Movies & Musicals

Date 13th November 2019
Society Richmond Operatic Society
Venue Richmond Georgian Theatre Royal
Type of Production Concert
Director John Holliday
Musical Director John Hunter
Choreographer Jordan Hamilton


Author: Peter Oliver

Following the success of their musical performance of Sister Act: I was intrigued as to how Richmond Operatic Society was going to showcase their 2019 concert “Movies and Musicals. Set in one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever had the privilege of visiting, the cast under the direction of John Holliday took the audience on an evening of pure entertainment as they re- enacted an evening at the Oscars, I absolutely loved the concept behind the concert and the set looked fantastic: laid out as if we were in a five star hotel even down to the red drapes and carpet and a table adorning rows of golden Oscars, as the cast took to the tables  waiting in anticipation for the hosts to introduce the short list of nominees and the winners to be announced. This was a great concept and I loved all the story lines between the musical numbers as the recipients of the awards celebrated their achievement and losers can to terms with their defeat, Well done John: a well thought out production with a beautiful selection of 24 musical numbers and a multitude of comic moments from the cast to bring this concert to life. Having a good musical director is essential in any production and Richmond Operatic Society is extremely fortunate to have one of the best in John Hunter, who’s musical expertise certainly showed through not only in his command of the orchestra, but it was evident in the vocal performances of the cast, support by his gifted wife Jane and the brilliant members of the orchestra: Adam Bradley and Peter New. Congratulations to Jordan Hamilton as choreographer and Tori Bennett as Assistant choreographer, some lovely movement and dance routines throughout the performance and good use of the space.  Special mention must go to John Holliday and Gary Winn for set design supported by Charles Lambert for props, as stated earlier in the report it looked fantastic. Special mention to Beverley Owens, stage manager and Alex Caffery, assistant stage manager and the back-backstage crew who ensured the swift management of props and scene changes which were well orchestrated and Alan Graham costumes and Christine Hill as wardrobe mistress who ensure that the cast were all well turned out for the event.

What I loved about this performance was that every single member of the cast played a vital part in the overall production. The event started with the hosts John Holiday and Suanne Harding who took to the stage to introduce the event as the guests arrived to the musical number “Another Day Of Sun” from the film La La Land, John Holliday delivered a striking solo number “The Impossible Dream” from the 1965 Broadway musical: Man of La Mancha, this was followed by Ken Haigh and Pru Nunn supported by the chorus and waitress who were appropriately dressed to deliver the musical number “Be Our Guest” from the Disney stage and film production of Beauty and the Beast. A battle of wills followed as Julie and Gary Winn battled it out with the musical number from the Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun “Anything You Can Do” great performance from these two talented artists. The temperature changed in the theatre as the award for best character in a musical was introduced: with Rhoda Fraser blowing in delivering the musical number “Windy City” from the film and stage production of Calamity Jane, excellent performance and characterisation from Rhoda. Next award was for Best Director as Lou Holliday and Mike McGarry with the male chorus took to the stage to sing the hilarious Monty Python song “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” from the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian: great number and well presented. Lovely performance from Amy Clarkson for Best Costume in a modern musical singing the beautiful musical number “Unexpected Song” from the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Song and Dance.  Toni Bennett, Sam Fitzsimmons, Suzanne Harding, Charlotte Kemp Caitlin Smith and the female chorus took us to Chicago with the musical number “Cell Block Tango” great performance from these ladies and I loved the choreography, great visual effect and well delivered and a lovely number to introduce the award for longest show to sell out in the West End. Who says romance is dead as the award for the best on stage kiss was revealed with Jordon Hamilton, Richard Hamilton, Adrian Dixon, Kathleen Smith and the chorus singing the beautiful Elton John number from Lion King “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, lovely vocals and harmonies and well delivered, Helen Cain took us to Austria for best Director of a musical and the number “Do Ray Mi” from their forthcoming show Sound Of Music. In tribute to those no longer with us was a moving and beautifully delivered number by Gail Barlow and Chorus from the musical Carousel “You’ll Never Walk Alone” absolutely beautiful, well delivered lots of feeling and sentiment from Gail and the whole cast, to conclude the first act was one of my favourite numbers from the musical Les Misérables: Richard Hamilton delivered the beautiful number “Empty Chairs And Empty Tables”  and what a performance,  a perfect number to end act one beautifully sang and a stand out performance from this talented man.

Act two opened with new hosts Geoff Slone and Edith Hunt, and the cast singing “Another Opening, Another Show” the opening number of Cole Porters Kiss Me Kate. Helen Cain and John Holliday delivered a lovely rendition of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  for the best visual effect of a single performance: lovely vocals and some great magician tricks performed by John,  For stars behind the scene the award for best makeup artist was introduced by Sam Fitz Simmons and Anita Wilkinson, Liz McDougall and the chorus singing the number “Tell Me Its Not True from the musical Blood Brothers: lovely vocals and  a very unusually arrangement which for me worked really well. For best supporting actor award a fantastic duet from Adams Collins and Jordon Hamilton to the song “You and Me”, excellent performance from these two performers, lovely interaction and great stage presence, a stand out performance and well received from the audience. Susanne Harding and the chorus delivered a confident performance for best supporting actress to the musical number “Mama Mia” lovely number well sang, great costumes and choreography, the hosts then took to the stage and delivered a beautiful duet “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from Toy Story lovely vocals and well delivered, Best new comers award was presented by Charlotte Kemp, Martha McGarry, Pru Nunn and Kathleen Smith to the song “Practically Perfect from Mary Poppins lovely vocals and harmonies and confidently delivered, for best actor Edith Hunt, Lou Holiday, Geoff Slone and the cast sang the musical number “Tomorrow” from Annie: a great performance I loved how the award was presented with reports and the camera crew as part of the performance well delivered and well-staged, the musical number to represent the longest continuing musical in a continuous  run was from the musical Wicked: Tori Bennett and Amy Clarkson delivered an imposing vocal duet to the number” Defying Gravity” lovely vocals and confidently sang. A fantastic vocal performance from Graham Copson, Rhoda Fraser, Kenneth Haigh and chorus to the musical number “Now Give Three Cheers’’ from Gilbert and Sullivan’s: HMS Pinafore, lovely performance this was followed up with Kenneth Haig interpretation from the same operetta “When I Was A Lad” excellent performance and well delivered and very entertaining. The ultimate award    for life time achievement was from the musical 42nd Street “Lullaby of Broadway” delivered by Jordon Hamilton and Caitlin Smith as lead vocalist supported by the chorus, an excellent choice for the most prestigious award and well delivered by this enthusiastic cast, to end the concert the cast delivered the number “So Long, Farewell” a number from the forth coming musical: Sound of Music a beautiful finale number to conclude a fantastic evening of entertainment from this superb group.

May I finally take this opportunity to thank the societies President Sheila Russell who ensured that my guest and myself were warmly welcomed and treated as VIP guests, you are a credit and a truly inspirational ambassador for Richmond Operatic society. Well done to everyone involved a fantastic evening of entertainment you should all be very proud of yourself, can’t wait to see you all at your next production of Sound of Music.