You Still Can't Stop The Beat

Date 24th September 2022
Society Bethel Crowd Amateur Operatic Society
Venue St James' High School Farnworth
Type of Production Concert
Director Helena Carter & Caitlin Owen
Choreographer Helena Carter & Caitlin Owen


Author: Nathan Benson

Many thanks to The Bethel Crowd for inviting me along to see their revue style concert of 'You Still Can't Stop the Beat' at St. James’ High School, Farnworth. This performance was scheduled to occur pre covid and sadly this society lost their home during this period. This made no difference, as the cast looked at ease working within the space, and the set up and technical aspects were all established and functioning well.


My biggest take away from this performance was the community feel to the show. The show featured 30 numbers, mostly from different musicals, taking the audience on a very pleasant journey through their musical revue. Almost all of the players were featured in some way, and the cast ranged from 6-71 years of age. My biggest criticism would be that not all of the performers got a featured number to shine, and it appeared a few more experienced members of the society were featured more often. Although the quality of these performances were great, personally I believe this was at the expense of a full community feel, highlighting and spotlighting the entire company's talents. 


Direction and choreography was undertaken by Helena Carter and Caitlin Owen. I must say that they absolutely smashed that task, using the stage in a multitude of ways. The stage itself was very well designed by Graham Talbot and his team, which consisted of a scaffolded structure upstage centre consisting of 4 levels, then the full stage with an additional boxed apron extending from the stage. The performance was crafted around the build and was consistently used in dynamic ways. Choreography was creative and at times quite technical, it was wonderful to see some of the youth members attempting to take on some of the technical elements of dance, and absolutely nail the task.


Costumes were simple yet effective, Act 1 being brought to us in black and white, and Act 2 had the cast in sequins and sparkles – both were different takes on these themes, which was nice.


Lighting was great also, provided by Ste Porter with SPFX Productions. Both Acts started with an Overture. Act 1's Overture used open stage curtains and robotic spotlights to dance around the stage and flood the audience with high beams to the front. Although this was lovely, and great for the dynamics of them to change with the music, for me it did feel a little long to be watching a light show to recorded music. Another idea would’ve been to shorten the track or bring some action onto the stage to supplement the lights. Act 2 Overture was to a similar effect but did not feel so drawn out. Throughout the entire show, the lighting design was effective and amplified the numbers well. Sound by Ben Kilburn was good, although there were various issues throughout the performance. All performers maintained focus throughout these issues, which is a testament to the cast.


As well as directing and choreographing the show, Helena Carter and Caitlin Owen also performed multiple numbers - these ladies have talent and technique to spare. One of my favourite numbers that they performed was 'Let me be your star' from Smash. This number highlighted their beautiful voices, which, although very different; Helena's quite classical with impeccable range and glorious tone in the higher register, and Caitlin's was more modern with nice tone, control and riff ability. They complemented one another well and blended perfectly in their harmonies. Garry Foley was featured in a couple of numbers and brought with him great characterisations and stage presence. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of 'Master of the House' from Les Miserables, sung with Zoey Tattersall. He also sang 'Mushnik and Son' from Little Shop of Horrors with Jason. Zoey was also featured throughout the performance and gave a fabulous rendition of 'Flash Bang Wallop' from Half a Sixpence, it was really nice to hear her lower vocal range in this number. Peter Schofield gave a very lovely performance of 'Be Back Soon' from Oliver. He had me in stitches during the finale, where the rest of the cast were dancing and bopping, he grounded his feet, found his character and delivered the number with intent, owning his choice not to dance. A very brave decision and I absolutely loved it. Suzie Woodley gave an outstanding performance of Spamalot’s  'Diva's Lament', this number was a real showstopper. Suzie has a great voice, delivered a wonderful and funny characterisation. To finish the adults Carolyn Woodley appeared in many ensemble numbers. I did make a note that I would have liked to see her smile more. She looked and moved fabulous onstage, had all the choreography nailed, and gave it her all, this would have been polished with a little more confidence and a smile. Great work though.


The show also featured many youths. Jessica Lomax and Thomas Coburn gave a lovely rendition of 'Electricity' from Billy Elliott. Jessica also gave a gorgeous version of 'Doll on a music box' from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Aimee Tanner. I loved the choreography for this number, using basic ballet technique with small pops akin to the ballerina in the show. Aimee joined Elise Fairclough in a really cute and a pitch perfect version of 'Typical Girl Next Door' from Side Show. Katie Monks and Mairead Coburn gave a stunning performance of 'I Know It's Today' from Shrek with Helena. This number gave me goosebumps, it was acted excellently by all featured soloists and had a gorgeous ending with the full female chorus joining in. Kate Evans and Bethany Pendlebury performed a lovely duet of Gypsy's 'Let Me Entertain You'. Isla Tweed Paul and Erin Kissane-Parkes delivered well in the chorus numbers they appeared, with Isla featuring in 'Wherever We Go' from Gypsy alongside Kate and Verity Coburn. For me, Verity was the star of this show. She performed 'Castle On A Cloud' from Les Misérables and this was the cutest version of this number I have seen performed. She brought sass, style and flair to all numbers she appeared and provided 10 consecutive cartwheels in one number, absolutely wonderful performance and energy.


The number which stood out for me in this show was a full company version of Vera Lynn's 'We'll Meet Again.' This brought me to tears and maybe has a lot of meaning to many in the audience too – it is lovely that this song is being passed down and performed with the younger generations.


Thanks again for inviting me and good luck with your next adventures.

Nathan Benson Noda Rep