Showtime

Date 24th November 2018
Society Petersfield Theatre Group
Venue Festival Hall, Petersfield
Type of Production Concert
Director Jane Baron (and many more)
Musical Director Gareth Baynham-Hughes
Choreographer As Directors

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

Petersfield Theatre Group is celebrating its 10th Anniversary and did so in big style with “Showtime”. The production was compiled, scripted, arranged, choreographed and costumed by members of the society, using songs from shows it has performed and shows it would like to perform, but which might not be available or suitable for the demographics of the membership. They made some interesting choices – a lot of familiar numbers of course, but interspersed with some not so obvious choices from well-known shows and a few items from shows I didn’t know at all.

It was a good idea to split the work of directing and choreographing each section of the show between a whole team of people. Directors/choreographers Roger Wetton, Mikki Magorian, Jane Baron, Lucia Pattie, Lucy Davies, Russell Theron, Mark Perry, Elliott Port, Chris Hackett, Libby Stockel, Jayne Elsey, Amy Mannerings, Emma Lumb, Sarah Jupe and Emily McCubbin can jointly take credit for this magnificent production. Not forgetting Gary Stanley for writing the script and MD Gareth Baynham-Hughes for sorting out all the musical arrangements. Praise too for Geoff Wootton, Elliott Port, Lucia Pattie and Mikki Magorian who ably linked the numbers together and, of course, for the set construction and back-stage crews, for a great set and slick management of all the changes.

This was an incredible team effort and it would be invidious to single out individuals for praise as everyone, adults, children, soloists and chorus, gave top notch performances. Instead I will pick out a few numbers that particularly impressed me.

The opening sequence, Tradition and Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the roof – so well sung and the choreography was inventive and executed to perfection. Revolting Children from Matilda – a great performance from the children. Skid Row and Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors – great singing and movement. Act 1 finished in style with a medley from Pirates of Penzance, which ably demonstrated PTG’s ability to perform a different genre, operetta, with great gusto and tenderness.

Act 2 gave the ladies a chance to dazzle us with Cell Block Tango from Chicago and the men a chance to impress us with their bravura in Nothing Like a Dame from South Pacific, while everyone shone in my favourite: Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity. Finishing with two numbers from the immensely popular film, The Greatest Showman (am I the only person in the country who hasn’t seen it?) seemed a very apt way to conclude a showcase for this wonderfully talented group of showmen and women.

The single set was simple but well-constructed and allowed the show to progress with minimal interruptions for scene changes. The pyrotechnics added some nice surprises and the lighting created great atmosphere for each number. Costumes were spectacular throughout – a far cry from the token hints that are often used in compilation shows.

The fifteen piece orchestra, under the talented baton of Gareth Baynham-Hughes, produced a great sound and their volume was generally well-controlled, but sometimes overwhelmed the singers. The sound system, at least where I was sitting in the seats on the flat at the front, could perhaps have done with more amplification and better clarity, as some singers’ voices were lost.

What a spectacular celebration this was, demonstrating the talent, quality and sheer professionalism of PTG. Solo numbers and chorus set-pieces were all beautifully sung and acted, and the idea of linking the pieces together with a storyline worked well and raised this show to a higher level. Judging by the reaction of the last night audience, they agreed with me in thinking that we are very lucky to have such a talented group of entertainers in this area.