A Night at The Palladium

Date 14th April 2023
Society Cloud Nine Musical Theatre Group
Venue The Academy, Selsey
Type of Production Concert
Director Rebecca Townsend
Musical Director Simon Townsend
Choreographer Kal Elias

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Author: Mark Donalds

As this was my first visit to a Cloud Nine production, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but “Sold Out” signs at the entrance always give you a good feeling when you arrive at a venue, especially on a cold and rainy night, and the very warm welcome I received from the front of house people promised a great evening in store. I was not disappointed.

The London Palladium opened on Boxing Day in 1910 and is perhaps the best variety theatre in the country. So, picking out tonight’s selection from the thousands of songs and shows that have been performed there over the years must have been a daunting task – there must have been so much that had to be omitted, leaving plenty of gold to be mined for a second show perhaps?

The cabaret style seating created a great atmosphere, and armed with my very informative programme, I settled down to see what treats were in store.

Very much in the style of “Sunday Night at the London Palladium”, we had smartly dressed presenters before each group of numbers, introducing some humour and telling us interesting facts about the theatre and the many shows that had been seen there. The stage was a black box, leaving plenty of room for the performances. Well thought out graphics were projected onto a screen at the back, including some rare footage from 1925 of live animals being used in a pantomime – fascinating. The colour and sparkle were left to the beautiful costumes used throughout and the excellent lighting (designed by Charles Townsend). Sadly, there was no live band, but MD Simon Townsend had chosen good quality tracks, and the sound reproduction was well balanced and faultless. You really don’t know how rarely I’m able to say that. The choreography created by Kal Elias was always appropriate for the style of the music and well executed by all involved.

This was truly an ensemble effort from start to finish, and not a single performer – down to the very smallest in the Arabesque company – let the side down at any time. Any performers I don’t mention should be assured that this is in no way to suggest they were anything short of excellent.

I must mention a few performances that really stood out for me. Mike Brummell and Peter Driscoll brought back many happy memories of the Festival Theatre’s production with their lovely relaxed rendition of “Underneath the Arches”. Hannah Skelton had the perfect sexy “Jazz Club” voice for “Mad About the Boy”. The Supremes could have been in the room for “Stop in the name of Love” – Maddi Butler-Townsend, Caitlyn Whitfield, and Louise Latchford, you stunned us. The full company were on great form with “Come Follow the Band” and, to end act one, they undertook “One Day More” – probably one of the most complicated vocal numbers from Les Misérables - and totally smashed it.

In act two, Kimberley Genziani outshone Elaine Paige with her beautiful rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, while Simon Townsend demonstrated his silky-smooth voice singing “I Can’t Smile Without You”. “There’s a guy…” was performed with great gusto by the company (with some excellent props) and the Arabesque Company absolutely enchanted us with the Muppets’ “Life’s a Happy Song”. Top highlights of the show for me were “I’d Give My Life for You”, so perfectly sung by Maddi Butler-Townsend, and the knockout “SIX” by Maddi again, Niamh Whitfield, Hannah Skelton, Amanda Ward, Caitlyn Whitfield, and Louise Latchford. I can’t wait for this show to be available to amateurs!

Director Becki Townsend, you’ve assembled a great cast, chosen a stonking selection of music from the last century and turned it all into a great evening’s entertainment. Thank you all so much!