Reviews and Press

AUDIENCE REVIEWS Fringe 2011

A thoroughly enjoyable night filled with excellent singing and perfect piano playing. While I did not know a lot of the songs I found that the evening moved swiftly with the commentary from the cast being both funny and entertaining. An excellent show with only a couple of performances to go so get your tickets quickly. Well done to everyone involved.

I had little idea of what to expect from this show but the performers put on a delightful rendition of some great songs. Some of them I only knew in the corner of my mind but all of them were sung with warmth and the overall atmosphere of the show was very friendly; like being invited round for a singsong at the neighbour’s house. All in all the show delivered a warm nostalgic glow and a smile that stayed on my face long after the show. Go see it!

You must remember this show; A crackin’ little cabaret with a crackin’ cast of singers.

What an utterly delightful evening of song!
The cast of 4 brought passion, energy and warmth to the cabaret singing a selection of songs from the world’s most popular Warner Bro’s films. The evening was relaxed and well presented with each cast member introducing their material, inviting some entertaining interaction with the audience. Graeme Sharpe’s “Kiss From a Rose” was a particular highlight and Aileen Scott Johnson’s comedic timing in numbers such as “Bosom Buddies” (with Anne Diack) and “Somewhere thats Green” had the audience in stitches, while Anne Diack and Greig Hill’s beautiful rendition of “The Prayer” also left a lasting impact. The singers were accompanied by Andrew Thomson on the piano, who worked those ivories superbly, providing an ideal support to the performers.
A cabaret that deserved a longer run with a fantastic mix of songs, sung by a tremendously talented company. Be sure to catch this bunch when they return to the Edinburgh Fringe next year!

REVIEWS – Fringe 2008

Maury Yeston’s ‘December Songs’
‘December Songs’ is a lament to the cruel, barren landscape which is the end of a relationship. Maury Yeston’s song cycle expresses the whole gamut of emotions inherent in such a loss, from frenetic obsession to relief, from despair to longing. Anne Diack’s clear soprano voice reaches for the rafters in these songs and she’s beautifully accompanied by pianist Robin McCleish, whose fingers ripple over the keys like the water Diack sings of in ‘By the River’. The loose story adds another layer to this performance. While the lyrics tell the story, it’s the sound momentarily catching in Diack’s throat on a note that conveys the pain of heartbreak so poignantly.

Three Weeks August 2008

REVIEWS – Fringe 2007

The Great American Songbook

Strictly Songtime’s production is a celebration of the music and lyrics of the period between the 1920’s and 1950’s, when songs from musicals dominated popular music. Singers Anne Diack and Greig Hill, well supported by Al Moore on piano and keyboards, have selected a range of songs from legends of musical composition –

Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers to name but a few.

Both singers have a background in musicals and their voices are clear and distinct. They perform without microphones in the venue’s intimate setting and sustain the performance for almost two hours with a short interval half way through. Individual highlights for me included Anne Diack’s ‘Supper Time’, a less well known song by Irving Berlin, and the Cootie Williams/Thelonius Monk composition ‘Round Midnight’; Greig Hill’s interpretation of the standards ‘I’m beginning to see the light’ and ‘It was a very good year’. When singing duets, they performed well together in songs such as ‘Let’s face the music and dance’ and their finale ‘Moonlight in Vermont’.

Strictly Songtime have put together an entertaining, well packaged showcase of music which will endure passing fads.

*** one4review.com 14.08.07

The Great American Songbook

This is a wonderful representation of the American pop standards. Join the accomplished Anne Diack, Greig WW Hill and Al Moore as they journey melodically from the simple Tin Pan Alley era right through to more complex jazz and even swing. Along their way they take in the output of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin to name but a few. It’s not all about the songs though – the musicians combine a breather with a quick history lesson on popular music as they make their way through the Great American Songbook, also stopping along the way to regale the audience with comedic tales. The set up is simple- two guys, a girl and a piano, but little more is required with compositions as enchanting as these.
tw rating 4/5 Three Weeks 21.08.07

The Boyfriend

“Anne Diack’s strong and resourceful voice brings a real strength to the company as Madame Dubonnet” Edinburgh Evening News, March 2007

REVIEWS – Fringe 2006

Jerry Herman’s ‘Showtune’
Strictly Songtime
There were many happy audience members at this celebration of songs by Jerry Herman, the man behind ‘Hello Dolly’ and many other musicals. ‘Showtune’ perhaps suffers from Herman’s relative anonymity in the UK, but six highly competent performers led us through a selection of his songs with considerable panache, and were ably supported on piano, clarinet and cello. For musical fans this is no doubt a toe-tapping treat.
tw rating 3/5 [ecmb] Three Weeks 17.08.06

Not in Front of the Waiter – Another Night at the Operetta
Strictly Songtime
A fun collection of wine-soused songs from proficient singers and performers. The singing was perfect, and the harmonies created were definitely music to my ears. The first half consists of songs taken from the operetta greats – Gilbert and Sullivan for example – and the showcase of talent is entertaining, with ‘Have Some Madeira m’Dear’ by Flanders and Swann causing quite a few chortles in the audience. The second half is the actual performance of ‘Not in Front of the Waiter’, which is full of humorous twists and turns. The acting.. during this section and the situation the characters land themselves in cannot fail to amuse.
tw rating 3/5 [kg] Three Weeks 26.08.06

Not in Front of the Waiter – Another Night at the Operetta

This is a splendid night at the operetta with sustained performances from Anne Diack (soprano), Greig Hill (tenor), Helen Brown (mezzo soprano) and Neil Mudie (bass)

The first half is devoted to a selection of songs, some well known and others not so well known. They are drawn from the works of Lehar, Dvorak, and Sullivan naming a few examples. Even the Flanders and Swann’s Madeira song makes an appearance.

Following an interval, David McBain joins the four principals as the waiter in a short musical farce set in a Parisian restaurant with the music taken from several Offenbach operas. Two couples having an illicit assignation with the other’s partners meet up. After the discovery of each infidelity, there is an unusual twist to the ending.

The emphasis in the show is on food, wine, women and song with a large measure of boisterous humour thrown in. Strictly Songtime’s production is a most enjoyable experience.

**** one4review.com 23.08.06

Not in Front of the Waiter
I’ll BE honest: light opera is not my first choice for an evening’s entertainment. But….I needn’t have feared. (Strictly Songtime’s) five members provide a pleasant, undemanding programme about “the virtues of love, food and drink”. The first half, introduced by the group’s twinkly-eyed tenor, Greig Hill, is a selection of songs by composers such as Lehár, Friml and Sullivan (sans Gilbert). We also hear Noel Coward ditties about the dangerous pleasures of alcohol.
The second half gives the show its overall title. Featuring music from Offenbach’s operas and a basic plot derived from Feydeau’s farces, this mini-comedy finds two adulterous couples dining in a restaurant with – you’ve guessed it – each others’ spouses. … for lovers of operetta, this show will provide, in the words of Miss Jean Brodie, “the sort of thing that they like”. ***The Scotsman 24.08.06

Jerome Kern – The Song is You
Strictly Songtime
What a truly lovely evening, meandering through the Jerome Kern songbook. This year marks 60 years since Kern’s death and 120 since his birth, yet the songs seem as fresh as ever. There are many here that you’d recognise, including of course ‘Old Man River’ and ‘The Folks who live on the Hill’ mixed with lesser known, but equally wonderful numbers, which the four performers sing effortlessly. If you’re looking for a sophisticated evening then go and let it all wash over you. [mb] – ‘Three Weeks’ 12.08.05 Fringe 2005

Kurt Weill – The Broadway Years
Strictly Songtime
The Strictly Songtime singers return for the last week of the Fringe with a slightly different line up and a selection of songs from the Broadway
musicals of Kurt Weill. As always the songs are performed beautifully and there are some that you’ll know; ‘September Song’ and ‘Song of Jenny’ particularly stand out. Having restricted themselves to the Broadway tunes there aren’t as many gems to mine as Jerome Kern, their previous subject, but there are enough to fill the time delightfully. Don’t go expecting Berlin Cabaret or political satire, but definitely go to enjoy another fabulously sublime evening. [mb] – ‘Three Weeks’ 26.08.05 Fringe 2005

Kurt Weill – The Broadway Years Edinburgh Academy
Composer Kurt Weill had two separate careers and styles – the deliberately hard-edged and discordant music he wrote in Germany, as for Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, and a softer, more commercial sound he created for a string of Broadway musicals in the 1930s and 1940s. This modest programme focusses on the later material, featuring such standards as September Song, Speak Low and Lost In The Stars along with lesser-known numbers. Even the Weill fan is likely to make some discoveries – for me they were Life Love Laughter and Here I’ll Stay, from a couple of his less successful shows. And it is nice to get a sense of the continuity of this Weill sound, with phrases from his first Broadway show re-echoing in his last. The quartet of singers, Edinburgh favourites, serve the music without getting in its way, making for (a).. pleasant evening. Gerald Berkowitz /Theatre Guide London 25.08.05

Crazy for Gershwin

Strictly Songtime “..stylishly interpret Gershwin favourites..romantic; bouncy; comic and light opera..they have strong voices and each brings clarity, intimacy and individuality to the songs” The Scotsman

American Trilogy

“Extracting the best songs from the musicals of Kern, Gershwin and Porter..un-staged, glamourous and snappy. Strictly Songtime clearly have a passion for this music.” The Scotsman

70, Sondheim, 70

“..(Strictly Songtime’s) commitment and energy..in the grisly relish of songs from Sweeney Todd or the intensity of Good Thing Going,,was particularly good..an engaging tribute” Laurence Hughes

“..this intimate show where the audience and performers were in inches of each other..was worthy of five stars” The Sondheim Review

Richard Rodgers – The Sound of his Music

“..if you like a bit of old-fashioned romance, Richard Rodgers – The Sound of his Music is an uplifting way to spend an evening.” The Scotsman

“..presentation was excellent..a very enjoyable evening.” Edinburgh Guide.

Die Fledermaus

“Anne Diack’s vocal contributions were secure and poised. Over and above that she proved herself to be able to act with real character in the dialogue exchanges.” Evening News

Into the Woods
“…singing evocative of forest and pantomime. Splendid pitch and enunciation from Greig Hill as Cinderella’s wayward Prince.” The Scotsman

Mario Lanza – Hollywood’s Caruso

Anne Diack has a beautiful voice and great technical skill. She was able to convey a wide range of emotion, excelling on the Ave Maria, which was the highlight of the evening. Anne’s solo pieces were for me the strongest elements of the show, particularly You and the Night and the Music which she performed with great sensitivity and lightness of touch.

The Council for Music in Hospitals

“The artists established an instant rapport with our residents, communicating with them throughout, and encouraging them to participate. The diversity of material was excellent. An excellent show that had our residents talking for days!” (Mariners Home, Greenock)

“..wonderful selection of musical memories. Performers were wonderful and there were a few ‘lump-in-the-throat’ moments! Everyone was captivated.

The value of these concerts can never be underestimated particularly with this client group (people with dementia / Alzheimer’s) as reminiscence with music is a powerful tool to stimulate people’s long term memories. Strictly Songtime’s interaction with the clients stimulated some wonderful responses, especially from one woman who has little speech but sang back to Anne who came and held her hand whilst singing to her.” (St. Bernards Club Edinburgh.)

“The audience reacted very positively throughout due largely to the warmth of the entertainers and their abilities and a well-chosen programme. The entertainers took time to interact with their audience. It would be difficult to improve on any aspect of the concert. It was excellent.” (Maxwell Court, Musselburgh.)

“To see the animation on the faces of the elderly was a joy to behold. This sort of entertainment is better therapy for our clients than any drug company would come up with. Please make a return visit soon” (Woodend Hospital Aberdeen.)

“Absolutely perfect in duration, content and suitability. Excellent; they definitely succeeded in communicating with everyone – the atmosphere was great. Audience was spellbound. These concerts give such pleasure to folk.” (Balfour House, Edinburgh.)