Shrek: The Musical

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Edinburgh Playhouse 
19th December – 7th January 2017

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Reviewed by Ivy Oakman (aged 10)

A hilarious take on Dreamworks’ Shrek, based upon the original book by William Steig, this time transforming the piece into a wonderful musical with Stefan Harrri as Shrek, Laura Main as Princess Fiona, Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad, Marcus Ayton as Donkey, and Lucinda Shaw as the Dragon and Fairy Godmother.

The captivating story of Shrek the ogre who was left by his parents at the young age of seven, and Princess Fiona who was locked away since childhood in the highest room of the tallest tower of the feared Dragon’s Keep, is a love story with amazing musical turns, and overflowing with humour.

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 The acting throughout the performance I saw was compelling. Really convincing. Samuel Holmes stands out for me, not afraid to express the eccentric Farquaad. Villains are always fun characters to play, but I noticed that a lot of the audience agreed here, and there was something especially entertaining about his performance.

The musical, as a piece, I personally found to be a little song heavy, though – always well performed, but sometimes the plot got a bit lost in the songs. I preferred the storyline, especially conversations between Shrek and Donkey’s very opposing personalities, and would have been happier to see more of that. That said, I felt the singing to be excellent. Lucinda Shaw had a really beautiful voice.

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The costumes looked like something straight out of a medieval picture book with well illustrated backdrops to accompany them. Certain transitions were especially effective. The Pied Piper scene using mice-shaped shoes peeking out beneath the curtain to illustrate Fiona’s piping expertise stands out as my favourite. It’s definitely a musical for fans of all ages. Plenty of subtle Simpsons-esque references means that no one gets left out. I would definitely suggest seeing this.

five-stars

 

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An Interview with Ashleigh More

The Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group (EUSOG) are bringing the classic musical, Oliver! to the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh next week. The Mumble managed to catch a wee blether with the Artful Dodger.


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Hello Ashleigh, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m from the north of Scotland but now based in Edinburgh.

When did you first realise you could sing?
When I was given a place in my school choir.

Why musical theatre?
Because bursting spontaneously into song is a far too regular occurrence in my life.

What does Ashleigh More like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
I am the biggest bookworm.

You’ve just been washed up on a desert island with three good films & a solar-powered TV/DVD combo. Which would they be?
The Little Mermaid Oliver (Obviously) Any Potter film.

How did you get involved with the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group (EUSOG)?
I heard about EUSOG when they advertised open auditions for The Addams Family Musical and just went for it.

Can you describe the EUSOG in one word?
Glorious

You made your EUSOG debut in 2015 where you played the role of Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family Musical. Since then do you think you have progressed as a performer within the group?
EUSOG has now given me the opportunity the portray two very different characters. The jump from Wednesday Addams to the Artful Dodger has been an enjoyable challenge and has definitely pushed me as an actor. The challenge of switching gender has been particularly invaluable to my acting experience. EUSOG is definetly a key factor in the fact that I am able to do this professionally.

74DC2CC74E6D45A5BDB4A47367A30116.jpgYou will soon be playing the Artful Dodger in Oliver!
It was first performed by EUSOG in 1988 as the first non-Gilbert and Sullivan production by the company.

When it comes to musical theatre, when can you tell you are giving a good performance?
Like any other form of theatre; when the audience believe it.

What does 2018 hold in store for Ashleigh More?
The unpredictable life of an actor.


Oliver! will be running in Pleasance Theatre from Tuesday 28th November to Saturday 2ndof December at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee performance at 2.30pm. Tickets are £12.50 and concession tickets are £8.

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Cabaret

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Edinburgh Playhouse
15 Nov – 18 Nov 

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I was unsure what to expect when I went along to see Cabaret with my wee bro on Tuesday Night. It was going to be his first time in a theatre and his first Musical ever. Would he like it? I wondered? would he have fun? To be honest I really wasn’t sure. We are both a little rough round the edges, rough diamonds you might say. Our sisters were laughing at the prospect of me taking my little brother along as he is more used to going to the football or a good night out up the town. I am pleased to say, however, that he absolutely loved it and thought it was hilarious! There were a lot of laughs in the show which were mainly instigated by Will Young who was simply superb.

Cabaret is the tale of an infamous club in 1930’s Germany where, as shown in the ‘bed scene,’ anything goes!  Life is basically one big party for the cast who generally have as good a time as possible, frolicking with anyone who is up for it! There is a lot of flesh on show and a few nudie bits which help add to the feeling of liberation and that anything is possible in Berlin. There are dark clouds looming, however, in the form of upcoming rise of the Nazi party. There are also other dark issues that the show touches on highlighting the inevitable consequences of so much carefree living. But mostly, & for our entertainment, Cabaret is more about having as good a time as possible and living for the moment!

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The set itself was authentic, if rather simple in parts, focused on the club and the living quarters of one of the protagonists. The young author, Cliff Bradshaw, was played impeccably by Charles Hagerty, who comes to Berlin in part to find himself and inspiration for a book. Cliff comes across as a rather likeable chap who basically just parties from the time he arrives in Berlin.  Cliff is a young man who is unsure of himself and his place in the world. A nice guy but a little naive. The redemption of Cliff’s character comes as he tries to help his friend/ lover Sally Bowes, played by the stunning Louise Redknapp, as she realises that there can be consequences to living a carefree Cabaret life.

Louise carries the show in several parts and raises it from being a decent show to a great one! Without Louise and Will I don’t believe this Cabaret would have achieve such critical acclaim. Louise added a touch of class & sass to which helped bring it to life for me. Will was completely believable in the role of Emcee and appeared many times in some weird and wonderful costumes as he narrated the story or belted out some of the big numbers. I must admit that I have never seen the 1966 film with Liza Minnelli or the original Broadway show which was a little before mine or my little brothers time. However, that did not matter in the slightest. We had a great night, the story was easy to follow, there were lots of laughs, the supporting cast were all very beautiful and skillful and the night flew past. I can highly recommend this to anyone; it will appeal to all age groups & guys and gals if you are looking for a fun night out in 1930’s Berlin, before the world became a much darker place, Cabaret can take you there!!

Reviewer : Mark Parkerfour-stars.png

 

Million Dollar Quartet

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Edinburgh Playhouse
Tuesday 24th – Saturday 28th October 2017

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MDQ-944-EDIT.jpgPulling in one of the most historic moments in Rock ‘n’ Roll history, the Million Dollar Quartet unleashes upon us the one and only night that some of the worlds best known Rock ‘n’ Roll artists were to come together. This musical is set in the summer of 1956, when Sam Phillips,’ the founder of Sun Studios, had already delivered to the world Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and not forgetting the one & only Elvis Presley. For one session only, Sun Studios played host to four of these heavyweights together, an encounter which was either a coincidence or a well-worked plan by Sam Phillips, & one that would never happen again. With so many unique and diverse musical characters merging in one small recording studio, I wondered what the out come was to be; perhaps an extravaganza of songs, hilarity, bickering and conflicting attitudes. It is difficult to imagine the energy that was present in that studio on that monumentous evening. As the huge curtain slowly rises upwards, you are welcomed with the sweet sound of guitar riffs and lyrics that transport you back to the iconic era that was the rocking 50s.

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Sam Phillips’ recording studio was recreated with some excellent  craftsmanship, & beautifully adapted set design was perfect. With the added delight of Martin Kemp playing the famous Sam Phillips, the show was a sure winner. As proceedings commenced, it was clear to see the time and effort that was made in the search of the cast to play each of the musical legends, the resemblances were uncanny. With each individual bringing their own personal touch to their chosen idol, at times I forgot I was watching a musical and not the real thing.

Driven head-on into this catalogue of memorable songs, you are catapulted into a mayhem of infectious dance and rock ‘n’ roll moves. The stage is awash with some of the best, crisp guitar chords I have heard in a long time, a double bass that has your Adam’s Apple bouncing up and down like a yo-yo & vocals that are truly fitting to the time. We are given Jerry Lee Lewis behaving like a character from Men Behaving Badly, which I must say was executed with great acting skills and humour, & the elegant walk and talk of Elvis Presley. Throw into the mix, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Dyanne the girlfriend of Elvis, who, by the way, can sing real good, we have a delightful education as well as a tribute to some of the best artists to have graced the planet. On an entertainment level, Million Dollar Quartet has it all excitement, humour, fun, laughter, music, love, sadness…  but most of all hope.

Reviewer : Raymondo

five-stars

An Interview with Donna Hazelton

dc51139fdae9acf9867d4e302f8134d3250dac24.jpgHello Donna, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m originally from Lochgelly in Fife but now living in ‘Costa Del Leven’

When did you first realise you could sing?
Well my mother’s family were all singers and in fact my grandad recorded a 78rpm record back in the 40’s. And as a child we were all encouraged to get up and ‘do a turn’ so I guess you could say I was pretty young when I realised I could get up on a stage and belt out a number or 2.

Why musical theatre?
I have always loved the fantasy of musical theatre. I think its just the escapism of it all. I mean where else in the world does someone burst into a song and dance routine in the middle of a story?

You’ve just been washed up on a desert island with three good films & a solar-powered TV/DVD combo. Which would they be?
Ach that’s a hard one!! Probably a Sony if I was honest!! Haha I guess my 3 favourite films would be ‘Ghost’, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘Our Wedding’ (which was shot in Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline when I married my husband, Jon, on stage!)

Back in 2014 you won Channel 4’s Musicality programme. What effect did this have on your career?
Well actually up until that time I was doing cabaret in clubs and some local amateur theatre. Musicality changed my life and gave me the chance to perform in the West End, tour Europe, Dubai and the UK and to make life long friends. I’ve been very lucky to do something I love doing.

What does Donna Hazelton like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
When I’m not walking my dog Bella, I enjoy playing in the dressing up box and watching ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ on the telly!

When it comes to musical theatre, when can you tell you are giving a good performance?
Some people need to be told they’re good but if you’re doing it right, you just know and if people appreciate it then that’s all for the better.

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You have just commenced a tour of GIRLS NIGHT OOT!. Can you tell us about the show?
It’s a full on 2 hours of brilliant, laugh out loud entertainment with great sing along songs as well as a little poignancy……BUY A TICKET AND COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!!

How has it been going so far?
We’ve been on the road with this for over a year now and everywhere we go we gather a few more fans! It just has all the right ingredients for a ‘guid night oot’!

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Donna Hazelton?
There’s not really much left of 2017 but what there is will be more performances of GNO and then a lovely family Christmas to look forward to.


You can catch Donna & the rest of the girls this Autumn

Lanark Memorial Hall
Fri 29 Sep

Eastwood Park Theatre, Glasgow
Thu 5 Oct

Byre Theatre, St Andrews
Sat, Oct 7th

Òran Mór, Glasgow
Sun 8 Oct

Motherwell Concert Hall and Theatre
Sat 21 Oct

Theatre Royal Dumfries
Sat, Oct 28th

The Brunton, Musselburgh
Thu 9 Nov

Barrfields Theatre, Largs
Fri 10 Nov

Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Sat, Nov 11th

  Cilla

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Edinburgh Playhouse
19th – 23rd September 2017

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As Summer turns to Autumn, Edinburgh Playhouse plays host to Cilla, The Musical.  A colourful and entertaining production brought to us by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield, Cilla is the fascinating and true story of the rise of one of Britain’s most renowned singers, Cilla Black.  The set-design and stage-production combined seem to me to be one of the best artistic creations to have graced the stage at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Beautiful and realistic to every point, we are thrust back in time to a halycon age of music and change. The Cavern in Liverpool; Cilla’s family home; Recording Studios at Abbey Road and live American TV were all featured in this heart-warming show. Taking on the role of Cilla is Kara Lily Hayworth, who as singer and actress has an impressive back catalogue dating back to 1999.  With a strong cast, production and a 1960s wardrobe, this was sure to be an education as much as a musical. The journey begins in the early 1960s, with the song Some Other Guy done by the Big Three(the soon-to-be-Beatles. From the outset, it is obvious through the energy filling the room that this was a musical made for the people.  Direct in its approach and true to the life of Cilla,  this production takes a torch and shines the light on a courageous talented young girl who became a well-loved singer and household name until her recent passing away in 2015.

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If it is the Golden Years you are looking for, then this is the show for you. Spread out over two Acts and with 29 songs from Cilla herself, plus The Beatles, Mamas and Papas, John Lennon and Gerry and the Pacemakers… this near 3 hour extravaganza is a thrilling experience. Like a run away train this show never stops. Powerful and addictive it has you hooked.  The delivery of the songs, the cutting edge acting and the attention to detail was excellent. Cilla the Musical is full of colour, fun, energy, humour, laughs, thrills, music and emotion that is refreshing to see. Cilla offers up more than just a musical, however, like a Hollywood biopic it gives us an insight into the life and struggles of an ordinary girl who has a dream. With feet unable to stop moving and legs willing to dance this was a chance to be part of something special, a night out with Cilla and friends. Magical and endearing from start to finish it leaves you with happy memories of times past. Superb !!!!

Reviewed by Raymondo Speedie

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Grease

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Edinburgh Playhouse

September 11-16

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Way back in 1970, Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey started penning a musical which looked back to their own teenage hijinkerie in 1950s America. Starting off in the draughty old former trolley barn that was the Kingston Mines Theatre in Chicago, within a year their baby was embedded on Broadway & by the end of the decade had been transformed into one of the greatest musical films ever made. Grease is an eternal, funthrobbing time-capsule of a classic, & it is great to see director David Gilmore touring Britain with a young cast of talented pseudo-American ‘teenagers.’ Watching Grease for the first time on the stage, I realised that Hollywood had taken liberties with the book, creating a topsy-turvy version that would please the filmgoer more. Thus, watching the pure version for the first time was a great sensation – a few lovely surprises tossed into the ever-familiar progress of a full academic year at Rydell High. As a kid myself, whomever got up first between me & my sister at the weekends got to pick the morning’s video. If it was me, it was Raiders of the Lost Ark, if it was my sister it was either Dirty Dancing or Grease – thus the entire script & score of Grease is embedded in my psyche!

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‘I don’t know why I ever liked you Danny Zuko…!’

‘Sandy….’

There was a genuine & lovely rapport between our leads, The Wanted’s Tom Parker as Danny – fresh into his first foray into Musical Theatre – & Danielle Hope as Sandy. In a recent interview with the Mumble, Tom – who heralds from Bolton – spoke of that chemistry’s core tenet, stating that Danielle was;

From Manchester as well, actually, so we share a common ground, we have quite the same sense of humour, or example, I really like Danielle, shes a total pro & I’ve learned a lot from her to be honest

Danielle, the ‘total pro‘ as Tom calls her, arrives on the Playhouse stage via a more formal route through the halls of Musical Theatre Academe – performing at the Royal Variety along the way – & some of her renditions of Sandy’s songs are simply sublime. The rest of the teenage wolf-pack were excellent too, with Alessia McDermott & her nimble dancing feet making a stand-out Cha-Cha, while Oliver Jacobson was a highly entertaining & bubbly Roger. I even, for once, enjoyed ‘Beauty School Drop-out.’ I always used to fast-forward the bit in the film with that song, but its natural set-piece home is of course on the big stage, & was delivered in Edinburgh with a sexy & caricatured ensemble of poppy pezzazz.

T birds. Photo by Paul ColtasPost La-La Land, musicals are cool again, but Grease simply has to be the coolest of them all. For this particularly silky-slick rendition, above the proceedings the band dished out music like a prostrate Showaddywaddy; sometimes funky, sometimes not quite on the pulse, but never lacking in vibes at any point. The sets were startlingly striking – like showbiz dynamite – cohesive & transportative, & the whole package when combined gives Grease 2017 an edge over many of its competitors. From the moment the T-Birds & Pink Ladies burst onto the stage in an explosion of life, sound & colour – with ‘Grease is the Word’ rebounding about the excellent acoustics of the Playhouse – to the vibrant medley at the end, one really could not take one’s eyes of proceedings, nor stop tapping one’s feet. Fantastic & universal stuff!

Reviewer : Damo

five-stars