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REVIEW: Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow 2024)

Updated: Feb 28

17 February 2024

SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow 2024) Photo by Lisa in the Theatre

To celebrate 10 years of providing incredible performing opportunities to the young people of Scotland, Ross Gunning and the Movies to Musicals team have delivered an astonishing night of musical theatre full of joy, jigs and a wealth of world class talent.

A true celebration of all things musicals (and some movies!) the set list for this anniversary concert included classic songs from West Side Story, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, as well as wonderful pieces from more recent hit shows such as Six and Newsies. Every number was without exception, phenomenal. The costumes, the choreography, the production values all came together to dazzle and delight the audience.

The massive stage at the SEC Armadillo in Glasgow looked as beautiful as I've ever seen it. The spectacular lighting from Kieran Kenny was themed to every individual musical number, and it's this level of attention to detail that elevates 'Movies to Musicals' productions above the rest. Every scene was lit perfectly and this gave a real 'West-End quality' feel to the show.

With glorious live music from Glasgow Philharmonic orchestra led by Ross Gunning himself, and backed by the fabulous singers of the Rock Choir, the show wasn't lacking in the music department either. There is nothing quite like the magic of a live orchestra, and Glasgow Philharmonia are exquisite.

But at the forefront of the show is a young cast of over 50 performers who sing, dance and act their hearts out. This show was over 3 hours long: There are a lot of numbers and a load of choreography to remember. But I didn't see anyone put a foot wrong. The stamina of these kids is remarkable. The dance routines look challenging enough, but these young stars are also singing and acting throughout.

Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow 2024)

From their spectacular Aladdin routine that they performed on the London Palladium stage as part of Britain's Got Talent, to their Bugsy Malone, Newsies and Mary Poppins medelies, the ensemble numbers were all seriously impressive.

Undoubtedly well trained and rehearsed, there's no denying the passion and dedication it takes to reach this level of performance. A fantastic achievement from everyone. I hope you are all really proud of yourselves. I know your friends and family are - I was surrounded by sobbing aunts, uncles and grannies in the audience!

One of the draws of Movies to Movies, as well as their safe, welcoming and nurturing environment, is that youngsters who achieve a place in the kids cast could have the opportunity to perform alongside genuine West End legends. Over the years stars such as Laura Pick, Louise Dearman and Kerry Ellis have shared the stage with the Movies to Musicals troupe.

For this 10th anniversary spectacular, Ross has outdone himself by securing five of the most incredibly talented individuals to grace the stage of the Glasgow SEC.

The stunning Lucy Kay performed a number from her best known role as The Narrator from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, as well as two other beautiful songs: Kristin Chenoweth's 'The Girl in 14 G' and 'The Prayer' alongside Australian Tenor Paul Tabone. Tabone delighted the audience with 'Maria' from West Side Story, but it was his rendition of 'Till I Hear You Sing' from Love Never Dies that was one of the highlights of the evening for me.

Sensational vocalist Sabrina Carter set the bar high early with her stunning rendition of 'Don't Rain On My Parade' from Funny Girl and 'No Good Deed' from Wicked. And leading lady of Wicked and We Will Rock You Kerry Ellis was back, and, as is to be expected, was simply divine every moment she was on stage. Her solos from We Will Rock You and The Greatest Showman were magnificent, but it was her duet with John Owen Jones 'Last Night of the World' from Miss Saigon that brought tears to my eyes.

Paul Tabone, Lucy Kay, John Owen Jones, Sabrina Carter and Kerry Ellis at the Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow 2024)

John Owen Jones has long been a favourite performer of mine. Not only is he an exceptional singer and world-class leading man, but he has incredible stage presence and rapport with audiences too. He's just so talented, likable and funny. It seems unfair, doesn't it! True to form last night he stopped in the middle of 'Music of the Night' from Phantom of the Opera to berate the audience for not applauding at the part where "the audience usually gives me a round of applause at this point!" I love that he allows his personality to shine at these more informal events.

John Owen jones performs at Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow 2024) Photo by Lisa in the Theatre

But Owen Jones really showed how kind and decent a human being he is when he shared the stage and the limelight with one young member of the kids cast, Blair Cunningham, as they performed Jean Val Jean's heartbreaker from Les Miserables 'Bring Him Home' together. What an unforgettable moment and opportunity for this young man.

Despite the fantastic performances and overall exemplary production values, there were a couple of tiny but unfortunate glitches on the night. On a couple of occasions the young performer taking the lead in a song could not be heard because either their mic wasn't raised or wasn't working. It only happened two or three times, but each time my heart sank for the kids. Given the number of performers on stage (there must've been over 100 in total) and the complexity and ambition of the set list, it's remarkable they got through the show with only those minor errors. But it's still disappointing for those impacted.

The finale was however, quite literally, showstopping. The inspired inclusion of some excellent highland dancers and a pipe band made sure that the 10th anniversary concert closed on a triumphant high. The ambition on show was astounding; it looked and sounded superb. I can only imagine that Ross dreams up these epic concepts and then, with some courage, tenacity and a ton of hard work, he and the people around him actually make them happen. It's fantastic to see.

Ross Gunning is an extraordinary role model for these youngsters, and Movies to Musicals is a wonderful charity providing an unbeatable opportunity for the next generation of stage stars in Scotland. Over the years they have gone from strength to strength, and have grown from playing smaller venues to now, the 2,000 seater SEC Armadillo. But I'm always surprised that their annual concert isn't better attended. Musical theatre is very popular in Scotland. This group should be selling out the SEC for multiple nights. I can only assume people don't know about it. So permit me a short public service announcement:

People of Glasgow! This is the best value, best quality night of musical theatre you can have in the city. The kids and the orchestra are exceptional, and Ross truly does bring genuine West End legends to our local stage. And - they all look like they are having the time of their lives. Please, please buy tickets next year and support this wonderful charity and the next generation of musical theatre talent. You won't regret it.

Kerry Ellis, John Owen Jones, Sabrina Carter, Paul Tabone and Lucy Kay star in Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow 2024)


Note: As a rule, I don't award star ratings to children's shows or shows where children are the main feature. They are all superstars for getting up on the stage in the first place. Children should be allowed to chase their dreams without fear of criticism.

🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.

📸 Find Lisa in the Theatre on Instagram for lots of photos, videos and fun stagey content

REVIEW: Movies to Musicals 10th Anniversary concert (Glasgow, Kerry Ellis, John Owen Jones)

Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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