Monday, 22 December 2014

Theatre Review: The Last Five Years - Govanhill Baths, Glasgow

There's no better way to write a musical about love and heartbreak than drawing from your own experiences, which is exactly what Jason Robert Brown did with The Last Five Years.  Set in New York the story follows the half decade relationship of aspiring writer Jamie Wellerstein (Sam Willison) and struggling actress Cathy Hiatt (Imogen Parry) from start to end.  The show's unique selling point is in its story telling, as Jamie's songs track the relationship from when the couple first meet right up until he leaves whereas Cathy's songs tell the story in reverse.  

Parry and Willison deal with the demands of this two character musical with ease, and although they only share a few scenes on stage together they are completely believable as a couple. From the first scene Parry in particular pulls on every heart string as she throws the audience into the emotional deep end with her expressive vocals. Marc Mackinnon's slick direction ensures one scene flows swiftly to the next, leaving little to no time for reflection which heightens impact when the show ends. Musical director Paul Slevin was solely responsible for orchestrating the full show, a feat that he pulled off with gusto.

Mad Props are known for their high standard productions and fresh show choices, and The Last Five Years is another success to add to their list. 

For more information about Mad Props, check out their website :

Panto Review: Aladdin, Websters Theatre, Glasgow

It's that time of the year again and the production company that brought you ‘The Pure Amazing Wizard of Oz’ are back with this year’s offering, Aladdin.  Down in Poor Panto Partick Aladdin has fallen for the emperor’s daughter, Princess Jasmine. The only problem is, he’s skint! When a long lost Auntie appears on his doorstep promising him fame and fortune, he journeys to the place of leaky roofs and sticky carpets (The Garage on Sauchiehall Street) in a bid to win the love of his life.  

Playing the man of the hour was Steven Alexander who is best known for appearing on TV show ‘The Voice’ and was able to show his off by belting out tunes from One Direction, BeyoncĂ© and more. Natalie Toyne played this year’s baddie Abanazaress and she absolutely nailed it. Funny, scary and a little camp at times she had the audience in stitches with her facial expressions and witty one liners. For me the star of the night came in the form of the show’s dame, Widow Twankee (Neil Thomas). He had great stage presence and really built up a rapport with the audience which gave the show a personal touch.

In typical Insideout fashion a couple of tweaks were made to set the story apart from others. Both the Genie and the Slave of the Ring were Sesame Street style puppets and instead of a flying carpet there was a flying broomstick (which came with a few Wicked references much to my delight). The writing had a great balance of obvious humour for the kids and innuendos for the adults and made a lot of references to pop culture, including a sly nod to the indy ref.

Pantos are known for being full of family fun, which this production definitely achieves. It’s not the flashiest show in town but it doesn’t pretend to be either – tickets are available and can be snapped up here:

Written by me for Backstage Pass

Theatre Review: Saturday Night Fever- Theatre Royal, Glasgow

This festive season, Saturday Night Fever is taking over Glasgow’s newly refurbished Theatre Royal. Based on the popular film of the same name, the show tracks the story of Tony Manero, a 19 year old Brooklyn boy who has a passion for dance and dreams of more to life than his dead end job in a dead end town. In a bid to escape his religious mother and redundant father, he teams up with fellow go getter Stephanie and enters a dance contest that is set to change his life for good.

Danny Bayne makes a great Tony Manero and commands the stage from his first strut. Bayne can act and sing, but his main selling point in the show is his dancing and he has no trouble mastering every move from Andrew Wright’s fast and fun choreography. His female counterpart, Naomi Slights, is equally impressive and her vocals in particular stood out amongst the rest. They were both joined on stage by a multi-purpose cast who played their own instruments which brought a unique new dimension to the production.

There were however more than a few sound issues, and the dark and gritty plot seemed to get lost from scene to scene which made it difficult to become invested in the characters or their struggles.

The Bee Gees hits the audience know and love are present and enjoyed but instead of carbon copies the tracks are given a makeover and performed to suit the current mood of the plot.  Although the story has the potential to be gripping and emotive there really wasn’t enough to sink your teeth into and it leaves the audience underwhelmed. 

Saturday Night Fever is at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 3rd January 2015. For details and tickets visit

** Written by me for Backstage Pass