Centenary Concert

Date 12th August 2023
Society Richmond Operatic Society
Venue The Georgian Theatre Royal
Type of Production Musical
Director Lara Vinsen
Musical Director Jonathan Heitler
Producer Suanne Hutchins


Author: Richard Hamilton-Leighton

It was an honour to be invited to celebrate the centenary concert of Richmond Operatic Society at the Georgian Theatre Royal. Celebrating a centenary of an amateur theatre group is a significant achievement. Over the past 100 years your society has adjusted to the changing landscape of society whilst has entertained audiences in Richmond.

Throughout the evening, we were enriched in history by viewing projections of the photos from past productions. The format of the show was simple yet effective. There was narration throughout each decade aligning general historical moments alongside the productions set at that time. Concerts, in general, can be very hard to contextualise however, the use of this format allowed the audience to be taken on a historical journey through time both societally, and with the society. This created a special space in-between the societies history and the songs and shows that audiences have loved over the past 100 years.

The company chose songs from beloved golden age musicals such as HMS Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance, to newer works including Sister Act and Calendar Girls. This allowed a selection for everybody’s musical tastes and represented how musical theatre has evolved over the decades.

A personal favourite of mine is when the company bravely sang, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ acapella. I feel that their collective voices were at its best with the use of harmonies, and balance achieved. Well done.

The vocalist of the night goes to Natasha Aspden. Your rendition of ‘Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’ was striking. Your clear annunciation and crisp classical tone represented the Golden Age Musical perfectly. Not only did I appreciate this number, but throughout your vocal ability was noted – Well Done.

Also, notably, Amy Fudali’s ‘June is Busting Out All Over’ was excellent. Your timbre of your voice leant itself to this style of musical theatre, and you delivered a believable rousing number.

A number that I particularly enjoyed was Three Little Maids from The Mikado. Helen Cain, Rhoda Fraser, and Freya Woodward exuded joy throughout this number. The cheeky, happy, smiley characterisation made the audience laugh out loud and feel very comfortable and relaxed in your performance. You each displayed a variety of excitable characters which one expects with this number, and you did this well.

I would also like to mention Brodey Laundon and Maia Hughes and their rendition of ‘Suddenly Seymour’ from Little Shop of Horrors. Navigating a light accompaniment, you manged to keep pace and energy throughout this duet. The beauty of concerts allows a performer the freedom of characterisation outside of the limitations of the strict narrative of a musical. This allowed Brodey to take advantage of his comic acting abilities, whilst Maia was able to maintain the steadfast representation of Audrey.

Aside from solo numbers, the chorus energised the production with songs such as, ‘Bless This Show’ from Sister Act, ‘Thank You Very Much’ from Scrooge, and a finale of ‘Yorkshire’ from Calendar Girls the Musical.

Overall, I would like to thank you for being part of the celebration of your centenary year. Pulling major songs out of context can daunt even the most accomplished producer/director. Lara Vinsen and Suanne Hutchins rose to this challenge by providing an evening of entertainment whilst acknowledging the rich history of Richmond Operatic Society. This was supported by Jonathan Heitler and his band, which provided live accompaniment and added a special feeling to this celebration.