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MAMA Annual Revue 2019

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 07:58 AM PST

★★★☆☆    Dramatic

Brunton Theatre: Thurs 17 – Sat 19 Jan 2019
Review by Thom Dibdin

Starting as it means to go on Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association’s Annual Revue 2019 kicks off with a song from The Greatest Showman – but not the one which became ubiquitous over the panto season.

The Greatest Show is a pretty strong statement of intent – and the full MAMA ensemble, all 45 of them on stage in tip top outfits led by Mitch Gobsill in top hat and tails, ensure that anticipation is high for an evening’s entertainment which isn’t just strong, but has an element of drama to it too.

The Greatest Show. Pic: MAMA

It is to director Graeme Aitken’s credit that he succeeds in pulling such a mix of drama, great music and personal achievement out of the hat, with strong support from MD David Gibson and his band in the pit and choreography from Lisa McLeod.

The great charm of MAMA’s revue is that it gives everyone in the company a chance for a turn in the spotlight in a way that their annual production isn’t always able to do. So much so, that fully 28 individuals get a named spot.

So it is that before the interval Duncan Whatmore has given us a little glamour in Putting on the Ritz, Luca Thompson, Ruby Millar and Lily McLean Morrison have led the 14-strong children’s chorus in a cracking It’s A Hard Knock Life from Annie – which gives nearly all the youngsters a chance for a solo line – and a ten-strong ensemble from the adult chorus have really delivered with a version of Seasons of Love from Rent which pins its meaning precisely

It’s that ability to get the meaning of the piece which really stands out in the production as a whole. A large company such as this naturally has a mixed ability of vocal prowess, but finding a strong understanding demands a different kind of intelligence.

delicate

So Joanne Alexander’s delivery of On My Own from Les Miserables has a real pathos to it, a construction so delicate that you fear it might collapse under its own fragility – but which is never actually in danger of doing so.

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree. Pic: MAMA

And when young Livvy Allen steps up to perform Somewhere Over The Rainbow, she is given enough support to allow her to get through the terror of performing in front of a full house so that she can deliver on the big notes. And, it must be emphasised, understanding the words in a way which much more florid performers too often do not.

There’s a nice bit of programming from Aitken here, too, as that number from The Wizard of Oz cuts straight into One Short Day from Wicked, with Livvy’s Dorothy stepping into the scene. Once again, it is not the number normally used as an Act One closer, but one which gives the whole company a chance to shine.

Act Two has even bigger aspirations to drama than the first, with Bob Crawford as the MC from La Cage aux Folles, introducing the male chorus who, to a man, giving their biggest, boldest and most outrageously down at heal drag impressions for a version of We Are What We Are which is exactly what it says it is in every way possible.

Glamour is certainly not reserved for the young and the beautiful – and all power to all their elbows.

Blitz!

There’s a great Loco-Motion (from Arthur 2: On the Rocks), some scarily Revolting Children from Matilda and a fabby Super Trouper from Mamma Mia which benefits greatly from a trio of the boys in drag returning to put in a girly-chorus routine on the rear podium. Great stuff.

And to provide a relief from all those big  numbers, another solo offering which provides much more than expected. Linda McLeish’s delivery of the title song from Your Eyes Only never falters, and she hits every note perfectly, but there is a real fragility again, a song from the heart, not the lungs.

Of course MAMA is looking forwards to its Spring production of Blitz!, so to get us in the mood there’s a heartfelt take on Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree from Swing! by Vikki Hyndman, Laura Paterson and Joyce Crawford from Swing!, before Jane Renton leads the whole chorus in Who’s That Geezer Hitler, from Blitz!.

Judging from Renton’s delivery – she is playing the lead role of Mrs Blitzen – that is going to be a fine production indeed – and the strength in depth displayed here bodes well for what is a big cast with lots of roles for young and old.

Running time: 2 hours.
Brunton Theatre Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA
Thurs 17 – Sat 19 January 2019.
Evenings: 7.30pm; Mat Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Blitz!
Brunton Theatre Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA
Thurs 11 – Sat 13 April 2019.
Evenings: 7.30pm; Mat Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: MAMA facebook page.

ENDS

Local Hero Extends Run

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 04:21 PM PST

Extra fortnight and full cast announced

The world premiere production of the musical adaptation of Local Hero at the Royal Lyceum has scheduled an additional two weeks of performances as it announces full casting for the show.

The production, which opens on 23 March 2019, will now run until May 4, before transferring to London’s Old Vic in June. The stage adaptation of the 1983 film is co-written by David Greig and Bill Forsyth, with brand new music and lyrics by Mark Knopfler.

Local Hero cast. (L-R) Julian Forsyth, Suzie McAdam, Matthew Pidgeon, Katrina Bryan, Scott Ainslie, Joanne McGuinness, Damian Humbley, Helen Logan, Adam Pearce, Caroline Deyga, Emmanuel Kojo, Simon Rouse, Matthew Malthouse, Wendy Somerville, and John McLarnon. Pic: Stephen Cummiskey.

Full casting includes Damian Humbley, the Australian singer and actor, as Mac, the Texan oil executive sent to Scotland to buy a small seaside village and replace it with an oil refinery, who ends up losing his heart to the place.

Simon Rouse, known to fans of TV series The Bill as DCI Meadows, is taking on the role of eccentric oil tycoon Hoper – played in the original movie by Burt Lancaster.

Katrina Bryan, who is well known to legions of CBeebies fans as scientist Nina, in Nina and the Neurons, will be playing Stella, the partner of the pub landlord, who was played by Jennifer Black in the film.

Her husband Gordon, publican and accountant, will be played by Matthew Pidgeon, who has appeared at the Lyceum in The Man Who Had all the Luck and The Cherry Orchard, as well as The James Plays for the NTS and with Cora Bissett in the original production of Midsummer.

Ben, the old beachcomber played in the original by Fulton Mackay, will be played by West End veteran Julian Forsyth, while Adam Pearce will be Viktor – the Soviet fishing boat captain originally played by Christopher Rozycki – and Emmanuel Kojo will play Reverend Murdo.

The 15-strong cast also includes Scott Ainslie, Caroline Deyga (who was in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour), Helen Logan (recently seen in Sunshine Ghost) and John McLarnon who was in My Left/Right Foot for the NTS and Birds of Paradise. They will play named characters Ownie, Punk Girl, Netta and Iain.

The cast is completed by Matthew Malthouse, Suzie McAdam, Joanne McGuinness (Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour) and Wendy Somerville.

Tickets for the newly announced dates will go on sale from the Lyceum website on Monday 21 January 2019.

Listing and links

Local Hero
Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street EH3 9AX. Phone booking: 0131 248 4848
Saturday 23 March – Saturday 4 May 2019.
Previews: Tue 19 – Fri 22 March.
Evenings Tue – Sat: 7.30pm, Matinees Weds & Sat: 2pm.
Tickets and details: https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/local-hero.

The Old Vic, 103 The Cut, London, SE1 8NB. Phone booking: 0844 871 7628
Opens June (TBC) and runs to at least 31 August 2019.
Tickets and details will be on the Old Vic website: https://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on.

The movie and soundtrack are available to buy on Amazon. Click for details:
  
ENDS