An Interview with Claire Mckenzie & Scott Gilmour

Hello Claire, so where you & Scott from & where ya both at, geographically speaking?unnamed
Claire : 
At the moment we are both based in Glasgow, although since we’ve started getting more work internationally, we’re travelling around quite a lot! I’m originally from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne but moved up to Scotland to study composition, and have never wanted to leave because of the exciting new work that is constantly being created here. Seeing has I’ve now lived here for 12 years, am a McKenzie and have ginger hair, I think that makes me officially Scottish! Scott is originally from East Kilbride and similarly moved into Glasgow to study, and so far, hasn’t left!

Hello Scott, can you give us a brief outline of the origins of your partnership with Claire?
Scott : Claire and I were both students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and met in my first year of training. I was an actor and Claire was Musical Director. We spoke about stories and ideas we had in common and decided we’d like to try making something together. In my final year there was an opportunity to have a new piece made with The Arches in Glasgow, so I submitted Claire and I (without actually asking Claire…) and I our idea was selected. This became our first musical together; FREAKSHOW. Based on the true stories of Victorian freak performers, it was a site-specific song cycle which then went on a small tour to London, playing at The Roundhouse and Covent Garden Actors Church, before ending up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where is won the Daily Mail Drama Award 2012. It was at this point we decided to form our partnership company Noisemaker. Five years on we’re still having fun telling stories together, and our work is growing and becoming more and more international, through projects like ATLANTIC.

What makes a good musical, & which are your favorites?
Scott : I think a good musical is one where the story matches the style. I think musical theatre suffers from a stigma that’s a direct result of style coming before content or story. However, shows like WEST SIDE STORY or CABARET pair the style with stories big and important enough that it not only matches the size and scale of the style, but they allow the story to be told more clearly, and with more impact, as a result of it being a musical. That’s when musical theatre becomes interesting for me; when the a story can live on in the music audiences are left humming on their way home from the theatre. Some of my favourites are, as I mentioned, WEST SIDE STORY and CABARET. I also loved LONDON ROAD, COLOUR PURPLE and have a definite soft spot for OLIVER.

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What is it about Musical Theatre that makes you tick?
Claire : I’m a musician who loves to collaborate, and I think Musical Theatre is the ultimate collaboration between art forms; all working together to tell a story. I’m a believer that you can’t write a musical alone by yourself in a room; you need to work with other creatives and actors throughout the writing process in order to bring the different elements together and make a musical really work. I’m obviously passionate about the use of music in storytelling, as I think it has such an immediate ability to evoke emotion in the audience, while being a universal language that’s accessible to everyone.

How are you finding the public’s taste for musical theatre in 2017
Scott : Like everything, our taste is changing. The main thing I feel that’s shifting is how audiences watch stories. Stuff like Netflix allows anyone easy access to incredible, complex, beautiful stories and drama. Film is relying more and more on visual storytelling partnering with a rich soundtrack, over lots of text and dialogue. Our relationship to language is changing. We still like to be taken on a journey, but I think we’re a lot better at coping with having moments where we aren’t sure of what’s going on, where we are left confused and unsatisfied but are happy to hang for a resolution. I think that new musical theatre has been a little slower at making this shift in narrative. It’s still such a young form, I don’t think we’ve begun to understand all the ways song and movement can be used to tell new stories that speak about who and what we are. That said, I think people love a blockbuster. It could be the newest Star Wars or Marvel Superhero movie, but when as a big story with a big score comes along, something like HAMILTON, I think people will always want to escape into that.

Can you tell us about the creative processes between yourself & Scott?
Claire : At the start of each process we will spend quite a bit of time together working on the idea and mapping out the structure of the piece. We try and delve into the world of the piece together, by collecting pictures and making playlists to listen to, so we are both on the same page regarding the tone and language of the piece. We’ll then start writing; and generally, Scott will go first and come up with some lyrics and text, then I’ll follow with the music. I always like working with a lyric first as it allows me to be specific in matching the music to each word. We’ll then go back and forwards with the material a few times, being brutally honest with each other, about what we think is working and what isn’t. Ideally as soon as we finish a first draft, we’d want to workshop the material with actors and a dramaturg to start feeding in their responses and continue tweaking until the show is ready for production.

What is the raison d’etre behind your company, Noisemaker?
Claire : As Scott mentioned, we began writing together in 2012 and soon after our first project we formed Noisemaker. We wanted to create and develop new musical theatre together and challenge the form in fresh and innovative ways. A huge part of this is how we use music throughout the storytelling. We don’t always use traditional song structures and instead tell our stories more filmically, trying to create a feeling at times that is not always text or lyric driven. We also tend to pick challenging narrative structures – for example, our last trip to Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 was with The Girl Who, an interactive ‘choose-you-own-adventure’ musical, with 128 possible versions. Each show was unique as it was dependant on a series of choices made by the audience throughout the story – which wasn’t straight forward to write, or rehearse!

Can you tell us about your time at the prestigious Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed, Connecticut, & what have you learnt from the experience?
Scott : The Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed was one of the most important experiences Claire and I have had as a writing partnership. It allowed us to have absolute freedom and space to start a new idea, in the insanely beautiful surroundings of East Haddam, Connecticut, whilst also being able to share our ideas and new material with other writers and hear what they were creating too. Often you can feel a little isolated as a writer; that you need to work alone before anyone else is allowed to come and play. But the community offered at Goodspeed allows you time with similar artists working on a similar process which was just really inspiring for us to work around. As a result of our time there, we’ll be returning to New York in early 2018 to begin developing the piece we started at the Colony into a full new musical, with support from Goodspeed, the National Theatre of Scotland and Dundee Rep.

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This year you are bringing Atlantic : A Scottish Story to the Fringe. Can you tell us about the transatlantic ideas behind its creation?
Scott : We began the process for ATLANTIC back in October 2016. Claire and I had lots of calls and Skypes with the American writers (all at weird times of the day) about what story we felt we all wanted to tell in this setting, and also what was appropriate and right for the students we were working with too. Eventually the idea of home and heritage started to emerge as a fundamental point of difference for both teams. Claire and I’s families both have lived in Scotland for generations, whereas the Americans were either third or fourth generation immigrants.

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They began to explain the idea that where many Americans “come from” is rarely America itself and that, for many, there are family and roots to be found all over the world. We took this as our starting point. A SCOTTISH STORY for us then became about looking at the story of an girl who is unable to escape the roots and hold of family and place, to explore the world and see what else might be out there. If it is prescribed where you belong and who you are, can you still be happy there? Is it a curse to never leave? That is idea we explore through ATLANTIC: A SCOTTISH STORY.

Are you in touch with the team in the States producing the American version of Atlantic?
Claire : Absolutely. I think we’ve been in touch with the American team via every platform available in the past few months! But nothing beats working with them in person, and we were very lucky to be able to spend time with them during the Chicago workshop of ATLANTIC in May. It’s been wonderful collaborating with another writing team – something you very rarely get to do – and we’ve learnt such a lot during this process that will undoubtedly shape Scott and I’s writing in the future.


Claire & Scott’s creation will be sailing in to the Edinburgh Fringe

Aug 3-27 : Assembly Hall (15.00)

 

PUNoccio

A Panto, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor
Glasgow

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Stagecraft: 5  Book: 5  Performance: 5

Happy July everybody. It’s panto-time in Glasgow and PUNoccio, written by Gary McNair, is a cracker full of topical gags, word play and bouncy songs. Hingmy Cricket (Kirstin McLean) sets the scene and tone with a cheeky wee poem, rhyming Oran Mor’s pie alternative quiche, with keech. In a workshop surrounded by her puppets, mistress-carver, Jan Petal (Dave Anderson) longs for a son to end her loneliness. Her wish for a wean is heard by a scary, Fairy Odd Mother (Darren Brownlie glittering like a disco mirror ball). A high-kick later and PUNoccio (a bubbly Francis Thorburn) is no longer a tethered marionette but a walking, talking puppet free to PUNish everyone with an irritating string of double meanings. Well with a name like PUNoccio he wood, woodn’t he?

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As in the Disney tale, which for copyright reasons we are frequently assured this isn’t, a naive PUNoccio encounters (hiss-boo) villains. These political sounding scoundrels, Trumpoli, Bear-is Johnson and the sleekit cat, Faragio are all thwarted as PUNoccio becomes a real boy… and farts. As tradition demands, all ends happily with an audience split in two, contesting which side sang the closing song best. This lively, clever comedy, as bright as PUNoccio’s primary coloured costume, continues at Oran Mor throughout July. Oh yes it does!

Reviewer : David G Moffat

five-stars

An Interview with Rebecca Humphries

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Hello Rebecca, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

I’m from Norwich, live in Shepherds Bush but am currently in Stratford Upon Avon, where I is doing a play.

Can you talk us through the earliest stages in your development as a performer?

Hmm, well I suppose it all starts when your parents recognise you as a terrible show off and send you to drama clubs and that sort of thing. I don’t know how much I really ‘developed’ during the years before drama school, other than gaining in confidence!

Since then, you’ve acted on stage & screen, but you also have a writer’s vein. Your debut, Dizney Rascal, was quite a smash & the book & lyrics were yours. What made you do it?

I suppose what I’m saying is that will always be the point I consider my true development to have started! When I realised in 2014 that the kind of work I was doing post drama school didn’t really reflect my taste or ambition, and that was the moment where I sort of threw the rule book out of the window and said ‘fuck it, no point in being halfway up a ladder I didn’t even want to climb. I’m doing my own thing’. Funnily enough, it was when I started having that attitude the acting work I really wanted followed.

Can you tell us about the creative processes between yourself & composer Jo Cichonska?

Jo and I absolutely love working together, and we don’t actually do it all that often because real life and other jobs get in the way. Generally speaking I’ll come to her with a concept for a song, a ‘personality’ of it if you like, often with the lyrics. And together we’ll make it catchy and fun and make sure that we love performing it. If we don’t it’s dead. But we usually do!

What makes a good comedy musical?

Quality. Every song needs to be on point, the acting has to be brilliant, it needs to have great gags and bags of class. I don’t mean that in a snooty middle class way. You can be silly and irreverent and filthy and still have style.

What does Rebecca Humphries like to do when she’s not immersed in the arts?

Ha, well she doesn’t have time for much else at the moment! (I love talking about myself in third person, I’m so glad you asked). An honest way to answer this is to tell you what I’ve done with my time off in Stratford-go to the pub*, go to the fun fair*, browse in Waitrose and play with my cat who is literally the most beautiful cat in the world. He really is.

*not on my own
**on my own

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This year you are bringing Dizney Rascal’s follow-up to the Fringe, the delightfully named Prom Kween, can you give us the spiel?

Sure! Prom Kween follows the story of the first ever non-binary kid to be crowned Prom Queen at their high school in 2016. It’s based on a true story, and is all kinds of fabulous. We have the most amazing, AMAZING cast and team with a ludicrously impressive combined experience and I’m so excited for it. Our producer Aine was behind the cult hit Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho and last year’s smash How to Win Against History, and ours sits somewhere between those and my own Disney show. That’s a pretty good summation.

You’ve already performed Prom Kween at the Vault Festival. How did it go down & will there be any tweaks for Edinburgh?

It was performed as an R&D (research & development) piece, so in a very early stage. We couldn’t believe the response. We sold out, got standing ovations every night and won a comedy award for it. I mean…..yeah I was chuffed with that. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come but you never bloody know with Edinburgh, sometimes it’s enough of a challenge to get anyone to turn up!

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Rebecca Humphries?

Well first I have to finish my show here at the RSC, then Edinburgh, then holiday. I’m going to go on a totally lovely holiday after all this.
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REBECCA WILL BE PERFORMING IN HER OWN
‘PROM KWEEN’
Aug 3-27 (20.35) : Underbelly Cowgate

Spuds

A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor
Glasgow
19-24 June

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Stagecraft: 5  Book: 5  Performance: 5

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Your wife chokes on a fish bone and dies suddenly leaving you no time to have her properly insured; can there be a worse nightmare for a man living in the west end of Glasgow? What lies ahead without her income to pay the mortgage on the big house, surely not a move to… Dennistoun??? No wonder a distraught, drunken David finds himself in Toni’s fish ‘n’ chip shop in urgent need of some comforting Irn Bru and deep fried potatoes. A fortuitous accident leads to the discovery of an addictive product worthy of Breaking Bad’s Walter White. Soon, encouraged by his daughter Daisy, the merchandise is being pushed to Herald readers and then things start to spiral out of control.

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Spuds-1RS.jpgAndy McGregor has written and directed a terrific piece of musical theatre, full of wit and invention with lots of playful G12 references for the Oran Mor audience to enjoy. The principle vocalists (there is also a singing, dancing chorus of nine) are all Class A with Richard Conlon (David) dramatically commanding, Darren Brownlie (Toni) hilariously flexible and Joanne McGuinness (Daisy) showing her versatility  by doing a bit of rapping as would-be gangsta Lucille. Music is provided throughout by Gavin Whitworth on the piano (except when Lucille slaps him off it to lay down some beats). This is a show bursting with funny moments delivered by a dynamic, talented cast. Spuds you’ll like.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

five-stars

Dirty Dancing

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Dirty Dancing takes us to 1963, to a holiday camp in the Catskill mountains; an American version of Butlins. Places where Jewish families, still facing discrimination in the U.S., could spend their summers, and many a young romance was forged. But the one developing between the lead couple in this story, well known from the classic 1987 movie of the same name, like in all good love stories, is fraught with problems. Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (Katie Eccles) is a wilful and warm hearted teenage girl, determined to change the world. Visiting with her family, she falls for the in-house dance teacher, ‘bad boy’ Johnny Castle (Lewis Griffiths), to the chagrin of her beloved father Dr. Houseman (sympathetically played by Julian Harries). Directed by Federico Bellone, but with Eleanor Bergstein as both the writer of the screenplay and the stageplay, it retains the choppiness of a film, adds some new scenes but keeps the characters we know and love.

Roberto Comotti (set) and Valerio Tiberi (lighting) bring typical Italian flair to the production, creating the colourful brashness of the resort with rotating towers like the ultimate high-tech dollshouse. Daytime brings cheerful smiles, plaid summer two pieces and family fun, nighttime hidden struggles, power dynamics and troubled liasons amongst the staff. The classic, beloved scenes from the film were given their full due; self-knowing tricks that brought laughter from the audience, and augmented by rich greens and atmospheric multi-hued lighting suggesting the rich, fresh feeling of the mountains and lakes that form the perfect backdrop to Johnny and Baby’s inevitable attraction.

Most of the focus of the show goes on the storyline and the choreography (Gillian Bruce), with the usual big musical numbers giving way to a medley of familiar tunes from both the movie and of the time, augmented by the quality ‘resort’ band. Special mention must go to the two big voices of the night; Michael Kent as Billy Kostecki and Sophia MacKay as Elizabeth, both exuding surprising gravitas in their relatively minor roles. Carlie Milner is a perfect Penny, a visual ballet Barbie injecting star quality into her raunchy moves; real in her suffering, and hyper-focused in her mentoring of nervous new dancer Baby. The choreography was varied, from sensual to sensational, with the expected flashy group dance routines eventually delivered at the end of a lumbering second act. ‘Hungry Eyes’, in particular, kept us fixated on Baby, sandwiched between Johnny and Penny, unable to do anything but relinquish herself to their mesmerising dance expertise.

Baby and Johnny are such iconic characters, they must be hard boots for any actor to fill. Physically, they are satisfying to watch, down to Baby’s adolescent awkwardness and earnest walk, to Johnny’s chiseled chest drawing whoops and wolf whistles from the ladies in the audience at every possible opportunity. Griffiths does a great job, though his character is particularly rough and offhand with her in the beginning. Of course, Baby gives as good as she gets, and troubled Johnny’s tenderness and vulnerability begin to shine as he unburdens himself with her strong encouragement. Eccles has a vast range of emotions to express, and although at times holds herself back from throwing herself fully into the rawness of those emotions, does a competent job at holding such a massive role together.Their chemistry is just strong enough to be believable, and their dance scenes were fantastic, and although there’s playfulness and intensity between them, there was just a little touch of romance missing. Maybe it was the over reliance of taking their shirts off and on again; this simple flash of flesh just not being particularly sexy or imaginative.

The performances were a delight across the board, and although the entire production at times felt like it had a little too much flesh hanging on the bones, Dirty Dancing was a fun, fluffy affair, but with a classic story that has stood the test of time. The play is able to enhance the film and give us a wonderful treat with its full range of drama, comedy and romance. Through its careful and realistic character development, we stayed emotionally connected to the story right until the satisfaction of the long-anticipated ‘lift’.

Reviewer: Lisa Michel Williams 

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Wee Free!

A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
12th-17th May

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IMG_6292i George Drennan (1)Wee Free! is a rare & scintillating treat, a genuinely funny play with lovely musical interludes. It comes to us via the classic sounding ‘Brooks & King’ – i.e. composer Hilary brooks & playwright/lyricist Clive King, both of whom are Glasgow based. The story they give us us essentially a blend of Mary Poppins, Footloose & the Wickerman; where a young Glaswegian music teacher (played by Neshla Caplan) is given a posting on a far-flung, god-fearing, refridgerator-lacking Hebredean rock – where all the man (except Hamish down the pub) are called Angus.

Pink-haired, day-glo Caplan is an excellent watch as are the rest of the cast. Chris Forbes is more known for the comedian string to his bow, but his acting as the tweed-adoring headmaster who falls in love with this ‘exotic’ newcomer is top notch. ‘Your language is as colourful as your attire,’ pipes Pauline Knowles to Caplan, playing an amazingly sketched out caricature of the bible-bashing, never-leave-the-island minister’s wife, while her husband, the gravel-faced, brimstone-spitting, ‘Dundee is an east coast sodom,’ George Drenna is another scarily-drawn portrayal. Together they form a perfect macrocosm of island life & its inevitable clash with the ‘sinful’ world of the cosmopolitan mainland, & a great pleasure it is to be there.

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The music is a perhaps a little unnecessary, as ‘Wee Free!’ is such a good story & so well written – I mean, the one-liners explode into the audience with a great regularity – that the music actually detracts from the experience, when usually in musical theatre it is the other way round. But I’m not dissing the music – its fine, its just that the script is abnormally funny & cannily observant, & perhaps the only place one can still hear today Boy George being called a ‘Godless Gargoyle’ whose ‘real name is Beelzebub!’

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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Brigadoom

A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
5th-10th May

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

It’s 1946 and an amorous Alan Jay Lerner (with an eye for the girls) and his song writing partner, a pragmatic Fritz Loewe (with an ear for their voices), are searching for a young singer/actress to play the lead part of Fiona in a new show called Brigadoon. As they are about to call it a day and leave the piano and brick-walled back of stage, in walks a hard-working Motherwell lass now employed as a hat-check girl in New York. Heather (Kay McAllister) apologises for being late for her audition and reveals she has a typical Scottish theatrical background. Her father was a knife thrower.

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As she is put through her singing/dancing paces, Heather begins to point out the anachronisms and absurdities of the plot to Lerner (Ali Watt) and Loewe (Graham MacKay-Bruce), an unwelcome history lesson for the composers, who imagine Scotland as a ‘western Shangri-La’. That this delightful musical comedy by Tony Cox manages to fully develop three characters in just over 40 minutes, is a testament to the crisp writing of the author and the assured delivery of the performers. There’s even an opportunity for the audience to sing along with the finale. As we are prone to say in Scotland, “Jings, that was braw!”

Reviewer : David G Moffat

five-stars

The Playhouse on the Fringe 2017 line-up announced

download.jpgAnnounced today – Thursday 1st June – this year’s The Playhouse on the Fringe line-up will showcase the works of five international performers across 56 shows. Helping celebrate seven decades of Edinburgh as a festival city, the programme includes comedy, music and cabaret.

Now in its sixth year and running from 2nd until 26th August, The Playhouse on the Fringe will see return performances by Danny Condon and Michael Griffiths. Following a hit season at Adelaide Fringe, Condon’s Songs from the Black Sheep is a unique comedy providing an insight into family dynamics, set to original music, Chopin and show tunes. Returning after his 2014 sell-out debut In Vogue, Helpmann Best Cabaret Award winner Michael Griffiths takes on Annie Lennox as he charts her career and life from the early days of the Eurythmics to her solo work, with Sweet Dreams.

As well as Australian talent, the venue will also provide the backdrop for American singer songwriter and three-time Grammy nominee, Michelle Shocked with Truth vs Reality. Meanwhile Jason Kravits’ Off the Top! presents an evening of improvised cabaret based on audience suggestions. Following her Edinburgh Fringe debut last year, Carla Lippis’ Cast a Dark Shadow sees original songs and cult classics come together in a reinvention of rock ‘n’ roll in an intimate cabaret style.

Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre Director, James Haworth, said: “We’re pleased to be returning for our sixth year of The Playhouse on the Fringe. We’ve worked with Civil Disobedience to develop a small but dynamic programme that offers Fringe-goers international variety, all within one of the city’s most iconic venues.

“It’s a real celebration of talent in cabaret, music, diversity, performance art and comedy. Including a completely improvised one-man cabaret show and a performance exploring the career and works of Scottish singer songwriter Annie Lennox, amongst others.

“Our Fringe offering, which runs alongside movement and music performances for the Edinburgh International Festival, promises to make for a fantastic August season. All made doubly special as Edinburgh marks 70 years of its world renowned festivals.”

Alongside a programme of dance and music for the Edinburgh International Festival and in addition to the Playhouse’s Fringe line-up in The Boards, throughout August the main stage will welcome performances by the likes of singer songwriter Regina Spektor (3rd August) and renowned illusionist Derren Brown (14th and 15th August). Over the course of two days, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th August, Forth on the Fringe will present this year’s must see acts and performers with a selection of dance, comedy and music.

I Love You In Danish

Play, Pie, Pint

Oran Mor, Glasgow

29th May – 3rd June

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The initial setting for this musical play by Dave Anderson is a fairground strung with coloured light bulbs. An un-named jaikie, played by the author is woken from a melancholy dream to tell his tale. Two ersatz carnival organs provide backing in a mini-musical that carousels from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the aftermath of World War II. A lyric refers to once upon a time – anywhere but here and maybe that is why things move around perplexingly from the Palais in Glasgow (ur yi dancin) to moonlit Copenhagen with an impassioned tango in between. Or maybe the lack of clarity reflects the disjointed memories of the jaikie? IMG_6122i Kevin Lennon, Miriam   Ewell-Sutton.jpg

Christine Bovill plays the chanteuse with vocal authority ably accompanied by an energetic Stasi Schaeffer and Kevin Lennon as the young couple falling in love while the world prepares for war. The play is sung throughout and the songs tackle big, significant themes, social injustice, parental expectations, Nazi atrocities, world peace and women’s rights. Mr Anderson has chosen to work on an enormous canvas, attempting to draw parallels between now and the past in what is a brave, ambitious but ultimately confusing endevour.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

Oklahoma!

Brunton Theatre

Musselburgh

May 10th-13th

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A little slice of the American Old West has just giddiyupped into the Brunton Theatre, Muselburgh, this week, & boy what a ride it is! Rogers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration together, OKLAHOMA! is a chirpy family feast full of poppy, melody-fueled numbers; witty chitter-chattering in deep southern drawls; & a lively portrayal of love on the farms. This production is a joint affair, between two East Lothian musical theater groups organised by the very capable team that is Peter & Heather Antonelli. In a recent interview with the Mumble, Heather Antonelli described the familial relationship; ‘Musical Youth and Encore are a big family who support each other. For example, our leading man in “Oklahoma” – Kevin McConnachie – helped in Musical Youth’s recent production of “Footloose” by playing the key role of the Rev Shaw, the minister. In return, Musical Youth are helping out Encore by providing some dancers for “Oklahoma”. Also, our leading lady – Jen Harris – is a former Musical Youth member who has now performed several leading roles with Encore. We have several mums and daughters in Encore as well as husbands and wives and even a gran and grand daughter.’ Jen Harris was an excellent Laurey, as was her leading man Kevin McConnachie, who played his Curly with smooth eptitude. Hazel Gray’s grinning Aunt Eller was absolutely hilarious, as was Robert Simpson’s bimblingly eccentric Persian pedlar, Ali Hakim. His ‘wooing’ of Gillian Hunter’s Ado Annie really was something to behold.

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I don’t have enough space to praise everyone here, but it really was a team effort, & a successful one too; the music was great, the costumes, scenery & propwork were authentically atmospheric; & the kids were class! I loved the drummer too, a white-haired gentleman of a certain age who was a highly entertaining watch, perhaps completely oblivious to how cool he looked. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular OKLAHOMA, & there is something about ‘amateur’ musical theater – I say that only in the technical manner, for this production was far from amateurish – that taps into the raison d’etre of the theatrical tradition. Art imitates life, & when real people play characters drawn from real life, the overall effect is, well, incredibly real.

A picture perfect presentation of an increasingly timeless classic, I shall always remember the moment when Oklahoma came to East Lothian. As we left the Brunton, the light lyrics of OKLAHOMA were fluttering like skylarks in the car on the drive home, & one just feels better this morning for our wee trip to the American West.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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