Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Sunshine On Leith - A Review by James Beck

Sunshine on Leith is back for a third run since it first started in 2007 – but with one big difference. It is now starring SYT patron Billy Boyd! He joins a practically brand-new cast for the touring production, which is also going down to England. (No idea what they’ll think of the accents)

I saw Sunshine on Leith the last time it was on at Dundee (2008), and I should warn you that it is not your conventional musical. When people hear that it is based on the songs of Scottish duo The Proclaimers, most minds jump to other such musicals as Mamma Mia! (Abba) and We Will Rock You (Queen), both which have very tongue-in-cheek approaches to the story, and also act as a homage to the original artists. Sunshine on Leith is like that, with great elements of humour, but still emerges with a raw emotional heart that manages to hit you in the tear ducts.

(I will say now that when myself, Mr Kyle Pryke and Miss Viki Leech went to see it there was some changes in casting, so this review will be based on who was playing the characters at that performance, and not what it says in the programme)

The play centres around the return of Davy (Billy Boyd) and Ally, soldiers in the Iraq War, to their hometown, Leith. Ally goes out with Davy’s sister, Liz, a fiercely independent young woman determined to go out and see the world. Davy and Liz’s parents, Rab (Jon Buick) and Jean (Anne Smith – usually Ann Louise Ross), are getting ready for their 30th wedding anniversary when Rab (unknown to Jean) receives a letter from a former flame, Margaret (Samantha Blaney) which contains details of their last night together – which happened when Jean was pregnant with Davy… Liz and Ally set up Davy with Yvonne, an English nurse, something that Davy thought would never work – but as this Sunshine on Leith, the path of love never did run smooth…

Highlights include: learning how to speak properly in a call centre (Throw the R Away); the impromptu marriage in a pub (Let’s Get Married); and an embarrassing speech from Rab (Oh Jean), and the tender emotional songs such as Letter from America, Sunshine on Leith, not to mention the famous 500 Miles, and yes, you will be expected to join in! I’d love to say more without giving anything away, but, that’s pretty much impossible. The music’s fantastic, with a live band, and a simple set allows the scenes to move swiftly into each other. The first song was a bit loud, but the audience soon settled into the natural flow of things.

Otherwise, a flawless production!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

SYT News - September 2010

Hello everyone!

It's hard to believe the Summer Festival 2010 programme of workshops, rehearsals and performances is over. The Festival was a resounding success with audiences, theatre critics and participants alike.

Now September is here and it's already feeling less summery outside, that can mean only one thing - Autumn/Winter Season at SYT! Hold your breath as there's a lot to take in here. OK, here goes:

Classes - weekly drama in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow start back this month. If you haven't booked your place, don't miss out. Numbers are limited. And if you haven't tried these workshops before then why ever not?! ;) They're immense fun, led by professional tutors and take place in either His Majesty's Theatre Aberdeen, Edinburgh Festival Theatre or The Old Sheriff Court. All of these venues are stunning in their own unique way. It's not all about learning about theatre either - build your confidence, make new friends and try something a bit different.

The National Roadshow kicks off in October. The SYT team take to the roads of Scotland and will travel to literally any corner of the country to give you and your school /youth drama group a taste of SYT is like. And for the small price of £50. For more info on this, click here. It's a great opportunity for us to come to you, so if you know someone that might be interested, email roadshow@scottishyouththeatre.org.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let SYT tell you a story! Family Story Time (a personal favourite!) starts back for a third season. Hurray! These magical sessions are for little ones and their families. The SYT Productions gang bring classics as well as more unusual children's tales to life with props, sound effects and bags of talent. Want to know the new stories? Click here.
Phew, I'm exhausted just typing! Not finished, try to keep up!

The October Course will involve all things spooky, mysterious and of course be heavily concerned with acting. Possibly a bit of devising. Don't want to give too much away at this stage, still something of a work in progress. As always it will be a fun and exciting way to spend the break. As if you'd expect anything less! Just keep a close watch on the facebook fan page, blog and SYT homepage.

Wee Red is the next festive production from SYT Productions. Again, this performance will be aimed at 3-7's & their families, in keeping with the style of The Beauty of Sleeping Wood, The Puddock & the Princess and The Ugly Duckling. Wee Red could be the naughtiest of all our main characters. Come along to find out why sometimes, Mum is right!

Company news in brief:
  • SYT will be working with film production company Urban Croft, River Clyde Homes and Inverclyde Academy to produce Up Close: Young People's Documentary. Already can't wait to see the finished result.

  • SYT Artistic Director & Chief Executive Mary McCluskey has been working with Y-Dance and BAFTA winning writer/director David Cosgrove on the story of Icarus, the Greek fable about the boy who wanted to fly. Above are some rehearsal shots of the cast - flying! Looks like there's a lot of skill involved here in these rehearsals - but looks like lots of fun, no?!
Participant news in brief:
  • Well done to Cara Duffy, who successfully won the part of understudy in the musical re-telling of The Secret Garden. Cara goes to weekly classes and has taken part in Summer Festival too. Bravo Cara, what an achievement!
  • Ex-participant Craig Steele, who is on an adventure down under, is clearly taking everything in his stride and showing folk in the land of Oz how things are done. Read the article about Craig's success here.
  • Jayne Austin will be taking part in the Commonwealth Games Flag Handover ceremony in Delhi - in a cast 350 people strong! The show will be televised around the world (eeek!) in October. There will be lots more to report on this in the run up, so again, watch this space!

It's non stop at Scottish Youth Theatre - but that's the way everyone here loves it.