|Date||24th April 2022|
|Venue||The Apex, Bury St Edmunds|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Director and Musical Staging||Bridie Horne|
|Musical Director||Jade Tournay-Godfrey|
|Assistant Director||Madeleine Mears|
Author: Catherine Dixey
For just a few hours we were transported back to Christmas and all the children in the audience were certainly getting very excited about that. This modern day classic is about Buddy who lives in the North Pole with Santa and the Elves. In the opening scene, the Elves all sing a delightful song “Happy all the Time,” and I hope they didn’t have too many bruises on their knees from shuffling around in their mini costumes. Buddy thinks he is an elf too, but when he grows bigger than all the other elves he discovers he is actually human, and his real father is living in New York, so he sets out to find him. Buddy, this funny, loveable character is played by Tom Scoggins. He certainly captures all the comedy bringing out the zany humour and energy required for this role. Buddy features in lots of the songs throughout the show and sings and dances his way through them all to perfection. Eliot Bunce who plays his real father is not so happy to find he has a crazy, madcap son, who wants everyone to get into the Christmas spirit. Eliot captures his character well, not allowing anything to get in the way of his all important work.
I must add at this point the show was indeed supposed to have been a Christmas production, but unfortunately, we all know what happened at Christmas. So determined not to have to cancel it completely, with all the brilliant hard work everyone had put in, it was re-scheduled for Easter. Fortunately there was only one person from the original cast who was unavailable; Connie Lamb who had just recently landed a professional job as a cruise line entertainer. Well done Connie. Madeleine Mears, the assistant director stood in as Buddy’s stepmother, so she certainly knew the storyline and sung all her songs beautifully. She captured her kindly character, which was a good contrast to the brusqueness of his father, and she worked well with Lloyd Sayles, (Buddy’s stepbrother).
Buddy causes havoc when he goes to work with his father. He has a particular fascination with the shredding machine, and excitedly shreds his father’s important documents, so he is banished and finds a shelter with lots of fake Santa’s. Their song and dance routine “Nobody cares about Santa” is particularly entertaining. As with any good storyline there has to be a romantic element, and here Buddy and Jovie fall in love. Leah Head plays Jovie and her solo “Never fall in Love” is excellent with her beautifully clear voice. Certainly a name to watch out for in the future.
This excellent show is beautifully cast, under Bridie and Madeleine’s direction. The songs kept on coming and were all well choreographed, thanks to Heidi Fox. As many of us will know it is very difficult when a show has to be postponed and re-scheduled, and these young people kept this show bright, vibrant, and with plenty of energy. One can certainly depend on Jade Tournay-Godfrey to bring out the best in all her cast, as the standard of singing was excellent. The eleven piece orchestra led by Jade was perfect, and it was good to have a live orchestra for this show.
Colwyn Rowe & Steven Mears worked their magic again with this multi-level set and got us all in the Christmas spirit with sparkly Christmas trees and fairy lights. I also recognised some names of principals from previous shows who were helping out behind the scenes. It was good to see, as shows can’t go on without the all important production team.
Many apologies to the cast of elves, performing on alternate days that I didn’t get to see on my visit, but I hear you were all excellent. Others included Tyreese Ross, as Buddy, and Mariam Pope as Jovie, who were also in the ensemble.
Well done to Bridie and all her cast and team for yet another brilliant show and thanks to Susan and the FOH team for their hospitality. We will look forward to the “Sound of Music” in the summer.