Sunshine on Leith

At first blush, it may seem a strange choice for a festive show but this latest incarnation is bang on the money. Elizabeth Newman’s production sings and lifts the spirits, a veritable tonic in these dark days.

Elizabeth Newman’s production sings and lifts the spirits, a veritable tonic in these dark days

Sunshine first hit the stage in 2007, written by Stephen Greenhorn, a juke box musical it features the songs of The Proclaimers. Born in Dundee, it has travelled professional and amateur stages all over the country, hit the big screen and now lands at the theatre in the hills.

An everyday story of Scots folk, it tells of two squaddies returning home to Edinburgh after their final tour of action and adjusting to life in civvie street. All is not plain sailing as they get back with family and friends. The focus is on three couples, parents Rab and Jean and their offspring. Son, soldier Davy and girlfriend Yvonne, and daughter Liz, longstanding girlfriend of soldier Ally, all have challenges to face.

Their trials and tribulations link the beloved songs of The Proclaimers. It is the music which really moves. With new musical arrangements by David Shrubsole and great work by musical director Richard Reeday, the twelve-strong ensemble excel picking up a host of instruments and giving it all they have got. There are now some really rocking songs with lots of guitars twanging away and at the other end of the scale, some touching vocals from the cast. Alyson Orr as mother Jean gives a heart-stopping rendition of the title song which brought tears to the eyes of many of the audience. Sunshine is unashamedly simple and soppy but is still irresistible.

The ensemble boasts a host of actor/musicians who effortlessly slot in and out

of their various roles. The singing is top notch with some great harmonies going on. Robbie Scott as Davy and Finlay Bain as Ally, the former comrades in arms, give it their all, whether singing or acting as they chart the disintegration of their relationship in a series of short scenes.

Sunshine does not allow for any great characterisation but Fiona Wood as young Liz manages to imbue her role with sweetness and ambition. Her romance with Ally does not last as she objects to his public proposal of marriage at her parents’ anniversary party. What a party it is, not swell unfortunately but too full of swally. There is the traditional punch up, the must have of any communal gathering, and the discovery that father Rab secretly fathered a child 27 years previously.

To be picky about an otherwise great production, for no reason his wife Jean decides to go through Rab’s wallet at the party and finds out, rendering herself less than happy. The audience on the other hand is given the opportunity to shed a tear, have a laugh and revel in the great songs of The Proclaimers. And there’s a wee sing song at the end. What more could you ask? Thanks, Pitlochry.

Reviews by Joy Watters

Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Sunshine on Leith

★★★★
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★★★
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★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A Musical written by Stephen Greenhorn

Featuring the songs of The Proclaimers

New Musical Arrangements by David Shrubsole

Directed by Elizabeth Newman

Original production at Dundee Rep on 18th April 2007

Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International

Originally conceived in partnership with Capital Theatres

Set to fantastic songs from world-renowned Scottish band The Proclaimers, Sunshine on Leith is both a funny and moving play about Davy and Ally, two Edinburgh natives returning to their hometown after serving in war-torn countries overseas, who are questioning what ‘home’ really means.

A fantastic feel-good story from Stephen Greenhorn, with a feature film adaptation in 2013, this is returning to Pitlochry Festival Theatre for 2023 as a fresh new production of an audience favourite which is sure to delight yet again.

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