Category Archives: Theatre

Anton and Erin: That’s Entertainment

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Poor Anton Du Beke! Every year he turns up to meet the latest batch of female celebrities partaking in Strictly Come Dancing, hoping to be partnered with the potential winner. And every year he seems to get a dud.

Anton must be thrilled, then, that his professional dancer Erin Boag is back from maternity leave. The popular duo is currently touring the UK with That’s Entertainment, their latest extravaganza of music and dance.

Accompanied by lead vocalist Lance Ellington and the massed ranks of the Scottish Concert Orchestra, Anton, Erin and their fabulous troupe of dancers hoofed their way though a toe-tapping selection of hits from the golden age of stage and screen. Lots of quick costume changes added to the ‘no business like show business’ vibe. We were practically blinded from the dazzle of rhinestones by the end.

As usual, Anton and Erin took some time out from dancing for a Q&A session with the audience during the second half. They were also joined by Anton’s ‘dud’ from the 2014 series of Strictly Come Dancing, tennis coach Judy Murray (perhaps better known as the mother of former Wimbledon champ Andy). Judy and Anton performed one of their dances from the TV show, a kind of highland waltz to the strains of Mull of Kintyre (accompanied by the ubiquitous piper, natch). I think Judy must have been practicing because she didn’t seem so bad to me. She’s also a very funny lady – the pair of them must have had a great deal of fun together during rehearsals.

In keeping with the general theme of Hollywood glamour, there was really only one place to go for dinner after the show. Rogano first opened its doors in 1935 and to this day retains the original Art Deco fixtures and fittings. It’s a pretty old-fashioned kind of joint but a Glasgow institution nonetheless. We ate downstairs in the less pricey Café Rogano. Prawn cocktail followed by fish pie with a puff pastry fish-shaped topper was exactly what the doctor ordered and we went home feeling very happy indeed.

When Captain Hook saved Peter Pan

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Peter Pan cast, Glasgow 2014

Panto at Christmas is a great British tradition, like sprouts with the turkey or watching the Queen’s speech. And part of this tradition dictates that there must be a villain for the audience to boo.

Theatregoers in Glasgow are blessed with a host of pantos to choose from every festive season. One of the most popular has to be the annual offering at the King’s Theatre, which is currently celebrating 50 years of audience members shouting “he’s behind you” with a production of Peter Pan.

But this “pantoversary” was almost in jeopardy when bad guy Captain Hook turned in his cutlass less than 24 hours before curtain up on the month-long run.

King’s panto regular Gavin Mitchell was originally cast as the dastardly pirate but had to pull out of the show owing to illness. However, a replacement was found in the shape of Luther actor Warren Brown and it seemed that the Jolly Roger was sailing on calm seas for the remainder of the rehearsal period. At least, that is, until Hook number two exited Neverland stage left, citing personal reasons for his untimely departure. Given that the baddie is such a pivotal part of any panto, the remaining cast and crew must have been thrown into total chaos as this drama unfolded.

Quite how they managed to persuade him, no one knows, but West End star Alex Bourne arrived in Glasgow in the nick of time and made his debut as Hook on opening day with script still in hand.

We went to see Peter Pan just a few days later, completely unaware that Captain Hook was actually the stand-in for the stand-in. And that’s because Bourne was absolutely brilliant in the role, word-perfect and up to speed with all of the local in-jokes. He should come back next year. Oh, yes he should!

In fact, the panto as a whole was a brilliant night out, with excitement levels in the auditorium ramped to maximum even before the actors appeared on stage. Grown-ups and kiddies alike had a great deal of fun singing along and shouting out the stock phrases at appropriate points in the plot.

Other than Hook, my favourite characters were daft pirates Smee (Greg McHugh, AKA Gary Tank Commander, making his panto debut) and Starkey (Des Clarke, who we last saw whipping rugby sevens fans into a frenzy during the Commonwealth Games). I also thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the ticking crocodile, naughty fairy Tinkerbell and Weegie girls/mermaids Margaret and Senga.

With aerial acrobatics, a gaggle of Lost Boys, banging pop tunes courtesy of a live band and corny gags laced with innuendo, you would have to be extremely bah humbug not to leave the theatre in a great mood after seeing this festive extravaganza. And all thanks an unlikely hero in pirate’s garb.

Captain Hook may still be a baddie but 2014 will definitely go down in panto history as the year he saved Peter Pan.

Putting on my top hat

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“Top Hat brings the glamour of Hollywood’s golden age and the glorious, tap-dancing magic of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to the stage in one of the greatest dance musicals of all time”

The triple Olivier award-winning stage adaptation of classic movie Top Hat is currently on tour and is a must see for all fans of old black and white film and Strictly Come Dancing alike. With hit song after hit song by Irving Berlin, sumptuous costumes, extravagant art deco sets and killer footwork, Top Hat is top class theatrical entertainment.

Broadway hoofer Jerry Travers (Alan Burkitt) is in London for the opening of his new show when he falls for the charms of society model Dale Tremont (Charlotte Gooch). But this being a musical comedy, the path to true love runs far from smooth. Chuck in a case of mistaken identity, a highly strung Italian fashion designer, a trip to Venice and a butler turned detective (the brilliant John Conroy), and it’s a safe bet that there may be trouble ahead.

The dance numbers in Top Hat are superbly choreographed and effortlessly performed. There’s tap. There’s American smooth. There’s evening dress and long swishy dresses with marabou feathers. What more could you wish for? Musical highlights include Puttin’ On The Ritz, Isn’t It a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain, Cheek to Cheek, Let’s Face the Music and Dance, and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails. Again, what more could you wish for?

How did I feel while watching Top Hat? In the words of Mr Berlin himself, “Heaven, I’m in heaven…”

And you’ll be in heaven too if you get a ticket for this fantastic show.