Letters to the Trenches

Date 28th June 2018
Society Welford Amateur Dramatic Society
Venue Welford Village Hall
Type of Production Concert
Director To be added
Musical Director To be added

Report

Author: Luke Campbell

It was an absolute pleasure to be invited to Welford to report on Welford Amateur Dramatic Society’s (WADS) summer production, Letters to the Trenches. This was my first visit to the delightful village of Welford and also to a WADS production, and I believe from my contact at the society this is the group’s first ever Noda visit.

The revue was written by Kane and Kane and as the name suggests plots the story of life in the trenches during the First World War. The production had a story line spanning across two half-hour acts that were tied together by singing and short acting scenes. The writers had used the script and songs selection to highlight a number of the key events and aspect of the First World War making the show not only enjoyable but informative to the audience and those involved. It was very thought provoking that local history from Northamptonshire had been included – allowing us all to connect and identify with the performance.

The cast was made up of predominantly youth performers (under the age of 18 and most of primary school age); there were four supporting adult performers. Whilst I cannot officially consider this a youth performance because of the supporting adults, I am going to focus on the youth – for me they are the stars of the show and were what this production was truly all about.

WADS’ young performers are simply wonderful. They all worked so hard and performed their hearts out on stage to a very appreciative audience filled with proud family members. They all spoke very clearly and their projection was outstanding – I could hear every line from the back row, which is a massive achievement. Every single performer had a smile that stretched from ear-to-ear when performing, but equally gave their small speaking parts – which were evenly distributed between all juniors on stage – all the character and emotion that was needed: We saw Little Miss and Mr Sensible, Little Miss and Mr Funny, Little Miss and Mr Witty and many more in between, which had the audience laughing a plenty but also holding its breath and expressing emotion.

All of the numbers produced were sung with gusto and energy or thought. I enjoyed all that was offered musically and vocally. I very much liked the way in which all the songs were from the First World War period or in keeping, and contributed to the plot. A special touch was involving the audience in some of our country’s most well known war-time songs, although I must confess I will now have “It’s a long road to Tipperary” and “Pack up you troubles” playing in my mind all weekend, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There were two moments I found exceptionally moving – when the cast sang “Silent Night” in German and the young lads in the English trenches responded with the English rendition, and the closing number in which a respectful way was found to show the loss suffered by one of the worst conflicts to ever occur.

The set was simple yet effective. The lighting mirrored this understated simplicity and allowed the performers to take the credit deserved. Sound was good throughout. Real effort has been taken to costume the production in a matter that was in keeping with the show. The direction was of a good standard, as was the musical director and accompanying pianist.

Things to think about for your November production would be to introduce props to your productions, encourage the children to always deliver their words to the front, to avoid standing in lines and to – as hard as it might be when excited and happy to see Mummy or Daddy in the front row – not break the fourth wall.

The hospitality show to my guest and I, and the audience generally, was lovely. The free choc-ice- creams handed out in the interval due to the heat was a nice touch and meant a lot to us all.

For me, what summed up this performance was what occurred as I was walking back to my car to drive home. I passed the changing area, which due to the heat had its windows open and door ajar, and I could hear all the children singing off stage, as they got ready to go home to the iconic songs they had encouraged the audience to participate in. The chaperones with the children were joining in and I could see the love and affection that had been poured into this production and Society’s junior members. How lucky they are to be part of such a nurturing environment.

Thank you once again to WASD for inviting me to its wonderful production of Letters to the Trenches.