|Date||12th May 2017|
|Venue||Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall|
|Type of Production||Revue|
|Musical Director||Sara Brammall|
Author: Jon Fox
2016 was a year in which an unusually large number of talented and famous people in public life and specially showbiz sadly passed away.
T.W.E., sympathetically and with a certain style, made the bold decision to pay tribute to these "Heroes" in the interesting form of a revue with a narrator. Featuring a mixture of songs, comedy sketches, dance etc. all linked by a sympathetic, likeable and vocally distinct narrator, the scenes were mostly very enjoyable and well handled. The cast of nineteen, who were not, however, individually linked in the programme to each song, sketch etc. were as follows:-
Alison Kiddell Amalee Gamache Cara Turner
Claire Webb Denise Hillier Dominic Lawrence
Graham Thorburn Jenny Gamache Judy Abbott
Justin Cobb Kenny Menet-Hawkins Laura Purdue
Lissea Jordan Marie Thorburn Melanie Schmidt
Neil Edwards Sandra Graves Tracey Gillard
A young man and a young woman on a sofa opened with a rollicking and hilarious tribute to the mighty Victoria Wood and "Let's do It". A wise choice to open with and hugely enjoyable.
Next, a Star Wars tribute to Kenny Baker with an interesting sketch where two girls dressed as R2D2 and 3CPO began well, but the dialogue ran short of humour and the scene, which had begun very well, rather fizzled out, I thought.
A "Terry Wogan" man sang the "Floral Dance", none too well, but the accompanying ladies coming through the hall in Morris men's style, using handkerchiefs, rescued this limp sketch somewhat.
A wonderful spoof male magician (not Paul Daniels) - which however I liked "quite a lot" - in fact, a great deal more than that - was a total delight. Having chained himself up and covered, he freed himself, only to end up with underpants on his head. Heady stuff indeed!
We then had an engaging company tribute to the enormous talent of George Martin with a medley of Beatles' songs, very well put over. Some girls held pictures of the Fab four which they ogled convincingly. A warm, nostalgic and enjoyable tribute to a great musical talent.
To remember Terence Baylor, we had a very well enacted political Brexit sketch on the lines of "What have the Romans ever done for us". It was enthusiastically and energetically done, I enjoyed it. but thought it a risky topical subject to parody without more balance, but even so it was a definite hit.
The sadly missed comedienne Caroline Aherne was truthfully remembered by three people sitting, chatting at a table. Another act to like, which captured Caroline's cheeky wit. I will always remember her as Mrs. Merton with her infamous comment to Debbie McGee about "the millionaire Paul Daniels".
Andrew Sachs, who did so much more in his career, but will forever be Manuel, was suitably honoured when a tall, slim man who perfectly captured the bullying Basil Fawlty, berated the equally good actor playing the hapless Manuel. Did it go down well? You "bet" it did!
To conclude Act One, four young ladies dressed as David Bowie (three with wigs and all with "stage" guitars and Bowie style face make-up) sang a mostly well done, but slightly over long tribute to the great man. One lady had a voice that outshone the other three, though all did well.
A tasty and welcome light supper was a welcome interval treat.
The second Act opened with a clear and well linked narration. A top notch act followed honouring Debbie Reynolds, singing, dancing, set in a cocktail bar providing us with "Good Morning" and " Singin' in the Rain" with excellent and innovative use of coats and a coat-stand. These three young ladies gave us the same 100% energy and vitality so associated with the splendid Debbie and congratulations girls.
Sara Brammall wearing a blonde wig was an impressive and hugely funny Denise Robertson, sitting on a sofa talking to the TV viewers. Great script! Great performance!
Director George Margetts in a moving tribute to her late Nanny Pat showcased "The Sound of Music" in "Do-Re-Mi". One lady was Maria and seven others the von Trapp children, entering through the hall encouraging the willing audience. An energetic and harmonious rendition! Charmain Carr, the original Liesl, sadly also passed away in 2016.
A hilarious spoof followed of that Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor film "See No Evil, Hear No Evil". Blind Pryor was applying to deaf Wilder (the Hero) for a job. A memorable sketch, supremely well enacted.
To remember the much loved Ronnie Corbett, we had a bus stop and mobile 'phone conversation sketch: one speaking, then the other, in turns. A kiss and fondle ending and another excellent and well acted sketch. Comic timing was especially important which both Ronnies watching from above, would certainly have approved.
Next followed Neil Edwards with eight ladies in fetching country and western outfits complete with cowgirl hats. They sang "Taking it easy" with simple dance movements and it was a most effective scene. However, I must confess to having missed who was the "Hero" they were honouring. Clearly my C&W repertoire needs a little refreshing!
The "Greatest" Mohammed Ali was remembered by Mel Schmidt as a female (obviously) boxer being asked puerile, sexist questions by a blundering male reporter, one or two rather near the knuckle I thought. That Mel concluded by punching the idiot and non-PC male was a fitting end to a most enjoyable, if cringeworthy, in parts, sketch. But there definitely is place in a revue such as this for scorning shocking attitudes which, sadly, still do exist. A bold, yet wise choice, therefore.
There was an energetic finale and fulsome tribute to three fine musicians - Prince, Maurice White and George Michael. Glowsticks were provided for the audience to use and "Purple Rain" was featured, along with "If you've gottta do it, do it right" in a fun finale with song and dance and much clapping. A marvellous ending to a mostly high quality evening, with well chosen and carried out sketches, songs and dances.
George Margetts directed with Sara Brammall as MD and mentor. Both must surely feel proud. Costumes were by Mel Schmidt and the cast, who were all well "booted and suited". Dominic Lawrence was on lighting and Justin Cobb on sound, both effectively provided.
Unfortunately, as the programme did not credit cast names against various scenes, I have been mostly unable to credit those people involved. I will, however, give a hearty "well done" to all nineteen of you on stage and everyone else in the company too, who all played their full parts in this undoubted success.