TO celebrate the centenary of Andrew Carnegie’s death, the Carnegie Hall recently hosted “Carnegie: The Star Spangled Scotchman“, a musical based on the life of Dunfermline’s famous son, who worked his way up from being born in a weaver’s cottage in Dunfermline, to emigrating to America and becoming one of the wealthiest men in the world, to giving away his fortune to good causes via The Carnegie Trust, which is still based in the town, writes Times Theatre critic Kerry Black.

And the cast at the Carnegie Hall, had an important Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly influence.

Written by Dunfermline man Ian Hammond-Brown, who also played fellow businessman Frick, the show looks over Carnegie’s life from two very different standpoints. One is a white clad angel like figure (played by the talented Edward Corry) who tells us all the wonderful, generous acts that Carnegie carried out and the other is John a downtrodden steel worker (with the beautiful voice of Ibiyemi Osinaike) who had to endure the poverty and deprivation of working in Carnegie’s steel mills.

I first saw the show five years ago at The Alhambra, it then went to the Edinburgh Fringe last year, over the years Ian has constantly refined and rewritten elements of the show. It was brilliant to see and hear the changes for this centenary production.

Joe Whiteman, who is actually a direct descendant of Carnegie, plays the man himself, with great energy and passion.

While well-known local singers Donna Hazelton (the Lochgelly lady who won Musicality) and Cowdenbeath's Lindsay Black (Kelty Musical), return to the roles of his parents. The show is filled with amazing music, hovering between the soaring fiddle music (full marks to Seonaid Aitken!) of Carnegie’s homeland of Scotland, to the throbbing banjo plucking hoedown moments of songs such as “Henry Clay Frick”. The quality of singing in the show was outstanding, thanks to the hard work of Musical Director Alan Gibson. I particularly enjoyed the harmonies between Mrs Carnegie, his fiancée Louise (the exquisite Kim Shepherd) and her mother (Lorna Brown). Suzy Burnett and Lauren Till rounded off the strong female soloists as John’s heartbroken wife and the comical Mrs Kipling.

The show was presented in a concert manner, with the soloists acting and singing in front of a choir. It was an extremely emotional evening taking us from comical capers at Carnegie’s highland home in Skibo with some great cameo parts, to Carnegie’s death, via “Telegraph, Railroad, Bridges, Steel”. Carnegie always said that his success was thanks to two wonderful women, his wife and his mother and it was gratifying to see two great actresses in such strong female roles. With sensitive direction by Graeme Shield and glorious period costumes by Liam A Black, this show was a fitting tribute to the ongoing philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie.