Brett Herriot Review

Oor Wullie The Musical, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Oor Wullie The Musical, 

**** 4 Stars

“ Calls to the Childhood in us all!“

Having already had “The Broons” live on stage, now respected producing house Dundee Rep collaborate with Selladoor Productions to bring Scotland’s favourite scamp “Oor Wullie” to life on stage in a brand-new production and what a special and charming treat it is.

With a book and lyrics by Scott Gilmour and music by Claire Mackenzie this musical adaptation brings the stories to life that have enchanted readers for over 80 years in The Sunday Post and not to mention the yearly Annuals that have been a part of the Scottish Cultural landscape for generations.

The Story of this show is a touching, and moral tale of Understanding each other and the world around us and holds a mirror up to the modern world. Wahid (Eklovey Kashyap) as Scottish boy of Pakistani heritage is bullied at schools and finds the only way to survive is to immerse himself in the adventures of “Oor Wullie” in an annual handed to him by the librarian, But Wullie (a brilliantly created take by Martin Quinn) has big problems the evil Basher Mackenzie (Leanne Traynor) has stolen his bucket and threatens to take over his story. Can Wullie and his pals Bob (Dan Buckley), Soapy Soutar (Bailey Newsome), Wee Eck ( Grant McIntyre) and Primrose Patterson (Leah Byrne) along with Wahid find the bucket and see the best in Basher? Well with a little from PC Murdoch (Ann Louise Ross) this charming and family friendly story unfolds, with songs that are catchy and with a heavy Scottish flavour and comedy at his core it’s a truly charming mix. Special mention must go to “Wullie’s Wagon” a song which has a real touch of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s about it.

Director Andrew Paton has delivered what must have seemed impossible, in bringing a corner stone of Scottish literature to life and making it accessible to a modern audience of all ages It was no mean challenge but he succeeds thanks to the 11 strong ensemble company who work cohesively to not only bring to life the central characters but also the many other characters who populate the show.

Kenneth MacLeod’s design is functional blending both comic book with life like locations although there were some problems with the sliding screens on opening night, there were also a couple of pauses which lingeried just a bit too long but was probably down to open night niggles and will ease as it settles into the run. There were also problems in Katherine Williams lighting design, to often the performers weren’t in light and random spotlights appeared to light up areas of the stage not being used, again maybe just an opening night faux pas.

Overall though, this is a warm hearted and winning production that truly calls to the childhood in us all, its inherently Scottish and shows home grown musical theatre at its best. The niggles will soon settle and audiences are assured an evening of musical theatre that will conjure memories as well as where we all are in the world today, this is never more true than when the show pays tribute to Oor Wullie’s creator Dudley D Watkins.

So pop along to the kings for a Braw Nicht oot!

Oor Wullie The Musical, The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 1st February, for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/oor-wullie Scottish Tour Continues.

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/