Nativity! The Musical

Date 24th November 2022
Society South Moor Musical Theatre Group
Venue The Alun Armstrong Theatre, Civic Hall, Stanley
Type of Production Musical
Director Joan Oldfield
Musical Director John Hudson
Choreographer Joan Oldfield
Written By Debbie Issit and Nicky Agar

Report

Author: Michelle Coulson

Nativity! The Musical is based on the 2009 film Nativity! and it was a joy filled way for the Society to return to the stage after a 3 year gap, it was also a NODA North premiere so exciting to see something new. The story is the same as the film, the heartbroken Mr Madden hates Christmas because of his girlfriend Jennifer leaving him at Christmas time to pursue her dream of being a Hollywood producer. He is forced to direct the school Nativity with a class of unruly youngsters who have very little talent and small lie he tells to outdo his rival Mr Shakespeare becomes the catalyst of a huge production; Mr Poppy a classroom assistant arrives to help out!

A show with in excess of 50 different scenes 34 musical numbers and 24 children must have been a challenge for the production team. Joan chose to enable the many scene changes using projections and isolation of areas of the stage with lighting. John had an excellent band and sound on the whole was good with just a few difficulties in hearing some of the children which is inevitable unless everyone has a microphone.

Ian Mordue as Paul Madden gave a good solid performance as the primary school teacher who has to manage not only the children but his teaching assistant; this role is central to all of the plot and Ian provided the strong anchor for the other characters to work around. As his girlfriend Jennifer Love, Lindsay Kellegher was perfectly cast, her character had warmth and her number Jennifer’s Plea was beautiful. Andrew Howe as the irrepressible Mr Poppy completely stole the show, along with the children of course, and was clearly born to play this role. His humour, charisma and cheeky charm were evident throughout and he had a great rapport with the audience and the children. Stephen Shield brought us a madcap and wicked Gordon Shakespeare with just the right amount of evil, his vocal performance in “Herod! The Rock Opera” was superb. Mrs Bevan the head teacher was played by Lauren Garforth who gave a really likable interpretation of the character. A running commentary of criticism was expertly provided by Gareth Lilley as the always eating, acerbic critic Patrick Burns. Jim Arden as the Mayor and Michael Green as Mr Parker played good character roles as did the other members of the ensemble who played supporting roles. The children are naturally the stars of the show as the classmates from St. Bernadette’s and Oakmoor Schools, some of the children in this production had never performed on stage before and they did very well, they were appealing, naïve and cute! It’s seems a little unfair to single anyone out, but Mathew Condron as TJ, Alfie McEldery as Alfie, Harrison Taylor as Ollie and Emily Wallace as Katelyn/Star were all endearing. I must also mention Dave the dog who played “Cracker”, what a scene stealer!

Well done to Joan, John, the cast and crew for providing your audiences with an enjoyable and uplifting start to the Christmas season.