REVIEWS

Mahattan Nights at Morgan’s Hotel

Thanksgiving Evening, 25 November 2010

Sheer indulgence combined with a huge talent and lots of fun! 

Lyn held us spellbound: her joyful character filled the room and we were lost in the magic of her talents. 

Lyn Mackay, the multi-talented, tenacious and hugely popular local writer of two masterful works of musical theatre, appeared in her ‘element’ at the ‘American-themed’ Piano Bar evening.

We had recently witnessed her substantive skills as a writer of musical theatre when we attended The Grand to watch the second of her musicals ‘Swansea Women’ and we were keen to experience the versatility of this local musical star.

She’s had a career packed with musical high-notes .  She appeared in Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London as a young singer-songwriter, which led to opportunities to appear as resident pianist/singer in a variety of global venues.  With a career this extensive it goes without saying she has a wealth of experience to draw on and last evening we were entertained with rich anecdotes about her glittering career. 

This was top-notch entertainment at its absolute best. 

A consummate performer, Lyn took requests from the dining audience for songs that ranged from her outstanding original compositions: The Botox Boogie and Swansea Market;  to

Standards including: Moon River – Andy Williams; Wonderful World – Louis Armstong;

Jazz Golden Greats like: Minnie The Moocher – Cab Calloway, Can’t Help Lovin That Man – Billy Holliday; 

Pop Classics: Arthur’s Theme- Christopher Cross, Jolene – Dolly Parton, Pearl’s a Singer – Elkie Brooks, You’ve Got A Friend – Carole King and newer classics, 9 Million Bicycles in Bejing  – Katie Melua; Halleluia ;Leonard Cohen (Alexandra Burke) ; And, best of all in my opinion, The Rat Pack favourites. There was even an opportunity for audience participation, which if we are honest with ourselves, we thoroughly enjoy because of the infectious nature with which it lifts our spirits.  

On a cold winter’s evening with the real threat of snowfall awaiting us into the early hours of the morning, we were warmed and nourished by the indefatigable, charming talents of Ms Lyn Mackay.

Rhianne Griffiths

MANHATTAN NIGHT, MORGAN’S HOTEL

18th September 2010

Lyn Mackay returned to what she does best last night at Morgan’s Hotel, when for nearly four hours she played and sang her way through a wide selection from her vast repertoire, ranging skilfully from Amy Winehouse to Peggy Lee with loads of swing, country and motown thrown in for good measure.

Much of the music was requested by the audience, and not once was Lyn heard to say, “Sorry I don’t know that one”.

I am not for a moment suggesting that Lyn should cut back on her other undoubted talents like her writing.

Next week her “Swansea Women” is playing to packed houses at the Grand. Or her fostering of new talent as can be evidenced by the newly launched “Lyn Mackay Academy”.

What I am suggesting is that no one can move more effortlessly from a haunting love song to getting a whole room of people in one of South Wales’ swishest venues singing Razzle Dazzle than Lyn Mackay.

All this plus a three course meal, admittedly from a somewhat limited menu, for twenty quid surely means that ‘The Manhattan Night’, as it was labelled will surely be the first of many.

John Bowyer

 

CD REVIEW: 

Lyn Mackay: A Funny Time of Life-launched at MORGAN’S HOTEL, SWANSEA

by From the Reviewer’s Chair on Thursday, 28 April 2011 at 17:33

 LYN MACKAY  is a fabulous, larger-than-life character best known in local theatrical circles for her excellent, heartfelt stage musicals Swansea Girls and Swansea Women, as well as for her involvement with musical theatre societies and her close association with several theatrical venues. Anyone who has watched Lyn live on stage might find themselves open-mouthed at the intimacy and warmth of this immensely enjoyable CD which sees her at her finest. This is an album which embraces a wide range of musical genres and to say that it is a joy is an understatement: she has purposefully chosen to showcase her considerable talents within a framework that includes rocky numbers as well as the more reflective narrative works.I have always had a soft spot for Lyn’s rollicking Botox Boogie(a comical celebration of all that women should be), and listening to the live version on this album demonstrates the difference between her live performance and the extraordinarily emotive nature of her studio work. This is a seriously talented woman whose ability is truly empowering. I find myself so enthused by the nature of this CD that I might well suggest a few pieces for her to cover in future, including a couple of Sergio Mendes classics.

The album photography was shot in and around the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. Great to see Lyn supporting a valuable resource which is currently facing an uncertain future and also using a local historical hotel for the launch-who handled the evening beautifully. A really great night of live music-more please!

Graham Williams

 

SWANSEA GIRLS

SWANSEA GRAND THEATRE

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST REVIEW:

NOVEMBER 20th 2007

It was fantastic to see Swansea’s premier theatrical venue attracting such a huge crowd for the opening night of this exhilarating new musical exploring the hopes, fears, dreams and despairs of four very different women. Written by the multi-talented Lyn Mackay, who also stars as Maggie, this is a smart, slick and fast-paced piece of theatre which is clearly a labour of love for all concerned.

In a show such as this, casting is crucial and all four performers were ideally suited to their roles: Lyn Mackay shone as the strong but troubled 40-something Maggie…this is a glorious show, strengthened all the further by the involvement of people whose passion for the project is self-evident

If you missed Swansea Girls this time around, have no fear: this is a show with legs – in every sense of the word – and there is every likelihood that the show will enjoy a longer run at the Grand in the spring of 2008.

Graham Williams

SWANSEA GIRLS

SWANSEA GRAND THEATRE

SOUTH WALES EVENING POST REVIEW:

June 30th 2008

A welcome return to the Grand’s main stage for this engaging musical revolving around the lives and loves of four very different women.

Writer/composer Lyn Mackay – reprising her role as Maggie, a troubled fortysomething with a colourful past and an uncertain future – has cannily tweaked the content, removing the very few segments that did not quite come off last time around and adding a terrific new number entitled Botox Boogie, in which she pokes fun at “size zero” culture and wags the flag for women who want to celebrate their curves.  Swansea Girls reached the end of its run at the Grand on Saturday, but this is by no means the end of the story. Lyn Mackay has penned a follow-up, entitled Swansea Women. Watch this space.

Graham Williams

THEATRE IN WALES REVIEW

Swansea Girls

Swansea Grand Theatre

27 June 2008

There’s never a dull moment in this musical for chicks of all ages. “Swansea Girls” returns to The Grand Theatre with more songs, more sequins and more packs of handy andies than an auditorium has seen.

A high energy and fast paced performance, the four ladies have a great rapport which ignites the stage, making them a pleasure to watch.  Space is used efficiently, with the set in four sections that reflect the individual characters’ personalities. Songs are wonderfully expressive, ranging from amusing with “Swansea City” (picture “New York, New York,” but Welsh hats instead of top hats), to sultry with “The Touch of a Man” (the perfect song to sing on top of piano), and touching with “Is that what life’s about?”  “Be careful what you wish for” is a beautifully arranged reoccurring song, gathering poignancy each time the melody comes into play.

If being the writer, composer and producer of the show isn’t enough, Lyn Mackay also plays the role of Maggie.  Her warmth, gustiness and vibrant personality reaches right to back of the gods. Perhaps it’s because some of the show is autobiographical for Lyn Mackay, but every word spoken and each note sung is straight from the heart, creating a truly believable character that you sympathise with. 

The talented band deserve their place on stage.  With interaction between them and the actors they are really part of the cast, showing that the strength behind “Swansea Girls” is that it’s an ensemble piece. This show reaches its desired audience, giving a voice to the women of Swansea, but also speaking to others.  I defy you not to leave the theatre with a tune in your head.

Ella-Louise Gilbert

SWANSEA WOMEN

The long-awaited “prequel” to the hugely popular musical Swansea Girls has finally hit the stage of the Grand Theatre and to say that it struck a resounding chord with a receptive and appreciative audience on the opening night is an understatement.

Writer/composer Lyn Mackay has a real talent for tapping into the hearts and minds of people in and around Swansea and the amount of research and attention to period detail that has gone into this absorbing story of a town torn apart by the Second World War has been phenomenal.

Each and every character is beautifully drawn, and the manner in which their individual stories intertwine is redolent of those wonderful old black-and-white British portmanteau movies in which sub-plots and characters on the fringes of the action assume an importance of their own.

The large cast tackle the piece with absolute commitment and it is clear that this is very much a labour of love for all concerned.

Menna Trussler is ideally suited to the role of family matriarch Elsie Morgan, while Nia Trussler-Jones brings emotional depth to her role as Daisy Davies, whose relationship with husband Danny (a nicely judged performance by Richard Burman) is problematic: Danny is a man’s man, and his condemnation of his artistic and sensitive son Gordon (Jack Roberts) and showbiz-crazy daughter Dolores (Danica Swinton) is cleverly conveyed and very credible.

Fine performances, too, from Stefan Pejic and Zoe George as sweethearts Alfie and Lizzie (Alfie’s return from the War after being believed lost is a real tear-jerker) and there are excellent characterisations from Kevin Johns (whose solo song Someone Else’s Son is an absolute belter, powerfully delivered and full of gusto)

Claire Hammacott, Philip Arran, Cath Fraser-Sparks, Dudley Owen, Dean Verbeck, Rachel Clee, Liz Stockton and Brian Willis, to name but a few among a great cast, including some very young performers who really capture the wartime spirit.

The musical numbers are many and varied, ranging from the rollicking Mumbles Mile right through to heart-rending songs such as All Cried Out and See the Children Go, which accompanies the departure of children who face being evacuated to a place of safety.

While this is very much a show devoted to the strength and spirit of those who lived during the dark days of the War, there are many parallels with the current global situation and with the families of troops serving in far-flung places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and the moments in which we see characters receiving the dreaded telegram assume a whole new resonance as a result.

The show closes with the emotional Swansea Anthem, which speaks of the rebuilding of the old town after it has been razed to the ground by German bombs: it is an inspiring number, and one which brought the opening night audience to their feet in a wholly spontaneous standing ovation.

Quite whether the post-war planners could have envisioned the horrors of the one-way system and the ongoing reconstruction of the bus station is doubtful, but here was a chance to share the lives and loves of the characters in a town that had yet to become a city and to relive a time when, despite the privations and hardship caused by war, people found an inner strength that enabled them to cope and to carry on.

Graham Williams