Playhouse | Reviews

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The musical – Review

✭✭☆☆☆   What a drag

Jason Donovan as Tick - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo credit Paul Coltas

Jason Donovan as Tick. Photo © Paul Coltas

Edinburgh Playhouse
Monday 3 — Saturday 8 March 2014
Review by Paul Johnson

Priscilla Queen of the Desert – which tells of a trio of drag queens who journey deep into the boiling heart of Australia on a bus called Priscilla – is, of course, fahbulous dahling.

At least the 1994 movie starring Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving was. And so too, by all accounts, was the original 2006 adaptation for the stage.

But the musical production currently on its latest road-trip round the UK leaves you wondering just how much better the original in London’s West End must have been – and wishing … Continue reading Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The musical – Review

Playhouse | Reviews

Tonight’s The Night – Review

✭✭✭☆☆   Ooh La La

Ben Heathcoate as Stu & Michael McKell as Stoner

Ben Heathcoate and Michael McKell

Edinburgh Playhouse
Mon 17 – Sat 22 Feb 2014
Review by Paul Johnson

It’s fast and furious fun, featuring one hit after another for the Rod Stewart jukebox musical, Tonight’s the Night, which is at the Playhouse until Saturday.

Yet you can’t help feeling the show lacks content, even by jukebox musical standards.

Think of Maggie May, The Killing of George or You’re In My Heart and it is clear Rod Stewart knows how to write a story in a song. No surprise, then, that his works should be up for the jukebox treatment. Particularly considering the … Continue reading Tonight’s The Night – Review

Playhouse | Reviews

Evita – review

✭✭✭☆☆   Force & Frailty

Marti Pellow and Madalena Alberto in Evita

Marti Pellow and Madalena Alberto in Evita

Edinburgh Playhouse
Mon 27 Jan – Sat 8 Feb 2014
Review by Thom Dibdin

A real sense of human frailty pervades the latest touring revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s late-seventies hit Evita to arrive at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

At its best, this is seen in Madalena Alberto’s interpretation of Eva Peron, the self-made girl, born Eva Duarte, who travelled 150 miles to Buenos Aires to become a radio star.

While Alberto is big and brash enough of voice to play Eva at her most manipulative, she excels in those moments when the upwardly thrusting new wife to Colonel Peron is being snubbed by … Continue reading Evita – review

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – The Lion King

✭✭✭✭☆   Simply spectacular

Circle of Life - Photo of London Production of The Lion King © Catherine Ashmore

Circle of Life – Photo of London production © Catherine Ashmore

Edinburgh Playhouse
Run ends Saturday 18 January 2014
Review by Thom Dibdin

A thunderous spectacle of live theatre, the Lion King sweeps out from the stage into the audience, drawing them into the anthropomorphised world of Simba, the lion prince who returns from self-imposed exile to claim his kingdom.

The audience engagement is to such an extent that the Playhouse has been reconfigured so that elephants and other assorted pachyderms can lumber down the aisle and straight onto the stage.

There’s no escaping the fact that you are in a live theatre, not … Continue reading Review – The Lion King

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

✭✭✭✭☆   Redeemingly exuberant

The big Social Dance is the highlight of Act One. Photo © Helen Jones

The big Social Dance is the highlight of Act One. Photo © Helen Jones

Edinburgh Playhouse
Mon 30 Sept – Sat 5 Oct, 2013
Review by Thom Dibdin

Dancing and singing – but mostly dancing – all the way, the big touring production of Seven Brides for Severn Brothers, climbs high into the Oregon mountains as it arrives at the Edinburgh Playhouse for a week-long stay.

Adapted from the 1954 movie, this is the story of backwoods farmer Adam Pontipee who adds a bride to his shopping list when he steps down to the local town to get the provisions. And young Milly who is blessed with the beautiful hide which catches his eye. … Continue reading Review – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live!

✭✭✭☆☆   Fun for fans

Simon Jones as Arthur Dent. Photo © James Bullimore

Simon Jones as Arthur Dent. Photo © James Bullimore

Edinburgh Playhouse
Friday 27 September 2013
Review by Hugh Simpson

Perennial cult favourite, Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, provides an enjoyable night out for fans in the touring production at the Playhouse.

The story of how Arthur Dent is rescued from the destruction of Earth by his friend Ford Prefect (who comes from a small planet near Betelgeuse, and not Guildford after all) has been told across a variety of media since its 1978 radio debut, with their subsequent adventures changing to a greater or lesser degree each time.

This production, in an adaptation by director Dirk Maggs, very much … Continue reading Review – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live!

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – Grease

✭✭✭☆☆  Packs a punch

Danny and the gang on the bleachers  in the Stage Experience production of Grease at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Photo credit: <a href=

Danny and the gang on the bleachers. Photo: www.andylowphoto.co.uk/

Edinburgh Playhouse
Fri 26-Sat 27 July 2013
Review by Thom Dibdin

Broad strokes and big voices pack a real punch in the Stage Experience production of Grease at the Edinburgh Playhouse, where it is playing until Saturday night.

With 120 youngsters in the cast there is certainly no problem in filling the stage. But this is a production that does a whole lot more, with a sound and satisfying rendition of the original high school musical.

Grease is perfect material for such an undertaking. Forget that the two Johns – Travolta and Olivia Newton – gave the movie its iconic status back in 78. The musical is a glorious piece of teen-trivia, dating from the early 70s, which plays on anxieties and yearnings that are universal. … Continue reading Review – Grease

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – Dreamboats and Petticoats

✭✭✭✭☆  Teenagers in love

Edinburgh Playhouse
Mon 8-Sat 13 July, 2013
Review by Martin Gray

It’s 1961 and a bunch of school pals are hanging out at the local youth club, falling in and out of love and dreaming of stardom. And that’s all you need to know about Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Yes, there’s a throughline about a boy and a girl trying to write a hit song, but no one goes to a jukebox musical for the drama.

We go for the songs, and this rock’n’roll musical has them by the bucketload. Almost 50, in fact, which doesn’t leave much room for … Continue reading Review – Dreamboats and Petticoats

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – Blood Brothers

✭✭✭✭☆   A triumphant tragedy

Blood Brothers Production photograph.

Blood Brothers Production photograph.

Edinburgh Playhouse
Monday 24-Saturday 29 June
Review by Martin Gray

So did you hear the story of the Johnstone twins? As like each other as two new pins …

If not, it’s likely you have at least heard of the story, as Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is nearly 30 years old – and on its umpteemth visit to Auld Reekie. If not, it’s spoiling nothing to say it is about abandoned mum of many, Mrs Johnstone, who takes the heartbreaking decision to give up one of her newborn twins to her well-off employer, Mrs Lyons, because she simply can’t stretch her small wage any further.

It’s a story of class, as separated brothers Mickey and Edward meet and become friends – blood brothers, even – without knowing … Continue reading Review – Blood Brothers

Playhouse | Reviews

Review – Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen

✭✭✭✭✭ Different magic

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen. Production photo

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen. Production photo

Edinburgh Playhouse
Tuesday 11-Saturday 15 June
Review by Martin Gray

If you want to see a Queen stage show there are options. There’s One Night of Queen, in which Stars in Their Eyes winner Gary Mullen presents a pitch perfect Freddie Mercury impersonation. Or We Will Rock You, which demands you endure a Ben Elton script to get to the songs.

And then there’s this, which is nothing more than singers belting out the tunes of Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor as a band plays and dancers dance.

‘Nothing’ is a relative term, however. Bohemian Rhapsody is really something – something special. In not resurrecting Mercury, it refuses to buy into the idea that … Continue reading Review – Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen