Bad Girls

Date 12th March 2016
Society Blyth Music and Theatre Company Ltd
Venue Phoenix Theatre, Blyth
Type of Production Musical
Director Jackie Grey
Musical Director Tim Jasper
Choreographer Jackie Grey

Report

Author: Ray Lowry

The content of the production could cause initial reservations to many societies but Blyth need not have been concerned. The production had been a crowd-pleaser, well supported and popular. This stage version of the well-known television show is set in a women’s prison. The basic premise is that the inmates rebel against the oppressive regime after a vulnerable prisoner commits suicide after being raped by a male prison officer. The officer is framed and exposed and all are vindicated and human values are restored. The staging for this production was thoughtful and effective. The band were imprisoned in a cage that dominated the back of the stage, thus metaphorically detaching the performers and the audience but also emphasising the accompanying role of the music rather than the domination that sometimes emanates from the orchestra pit.  The cast and props/scenery were deftly manoeuvred on and off slickly and effectively so the performance flowed with pace. The orchestra was an integral part of the performance which is as it should be. The musical director and the members of the orchestra all deserve the highest praise as, to coin a phrase, they struck exactly the right note both as an accompanist and as an essential ingredient in the whole production. The performers, both vocal and instrumental, were in harmony. Technically the show was in very competent hands. The story-telling relied on lighting for scene shifting and was excellent. The sound effects were technically top quality. And the cast were all heard through their radio mics, except perhaps when their gusto may have increased the volume beyond planned levels. The performances were universally good, whether as solos, small groupings or ensemble. The cast were skilled at portraying the characters they played, from rather unsavoury at first to warming and winning towards the end. Each performer acted and sang well. The ‘prisoners’ had more opportunity to shine than the ‘prison officers’ but no-one was below par. The audience, predominantly young and female, lapped up the material (and some quantities of liquid both before and during the performance). The house was effectively full when I went and most of the run had been similarly well-patronised. It is good to see houses filled with young and enthusiastic audiences, many perhaps new to amateur theatre. Let’s hope they have found a new leisure outlet. They may displace traditional consumers of this company’s fayre but if we are lucky this entertainment can support a broad church or regulars. My colleague who chatted to me before the performance hadn’t been completely won over but he was right – there will always be a difficult call for companies to make, between very popular but risky productions versus less adventurous but material waning in popularity. I think the society got the decision right this time.  It will be interesting to see if they draw in the new found audiences for Annie, their next production.