Walk 500 Miles to see The Proclaimers inspired musical Sunshine on Leith at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar
- Credit: Steve Fothergill
Green Room presents Sunshine on Leith at the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar this week until Saturday, May 7.
As it is Deaf Awareness Week, Saturday's final performance of the musical inspired by the songs of The Proclaimers will be BSL interpreted, thanks to Colette Burgess.
The theatre company tweeted: "At Green Room we strive to make our shows accessible and inclusive. Our final performance of Sunshine on Leith on Sat evening, will be @BritishSignBSL interpreted, thanks to @Colettex
For more about Deaf Awareness Week, visit https://signature.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week/
Below Keith Thompson reviews the Green Room production of Sunshine on Leith.
Musical societies often resort to the standard catalogue and repeat productions of the likes of Oklahoma! and Carousel for their captive audiences.
For a while the West End has capitulated to shows devised around the successful song catalogues of well-known groups, such as The Jersey Boys. Sondheim has intervened for the more challenging societies.
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Recent productions by Green Room have shown their selection to be even more daring.
Their current musical, Sunshine on Leith, arrives by a long road beginning with a fluke.
Originally released in 1988, The Proclaimers' hit I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) was used in the soundtrack of the Johnny Depp film Benny and Joon in 1993, and as a result became an even bigger hit.
This led to the composition of the musical which devised a storyline around the work of The Proclaimers.
Identical twins Craig and Charlie Reid are The Proclaimers with their Celtic folk-rock anthems and the story created for the musical has two lads, Davy and Ally, returning home after service in Afghanistan struggling to learn how to live at home in Edinburgh again.
Musicals created from pop songs have to contend with tunes that can die away with no obvious climax, and this leaves the occasional gap when the audience do not know whether or when to applaud, which caused the impetus of some scenes to be lost.
Countering this, the ensemble cast and the principals worked hard and effectively to present the songs, giving almost every number strong voices and excellent harmonies, and David Barton’s choreography was slick and often humorous.
A special mention for Michelle Loader playing Jean, the mother of the family, who was performing for a colleague at short notice.
She was warm, and then showed power as her marriage was threatened.
Her husband Rab was played by Andy Nicol and in his scenes he created a complete character as he struggled to mend the relationship.
Ally (Ruaridh Macphee) had to cope with the disappointment of being turned down by his intended fiancée Liz, played by Fiona Adams.
All their moments together were delicately handled, and their sadness contrasted with the eventual happiness of Davy (Matt Greenbank), and his lover Yvonne (Holly Macer), in their delightful scenes together.
Best vocal moments for the principals were the men’s trio, Life With You, with its exceptional harmonies, the quartet and then the ensemble in Make My Heart Fly, and the entire cast in Hate My Love.
Needless to say the finale, 500 Miles, brought the house down.
The Wedding Singer and Busker were sung by the pure and beautiful voice of Zachary Barber, with Desmond Moss on the guitar.
Eilidh, Rab’s long-lost daughter, played by Alice Erman, captured the longing of many missed years.
Heather Jordan expertly led the highlight of the female ensemble, which was the cleaners’ number with matching tabards Should Have Been Loved.
The set was dominated by stonework and a small bridge – very Edinburgh – and the mountains on the backcloth doubled as Afghanistan and Arthur’s Seat.
A brave choice for Green Room, in which a hardworking cast and ensemble under director John Hebden tackled a less familiar style of musical and demonstrated real enjoyment and enthusiasm.
For more on Green Room Productions, visit www.greenroomproductions.co.uk