21st October 2017
Heworth Grange School, Gateshead
Type of Production
Author: Foster Johnson
The works of Stephen Sondheim divide opinion when it comes to the world of Musical Theatre. Aficionados love the challenge of performing, or listening to, his complicated musical scores and lyrics, whilst others who simply wish to be entertained find them difficult to interpret and follow. Whichever camp you fall into he does not make it easy for actors and audience alike.
It was with some trepidation therefore that I was invited to see and report upon this latest production by Felling Stage Society. I was not to be disappointed as I witnessed what turned out to be an excellent show performed by fourteen of the Region’s most talented and experienced performers, who were well supported by a small but effective ensemble, all under the direction of Bea Atkinson and Jonny Winter.
Set in and often about New York It tells the tale of five couples and their lifestyles as seen through the eyes of their bachelor friend and also his personal relationships with three single girls to whom he cannot make a commitment to any of them.
The Principal line up comprised Ian Nugent (Bobby), Lisa Harland (April), Harriet Stout (Kathy), and Lynsted Dos Santos (Marta), (the Girlfriends). Rachel Orr (Jenny), Bruce Nicholson (David), Leigh Geddes (Amy), Graeme Smith (Paul), Michael Geddes (Harry), Marie Swan (Sarah), Michelle Coulson (Susan), John Grant (Peter), Claire Wharton (Joanne) and Colin Coulson (Larry) and they all gave what I consider to be fine interpretative performances of their respective roles . No weak links here.
The Orchestra under Jonny Winter was excellent and played its part in keeping the show racing along and assisting the cast in interpreting and delivering a difficult score. The solos were good but the stand out numbers for me were “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”, "Getting Married Today”, "Side by Side by Side”, “Ladies who Lunch” and “Being Alive”
The set was basic, but very effective, and relied upon the interchanging of the sofas, chairs and props which was undertaken seamlessly by the ensemble. Similarly the lighting plot and sound added to the mood of the various scenes.
The only down side to the evening was that it was a shame that the talent on show was performed in front of a very small audience. Perhaps indicative of people’s views on Sondheim Shows?