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Theatre Review: The Full Monty - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭

Written By Siobhan on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 | 22:32

Having never seen the original film, I went into The Full Monty with an open mind and no expectations. What followed was an entertaining, if not enthralling, production with plenty of heart and laughter. The plot centres around former steelworker Gaz, who is jobless and penniless with a large child support payment standing in the way of him seeing his beloved son, Nathan. Unimpressed with the limited job offerings in the area (which included shelf stacking and security) Gaz decides to take matters into his own hands... by forming a male strip tease act!

For me, the show had a slow start, however the pace soon picked up as we watched each unsuspecting member of the Job Club come on board to join the act. Gary Lucy gave a charismatic performance as ringleader Gaz, and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand from the first line he delivered. Martin Miller provided amusement  with his portrayal of Gaz’s best friend Dave, one of the more reluctant participants, although all cast members were equally on form.

The well-designed set allowed for slick transitions between locations and the addition of well-known songs resulted in an engaged audience. There’s absolutely no denying that The Full Monty has all the makings of a great night out. The important issues of unemployment and recession that are at the heart of this piece are just as relevant today and it’s good to see a popular play highlighting these. As The Full Monty reaches its finale and the final strains of the iconic music finish, the audience are dazzled by the final striptease leaving them howling for more.

The Full Monty is at the King's Theatre until Saturday 4th October.

Theatre Review: Calamity Jane - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭✭

Review by Anne Mackie & Graeme Shield

Hoe-down! Look what ‘just blew in from the Windy City’! Only the Watermill Theatre’s whip-cracking production of the terrific 20th Century musical staple, ‘Calamity Jane’! Therootin’-tootin’ heroine bursts into the Edinburgh Playhouse with thigh-slapping gusto as she embarks on the second phase of her national tour.

Adapted for the stage from the 1950’s Warner Brothers movie starring Doris Day and Howard Keel, the script features all the tropes of its screen counterpart – gender stereotyping, curiously old-fashioned humour and a cracking song about just how gosh darn brilliant women are at cleaning up!

Not an orchestra in sight, the curtain rises to reveal the cast of multi-talented actor-musicians who skilfully accompany their co-stars (on numerous instruments) throughout the course of the show. A common trademark of any Watermill production, the actor-muso element works a treat in the touring revival, giving a new dimension to the classic narrative. Leather chaps off to Rob Delaney as Francis Fryer, whose piano playing and infectious characterisation brings an old fashioned zest to the production, while accomplished violinist Christina Tedders, achieves a similar panache as she doubles up as burlesque diva, Adelaide Adams. 

Undeniably however, the star of the show is head-liner Jodie Prenger who ticks all the boxes as sharp-shootin’ ‘Calam’ and dusts off any preconceived ideas about a reality show winner by giving life to the script’s thin stretch of a character. Prenger fully embodies the role to the extent that you can't help but imagine her wandering the street with a gun, ready to stop fights and save society with a song. Indeed, her voice is as warm as a Wild West sunrise, and you’ll never have heard Secret Love performed in a manner quite as honest or gutsy.

Elsewhere, soap star Tom Lister is dependable and a pleasure to watch as leading man, Wild Bill Hickok. His intimate rendition of the classic melody Higher than a Hawke proving a particular highlight. Likewise, Phoebe Street’s delightful yet ambitious Katie Brown gives just the right amount of old-world womanly charm albeit viewed through a modern day lens, while the supporting cast add quintessential character colour in the overall progression of the production.

Pulling all the horses together is director Nikolai Foster, with slick yet inventive transitions (the piano-come-stagecoach movement proving an acutely clever moment) and softening the more politically-incorrect tones for a 21st century audience, while utilising the theme from Matthew Wright’s magnificent set design to really invoke the dust-strewn Golden Garter Saloon of the wild frontier. Wright’s meticulous attention to detail provides a truly authentic 1876 Wild West experience while Nick Winston’s choreography expertly uses the limited stage space and brings a dynamic vibrancy to the high-kicking hoe-down numbers, allowing supporting players Matthew James Hinchcliffe and Martin McCarthy the opportunity to further showcase their quadruple-threated talent!

The 2014 national tour of the beloved ‘Calamity Jane’ does it’s best to overcome the inherent shortcomings of the show, with stellar performances and a truly talented ensemble. It attempts to shed the obviously dated script and focuses on giving you a grand night out at the Golden Garter and it largely succeeds. You’ll not likely find a better production of our ‘Calam’ this side of Deadwood...

Calamity Jane is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 27th September

Aida is ‘Written in (Dunfermline’s) Stars’

Written By Lisa Davidson on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 | 18:30

Preview by Anne Mackie

Elton John and Tim Rice’s ‘Aida’ (in conjunction with Disney Theatrical Productions) is set to open at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline this October for the first time since it’s triumphant Tony-award winning run on Broadway in 2001.

Dunfermline’s leading amateur theatre company, Limelight Productions are one of the few companies in Scotland brave enough to take on the challenge of staging the lesser-known musical, which bases its narrative on Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of the same name, and alternatively supports an electric rock score. Company Manager, Bobby Mitchell stated “it was a huge risk to take on ‘Aida’. Very few people have heard of the musical despite its numerous awards in New York so we anticipated the production to be somewhat less commercial than our previous productions. This in no way hinders us as it is a truly beautiful piece of musical theatre and we are fortunate enough to have an incredible cast dedicated to bringing the epic love story to the stage”.

With a cast of approximately 70 performers set to perform in the Fife revival, show director, Malcolm J. Burnett assures “this is a theatrical experience unlike any other. Why should you come? Because I guarantee you won’t have seen anything like this before. It is one of the most astounding pieces of modern musical theatre”.

‘Aida’ ranks in as the 35th longest running musical in Broadway history and despite never travelling across the Atlantic to London’s West End, the promise of turning the Disney Theatrical Productions’ musical into a major live action motion picture featuring Beyoncé Knowles and Christina Aguilera is still in the pipeline. Dunfermline’s own pop divas Mia Oudeh and Fiona Dawson will take on the leading roles of Aida and Amneris in the 2014 Alhambra production where they join Montrose-born Nick Tomlinson as leading man, Radames. With a wealth of music and theatre experience behind them, the trio prove a perfect fit for their onstage personas, appearing both prepared and ready for their Limelight debut at the Alhambra Theatre next week. Not a hint of nerves in sight, Oudeh, in the title role gushed “it’s so exciting as you enter the final stages of the rehearsal process; everything's coming together and we're definitely ready to be taking it to the stage now!"

Limelight’s revival of 'Aida' is set to push the boundaries of modern musical theatre, providing a theatrical experience unlike any other. Unless you saw the musical on Broadway in the early noughties, it is unlikely you will have seen a production of this calibre before, or perhaps even again.

‘Aida’ is certainly Backstagepass’s ‘Strongest Suit’ – make it yours by begging, borrowing or stealing a ticket to one of the most passionate, musically eclectic and dramatic shows of all time. ‘Is it written in the stars?’ Absolutely.

‘Aida’ opens at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline on 30th September – 4th October 2014. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, the Alhambra Theatre and Limelight Productions. Please visit the company’s website for further information on the upcoming production.


Written By Christina Benneworth on Sunday, 21 September 2014 | 13:53

Laura Wright


Sound of Strength - Album Out Now

“The concept behind the album is that the body is the ultimate instrument.  Sound Of Strength fuses sound, rhythm both sonically and emotionally” – Laura Wright

“This is the first time an artist has truly engaged in the science of music and fitness. My sequencing of tracks for the album was based on a detailed analysis of how music makes you feel and the optical musical qualities for a wide variety of physical activities and mental preparation”  - Dr Costas Karageorghis, Reader In Sport Psychology, Department Of Life Sciences, Brunel University London

24-year-old mezzo-soprano Laura Wright has become a leading figure for the fusion of music and sport. Not only is she is regular at major sporting events and official anthem singer for the English Rugby Team, but following her EP release earlier this year, Laura has announced her upcoming album, Sound Of Strength, to be released on Decca Records on 15th September coinciding with her opening performance at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games of her first self penned track Invincible.

In what is turning into a landmark year for the Suffolk born singer, Laura’s love of sport and passion for music have combined to a create a one of a kind proposition.  Laura has taken her classical music to a new level with tracks including Puccini’s Nessun Dorma and Barber’s Adagio for Strings, arranged herself and melded to driving beats, with the help of producers Starkey (who has worked with composer Einaudi), Killahurtz and Dan Vinci (who has worked with everyone from Skream, Snoop Dogg and Jesse Ware). 

Doing so, she created a new sound, which melds beauty and power to startling affect. 

For Sound Of Strength Laura enlisted renowned sports psychologist Dr Costas Karageorghis to help optimize the sequencing for the album.   Karageorghis has an international reputation for his research psychological, psychophysical and ergogenic effects of music. He also compiled a playlist for Dai Green to enhance his performance just before the London 2012 Olympic Games.  His time of 48.24 seconds was faster than his gold medal-winning run in Daegu,

He explains, “The album represents a musically coherent, emotionally engrossing and hugely uplifting listening experience for any exerciser or athlete who wishes to tap the psycho-acoustic power of classical music. Laura is not only an artist with a prodigious talent but also an accomplished sportswoman – a physical embodiment of Sound Of Strength”.

Earlier this summer Laura teased the new album with the groundbreaking music video for Barber’s Agnus Dei that was shot with a brutalist background and took a Hunger Games style approach with fencers, gymnasts and free runners.

Available from iTunes and Amazon now


1. Puccini: Nessun Dorma    
2. Invincible     
3. Barber’s Agnus Dei   
4. Beethoven: Symp No.7 In A Major, Op 92: Allegretto   
5. Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
6. Beethoven: Moonight Sonata: Piano Sonata No.14 in C-Sharp Minor “Quasi Una Fantasi 
7. Caruso     
8. Traditional: Sarabande   
9. With You     
10. Pachabel: Canon in D   
11. Purcell: Dido’s Lament   
12. Bingen: O Euchari in Leta Via  



1. Bingen: O Euchari in Leta Via   Post-exercise recuperation
2. Barber’s Agnus Dei    Cardio-vascular (CV)
3. Invincible     Warm up / stretching
4. Beethoven: Symp No.7 In A Major, Op 92: Allegretto
   Cardio-vascular (CV)
5. Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
      Cardio-vascular (CV)
6. Puccini: Nessun Dorma    Pre-exercise prime
7. Caruso     Strength Training
8. Beethoven: Moonight Sonata: Piano Sonata No.14 in C-Sharp Minor “Quasi Una Fantasia”       Strength Training
9. Pachabel: Canon in D    Stretching/Cool Down
10. With You     Stretching/Cool Down
11. Traditional: Sarabande   Strength Training
12. Purcell: Dido’s Lament   Post-exercise recuperation 

Interview: Juliette Burton - Look at Me

Written By Lisa Davidson on Friday, 19 September 2014 | 15:00

Backstage Pass caught up with Juliette Burton ahead of her performance of her Edinburgh Fringe smash Look at Me at the Museum of Comedy on Monday 22nd September. 

We were lucky enough to see one of your sold-out performances of Look at Me at the Fringe, how did you find the audience reaction?

Thank you for coming to see the show! The audience reaction at Edinburgh Fringe was incredible: utterly overwhelmingly positive. People seemed even more passionate about this show than any of my previous shows. It means everything to me to have such a fantastic response. I just want to share the show with even more people now!

The reaction on Twitter was ridiculously strong and such a relief after so many months of hard work went into creating it! Just get a small dose of that positivity by checking out the reviews on my website.

Audiences may well be shocked by what they learn in Look at Me, what do you hope they take away with them at the end?

All I ever hope audiences leave with is hope and a renewed sense of positivity - I want people to leave feeling like they can take on the world and really knowing how incredibly awesome they and their amazing bodies are. And I'd like people to think twice about first impressions a bit more willingly too.

How have you coped with the post-Fringe slump in activity?

Slump in activity?! What slump?! I have been working really hard since the Fringe - perhaps less on stage but more on planning and preparation for future tours and meeting with interested parties for future projects and performances. One of my friends observed that Edinburgh Fringe is like going to war and the only way to cope with not being at the Fringe is by planning for the next Fringe. So I'm afraid I am still working just as hard as ever on the next steps in my career! Exciting times!

What's next for you after London on Monday?

Immediately after the show on Monday I head to Manchester for meetings about future shows and touring this show, then in October I will be performing 'Look At Me' and previous show 'When I Grow Up' around Scotland and the rest of the UK, hosting award ceremonies and writing my new show. Between now and Christmas a lot of big decisions will be made and I can't wait to share the developments with everyone! 
You can follow Juliette on Twitter @JulietteBurton, Facebook (JulietteBurtonWriterPerformer) or sign up her newsletter at to find out more!

Theatre Review: Puttin' on the Ritz - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭

Written By Lisa Davidson on Thursday, 18 September 2014 | 18:30

Review by Graeme Shield

Quickstepping into the Edinburgh Playhouse this week is the UK tour Puttin On The Ritz” – a musical celebration of the acclaimed work of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. And to top it off, it even features Special Guest Star (and daughter of Judy Garland), Lorna Luft.
Whether you are an expert on the work of Gershwin, Berlin & Porter, or a newcomer to their sweet melodies, chances are there are plenty of songs you’ll know.  Puttin’ on the Ritz” visits all the hits of Hollywood’s golden era of the 1920s & 30s.
The show itself is rather simpler than perhaps first expected. A live band has been overlooked in favour of backing tracks, and the glistening sparkle of the set never really changes.
A variety of dynamic choreography, concoted by Emma Rogers, was performed with oodles of style by the 16-strong ensemble of dancers, working through classics like Anything Goes, Let’s Face The Music and Dance and I Got Rhythm.
Singing was really fantastic too. Sarah Earnshaw in particular emoted a couple of stellar solo tracks, exposing and really portraying the truth of the lyric. Paul Hazel was a cheeky chappie, adored by the audience and Emma Kate Nelson & Simon Schofield’s song & tap routine to It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing was also a highlight.
Special Guest Star Lorna Luft provides great value for money, despite hardly touching any of the repertoires of Gershwin, Berlin or Porter. Her rehearsed patter and anecdotes are affectionate, but it’s her voice that will send shivers to those who have long listened to recordings of her mother. Close your eyes and be amazed at how the texture and style of Luft’s vocals invoke the memory, long after the final note of The Man That Got Away (written by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin, made famous by Judy Garland from the movie A Star Is Born).
Perhaps trading on the back of Strictly Come Dancing’s revival and popularity, the costumes contain enough sparkle to make Liberace seethe with jealousy, however the choice to use backing tracks created a flat sound in the circle and felt “inoffensive” to the ear, arguably a good thing considering the average age of those in the audience – but this reviewer’s opinion is that the classics of Berlin, Gershwin & Porter are best enjoyed by a rousing full live band – the melodies reaching skyward, soaring loudly into the Playhouse rafters. The impression instead is of ‘Broadway-lite’.
Interestingly, one of the best segments of the show was when the performers veer from the main composers’ material and visit ‘The Cotton Club of 1929’, and visit hits like Ain’t Misbehavin, Up A Lazy River and Birth of the Blues.
The show would perhaps benefit from a better exploration or explanation of the songs and the composers themselves, giving the audience a reminder why these songs remain so special after nearly 90 years. Special guest Lorna Luft and the cast perform everything impeccably however, and they make the songs come alive. 

Puttin' on the Ritz is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until  Saturday 20th September

Theatre Review: The Mousetrap - Theatre Royal, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭

Written By Lisa Davidson on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 | 06:30

Review by Sharman Prince

The 60th anniversary tour of the World's longest running play continues on as the London production approaches its 62nd anniversary in a production that is both nostalgic, classy, humorous and intriguing.

Whilst there are those who lament the continued success of "The Mousetrap" (yes, seriously) it remains one of the prime examples of the talents of Agatha Christie who, whilst never considering herself a great writer, never failed to create a puzzle that would capture the imagination of her readers and audiences.

Of course the play's plot and dialogue is of a certain period but that is part of its charm and the cast handle it very naturally whilst inhabiting a physical production with ease and energy. True, the play is the epitome of the country house whodunit, but ask yourself; so what? What is wrong with that? 

The attraction of the play is the conundrum that Christie presents in a world inhabited by ebullient characters that the audience clearly enjoy watching. It is no crime (pun intended) to be entertained by something that never pretends to be anything but frivolous fun.

The plot of the play revolves around several seemingly unconnected characters who end up in the same snow-bound guest house. Once ensconced within the walls of Monkswell Manor it is not long before Police Sergeant Trotter arrives to warn them all of the suspected presence of a murderer within their midst. At the close of act one that murderer strikes and the game is underway...

So successful is Christie in her plotting that the final reveal still elicits gasps from the audience. She is, no doubt, aided by the crisp direction of Ian Watt-Smith and his excellent cast, amongst whom there is no weak link. It is difficult to single out any one performer in such a strong ensemble and so I shan't. I shall instead say that Helen Clapp, Michael Fenner, Christopher Gilling, Luke Jenkins, Anne Kavanagh, Charlotte Latham, Henry Luxemburg and Stephen Yeo work very well together and inhabit their characters in a very natural way, utilising Christie's sometimes heightened language in a most appropriate manner, rendering what could be performed in a clichéd, hammy way into something that belongs far more in the realm of realism. Indeed it is only Christie's epilogue that breaks that illusion, but this is a minor quibble.

There must be a reason why the play has been so successful and you could do worse than to find it out for yourself.
The Mousetrap is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 20th September

Theatre Review: Annie Get Your Gun - Theatre Royal, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭

Written By Lisa Davidson on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 | 07:00

Just short of 70 years since it first premiered on Broadway, Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun is truly a classic from the golden era of musicals. 

Set in the era of Wild West shows, the musical centres on heroine Annie Oakley (Emma Williams) and her journey from tomboy hunter, struggling to feed the family her mother left behind, to international sharp shooting star. From the minute Annie sets eyes on Frank Butler (Jason Donovan) she is smitten but soon realises he is the sharp shooter she has been employed to beat. Impressed by her skills Buffalo Bill invites her to join the Wild West show where Annie and Frank's love story sputters along before they live "scrappily ever after". 

Emma Williams is a tour de force as heroine Annie Oakley.  She turns the tomboy exterior on a pin when Annie first meets Frank and the naivety she injects into the part means it's absolutely impossible not to love Annie. Her Annie has an honesty and genuine heart that leaves the audience willing her to succeed. Williams is playful and positively sparkles in An Old Fashioned Wedding revealing Annie's feistier side. As Frank Butler, Jason Donovan plays the misogynistic role competently but is outshone by Williams, especially in Anything You Can Do where she outsings him with ease. However, they create a credible, sweet couple that the audience cannot resist.
The young lovers Tommy and Winnie, Yiftach Mizrahi and Lorna Want are a beautiful pairing and create some showstopping moments of their own as they try to outwit Winnie's overbearing elder sister Dolly. Providing light relief, Chief Sitting Bull (Ed Currie) breaks the fourth wall with impeccable timing, building a relationship with the audience built on droll responses and knowing glances.

The staging is beautiful in its simplicity with the musicians in full costume as part of the big top set. The big top festoons the stage drawing the audience into the sawdust-coated world of the show. Scene changes are called as part of the dialogue and the stage mutates into a variety of locations using two great tools - minimal staging and the audience's imagination. There's no 3D trucks or flashy gimmicks and the production is all the better for it. The rich colour from the costumes and excellent performances from the whole cast negate the need for a complex set that would jar with the traditional setting.

As the audience leaves with There's No Business Like Show Business ringing in their ears, it's undeniable why this show has endured so well through the years and this exquisite revival is an unmissable opportunity to see this golden era musical shine.

Annie Get Your Gun is at the Theatre Royal until 6th September

Mystery of The Mousetrap - Whodunnit?

Written By Lisa Davidson on Tuesday, 2 September 2014 | 12:30

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been enthralling audiences as the world’s longest running stage production at its London home for more than 55 years.  This magical mystery makes a welcome return to the Theatre Royal Glasgow on Monday 15 September for one week only.

With eight guests snowed in to Monkswell Manor and a suspicious murder to solve, we have an exclusive sneaky peek at the potential suspects for this fantastic evening of intrigue. So, prepare to meet the guilty, or innocent, suspects and prepare for a night of unexpected twists!
CHRISTOPHER WREN (Stephen Yeo): I was alone in my room when the murder was committed. Everyone has had it in for me since the beginning, this is persecution! If it was anyone, I’d suspect Major Metcalf - seems perfectly nice and normal but you never know…

MAJOR METCALF (Christopher Gilling): I knew something was afoot when I realised the telephone wasn’t working; I was stationed in Edinburgh at the time of the Longridge Farm Case - you should ask Mrs Boyle if she knows anything more about that one.
GILES RALSTON (Henry Luxembourg): I married Mollie a year ago and I don’t like to talk about my life before that. When the body was discovered I was up in the bedroom trying to replace the broken telephone – I didn’t see Christopher Wren coming down the stairs from his room when I came down. There’s something odd about him and I know there’s something fishy going on between him and my wife…

MOLLIE RALSTON (Helen Clapp): I inherited Monkswell Manor from my aunt, and rather than sell the beautiful house, I decided to turn it into a guest house. On a horrid, snowy night someone was killed – I didn’t hear anything; I was in the kitchen preparing vegetables with the wireless on. Maybe I would have been concentrating more if I hadn’t discovered that Giles had been lying about going to London earlier in the week. What else could he be lying about?
MISS CASEWELL (Charlotte Latham): I was alone writing a letter when the murder was committed. Anyway, I have to hurry off back to the continent after this snow clears up; I’m only here because I have some business to attend to…

MR PARAVICINI (Michael Fenner): I was traveling out in the snow when my Rolls Royce broke down, the first place I came to was this charming guesthouse in the middle of nowhere – It was lucky they have space for me. Who am I and where have I come from? Not telling. I am a man of mystery…
MRS BOYLE (Anne Kavanagh): I told you that Christopher Wren’s credentials should have been checked when he booked in to the guesthouse; he looks like he’s escaped from a lunatic asylum! Now it’s too late.

SGT TROTTER (Luke Jenkins): I was called to Monkswell Manor as there was a recent murder in London seems to be connected to this house and the events which happened at nearby Longridge Farm some time ago. Everyone was alone when the murder was committed tonight which means that everyone is a suspect in this case, even me…

Now you've met them, do you think you know whodunnit? Are you sure?

The 60th Anniversary – and first ever- UK tour of this beloved murder mystery has now been seen by over 600,000 people across more than 600 performances, breaking box office records in many of its venues. Find out why this classic play has kept audiences guessing for decades at the Theatre Royal this September. Tickets are on sale now.

The Mousetrap
Theatre Royal Glasgow
Mon 15 – Sat 20 Sep
Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm
Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm
Box Office 0844 871 7647 (bkg fee)

Dear Scotland - your note to your nation

Written By Siobhan on Monday, 1 September 2014 | 21:00

2014 is shaping up to be one of Scotland's biggest years yet. All eyes were on Glasgow as it played host to the Commonwealth Games in July, and as a community we really showed what this great country is all about. We’re now into September and this month brings with it one of the biggest decisions Scotland has faced in decades- the Independence Referendum. The National Theatre of Scotland wants to celebrate this momentous year with a season they're calling 'Dear Scotland', which Artistic Director Laurie Samson describes as ‘a season of theatre, debate and celebration’.

NTS have been running various events throughout the year for this project and have invited audiences to take part, and now they're inviting you. They're looking for you to share your' thoughts, musings and rants in a note to your nation. Notes can be text, photographs or videos and can be submitted via

If you're in need of a little inspiration, check out the monologues submitted by 20 of Scotland's leading writers up on The Space website -

Let's make this a year to remember! 

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