Our House

Date 28th April 2022
Society Stowmarket Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue The Regal Theatre, Stowmarket
Type of Production Musical
Director Karen Long
Musical Director Sue Ogden
Choreographer Marie Oakes

Report

Author: Catherine Dixey

Karen has always loved the music of Madness, and she finally got her wish to direct it.  It is literally mad from the opening number to the final song.  The energy, effort and enthusiasm the whole cast put into this production is amazing, with plenty of comedy thrown in throughout.

The story opens with Joe Casey, played by Mark Littlewood, as his mother Kath is throwing him a 16th birthday party. She captures the character of an Irish  mother perfectly and doesn’t lose her  Irish accent throughout the whole show. It is at this point that the very complex storyline splits into two very different paths as we see the good and the bad (or the white and the black) side of Joe. The two paths run side by side and Joe does well with his constant costume changes to portray the different sides of his character and how his life could change with the different decisions and choices he has to make.

Joe’s girlfriend Sarah is played by Sharon Preece. She has a beautiful singing voice, and gives a quality performance in her portrayal.  Joe’s  dead father (Craig Fisher) was a criminal, and  actually appears as a ghost. Not an easy role to play. He stands to the side of the stage and cannot participate in any of the onstage action.  Craig  manages to capture just the right feel for his character. Mention must also go to Johnny Ellis as Reecey, quite a nasty character, who is constantly encouraging Joe to get into criminal activities.

 Jon Wray plays Mr Pressman and a multitude of other very different characters. His characterisation skills in switching from one to another was excellent. Indeed the whole of the ensemble all had three or four different character parts requiring constant quick costume changes. The costume list must have been immense and praise must go to Jo Chadwick, Toni Haslam and Tora Roat-Moye  who  sourced all the costumes from the extensive SODS wardrobe.

Everything about this show is crazy, not least of all, all the song and dance routines. Marie Oakes had certainly given a lot of thought into different scenarios for the dance routines, from dancing with school desks to a kick-line. The whole cast certainly put in lots of energy and enthusiasm into their songs and dances.

The seven piece orchestra were all positioned on the side of the stage and did a brilliant job under the direction of Sue Ogden, with special mention to Tina Palmer on Saxophone, the sound of which is so iconic of the Madness music. The sound levels were also very good, and the orchestra did not drown out the singers.

Director Karen Long’s vision of the Sliding doors concept worked well with the set, designed by Michael Jewell, giving different directions for the different paths Joe could take. The backstage crew worked tirelessly with constant set changes, which were done effectively and smoothly during the action, ensuring the pace was kept up throughout.

Much work by Karen had also gone into sourcing plans and components in creating a cut down Morris Minor for Joe’s car. It was used very effectively with the projection of roads behind it onto the backcloth in the “driving in my car” scene.  The lighting was effective, with an often quite dark set, contrasting with good lighting on the cast’s faces and particularly on Joe’s father.

This show was something a bit different from the normal and congratulations must go to Karen for her vision and to all the cast and crew for buying into her ideas, creating a very entertaining and enjoyable show. Thanks also to Glynis and her FOH team for their hospitality.

Finally it was a pleasure for Tessa Davis the Noda East Councillor and myself to be able to present SODS with a framed certificate for their 100th anniversary of the Society’s formation. A great achievement.