THEATRE REVIEW: Sunshine on Leith at Sheffield Lyceum

Photo credit: Roe-Parkin CreativePhoto credit: Roe-Parkin Creative
Photo credit: Roe-Parkin Creative
WHEN I saw the film adaptation of the musical Sunshine on Leith eight years ago, I immediately decided to head off on a trip north of the border.

Seeing the excellent amateur production by STOS Theatre Company of the musical at the Lyceum didn’t quite have me packing my bags for another visit, but it definitely left me humming several of The Proclaimers’ oh-so-recognisable tunes.

The musical, written by Stephen Greenhorn, tells the story of best friends Davy and Ally — played extremely well by Matt Bevan and Ashley Wilson — as the squaddies return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

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Cue for a rendition of I’m On My Way by Ally, Davy and ensemble.

The pair start settling back into life on Civvy Street and we meet Davy’s family —mum Jean, dad Rab and sister Liz — as well as Liz’s nursing colleague and friend, Yvonne.

Ally is “stepping out with” Liz and Davy is introduced to Yvonne.

The show, directed by Mark Harris, follows the fortunes of the two former soldiers and their love lives as well as Davy’s family, with Rab and Jean preparing for a party for their wedding anniversary.

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I had wondered how the cast would fare with the Scottish accents, but they all made an excellent fist of the task — with Matt Bevan helped in the task by having a Scottish mother.

Rab is played movingly by Phil Brownhill, who is also chair of trustees of STOS.

Helen Kempton is more than competent in the role of Rab’s wife, Jean, and Catherine Harban, small in stature but big in voice, and Suzanne Peach are both very engaging and watchable.

As the story moves on, the audience is introduced to a character who links to Rab’s past, Eilidh, with complications arising from her appearance in Leith.

Lauren Turner gives a fine performance in the role.

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The singing is excellent across the board and there are some very moving numbers such as Make My Heart Fly.

The rendition towards the end of Sunshine on Leith itself, by Jean, Eilidh and the ensemble, brought a definite tear to my eye.

And, of course, a show of this sort has to include I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) - and very rousing it is, too.

Special mention must go to the band for their lively musical accompaniment throughout.

All in all, this show has something for everyone and I would most definitely proclaim it a hit.

Sunshine on Leith is at the Sheffield Lyceum until until Saturday, November 19.