Post a Review -
or email to contact'at'dramagroups.com subject 'Drama Groups - Reviews'
All opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. www.dramagroups.com takes no responsibility for content or accuracy of any review.
Please remember when posting a review that it will be visible to the public.
||See us on Facebook|
In order to stop spammers picking up email addresses Drama Groups has adopted the standard of replacing the @ sign in an email address with 'at' - when using these email addresses please replace the 'at' with an @
See Michael Gray's Arts Blog here
Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society|
Fish Out of Water by Derek Benfield
Review of Fish Out Of Water, written by David Thorp.
I went to see ‘Fish out of Water’ on Thursday 7th February, at Powys Theatre, in Newtown. A comedy, which was written by Derek Benfield, and on the night performed by Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society.
To be perfectly honest, the play started quite slowly. This was, in my opinion, due to the storyline, rather than the acting. Soon enough, though, the performance decidedly brightened up, with the actors all warming to their respective parts.
Especially Martin Jones, who played the bumbling Brigadier, I thought he was exceptionally funny, taking his role by heart and producing many laughs throughout the evening. The other comedic elements were largely provided by Sue James as the very ‘English Old Bag’, and Clive Bundy, the enigmatic Italian Hotel Manager. Both acted extremely well, capturing the sole attention of the audience at all times during their dialogue, and deserve their recognition.
However, all the rest of the hardworking cast deserve a mention too, including Kim Davies, Jenni Freeman, Gillian Thorp and David Morgan, who were all excellent and added a little uniqueness to the show.
All in all, I felt the play was a success, shown by the audience who expressed their enjoyment as the curtains fell for the last time. I thought it was an admirable effort, a lovely little play produced nicely.
The next play in the season for NADS is from the 22nd – 27th April 2013. I recommend you go and check it out as I will.
Date 23rd Feb 2013
Ariel Drama Academy|
Wednesday the 5th December Ariel Drama Academy students performed a night of Stand Up comedy at the Woolpack, Burgess Hill , to rapturous applause.
Last year Crawley Ariel students performed and this year was the turn of our Burgess Hill students.
Mel Moon and David Candy have been teaching them on an intensive 10 week course to produce a 5 minute piece of original stand up which is offered free of charge to selected Ariel students.
"We are always looking at new and challenging genres of performance for our students and we were all so proud of them. Stand up comedy is hard and they really did have the whole pub roaring" says Nicci Hopson Principal of Ariel Drama Academy.
Mel Moon began her ‘stand up’ career in 2007 and has since gone on to perform at some of the most well known comedy venues across the UK. Mel has also worked with some of the most recognizable faces that you see on your TV screens today.
Along with David Candy, they have written comedy for various TV programmers including their own sitcom ‘Wake Up England’ which is currently in development with one of the country’s leading production houses.
MoonCandy Productions are proud to be joining forces with Ariel Drama Academy.
Mel Moon says: “Comedy is a gift and should never be ignored or taken for granted. Making people laugh simply by being yourself holds great honour and I cannot wait to encourage the Ariel pupils to use their natural comedy skills to their full potential. If your child has ‘funny bones’ then we will make them the best they can be. Similarly, if your child struggles with a lack of confidence then comedy is the best way we know of bringing people out of their shell and into the limelight".
The course covered all key areas including an introduction to comedy, identifying a style and writing and developing the all-important ‘first 5 minutes’.
David Candy adds: “The backbone of the course is the performance of 5 minutes of original material at a live gig that is open to the public, family and friends. The performance was a perfect way to bring down the curtain on 10 weeks of fun and hard work, it was such a positive evening".
If you would like more information about the comedy course, or Ariel Drama Academy, please contact Nicci Hopson on 01444 250407 or www.arielct.co.uk
Megan Roberts in action
All the students
From left to right
Mel Moon, Ryan Scopes, Immy shannaghan, David Candy, Meg Roberts, Nina Razzel, Tom York, Oliver Hopkins, Jarrod Hopson
Date 22nd December 2012
Posted on 22/12/2012
GUYS & GHOSTS
One of our favourite playwrights publishes a new novel
Take an old English manor in an old English village. Add a handful of ghosts, two psychics, a vicar, a curate, a haunted pub and a pig and you have all the ingredients for a funny, quirky tale.
This fast moving and merry novel makes an ideal read, or gift for anyone with a sense of fun who enjoys pure entertainment.
PUBLISHED BY Fiction4All
AMAZON KINDLE BOOKS
West Moors Drama Society|
THE FINISH LINE
The Finish Line - West Moors Drama
Memorial Hall, West Moors
West Moors Drama presented a two act comedy with a new look for their autumn production. It had been written by members Jane Hilliard and Paul A J Rudelhoff. With Jane as producer and Paul as director, each twist and turn of a convoluted plot was thoroughly explored and the local community supported the production whole-heartedly, with a need for extra chairs to seat the audience when this review was done.
The action takes place in a rotting country house (Splendid kitchen set) owned by the eccentric brother and sister Sir Humphrey and Lady Gwendoline, with more than a little help from the domestic staff. Tom Martin has conered the market in bumbling elderly gentlemen and , as Humphrey, he is completely at homw while Anne Tillin is convincing as his sister who has moved on from eccentric into batty.
Enter another sibling, Lady Hester (Anne Maynard does a capable job of playing the schemimg and snobbish woman) while her art dealer friend, Sebastian is cleverly portrayed with subtle touches by Bill Walsh. Maisie the housekeeper is an ideal part for the talented actress Bev Cooper and Cook who lies a drink or several is well captured by Shelagh Rundle, the duo working well together. Into Woodley Manor come three former Olympic atheletes who add the chaos, Titania the Russian with a taste for men (Debbie Butteworth is a ral blonde bombshell) and Alexei - Jeanie Ellis is clever as the androgynous German forger Hans, played with a blonde wig and a confused expression by Mark Austin.
Add a subplot concerning local thief Fingers (Derek Kearsey seems ill at ease) and his step-daughter Brittany - good acting from this bright youngster - and an inspector calling about the cess-pit (great cameo role for Peter Wright) and little ownder that all manner of surprising secrets are revealed.
With so many different facets of the story in this home-grown farce and some
Date 11th November 2012
Banbury Cross Players|
Press Release 208
House Proud - 2012/13 Season Preview
Over 120 enthusiastic theatre-goers were entertained at The Mill Arts Centre on 16 October 2012 at Banbury Cross Players' Season Preview evening. The event (now in it's ninth year) opened with the premiere of The Trench, a moving one act play written and directed by BCP member Steve Hatt, dealing with life in a World War I Trench.
BCP Chairman, Tara Lacey, welcomed the audience and introduced the first of the Season's Directors, Clare Lester, to bare all about the forthcoming November production of Calendar Girls by Tim Firth. Part of country-wide amateur theatre support for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Clare's presentation concluded with a sneak preview of six of the cast. Calendar Girls runs from 23 November to 1st December 2012.
Terry Gallager followed, introducing his production of JB Priestley's An Inspector Calls (BCP spring presentation from 6-9 March 2013). The play, first produced in 1946 and having recently completed a successful West End run and UK Tour, holds the audience's attention from start to finish in gripping thriller fashion.
Andy Crump's amused the audience by presenting each of the unconventional characters in his production of a different kind - Anthony Shaffer's comedy/thriller Whodunnit? (running from 15-18 May 2013). Will it be The Butler who "dunnit"? It's up to the audience to discover!
Liz Riley concluded the presentations with the help of five of BCP's actors performing a short extract of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (Female version) (the summer production running from 17-20 July 2013). The fast-moving comedy will bring Girl Power 1980s-style to The Mill Arts Centre - with a little help from two fun-loving Spanish gentlemen!
The evening concluded with an invitation to the audience to join BCP members on stage for a glass of wine and the chance to get more of the inside story on BCP's 2012/13 Season.
Tickets for all productions are available from the Mill Box Office 01295 279002 or online at www.themillartscentre.co.uk.
For more press information contact Linda Shaw on 07802 301726 or mail'at'banburycrossplayers.co.uk www.banburycrossplayers.co.uk
19 October 2012
Date 19th October 2012
Jane Lockyer Willis
Member of The Society of Women Writers & Journalists.
To see scripts by Jane click here
I trained as a teacher of English, speech and Drama at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama - AGSM LGSM and I'm an Associate of LAMDA. After college, I did some pro acting, amdram and later BBC World Service radio acting (plays) For many years I ran my own company, Speakwell Communications and taught adults speech training and all of that. I have been published main stream: SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS and am part author of THE COMPLETE SPEECHMAKER. I continue to act and now write plays.
ABOUT WEBMASTER PETER
Peter set up and has run DramaGroups.com for a few years now. I was one of the first people to go on his site and just want to say a few words about what he has achieved.
Dramagroups.com is a theatrical haven. Serving as a central site for groups and societies, it has developed and grown over time.
A mine of information, you can advertise shows and auditions; track lyrics; look for props and costumes; find or advertise a script and so on. There is even a 'Swap ideas' section. The site is well laid out and user friendly. It is uncluttered, full of information, attractive and welcoming.
Peter works tirelessly. In my experience he answers emails promptly, is extremely helpful and polite and gets the job done efficiently and as fast as he can. With so many people to deal with, I think this is admirable.
Without sites like Dramgroups.com, amateur theatrical life would be a great deal more difficult. I remember the old days, when one had to search all over for this or that prop, root out prospective actors who were reluctant to take to the boards, and hope to goodness that audiences would turn up on production nights. Now, with this sort of publicity and help, we can find like-minded folk who are only too happy to apply for parts, write plays, produce plays, swap a script or write a lyric etc. And all of this is due to Peter's inventiveness - someone who has recognised the needs of others, so that we can make use of all the varied facilities.
So from me, a BIG THANK YOU PETER for your help, guidance and support.
JANE LOCKYER WILLIS
Date 7th October 2012
Date 16th August 2012
|Trinity Methodist Music and Drama|
|Half a Sixpence - Trinity Methodist Music and Drama - Civic Theatre, Chelmsford|
I had forgotten what a great show this is, a strong story line and some wonderful songs. This show was originally written for Tommy Steele and it is an obvious vehicle for someone of his immense talent. Songs and dances come through thick and fast. The action is unstoppable!
Toby Holland as Arthur Kipps was in no way daunted by following in Tommy's footsteps. He made this role his own, from his first entrance to his last he dominated the stage with his portrayal of the hapless Kipps. Toby's singing voice was one of the best that I've heard on this stage, including the many professional singers that I've heard. He seemed to have strength in his voice in all registers and his rendition of 'What Should I Feel' towards the end of the second Act brought tears to my eyes it was so movingly acted.
In my experience singers so often forget to act while singing, it's as if they step out of character to say 'Now I'm going to sing so I don't need to act'.
Enough about Toby for there were many others in this cast that deserve congratulations. Charoltte Reed as Ann proved a perfect foil for Toby, she too stayed in character the whole time through songs and dances she was 'Ann' always delivering never letting the mask slip.
The 'boys' a trio of Buggins, Sid and Pearce all did their stuff and when singing ensemble blended so well together. A special mention for Mr Shalford (Tony Court) who managed a splendid character and his centre stage apoplexy when confronted by a 'newly rich' Kipps telling him what he thought of him was extremely well done.
I felt a little sorry for Chitterlow (Tony Brett - a super characterisation) for he was overpowered when singing with Kipps - perhaps the sound engineer could have done more to balance the two?
If I have any criticisms at all it would be that the sound was out of balance at times in the duets; the follow spot operator seemed to have gone asleep occasionally as he/she failed to pick up on cues; too often the chorus were asked to dress the stage in lines across and that got to be a bit too predictable and uninteresting at times; In chorus the singing was not quite crisp enough with some chorus members hanging on to notes when others had already stopped singing, sorry but it was very noticeable.
All in all this was a jolly good show and certainly worth the efforts of the cast and crew and the audience went away happy!
Thank you for such good entertainment.
Date 19th May 2012
Date 27th April 2012
|Little Waltham Drama Group|
||Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves|
ALI BABA and the songs of ABBA
Little Waltham Drama Group
at the Memorial Hall
Mamma Mia ! It's a panto packed with Abba hits, re-written to suit the plot of Ali Baba and the four tie thieves.
It's a gem of an idea - not always easy to judge how well it was implemented, since the lyrics were often swamped by the excellent band. What we needed was a few of those 70s hand-held microphones …
The book, by Simon Rayner Davis, was full of fun with money [fittingly] and hoary old chestnuts which kept drummer Colin Turner busy on the boom boom cues. Key to a good panto performer is confidence in the material and complicity with the audience, and it was pleasing to note that some of the most successful here were the youngsters: Hannah Walker as slave girl Morgiana, and Alex Lee as her Abba Baba ["I do, I do"]. In a large cast, space only to mention Reggie Mental Tie [Heather France], Linda Burrows as Rough Ralph, Susan Butler as [One-Eye] Maid Earlier – she had the best pseudonym, too: Duke Aaron Attention. And of course panto recidivist Richard Butler as Mustapha Tinkle.
In a series of splendid frocks, Mike Lee made a really good Rum Baba, with his gravelly Tommy Cooper tones and a good sense of timing [an immaculate pause at the end of the ghost routine]. All the costumes were excellent; the designs too – palm tree proscenium pieces and a lovely picture-book interior .
This unusual Ali Baba was directed by Jenny Broadway and Karen Wray.
Date 15th Jan 2012
|Banbury Cross Players|
||Upton House Success|
A Servant's Day Off
As part of National Trust property, Upton House's, winter programme leading local theatre company Banbury Cross Players presented three 1930s sketches on 10th and 18th of December 2011. The sketches soon caught the eye of the visitors who'd come to take in the stunning house and gardens as they wandered into the Long Gallery and Squash Court. Each sketch was presented three times on both days.
Director Linda Shaw said, "What a thrill to present pieces of the period in their genuine setting. It was like aristocratic street theatre with priceless works of art as a backdrop! Our fourteen actors had an incredible time. Upton House were perfect hosts and we would love to be invited back".
For more press information contact Linda Shaw on 07802 301726 or email Banbury Cross Players.
Date 19th December 2011
|Banbury Cross Players|
Grasshopper meets his friends
James and the Giant Peach
Throngs of happy children descended on the stage at the Mill Arts Centre, Banbury last week at the end of each performance of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, adapted by David Wood.
Invited by Grasshopper to take part in a triumphal march around New York's Central Park, the children came dressed up as one of the insects, Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybird, Earthworm or Spider. The best dressed were presented with prizes by Grasshopper and everyone went back to their seat with a selection of sweets from James.
Oxfordshire schools had been invited to tell children about the performances and many responded. Both matinee performances were sold out but, more importantly, Banbury Cross Players were delighted to have bought live theatre to 300+ children in the county.
Banbury Cross Players’ next production is Agatha Christie's thriller The Unexpected Guest - 22nd - 25th February 2012, 7.45pm.
For more press information contact Linda Shaw on 07802 301726 or email or online
Tickets from the Mill Box Office at 01295 279 002 or online
Date 29 November 2011
|Stewarton Drama Group|
Reviewed by The Evening Times - Stewarton Area Centre - 7th Oct 2011
Lalita Augustine (Evening Times)
IT IS time to go back to the 1970s with big hair, glamorous evening dresses and cheese and pineapple snacks on a stick.
Mike Leigh’s classic stage play, Abigail’s Party, is back, revealing the hilarious antics of Beverly as she puts her guests through an evening of angst, humiliation and cheesy nibbles.
The play has achieved cult status since it was first screened in 1977 and was voted No. 11 in the British Film Institute’s All-Time Top 100 British TV Programmes.
What starts off as a get-together of neighbours quickly turns into an awkward evening of tactless remarks and growing marital strain, as overbearing and garish hostess Beverly plies her guests with cigarettes, alcohol and nibbles (including the now infamous ‘cheesy-pineapple ones’).
Now the Stewarton Drama Group has recreated this classic, with opening night last night and shows tonight and tomorrow.
Beverly will be played by Laura McPherson.
She said: 'Beverly is a great character to play in the theatre - she is such an iconic character and there is lots of fun to be had because she is such an over the top person.
She has been described by critics as quite monstrous and, having got into the play, I can totally appreciate why that is.
She behaves horrendously towards her husband, flirting with another man in his presence, and almost bullying the quieter guest Susan.
It is lots of fun and drama and she is dressed glamorously and over the top.'
Members of the drama group had wanted to put on the production for a number of years, but had to wait until they were granted an amateur licence.
They have gone all out to make sure the set, props, costumes and even the hairdos are all authentic 70s.
Kilmaurs-based Cameron Hair And Beauty were only too happy to show the three female cast members - Morag Smith, Suzie MacLeod and Laura - the authentic 1970s hairstyles for the show.
Linda Wilson, who is president of the drama group, said: 'The hairstyles are so important in Abigail’s Party.
But the end results were just fantastic - the girls in our cast were transformed into true 70s style in less than an hour.'
Morag, a student nurse who will qualify in February next year, plays ditzy, naive nurse Angela.
It has been good fun and the characters of Beverly and Angela are very different.
Angela is in a horrible relationship and there are many people like that. She must know it is not a good relationship because he is quite nasty, but she is just tying to make the best of it.
I am excited but also nervous. It is quite a wordy play and I don’t leave stage, I am on show the whole time. It’s my first time doing a full length play so I am looking forward to it.'
Laura is sure the audiences will enjoy the production and its many themes of failed relationships, career stress and annoying teenagers playing their music too loud.
As a theatre group it is a challenging play to do, but it is also exciting.
Although there is a lot of humour in it, it is quite a dark black comedy and there is the very tragic ending.
At its heart it is about relationships - neither of the two couples in the play are happy. The themes and status in relationships will still apply today.'
Director John Allardice also has a role, playing Angela’s miserable IT analyst husband Tony.
He said: 'More than 30 years after it was first broadcast on television, it is still hard to think of another play that offers such a relentlessly uncomfortable, yet hilarious, take on strained relationships and awkward social situations.
Abigail’s Party has become something of a theatrical phenomenon. It is a beautifully-observed period piece, combining comedy, drama and tragedy - all the ingredients of an iconic piece of theatre.'
|GHOST - THE MUSICAL - Piccadilly Theatre - June 2011|
I hadn't seen the film that this musical play is based upon but my wife gave me a short precis of the plot while we were standing in the bar having a pre-show drink. The Piccadilly Theatre is such a lovely theatre I don't think I've ever found another theatre that beats it for comfort and leg room. We were in the Royal Circle (1st balcony) and had tickets in the front row.
A wonderful vantage point from which to see the show.
I think I must have been in the very small minority of people at that matinee perfoprmance who had not previously seen the film. From overheard conversations going on around me I think most others had and were waiting in eager expectation to see if the special effects from the film could possibly have been replicated on stage.
Let me say from the outset that no one was disappointed.
The set was a marvel of electronic gadgetry, most of which I had not seen before. Cunningly the backdrops were set with what I took to be miniature tv screens on each of which was displayed a small part of the picture intended to be laid before us. Such that we were given backdrops from street scenes to the inside of an office; an apartment; an alley and many more.
All done by displaying a different picture on these hundreds of tiny screens. Magic! Marvellous!
The scene where Sam is shot and killed in the alley by a small time crook was exquisitely timed. An audible gasp went up from the audience when 'Sam' ran after the gunman only for us to look back and see his body still lying on the floor. It was superb stage management, it simply couldn't have been better done.
The same effect was repeated later on when Oda Mae Brown fights with Carl and he ends up running from his dead body. Another gasp from the audience!
How it was that the Ghost of Sam was actually shown walking through a door, such that bits of his body disappeared from my view I still don't really understand. Yet another magic moment.
Enough about the effects or I will give the impression that show was special effects and nothing else - it wasn't! This show has so many wonderful songs. The singing was exceptional; The love making between Molly and Sam was powerful; The two-faced demeanour of Carl was enough to make me dislike him intensely (had it been panto he would surely have been booed!) and Oda Mae Brown and her cohorts brought laughter to the stage.
This show will run and run! It is excellent. The entire audience stood and applauded at the end of the performance and for once I was in the majority when I wiped the tears from my eyes and swallowed the lump in my throat.
A true love story, I shall go to see it again!
|ENCHANTED APRIL - Little Waltham Drama Group - April 2011|
ENCHANTED APRIL - Little Waltham Drama Group - 30.04.11
Elizabeth von Armin's Twenties novel about the restorative properties of the Italian sunshine has been filmed twice, and is now, wouldn't you know, a musical.
This charming Broadway version by Matthew Barber got what may well be its UK première on the tiny Little Waltham stage last week.
Director Mags Simmonds gave it a convincing sheen of authenticity; the first act is all anticipation, in the second we escape to the wisteria and sunshine - a gorgeous backdrop by Liz Willsher - in the entertaining company of a quartet of ladies unable to resist a month in Heaven.
Susan Butler, as Lottie, the instigator of the invitations, shared her enthusiasm with the audience as well as with her contrasting counterpart, the 'disappointed Madonna' poignantly played by Victoria Rossiter. Their travelling companions were brilliantly characterized by Kim Travell as the glamorous, flapperish Lady Bramble, and June Franzen as the formidable Mrs Graves, making the most of every line, every laugh in a memorable performance.
The husbands - Gordon MacSween's humourless lawyer and Brian Corrie's salacious novelist - make the journey to San Salvatore too, to be thawed by the warmth of the Riviera. The maid Caterina was a hilarious Linda Burrow; Ken Little played the doting 'Tonio' whose attentions help the 'grey sisters' to reveal their hidden depths.
The themes of loss, regret, revelation and reconciliation are lightly touched on, and the whole fairytale confection was a delightful divertissement for the last night of April.
|MURDER IN PLAY - WEST MOORS DRAMA SOCIETY - April 2011|
STOUR AND AVON COMMUNITY MAGAZINE
|WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND - CHELMSFORD YOUNG GENERATION - Saturday 16th April 2011 matinee.|
Whistle Down The Wind by Chelmsford Young Generation at The Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford.
I took my wife and daughter to see this play and I had forgotten what a friendly and warm atmosphere is created at The Cramphorn Theatre. A small, intimate theatre. Good seating, nice foyer, friendly staff.
The story is perhaps one most people are familiar with but I for one didn’t know the whole story and for sure my 10 year old knew nothing of it.
The stage was bare apart from a fairly large structure set in the middle and which we discovered later was a stage manager’s dream. It was circular and about 4-5 metres high having three distinct sides which when presented to the audience served as: the outside of the barn and the interior of a church (when dressed with a cross and bunting); the interior of the house, a small dining area; the interior of a barn suitably stacked with old boxes. The stage hands simply swivelled the structure to present the backdrop required for the scene. Very, very clever and well managed.
The cast was enormous and seemed to range in age from about 5 or 6 to late teens. I was very impressed by the way the cast got on and off the stage when required, with barely a hiccup although inevitably there were some minor delays with so many people making their entrances or exits at the same time but all in all very well managed.
I was unfamiliar with the music, which to my ear had no well known pieces and seemed at times to be slightly discordant but I’m sure the keyboard players were following the score correctly and I have to say that with two keyboards they managed to make one believe that there was a full orchestra. My hat comes off to them well done!
The cast, and it’s difficult to remember that they were children and teenagers as they did such a good job, were superbly confident. Not a stumble, not a sign of hesitation were superbly led by Kathryn Peacock playing Cathy Bostock and Monique Crisell and Jack Toland playing Nan and Charlie Bostock respectively. At the performance I saw Bart Lambert played ‘The Man’.
The acting was so good that I can honestly say that I came as near to tears as I ever have in any theatrical performance I’ve seen. My wife and daughter were in tears as were several other members of the audience. I can’t believe that anyone there on that afternoon could have failed to have been moved by the telling of this story.
I must make special mention of Kathryn’s singing. Her voice was so very good, perfect pitch and tone and a seemingly effortless delivery, a future star of the stage I’m sure if that is what she wants to do. All the singing was good although at times some of the other principals were a little strained in holding the notes in a higher register but superb singing overall, I was very impressed.
The ‘Last Supper’ scene, involving ‘The Man’ and the children was subtle and well produced. It was only on reflection and with prompting from my daughter that I realised what was being depicted. It was played with much sensitivity. The fire scene was very well managed and made believable by the smoke and flames effects and once again the depiction of the burned out cross so gently pointed up by the Police Detective was a lesson in stage art.
This was such a good production, with some wonderful performances. Well done to all! I’m already looking forward to my next visit to watch the next Young Gen production.
|OLIVER! - Tarrant Valley Players - May 2010 - by Blackmore Vale Magazine|
LIONEL Bart's hit musical Oliver is deservedly popular with audiences and performers, providing a strong story (based on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist), memorable songs and terrific set piece numbers.
It is a serious challenge for a small amateur dramatic company, but one that Tarrant Valley Players rose to with distinction at the Anne Biddlecombe Hall at Tarrant Keyneston last week.
The huge demands of this sprawling story meant calling in friends, family and new members to fill the stage with singers, dancers as well as the 19 named characters. The story is familiar.
It starts in an orphanage where the venal Beadle Bumble and his grasping soon-to-be-wife Widow Corney rule their young charges with a rod of iron and a diet of gruel.
One boy, Oliver, dares to ask for a second helping, and so begins his dash for freedom that ends up, co-incidentally and dangerously, in the home of his grandfather.
His flight takes him to the home and coffin workshop of the ghastly Sowerberrys and on to the lair of the old miser Fagin and his team of child thieves, where tart-with-a-heart-of-gold Nancy and her murderous lover Sykes hold sway.
The TVP production, directed by Mandy Sheppard and Adrian Tuite, with Sam Ryall as musical director and accompanist, was a triumph.
Clever use of the small stage transformed workhouse to undertakers to London street to slum den to raucous pub almost seamlessly, and if a few things had to be shelved (most notably the Catch Him! Snatch Him! dash before the start of the song Oliver) the storytelling didn't suffer.
There were some stunning performances in this production, which had some doubling up of leading roles.
I saw Adrian Tuite as a terrific Fagin and Beverley Beck as a moving and loudly convincing Nancy.
The cast also included Rob Chalkley as a powerful Bumble and Michael Leggett, truly frightening as Bill Sykes. The ghastly Sowerberrys were played with relish by Tim and Jenny Munford, and their dog Ianto stood in for Bullseye, complete with white patch and convincing growls and barks!
I also saw a touching Amy Kerby and a spirited Emily Bray as Oliver and the Dodger, roles taken by Jessica Norton and Rory Shafford at other performances.
Bart's show is unique in many ways, having a score packed with unforgettable numbers, and providing its company with a vehicle both for ensemble playing and for starring solo roles.
Tarrant Valley Players did it proud, and special mention must be made of Sam Ryall, who not only coaxed fine singing from his company but performed the whole taxing and challenging score from the piano with gusto, delicacy, great variation and skill - no mean feat with a score intended for a full orchestra. GP-W
|CINDERELLA - Little Waltham Drama Group at the Memorial Hall - 18.01.11|
As the Group embarks on its 40th year, they've revisited the first panto they ever did, the classic Cinderella.
Many things have changed - keyboards, lasers - but three members of that original show were involved again this time, and of course the plot and many of the jokes are untouched by progress.
Susan Butler's fun-packed production succeeded not because of the music - though we did appropriately reference Mr Cinders and La Cage Aux Folles - or because of the book. Many of the best laughs came from the busload of Buttons fans in the cheap seats at the back. And from the spontaneous script embroidery which ensued. Inveterate ad-libber Richard Butler met his match this year in Gordon MacSween, [more than a touch of Dame Maggie about that one] a spicy Masala to his dodgy Tikka – tandoori puns were a feature. Another welcome newcomer was Karen Allen, who played a sweet Cinderella, coping coolly with the improvisation around her. Her thigh-slapping Prince, in modest fishnet, was Salley Abrey, Karen Wray was the mentor Fairy Godmother, and Jenny Broadway was a dragon of a Baroness. More classic panto turns from stalwarts Gill Haysham as a daffy apprentice Fairy, Brian Corrie as a doddery Dandini, Ken Little as a brilliantly bashful Buttons, and Glyn Jones as Baron Hardup.
Nothing impoverished about the production though, with the costumes especially stunning. If the transformation scene had to happen out of sight in the car park, we did at least have before and after pumpkins in pride of place either side of the proscenium.
Musical Director was Chrissy Gould – the show's greatest hits were the Uglies' Duet Nobody Does It Like Me, and in an impressive “follow that!” number, Moon River for the Baron, Dandini and the loyal chorus.
|Nine - Ghosts
||Congratulations to the cast and crew of Nine! You were all awesome - it was an amazing show. Click here to read a fantastic review from Sardines magazine.
|The Sorcerer - Bookham Light Opera Society|
BLOS, the Bookham Light Opera Society excelled themselves in an excellent production of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Sorcerer' at the end of October in Fetcham Village Hall. It is not one of Gilbert and Sullivan's better known operas but the company could not be faulted for providing some really good entertainment and the enthusiastic reaction of the audience.
Very often in amateur dramatics the drama lacks pace but it was not so for this production with the lively music and acting. Everybody in the production must be congratulated and there was no lack of talent. The singing and acting were of a high standard with some excellent voices and the stage was alive at all times. Joe St Johanser was an excellent John Wellington Wells with the marvellous 'patter song'. It was reminiscent of the famous John Reed (who only died earlier this year aged 94) and Peter Pratt before him. It is invidious to pick out a single character as there were so many marvellous performances.
The photos tell some of the story and illustrate the enthusiasm of the cast. Selena Hegarty was the conductor maintaining the momentum of the music with John Mortimer on the electric piano.
There really was some talent here and it provided such a good night out - if you want a really enjoyable evening and you like music make sure you look out for their next performance 'Kiss Me Kate'.
photos & article
|Local singers nominated for double award 2010 |
'The Elixir of Love' saw Preston's Charter Theatre transported back to the days of the Californian Wild West as Nemorino fought for the affection of Rachel Ashton's stubborn ranch owner character, Adina.
| Preston Opera, Lancashire||A Lancashire society, which has been bringing opera to the county for over 30 years, has been nominated for two prestigious awards.|
Preston Opera is up for Best Chorus and Best Actress in the annual North West NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) Awards for its recent production of Donizetti's 'The Elixir of Love'.
The show was a big success for the company and the new family-friendly show gave Lancashire's youth an introduction to the fun and exciting world of opera.
NODA representative for the area Christine Hunter-Hughes, who put forward Preston Opera's nomination, said of her decision: "Rachel Ashton was simply a delight to watch - she looked as if she was thoroughly enjoying the role and both her expression and general characterisation was excellent.
"The chorus had really good facial expressions and reacted well as the story unfolded around them. The music was excellent," she said.
The amateur operatic society, which performs two shows in its home town Preston every year, is up against other nominated groups in the county ranging from musicals to plays.
The winners of the NODA NW Awards will be announced next month in a glittering ceremony in Blackpool.
Preston Opera has been a starting point for many professional singers, but it is its chorus that makes it a success, Chairman Geoff Horton says.
"I'm thrilled that we have received these nominations. Rachael's is much deserved, but I am delighted that the chorus is also nominated. It is just reward for the dedication of the whole company and a tribute to our chorus master, Barrie Wright," Geoff said.
"Preston Opera is its chorus. We may work with amazing principal singers, but it's the loyalty and hard work of chorus members that makes this company truly great.
"A review of a professional opera company production in a national newspaper once lamented the fact that their chorus was not of the quality of Preston Opera!
"I think our audiences throughout the years would agree that it is the chorus that is the making of Preston Opera and what enables us to fulfil our aim to bring enjoyment and understanding of this supreme art form to the people of Preston, Lancashire and beyond."
Preston Opera is performing Offenbach's classic story of Hoffmann and his three fantastical loves at The Playhouse next month. 'The Tales of Hoffmann' runs from Wednesday 20th to Friday 23rd October. Reserve your seats at Tickets or call Preston Tourist Information 01772 253731.
|Macbeth - July 22 23 24 2010 - Gadzooks Theatre Company, Plymouth, Devon|
THEATRE folk regard Macbeth as an unlucky play.
No disasters here, though, as directed by Sam Grayston in his fast-paced production.
The play, Shakepeare's shortest tragedy, is notoriously full of pitfalls, but here most of them have been avoided through imaginative solutions.
For instance, the sometimes hard to take Witches are convincingly integrated, the fights are realistic, and the especially tricky sequence of Macbeth's vision of the future is achieved by shadow puppets and a startling eruption through the screen.
There is a carefully executed use of frozen action to emphasise or counterpoint sequences.
The set is multi-purpose, different locations being isolated by lighting, and, except for Lady Macbeth, the costumes are basically the now often adopted rehearsal garb with specific items to personalise characters, plus lethal swords, which get plenty of use.
But central to the production is the relationship between Macbeth and his Lady. Robert Chapman may be a bit young to fulfil Olivier's belief that to play Macbeth successfully "an actor has to be of a certain age in life's experience", but the player inhabited the role as a fervent exploration of ambition and power in a flawed man eager to bolster his resolve by belief in the half truths the witches offer. To this he added a powerful physicality and a command of Shakespeare's poetry without muddying its meaning.
Lady Macbeth mirrors him, indeed outstrips him, in ambition and is clearly the motivating force, more so than the witches.
Jane Grayston is a passionate, single-minded wife, who ultimately cannot cope with the consequences of her actions, and her sleepwalking scene crowns her performance.
Between them there was real chemistry, and their timing was impeccable.
Also notable was Jojo who portrayed a regal but kindly King Duncan, and then followed the Elizabethan tradition of encouraging the company's comedian as the Porter to raise laughter in the groundlings.
In the large cast there were bound to be less convincing performances, but the ensemble and discipline could not be faulted.
A rewarding production of a great play.
Plymouth Evening Herald
|Pack of Lies - 24/04/2010|
Little Waltham Drama put on Pack of Lies by Hugh Whitemore. Surprisingly this production has been put on by several other groups in the area but I only saw this one. I was glad that I went along.
The set on the very small stage a Little Waltham was a master piece of ingenuity. Tardis like in its ability to make us believe that the stage had been extended to accommodate the ground floor of a normal house in 70s Suburbia. Stage left was the living room; stage right was the kitchen / diner; up centre was a hall doorway leading to the front door and the stairs; downstage right was a back door leading to a garden. All these things were on stage but the walls between the living room and kitchen were imaginary as were the wall supposedly at the back of the house; the garden door stood on its own like a sentinel guarding the access to the outside world. Good use was made of the entrances through the hall up to the garden door as if walking up through the garden. The Group had even dressed the wall of the hall stage right with a fence covered in shrubbery - a good touch!
As an audience we soon forgot the absence of walls, our imaginations filled in what we couldn't actually see - a tribute to cast and director that this came off so successfully.
The play takes place in the house of Bob and Barbara Jackson who are visited by Stewart an MI5 man who intimates in a very roundabout way that their good friends and neighbours Helen and Peter Kroger are under suspicion for being linked to 'a man we are watching who always visits this area over the weekend.'
This very clever and well written script explores the stresses and strains that the whole Jackson family, including daughter Julie, come under while accommodating an MI5 watcher in their upstairs bedroom and trying to continue their relationship with the 'best friends' the Krogers.
All the actors played their parts exceedingly well, the few prompts were quickly over forgotten and forgiven. The audience was caught up in the drama and the tension. Even my 9 year old daughter was captured and fascinated by the play.
The director was lucky enough to have Linda Burrow, a real American, play the part of Helen Kroger. Linda was suitably over the top friendly zany American, never once missing a beat in her performance she captured the stage whenever she appeared.
Brian Corrie did an admirable job as Helen's husband Peter Kroger. Brian held his accent throughout and gave that typical American toothy grin and gravel voice that so readily depicts this type of man. He was believable and we believed him.
Barbara Jackson was played by Victoria Rossiter. This was a daunting part which required every emotion to be shown and registered with us the audience and register it did. Vickki was rarely off stage and must have been exhausted by the end. It was through Barbara that we were shown the difficulty the family had in playing the spy. She it was who had to contend with the watchers upstairs while still being openly friendly to the Krogers. She it was whose heart and mind fought each other as she first believed them innocent and then admitted to herself that they were guilty. She it was who was torn apart by these months of playing the spy.
The daughter Julie played very well by Zoe Pearson gave us all the problems associated with teenage hood; the riding of motorcycles with undesirable boys; the excitement of having her room used by MI5; the joy of being young. All this while not knowing that it was Auntie Helen and Uncle Peter that were being spied upon. This revelation at the end broke her apart and she showed this to us.
Martin Final as the MI5 man Stewart gave an understated performance. Quiet, authoritative, devious. He only gave as little information as he could get away with, he left these poor Jacksons in a state of anxiety and quoted the Official Secrets Act in a strangely offhand way that left the Jacksons in no doubt as to which side they were on. Cool and calm at all times - I felt that I wanted to see more of him, I wanted to see the steel of his inner core but that was not to be.
The watchers played by Nicola Ayris and the smaller part by Sue Joyce did a good job and played it simply as people doing a fairly boring job. Apologising for being there in someone else's house, trying to be friendly and in Nicola's case showing that she understood something of what Barbara was going through.
Throughout the performance there were little cameo monologues which the director (Margaret Simmonds) had people deliver from downstage in spotlight. This was very effective, it caught at our attention, made us sit up and listen, a great idea. Never more so than when at the end the Krogers have been wrapped up and taken off to gaol and Bob Jackson come to the front to tell us that some few years later his wife had died from a heart attack - leaving us to believe that it was the strain of the whole episode that brought this about. Such was the strength of this delivery that several people in the audience cried openly.
Who needs the West End when such talent as this can be found on our doorsteps.
|George's Marvellous Medicine - 13/04/2010|
I took my daughter along to see this children's show based on the book by Roald Dahl. Here is her evaluation:
My Marvellous Day.
My Marvellous Day was about going to the theatre. We went to go and see George's Marvellous Medicine on stage. The person that wrote the book was Roald Dahl and adapted for the stage by David Wood. The Director was Phil Clark and the Lighting Designer was Jacqueline Clark. The composer of the music was Matthew Scott, sound designer was Tom Lishman and the puppet master was Roman Stefanski, he was in charge of all the animal puppets. Also George was played by Clark Devlin, Mum was played by Alason Fitzjohn, Dad by Tom Woodman, Grandma by Erika Poole and the Giant Chicken was Jason O'Brien.
My favourite part of the play was when Grandma grew and grew after she drank the marvellous medicine that George had made and her head went through the roof. My other favourite part of the play was when the chicken drank the marvellous medicine and grew then chased George and his Mum & Dad round and round then it laid a giant egg!
Grandma drinks a second cup of medicine and shrinks and shrinks until she disappears. At the end of the play Grandma had the curtains shut and sudenly after Grandma disappeared Grandma's shadow where the curtains were shut appeared and said "I told you I had magic at the end of my fingers but you didn't believe your old Grandma did you?" Then when george opened the curtain she had gone. Also when george put his hands up he said "Today I've touched a new magic world" and lightening came out of his fingers.
I really enjoyed this play. I even got ice cream at the interval. After we went to my Nanny's house and had a lovely dinner.
Chloe Mae aged 9
|The Lady Vanishes - 06/03/2010|
I enjoyed this play but more as a comedy than a suspense thriller. The production failed to make the audience sit up in their seats and wonder what was going to happen next. Perhaps because The Lady Vanishes is an old story that we all know so well. Whatever the reason the cast seemed to sense the lack of drama and played their parts to full comedic effect, where the script allowed.
The train, which formed the backdrop for the majority of the action was very cleverly managed. Three carriages cleverly straddling the stage and occasionally being shunted, really did give the impression of a train moving although the static backdrop of the alps gave lie to that effect. Unfortunately, in ensuring that the train was adequate to the task of providing the backdrop to the story, which of course takes place on a train, the production threw away the hotel scene by having an unbelievable hotel with the most unlikely of bedrooms and foyers. I think the production asked too much of its audience's imagination to find the scene believable at any level. This is where the comedy started with a wonderful italian hotel manager, played entirely for laughs by Terry Molloy who also doubled as the plausible Docktor Hartz.
I went to the matinee performance, which was populated mainly by elderly people and I noticed several grey heads 'nodding' and wives using their elbows to good effect to ensure wakefullness in their husbands.
It was a good laugh and it is undoubtedly a good story that stands the test of time. In this production however the suspense and mystery were entirely missing,
|That'll Be The Day - 15/02/2010|
What a show! I’ve often seen it advertised at our local theatres but never actually been along to see it. It was great! Songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s sung with gusto and charm. The show was littered with comedy sketches backed up by movie footage to highlight the era and to complement the humour. It was all brilliant fun.
The theatre was packed to the rafters and talking with some of my fellow audience members most of them were avid admirers of the show having been several times before and as for myself having now finally experienced and enjoyed the show I shall definitely be seeing it again.
Brilliant take-offs of some of the most well known singers of the era: Cliff Richard; Elvis Presley; Buddy Holly; Little Richard; Mick Jagger; the list was endless and the music was wonderful. Audience participation was invited and encouraged but in no way was this in the style of pantomime this was a glorious review of the decades interspersed with extremely funny and clever sketches and imitations from the very talented performers. I was amazed that the performers managed to switch vocal styles, instruments and costumes with such alacrity and aplomb.
Foot tapping; hand clapping; crazy laughable fun. Next year is the shows 25th year anniversary. I shall definitely be buying a ticket and I would certainly advise anyone else to do the same. A wonderful show long may it continue.
Dunmow Broadcast & Recorder
|Joseph & The Technicolour Dreamcoat|
Dunmow Broadcast & Recorder
|THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Essex Chamber Orchestra at Christ Church 19.09.09|
ECHO was born in 1979, to give musicians from EYO performing opportunities as they turned 21. Thirty years on, it still boasts many of those youngsters, as well as many others who live or work in the county. For this anniversary concert, they chose three popular pieces. First, Weber's overture to Der Freischutz, with its dramatic strings, and of course the huntsmen's horns. John Mills, who played the Britten concerto with the orchestra last year, was back as soloist in the more familiar Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. It was a forthright, fluent performance, with a gripping cadenza in the opening Allegro. Later, a little of the detail was lost in the general enthusiasm [or was it the acoustic ?] but this was an impressive, engaging performance by any standards. After the interval, Saint-Saens great Organ Symphony, with the might and muscle of the orchestra matched by Simon Harvey at the Christ Church Organ. A driven, urgent performance; we were concerned that there might not be enough energy left for the final pages, but Colin Touchin and his considerable forces had strength in reserve, and we were certainly not disappointed. ECHO were led by Suzanne Loze, with Timothy Carey and Alison Eales at the piano.
|Vienna by Candlelight The Locrian Ensemble Civic Theatre 19th September|
Jim Hutchon was in the stalls ...
The Locrian Ensemble transported us from a damp Chelmsford Saturday into the lush Imperial world of Vienna, complete with powdered wigs and tights set in a classical statuary backdrop. But the light-heartedness of the setting, or the jokey anecdotes, fooled no-one, this is a group that is serious about its music and its expression. The Ensemble comes together for these ‘Vienna by Candlelight’ concerts, although all the members are sought after soloists in their own right. They are led by Rita Manning, formerly leader of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Orchestra, who was able to breathe unexpected vibrancy into such pot-boilers as Lehar’s Gypsy Fiddles. Founder and principal raconteur of the Ensemble is cellist Justin Pearson who is also artistic director of the Nationl Symphony Orchestra. The music was a varied selection of quite easy listening, mainly by Mozart, Strauss, Vivaldi and Lehar, although all were performed with a freshness and vivacity which belied their clichéd status. Guest soprano ‘the pocket diva’ Annette Wardell took on three solos with clarity and a warmth of expression, including the fiendish Queen of the Night’s aria from the Magic Flute. Other guest soloists included the very talented Irish harpist Jean Kelly and short sequences from a pair of dance champions, Shaun Christie and Emma Munbodhowa, who performed, of course, immaculate waltzes, as well as rhumba and cha cha. Audience participation was a short lollipop which included burst paper bags to emulate the cannons in a truncated '1812' and an encouragement from the soprano to join in ‘Vilia Oh Vilia’.
|BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM College Players at Brentwood Theatre 18.09.09|
Kate Atkinson's first novel transfers remarkably well to the stage: the story of Ruby Lennox and her dysfunctional extended family makes an absorbing drama in Bryony Lavery's adaptation, which was impressively staged at Brentwood by the College Players. Ruby too clever for her own good is guided by her therapist as she revisits her colourful past. Emma Feeney gave a beautifully observed performance in the role funny, and deeply moving in places, she held the narrative together as it leaped the generations and travelled from Whitby [paradise with Auntie Doreen] to Scotland [hell with the Ropers] via the Trenches and the lost property cupboard of the afterlife. There were many more fine performances in a very large cast Dawn Cooke's blowsy Bunty, and Lindsay Hollingsworth's Grandma Nell, ageing 50 years in an instant. Lauren Bracewell's wondrous production had many memorable, moving moments. The ghosts of York crowding the stage, with the tiny lost sister weaving through them, the layers of memory in the shoeless shoe box, the expressionist fire and the climax on the ice. Music and lighting were effectively used to enhance the drama, set against a palimpsest of peeling wallpaper and family photographs. programme design: James Feeney
|THE MAN WHO WAS HAMLET George Dillon at the Cramphorn 24.09.09|
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, favourite of the Virgin Queen, resident of Hedingham castle. And author of the plays and poems usually attributed to Shakespeare. Or so many of his fans, following the eminent John Thomas Looney, would have us believe. In this fascinating one man show, George Dillon has de Vere come back from the dead to tell his history, pointing up the parallels with the Prince of Denmark, but without explicitly making any claims. The audience are to sit in judgement, it seems, as Edward, like Faustus with one bare hour to live, travels in his mind's eye from Castle Hedingham to Cecil House, from Venice to Verona to Illyria. He paraphrases Hamlet, colourfully insults Sir Philip Sidney on the tennis court, and twice meets the Stratford simpleton who is fit only to hold his horses. We meet Lord Burghley, Arthur Golding, the pope in Rome, George the clown, as well as the Virgin Queen and the 16th Earl, his father, whose death unhinged the boy. A clever conceit, compellingly delivered, with Dillon's clear diction encompassing bleeding chunks of the canon, cod Shakespeare and modern asides. The anachronisms were effective - I was less happy about the solecisms - maybe a script editor ? The piece was directed by Denise Evans, with music by Charlotte Glasson. It may not make Oxfordians of us all, but we may well wonder, with Bernardo, 'Is not this something more than fantasy !. O God! What a wounded name, Things standing thus unknown, I leave behind me! In this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story!'
|PHOENIX98fm YOUNG CLASSICAL MUSICIAN 2009 at the Brentwood Theatre 26.09.09|
Edward Wellman, who presents the Monday classical music show on Phoenix, was master of ceremonies and accompanist for this, their first ever Young Classical Musician competition. The nine finalists we heard made up a varied and entertaining programme. There were three pianists, playing a barely adequate instrument: Sasha Millwood, who gave us a spectacular sequence of Chopin and Rachmaninov, William Church, who followed a poised Bach Prelude and Fugue with a solemn Brahms romance. The youngest pianist, Jack Angell, was in many ways the most engaging, with his brief set of a Bach menuet, a Carnival Elephant and a cheeky Top Cat. Sam Hayday, cornet, played one of those showy variations brass players love, while the overall winner on the night, flautist Sarah Woollatt, from the Ursuline School, played a movement from Reineke\'s Undine. Even Classic FM don't play musical theatre, but for some reason all the vocalists sang numbers written with a big voice and a microphone in mind. By far the most successful was Rosie Bloom, confidently delivering a number from Phantom. A great strength of the evening was the panel of judges - Michael Frith, Benjamin Grosvenor and Philippa Penkett, who gave instant feedback and advice to the young competitors. Breathe, don't be afraid to ham it up, and wear a dress that covers your trembling knees
|Chitty Chitty Bang Bang August 2009|
Dunmow Broadcast & Recorder
|Guys and Dolls March 2009 at the Kings Theatre|
Julie Petrucci reviews NOMADS’ production of Guys and Dolls in March 2009 at the Kings Theatre. This review first appeared in Combinations, the amateur drama newsletter issued by Combined Actors of Cambridge. Based on Damon Runyon’s short story 'The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown,' Guys and Dolls centres round Nathan Detroit, the organizer of the oldest permanent floating crap game in New York, bets Sky Masterson that he can’t make the next girl he sees fall in love with him- this is Miss Sarah Brown of the Save-a-Soul Mission. Meanwhile, Nathan’s long-term fiancée and the main attraction at the Hot Box nightclub – Miss Adelaide, only wants to get married. In the end the gamblers and 'spunky do-gooders' are thrown together and a few changes are made. Never short of talented performers NOMADS fielded a strong team of principals with AMANDA ALDRIDGE as Sarah Brown and JAMIE MAGUIRE as Sky Masterson: excellent empathy between the two led to some good sparky scenes coupled with great acting and singing. TIM McCORMICK made an excellent Nathan Detroit with opposite number CHARLOTTE MARTIN putting in a feisty performance as his long-suffering fiancée Miss Adelaide. Both actors had a great feel for the humour of their roles. ADAM BONNER gave a notable performance as Nicely-Nicely Johnson - good voice and great stage presence and it was good to see Alan Coogan (Harry the Horse) and Wallace Wareham (Arvide Abernathy) treading the boards again after a much too-long-a break for them both. The success of this show depends as much on the male chorus as it does on the principals. NOMADS had a large and talented male chorus for this production and their two major numbers Luck Be A Lady and Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat were excellent. Great voices and confidently executed choreography by Jessica Clifford and Andy Thorpe made these scenes stimulating. The men were balanced nicely by the lively Hot Box Girls with two very energetic numbers A Bushel and a Peck and Take Back Your Mink. Added to this we had the enthusiastic input of the members of the Mission Band rounding off this talented cast nicely. Despite having lost their musical director SIMON PEARCE a couple of days before opening night when he suffered a heart attack (from which, I understand, he is recovering well), the cast pulled out all the stops and did director GAIL BAKER and Simon proud with a great production which played to packed houses all week and deservedly so.
|The Lady in the Van March 2009 at the ADC Theatre|
Julie Petrucci reviews BAWDS’ production of The Lady in the Van in March 2009 at the ADC Theatre. This review first appeared in Combinations, the amateur drama newsletter issued by Combined Actors of Cambridge. Not everyone could cope with an eccentric old lady living in a battered van in the drive of their home for fifteen years but that is what writer Alan Bennett did: and he documents his very odd long-term relationship with “Miss Shepherd” and the frustrating and hilarious encounters with neighbours, doctors and the social services in his diaries. Bennett has now turned these anecdotal diary notes into a stage play which I didn’t feel worked as well as I had heard it did. It is probably sacrilegious of me given the great esteem in which Alan Bennett is held by people, myself included, to say it but I personally feel the play is wordy, at times repetitive, and definitely over-long. The evening was saved for me by the way Bawds met the challenge of this play: which they did marvellously well. They provided a visually stunning set with a mesmerising backcloth (painted by students of Anglia Ruskin University’s theatre design course) and a fantastically believable van which even changed colour! (courtesy of Tony Broscomb and the Penguin Club). The lighting, sound and props were excellent and costumes just right. Under Richard People’s firm directorial hand the acting was beyond reproach Barry Brown and Dave Foyle as the two Alans were totally believable and, much of the time, worked as one. In fact Barry Brown gave such a realistic impersonation of Bennett’s voice it was quite spooky. Rosemary Eason was a stunning success as Miss Shepherd: the thought which had gone in to the characterisation and clothing (especially the hats and socks) was impressive. The ten other very minor roles were played with confidence by good strong actors adding to the overall strength of the acting. Whilst there was much to commend from the production point of view sadly, for me, the play itself did not live up to expectations. Visit the BAWDS group record for more information about this group.
|Rebecca December 2008 at the ADC Theatre|
Colin McLean reviews BAWDS’ production of Rebecca in December 2008 at the ADC Theatre. This review first appeared in Combinations, the amateur drama newsletter issued by Combined Actors of Cambridge. Few adaptations of famous novels can have enjoyed such immediate and lasting success as Rebecca. With this production BAWDS showed us just how enduring that appeal is, for this was a treat of an evening. This production was very much the sum of its parts for every aspect contributed to its effectiveness and memorability – the strength of the performances, the assured direction, the striking stage design and wardrobe, imaginative lighting and perfectly matched sound, indeed down to individual properties and the programme itself. Attention to detail paying off handsomely indeed. It is worth recalling that two of the principal characters are never seen, namely Rebecca herself, of course, and the sea. In the novel, and here on stage, the sea is a subtly menacing presence and this for me was one of the evening’s triumphs. The play opened strongly, driven in particular by Steph Hamer’s pacy and admirably strident Beatrice Lacy, and we were drawn immediately into the action. Mike Milne, as Giles Lacy, had some richly comic moments (not least of all when dressed for the ball) and David Brown’s Frith was a very well-judged adjunct to the various visitors and comings and goings at Manderley. He seemed perfectly suited to his environs. So too did Alice, Catherine and Robert (Christine Easterfield, Katie Charles and David Hazelhurst); often appearing to be part of the background. Deftly handled. By the time the principals appeared we were very well set in the milieu. Frank Crawley (Colin Laurence) provides a vital link to the Rebecca era at Manderley and his striking performance was etched with wistful memory of happier, easier times. It fell to Angela Chatterton, as the redoubted Mrs Danvers, to bring Manderley’s brooding past into the present, a task she achieved with formidable skill. When Maxim and Mrs (notably bereft of a Christian name) de Winter reach Manderley we are ready for things to be less than easy, and so they prove. Both Julian Cooper and Alexandra Fye made these complex characters, with their shallowly-rooted marriage, come fully to life. Very strong individual performances combining to form a wholly convincing, ill-matched and, surely, fated couple. They both deserve great credit for maintaining our fascination in what is, by modern standards at least, a play that is overlong by perhaps as much as half an hour. The irrepressibly caddish Jack Favell (a gift of a part, duly and admirably seized upon by Guy Holmes) adds a further note of discord to the plot. Hugh Mellor and Rosemary Eason (Colonel and Mrs Julyan) brought their considerable talents to the latter stages of the play – indeed, Colonel Julyan adds to the enigma at the close itself. To what extent he is complicit in any “cover up” is uncertain but may certainly be surmised. Both Sandra Bimie (Mrs Fortescue-Coleman) and Andrew Shepherd (William Tabb) added further assured realism to the storyline and in particular to the denouncement. The deft hand of the director, Lyn Chatterton, was visible throughout and the naturalism and conviction of the story owed huge amounts to her. Once again, a feast for the eye and a triumph of invention too, Tony Broscomb’s set was another huge contributor to this undoubted success. The individual costumes were so well suited to the characters as to be almost taken for granted – the sure sign of lots of very hard work at the planning and execution stages. Further congratulations to Ed Hopkins, Graham Potter and tireless efficient Penguins. What a way to mark the splendidly revamped ADC Theatre. All involved should be reflecting on a very fine close to the BAWDS’ 2008 season - another feather in their cap indeed. Visit the BAWDS group record for more information about this group.
|All Shook Up May 2008|
Dunmow Broadcast & Recorder
|Little Bo-Peep Feb 2008|
|Dick Whittington Jan 2008|
The Weekly News Review by Michael Gray
Always a seasonal treat to travel to Little Waltham for their traditional village panto. And this Dick was one of the best of recent years.
Beautifully painted sets, a good band, two classic routines impeccably done, plus ripe rhyming couplets and reality TV, all directed by the sure hand of Susan Butler.
A strong cast was led by stalwarts Richard Butler and Gill Haysham. It was a pleasure to watch them work off each other and the volatile matinee house: the front-cloth banter leading up to 'A You're Adorable' was pure magic.
Sable Corrie purred and preened inside a wonderful costume as Tommy; her foe King Rat was Mike Lee, also magnificently dressed as a rodent Goth. Steve Buscall blustered nicely as the Captain, with Andy Walker as his first mate.
Our level-headed, thigh-slapping hero was Sue Joyce, with Lisa Jones charming as Alice and the inimitable Glyn Jones as her father. And a special word for Karen Wray, promoted from follow-spot to Fairy at four days' notice.
I liked the running gags - throwing painful missiles into the wings - though we could have had more groanworthy jokes, and local references.
The Weekly News did get a mention, as did sponsors the Rose and Crown, where we had an excellent Sunday lunch before the show.
Small Miracle at the Mercury by Neil D’Sonza - June 2007
Six of us went to the Mercury recently and saw the above. Here are two different views of the play.
The scene: A rundown caravan park attached to a religious shrine in rural Ireland.
The Characters: A dysfunctional ‘family’ consisting of mother and 13 year old daughter – Irish, the mother’s boyfriend – Indian and his elderly mother.
Mix in family rows, mysterious phone calls to the dead and a “miracle” which turns the ailing mother into a feisty woman who starts a relationship with the park’s manager, much to the horror of her son.
The second Mercury production staged by placing three banks of seats on the stage fitted this space beautifully. The direction and acting were brilliant. I especially loved the music which merged Iris and Indian together and was accompanied by snatches of dances to match.
There were funny moments and poignant moments but the play as a whole didn’t work. The ending however was intriguing.
After seeing four magnificent productions this was a disappointing end to the season.
The title of Neil D’Souza’s play gives nothing away. When I came out at the interval someone asked me ‘What do you think?’ and I had to answer honestly ‘I don’t know’. Indeed, from what we had seen in the first half, the play could as easily been called ‘Family at War’ or ‘The Battle of Cultures’ or ‘Five Characters in Search of a Story’!
We had an Irish Janitor of a ‘certain age’ in charge of a site of religious significance and its dreary camping site (for pilgrims of course) in Knock. ‘Holidaying’ there were an Irish mother with her Anglo-Indian boyfriend, who has brought along his indomitable mother and a zany (loony?) daughter (though it was never clear to me whether this was ‘their’ daughter or just ‘her’ daughter).
The rebellious teenage daughter is in a world of her own, with her own ‘field of dreams’ and Joan of Arc voices. Her mother wants to get her to a psychoanalyst in Galway. The Anglo-Indian boyfriend is trying to ride the impossible rocky road between pleasing his Irish girlfriend and his Indian mother at the same time. The girlfriend tries to please the Indian mother, but is unable, and no doubt unwilling, to adopt the Indian family values where only the mother can criticise her son! Indian family ties are very strong whereas in English and Irish culture these have become less and less so. So we have mother and daughter (Irish) and mother and son (Indian) culture and religion conflicts. However, to return us to sanity (or is it insanity?) the janitor seems only to be worried about a blocked toilet throughout a good part of the play!
Definitely better in the second half, ‘Small Miracles’ was billed as a comedy-drama with a warning of ‘strong language’. Certainly there were ‘laugh aloud’ flashes of humour, sometimes where the ‘strong language’ from an unexpected quarter heightened the humour! It was dramatic at the end - an ending not to be disclosed in case anyone decides to see the production on tour at the Tricycle Theatre in London – however, I don’t think that I will be one of those.
I was too mean to buy a programme so I have no idea who the Mercury Theatre Company players were, but was particularly impressed by the Indian mother (who I think may have appeared in the film ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’) and the Irish mother. I loved the ‘postcard’ set (‘Greetings from Knock’) with its working caravan.
Marks? Probably five out of ten!
Bookshop dreams fade in comedy
HAYWIRE, Little Waltham Drama.
HAYWIRE, an undemanding comedy from sitcom-meister Eric Chappell, tells the sad tale of Alec [Graham Pipe] who lives over his bookshop, and dreams of romance in Marbella with his glamorous assistant Liz [Sue Walker].
But fate and his family conspire y against him. His aged mother checks her¬self self out of Summer End, his wife buys a needy puppy, his daughter turns up heavily pregnant, his son with crutches and a gangrenous ankle.
Mr Pipe did a nice line in manic exasperation, well supported by Sue Walker as his slightly annoying, stridently Sibylline bit of stuff.
Wendy Padbury-Clark was his long suffering but suspicious spouse, Adam Joyce his laid-back, smirking son, Lisa Jones his feisty daughter.
Some of the loudest laughs went to Sable Corrie as the interfering old body with support stocking and a coarse cackle.
Will Maggie catch the bus to the bulb fields? Will Alec make Hay-on-Wye while the sun shines? Whatever happened to raffia?
Glyn Jones’s polished production was enthusiastically received by a loyal audience; the crazy climax of the third scene was especially well crafted.
Michael Gray - Weekly News
|The Queen of Hearts|
Weekly News : Thursday January 25th 2007
“A hearty sing song”
Little Waltham Drama Group
You can whip through the nursery rhyme plot of “Queen of Hearts” in a couple of minutes, and they did.
But John Richardson’s magpie adaptation pinched characters, plotlines and settings from all sorts of pantos, and
had his hard-working cast break into song at the least excuse.
Amongst the songs broken into were ditties from Dodd, O’Shea and Dubonnet (Wilson, Keppel and Betty not being
available), and the walkabout music this year was Joplin, with the promising Richard Stephens
at the upright. There was also a magnificent irrelevant “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”
Impossible to do justice here to the two dozen named characters, including two game old Phoenix Birds as the Ugly Sisters, two
comedy foreigners as the Brokers’ Men, of whom I would have liked to have seen a bit more, and four excellent juveniles who sang a catchy “Friends” number.
Gareth Blanks enjoyed himself hugely as a ruddy Captain Hook and Abanazer, duetting
memorably with Chrissie Gould’s Twankey. Sable Corrie made a suave Ali Baba, while Margaret Chung was a frustrated fairy.
Brian Corrie played the tart-obsessed King with Karen Wray as his Gilbertian Queen, and the dependable Jim Bell
as the Knave – not guilty on this occasion.
The script had more twists than groans this year, but it was all great fun, and I liked the story-book scenery, and the Murder She Wrote MC
detective who just about pulled the plot together.
The Odd Couple - LWDG - Memorial Hall, Little Waltham (27/04/2006)|
The first thing to say, VERY LOUDLY, is WHAT a difference a good play makes.
Little Waltham Drama Group's choice of "The Odd Couple" in the version written for a predominantly female cast, was positively inspired. Although the play actually dates from 1965, and has been re-cycled in various forms over many years, it still stands up as ajolly good evening's entertainment, crackling with wit, humour and human insight, - and what is more the text provides a steady stream of good lines for everyone of the cast.
I did harbour some initial doubts about how six women would deal with the American accents, and Simon's very distinctive New York/Jewish brand of fast wise-cracking one-liners, but the moment they opened their mouths I knew they were up to the pace.
This was a very enjoyable evening, one of the best I have enjoyed this season,_and my_impressions were confirmed by a happy buzz throughout the full-house audience.
Direction was in the hands of Mags Simmonds, who also directed the Group's two previous Spring productions. Here again it was clear that she had paid enormous attention to detail, in the way she grouped the ladies so naturally but yet always with their faces clearly visible to the audience. The Trivial Pursuit game in the first act carried on with the rapport and camaraderie of long custom seemed the most natural occupation in the world as a background to the main action.
Each lady was very clearly an individual, and each had plenty of good lines making this a really well balanced ensemble. The arrival of the hysterical hypochondriac Florence was greeted by each of them with a varying if typical reaction.
Everything changes after Olive has impulsively offered to share her flat with Florence. Relationships are strained all round, as Florence is clearly irritating everyone. The differing reactions of the six ladies are beautifully handled, from indignation, and plain exasperation, to Florence's air of injured innocence - which of us has not been driven to the brink of murder by someone else's well intentioned fussing.
J.W. North West Essex Theatre Guild
Guys & Dolls - CAODS - Civic Theatre, Chelmsford (01/04/2006)
What a great musical. It was a pleasure to be reminded of the story and the wonderful songs. Sky Masterton, Miss Sarah, Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide. A strong cast, with strong acting, dancing and singing. A temptation by the actors, no doubt under direction, to constantly move around, presumably to fill this glorious stage, did nothing to detract from the fast paced action of this piece, which left the audience, let alone the cast, breathless with the sheer vigour of the performance. Miss Adelaide particularly is to be congratulated on a superb performance. The manner, accent, look, all held throughout the performance to perfection. Another triumph for this most professional amateur group.
The Gruffalo - Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Take your children to see this how when it's on near you, that's my advice. A lovely story, a cross between fairy tale and pantomime the cast had the audience (Mums and Dads as well as kids) spellbound. A simple story of an adventurous mouse who braves the deep, dark forest and frightens Fox and Owl with tales of an outlandish imaginery creature called the Gruffalo. Imagine how mouse is surprised when suddenly the Gruffalo appears threatening to eat her for a tasty snack. Good fun, music, song dance and a great story.
Robinson Crusoe - Weekly News Review - Little Waltham
Pantomime at Little Waltham has a long and honourable tradition. All credit to them, this year, for launching an almost untried cast and a new look. Mind you, many of the old hands were on the production team - not only Producer Glyn Jones and Director Peter Travell, but John Richardson and Kim Markwood too. Rehearsals must have seemed like master classes in the ancient art of panto ...
The show was Robinson Crusoe: an anonymous opus, but a long way after De foe. The patchy script had a good few groans, and lots of the old favourites - opening chorus, slapped thighs, Busy Bee.
The choreography was economical but very effective - Sailing, for instance, reprised in a lovely stage picture just before the interval, or the hand-to-hand combat.
The crew of the Mary Rose included Jim Bell's imposing Captain, and Ken Little's cheeky Kenny Crusoe, in a splendid harlequin-inspired costume. Bill Piggott was a shrill Camilla, but interacted well with the audience and was not shy of attacking the lines. Equally effective was Gareth Blanks as a bombastic pirate. An impressive double act from Sable Corrie and Brian, nicely timed and pitched just right - they had a lovely Red Peppers duet in Act Two. Billie Bond was a strong Principal Boy, with Katie Norris as the object of his affections. And a quick mention for Richard Thomas and Adam Joyce in telling cameos.
Richard Langstone was at the keyboard.
Beauty and the Beast review - By Alison Woollard - Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Newpalm Productions have once again produced this year's panto at the Civic Theatre. Our reviewer Alison Woollard has been to along to see the show.
The Civic's pantomime looks very stylish this year with the clever use of backdrops creating an impressive beast's castle. It's also traditional: Zach Vanderfelt revels in the role of the evil sorcerer and Evelyn McLean provides a spirited and rather bossy good fairy who gets everyone organised. Jenny McGrath is also strong as Beauty and puts more characterisation into this panto heroine than usual. There's the wallpaper slapstick scene and a couple of funny comic songs from the whole cast. The Civic always make good use of the local dancing school and both the teenagers and the tiny tots made the most of their costumes and dances.
What makes this show a little different is the actual story because the love between Beauty and the beast is more complicated and takes longer to develop than in most pantos. The love story was sincerely acted and Chris Middlebrook managed to look dignified even in his evil beast costume.
Faithful to the traditions of panto and done with style.
Cinderella review By Alison Woollard - Harlow Playhouse
Cinderella is this year's panto at the Harlow Playhouse. Reviewer Alison Woollard has been to along to the show.
Philip Dale and Michael Fentiman have come up with another cracking show. It's got all the traditional elements but plenty of heart and style as well.
At two and a half hours it's noticeably shorter than previous Harlow pantos and it zips along at a cracking pace too.
What really comes over is the warmth and enjoyment of all the performers from the main characters to the tiniest tot in the dance routines. The costumes are gorgeous, the dancers energetic and precise and the ponies are real. There were lots of inventive touches to keep everyone involved: The good fairy appears in a shower of pink bubbles, the ugly sisters are preceded on their first entrance by a rush of men in boxer shorts scrambling to get away from them and there was a really sweet dance from the children in the chorus dressed up as grannies and performing with their zimmer frames - yes, it is stolen from the current West End production of The Producers, but stolen with wit and warmth.
Christmas magic for everyone.
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs - Cliffs Pavilion - Review by Alison Woollard
Husband and wife, Sam Kane and Linda Lusardi, feature as the wicked step-mother and the handsome prince in this years Panto at the Cliffs Pavillion.
This production often looks like the Disney film with Snow White wearing the traditional apron and puffy sleeves and the dwarfs' cottage looking just as cute. The lighting and music are similarly glossy and tend to project a 'show biz' atmosphere unlike some of the more individual productions elsewhere in the county.
Husband and wife team, Sam Kane and Linda Lusardi feature as the wicked step-mother and the handsome prince. They both give 'star' performances and replace the traditional evil genie and principal boy.
Other 'names' in the cast are Gary Beadle and Kev Orkian. There's a lot of business related to their work outside the panto and I was really aware of them being personalities rather than playing actual roles in the story. The mirror works very well as special effect and some of the dancing is excellent.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Cliffs Pavilion - 12th-17th September 2005
What a great show. If you've ever watched the Hollywood film and ever worried about how it could ever translate to the stage, worry no more. This production fills the stage with energy. The dancing and singing is superb. The production numbers simply rip up the stage while the songs are alternately sweet and brash but always brilliantly sung. The only note of concern I had with the entire show was with the stage management, which saw scenery being moved unnecessarily during songs, curtains in the wings being flapped aside by performers. That apart and I know it's picky, the show is one to go and see there's nothing to beat it.
An Evening of Swing - Little Waltham Drama Group - Memorial Hall Little Waltham - 20th-23rd July 2005
As the Sammy Cahn song reminds us, you've either got or you haven't got style.
Little Waltham troupers have that style in spades and last week's visit to their "Premier Nightclub" was a vintage treat.
Rat Pack pics adorned the walls; the stage was a glitzy Fifties bar, all chrome and cocktaol glasses.
The music too, took us back with solos, duets, sextets and choruses from the era of radiogram.
How well these numbers translate to a choral setting; how we miss the Mike Sammes Singers.
Among the highlights were a powerful Mack the Knife, the EmCee and the waitresses hoofing through Putting on the Ritz, an atmospheric version of One for My Baby, and a superb Lady is a tramp from the show's producer, the inimitable June Newman.
The quartet in the pit gave strong support, with the all important sax to the fore.
It certainly made a change from the Magic of the Musicals and the village audience, seated cafe-style round tables, loved every minute.
Jane Eyre - by Charlotte Bronte adpated by Constance Cox - Palace Theatre Southend - 11th-16th July
A super play and a wonderful adaptation of this classic. The whole show literally moves with emotion. The world weary, angry Rochester (Peter Amory) and the innocent but strong Jane Eyre (Sarah Mowat) set the audience simmering with the heat of their emotions.
As the story unfolds we see the depth and breadth of character with a whole host of emotions chasing each other across the footlights keeping the audience rapt and spellbound as we first dislike and then feel sympathy for this most dislikeable of gentlemen. But through all his anger and abruptness there is an innate goodness and modesty in Rochester which was shown with remarkable candour should you care to look beyond the facade of the weary, hard done by youngest brother.
Jane too starts as a little innocent abroad who would not say boo to a goose but very soon we see her mettle as she stands up to Rochester and earns his respect, much to his surprise.
At the end of Act I they confess their love for each other after he has tried unsuccessfully to send her away. The wedding date is set and all is joyful although there is some fearful secret of which Jane is unaware. The mad woman in the West Wing, who made not enough of an appearance in my view, was the fly in the ointment, as she had to be. The sudden appearance of the lawyer Briggs (Bruce Montague) and Mason (Phil Gerrard) put the proverbial 'spanner in the works' and with the marriage abandoned Jane flees in order to preserve their honour. A fire brought about by Rochester's mad wife brings an end to herself and disfigures and maimes him. So he is now free to marry but unable to think of himself any longer as eligible. Jane haunts his every moment he calls out her name in his agony and grief. Across the miles which separate them Jane hears him and returns. She is shocked to find him in such distress and expecting her to refuse he summons his courage and asks her to marry him once again.
To his undeniable surprise she agrees and in the final emotional scene he clings to her like a drowning man.
This play really is a two hander with not much else going on with the exception of the housekeeper Mrs Fairfax (Katie Evans) who keeps the story moving along filling the gaps and laying out the story in a quiet, serene way. This role is underrated and overlooked but essential to the plot and was played superbly by Katie Evans.
Peter Amory and Sarah Mowat are to be congratulated an their performances. They brought such humanity and sincereity to the story that the audience in some cases were hard put not to join them in shedding a tear.
Go and see this play when it tours near you. It's well worth the price of the ticket.
Peter Travell (LWDG)
Daisy Pulls It Off - Bishops Stortford Girls High - 7th-9th July 2005
When it was announced at the end of the show that the cast had only 6 weeks to put this whole show together from start to finish the audience were amazed.
What a good show. What confidence these young performers showed. The whole thing from start to finish was simply wonderful.
From the girls of the chorus, giving us a simple understanding of the plot line, to the tap and 'hot water bottle' dancers, not forgetting the singers, who had themselves and us in stitches, the production simply burst with energy.
The 'actors' were great, the acting and characterisation consistent. Concentration at times slipped here and there with a few cues and ringing of bells missed or delayed but nothing impaired the show itself. Special mention must be made of Daisy Meredith (Phillipa Hogg) who as well as having a horrendous number of lines also showed that she can play piano and sing, a true talent. Her erstwhile sidekick Trixie Martin (Bethanie Mitchell) showed thoughout the presentation at the end of the show, for which she played Master of Ceremonies, that in real life she has the confidence and aplomb that she dispayed on stage in character. One last person to pick out as being immensely larger than life, gving the audience someone to laugh with and applaud with was Mr Scoblowski played by Camilla Akers complete with black beard and moustache. This girl brought the house down. She played the audience like a virtuoso never once coming out of character and with the ability to convey feeling and emotion without words. No easy thing.
A very enjoyable evening all round. Well done girls, well done school. I look forward to the next production.
Peter Travell (LWDG)
Lesley Garret in Concert - Cliffs Pavillion Westcliff - 18th June 2005
Stunning, glamourous with a voice to die for.
This sums up the wonderful performance and show put on by Lesley Garrett at The Cliffs Pavillion. Ably backed by The London Symphonia and playing to a packed house she charmed, stirred and shook us until we were left breathless and dizzy with sheer magnificence of her performance.
Songs from Opera, from Shows, hymns and music written especially for her. She never failed to move us with her wonderful voice, exercising a level of range and control which left me open mouthed in admiration.
Couple all this with her showmanship, her ease with the audience while she regaled us with anecdotes and the stunning costumes, of which there were many, showing off her very shapely figure and we have an evening which no one could argue was anything less than magnificent.
Lesley will be touring with the Welsh Opera in a production of The Merry Widow. Don't miss it!
Peter Travell (LWDG)
Carousel (Rodgers & Hammerstein) - Trinity Methodist Music & Drama - 10th - 14th May 2005
This most enjoyable musical play, full of character with some of the most wonderful songs was staged at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford. The sets were lavish the costumes lush and the music wonderful under the auspices of the Musical Director and Conductor Gerlad Hines
The opening of the play left a little to be desired. The overture was set against a backdrop of people at the fair. Unfortunately, it went on a little too long and while the chorus made every effort to entertain with various antics the audience became restless and willed it to end and the story proper to start.
Overall the production lacked pace with far too many meaningful silences and gestures that translated into embarrasing pauses where we weren't sure whether a prompt was required.
Billy Bigalow (Brian Lovell) lacked the stature and hardness to make a serious fist of the part and his singing voice was sometimes too gentle for the part. However, he made a most complete job of 'My Boy Bill' and in the final scenes the tragedy of his love for his wife and daughter were most poignant.
Julie Jordan once again lacked the singing voice for this part, although she played the part most demurely and made a very nice picture with Billy in their scenes together.
Deborah Anderson was a convincing Carrie. A fine actress, always in character, with a fine singing voice, very well complemented by her partner Enoch Snow (Derek Lee)whose fine tenor voice made the most of the most wonderful songs.
Mrs Mullins played by Jacqui Tear had the most delightful voice, carrying such fine songs as June is Bustin' Out All Over with such style and charisma that we could ignore the sometimes awkward choreography of the chorus and the finale number of You'll Never Walk Alone carried such warmth and emotion that several members of the audience were brushing tears from their eyes.
All in all a jolly good show redeemed by some of the best musical numbers to come out of Broadway. Always worth seeing, this show remains one of the best on offer.
Peter Travell (LWDG)
Pushing aside all superstitions, it being Friday the 13th! Peter, Billie, Karen and I went to see our own Fleshcreep, (Gareth Blanks) in Carousel at the Civic theatre in Chelmsford. Though a little slow in places (not in any scenes with Gareth though!!) costumes and singing were lovely! I resisted temptation to wave a football scarf over my head when they sang You’ll Never Walk Alone!
When We Are Married - Stone Street Players
A few of us recently supported member Brenda Wilkinson when she appeared as Maria Helliwell in the Stone Street Players production of "When we are Married." They are a Halstead based group and perform in the Empire Theatre, Halstead. We envied them their wide stage and very comfortable theatre seats. Like many amateur groups they experienced a crisis one week before production, a cast member was taken into hospital and someone had to step in to take on the role of Henry Ormoroyd, the photograper. He did a marvelous job even managing to appear on stage without a script. We also noticed that Jayne Tarbun a past member of L.W.D.G. was the prompt. Good to see she's still active in amateur dramatics.
June Franzen (LWDG)
Season's Greetings - Little Waltham Drama Group - 27th to 30th April 2005
SEASONED WITH GREAT TALENT
Alan Ayckbourn’s deceptively simple comedy about a Christmas family gathering is actually a thinly-veiled comentary on a family’s descent into meltdown. In Little Waltham Drama Group’s production, director Mags Simmonds catches the mood and tempo exactly right – a Christmas where all the emotions boil over. She is assisted in this by a talented and disciplined cast. They worked well together to maintain high-octane pace and believable characters.All the key memorable spots were spot on and delivered with great timing, the very funny flying pigs puppet show, the groping under the Christmas tree and the line-up on the stairs.
Martin Final is perfect as the zealous old bigot with wild eyes and gun, who shoots the hapless writer, Richard Butler.
Jenny Broadway has a superb play, journeying from drunken hypochondriac to alluring femme fatale.
Her husband, the failed doctor and puppeteer, is played with earnest forlorness by Mike Lee.
Simon Tolliday and Susan Butler are the failed couple, there to make their friends feel good, and the way Susan dealt with the role was real, pathetic and funny.
For me Billie Bond as the wife seeking love as an escape from a humdrum existence, really is the business. She captivated the stage whenever she appeared and was the pivot upon which the play turned.
Jim Hutchon - Weekly News.
Far Pavilions - Shaftesbury Theatre 2005
The Show that Never Was!!!
Having read the promotion material for the Far Pavilions, the new West End musical about a British officer and an Indian princess, I was more than happy to make a group booking for 13 on 2nd April!
So, there we were, having met in My Old Dutch, the pancake house in Holborn, standing outside the Shaftesbury Theatre, along with a few hundred others, where we were informed that the performance was cancelled as the leading man had been involved in an accident and the understudy was “unable to perform”. Dejected and downhearted some went home, some went off in search of other shows and some went to the cinema.
It was an interesting, if surprising evening!
Karen Wray (LWDG)