Around The World In 60 Years

Date 8th April 2016
Society Bath Light Operatic Group
Venue The Roper Theatre, Hayfield School, Bath
Type of Production Concert / Review
Director Matthew Finch, David Baxter and Jill Kelly

Report

Author: Matthew Heaton

This was my first time seeing a BLOGs ‘Songs from the Shows’ production and for completing a report for the group. BLOGs do have an excellent reputation locally and I am very pleased to say that this was both maintained and enhanced for me through this excellent themed compilation show, celebrating 60 years of performing at the Theatre Royal, Bath.

The Roper Theatre is a terrific venue for this type of production, with plenty of space both inside and outside the raked auditorium. Front of house staff were enthusiastic and very much part of the overall show theme, which really helped to enhance the overall production. I liked the ‘Jet Set’ being on programme duty too. Too many groups overlook this type of involvement as it really helps audiences to engage more.

Linking themes for compilation shows are tricky, but the flight theme was a really good concept, as we travelled from the UK, across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, picking up songs set in each. The supporting projected graphics on the back screen were of exceptional technical quality and worked very well in both supporting and enhancing this. 

This was a slick and very professional production. Though we just had a plain stage with a low upstage rostrum and a 3 piece band Stage Right, the space on stage was well-used throughout the mix of Company and Individual numbers.  I loved the use of the 6 blocks to spell out key words or to be used in different areas or combinations to break up or change the staging – genius!  The flow from number to number was quick and well-choreographed and kept a real sense of pace. The lighting really supported this and was atmospheric, well-coloured and well-cued.  The sound was also excellent - accurate, controlled and with a nice balance.  Costumes were well done around a standard black theme. The sparkly tops for the ladies really worked well.

The choice of 37 songs used was an extensive and an unusual combination, but with enough to keep those wanting to hear old favourites and those wanting to hear something new, entertained. Such shows do give opportunities for more of the cast to show what they can do and with most of the 18 ladies and 9 gents on stage getting such an opportunity, a real depth of talent was shown. Well done all. There isn’t space to mention everyone and there were so many good performances, though the rarely performed ‘Pity the Child’ from Chess in-particular really blew me away.

The chorus singing was exceptional and a real theme of the production. Matthew Finch’s arrangements of ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’  ‘Bui Doi’ and ‘Bali Hai’ in particular stood out and were beautifully performed, as was the Company version of ‘Somewhere’.

The choreography too was very impressive. It was both inventive and creative but also matched and stretched the abilities of all on-stage appropriately and was well-executed by the cast according to their ability – no easy task. The animation and concentration from everyone on stage all the way through was also very impressive. It is easy to admire the excellent work in ‘Shakalaka Baby’ and ‘One Brick at a Time’  as big numbers, but the attention to detail elsewhere throughout the whole production was striking – from the Chorus movement in ‘Lambeth Walk’ or ‘We said We Wouldn’t Look Back’ through to the complex duets of ‘Let’s Face the Music’ and ‘Friendship’. I believe this was completed by Jill Kelly (the programme just says ‘Flight Deck’, but I’ve got to this by the process of elimination – apologies if I’m wrong here).

The band of two pianos and drums were excellent, under the efficient control of Matthew Finch. I did feel it needed a bass underneath at times, though I’m sure budget constraints were probably a factor here.

Overall this was an excellent production and one of the best compilation shows I have seen for some-time. Very well done to everyone at BLOGs on such an impressive show. Thank you for your hospitality, particularly from Paulene and I wish you all the very best with your next production.