Hi de Hi
11th April 2019
Maldon Drama Group
Maldon Town Hall
Type of Production
Author: Christine Davidson
Hi de Hi Campers. Here I am in the Hawaiian Ballroom at Maplins Holiday Camp. The wonderful team of yellow coats congregate in the foyer to greet us lead by Linda Adair. The warmth of their greeting makes me feel incredibly excited about the show ahead. The week’s entertainment is on a schedule in the foyer and I can see that there will be knobbly knee competitions, the ugliest face, the baby with the largest head and welly throwing during the week ahead.
Sitting in the throng of the audience which is almost totally full, I listen to the fifties records blaring through the speakers. There is a large buzz of excitement in the crowd awaiting the show. We meet the head of entertainment Mr Jeffrey Fairbrother (Neil Fisher). Elegant and well-spoken he tries to keep the entertainment team in check. He is helped by the predatory, Gladys Pugh (Carey Brown) who tries to become as close to him as she possibly can. It is particularly difficult to portray well-loved and known television actors but these two did so extremely well. From the nuances of the tones of voice and expressions from both of them, you could almost feel you were indeed watching the television show.
Peggy Ollerenshaw (Helen Rasmussen) was great as the chalet maid. Costume and stance with cap, yellow housecoat and glasses gave her the character that everyone loves. The audience were totally for her as she tried to be the next yellow coat. Again I was drawn in to how much work each of the characters had achieved at getting it just right.
Another treat was Ted Bovis (Chris Pond) who looked so much like the original that I had to blink twice. With his accent and checked suit he ruled the camp with his side kick Spike Dixon (Dan Dodman) resplendent at the start in a plastic dustbin. Sometimes I did find it hard to hear Ted when he spoke upstage but both were really well drawn character roles. When Ted took the old fashioned mic I really did feel I was back in the holiday camp that I remember from my youth, with my mum and dad.
Fred Quilly (Martin Adams) as the smiling jockey, stealing sugar lumps for the horses had a smaller but still well characterised role. Yvonne and Barry Stuart- Hargreaves, (Gill Peregrine and Dave Ford) worked well as a team. There were lovely facial expressions from both with plenty of opportunities to get laughs from the audience. Mr Partridge (Dedric Smith), was Uncle Willy, the children’s grumpy entertainer, who hated children. Unfortunately, I really couldn’t hear or understand what he said most of the time, which is a shame as stance and character were good.
The four yellow coats were super with smiles as bright as their coats, with another good cameo from ex-wife Hillary Bovis (Michelle Edgington) who comes with Bailiff (Neil Davis), to collect £50 owed to her by Ted.
The set was well designed with folding flats, giving three different rooms. We had the office and staff room, the Hawaiian ballroom and the two bedroom chalets of the Stuart- Hargreaves and Jeffrey Fairbrother. The crew executed the changes well but I did feel that there were a number of occasions that the stage remained empty for what seemed like long periods.
Lighting was fine but the sound was a little hit and miss with the stage mikes suffering from a lack of balance, leaving the actors at times, either too loud or not loud enough.
Props and costumes were excellent and the audience absolutely loved the show which I believe will run to full houses for the following two nights. Fun audience participation was included with voting slips being provided for the best Yellow Coat, the winner would be going to work at Maplins in the Bahamas. The winner was Gladys arch rival; the popular Sylvia Garnsey (Heather Lucas) who in the end was fated not to go as the camp had been wiped out by a storm.
Going out to the theme tune of Hi de Hi, I applaud the hard work of everyone in this show. Congratulations for such a fun night out and Hi de Hi!