RDMS presents Oliver! – Carnegie Hall Dunfermline 26-30 March

oliver logoIt is now 53 years since this Lionel Bart written musical was premiered in London’s West End. This was eight years after Rosyth & District Musical Society staged their first production, okay under a different company name, but I am glad to report that both seem in remarkable good health, in fact are positively flourishing if the evidence of the show I saw is anything to go by.

While other musicals of that era seen somewhat dated this does seem as fresh as always. Okay the show is packed from start to finish with quality numbers, with fine tunes and Bart’s excellent lyrics always funny, yet with the occasional message and this does help, but it requires special talent to produce this show, be it a professional version or in this case an amateur one. And this production has all that is required…. and more!!

There is comedy, there is good acting there is a multitude of great singing, a quality orchestra and some fine direction from Yvonne Musgrave, who herself has been a professional dancer both on TV and in West End shows. If there is one thing that slightly disappointed me was that I felt the choreography, given Ms Musgrave’s background, that there was some scope for more to be added, which for me anyway would have enhanced the experience even more.

I’m sure most people will recognise the story of orphan boy Oliver, this role shared by Andrew Morris and Luis Mutch, who ‘wanted more’ prior to be sold by Mr Bumble, Bill Blenman and the Widow Corney, Leigh Grieve, to undertakers Mr & Mrs Sowerberry, Terry Connelly and Lorraine Dobie. He ran away and on meeting The Artful Dodger, again this role was shared by Lewis Aitken and Liam Izatt, who introduced the runaway to Fagin, Mark Grieve and his den of thieves.

There he meets the delightful Nancy, Clare McGarr and the evil Bill Sykes, Andy Duncan and things lead to the obvious conclusion.

There is a supporting cast of what at times seemed like thousands but it was only occasionally that the stage, not the biggest I have seen, seemed overcrowded in spite of having a more complex set than some of the productions I have previously seen.

This is truly an ensemble piece as everybody added value to the production, but the principals, the young actors in leading roles were tremendous, the comedy of Blenman and Ms Grieve were played with style, the menacing Andy Duncan who’s Sykes was evil personified and Ms McGarr, portraying the troubled Nancy with feeling were all excellent. But I have to praise Mark Grieve. His portrayal of Fagin was first class throughout. His characterisation, accent and of course his singing were stand-out. I have seen professional actors turn in way inferior performances than Grieve delivered.

This show is doing great business, but there just maybe a few tickets available from the remaining shows 19-15 on Friday and Saturday, with a matinee on Saturday afternoon, so get in touch with the Carnegie Hall box office before they all disappear.

Reviewed by Geoff

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Amused Moose Laugh Off Scotland Final Sunday March 17

amused mooseFor almost 10 years now the esteemed Amused Moose comedy organization have been running an annual competition that is open to all aspiring breakthrough comics to try and emulate the likes of Sarah Millican and Jack Whitehall and win the moose trophy in the final held during the Edinburgh Fringe each year.

Already a number of heats have been held ‘down south’ and Sunday saw Hils Jago bring the process to the Scottish capital putting another bunch of hopefuls through their paces.

I joined proceedings mid afternoon when the entrants had been trimmed to fourteen, each of which then had to do 5 minutes to impress a panel of ‘industry judges’ to progress to the final itself that evening.

The afternoon show compered by local up and coming comedian Ben Verth, was a very close run thing and in my opinion everyone did themselves justice and then some, but being a competition some had to miss out. Unfortunately Linda Meehan, Katia Kvinge, Obie, Sandy Bouttell, Richard Murray, Ally Houston and David Elms were the unlucky ones, but I will be more than happy to see most again, and feel one or two were very unfortunate to miss out.

The successful finalists, Keiron Nicholson, Aideen McQueen, Larah Bross, Eleanor Morton, Jellybean Martinez, Lorcan McGrane and Gareth Waugh now had a ten minute set to deliver and were aided by the compering talents of Scottish comedy and writing superstar Janey Godley. This time the contestants had to not only impress a bigger industry panel but this time the audience vote was taken into account as well, so even more of a challenge. aa-garethEach of these worthy contestants raised their game considerably from the semi-final, each 10 minute set was certainly well worth seeing, and everyone drew laughs a plenty. There were again some that excelled here and although I didn’t see the accumulated scores I’m guessing that there would have been not very much between them. However as before there had to be a winner and emerging top of the heap was Edinburgh’s Gareth Waugh with Eleanor Morton and Larah Bross being named as runners up.

Gareth goes forward now to a semi-final contest in London in May where I’m sure he will represent his country with pride.

Don’t forget that the actual final will be held during August, check out the Fringe brochure when published for details. All I can say if the quality on display then is as good as we saw today then it has to be one of the best value for money shows on offer anywhere.

Reviewed by Geoff

Zoe Lyons – Pop-Up Comic Tour

Zoe_Lyons2jpgI have been a keen fan of Zoe Lyons ever since I first saw her perform maybe ten years ago during the Fringe and have made a point of trying to see her each and every time she has performed in the Edinburgh area, so it was obvious the place for me to be on 13 March was Edinburgh’s Stand Comedy Club as she was performing as part of her current tour.

Prior to gig time I got talking to some ‘comedy virgins’ who had won tickets to attend the gig and were viewing it with some reserve. I told ‘em they were in safe hands with Brighton based Ms Lyons and sat back to watch them enjoy the gig.

Zoe has always been an engaging comic oozing with personality and presence backed up with a raft of funny, well written and presented material. And of course this 90 minutes plus was yet another example of her at her very best. The Wednesday night audience were receptive to her style, she is well observed, anecdotal and certainly not egocentric. What she achieves is almost an atmosphere of a chat with friends over a beer in a pub, but a friend with the ability to generate fun and genuine laughter throughout.

The underlying link in the two halves of her often self-deprecating set was that she just popped up in various locations for gigs, on occasional TV shows and the fall out from these.

I always think that it a testament to a quality comic in that they are winding up when you think they have only been performing for minutes, and each of the 45 minutes sets felt like less than half that time. Each section was packed to the gunnels with a variety of subjects, University Challenge, Pointless Celebrities, her brothers wedding, her relationship, singles websites and tattoos were stopping off points during the evening, but I am only scratching the surface.

And was I alone in enjoying her set? Hell no!! The club was unanimous in it’s approval of an excellent evening. And the comedy virgins? They were so impressed with what they saw they promised to return soon and often. Maybe Zoe should ask the Stand management for a commission on future ticket sales.

For further information as to where the tour is heading next go to www.zoelyons.co.uk and for all future gigs at The Stand in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle then check out www.thestand,co.uk

Reviewed by Geoff

Amused Moose Laugh Off 2013

Sunday 17 March :: 7.15pm

Amused Moose LaughOff Scotland Final

amused mooseDo come along and vote for Scotland’s stars of tomorrow as they battle it out in one of the most prestigious comedy competitions. 

See Scotland’s six best breakthrough stand-ups perform to become the Scotland winner, which ensures a place in the UK & Ireland semi-finals of AmusedMoose Laugh Off (supported by 2entertain). 

 Tonight’s winner will progress to multi-awardwinning Amused Moose Soho in London, prior to the prestigious Final which is a feature of the Edinburgh Fringe, with the Trophies presented by the Chief Executive of the Fringe and MD of 2entertain, the UK’s leading dvd publishers.

Entries are about to close, so any comedians who have yet to enter, should quickly email Comedy@AmusedMoose.com

At the Beehive Comedy Club, Upstairs at the Beehive Inn, 18-20 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU

 

Tickets on the door at £5.

Comedy Podcast:- ‘The Living Room Sessions’

It wasn’t so long ago that I had never listened to a comedy podcast but as theiraa-gareth popularity has risen I have become quite a fan of more than one. And now there is yet another available that I have become a follower of.

As regular followers of the site will know The Stand Comedy Club is a regular haunt of mine and I am happy to praise the organisation to the hilt for staging year round comedy and introducing me to many talented comics who may have missed my radar. So it is great to see three Edinburgh based favourites namely Keir McAllister, Gus Lymburn and Gareth Waugh who have started a monthly hour plus extravaganza which is available free to download from iTunes or The Stand website.

I enjoyed episode one last month when they gave an insight to ‘The open spot’ on the Scottish Comedy scene and of course chatted with each other and other friends all with anecdotes along the way.

Episode two is fresh off the presses and I have just spent a thoroughly enjoyable hour plus listening to this comedy trio interview the legendary Tom Stade, explain about the role of a compere, with input from such experts as Martin Mor, Joe Heenan and Jojo Sutherland, and I learned a lot and such a laugh along the way. As always the show finished far too soon for me!! There were also contributions from Susie McCabe and Raymond Mearns on the up and coming Glasgow International Comedy Festival.

Keir_mcallisterNext month there promises to be plenty of surprise guests again and also a piece on character comedy and no doubt much, much more. I have only one complaint, it won’t be available until next month.

So if you are into comedy in general, and Scottish comedy in particular this podcast is really a must as far as I can see. So why not give it a try? Make your way to down load it today!!