The Nativity Saga

Date 15th November 2018
Society Richmond Operatic Society
Venue The Georgian Theatre Royal - Richmond
Type of Production Play
Director John Holliday
Musical Director John Hunter
Choreographer John Holliday / Charlotte Porter


Author: Peter Oliver

When asked to review a show by Richmond Operatic society I was absolutely thrilled not only had I never been to The Georgian Theatre Royal in the beautiful market town of Richmond but to review a show that had been written and directed by their chairman was for me a real honour and what a treat my wife and I had.

The Nativity Saga written by the talented John Holliday tells the humorous story of a amateur group showcasing one of the most famous story of all time, but with a few unexpected turns including costume disasters, musical anarchy, scenery and prop disasters, as well as relationship issues and without saying one or two prima-donna characters thrown into the mix, the perfect ingredients for an outstanding Christmas spectacular showcase. Music was in the very capable hands of John Hunter who also played the part of Gordon the musical Director and Pianist, congratulation to his band members Jane Hunter, Nick Ibbotson and Peter New, the music was perfectly delivered never overshadowing the performers and at the right balance. Well done also to the production team, Charlotte Porter for her inspiration and talent with the choreography, Christine Hill who did a sterling job in the wardrobe and props department the costumes looked fantastic and I loved the donkey’s head. Beverly Owens as stage manager and her amazing stage crew who kept everything moving throughout the production and Gary Winn for his artistic flair for the set design. I personally would also like to thank the front of house staff for their hospitality especially the societies President Sheila Russell for offering us a warm welcome and giving us a tour of their beautiful theatre.

The play centred not only around the story of the nativity but on the individual characters and the relationships of the members of the amateur society and this combination worked so well. John Hunter played the part of the straight laced Musical Director Gordon; John Holliday had excellent stage presence he convincingly dealt with all the individual characters not an easy role in amateur theatre including his own hidden secret with one of the cast members. Well done John Holliday - not only did you write and direct this play but you took on one of the main characters and delivered this part competently and with professionalism and I enjoyed your musical number “Torn” with your character family. Playing John’s wife Susan was Amy Clarkson again great character and a well polished performance I loved her musical numbers “As Long As He Needs Me” and “Fairy Tale of New York” there daughter Emily was beautifully played by Tilly Raper again a strong confident performance from this young lady and I particularly enjoyed her contribution to the musical number “From Now On” with John Holliday, Gracie Will and cast. Gracie Will played the character Rachel as the reluctant Narrator and Angel, excellent characterisation of this extraordinary prima Donna who was 38 weeks pregnant  by John but in a relationship with Gary, I know its complicated but a fantastic character who‘s stage presence was a pleasure to watch she delivered some excellent comic moments and her interaction with other cast members was very interactive, great powerful vocals and I particularly enjoyed Gracie’s solo numbers “All I want For Christmas Is You” and “Stay Another Day”. Playing Rachel’s boyfriend Gary was Jordon Leighton who played the character Joseph this was a fantastic character part, I loved his one liners and the way he played his character which was very funny and entertaining especially when the inn keepers door fell on him, vocally Jordon had a confident range I loved his interpretation of “I’m Gonna Be” with the chorus and “Sound Of Silence” his duet with Tilly Raper. Playing the role of Paula as the character Mary was Liz McDougall I loved this character, it was evident that Liz was a very experienced actress and she played this character with ease although she did take some stick from Gracie who wanted her role and was constantly referred to as the “noisy old tart” by Jordon great performance. Playing the kings were Ken Haigh as Charles loved the Frankenstein head, Alex Bennett as Ryan who also played the donkey lovely vocals and Caitlin Smith who also played a shepherd and an innkeeper great depiction of these characters and extremely funny scenes and  they delivered their  musical number “We Three Kings” beautifully and very funny. Playing the Shepherds were Lauren Morton as Wendy who also played the Stagehand, Sophie Montgomery as Becky who also delivered two beautiful solo numbers “Silent Night” and one of my favourite christmas songs “O Holy Night” I have to restrain myself from joining in and Caitlin Smith, great characters and they confidently delivered their musical number with Gracie Will “While Shepherds Watched”. Edith Hunt played Alison the costume mistress a good portrayal of this character again with good stage presence and finally Susanne Harding as Carol the stage manager who certainly had her hands full trying to keep all the mishaps under control.

No show is complete without the chorus member’s congratulations to Mike McGarry, Louise McColl, Lou Holliday, Julie Winn, Imogen Goodchild, Sam Fitzsimmons and Gary Winn all of whom contributed to the overall success of this production and they all certainly added value especially with the l company musical numbers which including “Winter Wonderland”, “Ive Got A Little List” and “Do They Know Its Christmas” and I loved the routine to “Show People”.   

This was an exceptional performance, well directed by John and the production team and the whole cast seemed to enjoy themselves and deliver a superb performance, and a from the audience reaction it certainly demonstrated that this premier show was well received and enjoyed by all. Well done to everyone at Richmond Operatic Society and thank you once again for the invitation and hospitality.