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Date 20th March 2015
Society Sounds Musical Theatre Company
Venue Devonport Playhouse
Type of Production Musical
Director Amanda Paddison
Musical Director Marcus Alleyne

Report

Author: Kathy West

With no front tabs, we were able to study the set before the start of the show. The flats consisted of simple wooden slats, and there were branches across the proscenium arch. The rest of the set was covered with dust sheets, and these were removed by cast members (Mrs Mullin and Billy) at the start of the overture. They revealed a beautiful carousel with hanging horses up left, with various fairground booths on the raised area of the stage, and two 'distressed' benches in the lower, downstage area. These benches remained on for many of the scenes.

The overture continued to build with the introduction of fairground customers and the many different fairground characters. Billy Bigelow mimed the part of the fairground barker with great energy, and the beautifully played Carousel waltz completed this impressive opening.

This company are fortunate to have some excellent singers and their chorus singing throughout was very impressive, with some lovely harmonies. The dance breaks featured some very accomplished dancing and some nice choreography, although no choreographer was credited in the programme. I would have liked to have seen the dancers more integrated into the chorus numbers, instead of entering just for the dance breaks. Equally, some more movement from the singers would have given the chorus numbers a more cohesive feel.

All the soloists were in possession of fine voices. However with the orchestra in front of the singers, and no radio mics used, there were times (particularly when there was underscoring) when it was difficult to hear or understand the dialogue and lyrics.

Costumes, hair and make up were all right for the period. Some of the clothes (the fishermen's outfits, the women's aprons) looked rather too clean and freshly laundered, considering the 'rough and ready' lifestyle of these people, but I know how difficult it can be to 'dirty up' hired costumes!

The sets were lovely, in particular the 'heaven' scene had a beautiful simplicity to it which was very effective. Scene changes were efficiently and quietly performed, and the dropping in of the half tab was well timed. The lighting enhanced the production.

The success of this show is very dependent on the quality of the leading man, and this Billy Bigelow gave a fine performance as the troubled hero with a quick temper. He and Julie Jordan created a believable relationship and their duets were well sung. Enoch and Carrie gave very mature performances, and there were solid performances from Mrs Mullin and Nettie Fowler, whose singing of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was a highlight.

This was a good choice of show which allowed this society to play to it's strengths.