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Summer 2010

Aberdeen Performing Arts is a charity registered in Scotland, No:SCO33733

*Recorded: couldn’t afford to cart this God-like comic around the country!

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At your service... Don’t you just love it when you get great customer service? I do. I’ll never forget how the staff at Disney’s Seaworld in Florida made my family feel when we turned up a day late for our dtolphin swim experience. It was totally my fault - I had made the booking, received several confirmations and still got it wrong. I had no choice but to come clean and hope against hope that they would find a slot for us later that week at a discounted rate. What we got was exceptional customer service. With no blame (only personal shame) we were treated with genuine care and rebooked for a couple of days later at no expense to us. Great service and delighted customers with a unique story of customer service excellence and life-long memories of a wonderful dolphin day! In a recent revamp of the company’s senior structure, I have been given the job of overseeing customer service at APA. What I want to try and do is make our service exceptional where we can and consistently excellent the rest of the time. I know this won’t be easy and no doubt some of you will have stories of less-than-perfect service that you have received from us. That’s not acceptable and I promise to make a difference. I am passionate about great customer service it’s an area that excites me and coming from a marketing background I’ll be looking at our service from an inside-out approach. I’ll be checking to see that what we say we’ll deliver, will be delivered.


I know that it’s incredibly hard to deliver the perfect service in the fast-moving and unpredictable world of live entertainment but I love a challenge! And with the right attitude, support, training, investment, delivery processes and, above all, people with a passion for customer service, we aim to make YOUR experience of OUR customer service something to boast about. With over one thousand chances to deliver perfect customer service every day at our venues, we have plenty of opportunities to practice and, hopefully, provide you with personal stories that you can pass on to your FRIENDS! Shona Byrne Head of Customer Service, Sales and Marketing Aberdeen Performing Arts

Say yes to a night with the Knights Who Say Ni! Half-coconut clip cloppers, catapulted cows, the not-yet-dead and Knights Who Say Ni . . . it can only be the zaniest and funniest new musical on the theatre circuit Spamalot, coming to HMT Monday June 28 until Saturday July 3. Writer Eric Idle may have had to talk the rest of the Monty Pythoners into allowing him to lovingly rip off the comedy team’s most famous and popular film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but audiences on both sides of the Atlantic are glad he did. His irreverent spoof of the legendary quest by King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and wonderful parody of theatre musicals has been acclaimed for raising silliness to an art form. Something completely different, it has been a huge hit on Broadway where it picked up three Tonys in 2005, including one for Best Musical, and a Grammy for Best Soundtrack - and in London’s West End. The entirely new score by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, includes such numbers as the glorious He is Not Dead Yet, Find Your Grail and The Song That Goes Like This. And the stage show also includes a bevy (or possibly a brace) of beautiful show girls, an armless and legless but brave knight, killer rabbits and flatulent French people. The production takes its title, not from the spam sketch and song from the original Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV series, but a line from the film: “We eat ham and jam and spam a lot . . . “ So if you’ve ever wanted to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life with King Arthur, Sir Lancelot the Brave and Sir Robin the not-so-brave-as-SirLancelot, this is your chance! Joyce Summers 3

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Never mind The Young Onesh, e here’s t

The Lemon Tree has brought Aberdeen some superb comics over the last few years, along with the cream of the contemporary and traditional folk scenes. This September we’re doing something a little different. We have one of the most influential British comedians of the last 30 years, but he won’t be doing stand up.


He drew a parallel between working with Troy Donockley with his early success working alongside Rik Mayall, finding the relationships very similar. “We’ve just really hit it off. It’s strange when you get to my age and you suddenly make a new best friend. But that’s what it feels like. Feels like the pair of us are just having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Which is exactly how it felt with Rik.” Finally, when asked to what he’d attribute The Bad Shepherds’ rapid success in a very short period of time - in a similar speed to the early punk bands they cover – Ade replies succinctly: “We work hard and we’re f****** good.”

He will be accompanied by two critically-acclaimed Irish folk musicians who between them have worked with some of the UK and Ireland’s most highly regarded musicians, but they won’t be performing a traditional set. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds – punk songs on folk instruments. Most noted for his roles in The Young Ones and Bottom, it is perhaps no surprise that punk formed the soundtrack to the life of a young Ade Edmondson. Involved with the British music scene since the late 80s, he’s performed with Bad News, Jools Holland, The Who and even Cliff Richard. While touring with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in 2007, he (boozily) struck on the idea of playing 70s punk songs on folk instruments. Waking up following a pre-Christmas meal with a hangover and a brand new mandolin he doesn’t rightly remember buying, he tried the songs he’d been playing on his acoustic guitar before taking it to Bonzo guitarist Neil Innes. Fast forward 12 months, now joined by leading Uillean pipe virtuoso Troy Donockley and fiddler Andy Dinan, and The Bad Shepherds were born. I had the chance to catch up with Ade, putting the final touches to the band’s second studio album and preparing for a tour that will see them play over 90 dates and numerous festivals throughout the summer, and he was quick to dismiss his celebrity status as the reason behind their success. “I’m sure it helps get us noticed, but I think people realise pretty quickly that it’s kind of unrelated. ‘Punk Songs on Folk Instruments’ – I think that’s what really intrigues people. It wouldn’t work without really good musicians – Troy and Andy – without them it would just be a novelty band and would probably die quite quickly.” Their set comprises a sort of ‘greatest hits’ of the late 70searly 80s punk era, and Ade admits his current favourite is their new version of Anarchy in the UK. “I defy anyone to recognise it from the intro - in fact, some people might not recognise it even after we’ve finished! We’ve reduced it to basically one chord with swirling pipes and a stabbing fiddle against a rhythmic mandola.” But not all of his favourites worked out on folk instruments; “It took a while to make any of The Buzzcocks songs work, but we finally got a great version of Ever Fallen In Love together. “None of The Damned’s songs work. It’s generally down to lyrics. We’re looking for protest songs, songs with a social commentary, or ballads – a lot of punk songs fit these criteria.”

Chris J Collins

Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds are playing at The Lemon Tree on Thursday September 16.


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The Unthanks on a mission to make amends Last time The Unthanks were scheduled to play The Lemon Tree, the incredible opportunity to perform on Jools Holland’s legendary TV show came around and quite understandably it was a chance not to be missed, so with sincere apologies from the band themselves the show was postponed. The group are now set to return on Thursday June 3 with the illustrious accolade of performing for Jools tucked firmly under their belt and the release of their critically-acclaimed third album. While steeped in the traditions of the folk music of the English North-east, The Unthanks’ music is undeniably contemporary. With sisters Rachel and Becky taking lead on the beautiful but grounded vocals, for the latest album, Here’s the Tender Coming, fellow band members Adrian McNally, Niopha Keegan, and Chris Price utilise their comprehensive music-making skills to bring a more complex arrangement, using drums and bass for the first time, alongside the ukulele and accordion. This only serves to accentuate the vocals that provide what is at the heart of The Unthanks music - the story. Award winners and Mercury Prize nominees, praise for The Unthanks comes from influential admirers including Radiohead, Ben Folds and Ewan McGregor, while music journalist Paul Morley describes them as a band that ‘create a sensationally graceful sound that can be epic and subdued, dreamy and specific, as well as supernaturally ancient and defiantly modern.. easily more contemporary and stylish than boys in skinny trousers holding electric guitars like it’s 1969.’ Speaking about their Jools Holland appearance and their rescheduled Aberdeen gig, Becky Unthank says: “We’re so pleased that we are getting the chance to make amends. “We felt very bad about postponing the gig but opportunities don’t come along like that very often so we hope the people of Aberdeen will forgive us! We had been knocking on the door for two years, and when it opens, you don’t get a chance to decide what day you play. “Even with Aberdeen shelved, we had to get from an Edinburgh show to London for a 9am load in and then up to York for the next gig. But we don’t expect Aberdeen to feel

sorry for us! And we’ll probably have some sort of special deal on merchandise for the night, by way of apology. “Being on Jools Holland has always been a dream. At first it was terrifying but I thought: ‘Hang on a minute, if I’m too scared I won’t perform well and won’t enjoy myself’ so I pulled myself together and loved every minute as did the rest of the band. “At moments like that its great to have my sister by my side and eight lovely, talented musicians with us.” Becky adds that she and Rachel felt lucky to have each other when it came to performing, and perhaps because of the big age gap, they had never been competitive. “We’ve always sung together since we were kids, so working together doesn’t feel like work most of the time,” she says. Performing around the world, the group have found that audiences differed a little – Becky’s favourites are in the UK and Australia. “In Germany, the audience all clap in time together… it’s bizarre but amazing!” And she recalls one incident when they were playing in Cardiff and Jonny Kearney was supporting them at the time. “He was due to play in our third track of the night; as we started the song we looked around and realised Jonny hadn’t come on stage,” says Becky. “Half way through, he ran on stage and managed to get there just as he was due to play. “We were all giggling and when the song finished he apologised to the audience saying that he had been stuck in the toilet, but the truth was he had been on the phone to his Mum who asked him how it was going playing with The Unthanks when the penny dropped. And when asked if the group had any odd requests at venues when they toured, she replies: “Our rider is called ‘Not a Rider’ and states “We don’t believe in riders, we like hospitality’. “A rider is a list of things a band demands; hospitality is when a host makes a band feel welcome in the manner the host sees fit - how can a host make guests feel welcome if the guests are telling the host how to host?!” Sarah Harbison

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When the going gets tough, get Billy Ocean! On Wednesday 12 May, the Music Hall will welcome British musical royalty as Billy Ocean, the biggest selling black recording artist these isles has ever produced, visits the city on his second nationwide tour following 15 years out of the spotlight. APA were able to catch up with him for a few words before the tour got underway. What inspired you to get back on tour and how have you found the road life again? Has it changed much in the 15 years you were out of the public spotlight? “The 15 years have flown past! My kids have all grown up now, which gives me more time, but mostly I decided to tour again because it’s my passion, I am doing what I love! As for the road life, it’s pretty much the same as when I stopped touring.”

Are your audiences responding to the new material in the same way as they do to your hits from the early years? “The audiences have been amazing and really appreciative across the country.” Music has been a part of your life pretty much since before you were born, has this passion been passed on to your children in the same way? “My eldest daughter is actually one of my backing vocalists! All three of my children are musically inclined.” You’ve a mixed cultural background, having been born in Trinidad but spending the majority of your life living in London, do you consider your sound to be Caribbean, American or British? “I think music is a free spirit and should have no limitations or boundaries put on to it, as long as you know what you are doing!” As the most successful black musicians to have come out of the UK, what do you think is it about your sound that sets you out from others? “I learnt from others but didn’t copy. I was also very lucky in that I had the opportunity to work with the top producers at the time who helped to develop me as an artist. I had good direction and we knew the sound we wanted. We were simply very fortunate in that it appealed to people across the world.” Finally, what would you say to convince someone to come to your show? “Expect one big party! Guaranteed to make you forget all your troubles for the night.” Chris J Collins

Warm welcome for Connie and The Sound of Music The Sound of Music’s Connie Fisher might be a stranger to Aberdeen - this is her first visit to the city and she’s looking forward to taking in the sights – but not to the warm reception the show has received from audiences. “The audience reactions have been fantastic,” she says. “It’s the perfect musical for young and old alike. “The cast are terrific and we have the most amazing sets and costumes – it’s a truly first class production. We also have the most brilliant children whom everyone loves!” She adds that she is very proud to be part of The Sound of Music phenomena, especially as she has been part been part of the journey since the beginning. “Playing the part of Maria in both the West End and on tour is a dream come true for me,” she says. “The musical’s appeal is timeless. The Rodgers and Hammerstein score is one of their best - every number is a hit – and it’s also a wonderful story.” There has only been on adult cast change on this tour - the wonderful Marilyn Hill Smith has just joined the cast as their new Mother Abbess. 3

Says Connie: “She is amazing and has a truly great voice. The children change every few months which helps keep the show fresh.” Connie and the rest of the cast will be based in Aberdeen for a month, until the last night of the show on Saturday April 17, and while she admits it’s fun to explore a new city, she also tries to get home when she can to catch up with her family and friends. Joyce Summers

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Cal’s gearing up to play new-look Captain Hook I spoke to actor Cal Macaninch about the National Theatre of Scotland’s forthcoming production of Peter Pan, here at His Majesty’s Theatre in June, and his role as Captain Hook. We started by discussing the fact that he was reuniting with the creative team that produced the NTS’s production of The Bacchae, performed at His Majesty’s Theatre, June 2008. ”I felt quite honoured to be asked,” said Cal. “I was in Africa when I received the phone call from John Tiffany (director of Peter Pan) and was absolutely thrilled to be working with him again, especially after his Olivier Award win (Best Director 2009, Black Watch). “I was really chuffed to be asked; he gave me great freedom with The Bacchae, but also knows what he wants and how he imagines things, it was a very free experience in rehearsal room. “I have never seen Peter Pan before, so I’m not really sure what people will make of it, I’ve seen bits of the Disney cartoon and clips of Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook (Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film Hook) but my first experience of the weird and extraordinary world was reading the book when John asked me to play the part. “I can tell you that Hook won’t look like the conventional Captain you’ll know. I won’t know much more until rehearsals start but I’ve got a costume fitting next week so that will give me a little more idea.” The conversation turned to Cal’s memories of Aberdeen and His Majesty’s Theatre. “I absolutely loved the theatre, although The Bacchae had toured before arriving at HMT, Aberdeen was where I joined the cast.

“I remember speaking to loads of people in the bar after the performances and really enjoyed my time in city. It was refreshing that people didn’t feel shy to say hello, everyone was very warm to speak to.” As we spoke, I could hear his youngest, who was born while he was filming ITV’s Wild at Heart in South Africa, crying in the background, and Cal said that now he had two young children, it was important to be with his family as much as possible while working. At this point, he had to cut the interview short to go and be a Dad, and we finished by discussing whether he had a preference for theatre over filming work. He admitted that although his love was for the stage, he needed television and films to pay the bills. “I try to base work choices on whether the script is good - TV is a much bigger commitment as you tend to get offered full series and it takes a lot longer,” he said. “I think most Scottish actors start out in the theatre, it is their passion and where they’d be the most if they could be.” Martin Gallagher

The raunchiest rock ‘n’ roll party on the theatre circuit is still winning new fans The Rocky Horror Show will be making its presence felt at His Majesty’s Theatre this summer and its legendary formula for inyour-face entertainment looks to be as potent as ever! I caught up with the man himself, creator Richard O Brien, to find out what he thinks of the latest incarnation of his cult hit stage show. How does it feel to be talking about Rocky Horror still after all this time? “I have no problems talking about Rocky; Rocky Horror is one of those great joys in my life because it’s a great joy in other people’s lives. One of the nicest things about being in this business is I love the fact that a show comes into town and it cheers people up.” You’re still attached enough to the piece that you want to get it exactly right, then? “Yeah. I would really hate to think that an audience was being short changed and one of the other things with Rocky, that one

always has to bear in mind, is some of the audience, many of the audience, have seen it before but even more of them have never seen it before. What I don’t ever want to happen is for people who haven’t seen it before to feel like they are sitting at a party that they haven’t been invited to.” Would you go back to performing in Rocky Horror again? “I don’t think I should. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t go back as the Narrator on a one-off occasion - that would be alright, wouldn’t it? I did go over at the end of Wimbledon last year - we had a week there - and played the Usherette with a big blonde wig on. I looked at bit like Joanna Slumley! I went on with an electric guitar and played it live with the guitar, that was fun just topping and tailing the piece.” This year’s Rocky Horror show is shaping up to be the naughtiest, boldest Rock ‘n’ Roll Musical yet and will be riotous fun for fans old and new! Be sure to catch this legendary performance, showing at His Majesty’s Theatre from Monday June 28. Michael Queen

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Modest playwright Tim is the Calendar Girls’ write-ful star Calendar Girls has been the fastest selling tour ever and has triumphed in London’s glittering West End along with being nominated for best comedy at the Laurence Olivier Awards 2010. The new cast for this year’s performance includes Elaine C Smith as Chris, Jean Boht as Jessie, Denise Black as Cora, Ruth Madoc as Marie, Julia Hills as Annie and Jennifer Ellison as Celia. All have the challenge of posing artfully behind flowers, knitting and cream buns in the now-legendary tale of how a group of ordinary Yorkshire Women’s Institute ladies posed in the nude for a calendar to raise cash for cancer research. It’s often said that plays are not written - they’re rewritten - and many playwrights continue to tinker with their work for years after the play was first produced. Screenplays, by contrast, are set in stone. But screenwriter and playwright Tim Firth is the exception. He’d been mulling over a revisit to the subject of The Calendar Girls for some time when he decided to take action more than two years ago. “I always promised myself that I’d start to think about a stage play of Calendar Girls once the film had been shown on television a couple of times,“ explains Tim. “The theatre is my first love and I

saw that turning Calendar Girls into a stage play would enable certain parts of the story to flower.” Tim has been delighted but astonished by the warmth of the audience response to the play. “I have been absolutely amazed” he admits. “I suppose that it’s a hopeful piece in uncertain times and there’s a real feel-good atmosphere in the building when the play is in performance. “The cast tell me that they can often hear crying so the audience is experiencing both poles on the emotional spectrum.” Tim regularly attends performances of Calendar Girls, unsuspected in the middle of an audience alternately rocking with laughter and dabbing their eyes. Is he not tempted to reveal his identity? “People think that the actors make up the lines themselves, so what would be the point?” laughs Tim. “I tend to sit at the back, scribbling thoughts down in a small notebook which I discover are completely illegible when the lights come up.” Cheryl McClorey

Jimmy adds late night gig for city fans Top funny man Jimmy Carr had added an extra late night show to his weekend of gigs at the Music Hall this summer to keep his army of Aberdeen fans happy. As part of his Rapier Wit tour, the comedian is performing at 7.30pm on Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12, but demand for tickets has been so high, he’s added a 10.15pm gig on the Friday night. As one of the hardest working funnymen on the comedy circuit, he tours constantly, writing the next show while performing the current one and in one year alone notched up more than 160 gigs in front of 250,000 people. On top of that are his TV appearances on hit shows such as 8 Out Of 10 Cats, QI, Have I Got News For You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Yet despite his hugely hectic schedule, he still enjoys touring, visiting different cites and meeting people – who he says are pleasantly surprised to find that he’s polite!

“People come up, say hello and have a chat. If you’re on TV, people think you’re very approachable,” he says. “The nicest thing is when you meet young guys and girls coming to comedy for the first time. What’s slightly strange is that they’re clearly expecting me to insult them. It must be difficult if you’re a beloved comedian like Peter Kay who has to be super nice the whole time. For my audience, it’s a pleasant surprise to find I’m polite.” As well as Jimmy Carr’s gigs, APA have staged some phenomenal sell-out shows by comedians in the city this year, including Stewart Francis, John Bishop and Chris Addison at The Lemon Tree, and Stephen K Amos, Rhod Gilbert and Dara Ó Briain at Music Hall. Surrealist Geordie stand up Ross Noble will also be returning to the Music Hall this year and it couldn’t come soon enough. He has been performing since he was smuggled in to his local comedy club at the age of 15 and has never looked back. In the years since, Ross has received huge critical acclaim. He is a former Perrier Award nominee, Barry Award, and Time Out award winner for best live stand-up and was recently voted one of the top ten greatest stand-ups of all time by Channel 4 viewers. We’re delighted to have both Jimmy Carr and Ross Noble back at the Music Hall once more and we know you are too. Joyce Summers

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! N I W

We’re well into the year and now the days are getting longer it’s time to treat yourself to a relaxing evening of dinner and a show.

And with our APA FRIENDS partner Littlejohn’s Restaurant on Schoolhill, we can treat you to the perfect night out. To celebrate the launch of the new What’s On guide, together we are giving away two tickets to see the fabulous rom com When Harry Met Sally at His Majesty’s Theatre AND £40 towards a meal at Littlejohn’s Restaurant in a special APA FRIENDS competition. And all you have to do for your chance to win is answer the simple question:

Who played Harry and Sally in the 1989 Columbia Pictures film? Answers on a postcard to: MARTIN GALLAGHER MARKETING ASSISTANT MUSIC HALL UNION STREET ABERDEEN AB10 1QS

Entries must be in by 12pm on Monday May 12. The winners will be drawn at random from the correct answers and usual competition rules apply. The winner will each receive two Dress Circle tickets to the 7.30pm performance of When Harry Met Sally on Wednesday May 19 and £40 of vouchers towards a meal at Littlejohn’s. If you are not lucky enough to win you are still a winner with APA FRIENDS at Littlejohn’s Restaurant. The Schoolhill eaterie is ideally located between HMT, the Music Hall and The Lemon Tree and is the perfect place for a pre- or post-show meal – whether it’s an intimate table for two, or you are treating the whole family. Littlejohn’s offer all APA FRIENDS 10% discount on the total bill when you show your card. They cater for all age groups and have a wide ranging menu which can be viewed online at Booking a table is advisable to make sure you don’t miss out. They can be contacted on 01224 635666 or and will be glad to assist you in any way they can.


EXCLUSIVELY FOR APA FRIENDS Monday 17 May To book your free place call the Box Office on 01224 641122

It’s not just discounted tickets with APA FRIENDS... Show your APA FRIENDS card at any of our partners and receive exclusive discounts*.

*Offers are correct at time of publication. Subject to change at any time without notice.

APA FRIENDS Summer 10  
APA FRIENDS Summer 10  

APA FRIENDS Summer 10 all the latest news interviews and competitions from His Majesty's Theatre, The Lemon Tree and Music Hall, Aberdeen.