Brett Herriot Review

Nativity The Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Nativity The Musical,

**** 4 Stars

Sparkles with Festive Cheer”

The Festival theatre is kicking of the festive season of shows in style with this adaptation of the hit movie that’s touring around the country before returning to London for an extended Christmas run.

Telling the story of St Bernadette’s School in Coventry as they’re attempting to mount a musical version! of the age-old Nativity play. Only trouble is teacher Mr Maddens (Scott Garnham) has promised that a Hollywood producer is coming to see the show to turn it into a film. Entering the madness at the behest of the school’s head teacher, is teaching assistant the crazy Mr Poppy, (the sublime Simon Lipkin). Add to the mix the wacky and outstandingly talented kids of the school as they go up against the low expectations of their own friends and family and take on the snooty Mr Shakespeare and the kids from the private Belgrade oakmoor school. It’s a story of believing in oneself, beating the odds and shining as brightly as the stars on Christmas night.

This is a stellar production that’s designed to bring out the festive cheer in all of us and succeeds, especially in the lead casting, Simon Lipkin is a bundle of energy powering through act 1 at a dizzying rate, but his true acting talent shines in the quieter moments of act 2. Playing against Scott’s Garnham’s “Mr Maddens” is a thing of beauty, Mr Maddens has allowed his true love to leave him to per sue her dreams and he ends up becoming the “scrooge” type that finally changes his ways as he sees how much the Kids have come to mean to him it’s a true performance of the best of the Christmas message.

The leads are joined by a stellar ensemble cast bringing comedy, pathos and musical hi-jinx’s to life easily. The production also features a rotation of guest celebrity stars which for Edinburgh is the comedy legend Jo Brand, who delivers in spades as “The Critic” taking pot shots at those like my good self who search endlessly for the hallowed 5 stars.

Writer and Director Debbie Isitt has delivered the goods big style putting the adult and children’s casts through there paces added to David Woodhead’s sparkling set and costume design that’s given real sparkle with Tim Mitchells lighting Design. Choreographer Andrew Wright is given some seriously talented kids to work with as they back flip and execute the dance with a professional eye for detail.

They only real draw back is Tom Marshalls sound designs is set just a tad to loud to rock concert levels during the musical numbers and its obvious the small pit band are relying on the click track especially on the percussion side that leans towards the synthetic side.

The show is not scared of breaking the forth wall and the most charming moment comes when sabotage see’s the power cut off right in the middle of the nativity performance and Mr Poppy asks the audience to light up their mobile phones and light the stage. Its truly a magical moment that allows the audience to totally embrace the production.

The show is superbly paced and never drags, and you just can’t help but be caught up in the Christmas, Spirit, so for a Christmas gift of a show that sparkles with festive cheer you had better book those tickets now!

Nativity the Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Sunday 2nd December, for tickets go to:

Brett Herriot Review

Let’s Face the Music and Dance 2, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Let’s Face the Music and Dance 2, 

**** 4 Stars

Ultimately what shines from Let’s face the music and dance 2 is Love”

In 2014 Edinburgh based Choreographer Janice Bruce produced Let’s face the music and dance, a song and dance spectacular that raised £7,500 for leukaemia care as a tribute to her mother Margaret Hare who battled the disease and sadly it’s a battle she lost. 4 years later and with a wish to raise more than £10,000 Janice and musical director Alison Rushworth are back with a brand-new show lighting up the church hill theatre this week.

The performance in two acts is split into six sections act one kicks off with Glitz and Glam featuring an opening medley drawn from the best of Broadway before heading into la cage aux folles with a strong drag theme set up by the shows MC Derek Ward who host the first act in drag himself.  It’s a punchy opening section that gives way to “Taptastic” which is as the title suggests the chance to showcase some tap-dancing skills. Ibiyemi Osinaike delivers a suitably big voiced rendition of 42nd street. This section contains 5 more tap numbers concluding with the delightful Charlie Munro giving it big licks in Razzle Dazzle. Closing the first act is “After Dark” featuring songs from shows that put a touch of horror to forefront including “feed me” and the title track from “Little shop of horrors” alongside Cara Blaikie’s astounding take on “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked”.

Act 2 goes up with “Danger” pulling songs from the action movies including a sublime “the writing is on the wall” performed Darren-Phillip Johnson to a true west end standard. Bruce’s choreography is brought to for in the excellently executed tribute to the Matrix, which is visually stunning in every way. “Bright and Beautiful” is next up with songs that put the beauty of the world around us to the fore. The stand out of the section must be Keith McLeod and Jennifer Lane sweet rendition of “ A whole new world”. To bring the show to a close is a section titled “ Christmas” capitalising on the festive time of year.

The production is uniformly an ensemble piece and deliver’s excellent performances from all involved its clear to see the hours of hard work put in being delivered on stage. Its also visually a treat with the use of a large video screen to illuminate each song. The problem lies in the show’s length, its long coming in over an hour and twenty minutes per act. The issue of dragging is exacerbated by the long transitions between songs, which as the show beds in will tighten up. The overall production would benefit from loosing a song from each section. As negative as that sounds the positive side is the company certainly give the audience plenty for their ticket money.

Ultimately what shines from “Lets face the music and dance 2” is Love, the cast love being on that stage, the audience love watching them and for Janice Bruce is the love of a mother and her passion for the arts that will achieve that goal of raising £10,000. Make sure you grab those tickets while you can!

Let’s face the music and dance 2. Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, runs until Saturday 1st December (Saturday Matinee Only) for tickets go to:


UK Pantomime Top 5 2018

We have previewed the very best of Pantomime and Christmas Shows from around Scotland, but we are also aware many travel further afield whilst visiting friends, family and loved ones and often check out the local theatre. There are over 500 professional pantomimes and Christmas shows around the UK and many hundreds more in church halls and community theatres the length and breath of the country. We have selected just 5 Pantomimes from out with Scotland that we believe are unique, special and worthy of your ticket money! You may or may not agree but we hope you visit your nearest theatre this festive season for a real treat.

Qdos presents Snow White, The London Palladium.

snow white london palladium

Without doubt the return of pantomime in 2016 to the Legendary London Palladium has seen a new bench mark in production standards so much so the creative team have become award winners. 2018 see’s Dawn French starring in her panto debut alongside returning London Palladium pantomime royalty Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot joined by Strictly Come Dancing’s Vincent & Flavia in Snow White, London’s must-see panto. Plus, West End and Broadway star Charlie Stemp returns, alongside Over the Rainbow’s Danielle Hope. From the same team behind last year’s Olivier Award-winning pantomime, Snow White will feature all the sparkle, scale and spectacle London has come to expect from the West End’s most lavish festive production in a show packed full of laughter, music, special effects and theatrical magic.

Qdos presents Snow White, The London Palladium. Sat 8th Dec – Sun 13th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

Qdos Presents Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

qdos newcastle

The biggest panto in the North must be the annual extravaganza at the Theatre Royal directed by Michael Harrison ( who also helms the London Palladium) and always acts as a test bed for ideas, effects that will pop around the country in subsequent years. 2018 sees Newcastle Theatre Royal’s brand-new must-see magical pantomime Goldilocks and the Threes, the big top family panto extravaganza, stars the much-loved panto trio of Danny Adams as Danny The Clown, Clive Webb as the Ringmaster and Chris Hayward as Dame Rita. The Theatre Royal pantomime is packed full of hilarious comedy routines, laughter, dazzling special effects and this year a new dimension, the most exciting circus acts in town including the petrol-fuelled hair-raising, Berserk Riders, who will be helping transform the Theatre Royal’s stage into the ultimate fusion of pantomime and circus, performing dare-devil stunts at over sixty miles-per-hour! This is truly a panto to see!

Qdos Presents Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Theatre Royal, Newcastle. Tue 27th Nov – Sun 20th Jan 2019 for tickets go to

The York Theatre Royal Presents, The Grand old Dame of York, Theatre Royal York.

grand old dame of york

York theatre royal legendary dame Berwick Kaler has announced his retirement from the frocks, but not before one final panto season which will mark his 40th Production, yes you read that correct 40 years of working as the Dame, that’s thousands of wagon wheels and a lot of bottles of brown ale given out. So this year is very a much a celebration of Berwick as well as Celebrating the traditional art of pantomime, the show will be a gag-laden, song packed extravaganza featuring stunning costumes, jaw-dropping sets and choreography to thrill. With performances up to 02 February, the York panto is not only a great festive treat, but also an ideal way to banish those January blues.

The York Theatre Royal Presents, The Grand old Dame of York, Theatre Royal York. Thu 13th Dec – Sat 2nd Feb 2019 for tickets go to:

UK Productions Present Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Malvern Theatre.

snow white malvern

UK productions are well known in England for producing story focused pantomimes with the magic and glamour of a big budget production all the essential ingredients for a classic pantomime. None more so that this offering at the Malvern Theatre. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs stars the legendary Su Pollard as the Wicked Queen, alongside Francesca McKean as Snow White, Aiden Banyard as the Prince, Philip Meeks (Legendary Dame) as Nursie… and back by popular demand is comedy star Mark James as the loveable Muddles!

UK Productions Present Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Malvern Theatre. Thur 13th Dec – Sun 6th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

Qdos Presents Jack and the Beanstalk, Grand Opera House, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

jack and the beanstalk belfast

Firmly established as Northern Ireland’s biggest and most spectacular family pantomime, the Grand Opera House’s Festive show has entertained generations of families. With over 75,000 people attending the Theatre’s panto each year it’s never too early to book your tickets. Doomed to sell the family’s trusty cow, join Jack as he fights to save the beautiful Princess, outwit the evil giant and win the hand of the girl he loves! Jack and the Beanstalk stars the iconic May McFettridge as Dame May Trot, now in her 29th year in pantomime and double Olivier award-winning actor David Bedella as pantomime’s ultimate baddie, and the giant’s henchman, Fleshcreep. David played the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan last Christmas, seen by over 75,200 people during its six-week run. Jack and the Beanstalk is packed with all the ingredients of a perfect Grand Opera House panto: a fabulous cast and orchestra, laugh-out-loud comedy, magic beans, bundles of audience participation, stunning scenery and special effects, and fabulous costumes.

Qdos Presents Jack and the Beanstalk, Grand Opera House, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sat 1st Dec – Sun 13th Jan 2019. For tickets go to:

So there it is our 5 picks of the panto’s out with Scotland and or those in wales there is many a panto too including Beauty and the Beast at the New Theatre Cardiff you can find more info by going to:’s-on/beauty-and-the-beast/ Whatever panto you see this year have a ball its truly the most unique form of entertainment and one we should continue to embrace.


Christmas Panto’s and Show’s 2018 Preview:


Many cities around the country are now getting into the festive spirit with Christmas light switch on’s a plenty and in the bigger cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow the Christmas celebrations are well underway with Christmas markets, fairy-tale carousels and open-air ice skating. Looking to our theatres the annual tradition of pantomime features highly on the bill but there are options available for that special festive night of theatrical entertainment. Here is our pick from around the country and further afield.

Qdos presents Beauty and The Beast, King’s Theatre Edinburgh.

Beauty and the beast edinburgh

For the first time since 1949 Beauty and the Beast is the panto of the hallowed King’s Edinburgh with Allan Stewart once again donning the frocks to play “Mrs Potty” and Grant Stott being badder than ever as “Flash Boabby”. However, the much-loved trio of Stewart, Gray and Stott won’t be on stage this year, owing to illness Panto god Andy Gray has been forced to rest but be assured this panto company will be delivering music, comedy and a touch of magic in the style King’s audiences have come to love so rush to book those tickets for this Beauty of a pantomime!

Qdos present Beauty and The Beast, Sat 1st Dec – Sun 20th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

The Lyceum Theatre presents Wendy and Peter Pan, The Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh.

peter pan lyceum

The Lyceum is beloved and respected for its Christmas tales, a unique hybrid of theatre making fusing together both play, children focused theatre and a heavy dose of Christmas magic. Follow the fearless Wendy as she flies with Peter to Neverland – a world of dastardly pirates, feisty fairies and raucous lost boys. This adaptation has all the magic and wonder of the original, as Wendy and Peter fly together above the rooftops and follow ‘the second star on the right and straight on till morning’ to Neverland. There they find all is not well in the kingdom of the Lost Boys, as the villainous Captain Hook wreaks havoc, can Wendy and Peter band together with fearsome fairy Tiger Lily and the irrepressible Tinkerbell to win the day? Full of fairy-dust, adventure and all your favourite characters this magical story is everything a Christmas treat should be.

The Lyceum Theatre presents Wendy and Peter Pan, Thur 29th Nov – Sat 5th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

Kinky Boots the Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse.

kinky boots 3

The Edinburgh playhouse, Scotland’s home of the west end mega shows and this Years welcomes Kinky Boots With songs by Grammy® and Tony® winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots takes you from the factory floor to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the shoe factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola – a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos. Callum Francis will be putting on the boots to play Lola until 15 December following his award winning, critically acclaimed performances in Australia. West End star Kayi Ushe will take over from 17 December. They will be joined by Paula Lane as Lauren, best known for her role as Kylie Platt in Coronation Street and West End star Joel Harper-Jackson will play Charlie.

Kinky Boots, The Edinburgh Playhouse, Mon 10th Dec – Sat 5th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

Scottish Ballet Presents Cinderella, Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

cinderella edinburgh

Christmas tradition at the Festival Theatre is all about Scottish Ballet, and this year the greatest tale of them Cinderella will take to the stage.  Christopher Hampson’s Cinderella is everything you adore about the classic fairy tale – made fresh, funny and touching. We meet Cinderella at the saddest of times, then see her taken for granted by her wicked stepmother and two nasty stepsisters. But there’s no time for despair: Cinderella’s fairy godmother is casting spells of dressmaker spiders, magical roses and a very special glass slipper. Will love conquer loneliness, and light chase away the dark? Be part of the spectacle and rediscover this classic tale. Devised by Scottish Ballet’s artistic director for Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007, Scottish Ballet staged the European premier of Cinderella to widespread acclaim in 2015.

Scottish Ballet Presents Cinderella, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Sat 8th Dec – Sun 30th Dec for tickets go to:

The Brunton Theatre Presents, Jack and The Beanstalk, Brunton Theatre Musselburgh.

Brunton Jack and The Beanstalk

Pantomime returns to the heart of east Lothian with John Binnie the award winning and hugely experienced writer and theatre maker writing the story. John also directs this family friendly, twist on the traditional tale. Joining the creative team are musical director Tommie Travers, lighting designer Laura Hawkins and East Lothian Council’s Dance Artist Stephanie McAulay, as choreographer. Graham Crammond is returning to the Brunton in the role of panto dame, Mither Mandy Moo Moo. Crammond was a familiar face in The Brunton panto in the early 2000s and is much loved for his superb comic timing. Eilidh Weir plays Jill with Ross Donnachie as Jack and Ewan Petrie as Prince Designer Labels. Wendy Seager plays the Giant’s wife and the show stealing Daisy the cow is played by Hayley Keating and Sean O’Brien. The Brunton’s brand new production of Jack and the Beanstalk is a festive panto treat full of fun and laughter with oodles of gags, local references, chart hits, outrageous costumes and shouting out! The Brunton delights in producing fun and interactive traditional pantomimes that are suitable for all the family, from ages 4 to 104.

The Brunton Theatre Presents, Jack and The Beanstalk, Brunton Theatre Musselburgh. Tues 27th Nov – Sat 5th January 2019 for ticket go to:

Falkirk Community Trust and Imagine Theatre presents Cinderella, FTH Theatre, Falkirk

cinderella falkirk

Imagine Pantomimes comes to Falkirk for the first time this year with the greatest panto of them all, Cinderella starring Falkirk’s own Barbara Bryceland alongside star of River City Sally Howitt. It promises to be a spectacular show with stunning sets, Sumptuous Costumes and thrilling special effects for all the family to enjoy. Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre, says “We are very excited about producing Cinderella in Falkirk this year and we promise to put on a stunning show with a fabulous cast, an amazing set and costumes and a lot of hilarious slapstick. Having worked with Sally in the past we know what an amazing baddie she is, and Barbara has such a wonderful voice she is just perfect for the role of Fairy Godmother.”

Falkirk Community Trust and Imagine Theatre presents Cinderella, FTH Theatre, Falkirk Thurs 6th Dec – Mon 24th Dec for more info go to:

Qdos Presents Aladdin, Kings Theatre Glasgow.

aladdin glasgow

This year’s King’s Theatre pantomime will be everything you could wish for as Elaine C Smith returns as Widow Twankey alongside Johnny Mac as the lovable eejit Wishee Washee and Paul-James Corrigan as the Imperial Palace Guard in the magical pantomime adventure Aladdin. Packed with all of the traditional panto ingredients King’s Theatre audiences expect, Aladdin will feature laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning scenery, beautiful costumes and plenty of boos and hisses. Follow Aladdin, his brother Wishee Washee, and of course his mother Widow Twankey, on a spectacular adventure. Expect flying carpets, a wish-granting genie, an evil sorcerer and a lamp-full of laughs, so book your magic carpet ride to old Peking to the magical pantomime Aladdin!

Qdos Presents Aladdin, Kings Theatre Glasgow Sat 1st Dec – Sun 6th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

The Pavilion Theatre Presents Cinderella, The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow.

cinderella pavilion glasgow

You Shall Go to The Ball. It’s one of the most Magical stories that has stood the test of time. For generations there is one pantomime that everyone loves and it’s back at the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow. It’s the classic rags to riches fairy tale that enchants all ages. The Magical Adventures of Cinderella with an all-star Cast, starring, Liam Dolan as the Silly love struck Buttons, Holly Jack as  Cinderella, Stephen Purdon  dawning the high heels as Boabini, Grado as Gradina,  they are guaranteed to be two of the Ugliest Sisters you have ever seen. Joyce Falconer as the Baroness, Clark Stewart as “Daddy” Baron,  Alyson Orr as the Magical Fairy Godmother,  Chris Scougal as Prince Charming and Chris Taylor as the Trickster Dandini. Featuring as always in a Pavilion panto , Sing-along  songs,  plenty of Silliness , lots of laugh out loud comedy, traditional audience participation and our enchanting magical,  costumes and  scenery  it’s guaranteed to make your panto experience unforgettable!

The Pavilion Theatre Presents Cinderella, The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow. Thurs 29th Nov – Sun 13th Jan 2019 for tickets go to

Qdos Presents Cinderella SEC Armadillo Glasgow.

Glasgow SEC Cinderella

The Scottish Event Campus has announced the city’s much-loved pair, The Krankies, will return to the Armadillo to star alongside funny men Gavin Mitchell, Jonathan Watson, Keith Jack and actress and singer Francis Thorburn in Cinderella. Legendary double act, The Krankies, will play Baron Hardup and Buttons. Having entertained audiences with their slapstick for over 50 years. Cinderella marks the couples’ return to the SEC having starred there previously alongside John Barrowman and David Hasselhoff. Proving he’s “Still Game” for the world of pantomime, Gavin Mitchell stars with them as one of the Ugly Sisters. Best known as Boabby the barman in the popular sitcom, Ensuring Cinderella can go to the ball, Frances Thorburn joins them as the Fairy Godmother. The actress, singer and songwriter is best known for her role as Kim Monroe in “River City”. Michael Harrison, managing director of Qdos Entertainment’s pantomime division said: “I’m delighted we are bringing The Krankies home to the SEC along with the hilarious Gavin, Jonathan and Frances. We’re planning plenty of surprises and new routines for Cinderella which will be packed with comedy, music, special effects and true Scottish panto magic.”

Qdos Presents Cinderella SEC Armadillo Glasgow. Wed 12th Dec – Sun 30th Dec for tickets go to:

The Bodyguard the musical, Theatre Royal Glasgow

the bodyguard glasgow

The international, award-winning smash-hit musical based on the blockbuster film, The Bodyguard is back! Following her triumphant West End run and sell-out UK Tour, Alexandra Burke* returns to the role of Rachel Marron in Glasgow this December. Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge – what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

*Alexandra Burke will perform the role of ‘Rachel Marron’ at all evening performances only. Alexandra Burke is not scheduled to perform Thurs 20th, Weds 26th and Thurs 27th December 7.30pm.The producers of The Bodyguard cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular artist, which is always subject to illness and holidays.

The Bodyguard the musical, Theatre Royal Glasgow, Mon 3rd Dec – Sat 29th Dec for tickets go to:

Qdos Presents, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

Snow White Aberdeen

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, don’t miss the fairest pantomime of them all! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be spectacularly brought to life with an abundance of comedy, sensational song and dance numbers, fabulous costumes and stunning scenery. Throw in a magical Mirror, a beautiful princess, a handsome prince and plenty of audience participation as we outwit the Wicked Queen and let love prevail in this glittering festive treat for all ages! HMT’s regulars Alan McHugh and Jordan Young return as Nurse Nellie MacDuff and Muddles respectively and are joined by west end star Lee Mead as the Prince rounding out the principal cast is Juliet Cadzow as the Wicked Snow Queen. It all promises to be another magical adventure in the granite city.

Qdos Presents, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen Sat 1st Dec – Sun 6th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

CastleGate Arts Presents, Jack and The Beanstalk, Aberdeen Arts Centre, Aberdeen

Jack and the beanstalk aberdeen

Fe-Fie-Fo-Fum – A Family Panto Full of Fun! This Christmas join Jack and Ma Mackie with their coo Mucklemoo and a host of other colourful characters in this homegrown Panto extravaganza.
Bursting with great songs, dance, plenty of laughs, and bundles of audience participation come help Jack on this heart-warming adventure to overcome the dastardly Donald Turnip and reclaim ownership of Abergreen. Brought to you by Aberdeen based Ten Feet Tall, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK features ingredients to charm audiences of all ages and promises plenty of festive cheer this December.

CastleGate Arts Presents, Jack and The Beanstalk, Aberdeen Arts Centre, Aberdeen Sat 1st Dec – Mon 31st Dec for tickets go to:

Eden Court Theatre and Imagine Theatre presents, Jack and The Beanstalk, Empire Theatre, Inverness.

jack and the beanstalk inverness

Finally, the most northerly major production and indeed the  biggest panto in the Highlands. With last year’s production of Snow White described as “a thoroughly entertaining and hilarious production” (The Press and Journal), Eden Court are planning another spectacular show this year with Jack & the Beanstalk. Once again Eden Court will have all the ingredients for a perfect family panto, with a dastardly villain, a hapless comic and a hilarious panto dame, as well as magnificent sets and costumes, fabulous songs and dances, bags of slapstick fun and the most spectacular giant in panto-land! Book your tickets now as Jack & the Beanstalk is a pantomime not to be missed!

Eden Court Theatre and Imagine Theatre presents, Jack and The Beanstalk, Empire Theatre Eden Court, Inverness. Tue 4th Dec – Sun 6th Jan 2019 for tickets go to:

So, there we have it our pick of the best of Scotland’s Pantomimes and Christmas offerings, but don’t forget to check out your local pantomime or show from Sleeping Beauty in the Volunteer Hall in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders to Puss in Boots at the Garrison Theatre, Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. There is something for everyone to choose from. We here at Scotsgay arts will be reviewing a selection of shows so keep checking back in the run up to Christmas and beyond into the new year.

Mary Woodward Review

Ballet Rambert Life is a Dream, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Ballet Rambert Life is a Dream

**** (4 stars)

There were castors. A bed on castors.  A bald female dummy on a tall wooden framework with castors.  A small table with a desk lamp, on castors.  A huge spotlight with wings, on castors.  Sometimes these were moved around, possibly significantly.

A man slept at the small table. Various people slept on the bed, lay on the bed, jumped on the bed, danced on the bed.  Sometimes there were many people on stage, sometimes just one or two.

In act one there were windows onto which a variety of black and white grainy patterns and various monochrome scenes of ‘outside’ were projected: in act two, stark white light and black shadows. There were dancers in shades of black, white and grey, whom it was hard to see among the first act’s grainy textures of costume and projection.  There were straitjackets.

There was a lot of excellent dancing – all barefoot – with some of the dancers swapping traditional ballet roles, so that women lifted men into leaps and poses and men danced with men. There was a superb bit of mirroring when two nearly-identical men copied each other’s moves so exactly you might have thought there was but one man and a mirror.  There was music, much of it of the ‘tinkle tinkle plonk’ type, with occasional lyrical swoopings, and at one stage a cabaret-style song in what I took to be Polish.

The Financial Times called it “a cinematic masterpiece”, and the creative team included Olivier Award-nominated choreographer Kim Brandstrup, ‘legendary filmmakers’ the Quay Brothers. The music was by Witold Lutoslawski.

Apparently this was ‘a contemporary re-imagining of Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s classic play, Life is a Dream’.  In the play, a prince has been incarcerated since childhood and is freed for a day.  He goes on a violent rampage and is seized, put to sleep, and imprisoned again.  When he wakes, he thinks it was all a dream – when he is released for a second time he approaches everything more cautiously.

It would seem that the first act was meant to represent the dreamlike imaginings of a theatre producer, while the second act showed him the stark light of reality from which he ultimately chose to retreat. I can’t say that I was aware of any clear sense of narrative – maybe there was but I simply couldn’t grasp it?  Reading the programme today, things have become a little clearer: but last night I simply marvelled at the dancing and wished that it hadn’t been lost in the monochrome mist.

Rambert: Life is a Dream, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 24th November for tickets go to:

Review by Mary Woodward.


Brett Herriot Review

Motown The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

Motown The Musical,

***** 5 Stars.

“Motown the Musical, is West End Theatre shining at its Brilliant Best!”

Detroit Michigan, home of the Motown sound since the 1960’s producing hits for The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder among so many others. One man started the dream factory, Berry Gordy and using his autobiography “The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown” and the legendary Motown Catalogue the story that defined a generation, That story is now a full scale stage musical.

This show is still enjoying a west end run at the Shaftsbury Theatre and now makes its only Scottish Stop at the grand Edinburgh Playhouse and what a treat of a musical it is. Many of us only recognise the music of Motown and not the struggle for racial equality and acceptance that pervade America through the sixties. What this production does wonderfully well is put Berry at the centre of the story as the world shifts and grows around him. This musical is about one mans journey to spread the love of music and the family he build from the singers and musicians that he worked with, all set to the background of social and political change of 1960’s and 1970’s America.

Playing Berry is the astonishing  Edward Baruwa who delivers a tour de force performance in both acting and vocal with a honey rich voice. Baruwa is as assured breaking the fourth wall talking to the audience as he is delivering the raw emotion on the discovery of the assassination of President Kennedy. Matching him in a powerful performance as “Diana Ross” is Karis Anderson. The recreation of Diana’s break through solo concert in Las Vegas of the early 70’s is a pure theatrical moment of triumph as members of the audience are encouraged on stage to join in a rousing rendition of “reach out and touch” which reverberates around the auditorium.

What sets this musical apart is the way in which it engages with the social political changes of the time, thanks to David Korins Scenic design and Daniel Brodie’s simply outstanding projection design the audience are transported across America and its history featuring video footage of Dr Martin Luther King, The Kennedys, the changing presidents, the Vietnam war as well as provided the backdrop to the location of Hitsville USA. There is truly no other musical in the UK that delivers the quality of spectacle that Motown the musical does and the fact this is touring production is an even greater achievement.

This production features no less than 63 numbers from the Motown catalogue (although many are cut into mash up and few are just snippets) and all are delivered in style by Musical Director Griff Johnson and his 10 piece band, there is no better sound that the music of Motown being delivered by those most passionate about it. Director Charles Randolph -Wright has delivered a show which is never mawkish but a joyful celebration of period in time sadly consigned to the history books. He does it while keeping focus on Berry and the emotional toll it took.

As the show comes to a close with a recreation of the famous Motown 25th Anniversary concert, it becomes clear that love was the centre of the story, love for music, love for humanity and the joy of all those special memories which continues to shine across the decades.

Motown The Musical is not a jukebox musical its something far better, an engaging story, stunning sets, costume, performances and musicians combine to deliver a stellar evening on Stage and with the Playhouse hosting the only Scottish dates, you better make a beeline for the box office and see for yourself why the Playhouse is the home of the west end. Motown the Musical is indeed West End Theatre shining at its Brilliant Best.

Motown the Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 8th December, for tickets go to:



Brett Herriot Review

Edinburgh Gang Show 2018, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Edinburgh Gang Show 2018, Review:

**** 4 Stars

continues to transcend time and touch the young people of today.

For their 59th Annual Production the Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies once again take to the stage of the Glorious King’s theatre to deliver an evening of variety and spectacle and pay homage to this history of Gang shows around the world as created by the Late Ralph Reader CBE.

The Gang Show is a unique pantheon of theatre making with no comparable’s to draw against and the Edinburgh show must be simply the biggest Gang Show still produced in the UK. It continues to flourish by embracing modern tastes in it’s music, comedy and production whilst always tilting its hat in respect to those who have gone before, in fact Ralph Reader’s own material appears in 3 items in the 2018 production.

Leading the Gang in his 16th production (making him the longest incumbent of the post) is director Andy Johnston who also writes much of the material. Its his time as director that allows him to judge the show to a T and continues to deliver something very much for everyone.

Highlights of the 2018 show include Tatiana Honeywell’s moving performance of “Hallelujah” in the “A Secret Chord” section. Honeywell’s developing vocal power is already something of beauty and as she gets older it promises big things for this talented performer. Act 1 finale “21st Century Broadway” sees the Gang truly get into their stride especially in the clever mash up “Found Tonight” that fuses Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen performed in style by Cameron Kilgore, Kate Kistruck, Andrew Knowles and Ava McCaffer. Special mention in the first half must go to the junior gang with an inspired “Like a Rainbow” that put songs that showcase the colour of not just the rainbow but of humanity and having the youngest cast members singing the songs whilst clearly loving there moment under the bright lights is a joyous thing to watch. Act 1 is just a tad too long coming in 75 minutes on its own but as the show settles into its run it will tighten in its pacing.

Act 2 see’s the Gang really get into high gear with some very mature and professional performances, including Cameron Kilgore performing “waving through a window” from the Broadway smash, Dear Evan Hanson. “I want to be a producer” is delivered in style by Matthew Knowles with the biggest vocal of the evening, a performer to keep an eye on an no mistake. The finale of the show is the usual mix of the traditional blended with modern and its inevitable the greatest showman should get an appearance. Lewis Boyd’s take on “A Million Dreams” is charm personified and ensures the Gang bring the curtain down riding high on a crest of a wave.

It’s the production element that failed the Gang on opening night principally in the sound department, with Microphones failing to work, feedback, popping’s and bangs galore and an imbalance of sound that rendered the main vocals in the opening number difficult to hear above the orchestra. Too many times the performers simply couldn’t be heard from the Circle and the Gang on stage deserve better.

That said, other production elements continue to push the boundaries of the King’s capabilities, James Gow’s and Andy Johnston’s lighting design is pure west end standard and not only lights the stage but showcases the rococo splendour of the Kings itself. Coupled with Alan Hunter and the wardrobe teams ever innovative costume design is a winning formula.

Joining Johnston in the production team is dance director Louise Williamson whose choreography this year sets the bar to a whole new level of physicality with some excellent chassis and high lifts spread throughout the show performed by the core de dance with consummate skill. Musical Director Andy Thomson has imbued the show with a  fresh musical style and with a professional orchestra under his baton supporting the Gang throughout its clear this production team have much more to offer in the years ahead.

Its hard to imagine what the late Ralph Reader would make of a 2018 Gang show, but one thing is assured, he would beam with pride that the love and dedication that allowed him to create the original gang show in 1932 continues to transcend time and touch the young people of today.

Edinburgh Gang show is in the business of making memories and that goal has been achieved with this year’s production. So, make sure you sail along on the crest of your wave and get those tickets before it all becomes yet another magical memory.

EGSPL productions present, Edinburgh Gang Show 2018, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Run Until Saturday 24th November for tickets go to: