The Best of BROADWAY and the WEST END

Date 29th January 2022
Society Ballywillan Drama Group
Venue Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
Type of Production Concert
Director Brian Logan
Musical Director Andrew Robinson
Choreographer Sharon Logan & Laura Fisher

Report

Author: Sheelagh Hobart

The Director came to us before the performance to explain the difficulties the society had had to get onto the stage of the Riverside Theatre. This great little theatre belongs to the University of Ulster, in Coleraine, parts of which were condemned as unsafe just before the Pandemic and permission sought to upgrade it. Unfortunately it was stripped of all Lighting and then sat waiting all through Lockdown without planning permission. When theatres began to open again, the powers that be decided that it could open for small scale productions in the meantime so BDG postponed Kinky Boots (again) and decided to stage a Musicals Concert.

This was no ordinary ‘stand and sing’ concert – it was choreographed, part costumed, with many appropriate props and a four piece band. They had seven standing/hand-held mics and a couple of body mics and rigged enough lights to cover full stage and some spots. Despite losing around six soloists at the last minute, BDG has enough talent to replace them and some dancers. Also various chorus members stepped up to the mics in “Mama Mia” and others numbers- even Karen who is usually in charge of props! Everyone wore black for Act 1 and added shawls scarfs, waistcoats etc. as necessary, and for Act II all wore denim and brightly coloured monogrammed Tee Shirts – also adding accessories as appropriate.

The programme ranged from old favourites such as Oklahoma & Carousel, through My Fair Lady & Grease to Hairspray, Come from Away, Wicked & Six. As there were thirty different pieces, I cannot comment on everyone so will mention some highlights (and niggles!). ‘All That Jazz’ and Mr Cellophane from Chicago opened the show. Clare Campbell and a group of scantily dressed dancers strutted their stuff with aplomb and set off the show with confidence. Ewan McDonald was less so, forgetting some words and with awkward actions. Clare Campbell, Megan Paul & Donelle Reynolds made a lovely trio of sisters in ‘Matchmaker’ from Fiddler on the Roof; the whole company sang ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ beautifully (complete with Jewish Wedding Canopy) and Alan McClarty did full justice to ‘If I were a Rich Man’ (although I would have liked him to swop his scull cap for a poor man’s headgear).

Patrick Connor stepped in as substitute for Adam Goudy to sing ‘The Last Night of the World” from Miss Saigon with Cathy McColgan and they dueted beautifully. Two of the “stars” of the show were young Sara Jane Campbell singing ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked and Megan Paul with ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ from Evita. She looked stunning in a long white evening dress and did full justice to the iconic song. The addition of seven semi-uniformed “soldiers” slowly marching forward and back behind her was an unnecessary distraction, especially as one of them wore short black jeans showing 3 inches of skin above his shoes! (I know it’s a fashion statement but Wardrobe needed to insist that he wore black socks to fill the gap when on stage!) BDG’s Chairperson Laura Fisher took over the role of Sally Bowles for Lindsay Nelson, to perform ‘Cabaret’ with glittery costumed dancer/singers while ‘Another Suitcase, Another Hall’ was also well performed by Kellyann McKillen with a line of men to back her.  Patrick’s rendition of ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables was very impressive and then the company with ‘One Day More’ – was there ever a better First Act Finale than this?

Act II opener was ‘Welcome to the Rock’ by the company and ‘Me and the Sky’ by Laura Fisher. Come From Away tickets are highly sought after in the West End and these two pieces were a grand introduction to the Coleraine audience. Then, ‘Get Me to the Church on time’ was a very familiar number from My Fair Lady by Stevie Black and company, which got audience members clapping in time. ‘I know where I’ve been” from Hairspray was then powerfully sung by Helen Wilkinson. The company joined Donnelle Reynolds and and Aaron Kennedy for the popular ‘Suddenly Seymour and ‘Summer Nights’ with Donelle and Jack Graham (who shows great promise for the future) from Little Shop of Horrors and Grease. The conclusion of ‘Suddenly Seymour’ revealed lots of the company carrying little “Audrey “ plants which was a nice touch. Patrick Connor showed his comedic flair with ‘You’ll be Back’ from Hamilton and then everyone’s favourites – Mary Poppins and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat were featured with ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, a lovely gentle version of ‘Feed the Birds’ by Clare Campbell and Vicky Hogg, and a hilarious ‘One More Angel in Heaven’ by the Company (loved the goat!). 

Senior company member Olive Hemphill sang Carousel’s famous ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – Olive, you’ve still got it! 

Each wearing a crown Megan, Donelle, Vicky, Clare. Kellyann and Chloe gave a lively rendition of Six which is a light-hearted view of Henry XIII’s six wives . Previewing Kinky Boots – the show BDG has had to postpone twice - Alan McClarty presented ‘Not My Father’s Son’ with Aaron Kennedy. Alan also acted as compere, popping onto the stage to introduce acts and interact with the audience. The concert finale was a grand Mama Mia megamix – a great audience pleaser to finish an excellent concert of musicals old and new.

Often a concert is more work for the production team than a Musical, so I must congratulate Brian, Andrew and Sharon on all their hard work. James and I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and thank everyone involved in it.