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Musicals & Opera

(A-C) 5 out of 21 Next

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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Ave! (page 106)

Drams 0
Cast Virgin Mary: Lubov Monina, Elena Corniernko, Tatiana Malahova, Lesovoi; Oleg Ermolovich (The Wanderer); Alexander Glushkov (guitar)
Composer and Musical Director Vladimir Sokolov
Director Nicolai Elesin
Sound Engineer Sergei Otlashkin
Venue St John's Church Hall (Venue 127)
Address West End, Princes Street
Reviewer Pat Napier

The Pilgrim Theatre, the only Russian group at the Fringe, began with a dedication, through an interpreter, of their performance to those who died in New York on 11 September 2001. This immediately set a mood of great humanity, of connection and profound spriituality which turned out to cross language and cultural barriers in a deeply moving way.

Lubov Monina
Lubov Monina
Set in an abandoned Siberian village on the shores of Lake Baikal and interspersing the music and song of the Russian Orthodox faith with the telling of the Virgin Mary's life, the story unfolded in evocative music and song. The only set was a backdrop of stunningly beautiful images of Siberia and wonderfully spare line drawings. All of the cast's robes were plain white occasionally overlaid with black or grey cloaks - except for the guitarist. He and his electric guitar were a crucial and dramatic part of the action.

Now you might think that this would be an exotic, spiritually rarifed Everyman type of performance, divorced from today's reality. Not a bit of it! What this gifted Russian group placed before us was a story of the triumph of hope, of the power of resurrection and regeneration, and of deep sacred and universal truths.

The Virgin at various stages of life
The Virgin at various stages of life
It was told in a stunning array of Russian traditional songs full of yearning, of Orthodox hymns, of evocative music to simulate such things as the lapping of the lake on the shore or the flight of birds - and of contemporary emotive music. There was narrative music when telling the Virgin's story as she grew older, watched the birth, life and ghastly death of her Son, then the glorious shining out at His resurrection. Snatches of the Dies Irae gradually gave way to Lubov Monina's stunning Ave Maria, her huge range of voice and vocal colouring giving us a marvellous memory; this gradually moved into a Russian Ave Maria of great beauty.

When the story dwelt on the breakdown of the Baikal natural world resulting from man's destructive tendencies, Alexander Glushkov's amazing guitar playing was given total freedom to improvise and set the modern, angst-ridden, despairing scene, shown in images such as blasted trees and a horrific shot of a nuclear explosion. However, the rock guitar also helped set the scene for such episodes as the Christ Child's presentation in the Temple and was there, in pounding, driving mood as he died on Good Friday and then at the end, contributing to the universal message of hope and rebirth.

Vladimir Sokolov has created a powerful and modern mystery story, an Everywoman story just as timeless as the medieval Everyman story. The singers, without exception, were marvellous. His music and songs lodge deep in the mind. Don't miss it!

© Pat Napier. 04 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com


Cabaret (page 107)
Cast Ken Christie (Herr Schultz); James Dickson (Clifford Bradshaw); Dorothy Johnstone (Fraulein Rost) John Lally (Ernst Ludwig); Norma Kinnear (Emcee); Doreen McGilivray (Fraulein Schneider); Gabrielle Pavone (Sally Bowles)
Musical Director Simon Hanson
Choreographer/Co-Director Jill Cruickshank
Lighting Director Michael Hume
Sound Director Iain McIntosh
Producers Norma and Kenny Kinnear
Director Colin Peter
Venue St Oswald's Hall (Fringe Venue 180)
Address Montpelier Park
Reviewer Jonas Green

Tempo aspires to be one of the best of Edinburgh's amateur musical companies, and they are normally successful. While this is a passable Fringe production, I feel the company should be judged on their aspirations. The first-night audience seemed happy enough, but at the interval I was ready to declare it well below Tempo's usual standard. The second half largely retrieves things with more drama and some inventive production ideas, but they do need to sharpen up part one.

One unqualified success throughout is Norma Kinnear as an unexpected female Emcee, traditionally a very camp male role. It's hard to tell what gender she's meant to be (shades of the film Victor Victoria) but she makes it work superbly. Doreen McGillivray acts to perfection in the older-German-lady part. Gabrielle Pavone as Sally Bowles is not always consistent but she gives a show-stopping rendition of the title number.

For the rest of the time this production is often struggling against an unfamiliar venue which makes for clunky scene changes, and an under-produced first half. At that stage, insufficient dramatic relationship was established between the domestic scenes - which are cramped by being played on a half set - and the raunchy goings-on at the Kit-Kat Club, representing the decadence of pre-war German culture.

The musical side is predictably perfect, the choreography is competent, and the shock ending works brilliantly. Venue, lighting, and set are good. This is a potentially a quality show which should improve.

© Jonas Green, 17 August. Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com

Run: 17 - 23 August at 19:40
For more information about Tempo Musical Productions go to www.tempo.org.uk


Cabaret Concerto Classico (page 107)
Drams Full Glass to survive the heat and cramped space!
Music Varied songs & vocal settings
Musicians Rosemary Forbes-Butler (soprano) & Paul Ayres (piano)
Venue Roxy Art House (Venue 115)
Address Lady Glenorchy's Church, Roxburgh Place
Reviewer Iain Gilmour

This talented and experienced musical pair take hold of well-known musical pieces and with clever twists weave them into a 50-minute cabaret style entertainment.

The singer's style and delivery evoke a true cabaret atmosphere. And her close-fitting backless evening dress heightens the impression.

Some songs are fairly straightforward in presentation. Some, like the express torrent of words sung to Chopin's Minute Waltz and the offbeat words for Schubert's Trout, give the listener something unexpected.
The offering includes songs in Italian and French as well as English (and American). But the best of the programme is the musical reworking of favourites such as Gershwin's Summertime.

For the terribly sparse premiere audience the highlight was the finale, a dazzling version of Handel's I know that my Redeemer liveth.

This started conventionally enough and the words remained unchanged. But the music, with the original tune elaborated, edited and enlarged, and tempos accelerated or slowed, ended up as an exhilarating hybrid. It was an amalgam of cantata, beat, hot gospel etc that left both performers and audience breathless.

As an added attraction, free after-show chocolates are offered, courtesy of The Chocolate Society. The timing of the show - it starts at 16.45 - gives an opportunity to fill the gap between afternoon and evening performances. This is an opportunity well worth taking.

© Iain Gilmour 18 August 2003. Published on www.Edinburghguide.com
Run: August 18-25


Candide (page 107)
Venue The Zoo (Kirk O' Field Parish Church) (Venue 124)
Address The Pleasance
Reviewer Jonas Green

One of the delights of the Fringe is the chance to see material which is rarely performed. Leonard Bernstein's version of Candide is one such piece. There are two reasons why Candide is seldom done. First, the story line - like Voltaire's original satire - is a farrago which makes political and social points, but equally makes a weak dramatic narrative. Second, the music is more difficult to bring off than the average musical - it's halfway to being an opera - and a few of the musical numbers are duff. It's no wonder that Bernstein and Hal Prince tinkered repeatedly with the show.

This student company from York University solves most, though not all, of the problems. The small live band announce their ambition by tackling the notoriously tricky Overture. Splendid 18th-century-style costumes get the show off to a good start, and the production thereafter is very simple and played in the round. The pace sometimes drags but they rebuild it nicely for big scenes such as the Inquisition.

The cast of around a dozen charmingly represent the parade of rogues, despots, and fools who populate this "best of all possible worlds" in a tale which includes gang rape, mutilation, war, disease, and religious persecution. They deal competently with the musical numbers which come thick and fast, especially the pastiche coloratura of Glitter and be gay, the gallows humour of What a day for an Auto da Fe, and later a mock tango. The witty lyrics are always clear.

The climactic ending of Make Our Garden Grow could be more sentimental, but this production chooses to keep the tone cynical right to the end. In a strong cast, the narrator's part of Voltaire/Pangloss is particularly well done. The audience, once accustomed to the style, increasingly warmed to this production and applauded it enthusiastically.

© Jonas Green, 14 August

Run ends 16th August


A chorus line (page 107)
Drams Full glassFull glass
Composer Marvin Hamlisch
Cast Ollie Mann (Zach); Olivia McDonald (Judy); Nick Faull (Larry); Sara Rajeswaran (Diana); Kari Moffat (Cassie); Richard Holdsworth (Al); Simon Basey (Paul); Melanie Triffitt (Vickie); Naomi Hudson (Connie); Mark Schann (Mike); Sarah Nalty (Sheila); Susie Tottman (Val); Sarah Rivers (Maggie); Amanda Mariker (Bebe); Laura Brodie (Zoe); Meriel Raymond (Kristine)
Musicians Joseph (piano); Craig Fellows (bass); Chris Ash (clarinet/saxophone); Anna Colman (fute); James Smith(drums)
Musical Director Joseph Atkins
Choreographer Melanie Triffitt
Producer Judith McGowan
Director Wayne Ives
Production manager/Lighting designer Alex Prideaux
Venue C too(Venue 4)
Address St Columba's by the Castle, Johnstone Terrace
Reviewer Pat Napier

From the day it opened as a workshop production at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre on 21 May 1975, Marvin Hamlisch's A chorus line has been a smash hit, a sure-fire sell out.This cast's experiences, taped beforehand, were the basis of the raw material for the libretto, only being slightly re-jigged for the Broadway opening.

And it was a sell-out on its sweltering hot, Edinburgh first night. As always, the audience was overwhelmingly young, excited and just rarin' to see it.
But the Deep Blue Theatre Company must have been disappointed with the venue, for it was very cramped, airless, claustrophobic - not helped by the dense blackness of everything - and very, very hot. An unexplained start delay of twenty minutes, with no apology and highlighed by a slow handclap, added to the atmosphere of discomfort all round. The meagre stage was far too small to do justice to the dance routines, though the cast made the very best possible use of what there was.

The story is famous: Zach the Producer, is auditioning dancer for a new show. The dancers, fourteen in all, are all desperate to be chosen. But Zach doesn't want them to perform. Instead, he wants them to talk about themselves and the important episodes in their lives. A mixed bag of sorrow, lifestyles and ambitions emerges, predominantly the urgent need to work - especially for Cassie, the ex dancer, big star now on the downward slope, over qualified for the job - and Zach's ex lover.

All the famous tunes and songs were there. Zach was convincing but not quite brutal enough and Cassie not quite desperate enough to point up a deep need to work - altogther too discreet. Val could have been a bit more sassy. Paul's gay revelations weren't shocking enough (perhaps a sign of today's more tolerant times?). By contrast Kristine and Al were good together. Connie stood out and Cassie was elegant, full of star quality. But the memorable one was Diana, the lively, ebullient Puerto Rican with the very good voice.

Perhaps the heat and the cramped stage got to them and just sapped their performances. But the music was consistently good and very enjoyable, always just right and exactly on cue with the dancers' routines. The show closed on Zach going over the mundane 'parish notices' of show start dates, times, contract details..

© Pat Napier. 04 August 2002 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com

Run: 10-24 August 2003

(A-C) 5 out of 21 Next

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