Sunshine on Leith

Aug 7 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩ Ray of celebration

Broughton High School (Venue 207) Mon 4 – Sun 10 Aug 2014
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87) Mon 18 – Mon 25 Aug 2014

From the battlefield to the streets of Edinburgh, Captivate Theatre brings you the Scottish musical that’s bursting with enthusiasm and local talent.

Adrian MacDonald (Davy) and Ross Hunter (Ally). Photo Captivate Theatre

Adrian MacDonald (Davy) and Ross Hunter (Ally). Photo Captivate Theatre

Written by Stephen Greenhorn and first performed in 2007, Sunshine on Leith is a jukebox musical featuring the songs of The Proclaimers, born and bred in Leith. A film version of the musical was released last year and this year sees its premiere at the Fringe. It has become a firm favourite in Edinburgh, and spanning lots of local hotspots from the Shore to Blackford Hill, it’s easy to see why.

Unlike some jukebox musicals, this one feels like it has something special. The story makes sense, the setting fits, the characters fit – it’s all perfectly in tune with the musical score. And just as importantly, in Captivate Theatre’s production, directed by Sally Lyall, the actors fit. It’s abundantly clear that they know their stuff, they know their production.

This story is all about people, just as the recent Commonwealth Games boasted that People Makes Glasgow, this is equally true of Edinburgh. The show follows the lives of the Henshaw family and the three pairs of relationships which shape it when son Davy and his best pal Ally return from a tour of Afghanistan.

Adrian MacDonald and Ross Hunter, playing Davy and Ally respectively, are the central figures and play their roles with a degree of introspection as they understand how lucky they are to be home and be safe.

The story shows the boys as typical 20-something lads, but their performances also highlight the fact that they’re also desperate for normality and looking for that person and place to give their life meaning. Ally returns home to his long-standing girlfriend Liz, Davy’s sister, played by Stacey Mitchell and she then in turn introduces Davy to her friend Yvonne, played by Hannah Collins. The characters don’t always get it right though and the stage is set for two hours of satisfying, song-driven drama.

energy and zing

We also see the tale of Davy’s parents, Rab and Jean, who due to a past indiscretion have a crisis of their own at their 25th wedding anniversary celebration.

Sandy Queenan plays the injured Rab to perfection, with a humorous combination of grumpy and endearing. Queenan also shows us Rab’s tender heart when talking with his daughter Liz, as he urges her to follow her dreams. His wife, played by Shona Cowie, also delivers a highly believable performance throughout. Her portrayal of anguish and doubt as her life is torn apart is particularly moving.

Sunshine on Leith Ensemble. Photo Captivate Theatre

Sunshine on Leith Ensemble. Photo Captivate Theatre

This production features clever stage and musical arrangements. The large stage area means that while the three couples often experience separate, personal moments, they are entwined throughout by the music and can feature on stage together. The size of the stage area also means that the big ensemble scenes have a real air of celebration and create the show’s energy – while also containing the vast cast.

While the show has real energy and zing, some aspects of the ensemble scenes feel as though they are over-choreographed. In particular the performance of the song everyone is waiting for, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), seems a little too polite. In contrast though, in some of the more emotional numbers, the harmonies aren’t always perfectly synchronised. Whether this is due to musical direction or the artistic portrayal of the character’s feelings is ambiguous.

Overall this is a vibrant, energetic piece of musical theatre that has the audience singing and tapping their feet along to the wonderful live band. It could be tomorrow or it could be today, but be careful when you do try and catch it – while it’s currently showing at Broughton High School, it moves to the Famous Spiegeltent on 18 August.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including interval)

Broughton High School (Venue 207)
4 – 10 August 2014
Daily at 14:00, 18:30
Ticket information:

The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87)
18 – 25 August 2014
Daily at 13:15
Ticket information:

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