickens, and the desolation and doom-laden final act.

Adriana Lecouvreur really existed, as did the Count of Saxony and the Prince and Princess de Bouillon, the former an expert in poisons.  Adriana was an actress at the Comédie Française in the 18th century who was particularly noted for her naturalistic acting which contrasted strongly with the artificial style of the time.  She really did have an affair with Maurizio, and her sudden death gave rise to rumours that she had been poisoned.

The cast were magnificent.  Anna Netrebko was at her diva assoluta best as the actress torn by doubts and fears yet radiant in her love, who rises to the peak of her dramatic powers publicly to scorn her rival for unblushingly carrying on an affair under her husband’s nose.  The Princess, Anita Rachvelishvili, was breathtakingly assured in her wealth and power, riven by jealousy of her rival and determined never to give up her lover – a fabulous voice and a commanding personality.  Piotr Beczala made Maurizio’s outpourings – romantic, tender, martial, passionate – seem effortless as he trod the tricky path between furthering his ambitions by responding to his patron, the Princess, and wooing the actress who had transformed his life.  It was a delight to have three superb Italian character actors in the other principal roles: Carlo Bosi as the scheming, pandering Abbé, Maurizio Muraro as the two-timing but incandescently jealous Prince, and the incomparable Ambrogio Maestri as the silently suffering Michonnet, the stage manager who has loved Adriana and suffered in silence for five years.  He gave a master class in subtle, understated acting which cast into strong contrast the impressively dramatic and at times almost histrionic performances all around him.

I’ve loved this opera for years – the delightfully haphazard and seemingly shambolic backstage life in a big theatre, the subtle orchestration, the cleverly atmospheric themes running throughout the score.  It was with enormous pleasure that I saw David McVicar’s 18th century box set theatre being moved around the stage during each act – presenting us with the view from backstage, from the wings, and from the audience, being transformed into the Prince’s house in which the after-show party is held and the two women begin to realise that they are rivals], and ending backstage again, in the drabness of the morning.  The final tableau in which the whole cast of the Comédie Française came to the footlights to see and salute Adriana’s final, and only too real death scene was a fitting tribute to an evening in which the lines between acting and reality were continually being blurred.

Enrico Caruso sang in the first Met performances of Adriana:  Renata Tebaldi, Mirella Freni, Montserrat Caballé and Renata Scotto were all megastars of the Met who triumphed, each in their own way, in this role.  Anna Netrebko out-diva’ed the lot of them: but for my money, the greatest performance was that of Ambrogio Maestri as the great-hearted and ultimately disappointed Michonnet.  I’m so glad finally to have seen this opera – such a dream team may not be assembled again in my lifetime…

Preview

Wasted Youth, Scottish Story Telling Centre, Edinburgh, Preview:

Wasted Youth, 

Edinburgh based performance artist, DJ and Drag Performer Jordy Deelight  brings his brand new biographical one man show to Edinburgh for the first time. Where the art of Drag  is to create fantasy, this production will deliver the reality of a rather human journey.

So, what is Wasted Youth? Its A devised theatre performance featuring elements of drag performance and video footage.

“I go to bed every night and I look back throughout the day I had, making sure I called my friends and family in between to ask how their day was. I wonder if they’re ok, and if at any point they were lying to me, as not everyone has to be strong.”

Wasted Youth. A non-conventional drag show. A piece of media. A journey. The synchronicity method. A life sentence from the age of 2. Learn about Jordan as told by Jordy

wasted youth 3

Jordan spoke to Scotsgay arts saying  “Wasted Youth asks the question, who is Jordy Deelight? As I seek to explore who is behind the make up using performance drag and multimedia projections. I am also delighted this performance will be fully BSL interpreted as I wish to ensure the performance is open to all.”

Wasted Youth takes to the stage on Wednesday 30th January at 19:30 at the Scottish Story Telling Centre on the High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Please note this production is strictly an 18+ event and under 18’s will not be permitted in the theatre.

wasted youth 2

Theatre has always been the last uncensored space, a home in which creativity shines and boundaries can be pushed, its also the place where real human stories can be explored, wasted youth will harness the power of one persons journey through life and offer up the truth of the performer behind the lipstick and high heels and promises to be an unforgettable evening of theatre. Get those tickets now!

Wasted Youth, Scottish Story Telling Centre, Wed 30th Jan 2019 19:30 , For tickets from £7 go to: https://www.scottishstorytellingcentre.com/event-post/eventid/18579-wasted-youthssc19jmckwy/

Brett Herriot Review

Cinderella, Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Review:

Cinderella, Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, 

**** 4 Stars

“Tradition Returns as only the Pavilion can deliver!”

The Pavilion have had a very tough year with a complete closure of the theatre for 5 months owing to the horrendous fire on Argyll Street. Thanks to the hard work of contractors and the theatre staff the iconic home of Scottish variety is back open with the greatest panto of them all Cinderella.

Its also a joy to see traditional panto back at the fore front after a strange run of “Christmas” themed shows like “ Santa Clause is Coming Town” and once again trotting out “The Wizard of Never Woz” it was beginning to feel as if the Pavilion was never coming back to real panto, but it has in a big way.

Telling the famous story of the girl mistreated by a cruel wicked step mother and even worse ugly sisters who thanks to a fairy godmother finds her prince charming and true love has become the greatest panto title of them all. Director and Producer Iain Gordon has peppered his script with comedy jewels and clever casting to ensure a fun night of panto magic for the masses who attend the “Pav” panto every Year.

Scottish favourite Liam Dolan returns to the pavilion as Buttons and brings a cute charm to the role and shines with his family aimed comedy and stands out in what must be the most usual buttons costumes seen on stage. In the title role of Cinderella is Holly Jack again a pavilion favourite and her big voice is a major bonus and ensures Cinderella is never to timid. Chris Scougal and Chris Taylor form an excellent double act as Prince and Dandini respectively but their word play sketch in the second act could easily be dropped as it loses the audience slightly and would reduce what is quite a lengthy running time. The honey voiced Alyson Orr makes her pavilion panto debut as the Fairy Godmother and she makes sure she shines in her stage time. Long time Pavilion panto baddie Joyce Falconer returns as The Baroness opposite Clark Stewart and she illicit boo’s with ease and her Doric wickedness is a panto winner.

This production of Cinderella brilliance is down to the wicked step sisters with River City favourite Stephen Purdon and professional wrestler Grado slipping on the stockings and high heels to play Boabina and Gradina respectively its pure comedy magic and the haunted bed sketch will go down in Pavilion theatre history as one of the best, the sisters are worthy of the ticket price all on their own.

Production wise the limitations of the Pavilion stage are pushed to there very limits and the Pavilion must be one of the few theatres in the UK still deploying a laser show, but for its cheesiness it really works and brings a real charm. Excellent costumes also add to the perfect panto mix.

The Pavilion pantomime will always hold a special place in the heart of Glasgow because of its lineage and its mantra of offering excellent value entertainment for the masses especially those who would not otherwise go to see live theatre. The mantra shines through the magic that is Cinderella so be sure to see it this Christmas before the clock strikes midnight.

The Pavilion Theatre Presents “Cinderella”, The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, runs until Sunday 13th January 2019 Tickets from £15 go to http://www.pavilionpanto.com/dates.php

 

Brett Herriot Review

Aladdin, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Review:

Aladdin, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, 

***** 5 Stars

“Old School Panto reigns supreme at the King’s!”

Qdos are now into there second year of producing panto at the legendary King’s theatre  in Glasgow and with Stars Elaine C Smith, Johnny Mac and Paul-James Corrigan reuniting from last years “Sleeping Beauty” it’s a winning formula especially as the King’s has turned the old school panto charm on and delivers in spades.

Aladdin is the age-old tale of finding love, flying carpets and good triumphing over evil. Mix that with a plethora of local references and a mix of pop tunes and film standards and the twist of removing the dame and having window Twankey being played by Smith it’s a mix of pure pantomime perfection.

Elaine C Smith is truly at home on the King’s stage with special costumes designed for her by Ron Briggs her charm and ease with the audience on her home turf is a joy to behold. Johnny Mac as Wishee Washee continues to make the King’s his home and is truly the greatest comic to take to the stage since the late great Gerard Kelly and he joins the Pantheon of legends like, Fulton, Baxter and Logan. His comedy timing is fantastic especially when working in tandem with Paul-James Corrigan’s The Imperial Palace Guard, the sketch involving Beyoncé and her dancing girls is panto firing on all Cylinders. Speaking of Paul- James Corrigan his character acting is faultless and if anything, he deserves more stage time it’s all Glasgow banter at its best from a true comic actor giving panto his all. Every panto needs a good baddy and Abanazar is played to villainous perfection by George Drennan who earns the Boo’s with a great deal of ease.

Production wise it’s a stoater with Glasgow finally getting a Hugh Durrant set on the stage of King’s as opposed to a former FFE sets from years past and it glitters and sparkles especially under David Howe’s lighting design. Learning the lesson from last year a crisp and full sound design from Tom Marshall really brings old peeking to life. Director Nigel West and Choreographer Karen Martin really know their panto stuff and it shines across the footlights with rapid fire comedy routines mixing with west end standard dance and music numbers with ease. The finishing touch must be The Twins FX delivering an unforgettable flying carpet the likes of which the King’s have never seen before.

The over riding feeling from this years King’s panto is one of old school charm, even more so with the announcement that 2019/20 will see Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac returning to the Kings with Jack and the Beanstalk which was last seen over 25 years ago with the late great Jimmy Logan as Dame Trot its clear that the Kings has set out to keep old school Family Pantomime at the heart of Glasgow during the holiday season. So, grab those tickets now before it’s all too late.

Qdos Presents “Aladdin”, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Runs until Sunday 6th January 2019 Tickets from £17 go to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/aladdin/kings-theatre/

Brett Herriot Review

Snow White, The London Palladium, London, Review:

Snow White, The London Palladium, 

***** 5 Stars

“ pure pantomime magic in all its glory!!”

The master of panto Michael Harrison and the team at QDOS pantomimes are once again back for a third year at the historic London palladium with the biggest panto in all the land, Snow White has returned to the west end in a glittering extravaganza that pays homage to both the palladium and the art of panto and its truly magical to watch.

The palladium welcomes back regular stars Julian Clary (an innuendo dipped man in the mirror), Nigel Havers (as the understudy), Paul Zerdin (as Muddles), Gary Wilmot (a premier dame turn as Mrs Nora Crumble) and star of Broadway Charlie Stemp (as Prince Harry of Hampstead). They are joined by Dawn French ( making her panto debut as Queen Dragonella), Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace ( The king and Queen) and Danielle Hope (Snow White). As this is the palladium the stars are joined by the magnificent 7 dwarfs, a 22 strong ensemble and a special acrobatic troupe The Palladium Pantoloons.

This pantomime excels because of its writing, gifted performances mixed with a simply stunning stage set from Ian Westbrook, costumes across the board knock the eye out none more so that those especially designed by the legendary Hugh Durrant for both French and Clary, Julian’s costumes truly push the boundaries of what is physically possible to wear and knock the eyes out even for those sitting in the back row of the upper circle.

Whilst Julian Clary once again delivers a machine gun barrage of innuendo and smut its always with charm and conviction that works and shows what a team player he is. Paul Zerdin and his little puppet Sam bring the charm that ensures the children are captured from the off. It falls to Gary Wilmot as dame to produce something uniquely special especially with his “ Because you love them” a pathos driven moment of beauty combine this with “Palladium Stars” a wonderful tribute to all those stars who have graced the hallowed boards of the world’s greatest variety theatre.

The music choice of mixing a special written score with several pop numbers works its charms no end and with a 14 strong orchestra in the put its easy to hit the high note. Special effects by the boys at “Twins FX” simply take over the palladium in their grandeur and all this under Ben Cracknell’s Lighting design, Gareth Owen’s Sound Design and Duncan McLean’s Projection design means all the essential ingredients are brought together for pure pantomime magic in all its glory.

The London Palladium pantomimes are born purely of love and dedication to the art form of pantomime that has seen them win the Olivier Award. Its richly deserved and with confirmation that the Palladium will host a further three panto the legacy and tradition is secured. With Michael Harrison and qdos the challenge to improve year on year will be met for now however and for Snow White Get to the Palladium, beg, borrow or steal a ticket for the biggest panto in all the land.

Qdos Presents “Snow White”, The London Palladium, London runs until Sunday 13th January 2019 Tickets from £22 go to https://snowwhitepalladium.com/tickets/

 

Mary Woodward Preview

Wendy and Peter Pan, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Wendy and Peter Pan
**** (4 stars)

It’s very loud, very energetic and mostly very entertaining: but is it “Peter Pan from Wendy’s point of view”? Surely the Darlings didn’t have another son, Tom, whose death makes Wendy feel guilty that she couldn’t save him and that it’s up to her to fix things and make her parents’ relationship ‘go right’ again… Peter hasn’t lost his shadow, there’s no big shaggy dog looking after the children, the crocodile doesn’t get Hook, there’s not that much flying, and a fair amount of adult conversation reveals the cracks in the family, which will apparently be put right again if Mrs Darling goes out and gets a job…

The set which doubles as the lost boys’ house and Hook’s ship is a splendid, adult-sized soft play area which is used to the full, with obvious enjoyment, by the entire cast. Hook is villainous in the extreme – Dirty Den from East Enders come back to get his revenge on the boy who fed his hand to the crocodile: there’s a lovely moment when his hook is removed and replaced with a rapier blade so that he can fight with two swords. The crocodile makes a single cameo appearance – but it’s magnificent!

Mr and Mrs Darling [Gyuri Sarossy and Bonnie Baddoo] double up as the daringly feisty Tiger Lily and villainous Hook, their genteel Edinburgh accents being replaced by ones somewhat more common [and English]. Ziggy Heath’s Peter is suitably dashing and mercurial, while Sally Reid’s Tink[erbell], a chunky and feisty Weegie, is certainly not the usual tinkly wee fluffy thing. John [George Naylor] already shows signs of becoming a cricket-obsessed bore, while Michael Cristian Ortega] shows a delightfully feminine side. The sibling relationships and rivalries are excellently portrayed as Wendy [Isobel McArthur] struggles with the burdens placed upon her and the ones she takes on herself, both at home and in Neverland: trying to keep things running and to get the boys to do what they have to do, while they Simply Want To Have Fun.

I appreciated the positivity of the three ‘girls’ – Wendy, Tiger Lily and Tink – but I’m not sure about the girly bonding bit between them. I liked Hook’s attempt to lure Wendy to his side with a sparkly dress and the invitation to be a pirate: and I had no idea that Dorian Simpson’s Smee felt that way about his captain… It was delightful when Wendy got to fly with Peter, and everyone went ‘aaah’ when they kissed: but still Peter refused to grow up, and Hook railed against growing older.

It was a highly energetic performance, with an excellently juvenile Peter, and a crackingly feisty Wendy. The audience cheered and booed and hissed: and still I felt something lacking – the play was so concerned to get its message across that it interfered with the narrative at various points. I really don’t see why we had to drag Tom into it, or have Wendy and Peter up ladders looking at the stars while he explained about them being ‘lost boys’ [ones who had died but whose parents couldn’t let themselves ever be happy – if they could, the boys would leave the stars and join Peter and his crew in Neverland…] It’s a good way to begin to address the subjects of death and loss, but why were there no girl stars?

I felt a great deal of sympathy for Wendy throughout, and accept that she chose to grow up and Peter didn’t: I don’t know that I totally believe the ending. I didn’t have a Young person with me this time so can’t report on how much was picked up and how much passed over their head. I was left feeling a loss. But the audience loved it!

Wendy and Peter Pan, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, run ends 5 January 2019, For tickets go to: https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/wendy-peter-pan

review by Mary Woodward