Mary Woodward Review

Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Recital Concert Hall, Glasgow University, Review:

Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Recital

**** (4 stars)

Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists programme gives a period of full-time work with the Company to young people endeavouring to establish their careers.  Starting just with singers, the programme has been extended to give the same opportunity to a composer-in-residence, a repetiteur and a costume trainee.

It’s always a joy to see these young artists as they progress through their year, and this year’s crop of singers are no exception.  Charlie Drummond had already delighted me in the autumn Opera Highlights tour and moved me in her brief cameo as the Geisha in Mascagni’s Iris, so I was sorry to learn that a last-minute illness meant she had to withdraw from the recital.  In her absence, mezzo Heather Ireson and baritones Arthur Bruce and Mark Nathan, accompanied by Michael Papadopoulos, entertained us right royally.

Heather got us off to an electrifying start with Dorabella’s dramatic hissy fit from Mozart’s Così fan tutte – the drama queen saying ‘sod off and leave me alone: if I don’t die of grief I’ll end my days in misery’.  She showed the very real conflict of interests as Zerlina tries unsuccessfuly to resist Don Giovanni’s advances in là ci darem la mano; and followed this with what for me was the highlight of the afternoon – Minskwoman’s soliloquy I bought this suitcase in New York.  Initially a sunlit recollection of happy times, it becomes a lament for lost selfhood – “Tired woman, drained of life” – as her life leaches away before her eyes under the mound of nappies and baby clothes that consume her very existence.  It was a superb performance, rightly greeted with a long silence and prolonged applause.

The two baritones presented a fascinating contrast in vocal quality and personality.  Arthur Bruce, already seen in Amadeus and the Bard and Iris this season, began with Belcore’s swaggering Come Paride vezzoso from Donizetti’s L’Élisir d’Amore: his huge, bright sound effortlessly voicing his massive egocentric swagger.  He showed a much wider-ranging mixture of emotions as he tried to comfort a grieving Ariadne in Harlequin’s aria Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen from Richard Strauss’s Ariadne Auf Naxos, and as Valentin expressed his concern for his sister, Marguerite when he is called up to fight in Avant de quitter ces lieux from Gounod’s Faust. I look forward to seeing him later this year in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited and The Gondoliers.

Mark Nathan’s darker, subtler, and more flexible baritone brought us two less well-known arias – O Lisbona alfin ti miro from Donizetti’s Don Sebastiano and Komm, Tzigany from Kalman’s Gräfin Maritza – in both of which he displayed a wide range of emotions.  The famous poet who fought beside Don Sebastian, was captured and enslaved, and can hardly believe he sees his beloved Lisbon once more had moments of velvet-soft pathos and soul-stirring patriotic outbursts, while as the disguised Count Tassilo he poured out his feelings for his native land [and the Countess Maritza] as he celebrates the Life of the gypsy. I enjoyed Mark’s performance in the autumn Opera Highlights tour and look forward to seeing him in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Gondoliers.

The programme ended with two delightfully cheerful numbers – the Gendarmes’ duet from Offenbach’s Geneviève de Brabant and the Champagne aria from Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus – which allowed the singers to let their hair down and have enormous fun, sending us out with a smile into the dreich Glasgow afternoon

Michael Papadopoulos did a great job of accompanying the stylistically varied programme: he’s also been working on most of the pieces in this year’s season, was assistant conductor for Iris and will be the music director and pianist for the spring Opera Highlights tour.


Brett Herriot Review

The Secret Cabaret, Dirty Martini, Edinburgh, Review:

The Secret Cabaret, Dirty Martini, 

**** 4 Stars

“ a touching and deep cabaret evening. “

Following the success launch of “The Secret Cabaret” in Bristol, producer Angus Blance brings his monthly fundraising cabarets to Dirty Martini above Le Monde in the capitals George Street and it charms with wonderful performances but does need more in its programming choices.

Using a format of three acts over a 2 and bit hours and with a “themed” third act to bring colour to evening should work but the choices of songs, which have a heavy American flavour were to often on the deep emotional with nowhere near enough comedy and light so the balance became heavy going. The themed third act of “LGBTQIA+” celebration was well intentioned but again the focus was and the lack of acceptance, problems with love and the loss of a lover. It would have been nice to see the balance of happiness for those who identify as LGBQIA+.

The six strong cast all have there moments to shine across the three acts, James Dawoud’s gentle and strong vocals come to the fore in his charming take on “Giants in the Sky” from Sondheim’s “Into the woods”. Mimi Joffroy has big and brassy vocals to a tea with an emotional performance of “All falls down” from Groundhog Day the musical. Alistair Mackey brings an actor’s touch to his songs and his take on “I’ll cover you” conveys the emotion but the vocals are stretched to the limits. Sally Pugh brings intensity to all her performances none more so than a stellar rendition of “Losing my mind” from Follies. Malachi Reid brings tears to eyes with a heartfelt take on “Not my father’s son” from Kinky Boots and is a beautiful moment. The true stand out from the opening cabaret is Sophie Douglas, her honey-soaked vocals with the right degree of power and her performances of “I can cook too” from on the town and “she used to be mine” from waitress truly show the versatility of her performance skills.

The 6 perform together twice, once to open the cabaret and they close it together with a rousing rendition of “You will be found” from the current smash hit “Dear Evan Hansen” and brings things to a rousing conclusion. The evening is anchored by the stylish piano accompaniment of Musical Director Steven Seagaud combined with Louise Sables musical staging ensures the best is made of the small stage.

This was a touching and deep evening of cabaret and if future programmes have a little more light amongst the darkness it will continue to sell out and earn a reputation as the premier musical cabaret in the city.

The Secret Cabaret will run monthly at Dirty Martini (Le Monde) Edinburgh and the next Cabaret is scheduled for Sunday 16th February.


Jordy Delight: The Honeymoon Period Preview:

Jordy Delight: The Honeymoon Period, Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh, Preview

Acclaimed Scottish Drag Queen and performance Artist Jordy Delight returns to the Scottish Story telling Centre with a brand-new show that’s blends the hugely emotional reality of there life with their greatest creative creation.

Telling the story of Hayley, Hayley has Cystic Fibrosis and is 24 years old. Hayley has a boyfriend, and a mum that loves her very much, Hayley is going to Newcastle for a Lung Transplant Assessment. Hayley has no clue what she is doing, she just needs a little time…..

Jordy Deelight has had an incredible 2019 with residences in Edinburgh’s LGBTQI+ venues, they hosted Pride Edinburgh’s, Manchester Airport San Francisco main stage and was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary “Jordy’s 65 reasons to live” produced by Solus productions and broadcast on the BBC.

Jordy Delight: The Honeymoon Period will continue there exploration of the arts world, brining  real life to the fore and will be an unforgettable evening of theatre, if you can learn to expect the unexpected and allow yourself to be beguiled by Delight’s Charms. Why not open your heart,  and head for the Netherbow on Saturday 18th January before the Honeymoon Period is over.

Jordy Delight: The Honeymoon Period, Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh, Saturday 18th January, 8pm, For tickets go to


Secret Cabaret Preview

Secret Cabaret Preview:

The Secret Cabaret, The Dirty Martini at Le Monde, Edinburgh, Preview

The Dirty Martini room of Le Monde has played host to its fair share of Cabaret over the years, its gorgeous intimacy has even welcomed Broadway stars to its stage, just last year Telly Leung performed to a sell-out supper crowd.

Now musical theatre supper club cabaret returns for a monthly residence with Producer Angus Balance bringing his successful Secret Cabaret evening from Bristol to the heart of Edinburgh. The first scheduled Cabaret will take place on Sunday 12th January 2020 with a curtain up time of 18:00.

Taking to the stage will be James Dawoud, Sophie Douglas, Mimi Joffroy, Alistair MacKey, Sally Pugh and Malachi Reid and they will perform a three act cabaret featuring songs from amongst others “Rent”, “ Chicago”, “Avenue Q”, “Waitress” and current west end and Broadway smash hit “Dear Evan Hansen”.

Secret Cabaret 2

Speaking to Scotsgay arts, Angus Balance says, “ The Secret Cabaret is new monthly charity cabaret series, providing lovers of musical theatre a chance to enjoy great performances, a few surprises and to savour the ambience of the beautiful, Dirty Martini bar.”

The first charity to benefit from The Secret Cabaret is Waverley Care, Scotland’s leading charity providing care and support to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C. It’s the work that Waverley Cares does with the LGBTQI+ community that will influence the third act of the Cabaret.

Secret Cabaret 3

With Musical Staging by Louise Sables and Musical Direction by Steven Segaud this promises to be a very special evening of entertainment.

For an enchanting evening of musical theatre in gorgeous surroundings that will truly make a difference to others peoples lives, snap up those tickets and head for Dirty Martini this Sunday.

The Secret Cabaret, The Dirty Martini at Le Monde, Sunday 12th January, 6pm, For tickets go to:

Arts News!, Brett Herriot Review, Kieran A Wilson Review, Mary Woodward Review

2019! Thank you!

Thank you from all of us for an Amazing 2019!

With Hogmanay and the New Year Celebrations just around the corner, We at Scotsgay Arts have just published our 100th and final review for 2019. 2019 has been a epic year across the cultural landscape of Scotland and its as much of an honour and privilege now as it has been since we started to be able to sample the very best of the countries output.

To all 100 hundred productions we reviewed, the many more we previewed, the 100’s of reviews on our sister site  we thank you for sharing your work with us, for being brave and sharing your creative endeavours with the world and for continuing to push the boundaries of the last truly uncensored space known as the theatre.

Personally I am indebted to the hard of work of my fellow writer Mary Woodward and thankful for the guidance and support of Taylor Crockett especially during the biggest arts festival known as The Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. My profound thanks to Kieran A Wilson for his guest writing contributions.

We will be back in 2020 with even more of the very best, News, views, Previews and Reviews from across Scotland. To you and yours thank you for being with us in 2019 we wish you a peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

Brett Herriot


Brett Herriot Review

The Steamie, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow Review:

The Steamie at the Hydro

**** 4 Stars

“ the most beloved theatrical play in the Scottish repertoire “

32 years after its debut at the 300 seat Crawfurd Theatre in Glasgow’s JordanHill district, Tony Roper’s warm hearted and loving reflection of a Glasgow that’s now consigned to the memories of the elder generation of the cities women, is back home in the biggest production of the show ever attempted and what a joy it is.

Set on Hogmanay in the mid 1950’s in one the cities many wash houses known as “The Steamie” Margrit McGuire (Louise McCarthy), Dolly Johnston (Gayle Telfer Stevens), Doreen Hood (Fiona Wood) and Molly Culfeathers ( Mary McCusker) come together to carry out the last washing of the year and along the way share memories, laughter and a few tears as well as hope for the future in what has become the most beloved theatrical play in the Scottish repertoire.

The Steamie, has toured Scotland and across the UK consistently over the last 30 years and celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2017 visiting many of Scotland’s biggest theatres. So, the chance to do something special and bring this modern classic to the hydro promised huge things and for the most it delivered well. The hydro at full capacity seats 13,000 however the capacity has been lowered for the Steamie with the top deck and sides of the venue draped off. This is a good thing as it ensures clean sightlines from every seat in the massive venue.

Directed by Tony Roper himself with support from associate Director Ryan Dewar and working with Kenny Miller’s expansive Design, this is a Steamie that truly brings the 1950’s Glasgow to life on an epic scale with long gone Tram Cars sailing across the stage and massive video projection show (designed by Dewar too) really adding an epic feel to the whole production.

However, its still the story of the 4 women that lie at the heart of the piece and Roper ensures that it remains the constant heartbeat of the show. The principal performances are faultless, Fiona Wood and Mary McCusker are a joy, but they are veterans of the show having performed on the 30th Anniversary tour. McCusker delivers the most legendary sketch from the show (Galloway’s Mince) with such elegance and understated charm as soon she says the first word of the routine the massive audience give her a round of applause; this is truly a cultural phenomenon. Louise McCarthy and Gayle Telfer Stevens make their debut and are faultless, bringing endless charm, comedy magic and big voices to their roles. Telfer Stevens deserves special mention for the opening of Act 2 with a new song that expresses a side of Dolly that has remained hidden for 30 years its an emotional moment. McCarthy brings everything and more to the role of Margrit however she is done a disservice in her big moment “Isn’t It Wonderful to be a Woman”, Originally a powerhouse of monologue (as can been seen in the much vaunted 1988 STV recording of the show with Dorothy Paul showing just what a wonderful piece of writing it is), Is delivered in its Song format and it takes away the power and truth that expresses what many woman of the time felt, it does however remain charming none the less. There is one principal male role of Andy the attendant of the Steamie which is comedy gold and Harry Ward delivers in spades.

Production wise it’s a stunning affair and does its best to fill the Hydro’s massive space well. Kenny Millers wonderful set is brought to life with Grant Anderson’s stadium style lighting design and Paul Smith’s excellent sound design ensures every single word and musical note is heard with clarity.

This production also features a 4-piece live band under the direction of MD Ross Brown that adds a real boost and there is also a 13 strong ensemble however they really bookend the show in spectacular set pieces and the feeling they are underused is difficult to alter given that the play is focused on just 5 characters.

Ultimately the Steamie at the Hydro delivers everything it sets out to, but the hydro still feels just a bit to big for the piece but it does ensure the legacy of the Steamie will be forever unmatched.

The Steamie at The Hydro, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Runs Until Tuesday 31st December for tickets go to:

Brett Herriot Review

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The London Palladium, London, Review:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The London Palladium, 

***** 5 Stars

“ biggest, funniest and most charming pantomime in the country.!!”

The greatest show on earth comes to the home of variety in the heart of London’s west end and delivers a masterclass in Pantomime Magic. Qdos pantomimes and director Michael Harrison have once again raised the bar and produced the biggest, funniest and most charming pantomime in the country.

Goldilocks is the toughest panto story to pull off as on its own is simply not strong enough so transposing the story to the world of the circus brings thrilling twist to the tale, and allows for some of the worlds greatest circus acts to be included in the show and it truly adds the wow factor.

Palladium panto regulars return, with Julian Clary in the form of his life, playing Ringo the Ringmaster the innuendo and comedy comes flowing from him at a rate of knots and he is bedecked in Hugh Durrants outrageous costumes he is the lynch pin of the production. Returning to the palladium is Paul O’Grady as Baron Von Savage the owner of the circus of horrors a Marlena Dietrich inspired baddie that delivers on all levels, panto is better for having O’Grady back in the fold. Paul Zerdin as Silly Billy and cheeky chappy Sam continue to push the artform of Ventriloquism and bring family charm to the show. Gary Wilmot dawns the frock as Dame Betty Barnum and is simply wonderful his tribute to the west end with the biggest mash up in musical theatre is a stunning moment. Nigel Havers also returns but this time he has a character, Daddy Bear but the ongoing gag and schtick continues and really adds a special something to the show. The regulars are joined by Janine Duvitski as Mummy Bear is playing her “Benidorm” character to the hilt with the sexy humour dialled down. Lauren Stroud as Baby bear and Sophie Issacs as Goldilocks. The big surprise as Joey the Clown is the one shows Matt Baker. He simple excels performing comedy and stunts with ease. The principals work together as a cohesive unit and it benefits the show no end. The stars of the show are supported by a 16 strong ensemble, the palladium panto has no half measures.

Highlights of the show include a brilliantly delivered “pheasant Plucker” sketch and “if I were not upon the stage” Routine that bring together classic pantomime with magic that modern audiences crave. The stunts of the show are delivered by specialty acts, Peter Pavlov and the Globe of Speed, The Skating Medini and Phil Hitchcock’s wonderful illusions. Every one of them brings unique variety to the fore and should be commended for their excellence.

Ian Westbrook of 3D Creations set is a riot of colour that truly brings the big top to the Palladium. This is bolstered by Ben Cracknells excellent lighting design that sees the auditorium dripping in festoons. It Makes Von Savage joke of “ you can see where the budget went, Julian Clary’s costumes and lightbulbs” all the funnier. Greg Arrowsmith’s 12 strong orchestra brings full throttle music to live and is aided by Garth Owens excellent sound design.

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 pantomime again in 2020 the legacy goes on. For Michael Harrison and Qdos the challenge to improve year on year will be met for now however and for Goldilocks Get to the Palladium, beg, borrow or steal a ticket for the greatest show on Earth.

Qdos Presents “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, The London Palladium, London runs until Sunday 12th January 2020 Tickets from £22 go to