Saturday, 16 April 2016

Theatre Review: Girls Night Oot, Websters Theatre, Glasgow

After a successful Glasgow run and Scottish tour of 'I Will Survive', Insideout Productions are back with comedy sequel, 'Girls Night Oot' directed by Paul Harper-Swan. This time around Lauren's getting married and her three pals celebrate the only way they know how - with a guid old hen night. 

The cast is made up of four strong female vocalists, who are all relatable and humorous in their own right. Lauren Ellis-Steele, Alison Rona Cleland, Natalie Tulloch and Donna Hazelton all play ballsy, confident women and command the attention of the room from the first scene. While the story is thin and there are no plot twists to speak of, Insideout has the crowd-pleasing song choices picked to perfection. Bootylicious, I'm a Woman, Proud Mary and Ain't No Mountain High Enough were but a few of the offerings.

Crowd interaction and panto-esque banter is encouraged throughout which successfully manages to make the audience feel like the fifth cast member. Girls Night Oot is exactly what it says on the tin - good fun and a chance to let you hair down. 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Theatre Review: Yer Granny - Kings Theatre, Glasgow

The Russos are not your typical family. Sure there's a mum, a dad and a daughter but when you factor in a layabout uncle, an overly dramatic aunt and a granny who’s eating them out of house and home, you've got yourself the perfect setup for a comedy play.

From the moment you enter the theatre you are catapulted into the 70's. Songs from The Bay City Rollers blast from the speakers as you get your first glimpse of Colin Richmond’s brilliantly realistic set (which could have been plucked straight out of a 70's living room). The level of detail is genuinely impressive with smoke-stained wallpaper and a flickering neon shop sign visible through the grimy windows. The special effects in the dramatic finale were an unexpected surprise and had the audience gasping and jumping in their seats.

As the story unfolds we realise times are tough in this household. The family fish bar has gone under and mum Marie (Maureen Beattie) is struggling to make ends meet. In a bid to combat the issue it is suggested that part time musician - and full time procrastinator - Charlie (Paul Riley)  gets a job to pay his way. Horrified by this prospect Charlie comes up with a plan which he believes will solve everyone's problems, but what he actually does is send the whole family into chaos.

Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation of the original Argentinian play by Roberto Cossa really captures the complexity of family dynamics. Laughs are encouraged throughout both acts and the cast is made up of a host of well loved Scottish actors who give everything they've got. Barbara Rafferty’s character, Aunt Angela, really comes full circle during the show and Rafferty’s ability to play out the contrasting emotions Angela experiences was seamless.

Jonathan Watson gives a relatable performance playing Dad and breadwinner Cammy who is torn between being a provider and being too proud to ask anyone for help. A certain imaginary conversation Cammy has with the Queen in advance of her Jubilee visit had the audience in stitches.

If you're looking for a warm and fuzzy granny then look elsewhere as Gregor Fisher’s character is anything but. She’s food obsessed and would have been last in line when manners were being given out. Fisher makes her almost impossible to endear to, giving the audience a taste of what the other characters are experiencing.

The atmosphere in the theatre last night was simply electric thanks to the colloquial humour and energetic performances, and although I will never look at a jar of mayonnaise in the same way again it’s a great night out and not to be missed.

*Written by me for Backstage Pass

Monday, 4 May 2015

Review: Shrek, The Kings Theatre, Glasgow

For all intents and purposes the story of Shrek is a fairytale. There's a princess, a tower and a knight in shining armour. However in this story, the princess has sass and the knight is an ogre with a donkey as a sidekick. 

When Shrek's swamp is overrun by fairytale creatures he heads to Duloc to find Lord Farquaad, the man responsible for the mess. Shrek makes a deal to rescue Farquaad's one true love (Princess Fiona) in exchange for the deeds to his swamp. Trouble is Fiona is stuck in the highest room of the tallest tower guarded by a fire breathing dragon.

The production of this show is one of the most elaborate I have ever seen, the set just incomparable to anything else on tour right now. The plot of the musical stays very true to the film and provides the audience with great insight into the well loved characters while the incredible costumes plummet viewers right into the world of Duloc.

Dean Chisnall was such a lovable Shrek and really endeared himself to the audience. He seemed very comfortable in the role and just looked like he was having so much fun on stage. Princess Fiona understudy Nikki Bentley proved she could hold her own with very strong vocals and acting to match. Gerard Casey stole the show with his hilarious portrayal of Lord Farquaad, generating laughs from the audience with every move he made. Special shout out to Candace Furbert who voiced the dragon. Her powerful yet soulful version of 'Forever' almost took the roof right off the theatre.

Sherk has a pantomime aspect to it prompting audience participation, and in true panto style is suitable for all ages. The comedic script is packed with innuendos for the adults and the colourful, ever-changing set will hold the kids’ attention. The one thing I feel could be better is the score. There are some great songs such as 'I Know It's Today' and 'Who I'll Be' but for the most part I found the rest forgettable, however saving 'I'm a Believer' for the last song was a perfect ending to the show and a real crowd pleaser.

*Written by me for

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Review: Tonight From the West End, The Caird Hall, Dundee

One of my biggest gripes when a tour is announced is that it never normally ventures north of the border, which is why I was delighted when Tonight From the West End was announced to exclusively tour in 3 major Scottish cities. And from the moment the line up was announced I was sold!

The show is billed as 'the hottest ticket in town' and promised singing, acting and dancing - a bold statement but one that was executed well. A 200 strong community choir, a 20 piece live band and Scotland's own Soul Nation appeared alongside headline acts Kerry Ellis, Christina Bianco and Adam Garcia.

Garcia had the audience won over when he first stepped on stage wearing a kilt. His charming banter and appealing voice ensured this continued for the rest of the night. Christina Bianco is a unique talent who possesses a genuine likeability factor. She's known for her diva impressions and showcases the many voices she has perfected, but also shows how powerful how own voice is particularly during 'I Know Him So Well'.

Deep into Act II and we are taken on a whistle stop tour of Wicked, performed by the choir members on stage, opening with No One Mourns the Wicked and ending with For Good. It was only fitting that Ellis (the first British Elphaba) returned to the stage to deliver Wicked's 11 o'clock number - Defying Gravity. I have seen this song performed more times than I would like to share but Kerry really makes it her own and mesmerised the room to the point you could have heard a pin drop.

The show's finale was dedicated to the popular West End show- Mamma Mia. The audience were invited to get on their feet, and that they did. It was the perfect way to end the night.

It's clear that a lot of time and energy went into facilitating this show and It's great to see production companies recognising a gap in the market and bringing quality shows like this one to Scotland.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

FaBi DaBi Dolls

For many theatre goers (myself included) it's not enough to just see shows, we get our fix in-between  by  downloading cast recordings, having show chats on Twitter with like minded people and buying an obscene amount of merch. Once in a while a merch product has that 'je ne sais quoi' and that's where FaBi DaBi Dolls comes in. 

FaBi DaBi Dolls is a company run by Scottish artists & couple Thomas Birrell & Chris Farrell. They specialise in custom toys and collectibles and I'm a little bit obsessed with their Etsy store. After a few 'subtle' hints to my nearest and dearest this little green treat arrived on my door step last week and I could not be happier with it. 

If you didn't know I'm a huge Wicked fan, and although my days of day seating the AV at ridiculous o'clock are over, the show still holds a special place in my heart. The doll that was chosen for me was Elphaba in her 'Shiz' outfit and I'm blown away by the quality and detail of this product. Her glasses, pleated hair and briefcase are all present and correct and the professional finish is the icing on the cake. 

The company is based close to where I live and it's nice to see someone so local filling a gap in the market and producing such unique and exciting products. There are a number of options to choose from on the website or if you're after something in particular this can be custom made. Prices start from around the £15 mark which I think is a bargain! 

If you're interested in finding out more about FaBi DaBi Dolls, check out the Etsy shop or give them a follow on Twitter.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Review - Bossnappers, CCA, Glasgow

The premise of Tom Brogan’s Bossnappers might not seem like an obvious choice for a comedy play - four long-standing biscuit factory workers facing the threat of redundancy and the fear of the unknown - but due to a quick and witty script and six talented performers, it works.  Staged in the quirky CCA as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, the play captures the spirit of true Glaswegian determination in the face of adversity.  

Janis Marshall Reilly and Jamie Lee McPherson made a heart warming duo as work besties Meg and Rose whose main priority - supporting their families - really endeared them to the audience. Skiver Gwen’s Snapchat obsession kept the show current and Louise Henderson’s comic timing playing her was spot on, especially impressive when you consider this was Henderson’s acting debut. Ros McCue and Nicola Clark were responsible for a lot of the hilarity playing ditzy cleaner Alice and glamorous Helen who both had secrets up their sleeves that were revealed as the plot unravelled. The cast was rounded off with the villain of the piece, gaffer Les who just can’t seem to get out of his father's shadow. Props to John Winchester for being a believable baddy while still showing a vulnerable side.

It’s refreshing to watch a predominantly female cast play strong and ballsy characters, a challenging feat for most writers including Brogan himself who admits in his blog on the festival’s website that woman have been underrepresented in his plays. It’s clear to see he has overcome this and created a relatable and hilarious group of women without allowing them to become caricatures.

Bossnappers runs until 24/03/15 at the CCA, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Tickets can be purchased via the website -

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: Broadway in the Bar, Arta, Glasgow

Broadway in the Bar has firmly positioned itself as one of Glasgow's unique entertainment shows. Sure there are a lot of shows produced in a similar vein, but none executed as well as this. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of BITB, you take a first class cast filled with local talent, add a mix of show tunes and throw in a glass of fizz for good measure.

The cast is ever-changing which keeps things fresh and Sunday's cast did not disappoint. Alison Cleland would be just as entertaining stepping onto a comedy stage as she is when singing. Her off-the-cuff banter between songs created a relaxed and informal atmosphere for the night. Joanne McGuinness and Edward Reid added to the humorous element with their song choices while still delivering strong vocal performances. Recent musical theatre graduate Jennifer Neil shared with the audience that this was her first professional job, and judging  by her impressive performance, it certainly won't be her last.

The songs ranged from well known show tunes such as 'As Long As He Needs Me' from Oliver and Wicked's 'The Wizard and I', ending with some anthemic power ballads which are guaranteed to have the crowd up on their feet (or in some cases their chair!).

The show is not tied to one venue and for Sunday's performance we had the beautiful backdrop of Arta in Glasgow's Merchant City. Whilst aesthetically pleasing, Arta comes with some structural pillars that can cause some viewing issues but if you arrive early enough this shouldn't pose a problem.

For more information on this show check out Inside Out Productions' Facebook page here.