Glasgow Writers: Dave Anderson
Catch Dave Anderson at: Mini Musicals Season, A Play, A Pie and A Pint, OranMor, June – July, 2016
When I first wrote about Dave Anderson on my website, back in the early 2000’s, I pointed to his many accomplishments including, ‘singer, storyteller, musician, songwriter, musical director’ and, of course, accomplished actor. Apart from all of the foregoing, he is also a talented script writer and despite his assurance that he’s ‘not been up to much’, over a coffee in OranMor he gradually revealed that this most certainly was not the case.
As per usual, Dave has been collaborating with his long-time writing partner, David MacLennan (R.I.P.) and he’s been very busy contributing to the ongoing success of A Play, A Pie and A Pint, Glasgow West End’s much loved lunchtime theatre. He’s also worked with a distinguished band of writers including, Louise Welsh, Zoe Strachan and Alan Bisset, to mention but a few, for the theatre’s 200th and 250th celebration productions.
He’s directed plays by Ian Pattison and co-written his very successful one man shows with David MacLennan. This includes Mobile, about a man who lives in a wheelie bin.
Dave’s musical Tir Na Nog, has been a particular hit and in 2007 it gained the accolade of Best New Musical and was a great success at the Edinburgh Festival. The boutique musical, as Dave calls it, has turned into quite a saga and the man, who hasn’t been doing much, has since followed up with a new story each year. The latest Butterfly Kiss will be performed at OranMor from 15th until 20th April, 2013 . Tir Na Nog was described by Keith Bruce of The Herald as the first ever magical realism musical and Dave’s flirtation with the fantastic is also evident elsewhere, including at OranMor’s pantos.
These pantos, co-written with David MacLennan, have all but gained legendary status. The popular shows appear to have given rise to a whole new genre – the Summer Panto aimed at grown up children. For the past few years shows such as Aladdin and Wee Jeannie have been on everyone’s Christmas wish list and last year’s production Alice in Poundland had sell out shows and attracted rave reviews. The writing and jokes are nothing if not topical but the satirical humour and political jibes are reminiscent of what audiences loved so much about Wildcat and 7.84, the theatre companies, where Dave was heavily involved, writing and performing, during the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Poundland is ‘a parallel universe where no-one pays 50 pence in the pound tax, and where everything costs the same – a million – but you don’t have to pay for it if you are rich.’ Dave is highly appreciative of his audience and recognises that the panto enthusiasts are ‘intelligent and out to enjoy themselves’. Ticket sales and audience response confirms that he is on the right tack. He and David have a gift for creating characters that the audience love to hate, including: Milliedum, Milliedee, The King of Clubs, The Queen of Diamonds, The Fat Cat and The Mad Banker.
Dave clearly relishes his work and, although he can’t say exactly where his inspiration comes from, he is ‘always thinking about writing’ and advocates writing about what you know. Whilst firmly ensconced at OranMor with a very demanding schedule, he’s not unfamiliar with international audiences.
Many of OranMor’s plays are performed at venues across the globe and 2012 saw Dave performing in New York, in Gerda Stevenson’s award winning play, Federer v Murray. An excursion which he thoroughly enjoyed.
His long and varied career has not been short of highlights. Particular mention should be made of his role in The Steamie, Often referred to as ‘Scotland’s best loved stage show’, written by Tony Roper with Dave writing all of the music, words and songs (Cry in collaboration with the late Dave Hicks). The show was first performed in 1987 and its popularity has not diminished – in 2012 it toured once again and received rave reviews. Dave’s poignant songs with their social and political message remain as relevant as ever. Pals – Youtube.
Dave Anderson is most definitely an all-rounder, a description that somehow doesn’t quite cover the extent of his versatility and talent. His wry grin and lackadaisical air conceal a mind that’s sharp as a tack and a man both comfortable with, and master of, his many crafts.
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