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Brett Herriot Review

Oh! What A Lovely War, The Studio, Edinburgh Review:

Captivate Theatre Presents:  Oh! What a Lovely War

***** 5 Stars

” a moving and emotional exploration of humanities inhumanity to humanity”

Joan Littlewood’s and Theatre Workshop’s genre defining musical drama and political response to World War one known as the Great war first took to the stage of the theatre royal Stratford East in 1963 some 45 years after the guns fell silent. Now as we mark the centenary of the armistice Edinburgh based Captivate Theatre have revived their production and deliver an emotional, honest and truthful production.

Oh! what a lovely war is essentially a collection of sketches that allows the audience to view the war from those in charge ( Earl Haig) to the young and often under aged Tommie’s on the Front line who went to their deaths not in their thousands, nor hundreds of thousands but indeed Millions. Juxtaposing period musical hall routines with comedy and song with a hard hitting big screen slide show from Sylvia Cowie which reveals the stark horror and costs and above all else the futility of the battles.

Director Sally Lyall truly understands the material at hand and has without doubt assembled the very best cast drawn from across Captivate which during Fringe season numbers into the hundreds. A 12 strong ensemble comprised of Hazel Beattie, Scott Coltman, Aidan Cross, Frankie Cusack, Rosie Graham, Lewis Kerr, John Knox, Adrian Macdonald, Iain McFadden, Jack Pendersen, Georgia- Lee Roberts and Sam Thorne deliver dozens of characters each with consummate professionalism whilst imbuing each one with truthful humanity.  Special mention must go to Scott Coltman for his “MC” which is a triumph of comedy timing. This production remains however a true ensemble performance

Musical Director Tommie Travers has delivered the goods working intricate harmonies through out the performance and elicits special vocal performances from Rosie Graham, Lewis Kerr and Aidan Cross especially. Musically this production feels stripped back with the use of just piano, that is no bad thing as it allows the vocals to sore and pulls the audience well into the world of lovely war.

Lyall also pays tribute to Littlewood with the cast wearing pierrot head dresses during the production but Captivate utilizes period costume as opposed to the commedia dell’arte style favoured in the original. It really pays off.

A touching and precise lighting design from Gerron Stewart and explosive sound design by Travers and Joe Lyall accompany that very powerful slide show and transports the audience from the darkness of The Studio to the trenches of the somme and beyond its a remarkable piece of theatre making.

Captivate Theatres production of Oh! What a lovely war is a moving and emotional exploration of humanities inhumanity to humanity and the stark realisation that in the one hundred years that have followed the guns falling silent the lessons of the great war have still not been learned. This production of a Lovely war is a damming indictment of those who sent millions to their graves and for who this weekend we remember, for that alone Captivate should be commended. However you mark remembrance Sunday and armistice day a ticket to this production is essential in every respect.

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They Shall not grow old as we who are left grow old,

Age shall not wearie them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We will remember them.

 

 

Arts News!

King’s Edinburgh Embraces the Future! Arts News:

Kings Edinburgh Embraces the Future! Arts News:

It was announced today by Capital Theatres, the company in charge of The Kings, The Festival and The Studio theatres in Edinburgh that the grand old lady of leven street is set to get a much need major revamp. A revamp that will bring this most loved and cherished of theatres into the 21st Century for audiences, performers and technicians alike and most importantly it will make the King’s a Jewel In the cities crown.

Opened in 1906 with a pantomime production of Cinderella the King’s has changed very little in the following 112 years, except for, in 1950 the Gallery (a fourth level of seating) was removed and the upper circle was extended back taking the seating capacity to 1300. The building itself especially the stage and backstage dressing rooms have remained unchanged and in somewhat sorry state of repair.

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That’s all about to change! With the announcement of the architect for the project, Bennetts Associates and the unveiling of their initial designs for the building’s transformation. The unveiled designs for the redeveloped King’s Theatre show a design that retains the majesty of the original building but reimagined for the 21st century. The images, a cross-section of the re-imagined building and a front side view showing the building’s depth down Tarvit Street, capture a design that makes optimum use of the space available in the original 1906 building and the scope to create additional front of house space including a stunning roof terrace with views across the city skyline.

Joining Bennetts Associates as the appointed architect on the project will be Theatreplan, global theatre design and technical theatre consultancy specialists. Together Bennetts and Theatreplan are also working on the transformation of Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

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This bold project will overhaul the interior and exterior of the theatre to enrich the audience experience and create a renewed sense of destination for the King’s Theatre.  Transformation of the King’s will reinvigorate the artistic programme, by providing the facilities to attract the very best productions to the city.

How will the King’s change?

  • The transformation will create a new street level café and bar, accessible directly from Leven Street, along with an exciting new roof top hospitality space, providing spectacular 360-degree views of the City.
  • Installation of lifts and ramps will enable visitors with mobility issues to be able to access all areas of the King’s for the first time.
  • A brand-new learning studio will be created, providing a much-needed space for community engagement, and educational projects.
  • The existing bars and foyers will be overhauled whilst retaining their heritage and charm providing flexible and enjoyable entertainment spaces for pre and post-performance.
  • The stage will be flattened to attract world-class opera and dance so that we can offer a more diverse programme for our audiences. The orchestra pit will be rebuilt to support improved acoustics for opera and musicals.
  • Essential repairs will be made to wiring, lighting and the safety curtain to make them fit for purpose, as well as improvements to set and scenery access to allow the building to work efficiently for the future.
  • Back of house facilities like dressing rooms, wardrobe and the green room will be given a long overdue facelift

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The King’s hold a unique place in many people’s hearts and memories and remains a towering presence in the Scottish arts scene and with a projected budget of £20- £25 Million to complete the challenge ahead is tough. However, with roughly half of the funds already secured it looks like this time the work really will begin. Redevelopment works are scheduled to begin in September 2021, with the theatre closed for 20 months, reopening summer 2023. Plans are already underway to move the Annual Panto (for the first time in its history) out of the Kings and to the Festival Theatre and Edinburgh’s local companies including Gang Show, SLO and Bohemians are also in conversation to make the trip to Nicholson Street.

Exciting times lie ahead for the King’s and in the not to distant future we will all see her sparkling once more.

King’s Theatre Edinburgh, for further information go to https://www.capitaltheatres.com/

Preview

Motown The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse Preview:

Motown The Musical, Preview:

Currently enjoying a successful run in London’s Shaftsbury theatre, Motown: The Musical is hitting the road around the uk and comes to the resplendent Edinburgh Playhouse from Tuesday 20th November, The musical is based on Berry Gordy’s autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown  and on the history of his founding and running of the Motown record label, and his personal and professional relationships with Motown artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson. The production’s music and lyrics are taken from selections from the Motown catalogue.

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We at Scotsgay arts were lucky to be able chat with Karis Anderson who will perform as the Icon that is Diana Ross, interrupting rehearsals to talk with us we had the following to ask:

What brought you to being on tour with Motown?

“I’ve always loved Motown music and being in a musical has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I went through a long audition process starting out for an ensemble role so when I was offered Diana I burst out in tears of joy, I just felt so blessed as I had manifested it for so long. A few friends of mine who had toured with a musical before said that it’s an amazing experience, so I really wanted to get on the road with a show. “

What’s it like to be playing the iconic Diana Ross?

“A dream! I feel so lucky to be excited to go into work every day and after being in a girl band which was heavily influenced by the Supremes & Motown music, I felt like this role was definitely perfect for me at this time in my life and wake up every day full of gratitude that I get to play such an iconic amazing Influential woman while working with the most brilliant cast. “

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What can audiences expect from the show and your character?

“Audiences can expect a musical like no other with songs that you will know and love whilst also being educated on the political state of Detroit in the 60s & onwards and how music changed it and brought people & races together.

The musical also beautifully tells Berry Gordy’s story and how he came about creating Motown and developing so many artists and now legends that we a know and love such as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, young Michael Jackson and many more. The show also tells the story of Diana Ross from a young 16-year-old girl as Diane in the Primettes, to the Supremes, to Diana Ross & the Supremes and eventually to ‘Diana’. For me it’s really fun to be able to portray the journey of her life and embody the different stage in her life from the young, bubbly & eager 16-year-old to the matured, strong, multi-talented woman. We also see the love story of Diana and Berry throughout the show.  “

If you could play any other role from the show what would it be and why?

“It would have to be one of the other Supremes. I love Flo’s character and wish her story was told more in the show, but I really love the energy that she brings to the Supremes and her singing tone, and the fact she always answers back and takes no shit lol!”

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 In 8 words or less sum up Motown the musical?

A sensational, one of a kind, must see musical

As the festive season approaches it’s a sure fire bet that Motown: The Musical will make a cracking start to night out or an early Christmas treat and you will leave the theatre humming many of those classic tunes from the heart of Detroit.

So, book those tickets now and get ready for the musical journey of a life time.

Motown The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Tuesday 20th November to Saturday 8th December for Tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/motown-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/

Preview

Oh, What a Lovely War! Preview:

Oh, What a Lovely War! Preview:

2018 marks the centenary of the guns falling silent at the end of the Great War. World war one was called the war to end all wars and its toll on humanity is still being felt 100 years on. Edinburgh based Captivate Theatre are marking the Anniversary by reviving their production of Joan Littlewoods and Theatre workshops universally acclaimed “Oh What A Lovely War!”.

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Captivate last produced the show in the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it’s a brave choice for the company to tackle once more. There is no leaner plot line to Oh what a lovely war, its creation by Littlewood was via several session of improvisation which dispensed with the original script. What we have is ultimately a series of interconnecting sketches and musical numbers which depict the futility and horrendous cost of the first world war. Utilizing comedy, pathos and truth Oh what a lovely war is a piece of theatre which transcended the art form and blazed a trail for the power of ensemble theatre.

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Speaking with the Director and Musical Director Sally Lyall and Tommie Travers they had the following to say, “We are proud to be reviving Oh, What a lovely war! In this centenary year. Joan Littlewoods original production, in 1963, not only had a massive impact on the form and content of British Theatre, but also challenged how the nation viewed the Great War. The poignant, bitter sweet songs, gallows humour and stark statistics remain as deeply moving and shocking now as they were in 1963. Much of what Captivate Theatre strives to create, from production to production, derives from the Spirit of this show and we are sure you will enjoy it, even as you brush away a tear and wave goodbye!”

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The 2018 cast is drawn from across the Captivate company many of whom appeared during this years critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe season in Edinburgh’s Rose Theatre. With a live piano accompaniment, the production will play capital Theatres “The Studio” from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th November at 7:30pm with an additional matinee on Saturday 10th at 2:30pm.

One thing is for sure, Theatre truly is the place of no barriers or boundaries and one that can be used to make us reflect and learn from the past. Captivate theatres production of Oh, What a Lovely War! Is that very chance to reflect, learn and remember in equal measure so don’t let this chance slip you by and get those tickets now.

Captivate Theatre presents: Oh What A Lovely War! The Studio, Edinburgh, Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th November 2018. For tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/lovelywar

Brett Herriot Review

Popstars The 90’s Musical, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Popstars The 90’s Musical, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

***** 5 Stars

A joy of pop music in the world of musical Theatre”

Hark back to the 90’s a decade that was beset by boy and girl bands topping the pop charts and the odd questionable fashion statement is evident, especially for the folks of an unnamed school and town in middle America. Three girls are tuned into an MTV channel biography special to discover music mogul Simon Austin (a pure take on Simon Cowell) is offering a three-year recording contract to the lucky winner of a talent contest.

The girls take on the contest and are determined to win at all costs and jettison their boyfriends, its that rejection that spurs the boys to club together to form a band and also enter the contest, and with that the plot is set, a journey of self-discovery for all concerned with a heavy dose of 90’s pop classics thrown into the mix.

As thin as the story may be, Director Andy Johnston knows his material well and turns out a fun filled frolic of a show that embraces the youth in all of us. Performances are uniformly excellent from the entire company but especially, Maija Niva as “Shannon” who delivers a true heartless bitch but never strays into panto villainy and keeps it real. Matt McDonagh delivers a sweet as sugar take on “Mark” but has a rich as honey voice during his solo’s and is truly watchable.  One stand out performance is Matthew Steel as “Patrick” its hard to believe Matthew is just 16 with such a polished and mature turn to his performance and a soaring tenor vocal, which was evident earlier in the year during his performance at Edinburgh’s Kings in Wizard of Oz, big things await this talented performer. The entire cast work hard especially in delivering Felicity Thomas’s precise, engaging and physically strong Choreography.

With no less that 27 musical numbers across the show including “Believe” by Cher, “Hit me Baby, One More Time” by Britney Spears to numbers by Celine Dion, New Kids on the Block, Back Street Boys, Right Said Fred, M People, Spice Girls and Wet Wet Wet along with so many more. Musical Director James McCutcheon has a big job on his hands and he has achieved much from the various Harmonies and it flows effortlessly across the footlights. McCutcheon also leads a first-class band in the pit including a startling Lead Guitar Solo, A joy of pop music in the world of musical Theatre.

This show also shines by the simplicity of its staging, using a bare stage with a large video screen and relies on James Gow’s inventive, engaging and west end standard Lighting design. Gow has been able to create a live pop concert vibe for all the musical numbers whilst retaining the depth of lighting needed for the dramatic scenes, a true achievement.

Allegro have truly pushed the boundaries of amdram and should be applauded for taking on a show which on paper appears to have little to offer but on stage is a joyful look back at a decade that is often maligned. The heart of the story is so true, regardless of whether the boy band or girl band win the contest they will always have each other. A very valuable lesson for us all. Well done to the popstars of Allegro on a fab fab show!

Allegro productions present, Popstars the 90’s Musical, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Run Ended.

Mary Woodward Review

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Review:

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

***** 5 Stars

For anyone who has never seen Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo [which included me until now] I must explain that they are a New York-based company of male dancers, all of whom have been trained and performed in classical ballet, and who have now seized with both hands the opportunity to embrace their inner diva, put on pointe shoes, and dance the female roles hitherto denied them.  They have nothing to do with Monte Carlo – the company began in New York doing late-night ‘off the wall’ shows – no-one had any idea that 44 years later they would be touring the world and being greeted as rapturously by audiences in Japan as in Edinburgh.

The Trocks display strength, power, grace, beauty and exquisite comic timing…a fusion of classical ballet at its best and the merciless exposure of all that is pretentious and posey in the ballet world – the bitchiness, the rivalries, the competition – and the usually unspoken thoughts and attitudes that were here clearly expressed.

The Trocks’ first offering was Les Sylphides – a piece from the classical repertoire in which nothing very much happens: some girls in long white frocks dance about in the woods and have fun at the expense of a young man who strays into their path.  The original was choreographed by Michael Fokine to the music of Chopin, and is a ‘mood piece’.  I haven’t laughed so much for ages: not simply at the byplay between dancers and the witty sending-up of the whole balletic convention – and especially at the completely vacant face and aimless wandering of the lone male dancer who’d possibly strayed in from another planet, let alone another ballet…

Modern dance was sent up in Patterns in Space, as three dancers clad in wonderful figure-hugging panne velvet costumes leaped, stomped, posed and gestured while two wannabe soloist ‘musicians ‘ produced a pants-wettingly hilarious stream of “music” from a random assortment of objects including an egg whisk, bubble wrap, an electric-shaver-and-aerosol combination and, finally, a recorder – from which a single squeak emerged.  The musicians were obviously more intent on making an artistic impression themselves than in having anything to do with the three dancers strutting their stuff behind them – so acutely observed and such an accurate parody!

La Trovatiara pas de cinq allowed three tall and feisty ballerinas to run rings around the two [tiny] men who supposedly had captured these Barbary pirate women – a delightful romp to the music of Verdi with many comedic moments and a whole lot of brilliant dancing.  Following that, I would have preferred Olga Supphozova’s Dying Swan to have been performed completely straight – the dancing was so superbly expressive, it should stand alone.  However, the seemingly endless stream of feathers falling from “her” tutu as she danced, and her sudden crippling attacks of sciatica kept the rest of the audience in gales of laughter.

There was a feats of fabulous frocks in the final piece – Paquita, originally a two-act ballet but now only existing in the form of the divertissement inserted into the original by Petipa, which the Trocks lovingly re-created for us.  They were dressed in jewel-coloured tutus in pink, orange, red and crimson, a perfect foil for the cream tutu of the slender graceful principal dancer that one woman I spoke to wouldn’t believe was a man.  They performed astonishing balletic feats – there was still had a little humour at the start but the piece was ultimately a showcase for the incredible technique of these dancers who could well rival “real” women with their grace, poise, elegance and physical strength.

This was a fascinatingly mixed programme which was greeted by almost constant laughter from the extremely knowledgeable audience – but which was also given the accolade of prolonged and appreciative applause for some extremely technically assured and jaw-dropping technique and artistry.  In their encore, to New York, New York, the Trocks celebrated their home city and let down their hair in a chorus line number, giving us the opportunity once more to show our warm appreciation.

The evening was an absolute joy!  Alas, we will have to wait two or three years to see them again in Edinburgh: anyone fancy going over to Belfast to catch the final performances of the Trocks’ UK tour??

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Run Ended.

Review by Mary Woodward

Brett Herriot Review

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Kings Theatre Edinburgh, Review

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Kings Theatre Edinburgh, Review:

**** 4 Stars

Visually Stunning Chiller!”

Hard as it is to believe its 124 years since Bram Stoker’s greatest creation the Count Dracula first made its literary debut with numerous film and stage adaptations including the Francis Ford Coppola acclaimed movie of 1992.

In a brand new multi-sensory production from the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. The Count is back telling the tale of the evil blood sucking Vampire that wants to purge himself on the world no matter the cost and the battle by Professor Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker and Doctor Seward to rid the world of Dracula once and for all that forms the story of this production.

This is a production which shines for its innovative staging and special effects but is pulled down by the unbalanced quality of the performances. Jessica Webber as “Lucy” becomes a screaming creature that’s very hard to care for especially as Glen Fox chilling “Count Dracula” sinks his fangs into her. In a clever twist on the norm Renfield becomes “Lady Renfield” and Cheryl Campbell gives a tour de force performance of the possessed old dear willing to do the bidding of her evil master.

With a stunning set design from Sean Cavanagh that imbues all the locations from Whitby to the Carpathian Mountains added to wonderfully by Ben Cracknell’s sharp, mysterious and often terrifying lighting design. The show also comes alive thanks to the surround sound landscape and music of Paul Ewing. Special mention must also go to Cleo Pettitt’s Costume Design that is perfectly on point in transporting us back over a century ago.

Pushing the boundaries of stage craft is Ben Hart (a regular visitor to Edinburgh during Fringe season) who produces a plethora of stage illusions through out the production and the finale to act 1 takes the breath away and is a moment of pure west end drama at its very best.

Director Eduard Lewis has mined Jenny King’s adaptation of this classic to eek out every blood curdling moment to it’s full potential and with the ornate splendour of Edinburgh’s Kings theatre adding to the sense of grandeur and mystery it’s a highly fitting and entertaining production for Halloween week.

With the Kings hosting its only Scottish Dates this is one chiller of a play well worth catching.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Saturday 3rd November, For Tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/dracula