Get ready for Inverness and the Highlands’ packed 2015 programme of sights and sounds, writes Susan Welsh
It’s the start of a new year and the perfect time to look out those new diaries and calendars and start planning a whole raft of red-letter days. The music, arts and entertainment scenes across Inverness and the Highlands and islands look set to be as busy as ever, while foodie fans are in for several treats as this year has been named the Year of Food and Drink 2015, with numerous events taking place, all enhancing Scotland’s global reputation as a land of food and drink. Your Weekend takes a glance at some of the forthcoming highlights.
EDEN COURT THEATRE
Asking Colin Marr, chief executive of Eden Court Theatre, which of the numerous events listed in the theatre’s latest guide he’s most excited about is a bit like asking a parent to choose a favourite child.
“That’s a very tough decision, as it all depends on personal taste, but there is something for everyone. However, I think the March visit from dance company Rambert is going to be pretty special as they are presenting Rooster, the show based around the music of the Rolling Stones, which has all the excitement and swagger you’d associate with Mick Jagger.”
Sharp-suited, snake-hipped men and strong, sassy women perform courtship dances to some of the Stones’ classic tunes such as Not Fade Away, Paint It Black, Sympathy for the Devil and Little Red Rooster.
“Folk who love contemporary dance will love it, while others who love the Stones and the 60s era will love it, too. And unlike other contemporary dance companies, Rambert uses a live orchestra, which makes all the difference,” said Colin.
“March is shaping up to be a pretty busy month for dance, as Scottish Ballet is also here with A Streetcar Named Desire. Scottish Ballet have absolutely nailed this and it’s a very brooding but sexy piece. It’s opening here before playing a couple of UK dates and going to tour America. I’ve been trying to persuade them that when they go to New York, the advert should say ‘Direct from Inverness’.”
Before then, there’s plenty of action for dance fans, with the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company presenting Park, and aerial dance theatre group All Or Nothing bringing Three’s a Crowd in February, a show with harness flying and aerial acrobatics.
“We’re back on more traditional ground with Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker in January. This is the very famous, traditional version which hasn’t been seen since 1997.”
Brendan Cole, star of Strictly Come Dancing, presents A Night To Remember in February, while the Russian Ice Stars’ Snow White On Ice is expected to be a big crowd pleaser.
“There’s a pretty diverse line-up featuring some pretty big hitters including Russell Watson, Aled Jones, The Dublin Legends, The Simon and Garfunkel Story and Duncan Chisholm. Scottish Opera are here in June with Il Travatore, while we’ve just announced that Marti Pellow and Maureen Nolan will star in the musical Blood Brothers. Inverness Opera Company will celebrate their 90th anniversary production with Calamity Jane in March, while Inverness Choral Society presents Handel’s Messiah in May. The programme also includes visits from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Ensemble and RSNO.
“A lot of the drama is on a small scale, but it’s very interesting,” said Colin.
“The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, written and directed by Elton Townsend Jones, shows the normal side of Marilyn and is a radical interpretation of the Hollywood legend. Gerard Logan, whom I’d describe as a ‘proper’ Shakespearean actor, presents Wilde Without the Boy and The Ballad of Reading Gaol, while Love 2.0 is a comedy drama about the modern dating scene and the reality of meeting someone you’ve spoken to only via the web.”
“The comedy section is absolutely packed with household names, including Jimmy Carr, Alan Carr, Stewart Lee, Dylan Moran, Reginald D. Hunter, John Shuttleworth and Craig Hill. Paul Merton’s coming back again with his Impro Chums. I went to see the show last time it was here and have to say it was absolutely fantastic. Paul, along with chums Mike McShane, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster, takes ideas from the audience so each show is unique and very, very funny.”
Other programme highlights include the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which runs for two evenings in February and features jaw-dropping short films and a full programme of National Theatre Live, when live theatre shows are broadcast into the cinema. In April, younger theatregoers have two grand shows to look out for. There’s Julien Cotterau, a silent clown who can create a whole world without the need for special effects or props, and there’s underwater fun and adventure to be had with the Octonauts, who are inviting audiences to join them on their deep-sea volcano adventure.
Tickets are being snapped up already for this year’s Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, which takes place on August 6-8 at the beautiful estate near Beauly. Fans now have the option of making it a longer festival as it has been extended to a third night. The Proclaimers have been announced as the headline act for the Thursday night. Details of other headliners and performers will be announced at a later date.
The 33rd Orkney Folk Festival takes place in late May and three of the artists scheduled to appear have been revealed. They are world-renowned Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon, rising stars of the UK country scene Ward Thomas, and Mercury-nominated English singer/songwriter Seth Lakeman, all of whom will make their Orkney debut at the festival. The full line-up will be revealed later this month, but it’s known that acts will be coming from Canada, Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, England, mainland Scotland and Shetland, as well as a number from Orkney’s own thriving folk scene.
Five days of inspiration, entertainment, action and adventure are promised at The Fort William Mountain Festival 2015, which will feature some of the best inspirational speakers, made up of top climbers and mountaineers, together with adventure film screenings, ski mountaineering and hill-running races and mountain skills workshops. Staged in and around Fort William, in the heart of Lochaber, it takes place from February 18-22.