Dracula: Revamped

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Oran Mor, Glasgow
July 2 – 20, 2019

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Oran Mor’s Summer Panto boasted a spooky set, at the centre of which was an image of Dracula emerging from his coffin (where he spends the daytime). Finished off by some grimy stone walls and two puppet black crows on either side, the stage was all set for John and James Kielty’s highly enthusiastic portrayal of the Dracula story, satisfyingly packed with all the Panto characters we know and love, and in fact go to these things to see.

Dracula (George Drennan) was in his prime conversing with his two crows (the puppets) about dastardly things to come, mainly the love he bore for Mina (Ashley Smith). As in all good pantos (summer or winter) the plot stuck quite closely to the telling of the actual story, in this case Mr Bram Stoker’s Gothic tale of the terrible Dracula who lost all when his true love died.

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Every scene had great punch lines and raucous songs with the lyrics suitably altered to fit the story. As the second scene began all four characters were on stage, each one dressed in such a way – ranging from grim grey to brighter than bright – as to easily distinguish heroes (hooray!) from villains (boo!), and all undergoing their trials and tribulations with a great deal of oomph and gusto. And then there were the artefacts, such as a hoover that would later turn out to be pivotal to the plot, but I’d better not give away how…

The plot was full of twists and turns as each character strove to achieve their conflicting goals. Can Jonathon (Darren Brownlie) save his beloved Mina from turning into a vampire? Can Dame Igorette (Ashley Smith) find a new tourist attraction for Transylvania now that Dracula has been killed by a stake through his heart? Can the revamped Dracula (hence the title!) be defeated again so that Mina can be rescued from enslavement as his vampire bride in gloomy Weegieland where the sun never shines?

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Encouraged by the strobe lighting and a loud electric soundtrack the whole room joined in and countered Dracula’s “Oh yes I will!” with an equally hearty “Oh no you won’t!” This jovial, light-hearted show was pure fun from beginning to end – as much for the performers as the audience, and you really felt that they wanted us to enjoy it as much as they did. Dracula: Revamped runs at the Oran Mor until 20 July. I suggest you book yourself a ticket now before they all sell out!

Daniel Donnolly


Tir Na Nog


Oran Mor, Glasgow
May 27 –  June 1, 2019

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The Oran Mor shines again with a whistle stop tour of life’s peripheries. We joined a ship today for this performance of Celtic mythology of Tir Na Nog which translates as Land of the Young. The myth goes that if one was heroic or lucky enough one could attain eternal life in the land of the young. Tir was written by Dave Anderson, well known for his acting career, in an offering that previously won the Best New Musical award at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe.


Two of the chorus, Annie Grace and Brian James O’Sullivan, stood poised and ready, she with her flute, he his accordion, as the house announcer welcomed us. The show bedazzled us from the start as they performed with huge enthusiasm, starting and finishing each song with great gusto. The story was all about the Poet (Anderson), who navigated the sea as he had navigated his life, with passion and depth. No detail was left unturned, with the life of the poet unfurling at the whim of he who was at its helm. In the songs, we feel the camaraderie between the crew, perhaps even a pirate crew, at sea caring and searching for each other. The sea, wild and calm, that captivated and enthralled, no stranger to his great highs and crippling lows, to take his decisions and ride them until the very end.

There was a mesmerising quality to this musical, as the music drew you ever deeper into the memories it explored. You got a sense that no boundary would stop the will for life of this man. It shone, they all shone, as it pierced straight into the hearts of so many who are living remarkable lives, unafraid and courageous. It felt like a homage to every manifestation of life from the small and fragile to the large and melodramatic.


Dave’s own personal self-deprecating humour is always endearing, and somehow brings an invitation to come and think along with him. He reminds us that life is not always a sweet bed of roses, but out of it rises epic strength and a sense of overcoming, all presented with the greatest taste, charm and wisdom. We were with him all the way and felt included in the celebration of the joy and pain of life. At the end, the whole audience sings a rollicking chorus of “Rolling Home” loudly and prophetically. Don’t miss your chance to catch this storm of a show – it’s tour de force!

Daniel Donnolly


Rock of Ages

Edinburgh Playhouse
Tue 30 Apr – Sat 4 May 2019

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With ‘Rock’ having a history like no others, this musical was sure to drop a historical bombshell of classic and well known anthems from a time where short hot pants and cut-down jeans were all a rock star wanted or needed. As the lights burn bright and the countdown to 1987 is underway, the set in unveiled and the transformation back to Sunset Boulevard is complete. With the narrator bouncing onto the stage like he was riding a space hopper, the energy was clear to see from the start. This was going to be a musical full off high-octane energy from beginning to the end. The time and care that went into the creative and artistic stage design was uplifting and beautiful to the human eye. Full of colour, bright lights and a full band stage, it definitely caught the essence of a time when ‘everything goes.’

As the stage lights up, the visual production of the show is unwrapped and delivered to the audience as the ‘Bourbon Room’ comes too our attention. Owned and run with efficiency by a long-haired ancient hippy called Dennis, this Sunset Strip club is one of the many venues playing host to the soon to be famous rock bands of their time. It served as the perfect venue for an LA love story. As Sherrie leaves home looking for a better life, Drew is trying to becme a rock star, and with Dennis still chasing the hot pants the show started to produce the humour that proved to be a very important asset for Rock of Ages.

With a concoction of great and memorable classic songs, Rock of Ages is a fun show with a tongue in cheek approach to theatrical entertainment. Take your time, sit back, relax and enjoy the journey through rock as we know it. From Whitesnake, Europe, Foreigner, Starship and other renowned rock bands, not forgetting Stacee Jaxx, this rollercoaster of a musical will not disappoint. There are some fantastically funny scenes, and without these humorous interventions we would have a very different experience. A well-written book throws the audience a laugh at every corner. A day without laughter is a day wasted they say, you can smile, laugh, clap or dance but for sure you will confusingly enjoy this extravaganza of a show.

With strong and well-chiselled acting, the characters are very believable and tend to want to make you turn back time and jump on the Rock Train to Sunset Strip. Trekking through the dramas of eviction and demolition, love and betrayal, heartache and joy, the one thing that always conquers all is Dennis. With all the ingredients of music, hilarity, dance, boiling hot energy and a cast that will tickle every part of your body, this stage production of Rock of Ages will leave you with a warm whoosh feeling that will be present with you for the near future, well at least until you get home. Even if Rock is not your genre, take a dip into something different and trot along to see this one off take on Rock of Ages….

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Jospeh And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat


Edinburgh Playhouse
Until the 23rd March

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Sir Tim Rice and Sir Andrew Loydd Webber’s first outing together, created in the olden days and a firm favourite of Musical Lovers Worldwide. An all-singing, all-dancing exploration of the Old Testament. Fusing contemporary style’s and religious mysticism with sibling rivalry being rife, all 11 brothers hated Joseph because of his prophetic dreams revealing that one day his brothers would all bow down to him. The final straw was his Dad giving Joseph the only Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat in existence. Exacerbated with fashion envy, Joseph is sold into slavery at an early age by his 11 brothers, preventing him from becoming their father’s favourite. Joseph’s new career as a slave to a Pharaoh in Egypt sees him become The Pharaoh’s fave slave, with his dreams become even more prophetic, ensuring a career as a Psychic in Egypt. Reconciling 20 years later, Joseph forgives his brothers and they all take turns with the coat. And everyone lives happily ever after.

Being a Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Virgin, I wanted the performance to tell the tale. The enthusiastic opening night audience knew every lyric word perfect; indeed, most were on their feet dancing and singing by the end of the performance – and of course, the songs from the production have become famous classics. The Opener, Joseph’s Coat, always makes me cry, & with a supporting choir of children and amazing orchestration, the amazing reproduction of the Playhouse sound system, along with a cast of very enthusiastic dancers this production was a beautiful sensory overload. Fantastically choreographed and given a contemporary take by Gary Lloyd.

The performance didn’t work for me because I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I gave up trying in the end and enjoyed the spectacle of each individual song, it was all song and no dialogue. Had I not have been given a review programme, I wouldn’t have had a clue what I had just seen. The Pharaonic Elvis was just a little too much for my head to take in, but saying that I was probably the only person in the house who didn’t own the soundtrack and had never seen this musical before. On the whole though, both my beautiful companion and myself thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s Mumble outing. I’m not sure if it made for a cohesive whole, but it was very pretty and the songs were lovely.

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The Cast.
Joseph. Jaymi Hensley
Narrator. Trina Hill.
Jacob, Henry Metcalf.
Pharoe. Andrew Geater.
Benjamin. Alex Hetherington.
Mrs Potiphar. Amber Kennedy.
Reuben. Arthur Bone.
Issachar. (The Baker) Ed Tunningley.
Simeon. Lewis Asquith.
Napthali. George Best.
Judah. Mikey Jay-Heath.
Gad. Matt Jolly.
Levi . Corey Mitchel.
Zebulan. Joshua Robinson.
Dan. Callum Connolly.

Jersey Boys



Edinburgh Playhouse
Feb 19-Mar 2, 2019

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The Edinburgh Playhouse, 2019, let the games begin! I was one of an almost full house for this one, tho’ admittedly I knew very little about what I was going to see. I like it that way, keeps an unbiased mind free to review. But now I am biased, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons are wicked! The true test of a musical is to be humming & the whistling & singing snatches of half-remembered lyrics, constantly seeing after seeing the show. Yes, that’s what happened with Jersey Boys – their tunes are proper cheeky, proper fun – while I’m Working My Way Back to you girl is on my tongue as I type.

“Trios are out, quartets are in.”
Tommy DeVito

For me Jersey Boys was of course, top-notch entertainment, but it was more, much more, it was an education into Jerseybeat – a unique corner of 60s pop music obscured the British devotion to The Beatles etc. But OMG, Franki Valli & his boys have a wonderful oeuvre of classic tunes, they kept coming like rainbows on the Gulf Stream & a cool biopic to back ’em up. This biopic, then, was slick, snappy, & based upon interviews with the four lads themselves. “How much better does it get,” remark’d the bands main hit-writer, Bob Gaudio, “than to see your life pass before you, with a twenty-minute intermission, & never having to break sweat?”

In the hands of the four brilliant gallants on stage before us – Michael Watson (Frankie), Simon Bailey (Tommy DeVito), Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio) & Nick Massi (Dayle Hodge) – we were completely & relentlessly immured in the reality of the Four Seasons, so amazing were the performance levels. Band tensions bristl’d with energy; Mobsters meandered in & out of the action, as did the young Joe Peschi thirty years before his oscar; genuine streetwise New Jersey gags bubbl’d with comedy, & the music, the music was bangin.’
To hear the original songs sung with such precision is what you want from such a genre, & of the many I’ve seen in recent years, it feels like Jersey Boys is the best!

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Kinky Boots

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Edinburgh Playhouse
Until Saturday 5th January

Book: five-stars Stagecraft: five-stars Performance: five-stars  

My Editor phoned me on Monday to ask me if I would review tonight’s performance of Kinky Boots. I quickly did a bit of research and discovered it is a musical with the songs of Cindy Lauper. OOOOOOoooo I like her.Good Time! So I phoned my editor back and said sure, Divine would love this scoop. I had two tickets, so invited my lovely friend Maggie Cheyne.

I arrived early at The Playhouse and made my way to The Boards to pick up my tickets and Goodie Bag !!!!!!! A Goodie Bag That included, Two tickets, a program, some rather lovely bindis and a velvet Kinky Boot bauble – a very festive bribe. I turned around to see two very beautiful trannies doing a photo shoot. Such beauty and power; masculine femininity, classically beautiful femme faces. I was stunned by such beau, & felt a touch under dressed. Even though my freshly purple hair  looked nice, I got the glitter girl to tart me up a bit – sparkly glitter. ‘Hmmm,‘ I thought as I skipped down the steps to meet my lovely friend Maggie and the beautiful creatures followed me outside, ‘this is becoming more and more appealing by the moment.’ I was all a fluster. Maggie looked lovely and we made our way into the Playhouse. Our seats in the stalls, gave a perfect view of the stage, center stalls row P. Good Time! ❤

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The Plot: A son inherits a shoe factory in Northampton and it is faced with closure due to a slump in the market. Our hero has to travel from London to the shoe factory in Northampton, leaving his hot girlfriend behind. Hot girlfriend wants to close the factory and turn the building into flats. Our hero wants nothing to do with the plan. Instead, he turns the shoe factory’s fortunes around with an all-singing, all-dancing cast of extremely convincing Trannies. Creating a range of high-heeled thigh boots that form a high-brow fashion show in Milan (tasty). Successfully turning the factory’s fortunes around. Saving the jobs of the people employed there. Hot girlfriend moves back to London. Hot boyfriend wants to stay with his shoe factory, so moves on to a blonde chick who had a better voice, but was the exact opposite of what he had before. ‘Hmm,’ I thought, ‘Its a rebound.’

The Performance: The Playhouse was full, right up to the gods, every seat was taken. The capacity audience were up for it the lights went down and a spectacular performance struck us all, fresh from a sell-out run in the West End of London. It totally kicked off in Edinburgh tonight. Productions of this caliber are few and far between, and everything about it set my creative juices on fire with a clever script brilliantly directed. Romance, passion, romantic tragedy, rebounds, superbly convincing transvestites, high-heeled boots with a happy ending – and the songs of Cindy Lauper telling the tale. The stage sets and lighting were just as spectacular. Possibly the greatest cabaret I have ever seen and been delighted by. Lola the lead tranny’s vocal performance brought the house down. Divine’s favourite line was, “Ladies and Gentlemen and for the ones that are nae sure”. This was a performance that reached out to everyone’s inner She-Male. Every heart in the Playhouse shone tonight, to the delight of Kinky Boots.

Absolutely Fantastic
5 Stars All Round
❤ Divinexx

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert


The Producers


The Pleasance Theatre
27th November – Saturday 1st December

It was a mild wet and windy night as I cut across the city, not too dissimilar to August Fringe time. The last time I had been at the Pleasance was for a Fringe Production. Tonight was like a step back into August. Having never seen Mel Brooks’ film The Producers before, tonight’s brilliant and very clever cast were going to have to sell it to me. My beautiful companion Natalie was well versed in tonight’s proceedings. The theatre was comfortable. And with a full orchestra warming up, it set the tone for this all singing, all dancing romp through the Third Reich.


A producer (Max Mclaughlin) and an accountant (Rob Merriam) have set out to create a musical in as bad taste as possible, Creating a Broadway smash when it was intended to be a flop at the box office, for dodgy accounting purposes. A musical within a musical. Titled Springtime For Hitler. Just to piss off any real Nazis, the SS were all camp queens. With a very clever use of a few props and stage lighting, the scene changes were very convincing. Each of the characters was faithfully portrayed, this is dark comedy indeed. Reproduced beautifully and with the perfect song. The accountant’s neurosis was a touch unconvincing, the shouty bits were the only reminder that this was a Fringe show. That all changed once he fell in love with Ulla (Georgie Rodgers). Ullas’s singing voice was fantastic.


On the whole the subject matter is too disturbing to be light-hearted entertainment. How Mel Brooks got away with it in the first place bewilders me. In equally bad taste as Theresa May The Musical would be. The ironic thing is, Mel Brooks was a Jew. Interestingly, male homosexuality had just been made legal in 1967. The Producers was released in 1968 to a British audience. I wonder how well it went down? In 2019, however, all the cast members and orchestra involved in this Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group production put in maximum effort and gave 100%. Well done everyone.

Review: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Photos: Gav Smart


Motown the Musical


Edinburgh Playhouse
Until December 8th

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Motown the musical is a jukebox jamboree, with superslick set changes which painted a picture of the era to perfection. Berry Gordy was the mastermind behind the Motown explosion, with this retrospective being based on his own book, To Be Loved: the Music. The Magic. The Memories of Motown. He is played by the wondrously voiced Edward Baruwa, whose drive, motivation & precise ear for what sells is retold with a series of lyrical & poetic vignettes. His love affair with Diana Ross is a major subplot, with Karis Anderson pulling off a stella & Diva performance. Add these to an extremely strong supporting cast, & of course those hit-hit songs, then we have a consummate mix.

This is a tale of dreams & ambition replaced by a Shakespearean finale tilted on power & money. All the greats are present; Nathan Lewis depicts Smokey Robinson with youthful cheeriness. Shak Gabbidon-Williams was a marvel as Marvin Gaye, while the boy who played the young Michael Jackson, altho’ not quite to the levels of the original, which made one realise just how brilliant Michael Jackson was in his pre-teen pomp. With its iconic costumes & that eternal soundtrack, one revels in the former glories of superstars, & enjoys a real foot-tappy sing-alonga joy-ride.



Saturday Night Fever


Edinburgh Playhouse
October 23-27 (19:30)

Book: four-stars.png Stagecraft: five-stars Performance: five-stars  

I love disco me, its well funky, & in the timeless masterpiece that is the 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever, the music & the moves find a cosmic synchronicity. Forty years later it has hit the stage under Bill Kenwright’s umbrella, & we’re winning before we even sit down. I mean, I watch’d La La Land for the first time a couple of days ago, & found the songs quite insipid really, but SNF gets down to the grooves of the Bee Gees at their peak, whose beat-defining soundtrack album is the second biggest seller of all time after Whitney Houston’s Bodyguard.

In the film, America’s biggest secret at the time, the smooth-struttin’ 22-year-old John Travolta, was magnificent, a bar set very high indeed. Luckily for us, the stage representation’s Tony Manero is Richard Winsor; a class act of accent, acting & slightly synthetic but passionately accurate dancing. This was done on a disco floor, which was angled into the aesthetic by a large mirror at the heart of the set. The scene changes were astounding, & the way the action moved about them stunning, & I really loved the bite-size snippets of plot which echoed the movie & kept things trucking.

About Winsor buzzed a great supporting cast, ballooning through a Brooklyn-youth vibe which mixes West End Story & Grease. Above them a band play’d the songs live, which were sang by a Bee Gees tribute group at the very summit of the set. This glossy musical is a pure wonder, pulsing with witty one-liners & sweetening sub-plots, & with a seminal soundtrack, sensational sets, pin-perfect performances & dedicated dancing, Saturday Night Fever is a cut above the rest.





Edinburgh Playhouse
2nd-7th October

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Dreamworks’ Madagascar movie has turned out to be a modern classic for the kids, a primal story of freedom & adventure full of quirky animal characters &, in the hands of Grammy award-winning George Noriega & Joel Someillan, bursting with funky tunes & meadow-whistling harmonies. Madagascar the Musical is touring the country as we speak, a more than fine production for kids, lets say nine & under – & parent alike. I was loving it, actually, as was my nine year old, but my eleven year-old was proving disinterested in a pre-teen way – that’s a good gauge, & like I said nine & under is the best age.


The cast are young & full of life – recent graduates of establishment temples such as the Italia Conti, Rose Bruford & the Urdang Academy. The latter produced Antoine Murray-Straughton, who sizzled in his role of Marty the Zebra. Up front beside him was the X-Factor 2016’s winner, Matt Terry, who shared wonderful performance energy with Marty as Alex the lion. We also had the other denizens of Central Park Zoo – the ‘hip-hop’ hippo, the hypochondriac giraffe, the wise, old monkey -, all played impeccably well.

Madagasacar the film is most memorable for the penguin posse, given extremely believable life & vocals on stage by puppeteers, directed beautifully by Emma Brunton. The costumes were also top-grade, & overall the stagecraft was a pleasure to witness. The show is film length – plus an interval – so its just within range of maintaining a young child’s interest, or indeed the young child still dwelling inside the old uns soul. Imagine the Singing Kettle on an epic stage & you’d pretty much get what Madagascar the Musical is all about – great fun!

Review: Damo

Photos : Scott Rylander