Nativity the Musical

Date 8th December 2022
Society Battle Amateur Theatrical Society
Venue Battle Memorial Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Dominique Gerrard Assts: Zola Thoma-Maxim & Maisie Weston
Musical Director Oscar Smith
Choreographer Rebecca Tomkins
Written By Isitt, Dyer and Ager

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

The collaboration between BatTS & The Abbey Dance Academy worked its magic and the children worked so hard since February with Rebecca, her Assistants and Oscar who did an amazing job achieving a confident, well turned out, articulate cast of pupils of the ‘down on their luck’ St. Bernadette’s School in the far-off kingdom of Coventry where the story is set.

Three best friends grow up and their paths divide after leaving Midlands Academy – Jennifer accepts a film studio internship in LA, much to Paul’s sadness as he was going to propose. Heartbroken, thoughts of success tumble and so becomes a primary school teacher at St B’s and really hates Christmas. Gordon Shakespeare on the other hand opts for higher things at the poshest establishment Oakmoor Prep and each year they battle it out to win 5*reviews. So, this year grumpy Paul is given the task of directing the Nativity by the  Head, desperate Mrs Bevan played by Joanna Flay with an air of scattiness, worry but adding faith with a little drop of the hardstuff eventually triumphs. Immediately we fell in love with the opening narration from her nephew, the over enthusiastic Mr. Poppy who has absolutely no experience but whacky ideas to improve her 2* reviews from the fierce critic Pamela Burns – Gemma James strutting her stuff. All with the hope Ofsted will keep her school open. Disasters along the path occur – sabotage – a lie that escalates out of all proportion and finally entails a trip to LA to persuade Jennifer to attend the Nativity. It seems that after five years absence Jennifer hasn’t hit the big time and is only an assistant’s assistant! Gordon’s arrogant production is completely ott and Paul realises he can’t compete, but it is important for them – the children - and they do have the prestigious Cathedral as a venue and in true theatrical fashion the show will go ahead.  The pupils do ‘sparkle and shine’, magic is made and an unexpected arrival from LA  Studio Boss Mrs. Parker well characterised by Jane Banks with a convincing American accent ensures St B’s has a very promising future.

The production team had an enormous task presenting so many different characters ranging from Xmas trees, to Xmas Crackers, Ball Guests, Parents, Reindeer, Teachers, A Priest, Oakmoor Kids (these were adults – loved the knees chaps) and I counted 28 musical numbers for Oscar to prepare too. The scenes set were simple and uncomplicated designed by the director and created by the team perfectly to give maximum space and the movement of larger pieces of brightly painted Christmassy items were slickly  changed. Finishings like red ribbon ties on the curtain, and sparkling stars on black panels either side of the stage effective too, real Christmas trees, with special mention to Craig Gibbons and Judy Gilham for designing Cracker the Dog and to puppeteer Oli Mann for bringing him to life. The most imaginative costumes brought characters to life too, with Julie Baughurst as Wardrobe Co-ordinator and Libby Grainger as Seamstress  combining talents. The children looked particularly smart in their grey and purple and hair very neat.

Lead role Mr Poppy was just wonderful – Gareth Brighton completely got his caring personality just right  and we all loved him and his genuine crackpot ideas from the moment he entered. Huge energy and musical ability including ‘My Very First Day of School.’ The three friends well cast too with Oliver Albertella enjoying in his second show with the company was teacher Paul Maddens who is madly in love with Jennifer seeking stardom in LA with experienced Amelia Jolley ably characterising. This time performing rather than directing David Sismore just threw himself into being the baddie of the piece, rival Gordon Shakespeare uttering great cutting remarks with menace!

Sound quality controlled by Dave Rowland was good for the live music of the band as were the vocals and in particular credit to the children on the clarity of lyrics throughout and with the full company particularly enjoyed ‘Sparkle & Shine’ and ‘one Night, one Moment.’ Chris Packham designed and provided the lighting equipment.