Return to the Forbidden Planet

Date 19th May 2018
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue The Lytton Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Ben Willis
Musical Director Sufia Many
Choreographer Aaron Govey

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Author: Vicki Avery

Return to the Forbidden Planet is what is termed by some as a Jukebox musical by playwright Bob Carlton based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and the 1950s science fiction film Forbidden Planet. The high energy show features a bevy of 1950s and 1960s rock and roll classics including Great Balls of Fire, Good Vibrations, Teenager in Love, The Young Ones and many many more.

On entering Lytton’s headquarters, we were on board the spaceship Albatross and some crew members (the cast) were undertaking routine checks ready for takeoff. The ship was represented by a very convincing open stage set. I wonder how much recycling was done. Well done to the set designer and the construction team led by Lucy Stallard and team.

As the show begins you are welcomed on board the Albatross by two unforgettable characters Dee Tergent (Deborah O’Donnell) and Andy Sceptic) Lee Wilgucki, the ships hosts. They then invite you to sit back and relax as the crew take you to another galaxy.

You meet characters such as the jet-setting Captain Tempest played and sung well by Joe Reddan who had an enjoyable singing voice.

The mad scientist Doctor Prospero manically played by John Dunleavey and then there was Louise Edwards who was outstanding as the soft-hearted fun-loving robot named Ariel. A great character part for any actress. I loved it!

Ross Edwards as Cookie was a very likeable character and had an affinity with the audience as he also delivered both his songs and dialogue with conviction.

The Science Officer Gloria (Prospero’s estranged wife) was played with passion and swagger by Richelle Brundle. She sang her songs with feeling and her voice was well placed for the differing musical genres.

Rosie Rowland-Morris as Bosun Arras the ships officer gave us a good sound performance and sang well as did Jaysica Marvell in her part as the Navigation officer.

Alice Atkins did a brilliant job as Prospero’s daughter Miranda. She emanated naivety on first encounter and then ably changed character later in the show when trying a different tactic to attract the Captain. Well played.

Keith Nussey was very amusing as the Newscaster keeping us up to date with the story and I felt the back projection worked very well indeed.

 

In this show much of the libretto is spoken in Shakespearian verse resulting in the potential for it to be problematical for the audience when trying to follow the action. However, in this production for a majority of the performance the actors projected very clear diction and there were some very good well-maintained accents.

The small but well-balanced orchestra was managed by Musical Director Sufia Manya and was one of the better small orchestras I have heard. They supported the cast well although they were a little loud on a few occasions; however, I was sat not far from the stage and my feet were keeping time with the music on almost every song.

The costumes were well thought out and it was obvious a lot of time and effort had gone into getting the right theme and putting them together.

Well done to sound, lighting, crew and front of house, the unsung heroes of many productions.

Congratulations to Ben Willis Director for a very enjoyable toe tapping show.

Also, many thanks to Producer Debbie Woolley for looking after John  and me so well.

Congratulations to you all.