|Date||2nd April 2022|
|Society||Harpenden Musical Theatre Company|
|Venue||Eric Morecambe Centre, Harpenden|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Director||Jason Allen Lane|
|Musical Director||Graham Thomson|
|Choreographer||Jason Allen Lane|
Author: Nova Horley
Oh, what an evening…….! A Circus it certainly wasn’t!
It was so good to be able to catch up with all our colleagues from HMTC in a new venue, The Eric Morecambe Centre, and to be treated to an outstanding production.
The new venue is very pleasant from an audience point of view, although I understand it has been challenging on both the stage set up and technical sides.
A vibrant Director brought out the best in his cast, with strong principals, convincing ensemble and good choreography. I enjoyed the insertion of the tango dancers, an added dimension to the production.
Musically I was bowled over – Harpenden are renowned for their effective ensemble singing, and this was no exception, I felt the MD made sure every note counted! The sound of the band being sympathetic to the singers, but rich and full in the music breaks.
Costumes were very effective, looked good, suiting both the wearer and their character. Eva’s costumes were all well-chosen, looking both suitable and charming throughout.
Lighting was excellent, very atmospheric – particularly for the opening scene, which drew the audience in immediately. I especially liked the lighting on the coffin at the beginning.
Scenery was minimal, a static set which worked well, and would seem to be what will be the norm for the venue for the future.
Sound was first-rate, the balance between stage and band was very accurate.
Jemma Puri was a revelation as Eva Peron, a real tour de force – my congratulations on such a brilliant performance. Jemma gave us Eva’s sharper edge and her determination. I liked the way that she didn’t just sing the words, there was expression and meaning throughout.
Graham Breeze gave us an understanding but strong Juan Peron, you could see his obvious care for Eva, a good partnership exploring all the angles of a relationship.
Matt Fowler gave us a laid-back portrayal of the cynical Che, creating a different dimension. However, that said, there was both intent and emphasis which made him a truly believable character, very good indeed.
Justin Jeffreys was very suited to the part of Agustin Magaldi, an intense, but light-hearted singer, adding energy and experience.
Ruby Suss-Francksen was a delight as Peron’s mistress, she delivered Another Suitcase well, charming voice, and very wistful.
The Director was incredibly lucky with his leads, who all performed with style.
Congratulations on a good ensemble – nice to have younger ones, and I enjoyed the choir section, a nice quiet interlude in a fast-moving and emotional show. Mostly the ensemble stepped up to the plate, singing was tremendous.
In summary, what a cracking way to start HMTC’s foray into a new venue, and despite the challenges along the way they showed determination and flair in getting everything up and running and making it a good experience for their audience.