28th April 2018
The Miners Welfare Hall
Type of Production
Author: Christine Castle
Bringing 'Carousel' to the amateur stage is no easy task - many companies dismiss it as 'old-fashioned' and past it's sell-by date. I have never thought this, as classics can always be revived, due to their brilliant tunes and strong story-lines. I myself have been in about five productions, firstly, as a young dancer in London and latterly, as Mrs Mullins in Bradford - it has such happy memories for me.
The musical, based on the play, 'Lilliom', was changed by the composer and lyricist, Rodgers and Hammerstein, from a Budapest setting, to New England, on the eastern seaboard of America. This gave the musical more scope for melodies which have never been forgotten.
I have a lot of respect for Garforth M.S., in choosing to tackle this big musical - how they manage to produce what they do on the smallest of stages takes courage and nerve - but they have this in abundance and always endeavour to bring to their community the best they can. The production was neatly directed by Joanne Jackson, who cleverly adjusted the musical to their stage limitations. The musical accompaniment was just a solo piano from the stalwart Brenda Knowles with Ben Stone on drums. It was a tour de force for Brenda, as I appreciate the difficulties the score presents. The choreography was in the safe hands of Lynne Hill.
The principals all worked very hard on their roles and although at times,the singing was a little weak, they more than made up for this with their absolute sincerity - so very important. I was particularly pleased to see quite a few new men in the chorus, which is always a good sign! (The ladies and children were equally as good!) The sets, props, lighting and sound are always very well done by the Garforth team, with costumes and make-up always complementing the performers. Just a personal observation - I felt the ladies could have had hairstyles in keeping with the period, but I do appreciate how difficult this can be.
I noticed in the programme that Garforth M.S., are celebrating 71 years of being in existence - how very apt to choose a musical of the same age! And who can deny there were a few tears amongst the cast and audience when Nettie sang 'When you walk through a storm' to a distraught Julie - such a sad story and a musical that in my mind, will never date.
I congratulate everyone involved in this production and wish them continuing success, bringing musicals to this former mining community, on the outskirts of Leeds.