There's No Business Like Show Business

Date 27th November 2021
Society Grayshott Stagers
Venue Grayshott Village Hall
Type of Production Concert
Director Mary Coyte, Heather Legat & Ellis Nicholls
Musical Director Lizzie Hales
Choreographer Lizzie Hales


Author: Jane Turner

For their return to the stage following various lockdowns, Grayshott Stagers chose a sparkling assortment of songs from some of the many shows they have performed in the 70 years of their existence since they were founded in 1951, together with a Drama Medley comprising 18 plays and 55 characters from their previous shows in about 10 minutes, and an extract from Blithe Spirit – the famous séance scene.  Bursting with music and dripping with nostalgia, the whole combination was truly imaginative, fast paced, skilful and great fun.

The talented live music group of three, under the direction of Lizzie Hales, made a huge difference.  The volume was perfect, never overpowering the singers.  Great ensemble singing and harmony, having the audience tapping their feet right from the start.

Richard Weller was an amusing and enthusiastic compère who occasionally joined in the action.  He explained that the Grayshott Stagers, throughout their history, had even been on tour – dramatic pause – to Haslemere!

The opening scene burst into action with the signature tune There’s No Business Like Show Business from Annie Get Your Gun.  The singing was strong and tuneful by a mostly female ensemble but with four strong males who had their own slots throughout the show.  The choice of songs was right up my street – all of them among my favourites!  They were a good mix with some quick changes of style – for example going into Macaroons from Acorn Antiques.  It would be unfair to single out particular numbers or performers – each and every one was, I thought, exceptional.

Closing Act 1, the Drama Medley entitled Murder, Matrimony, Matriarchs was a fast-paced romp through 18 shows with 10 performers portraying 55 different characters.  It reminded me of those hilarious Shakespeare combinations which race through all Shakespeare’s plays in about 15 minutes!  There were some very funny touches, particularly the squeaky shoes!

And then a complete change of pace for the opening of Act 2 with the famous Séance scene from Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit.  This short excerpt was a tour de force.  Every character was perfectly cast but mention must be made of the stand-out performance by Sara Wilson-Soppitt as Madam Arcati.  Her interpretation of the role was exceptional and worthy of the professional stage.

Unfair though it is, as I said, to single out individual numbers, I must mention the nameless stager who sang I Am What I Am from La Cage aux Folles.  Superb!

And then to send us home with the memory of a fantastic evening, the whole ensemble gave us Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity, emphasising the wonderful harmonies, strong singing, talented musicians, slick choreography and colourful costumes which we had enjoyed throughout the evening.

There was an enormous variety of costumes, all extremely colourful, which must have been a challenge for the costume team, outfitting a cast of over 30.  The cast were responsible for their own hair and make-up which didn’t disappoint.

The set was understandably simple as the majority of the numbers were cabaret style, moving swiftly from one to the.  The use of parasols was very effective in one well rehearsed routine and in another scene I was impressed by the authentic mock microphones.  The Drama Medley made use of minimum props and furniture and the Blithe Spirit set was perfect, leaving space for Madame Arcati to stride around without hindrance.

The four Directors – Mary Coyte for the Show, Heather Legat for the Drama Medley, Ellis Nicholls for Blithe Spirit and Lizzie Hales for the Music – must all be congratulated in combining their efforts to produce a complex show which hit all the right spots.