Blitz!

Date 20th April 2016
Society Alyth Musical Society
Venue Alyth Town Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Gemma L. Pryde
Musical Director Colin Grant
Choreographer Gemma L Pryde, Iona Allan, Darren Gill

Report

Author: Roger D. Buist

On arrival, the red, white, and blue bunting was hanging up and the ladies of the FOH staff wore their best “peenies” with their hair tied up in turban style with their headscarfs – thus giving out a great impression of the war-time feeling that was yet to come! Last year, this society performed Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!”, and, this year, they returned to another of his very seldom seen musicals – “Blitz!” Now, I have heard of this show, but knew very little about it . . . apart from the “Mums And Dads” musical number! However, all was put right when I attended a show performance. Briefly, the story, set around Petticoat Lane, focuses on two prominent families - the Jewish Blitzteins and the Cockney Lockes. Mrs. Blitztein and Alfred Locke have adjacent stalls on Petticoat Lane - she sells herring and he sells fruit, and they do not like each other. This production had a great wartime feel about it and the musical numbers also emphasized this fact – “Who’s This Geezer Hitler?”, “Duty Calls”, and “Down The Lane” being catchy and tuneful. The most pivotal role in this show is reserved for the Jewish, matriarch mother, Mrs Blitztein, who is seldom off the stage and has the majority of the show’s dialogue. So, step forward, society member, Glenda Kean, who grasped this important role with both hands and brought out a domineering performance which also showed, at times, the gentler side to her character. She also impressed in her musical side with a tender “So Tell Me, Jack” - her big soliloquy number. Her barbed tongue comments were especially reserved for her Cockney antagonist, Alfred Locke, gustily played by Ron Kirkpatrick in a role far removed from his usual comedy ones. Their ding-dong battle of words carried on throughout the show . . . even to its Finale! In a “Romeo And Juliet” theme, one of their children have each fallen in love – and Graeme Thomson (Georgie Locke) and Hannah Oosterhoorn (Carol Blitztein), were the lovers acting out their complicated love scenes in true romantic fashion until the war, itself, brings tragic circumstances for them but, as in all good love stories, happiness prevailed! There was a large supporting cast who all did their bit for the war (!) and among them was Andrew Beckett as son Harry Blitztein who was a bit of a black sheep of the family, and Claire Mallinson as Elsie from the munitions factory. Children also appear in this show and they bring light relief to the proceedings and the Alyth kids sang and performed lustily whenever they were required! It was all quite nostalgic with authentic recordings of Winston Churchill and Vera Lynn interpolated (“The Day After Tomorrow” song was another) into the show’s musical score and story line. Between bombs falling, fires, buildings falling down and general confusion, the show does entertain and evoked what early wartime memories I had! Alyth this was a difficult show done well.