Don’t Stop the Music 2

Date 22nd March 2018
Society CODY Musical Theatre Company
Venue Princes’ Hall, Aldershot
Type of Production Concert
Director Charlotte Walker
Musical Director Graham Hix and Paul Tickner
Choreographer Sue Canfield

Report

Author: Pauline Surrey

This was a veritable feast of song and dance, with a cast of 57 talented performers, featuring numbers from stage and screen, 63 numbers altogether! An amazing, spectacular evening.

A very impressive and comprehensive programme, well-designed and colourful, gave us useful Production Team biographies; cast photos; a good piece about how the show came together; 2 full lists of the numbers – one detailing the production team members involved (there were, for example 6 choreographers!), and the other listing the cast members involved. To add to our enjoyment, there were two pages on the history of musicals, and one page on the history of Cody Musical Theatre Group. Plus the ever fascinating list of past productions, which read like a historical document, chronicling 20th and 21st century developments in the field of musical theatre.

The sets were interesting light-show type moveable backdrops and a rear screen, very colourful, always changing, yet simple enough not to distract from the performers. Lighting was used very imaginatively and strikingly, with a good mixture of effects and colours, and good use of spots.

There were some stunning costumes, lots of colour co-ordination for the choral numbers, attractive flowing costumes for the dancers. Oh and lovely frizzy hairstyles for the St Trinian’s girls!

I really enjoyed the orchestra playing here, talented musicians, good arrangements, a good sound, great musical direction. A great relief to me was the fact that there was great sensitivity to the voices of the singers, they were never drowned out.  So often the orchestra can be too loud, but not here, all was nicely balanced. Credit must be given to the sound team.

The whole production was exceedingly well-designed and crafted, and was an enormously complex project, surely, but one that was a resounding success. Hours and hours of planning and decision making was doubtless invested, and that’s before the hours and hours of rehearsals started! Charlotte Walker, the Director, had to ensure that the flow worked, with a smooth changeover from one element to another, and a suitable contrast to keep us all on our toes, wondering what we would be delighted with next. The cast amazed us with their talent, their energy, their obvious delight in being on the stage, and their sense of fun.

Graham Hix and Paul Tickner deserve great praise for their work with the orchestra and the singers. So smooth, it all looked and sounded so effortless, but was surely not! Sue Canfield had a team of 5 choreographers working with her, tremendous work all, the dance numbers were beautifully crafted and executed.

And everyone, but everyone, seemed to have their moment in the spotlight. I can’t count how many different soloists we had, or people involved in ensemble pieces. We had such a different variety of voices, of styles of singing, all such good singers, all so natural on stage and with excellent timing. Dances too, so varied, such different styles, and excellent principals, they delighted us.

To single out any particular sections of the show will of course be very subjective, but then why not? Others will have their favourites, but mine were the following medleys: Broadway / Jazz / James Bond / Saturday Night Fever / Moulin Rouge. And the single numbers I particularly appreciated were: Losing my mind / Ain’t no sunshine / Alfie / Defenders of Anarchy and the Jai Ho finale.  I have to give personal thanks to Lucy Smith for rendering the one song that I have never been able to stand – My Heart Will Go On – so beautifully, that it made it bearable, nay even enjoyable for me for the first time in my life!

I am sure I could go on and on, I am still full of awe and wonder at the enormity of this project, and at how much I enjoyed all those voices, all those dancers, all that enthusiasm.  This was a show full of razzamatazz, style, colour, movement, panache, elegance, humour, sophistication, and heaps and heaps of fun. I loved every minute, as did the audience.