On Friday night we gathered en-mass at the VIP Room at The Gilded Balloon to see how we had fared in the third ENDA Awards. (Evening News Drama Awards) which are open exclusively for Edinburgh groups. Liam Rudden has to be commended for bringing recognition to local groups in a Festival which is overwhelmed sometimes by comedy acts.
The Drama ENDA this year went to ETA for A Tale of Two Cities. Well Done ETA on recording a double.
Next up; the best Musical award and we were facing Tempo and Edinburgh University’s Savoy Company. We didn’t have to wait long though before the news we were all hoping for broke. We’d won. Again!
It was the perfect finish to the Fringe for a cast, band and crew that had truly excelled.
The moment of truth as Andrew Dyer hears the news...
FCT has a special relationship with Tempo Musical Productions. We share a number of technical and musical stars and the author of this post was fortunate enough to take in not one, but two of their Fringe shows tonight.
Nobody Does it Better is not billed as a big show but believe me it is a great treat. It showcases around 20 James Bond movie theme songs in a variety of solos, company and dance numbers. It’s great fun and our very own Robert Moyes delights as ever performing All the time in the world.
But this is really only only the support (no disrespect) to Tempo’s main production – the rarely performed “The Rink”. The music is written by Chicago and Cabaret’s Kander & Ebb and is in that style. The script is brilliantly written by Billy Elliot (actually it might be The Full Monty) writer Terrence McNally.
What a great show. It’s a delightful mix of comedy and pathos and the singing is universally excellent; as is the acting.
The show’s glue is the mother and daughter duo of Norma Kinnear (wow) and Gabrielle Pavone (wow) but is monumentally supported by the male wrecking crew who take on a variety of parts as well.
One criticism is that Tempo’s programme doesn’t establish who is who so I’m not sure who the excellent Dino was.
This is musical theatre at its best. It’s only on till Saturday so dither ye not. Get there pronto. I promise you will enjoy both shows and particularly The Rink.
(Oh. And the band is brilliant. Especially the trombonist!!!)
Ragtime is a musical set in the USA in the early years of the 20th Century, when racism was more blatant than it is today and civil rights movements were barely under way. Initially we are introduced to a suburban New York family that lives in a totally white area. The family’s lives get turned upside down when an abandoned black child is found on their property. The police find a woman, Sarah, nearby and she is confirmed to be the child’s mother. Both Sarah and her child are allowed to stay with the family temporarily.
Sarah’s former boyfriend and the baby’s father, piano player Coalhouse Walker, comes to find Sarah and eventually tracks her down. She refuses to see him but he says he will come back once a week until she agrees to marry him. As he returns again and again he becomes friendly with the family, playing their piano for them. Eventually Sarah agrees to marry him.
He and Sarah go out in his new car but some racist firemen harass him. They damage his car and Coalhouse tries, without success, to force the authorities to get them to fix it. Sarah tries to speak to the President about it but is killed by the police, who think she has a weapon. Coalhouse then gives up on peaceful means and turns to violence, shooting to death three firemen. Eventually, he is persuaded to surrender to the police and promised a fair trial but is shot in cold blood.
Coalhouse is shown as an intriguing and complicated character, not as a flawless saint. His position is contrasted with that of Booker T. Washington, a black leader of the time, who advocated slow progress without violence so as not to frighten the whites. Whose approach was correct?
This is a tremendously ambitious undertaking for the Forth Children’s Theatre and is a great success. The stage is set in the middle of the hall with the audience on both sides, which must have made the choreography extremely difficult, particularly with such a large cast, but it works perfectly. The singing is, in most cases, top quality even from the youngest performers. An excellent production.
The band always get overlooked when the praise is being handed out for a show (or so they told e). But not in Ragtime. Margaret Macpherson was effusive in her praise for them on Saturday night and we even had a quick time out to capture them in their glory (well most of them). It is, after all, like herding cats.
We have been honoured, blessed and thrilled to have Neil Somerville with us for 25 shows, many of them as Musical Director. But he decided that Saturday night was the, very emotional, time to bow out and concentrate on his musical career in The South of England.
To say we are indebted to Neil would be a huge understatement and the gasps of horror from those who were unaware that it was last show told a story in itself.
Neil we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.
During the run of Ragtime person after person came up to us telling us it was our best show ever. But was that just the heat of the moment or, after a little reflection can we look back at previous favourites. We wondered what you thought.
My sister and I are musical theatre scholars and have worked professionally in the Biz and we agreed that your production was finer in many respects than many professional productions we’ve seen. After seeing your production of Ragtime last night I felt compelled to write to you to say how utterly impressed my sister and I were and how much we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We know Ragime inside out, having closely followed its progress since it lost the Tony to The Lion King in 1998 and all else since. I made it down to London for the premiere production there, and we also saw it at the Fringe a few years ago when the American High School Theatre performed it. We agreed that yours was as good if not better than all of these. We were particularly impressed by the first-class direction and staging. It displayed a sensitive understanding of the vision of E L Doctorow, Ahrens & Flaherty, McNally et al. I also loved the allusions to the original Broadway production lighting. You moved us and touched us very deeply and we wanted to thank you for giving us this great joy of seeing one of our absolutely favourite musicals live. Sensational! We look forward to seeing many more of your outstanding productions in the future.