Arts News!

2021 Edinburgh Festivals Return:

From the darkness comes light for the Festival City:

After the longest shut down of the Scottish Arts Industry in history, as we all move slowly but surely to unlocking and embracing a better summer ahead. Two of the Edinburgh festivals have announced there plans to return in August 2021. It’s important to acknowledge these won’t be the festivals of old that we have come to love and cherish, these will be festivals for the covid world. We must embrace them as we chart our course back to full normality for our Theatres and the arts industry. So, let’s check out what’s been announced thus far.

The Edinburgh International Festival 2021:

artist impression of the temporary pavillion at Edinburgh University South Bridge

The EIF team have announced a reimagined Festival for 2021, marking the return of live performance to Scotland’s capital city after over a year of silenced theatres and concert halls. Taking place from 7 to 29 August, the 2021 International Festival will use bespoke, temporary outdoor pavilions in iconic, easily accessible spaces throughout the city to safely reunite artists and audiences to rediscover the magic of live performance.

Specially constructed temporary outdoor pavilions, found at three locations including Edinburgh Park and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad, will feature covered concert stages and socially distanced seating to create a beautiful setting for audiences to safely enjoy live music, opera and theatre once more.

The health and safety of the entire Festival community is at the heart of the announced plans for this year’s festival. The EIF are working with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and other relevant authorities to implement appropriate Covid safety measures. These will include shorter performances with no intervals, physical distancing, regular cleaning and contactless ticketing. They will publish full details of security and safety measures in the coming months.

While the EIF are looking forward to the prospect of bringing the Festival City to life once more, they appreciate that not everyone will be able to attend performances in person this year. To ensure that everyone can enjoy a slice of the magic, wherever they are in the world, they will release a selection of high-quality streamed performances, free of charge, during each week of the Festival.

Since Edinburgh’s summer festivals in 2020 were officially cancelled a year ago, The EIF have received extraordinary support from so many people. As Festival Director Fergus Linehan says, “We are hugely grateful to the artists who have agreed to come on this journey with us, the stakeholders, donors, and sponsors who have stood by us through a tough year and our audiences who have cheered us along throughout. We look forward to sharing full details of the programme in early June.”

Full details of the 2021 programme, which spans opera, orchestral and chamber music, theatre and contemporary music, will be announced on Wednesday 2 June. Priority booking for International Festival members opens on Tuesday 1 June before general booking opens on Friday 11 June

For more details go to:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2021:

The Fringe Returns!

The Fringe Society have announced that show registration for Fringe 2021 will open on Wednesday 05 May. Artists and venues will be able to register Fringe shows right up until the end of the festival. The Fringe’s world-class programme will be available to browse and book at, with tickets going on sale for audiences in early summer.

As Scotland navigates its roadmap out of lockdown, much is still unknown about what the Fringe will look like this August. However, a range of scenarios are being prepared for, from socially distanced live events to digital offerings. 

The Fringe Society is supporting artists and audiences to find and book work online across a range of platforms, including the brand-new Fringe Player. This online platform aims to bring some festival magic into homes across the world, while providing a secure platform for artists, companies and venues to host their shows. The platform is available to any registered 2021 Fringe show or venue to use if they wish.

Any live performance registered as part of the 2021 Fringe will be expected to adhere to public health guidance from the Scottish Government. Audiences can search, browse and buy tickets to both online and in-person work through More details on individual shows and Fringe 2021 will be available in early summer.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Fringe Society, said:

“We’re delighted to be able to open registration for 2021. Of course, we’re still very much in planning mode as we await further updates from the Scottish Government, but this feels like a hugely positive step in the right direction.

“Through the work being created across the various digital platforms, including the Fringe Player, artists have a brilliant opportunity to reach audiences and communities all over the world. I look forward to seeing how our Fringe creatives use these platforms in 2021 and beyond.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place from 06 – 30 August 2021. For more details go to:

Final Thoughts,

The announcement from the EIF and Fringe follows on from The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo who released tickets for sale for this year’s production in October of 2020. The arena at Edinburgh castle will be socially distanced with additional safe checks in place. There is no word on their programme as yet, however as soon as we get word, we shall pass it right along.

These announcements are a huge sign of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and while these planned events will be nowhere near the traditional events, we have come love during August in the festival city. It’s a starting point, a starting point that’s a long time in coming.

Arts News!

Seyi Omooba and the Color Purple – The Verdict

On February 4th 2021 we published an article detailing our thoughts on the Tribunal of Seyi Omooba vs. Curve Theatre Leicester and her former agents Global Artists who claimed unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment on the grounds of her religious beliefs. 

Seyi Omooba and Curve’s The Color Purple

Omooba was originally cast to play the lead role of “Celie” in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name. Telling the story of Celie, a poor, young, sexually abused African-American woman in the deep south of the United States in the 1930s. Celie discovers love and a close, physical relationship with a female singer, named Shug Avery.

Following a transparent audition and casting process, Omooba was given the lead role. Prior to rehearsals commencing actor Aaron Lee Lambert retweeted a Facebook post from 2014 that revealed Omooba’s homophobic and bigoted view on homosexuality. It called into question the hypocrisy of her playing an openly gay role on stage with such homophobic beliefs.

The Original Facebook post later retweeted.

Following a massive public backlash, Omooba refused to take back her comments and stood by them. The Curve was left with no choice and informed Omooba she could either resign from the production or be dismissed. She choose the later, then with the backing of Christian Concern a bigoted “Christian charity” co founded by her father, Pastor Ade Omooba launched legal action. Seeking £128,000 in damages, lost earnings, potential lost earnings and emotional distress. Interestingly in the final day of the hearing Omooba’s team reduced the total claim to £71,000

Following a week long sitting the Panel at the Central London Employment Tribunal have rejected all of Omooba’s claims in full. In a written judgement, it concluded it was “the effect of the adverse publicity from [the 2014 post’s] retweet, without modification or explanation, on the cohesion of the cast, the audience’s reception, the reputation of the producers and “the good standing and commercial success” of the production, that were the reasons why she was dismissed.”

Taking  the harassment claim into account, it said: “In the view of the tribunal Mr Stafford [Chris Stafford, chief executive of Leicester Theatre Trust] did not have the purpose of violating the claimant’s dignity or creating an intimidating or humiliating environment for her. His purpose was to save the production.”

Miss Omooba had claimed the character’s sexuality was ambiguous and she would have refused the role if she had considered her gay

But this was further rejected by the tribunal, with the panel commenting: “She had taken part in a similar production, she had the script, and knowing that a lesbian relationship was at least one interpretation, she should have considered much earlier whether a red line was to be crossed.”

The panel also went on to reject Ms Omooba’s demands for compensation for loss of earnings, future losses and reputational damage as a result of her agency contract being terminated.

“There is no financial loss because she would not have played the part,” the panel said.”There is no loss of opportunity to enhance her reputation by performing, because she would not have played the part.”If there is damage to her reputation, it was not caused by being dropped from the production but by an unconnected person’s tweeting… of her Facebook post and the outcry resulting from that.”

Christopher Milsom QC, representing Global Artists, described Omooba as “the author of her own misfortune.” The tribunal’s judgment said that: “there is no breach of contract because the claimant was in prior repudiatory breach…the contract was empty because the claimant would not have played the part, and her conduct, pulling out at a late stage, had she not been dropped when she was, would have wrecked the production.”

Andrea Williams, Christian Concerns chief executive, said: “We’re disappointed by the judgement and Seyi is considering her options for appeal.” Even still with her career in ruins she is considering pursuing further action.

The Curve’s Chief executive Chris Stafford and Artistic director Nikolai foster released a joint statement saying “we now look forward to drawing a line under this painful chapter and focusing our energies on how we rebuild our theatre after the pandemic” going on to say “we do not condone any negativity Seyi Omooba has been subjected to and we respectfully ask anyone in support of this ruling to be kind and respectful in acknowledging this victory for Curve and Celie”.

Final Thoughts:

The Curve quite simply has to be commended; they took on the challenge of not only defending themselves but challenging homophobia in what is the most diverse industry on earth. For too long, religious beliefs and convictions have been used as justification for espousing hate.

This wasn’t about free speech; Omooba believes her beliefs outweighed that of those she hurt with her comments. She is fully entitled to her thoughts and opinions and to share them in the public forum. There is however consequences to those actions and she simply didn’t want to face up to them.

Seyi Omooba is an incredibly talented and gifted musical performer and the Curve team are correct it is a time to be Kind and respectful and there is much to be learned for everyone involved in this case.

For now a bench mark has been set, Theatre remains the last truly uncensored and creative space where being who and what you are irrespective of colour, class, religion, sexuality or gender is no barrier. However maybe being honest in the characters we are willing to play and comparing that character to our personal beliefs is the core of the issue. Had Omooba done that in the first place this entire situation may never have happened.

Brett Herriot


Mary Woodward Review

Scottish Opera, Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel – Englebert Humperdinck 

**** (4 stars)

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel follows the traditional fairy story: brother and sister are sent out into the forest to look for food when their parents can no longer manage to feed them.  The children get lost, and have to sleep in the forest: when they wake the next morning they are enticed into the witch’s cottage with promises of food.  The witch intends to fatten them up and eat them, but they manage to foil her evil plan and release the other children who are her previous victims.

Filmed live at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, the show began, gloriously, with the sound of the orchestra tuning up: how I’ve missed that!  The musicians were at the back of the stage, meaning the singers had a closer connection with them but had to watch on screens for their cues rather than having an immediate link with the conductor: rather like us with our zoom meetings…

From the beginning, the ‘dark mysterious wood’ was visibly surrounding the very simple cottage into which Hansel and Gretel came, obsessed with food because they are so hungry, and turning to their toys for comfort.  They are happy in their play world, but sadden in the face of reality: they can’t even console each other with a hug: they reach out, but can’t touch – social distancing again…

Mother comes home, furious with the children for playing instead of doing chores – “what the hell do you think you’re doing?” she sings.  She accidentally breaks the jug of milk intended for their supper but blames the children and throws them out of the house –“that’s what happens when children provoke you” [lockdown frustrations…].  Father comes in singing “light the fire, your husband’s here”, waving a can of beer and demanding to know what’s for supper.  When his wife snaps that there’s nothing, he brings out a bag of food which he’s been able to buy that day after selling all his brooms.  She tells her husband the children are not in bed, but out in the forest.  He is alarmed – the forest is not safe at night for children, many of whom have been lost without trace. 

As they go in search of their children scary music depicts the haunted wood while [another much-missed sight] the stage crew set the next scene.  Calmer music interwoven with birdsong accompanies Gretel and Hansel through the wood [created by four branch-waving cloaked and hooded figures].  The children find some berries to take home, but can’t resist eating them.  They need to pick more, but realise that the light is fading and they are lost.  Hansel gets scared, and gets his cuddly toy out for comfort – but then lies to Gretel “I’m a boy, I know no fear”.  The wind rises and the chorus pick up umbrellas which have lights along their ridges: as the music becomes more agitated they surround the children with them, frightening them.  Then the Sandman appears to sprinkle the children with sleep-sand, and the children remember to say their evening prayer about the fourteen angels who will guard them while they sleep.  Sinking into sleep, they are surrounded by a wall of lighted umbrellas and rows of cuddly toys: they stretch out a hand to each other but can’t touch…

Act three begins with lively music full of cheerful birdsong.  The Dewdrop fairy [looking remarkably like the Sandman, but with sparkly wings] comes in with her water spray and Gretel wakes up, revelling in the glories of nature.  Hansel sleeps on until his sister provokes him into wakefulness and they compare notes on the ‘very special dream’ they had. 

Another cloaked and hooded figure appears, pushing a shopping trolley laden with sweets towards them.  Hansel can’t resist, even while Gretel suggests that it’s ‘meant to deceive’.  Hansel retorts that maybe the angels sent it, and grabs and guzzles, oblivious to the little voice singing “greedy little mousey, stop nibbling at my housey”…  Gretel succumbs to the lure of the sweets too – but their delighted, excited waltz suddenly stops as a figure dressed all in red and covered in Christmas tree ornaments emerges from the cloak.  She tempts them to her house with the ultimate weapon – their favourite, rice pudding.  Hansel is only too ready to go, but Gretel resists until the WITCH uses her magic glitter-broom and spell to paralyse them.  Like robots they march to her house: Hansel is imprisoned in a second shopping trolley, and Gretel is yet again sentenced to domestic slavery, while the witch gloats about the wonderful dinner she is about to have… but fear not, children, the evil witch is tricked into her own oven and the children dance and sing while she roasts.

Small ‘children’ in Christmas onesies emerge while Gretel and Hansel are having a trolley fight and throwing tinsel about – they are free from the witch’s spell, but they are blind.  Unable to touch them, Gretel and Hansel wonder how they can help them – using the witch’s magic ‘wand’ to restore the children’s sight, and they all dance and sing for joy.  Father appears, followed by Mother, delighted to find their children are safe, and all join in a hymn of thanks to God – “when in need or dark despair, God in heaven will grant your prayer”.

Another delightful feature of this show was the applause – a bit thin, but genuine: presumably the tech crew – as the cast came on stage to take their bow.  And the orchestra got their well-deserved applause too.  Recorded live on the 19th December, and most definitely under socially-distanced conditions, this is a show well-worth watching, as both a reminder of and an antidote to the current climate of restrictions and uncertainty.

I have to say up front that German 19th century opera is not my favourite part of the repertoire: despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a live performance that faced up to the limitations of performing with budget restraints and covid restrictions and gave us a Hansel and Gretel in a very contemporary ‘fairy tale’ setting.  I found the gender stereotypes irritating and the German Romanticism cloying: not exactly the best way to keep children engaged – but then is this really a kids’ story?  It wasn’t written for 21st century children, but  a Moral Tale that would be all the rage in 19th C Europe…

and that’s Humperdinck’s fault, not Scottish Opera’s! 

The setting was very apposite and the language contemporary, with lots of swearing – probably not unfamiliar to many children…  Removing the titles [if that were possible] might reduce the ‘offence factor’: but it was helpful to be able to work out what was being sung.  It was interesting to notice how the continual use of close-up of singers both aided lip-reading and made it much harder to believe that Gretel and Hansel were children…

Kitty Whately and Rhian Lois got right under the children’s skins; realistically child-like as siblings playing nicely one moment and the next spatting furiously.  Nadine Benjamin’s Mother and Witch double-act was well-done if more pantomimic than terrifying, and Phillip Rhodes’ father made the most of his few scenes, while Charlie Drummond made the most of her two cameos as Sandman and Dewdrop Fairy. 

Scottish Opera’s orchestra was conducted by David Parry using Derek Clark’s reduced score.  Instead of a massive orchestra we had a virtual chamber orchestra – fewer strings and only one woodwind/ brass player per section – but the score was still as lush and many-layered, and the orchestral sound did full justice to the complex chromaticism of much of the music while also bringing out the clarity and simplicity of the evening prayer.

Hopefully this cheerily gruesome production will enchant both kids and adults alike, and prove that opera isn’t simply ‘fat ladies singing in Latin’.  Should it whet your appetite for more, you can continue to get your opera fix on Scottish Opera’s website where you’ll find Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Opera highlights, Janáček’s The Diary of one who disappeared, Menotti’s The telephone, and – I have to see this! – Samuel Bordoli and Jenni Fagan’s The narcissistic fish

Scottish Opera presents Hansel and Gretal filmed live at Glasgow Theatre Royal 19 December 2020 Go to:

Review by Mary Woodward

Brett Herriot Review

Big Band Does Valentines, BBD Productions, Virtual Review:

Big Band Does Valentines:

**** 4 Stars

“ A Performance fuelled by love”

Edinburgh based BBD productions are keeping ultra-busy following the release of their Big Burns Night Bash in January they are back with a new offering especially for Valentines day! This time its all about love and the emotions that love can bring, they deliver in style over this 45-minute virtual production.

Opening with the utterly gorgeous “Blair Gibson” and his well-polished energy filled take on Jackie Brown’s hit “Higher and Higher” it is a rousing, full throated belter of an opening setting the stage well for what lies ahead.

Following this are “Henry Shine” & “Ailsa Biggerstaff” with the song “First Impressions” from the rather obscure “First Date a musical comedy” which did have a short run in 2019 in London’s Other Palace. Shine and Biggerstaff deliver a flawless performance both vocally and in acting performance.

While theatre land awaits Andrew Lloyd Webbers new production of “Cinderella” BBD takes us to Disney’s production of the story and the song “So this is love” Ceili O’Connor delivers a stripped back but utterly beautiful performance of the song that equally charming as it is beguiling.  Speaking of Lloyd Webber “Rachel Flynn” is up next with a stunningly operatic performance of the title song from “Love Never Dies” the sequel to “Phantom of the opera”. “Flynn has a stunning voice that’s displayed in a way audience haven’t seen before, it’s a true must-see moment of the production.

Changing tact but retaining the incredible flow is “Kamen Brown” a gifted vocal impressionist who performs “Nat King Cole’s” hit “L.O.V.E” this is triumph of variety from Peter Griffin via the Muppets to Elvis Presley and so many more making vocal appearances “Brown” has a big future in live performance of his vocal impressions.

Next up is “Funny Girl” with “Rosie Houlton” bringing the razzle dazzle vocals to the role of “ Fanny Brice” in her take on “My Man”. “Houlton” delivers the power vocals needed for this showstopper!

Moving onwards to Jonathan Larson’s rock opera “Rent” and the song “Take me or leave me”  with “Rebecca Ellen” & “Megan Grace” playing Joanne and Maureen, respectively. “Grace” has portrayed Maureen on stage previously and it shows with a totally flawless performance and “Ellen” matches her every step of the way.

Changing direction and slowing things down is “Chris McLeish” and his honey-soaked vocals going to work on “Elton John’s” “Your Song”. Its a beautiful rendition and gives colour and depth to the over all production and “McLeish” is on point as usual. Keeping the change of direction flowing is “Danielle Logan” who performs “Lets be Bad” from US tv hit “Smash”. This up-tempo number really allows “Logan” to show the range of her voice, its joy to see a performer explore the depth of her talent and she smashes this number literally.

Musical Comedy performer and BBD producer “Scott Coltman” is next taking on Victoria Wood’s cherished “ The Ballad of Freda & Barry” it’s a huge risk to not only perform this comedy masterclass but to then add additional lyrics and material could well be a step too far. “Coltman” succeeds by shrewd comedy judgement. This is a performance “ Wood” herself would love.

Getting into the home straight of the production is “Evie Rose Lane” taking on the challenge of “Natural Woman” famously performed by the late “Aretha Franklin” although the song from the pen “Carole King” has had many interpretations. “Rose Lane” makes the song her own blending power vocals with suitable restraint that makes the performance a joy to watch.

To bring the curtain down are two company numbers, starting off with “Can’t Help Falling in Love” from the Elvis Musical “All Shook Up” the vocals are flawless and special mention must go to  “Tommie Travers” whose editing skills set a new bar of excellence allowing all 12 performers to share the screen with complex harmonies intact. All that is left is the mash up “ Shut up & Raise your Glass” from “ Moulin Rouge the Musical” which is coming to London’s Piccadilly theatre later in the year. Its fitting and fun celebration song to close the show.

Big Band Does productions have delivered another stunning and fun production to lighten the darkness of the lockdown, although none of the music is “big band” in either its orchestrations or delivery its clear where the company able to stage the production live on stage then all the choices would lend themselves perfectly to their mantra of Big Band.

For now, support the company at the Charity “Acting for Others”  as this is a joyous 45 minutes of Love!

BBD Productions present, Big Band Does Valentines go to:

Please consider a donation to Acting for Others!

Brett Herriot Review

A Little Theatre Company, A Love Letter to Theatre, Review:

A Love Letter to Theatre:

***** 5 Stars

Newly formed Glasgow based A Little Theatre Company make their debut with a digital concert that gives the audience a beautiful hour of gorgeous vocals as they set out on a journey to explore the best of musical theatre. There are some interesting artistic choices made that benefit the overall production so well.

The Concert will be available from Sunday 14th February but we at Scotsgay Arts were given an advance copy to take a peek for review and what a joy it is.

Opening with a comedy sketch as a lament to those famous pre show announcements the company then launch into “ Some things Never Change” from Disney’s “ Frozen 2”. Cleverly filmed it ensures the entire company make their mark from the off.

Swiftly moving on to a medley of Love songs from the Pen of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chris McLeish  gives a full throated rendition of “Love Changes Everything” from “ Aspects of Love”  his honey soaked vocals are at full power from the off. Blending into Matt Howells “Unexpected Song” from “Tell me on a Sunday” his voice soars and it’s always nice to hear a male take on the female intended song. Completing the Medley is Sally Swanson with “I don’t know how to love him “from “Jesus Christ Superstar” which is powerfully sung with the right amount of emotional punch behind it.

Next up is Stephen Schwartz and Bob Fosse’s “Pippin” and a performance of “corner of the Sky” sung with conviction by Richard Dalrymple whose piercing eyes truly sell the song; it’s an assured and touching performance. This is followed by the return of Chris McLeish singing “out there” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. This has to be the most vocally challenging song in the musical cannon with complex timing and rhythm. McLeish literally slays it this is a west end worthy performance.

A throw back to 80’s high hair and shoulder pads comes next with Sally Swanson and Julie Henery performing “I know him so well” from “Chess” the monster hit that saved a lacklustre show. The vocals are on point and attention to detail would Make Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson proud.

Its then time for a touch of “Cabaret” with Jen Park and Richard Dalrymple performing the titular “Money” using  film effects and Fosse choreography to create a suitably fun “Cabaret” section that’s equally well performed.

Things then slow down into a ballad section kicking off with Jen Park performing “Where did the rock go?” from Webbers “ School of Rock” Park has a unique voice that flows with emotion but retains enough timing to make you feel the passion of the song. Leading into Matt Howells “You don’t need to love me” from the Broadway smash “If/Then”. This has to be emotional high point of the production, the audience can almost touch the emotion of Howell its equally captivating as it is compassionate.

The company then join together for a mash up of “If I never knew you” and “You’ll be in my heart” from “Pocahontas” and “Tarzan” respectively.  The company let loose with Disney songs really get to showcase the vocals they have and the joy that awaits when they make their stage debut.

Turning to “Finding Neverland” Howells and Henery’s performance of “What you mean to me” both performers shine in a song that imbues love from a forgotten time but never the less remains strong.  Simply beautiful musical theatre at its very best.

Love takes its view through same sex relationships with Intrabartolo and Hartmere’s “Bare, A Pop Opera” and the title song “Bare” with McLeish and Michael Lynch taking on the emotions of the shows lead characters, Peter and Jason, delivering in depth, Style and grace its wonderfully performed.

The company stay state side with a performance of “Screw Loose” from “Cry Baby” Jen Park gets to showcase her acting chops well in this comedy infused number.  Sally Swanson then takes on the musical based around Pie’s namely “Waitress” and “When he sees me” and does the song real justice.

Next up is DreamWorks monster hit, literally, “Shrek, The musical” and “Who I’d Be” with Dalrymple, Park and Howells taking on the vocal, this is the most poignant moment in the show as we get to see inside the performers lives on stage for all of us in the arts in truly shows how much we miss our home, but we stand together, strong working to see the curtains rise once more.

Michael Lynch brings the production into the home straight with a stunning performance of “ Being Alive” from Sondheim’s “Company” it’s clear Lynch is an industry professional with a big career ahead with faultless vocals, timing and sheer passion for performing all coming through.

The company then bring the curtain down by turning to Jonathan Larson, (No not Rent and seasons of love) “Tick Tick Boom” and the outstanding song “ Louder than Words” this is a rousing and fabulous curtain call. Utilising every single ounce of the company’s vocal talents to a rousing conclusion.

“A love letter to theatre” does just that, it celebrates love of theatre, performing, friendship and each other and the Little Company truly deliver the magic of musical theatre that continues to flicker like a burning candle during these dark times for the industry. I for one applaud them and can’t wait to see what comes next! Hopefully live on stage. For now however grab a ticket for this hour long treat!

 A Little Theatre Company Presents, A love Letter to Theatre. For tickets by donation to “Acting For Others” go to