Our Day Out

Date 8th June 2013
Society New Mills Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue New Mills Arts Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Paula Holmes - Waddacor

Report

Author: Bill Platt

This show, written by Willy Russell, is a tale of teenagers set free for one day from the confines of school for a day trip to the zoo and other places. There are archetypical characters, bullies, girls with inappropriate make up and clothes and teachers at the opposite ends of the spectrum of understanding.   There are many difficulties to overcome in this show but this production certainly did the job and well.

The play opened with the children passing through the auditorium, a good way of getting us acquainted with them at close quarters. The lollipop man arrived on stage possessed with good vocal and physical presence. His comedy timing was very good in the opening exchanges.

The first musical number was well ordered and we were just getting into the dialogue when there was the unfortunate interruption from the stage manager regarding a badly parked vehicle outside. However, the cast reacted very well to this hiatus and then Mrs Kay, very wisely, took the dialogue back a couple of sentences to ease everyone back into the show.

The actors portraying Mrs Kay and Mr Biggs were both excellent, especially Keith, who reminded a lot of the audience of their own school days I should imagine!   The appearance of the bus driver (John Reezer) was excellent with good vocal quality on his number and a routine lifted right out of the Shakin’ Stevens back catalogue.

All the children showed great discipline on stage, none of them ever coming out of character. The stand outs were Brian (Johnny Green), Linda (Liz Callaghan) and the two bored girls whose vocal contribution was very funny, especially as it was a link throughout the show. Carol (Alexandra Waddacor) provided good contrast to the others and was a very sympathetic character.

The bus journey and use of the revolve was very entertaining, although some of the volume dipped in the general conversation on the bus. I especially enjoyed the Mersey Tunnel back drop.  The shop scene was very well played and there was good vocal portrayal from Methawee.  The ‘I’m In Love With Sir’ number was very well done by both Linda and Jackie.

The zoo scene was simply but effectively portrayed by the cast bringing on the fences and the animal stealing part was quite amusing. One notable fault here though was the poor lighting at the left front of the stage.

The conflict between Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs was a highlight of the beginning of the second act and the constant smoking behind the scenes was very funny but the smell of herbal cigarettes is unpleasant. There was one point where the cigarette was deliberately stubbed out by Brian but this was hidden behind the blocks and could have benefited from being seen more.

The scene between Brian and Susan (where she effectively put him down following his advances to her) was very well done and lead into the ‘She Likes you’ song which was also very good.

The scene between Carol and Mr Briggs, which brought about the change in him (or so we thought) was a highlight of the production and Carol’s song ‘Why Can’t It Always Be Like This’ was extremely poignant and moving. I also liked the backing sounds at this particular time which gave a true impression of being at the sea side.

The use of the back drop, again, during the fairground scene plus the revolve was excellent but once again I was conscious of the dark area at the left front of the stage.

The final number was well executed and should have given the director (Paula Holmes-Waddacor) the ending she desired.

In conclusion, this was a very good show with an excellent mix of adults and younger people. Choreography was simple but effective and the pace of the play was good throughout. The songs were clearly sung to good accompaniment by Tim Walker, a most enjoyable night at the theatre.