Edge of the World-A Digital Detox Musical

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Mini Musical
Oran Mor, Glasgow
18th-23rd June

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Are you in love with your tech, Android-appy or iProne? Are you Microsoft in the head for your device; is it the Apple of your eye? If so, you might require a digital detox, somewhere a mobile signal just can’t penetrate – like up a close in Glasgow’s Hyndland, or on a remote, windswept Scottish isle that’s the last land-stop before Canada.

IMG_7952ii Isabelle Ross, Katie  Barnett, Simon Donaldson.jpgThis is where American, motormouth banker Lindsay (Simon Donaldson) finds himself, with fellow retreaters, writer Annabelle (Isabelle Joss) and web fantasist Charlene (Katie Barnett). All three have diverse problems. Lindsay is a wheeler dealer, barking orders down the phone to financial institutions all round the world, using cocaine to fuel his 24/7 life style. Annabelle can’t get through a meal without constantly checking her phone, endangering her digestion and marriage. Charlene is a Govan lassie who suffers from a sort of Stockholm syndrome – she presents herself on the internet as a glamorous, exciting, Swedish girl. How will they cope for an entire week, having surrendered their cellular gadgets to Hamish (Richard Ferguson), the organiser of the group’s rehabilitation? Will fresh air and porridge work their wonders?

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Richard Ferguson’s mini musical has a tangled web of a story. We are introduced to elements such as the island’s Norse history and dress code, its Julian calendar and the practise of chanting Om, none of which advance the narrative. If it’s a serious look at the problems of virtual realities then there’s nothing new being said here. If it’s a comic take on addiction to technology, there’s precious little in the way of wit or humour. The songs are far from memorable with a couple having a distinctly Sondheim feel to them.
The composer provides piano accompaniment throughout.

Barnett, Joss and Donaldson all sing well, both individually and when harmonising. It is their combined energetic efforts, which bring to the production what little life it has.
Not likely to go viral.

David G Moffat

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Melania

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Mini Musical
Oran Mor, Glasgow
11th-16th June

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Melania Trump is not a happy FLOTUS. The First Lady of the United States does not sleep well, as she can hear the obsessive tweeting of her husband’s stumpy ‘Kong-King’ fingers pumping away all night, just down the hall. Between that and the 45th president’s other women, she’s had enough of the White House. But there is no silver bullet to her problems, certainly not in the pistol she briefly considers using on herself. Luckily the spirit of former, redoubtable First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt has been keeping an eye on her and with the savvy guidance of glam ghost, Jackie Kennedy, Melania’s future might end up looking brighter than her husband’s perma-orange face.

IMG_7859i FRANCES THORBURN, KIRSTY  MALONE.jpgKirsty Malone’s Melania Trump is highly strung, full of nervous regrets, her heavily accented voice working beautifully with the comic songs she performs. Her dearest wish is to get back to the ordinary, simple life of shopping all day with her girlfriends. Margaret Preece’s Eleanor Roosevelt likes girlfriends too. She is self contained, erudite, hooked on current affairs, a sort of can-do librarian. Her lack of fashion flair is mirrored in the restrained, often clipped delivery of her songs. 12 years in the White House has left her with few allusions about the perfidious nature of men. Frances Thoburn’s Jackie Kennedy has pillbox hat glamour. A style icon, she is what she wears. A woman around when the 60’s began to swing, her voice resonates with upbeat vitality.

IMG_7891i MARGARET PREECE,  KIRSTY  MALONE, FRANCES THORBURN.jpgHilary Brooks and Clive King have written a highly entertaining musical play with songs full of humour and irony that not only entertain with current observations but cleverly reflect the eras of the two former First Ladies. Jackie takes us back to a pre-Beatles, sweet American, big-pop sound, for a song about her love for JFK during the 1960’s Missile crisis (Cuban heels and Russian spies, I lost myself in his blue eyes), while Eleanor sings of the Great Depression (The grapes of wrath made lousy wine) with stark, slow rolling, piano accompaniment. With plenty of jokes, surreal developments and the happiest of endings, this is a treat well worth seeing. Gr8, as tweeting thumbs might have it.

David G Moffat

five-stars

 

The Thinkery

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Mini Musical Season
Oran Mor, Glasgow
04-09 June, 2018

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Socrates, as we all know, was a chap given to rumination. He encouraged young men to have contemplative thoughts while musing on the ever changing shapes of clouds. The technical term we use for seeing pictures in otherwise amorphous shapes is pareidolia, appropriately enough from the Greek, para meaning something faulty or wrong and eidolon meaning image or form. According to ancient Athenian playwright Aristophenes, Socrates taught this philosophy at The Thinkery, which does exactly what it says on the amphora.

IMG-7831i.jpgAnd The Thinkery is where young spendthrift Pheidippides finds himself, having fled from a seriously peeved money lender intent on skewering the wastrel debtor, in lieu of payment. Socrates mistakes Pheidippides for a curious student and introduces him to the philosophy of the clouds and the three rules of life. The clouds can speak and offer advice, which is really handy and soon the youth is heading back to Strepsiades, his worried dad, confident he can logic his way out of the family’s liabilities. The mouthy, house slave has her doubts. All depends on whether the stop-out adolescent can become a citizen and take responsibility for his own actions.

Jimmy Chisholm’s Socrates is full to bursting with oratory, striding the stage like a wee colossus then stopping, sandals wide apart, manspreading in his toga, while tipping the audience a knowing wink. Sandra McNeely’s slave provides grounded, streetwise advice to the household and her cloudy Zenobia with the masked, cumulus face attempts to influence her sybarite son from beyond the grave.

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Nathan Byrne’s Pheidippides is gloriously gangly with all the misplaced confidence of youth, glibly avoiding consequences, happy to be a drain on the Bank of Dad. Tom Urie’s Strepsiades doesn’t have his troubles to seek. He does good gloom, missing his dead wife and burdened by worries about his dwindling finances, due to his errant son.

All four actors whether solo or together, are in fine voice when they sing and appear to be enjoying the performance as much as the audience, i.e. a great deal. Brian James O’Sullivan’s funny, musical play is full of delightful, knowing anachronisms (Nike is the god of victory, not trainers). There’s much to enjoy here, from Keystone Cop type chases around the stage, to a misunderstood dialogue between father and son that brings to mind the Abbott and Costello ‘Who’s On First’ routine.  The songs are good and drive the plot which is as relevant today as it was two and a half millennia ago, while Annette Gillies’ set, a collection of flat Ionian columns in front of a screen of moving clouds, captures the classic Hellenic atmosphere simply but perfectly. A super, Glaswegian Greek comedy, bearing gifts.

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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

 

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!!

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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