The original British-American movie (2005) was inspired by real life events. The W.J. Brooks Shoe Company in Northampton was founded in 1898, and continued as a very successful family business for the next century making 4,000 pairs of traditional shoes and employing 70 people. But then cheaper imports from the Far East began to destroy the British shoe industry causing redundancies.
Like a fairy godmother, the owner of a shop in Folkestone requested an order of thigh high PVC boots for cross-dressers and drag queens male size and the entrepreneurial company manager Steve Pateman saw the potential of a diverse new market, and produced a range called Divine Footwear.
The amazing change of fortune for W. J Brooks was featured in BBC documentary, “Trouble At The Top” in 1999. This inspired a fictionalised version of the story for a comedy film and “Kinky Boots” premiered in 2005 with the tag line: “How far would you go to save the family business?”
From big screen to the Broadway stage in 2013, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a lively score and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, (the legendary composer of such enduring hits as “Time After Time,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,”), foot tapping choreography by Jerry Mitchell and a book by Harvey Fierstein.
The reinvented storyline features Charlie Price who is the fourth generation of his family business, Price & Son, a shoe factory in Northampton, but is not keen to take over from his father and plans to move to London with Nicola, his ambitious girlfriend who wants to escape small town life. But when his father suddenly passes away, he inherits the shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy.
The set is all about minimalist and flexible staging and props. A front screen shows the brick wall exterior with the Price & Sons sign, opening up into the factory with a moveable platform, boxes of shoes and a bustling crowd of staff. Desperate to follow his father’s legacy and save the family business, Charlie finds inspiration after a fortuitous encounter with a transvestite cabaret singer, Lola who inspires Charlie with the offer of a contract to manufacture a line of mansize fetish footwear for her drag queen dancers, The Angels.
With Lola in charge of design alongside the fun and funky, Lauren, as project manager, the cobblers get into production mode with samples selected and prototype created for sparkling knee high, latex and leather high heel boots.
Like a mash up of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” with a dazzling dash of “Sex and the City”, it’s a heartwarming story to reveal how important fashion is in helping people whatever race, class and sexuality, to express themselves with gay abandon.
Don, a down to earth factory worker is steeped in tradition where men are macho and women are feminine; challenging him to a duel of wits, Lola plays a central role in illustrating how we must accept people for whom they are without prejudice and discrimination. Charlie and Lola may be worlds apart in social background but their business collaboration transforms into a buddy buddy friendship. Portrayed with a rather innocent boyish charm, Joel Harper-Jackson, Charlie gradually opens his eyes to see what matters most, to take a change of direction both at work and in his love life.
With gleeful energy, expect a mixture of pop, raunchy rock, torch song ballads and disco Drag Queen numbers. Slick choreography throughout is jazzed up with acrobatic flair for a brilliant scene on and off the fast moving conveyor belt.
Kahi Ushe stars as the dynamic diva Lola with exhilarating poise and pizzazz, tough cookie humour as well as a heart of gold. The Angels are stunningly beautiful, strutting the catwalk to show how these sparkling red boots are made for dancing and prancing ….not just walking.
As colourful and camp as Christmas, this high kicking, rom-com musical is a crazy antidote to the traditional pantomime – jolly, joyful festive entertainment for all the family.
“Kinky Boots” is at the Edinburgh Playhouse
Monday 10 December, 2018 to 5 January, 2019
UK Tour 2019:
Scottish Ballet’s Christmas Treat: Ingredients: 1 rose, 1 kitchen maid, 2 cheeky stepsisters, 1 fairy godmother, a scattering of insects, a sprinkling of ballgowns and tuxedos, 1 Prince. Mix together with vibrant colour, wit and magic for a delicious confection.
This recipe is not an overly sugary sweet but a cool, contemporary revamp of the classic Fairytale, relating the rags to riches journey with richly emotional and dramatic story telling. First choreographed by Christopher Hampson for New Zealand Ballet in 2007, Cinderella was given its European Premiere by Scottish Ballet three years ago and is now touring Scotland for the Festive Season in a glamorous revival.
A prologue transports us back to a miserable, wet day as mourners gather under black umbrellas for the funeral of Cinderella’s mother. The young girl plants a solitary rose on the grave, the flower being a recurring motif throughout to represent the beauty of nature, remembrance and love.
This dark, stark image of death is a vital starting point as we then see Cinderella at work in a cold kitchen, unloved by her stepmother and teased by her two stepsisters. In her pale blue dress and apron, she pirouettes to a gypsy folk tune, highlighting her lonely existence. The bullying culture in this dysfunctional, disjointed family may seem a humorous prank, but is very much a modern message.
In a traditional Upstairs Downstairs scenario, meanwhile the sisters are in gleeful mood as they prepare for the Royal Ball. A flurry of dressmakers and cobblers present a flourish of frocks and shoes to sample with vivacious energy, as well as a much required dance lesson with hilarious results.
Kayla-Maree Tarantolo and Grace Horler portray the petite wee one and her gangling tall sister with fabulous, flamboyant, fun with no hint of the ugly stepsisters in a pantomimic burlesque. Trying desperately to fit their feet into the lost slipper is a scene of comic genius.
The stunning Art Nouveau stage and costume designs by Tracy Grant Lord are integral to the narrative which unfolds scene by scene like observing the dramatic action played out inside a child’s toy Theatre. The rose bush has blossomed into a giant tree with Rennie MacIntosh–style artistry as a decorative backdrop; enter a dreamland world of wonder and magical spells, where wishes do come true.
The intricately crafted choreography is a seamless flow with perfect quick-changing tempo for a very bouncy, very green grasshopper, to a fluttering flight of silk moths and a fast spinning web of spiders. Surrounding the Fairy Godmother is her beautiful bouquet of swirling pink Roses, her garland of girls.
With a nod to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Ballroom scene is exquisitely staged with the Prince’s guests in slinky silk gowns, white tie and tails, waltzing in perfect unison.
Centre stage, Cinderella (the sylphic Sophie Martin) is transformed from ragged waif to regal Ballerina as she is swept off her feet by the charming Prince (Barnbaby Rook-Bishop) in their dazzling duets. Pure romance.
The Prokofiev score captures the full orchestral colours to dramatise the mood, from light to dark, quirky characterisations and lively wit through a flowing melody, harmony, pace. Shifting from moments of spontaneity to slow, slow elegant grace, it is rich in Russian, romantic sentiment, the music weaving its magic with seductive charm.
With a bold rainbow of colours, there’s a myriad of marvellous costumes for the tailors & spiders, shoemakers & moths, stepsisters, Roses, Royal Ball partygoers; not forgetting the Kafka-esque metamorphosis from delightful dance tutor to grinning grasshopper. The characters imaginatively come to life through facial expression, gesture and the fine detail of each and every dancing step.
This is a Cinderella for today, preserving the traditional magical tale with an underlying darker mood to reflect on a young girl grieving for her mother, as well as the art of kindness, finding love and romance. Fantasy meets Reality.
This vibrant, vivacious production may date from 2007, but is as fresh as a daisy, or perhaps more aptly, a blossoming pink rose. As Scottish Ballet prepares for its 50th birthday in 2019, this kicks off the sparkling year of celebration “en pointe.”
Scottish Ballet on tour:
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 8-30 December, 2018
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 4-12 January, 2019
His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, 16-19 January, 2019
Eden Court, Inverness, 23-26 January, 2019
Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 30 January-2 February, 2019
“They were crossing the Meadows glaring green under the snowy sky. Their destination was the Old Town, for Miss Brodie had said they should see where history had been lived; and their route had brought them to the Middle Meadow Walk”.
From “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” Muriel Spark
Born in Edinburgh in 1918, the novelist Muriel Spark was brought up in Bruntsfield and educated at James Gillespie’s School where an influential teacher inspired the creation of the charismatic Miss Brodie. Renowned worldwide for her literary genius and while Italy became her second home, Edinburgh was always special: she considered herself ‘Scottish by formation.’
Over the past fifteen years, I have followed Jamie Primrose’s artistic journey as he travels around his equally beloved home city of Edinburgh to paint his favourite scenes in colourful oils on canvas. This new exhibition, Sparkling Hues captures the parks, streets, lochs and rolling hills as well as the timeless beauty of the dramatic skyline through the changing seasons.
Primrose has a fascination with “the ephemeral nature of light” and here you can observe similar scenes “snapped” across the shifting times of day from dawn to dusk. Most impressive is the meticulous manner in which he illustrates the distinctive change of seasons from the birth of Springtime to crisp, chilly Winter.
With indepth personal knowledge of Marchmont where he lives, a familiar stomping ground in this show is The Meadows. Here is the flowering, frothy pink blossom of Spring, with shards of sun streaming through the branches, casting long shadows on the grass.
It is stunning to view this wide expanse of parkland and long avenues of trees, each scene showing how the light slowly shifts between the brightness of midday and the first glow of sunset. Muriel Spark would certainly have loved seeing these trees in Springtime, a fond memory from her schooldays:
“It was an Edwardian building with big windows that looked out over the leafy trees, the skies and the swooping gulls of Bruntsfield Links. The school was a ten-minute walk through avenues of tall trees. Leading away was another avenue of hawthorns, flowering dark pink, the May blossoms. Muriel Spark
In March this year, Edinburgh was in the grips of a hard winter with schools closed and normal daily life ground to a frozen halt for a few days. While his children enjoyed sledging in The Meadows, Jamie was keen to capture the quiet, white wonderland.
In paintings such as “Snow Shadows looking towards Arthur’s Seat,” “Last Light on Spottiswoode Street,” and “Sunrise on Middle Meadow Walk”, the icy snow with footprints, car and sledge tracks is depicted with brilliant clarity. Just look at this glowing salmon pink sky as the sun fades away.
Following the year through nature is very much the theme of this collection with the trees also dressed in the gorgeous, golden colours of October. “Autumnal Burst of Colour in the Meadows” is particularly representative of the exhibiton title, Sparkling Hues. Exquisitely crafted, this painting needs to be studied close up and personal to appreciate the subtle, soft haze of sunlight shining on the bright copper leaves.
As you wander around Dundas Street Gallery, you can also trek up Arthur’s Seat to see Duddingston Loch, take in a panoramic view across the city to the Firth of Forth from Blackford Hill and stroll along the towpath of the Union Canal, the charming rural waterway flowing through Polwarth.
Jamie Primrose also specialises in fine black and white Ink drawings of iconic city views, streets and church spires, from cobbled closes of the Old Town to the elegant crescents of the New Town. Commissions are also available for your favourite place to be preserved in a painting.
Visit the Dundas Street Gallery soon to see this marvellous, magical evocation of Edinburgh as observed through the natural world of our seasons.
The Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Saturday 3rd November to Saturday 10th November: Weekdays, 11am-6pm. Saturday, 11am to 5pm.
“Timeless Places” by Anne Butler: an expressive meditation on our natural world with ‘joie de vivre’.
Solo exhibition “Timeless Places:”
15 – 20 September 2018
Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Opening times: 10am – 6pm.
Anne Butler is renowned for abstract landscapes and floral studies with a vivid, vivacious use of colour. Last year in September, I visited Dundas Street Gallery to view her showcase of paintings entitled “Land and Sea” featuring most evocative scenic views.
As I wrote at the time, “ There is a recurring theme of time, memories, ghosts of the past, the flow of the seasons, Spring flowers to migrating geese. Colour is clearly the dominant aspect of Anne’s vibrant green and blue land and seascapes.”
This new exhibition “Timeless Places” takes the viewer on a journey from the idyllic Hebridean island of Iona to the Canal Du Midi in France, as well as an artistic reflection on a recent loss in her family.
Anne spent a month on Iona in the early part of this summer. As she recalls, “ I like the changing weather on Iona. It can be misty in the morning, wild and windy in the afternoon and calm in the evening.”
The great pioneering Impressionist painters Monet and Cezanne found that they could capture the transient effects of sunlight by working quickly, “en plein air” rather than in a studio.
“For me a landscape hardly exists at all as a landscape, because its appearance is changing in every moment, but it lives through its ambience, through the air and the light, which vary constantly.”—Claude Monet
Likewise she works outdoors and in all weathers, painting in acrylic to build up layers with a rich colourful texture. This creates a marvellous perspective of sand, sky, sea, grass, rock, wild flowers through thick brush strokes to bring an intangible freshness to the scene.
Standing in front of these wildly abstract paintings, it feels as if you are there too on the sandy beach with the breeze of salt sea air and the sound of lapping waves.
Iona has attracted artists for decades most notably the Scottish Colourists. After painting scenic views in Venice and along the Cote d’ Azur, it was on a trip to Iona where Francis Cadell realised that the light on the West Coast of Scotland was perfect and he visited Iona almost every summer from 1912 for the next two decades. He felt very much part of the island community as described in his poem One Sunday in Iona, 1913.
Warmed by the sun, blown by the wind I sat
Upon the hill top looking at the sound.
Down in the church beneath, the people sat
On chairs and laughed and frowned.
No chairs for me when I can lie
And air myself upon the heather
And watch the fat bees buzzing by
And smell the small of summer weather
Let them bow down to God unfound
For me the sound that stretches round
For me the flowers scented ground
Upon the hilltop, looking at the sound.
Iona has preserved its symbolic status as the birthplace of Celtic Christianity since St. Columba arrived here from Ireland in 563 AD to build a monastery. Today the Medieval Iona Abbey has daily church services and residential Retreats.
“Pilgrimage” was painted after chatting to a visitor who had travelled from Minneapolis, just one of thousands of people who come to experience both the religious heritage and the restful, unspoilt beauty of the island.
Shimmering shades of blue reflect both sky and sea against dark grey blocks which could represent the Abbey or rocks on the shore. A sleek streak of aqua paint drips down the centre, creating the fluidity and movement of light and water with a dreamlike, meditative mood.
Tranquility too along the Canal du Midi, Languedoc which has attracted generations of artists. Here, Anne depicts the colourful expanse of vineyards and fields which flourish with pink poppies, lavender and golden sunflowers.
Around the walls are marvellous impressionistic landscapes re-imagined like a patchwork quilt as well as more realistic scenes such as Autumn trees, farmhouses and the grassy meadow around Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh.
There is a bold immediacy working on a scene while in the scene, a snapshot of the fleeting quality of light amidst painterly patterns. In this masterly new collection or artwork, Anne Butler captures the lingering, lost atmosphere of place, the underlying tranquil timelessness of beauty in our natural world with an expressive joie de vivre.
“Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing sensations.”—Paul Cézanne
“Berlin in Stone” – a photographic journey through place and time with classic artistic vision by Eion Johnston
Berlin in Stone – Photographs by Eion Johnston FRPS
The Life Room, 23B Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QQ
Tuesday 11th – Sunday 16th September 2018 (open 10.30 – 17.30)
Award-winning photographer Eion Johnston, FRPS, who lives in Edinburgh, has visited Berlin regularly over the past thirty years observing its architectural heritage, past and present. This two part exhibition captures a snapshot of a crumbling building damaged during 1945 and the remaining fragment of the Berlin Wall. These are more than just photographs – these are artistically crafted compositions to reflect, through hindsight and contemporary viewpoint, the aftermath of a city at war.
Through a series of panels, Berlin 1945 depicts a stone wall, punctured with bullet holes and blasts of shrapnel which pierced the fabric of the building. With extraordinary juxtaposition and layering of black and white photographic images, here too we see the ghosts of war captured like a classical sculptured frieze, human figures frozen in mid-movement, representing aspects of comfort, hope, despair and death in their war torn and destroyed city.
The main focus for Ancient Greek artists was to depict ultimate beauty and harmony, the physicality of man, his Olympic strength and endeavour in sport and in battle. With extraordinary vision, Eion Johnston has replicated the stylistic, athletic pose and poise of classic sculptures with images of slim, toned models in Berlin today. The background has a grainy textured quality which emphasises a forgotten, faded sense of place and time. One or two people viewing these photographs were convinced that these were real, historic decorative friezes carved on a wall in Berlin.
What is most moving about combining the bullet blasted stone with modern life studies is that the figures represent both the citizens who suffered and died during World War II and also young Berliners today, surrounded by memories still present within the ruins of the past.
The second part of the showcase, The Wall follows a similar artistic format whereby life studies of models have been placed against the stark grey concrete of the Berlin Wall. About a kilometre has been preserved as a valuable historic monument, a living symbol of the physical and political divisions between East and West Berlin, 1961 – 1989. Now partly destroyed, strips of steel supports are visible which gives the impression of prison bars holding back the male figures, viewed from behind, as if trapped against a cell wall, while another has his arms out stretched as if to represent the Crucifiction.
This dual perspective of Berlin in Stone reflecting the city’s tragic heritage, presents re-imagined classical mural iconography with contemporary vision which is simply breathtaking in its power and poignancy.
A selection of photographs from Berlin 1945 was submitted to the Royal Photographic Society last year, for which Eion Johnston proudly received the award of “Fellowship of the Year, 2017”. A most prestigious honour in recognition of this memorable and masterly collection.
Yes, it’s all sunshine and roses for the Summer Garden Party at the Union Gallery, an exhibition of regular, favourite artists, including Patsy McArthur, James Newton Adams, Megan Chapman, Lucy Jones, Colin Brown and Sophie McKay Knight and Joyce Gunn Cairns. Expect a distinctively diverse showcase of amazing abstracts, fabulous flowers, posed portraits, lavish landscapes, architectural artwork, galloping horses, punchy Pop Art and comical Caricatures.
On the dove-grey painted wall to the left as you step inside, is a row of five stunning Abstract Expressionist “landscapes” by Megan Chapman, under a series title, “Echoes and Memory.”
“ The foundation of my work is in the balancing of shape and line with colour, texture, and atmosphere. I enjoy creating meditative places to get lost in, such as how we dance between our inner and outer selves .. to explore our connection to the world as we navigate the push and pull of life.”
Having been brought up in Arkansas, USA, Megan has recently returned to Edinburgh (where she now lives and works), from a trip back home to visit family in Winslow, (population 300), very much rural countryside of this Southern State. Using mixed media, her colour palette is soft and subdued with a smooth, smudged blend of grey, charcoal, teal, ochre, cream which is easy on the eye.
‘In the Shallows’ offers an inkling of a realistic place, perhaps a tranquil seashore and beach, but equally, it may reflect a more dreamlike image. Bold brush strokes create an essence of the outdoors, of air, water and sand. (See image in poster above). Certainly more meditative is ‘All That I Am,’ a darker, moody scene where thin spattered, streaks of paint drip like raindrops – or perhaps tears – down the canvas giving the fluidity of movement.
Understanding the artist’s raison d’etre to these works adds a personal dimension. In ‘Return Home’ you can envisage the rich fertile earth of field and grassy meadows, a river and soft clouds on the horizon, as seen through distant memories, a distant past life. Her use of shimmering shades crafted with a cool, delicate touch is simply mesmerising in their imagination – fragile fragments of space, place and time, to capture the precious, elusive landscapes of the mind.
James Newton Adams is a sculptor and painter, who explores Scottish land and seascapes as well as the inherent people, animals and objects to compose a humorous narrative. Here are charming, quirky illustrations such as “Queensferry Lovers” – a couple embracing against a backdrop of the iconic Forth Bridge;
With colourful boats and lobster pots, “Wellies and Creels” is reminiscent of a children’s story book as well as clearly portraying the culture and heritage of small town life around a fishing harbour.
For those who know and love the rather eccentric portraits of women by the late Pat Douthwaite, a similar figurative style is employed by Sophie McKay Knight with her wildly colourful and fashionable ladies. ‘The Queen of Swords’ (see poster above), and a Priestess show off their exuberance, passion and joie de vivre. ‘The Writer’ is a fascinating profile, with no pen or book in sight, simply a madcap Bohemian girl, her serious expression as as frozen focus on whatever she is observing with intent interest.
“Thematically, my work is concerned with the human figure, nature, science, transformation and magic. Although it mostly depicts people, many other things inform my imagery – often a scene I have witnessed, a story I have read, an historical character or event.” Sophie McKay Knight.
And a Garden Party is not a complete without flowers. A vase of ‘Yellow Tulips’ by Joyce Gunn Cairns is an integral part of her trademark subtle sketches of domestic scenes where there are also cats of many colours who lurk and curl in peaceful comfort beside their doting Mistresses, apparently lost in quiet thought.
Aine Divine is also inspired by the natural world of colour and scent with her mixed bouquet of flower paintings, such as gaily patterned jug of ‘Sunflowers,’ as well as delightful ‘Oxi Daisies” and fragrant ‘Freesias’.
As Aine says, “You can understand why Monet was so taken by his garden. The thing that strikes me about flowers is that it’s hard to beat the real thing. I’ve never seen a more beautiful painting of flowers than a Renoir Still Life – they seemed alive and moving on the canvas.”
This overview offers just a brief snapshot of this inspiring, insightful exhibition rather than illustrating the full picture. Take a stroll around this painterly Garden over the next couple of weeks to view the spirit of life and living, a marvellous, magical world as seen through the eyes and minds of these artists – and many others – across the spacious two floors of the Union Gallery.
And view too a flourishing window box of blossoming flowers too within this sunny Summer in the City scene.
Summer Garden Party – 12 July to 4 August, 2018.
Union Gallery, 4 Drumsheugh Place, Edinburgh EH3 7PT
Open – Monday to Saturday, 10.30 – 5.30pm. Closed Sunday.
www.uniongallery.co.uk – tel. 0131 225 8779
“Old-fashioned without sacrificing its characters to simplicity, “An Officer and a Gentleman” successfully walks the fine line between sweeping romance and melodrama”
This neat overview on Rotten Tomatoes (81% ripe) captures the essence of the iconic 1982 movie starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger, which was nominated for 7 Oscars, winning two including for the hit song “Up Where We Belong.”
The title is an historic expression from the Royal Navy (1860) regarding a charge for “conduct unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman.” The autobiographical tale was based on the experiences of Douglas Day Stewart who served in the military during the Vietnam War era. He attended the Officer Candidate School, at the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island in 1962, a 12 week course under a tough drill instructor. As the recruits were from diverse social backgrounds, he roughed up his own character, put him on a motorcycle, gave him tattoos and martial arts skills to become Zack Mayo, who like Stewart himself, meets a local factory girl.
He has long believed that such a Cinderella love story was perfect for a classic Musical and in collaboration with Sharleen Cooper Cohen, the narrative was adapted from screen to stage, with a soundtrack featuring a medley of 1980s hit songs, such as Material Girl, Heart of Glass, Alone, Toy Soldiers, Kids in America, The Final Countdown and Up Where We Belong.
To take us on a time travel trip back thirty plus years, an opening screen shows a montage of famous faces of the era from President Reagan to Michael Jackson as well as vintage phones and computers. To a foot tapping rendition of “In the Navy Now,” the long haired, denim-clad recruits arrive, some already sullen, bolshy and bored as they line up to meet the fierce Drill Sergeant Foley.
Zack is here with ambitious plans to improve his lot; brought up by his womanising sailor father, his dream is to be a pilot in the US Navy and break free from the past.
We observe a realistic fitness bootcamp – the ensemble are serious athletes as well as fine singers and dancers – as Foley puts the wannabe officers through their paces with a strict routine. Zack hits it off with two classmates, Sid and the only female candidate Casey, who is desperate to keep up with the guys.
The quick changing scenes are set around the industrial, steel rigged structure of a moveable staircase, lecture room, gymnasium, dormitory with a backdrop video of rolling waves of the sea which is most authentic. A realistic slice of working class labour is witnessed at The Pensacola Paper factory, where a troupe of hard headed, soft hearted women are keen to follow the tradition of generations of factory girls to try to woo a trainee officer into a relationship and then marriage to ensure a military wife-life, travelling the world. in comfort and style.
Glammed up for a party at the Naval base, Factory girls Paula and Lynette are immediately snapped up by Zack and Sid for a formal dance, then head off to TJs Bar for drinks, where “Girls just wanna have fun” until the wee sma’ hours and beyond.
The narrative follows their parallel romantic relationships alongside the gruelling training in an aircraft carrier simulator, exercises and trials, with drop outs and disciplinary action for failure. Ray Shell is exemplary in his portrayal as the brutal, bossy Sergeant Foley who suffers no fools gladly, as well as being a kindly, compassionate father figure.
Taking centre stage are Jonny Fines as Mayo (nicknamed Mayonnaise), and Emma Williams as Paula who express a cool, charismatic chemistry as they slowly get to know each other from strangers to lovers, but each with a ton of emotional baggage from their respective dysfunctional family lives.
The final scene in the movie – regarded as one of the most romantic scenes – is faithfully replicated but unfortunately, it seems to be over in a second, almost lost on a crowded stage and more of an innocent brief encounter than the Gere – Winger moment of impulsive, electrifying, pure passion.
The musical soundtrack of familiar lyrics has been shoe-horned into the plot, some songs slotting in more easily than others to carry the story seamlessly along. Expect a high standard of acting, choreography, music, production values, costumes, lighting, design and fast paced action.
While this could be as cheesy as a Quattro Formaggi Pizza with an extra spoonful of parmesan, this light and frothy jukebox show is rich in dramatic tension and strong characterisation, captured with heartfelt empathy and true grit.
“An Officer and a Gentleman – the Musical” is at the Edinburgh Playhouse from 2 – 7 July www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh Box office 0844 871 3014
Stop Press: Douglas Day Stewart has recently finished the screenplay for a sequel and sending it to Warner Brothers. It is described as a trailblazer, a story of female empowerment personified by Zack’s daughter who wants to be a jet pilot, but who knows her dark secrets.?
Experience a wonderfully, Wicked musical adventure over the rainbow to the Land of Oz @ Edinburgh Playhouse
Wicked has been seen by over 55 million people around the world since its premiere on Broadway in 2003, winning a Tony Award, now in its 12 year in London and is one of the most successful musicals of all time. This 2018 production is flying around UK & Ireland and has arrived for a month long residency at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
118 years ago, L Frank Baum wrote the children’s whimsical fairytale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” which turned into a series of 14 books about the colourful characters and animals of the land of Oz. This magical world was perfectly adapted for the screen starring Judy Garland and her cute dog Toto in the classic 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” – you don’t have to have seen it to enjoy this show, but it may help.
The inspiration for the imaginatively conceived Wicked (written by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman) is based on “Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire, the untold story of Elphaba and Glinda.
Scene one: the Munchkins and Glinda The Good Witch are celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, who tragically dissolved when a farm girl threw a bucket of water over her. We are then taken back in time to follow the lives and loves of two students after they arrive at Shiz University. The question posed at the start is “Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” The perennial Nature or Nurture debate.
As a glamorous young blonde, Glinda is perceived as a spoiled, Paris Hilton styled socialite used to getting her own way, with only two concerns – to be beautiful and popular, catching the eye of the most handsome guy, Fiyero.
In contrast the shy, diffident outsider, Elphaba has endured an unfortunate childhood, dysfunctional family, a disabled sister, Nessarose, and not least, she was born with green skin. But beneath her vulnerable façade, she is a sharp cookie with a bright intellect.
Shiz University is soon revealed as a Hogwarts-styled Sorcery academy for those with secret bewitching powers: Elphaba and Glinda are inspired by the charming goat, Professor Dillamond, (brilliantly played by Steven Pinder with gentle poignancy) until the motherly, yet domineering Headmistress Madame Morrible claims that “animals should be seen not heard”.
The dark, dastardly plot is peppered with quick witted humour, jokes and puns from “The Wizard of Oz,” through all the quick changing scenes, colourful costumes and pantomimic fun and games… not least the rather terrifying, flying monkeys. The spirited choreography is spot on from the energetic ensemble with the action flowing along by the melodic score, powerful ballads, romantic lyrics and chorus numbers.
Leading the cast are Helen Woolf as Glinda – (so reminiscent of Reece Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, with a lot of hair tossing and fabulous frocks) – and Amy Ross – on first encounter – as the evil-eyed, green- tinted Elphaba. As they unwittingly become room mates and best friends, it’s gradually revealed that Elphaba has a kind heart as a freedom fighter for social and moral justice.
These are roles which require strong dramatic and vocal talent and they both shine throughout as stars of the musical stage with real passion and sensitivity through all the romantic twists and turns of the narrative.
While many of the lyrics may not be singalong classics, the performances are superb. No One Mourns the Wicked, Popular, I’m Not that Girl, Defying Gravity and As Long as You Are Mine are all showstoppers.
Grab your glittery red Dorothy shoes and broomstick and rush off to see this spectacular, wonderfully wicked show – pure magical entertainment for all ages – from around 8 to 88.
18 – 22 Greenside Lane, EH1 3AA
Tuesday 8th May to Saturday 9th June, 2018
How to book Tickets:
Tel. 0844 871 3014
Groups – 0333 009 5388
FOR A GREAT NIGHT OUT
Before the show, enjoy a relaxing supper at Mamma Roma, which offers a warm welcome, superb, authentic Italian cuisine, bar drinks and friendly service.
After a delicous meal, it’s just a two minute walk across the road to reach the Playhouse in good time for curtain up.
Good value Pre-theatre and A la Carte menus with wines by the glass, carafe and bottle.
Mamma Roma, 4-7 Antigua St, Edinburgh EH1 3NH
Phone: 0131 558 1628
Lennon-Art is a most welcoming gallery in the cultural (and culinary) hub of Stockbridge, Edinburgh, founded by the artist Alan Lennon. The current collection Taking Shape very much celebrates the birth of Spring with a refreshing cocktail of colourful paintings and prints by Stephen Holmes, Alan Martin and Alan Lennon, interlinking a theme of abstract artwork with both lighthearted humour and thoughtful insight.
“The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” Pablo Picasso
Stephen Holmes studied Graphic design and has been influenced by surrealism, wildlife and children’s book illustrations for his cool quirky images of animals, people and places which primarily focus “on the relationship between free-form shapes and colours.”
With sharp edged red, blue and orange cubes and triangles like a traditional Harlequin’s suit. his painterly style echoes the modern masters – Mondrian, Picasso and Miro – but which is in no way a blatant duplication.
In his own refreshing manner, Holmes captures the naivety and innocence in childlike images of cats, houses, city park and caricatures of people which will make you smile.
A vivacious “Red-haired girl does a drunken dance” evokes rhythm and energy while his rather sombre “ Self Portrait” is, of course, most revealing, akin to Joyce’s literary version, “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.”
Whatever the subject matter, there is pure inventiveness in each picture depicting an enchanting landscape with a wild and wondrous imagination.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso
Moving down the route of abstraction, Alan Martin presents a patchwork of geometric shapes around curving lines described as Doodles using mixed media, mainly acrylic with pen and coloured pencils on card or canvas.
While he has a strong interest in archaeology, astronomy and the seashore, he says, “ I find it hard to talk and explain about individual paintings … I simply enjoy playing with line, colour and shape … manipulating the randomness that can result from using collage.”
There’s a two-dimensional flatness over the canvas and the bold compositions would also be ideal for cushions, rugs and Fashion design too – the swirling patterns and bright prints by Emilio Pucci and Jonathan Saunders are perfect for flowing silk and soft fabrics from floaty summer dresses to swimwear.
The diverse range of Martin’s work also covers a porfolio of birds, fish, people and still life with a darkly, dramatic, Dali-esque narrative.
“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards, you can remove all traces of reality.” Pablo Picasso
Alan Lennon’s oil paintings specialise in figurative work with a recurring theme of a thoughtful, philosophical mood. Through a series entitled Essence, Substance and Silence, he has gradually developed a less representative dimension along the lines of Picasso’s manner of fragmentation.
These reflect a hidden depth of emotion and spirituality handled through facial expression and subtle gesture of crossed hands and feet such as in “Reflection” and “Aspiration”.
Lennon admits his figures are not based on people he knows. Instead through his own imagination (and perhaps subconsciously adding an aspect of himself), presents a quiet, joyous Zen-like beauty of the world. He is also a fine sculptor especially constructing a face, eyes and furrowed brows depicting sadness or love with extraordinary poignancy.
“Taking Shape” is a well curated showcase of three artists who complement each other with their individual approach to reconfiguring the notion of the everyday, life and humanity with imaginative vision.
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place, from the sky, from the earth, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web” Picasso
Catch this exhibition if you can before it ends on 10 May … but whenever you visit there is always a varied collection of paintings, prints and sculpture throughout the year.
Taking Shape: 13 April – 10 May, 2018
Lennon-Art, 83 Henderson Row, Edinburgh EH 3 5BE
Open Mon-Sat, 12pm – 6pm.
Tel. 0131 556 6888
“Crazy for You” – a vivacious, vintage rom-com musical with heart @ Edinburgh Playhouse (and on UK tour)
The 1930 musical Girl Crazy, with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin – with Ginger Rogers in her first leading role and Ethel Merman making a stunning debut – launching such hit songs as “I Got Rhythm,” “But not for Me” and “Embraceable You. ”
It was later adapted as a movie, starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
Fifty years later, wanting to recreate this golden age of Hollywood and Broadway, Ken Ludwig revised the show, selecting a collection of those classic songs to devise a new Gershwin musical comedy, “Crazy for You.” This Broadway smash hit ran for 1,422 performances and won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Frank Rich, New York Times theatre critic, known as “The Butcher of Broadway” for his damning reviews, was seriously impressed: “When future historians try to find the exact moment at which Broadway finally rose up to grab the musical back from the British, they just may conclude that the revolution began last night at the Shubert Theater, where “Crazy for You” uncorked the American musical’s classic blend of music, laughter and dancing with a freshness and confidence”.
After a successful run at the Watermill Theatre last Summer, this revival of ‘Crazy For You’ is now touring the UK. This romantic comedy embraces the typical Show within a Show narrative, (Funny Girl, Cabaret, A Star is Born et al) in which Bobby Child, a wealthy New York banker has a dream of swapping the Waspish world of Wall Street for the glittering limelight of showbiz. Desperate to show off his talent, he gives an impromptu audition to the Hungarian producer, Bela Zangler, gleefully pirouetting across the stage in a bid to join the Follies show.
Disillusioned with work, life and love, he seems trapped between two strong minded women, Irene, his fiancee of five years, and his domineering mother who insists he goes on a business trip to a one horse, mining town in Nevada. Given the ultamatum by Irene, to choose between “Me and Deadrock,” he decides to leave his troubles behind and escape to the mid West. This is the era of the Depression and times are rock bottom in Deadrock – the Gaiety Theatre is being forced to close by the bank and that Bobby Child is on his way to end the family business run by Everett Baker and his daughter Polly.
The split level stage set is brilliantly designed, shifting from the Zangler Theatre, NY to the run-down Gaiety, complete with ornate decor, box “ashtrays,” curtains, lighting rigs, costume rails and props. The backdrop neatly switches from skyscaper buildings to the barren, sun-drenched red rock Nevada desert. In his pin-stripe city suit, Bobby looks a tad out of place when he arrives, parched and panting, in Deadrock to find a local posse of dungaree clad, gunslinger cowboys lining up the Saloon.
He’s immediately attracted to Polly, a tough talking, ‘Calamity Jane’ kinda gal who quickly shows off her beer bottle skills in an hilarious slick slapstick scene at the Bar.
As she clearly won’t be seduced by his dastardly deeds as a banker, the only way to win her over is to plan to save – not close the theatre. Exit Bobby Child into the wings and enter the suave, thickly-accented Hungarian, Bela Zangler, fooling Polly by his impersonation. The pop up Producer then magically entices the Zangler Follies to take part in a spectacular show and bring the Gaiety back to life.
So that is the crazy plot, a sugar sweet, spirited cocktail blending farcical comedy, mistaken identity, romantic entanglements, the narrative interlinking with the gorgeous Gershwin lyrics.
The ensemble of cowboys and chorus line is also the onstage band strumming guitars and banjos, playing alto sax, flute, clarinet, double bass and piano with gusto, to add an extra dynamic to the performances. Costumes are all very colourful with the Chorus Line swiftly changing from short frilly green outfits to slinky silk pink, mauve, blue, orange and gold gowns.
Nathan M Wright’s inventive choreography throughout is exquisitely mastered with pace and precision, moving seamlessly from jiving jitterbug and lively Lindy hops to clickety click tap shoes. Perfectly cast as Bobby, Tom Chambers, renowned for Strictly Come Dancing and his dazzling performance in ‘Top Hat,’ captures the enthusiasm, boyish charm and exemplary, all round showmanship as actor, singer and dancer.
Charlotte Wakefield brings out Polly’s complex personality, a gutsy cowgirl with a sweet natured, feminine vulnerability. Her voice is smooth as silk with a rich creamy depth for such beautiful ballads as “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Spine tinging moments too in the duet, “Embraceable You” and Bobby’s soulful solo, “They Can’t Take that Away from Me.”
Centre stage, Chambers and Wakefield express the similar, unique chemistry of the Astaire –Rogers double act in a graceful, embracing waltz and vivacious show stopping numbers, “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and the fabulous “I Got Rhythm” tap dancing routine.
Talk about energy! Bobby throws himself into scary stunts, sliding down spiral stairs and abseiling a pillar with acrobatic high flying flair.
Sharply, smartly directed by Paul Hart as a fun, frolicking comic caper, the dialogue is peppered with witticisms: when it’s suggested the Gaiety could be used for gambling, the barbed response is “who would travel all the way to a casino in Nevada!” And a couple of British tourists, dressed in safari shorts and hats, are in Nevada to write a guide book – their name? Patricia and Eugene Fodor.
It is curious that the cameo role of Irene, Bobby’s glamorous girlfriend (played with vampish style by Claire Sweeney), is listed as a leading lady. This is a small, underwritten character, mainly as a foil to pretty Polly (in her old fashioned gingham frock), to illustrate their contrasting lifestyles in New York and hillbilly country.
From the opening clarinet solo with the opening melody of Rhapsody in Blue to all the vintage classics, this is a spectacular celebration of Gershwin’s timeless, emotionally charged music. The lyrics say it all – “I got rhythm, I got music, I got my man, who could ask for anything more?” – in this deliciously zany, totally crazy show. Imagine “The Waltons” blended with “42nd Street” and you’ll get the picture.
Edinburgh Playhouse : 3 – 7 April, 2018 http://www.atgtickets.com
UK tour until 9 June 2018: http://www.crazyforyoutour.com/