Adapted from the novel by Compton Mackenzie, Whisky Galore - A Musical with book by Shona McKee McNeil and music and lyrics by Ian Hammond Brown marks Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s full-blown musical theatre debut - and what a debut! As this is the year of Homecoming Scotland - PFT’s inclusion of Whisky Galore is extremely fitting and patriotic. The story follows the locals of Great and Little Todday, their divide in religious and moral beliefs and then brings them all together by the demon drink after the sinking of a nearby ship carrying, what else, whisky!
Although you are unlikely to leave the theatre whistling any of the show’s tunes, this is no criticism of Ian Hammond Brown’s witty and toe-tapping score. This piece ranges from beautiful ballads to show-stopping production numbers, with ‘Marching in Rhythm’ being particularly effective, performed with wit and enthusiasm by the strong ensemble cast of actor/musicians, including a hilarious tap solo by Elizabeth Graham.
Hats off to Director Ken Alexander and Choreographer Rita Henderson, whose talents combine to create a joyous and infectious musical theatre piece to be proud of. There are far too many fantastic performances to single out, with many of the 14-strong cast playing several characters, but special mention must go to Christopher Daley, whose comic versatility is quite remarkable, Greg Powrie and Alan Steele for their comic timing, George Rae's, infectious and lovable portrayal of George Campbell, Carol Ann Crawford as George's battle-axe mother (Whisky Galore’s answer to High Road’s Mrs Mack) and PFT favourite Dougal Lee as Father MacAlister, who not only entertains with his onstage persona, including on this occasion a battle with an unruly set of bagpipes, but provides a substantial amount of musical accompaniment off-stage.
My one and only criticism is that the musical versatility of the cast is not on full display, with only a proportion of the audience enjoying the view of the side-stage musical accompaniment behind Musical Director Jon Beales, on keyboards. That said, any other set-up would have deprived us of Ken Harrison’s excellent set design, all moving swiftly along like a well-oiled machine.
Whisky Galore - A Musical is a must see for all the family. Think Brigadoon meets High Road meets Father Ted. There may be whisky galore, but there’s an even bigger abundance of talent galore, so get yourself off to Pitlochry as this production will have the community talking for quite some time to come.
- David Somerville