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The Proclaimers' jukebox musical returns to Scotland!


Review: SUNSHINE ON LEITH, PITLOCHRY FESTIVAL THEATRE The sun is certainly shining on Perthshire, as Pitlochry Festival Theatres celebrates the opening of its recently renovated building. A cheery actor-musician revival of The Proclaimers' jukebox musical Sunshine on Leith opens their 2022 summer season, a co-production in collaboration with Capital Theatres in Edinburgh, directed by Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti.

Featuring well-known and loved Proclaimer hits including "I'm On My Way", "Letter to America" and a certain song about walking a particular distance, the show follows Ally and Davy as they return home to Scotland after serving on a military campaign.

We follow the pair, as well as Davy's family around the streets of Edinburgh (and Leith, "it's different") as they deal with family drama, new love, heartbreak, and choices about the future. The show debuted at the Dundee Rep in 2007 and was adapted into a film in 2013.

Keith Jack and Connor Going have brotherly camaraderie as Ally and Davy. Blythe Jandoo plays a conflicted Liz, Davy's sister and Ally's partner. The role of her no-nonsense colleague, Yvonne, is ably sung and performed by Rhiane Drummond, who struggles to find her place living far from her English hometown.

Alyson Orr gives a particularly moving performance as Jean, Davy's mum and with a single expression, Keith Macpherson has the audience in stitches as Jean's husband, Rab. The 2022 ensemble switch seamlessly between characters (and instruments), bringing the folk-tinged score (with new arrangements by David Shrubsole) to life.

Adapting and arranging songs initially written and performed by pop/folk singers for musical theatre can be a challenge, and while the ballad-style take on the infamous "500 Miles (I'm Gonna Be)" brings a fresh sentimental perspective to the lyrics, the odd unsuitably high key, exposed acapella moment and lack of a definitive final chord make a couple of numbers fall flat. That said, this audience were firmly on their feet, clapping and singing along by the end.

Stephen Greenhorn's book includes some updated cultural references to the original 2007 production, with callouts to Nicola Sturgeon and even the Kardashians. Remarks about the exotic Kingdom of Fife also go down particularly well with this audience.

Other moments take on a more poignant nature, such as the dilemma faced by Yvonne and Liz as they see more and more of their medical colleagues leaving the NHS, in the shadow of the pandemic.

Lesley Hutchison's movement direction is lively and captures the joy of dancing around a pub on a Saturday night, and Julie Carlin's costume designs are casual and contemporary.

Adrian Rees' set design is a real highlight, with a miniature Edinburgh skyline atop a myriad of pillars, allowing the audience to look over the city alongside the performers on stage. Paired with Kate Bonney's colourful and inventive lighting design, the stage oozes warmth and Scottish nostalgia for this native.

Don't miss catching this fun revival in the beautiful surroundings of Pitlochry or closer to the show's setting in Edinburgh this summer.

Sunshine on Leith on selected dates at Pitlochry Festival Theatre until 1 October

Photo credit: Fraser Band

From This Author - Fiona Scott

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