Date 20th October 2023
Society Dunstable Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Grove Theatre, Dunstable
Type of Production Musical
Director Alan Goss
Musical Director Joanna Smale
Choreographer Jo Herd


Author: Tessa Davies

This was, of course, the original version of this show but with the current excitement over the West End revival, it was lovely to see a packed house for this performance.  To be honest I prefer this version of the show, it does give societies great opportunities to put on a spectacular show and Dunstable MTC did exactly that.

The lead actors were outstanding; Julia Fraser played Norma Desmond beautifully, starting out as a strong and forceful character but her skill at showing the degeneration into madness at the end is to be admired.  Her vocals were excellent and her character was completely believable. 

Elliott Bunker played Joe Gillis and this was another strong performance from a very experienced actor.  His vocals were also excellent and he demonstrated the dilemma that someone of his status would be in when offered the luxury life after being broke and chased by debt collectors.

Alan Clarke played Max Von Mayerling with great style and empathy, his acting was superb.   Rachel Maloy played Betty Schaefer well and her vocals were strong, a nicely judged performance.

James Allen (Artie Green) Chris Young (Sheldrake) Matthew Allen (Manfred) and David Hillman (Cecil B De Mille) all gave excellent performances. The ensemble were terrific, playing multiple parts and the singing, from the company, was excellent.  The scene changes and, in particular the movement of trucks was very well done, in the main, by the company.  This helped to maintain the pace of the show and there were only a few blank or blacked out moments.

Scenery and costumes were hired in so they looked good, and the efforts that the company went to, to ensure authentic hair and accessories was impressive.  The use of projection was good and added to the story, however using front projection has its problems and, until the lighting was turned up, we could see the projection on the actors.

The sound was a little suspect, with mics being turned up late, so we missed the first line of dialogue for a lot of the characters in the first half of the show.  Although it did settle down, so I assume this was just first night jitters.  Lighting was very good, very atmospheric and well executed.  Although I do question the constant use of the smoke effect, it seemed inappropriate at times.

My thanks for being made so welcome, I enjoyed the show immensely.