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.

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 SGFringe.com  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

Editor, Scotsgayarts.com 

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: https://www.thessehydro.com/events/detail/the-steamie

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 https://www.palladiumpantomime.com/

Brett Herriot Review

Aladdin, FTH Theatre, Falkirk Review:

Aladdin, FTH Theatre, 

**** 4 Stars

“a thrilling carpet ride of classic pantomime fun”

Imagine Productions return to the FTH Theatre in Falkirk with the most popular of panto titles and delivers a thrilling carpet ride of classic pantomime fun. Aladdin the story of the boy who falls for the princess, despite being poor and working in his mothers laundry he sets off on a big adventure as he battles the evil Abanazar and finds jewels, riches and fame but ultimately the power of love and being who you are!

Eric Potts pithy script works wonders as does Stuart Baird strong direction. It’s the casting choices that give the show its heart, Barbara Bryceland is back as “Spirit of the ring” and this year they have worked to her strengths, she delivers her excellent big voiced vocals with a dash of comedy asides and it works wonderfully well. Libby McArthur as the Empress is slightly underused and there are moments when the performance is feeling forced, but she is a joy in the “If I were not upon the stage” routine. Comedy is handled well by Scott Watson as “ Wishee Washee”. Emily Cochrane as “Princess Jasmine” also has rich voice and brings out the best in the role. Ross Jamieson’s “Aladdin” has couthy charm in spades and delivers well enough vocally. Henry Sanders gives a lot of charm as “Genie of the Lamp” and is striking take on the character.

The True star of the show is Craig Glover who literally turns in a tour de force performance as Dame Window Twankey! With a succession of stunning costumes and his on the button comedy is simply a joy to watch. His ability to adlib and deliver asides is the glue of this panto.

Production wise all the essential ingredients of pantomime are here, a colourful and well lit set, oriental inspired costumes in abundance. Music covers all the bases from rock and roll to pop with a dash of musical theatre thrown in. Although with just a keyboard and drum kit in the pit its heavily click tracked. This is made up for though by a stunning special effect the likes of which FTH will have never seen.

There were some issues with the sound, but these are minor quibbles and will soon sort themselves as the show beds in. This Aladdin delivers everything it should and thanks to Clover, has that extra special wow factor. So why not grab your magic carpet and head along to the FTH for the journey of a lifetime.

The Falkirk Community Trust and Imagine Theatre Presents, Aladdin, FTH Theatre, Falkirk, Runs until Tuesday 24th December. For tickets go to: https://www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/whats-on/aladdin

Brett Herriot Review

Disney’s The Lion King, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review:

Disney’s The Lion King,

***** 5 Stars

“ Sublime, enchanting musical theatre at its very best!”

Last seen on the Playhouse stage over Christmas 2013, Disney’s award winning and acclaimed production of “The Lion King” is back, its lost none of its charm and ability to inspire wonder and continues to push the boundaries of musical theatre.

The stage adaptation first debuted across the pond in 1997 and the London west end production has just marked its 20th Anniversary and this new touring production is pulling massive audiences to the playhouse; this is due to unique place it holds in musical theatre.

Director Julie Taymor has blended, puppetry on a massive scale, human performances that runs the gamut of emotions and dressed it all in the most stunning costumes and set that’s yet to be topped. The lion king tells the story of Simba the lion cub learning to become king in the animal kingdom where many seek to become top of the tree is counter balanced with the tale of love, hope and trying to make your father proud.

The first ten minutes of the show are worth the ticket price alone. We are instantly transported the African Plaines with a stunning rendition of “Circle of Life” with a cavalcade of animals appearing from every corner of the theatre. With Thandazlie Soni setting her stall of talent out early as Rafiki she embodies the essence of the show delivering a powerhouse vocal and charming sense of character throughout the show.

The cast are universally excellent with all the principals bringing finely honed talent to there roles especially Dashaun Young as “Simba” who charms as does Josslynn Hlenti as “Nala”. Comedy is delivered in spades by Steve Beirnaert as “Timon”, Carl Sanderson as “Pumbaa”. Matthew Forbes is given the ability to adlib and break the fourth wall as “Zazu” who populates the show with references from the current world it’s wonderful.

Production wise Taymor has much to be lauded for, as well as directing she has designed the costumes, and many of the epic puppets from life sized Elephants and Giraffes to the delicate birds, its truly beautiful. Mixed with Richard Hudson’s epic set design which is dripping in the gorgeous lighting of Donald Holder.

The music of Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice is brought epically to life by a 12 strong orchestra, including 2 live percussionists perched in the boxes above the stage and the music remains as timely and timeless as ever.

Disney’s Lion King is truly a slice of the west end on stage at the playhouse, and its telling that two decades since its first appearance on stage it still continues to shine for its beauty, skill in story telling and the sense of child like wonderment it spreads across its audience.

This is the sublime, enchanting musical theatre at its very best and truly is a thrilling Christmas treat for old and young alike, so hurry along to the Playhouse and grab what few tickets remain! And celebrate the Circle of life! Hakuna Matata!

Disney’s The Lion King, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Sunday 29th March 2020. For Tickets go to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/disneys-the-lion-king/edinburgh-playhouse/

UPDATE: Since the publication of this review and due to over whelming demand The Lion King will now run until Saturday 18th April 2020!!

Brett Herriot Review

Jack and the Beanstalk, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Review:

Jack and the Beanstalk, 

**** 4 Stars

“ everything classic panto firing on all cylinders should be !”

Qdos mark there 3rd year in charge at the King’s theatre Glasgow by bringing a pantomime to the bath street that hasn’t graced the stage in 25 years. Jack and the Beanstalk is back and following in last year’s stellar Aladdin they continue the old school charm of the big hearted, family inspired pantomimes that have called the King’s home for decades.

The classic tale of the famers boy Jack (Johnny Mac in fine form further cementing his growing legacy with the kings panto) who lives with his mother Dame Trot (Legendary Elaine C Smith proving a woman can be as good a dame as any man) in the village of Glasvegas. Times are hard and while Jack may secretly love Princess Jill (Naomi Cowe) things take a dark turn when the evil Mrs Blunderbore (Anne Smith in a fine villainous turn) doing the bidding of her Giant husband kidnaps The princess, and takes the Trots trusty cow daisy in return for beans! These beans are magical and with Mammy Nature (Angela Darcy) spreading her magic the biggest of beanstalks towers over the kings as the gang led by the King Hector (Jonathan Watson) are off on a big adventure in Cloud land.

This show is everything classic panto firing on all cylinders should be, stunning costumes, a colourful Hugh Durrant inspired set that sparkles under Alex Marshall’s excellent lighting design. Added to the mix is some very big special effects from those boys at Twins FX, it’s a winning formula.

Director and choreographer Johnny Bowles clearly knows how to bring big and classic pantomime to life and with the stellar due of Smith and Mac at the helm you cant help but be won over by its charms. Musically it’s a jukebox of hits from 70’s pop tunes to musical moments like “talk to the animals” and Elaine C Smith delivers a stunning take on “Cher” if she can just turn back time! And it is helped no end by musical Director James Dunsmore and the 5-piece King’s orchestra.

However, unlike 2017 Sleeping Beauty and 2018 Aladdin it feels like the extra magic sparkle is missing from this year’s show, its partially the decision to use Mrs Blunderbore as the villain (side stepping flesh creep) and the story line in act 2 is rushed to quick conclusion. Also, in previous years both Smith and Mac had JP Corrigan to bounce off and create real comedy magic that element isn’t there this year so all the comedy falls to Smith and Mac it feel like a slightly missed opportunity. The many and varied sketches are plentiful, and the comedy within them works well especially the adlibs both rehearsed and unrehearsed.

These minor quibbles aside this is fun family show with tradition as much as it can be at its heart with Elaine C Smith and the wonderful Johnny Mac leading its truly impossible not to enjoy yourself and roll along on the adventure.

Both Smith and Mac have been announced for next years “Cinderella” which again will allow for traditional pantomime to reign supreme at the kings. For now ever pop along and enjoy Glasgow’s biggest pantomime in every way!

Qdos Presents “Jack and the Beanstalk”, Kings Theatre, Glasgow, Runs until Sunday 5th January 2019 Tickets from £17 go to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jack-and-the-beanstalk/kings-theatre-glasgow