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Ribchester Village Hall

Ribchester Amateur Theatrical Society
Poison in The Parish

20 July 2017


I always look forward to my visits to this lovely part of Lancashire to see this talented Society, especially if the show takes place outside. The weather was very kind to us tonight and the audience enjoyed this production as they followed the action around this village.

The murder mystery play was written by local author, Bridget Rabbitts and was directed by Viki Mason and Charlotte Green. This was a “Family Friendly” play set in the picturesque village of Ribchester.  Various members of the cast mixed with the audience as we moved to the village school, scene of the first part of the play. The costumes appeared to be entirely appropriate to the  1920’s period in which the production was to be enacted.

We were all provided with a cast list with detailed information about each...

Full details for “Poison in The Parish”

Lowther Pavilion

St Annes Parish Church Operatic Society
Fiddler on the Roof

14 July 2017


“Fiddler on the Roof” from the book by Joseph Stein with Music by Jerry Bock and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick has continued to be a popular Musical. Many of the ideals, problems and attitudes are still relevant in today’s Society. This show is still obviously popular Box Office looking at the audience numbers over the run at The Lowther.

I was looking forward to this production as it is one of my favourite shows, with a lovely story line and memorable music.

The show opened with a simple but effective set and Tevye, Gavin Tyrell introduced us to his home and the various characters who lived there.

The opening routine was excellent with a very well choreographed ensemble and good pace, which augured well for the rest of the evening. There were some very good performances tonight....

Full details for “Fiddler on the Roof”

Woodend Mill Mossley

Mossley Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
The Crucible

13 July 2017

This play written in 1953 by Arthur Miller has to be one of the most iconic plays and difficult for adults to pull off with thought provoking subjects which are as relevant today as they ever were.

This production by the young drama group at Next Generation certainly pulled out all the stops to tackle such a difficult piece. The direction by Michael Jones McCaw kept the pace of the piece and scenes which flowed well with clever use of just props. I liked that the cast were all visible sitting in rows of chairs to the sides of the playing area. This focussed the performers waiting to appear, never allowing anyone to miss a cue or be noisy backstage. I liked the use of the incidental music underneath dialogue but sometimes this meant I couldn’t hear some of the cast because of either...

Full details for “The Crucible”

Wigan Little Theatre

Wigan Little Theatre
Ladies Day

12 July 2017

I have seen several performances of the play “Ladies Day” written by Amanda Whittington, but I can honestly say the latest offering from Wigan Little Theatre was up there with the best as it was an outstanding polished production. Directed by Christine Armstrong this play is a feel-good comedy drama centred around four fish factory workers from Hull named Shelley, Linda, Jan and Pearl, who is leaving the factory to spend more time with her husband, but stresses she is not retiring, to celebrate she would like to go the races for a day, so the four of them take a trip to Ladies day at Royal Ascot the year it relocated to York. But as the day progresses, we witness and are party to confessions of unexpected secrets, stories of broken relationships, concealed heartache and thwarted...

Full details for “Ladies Day”

Sands Centre Carlisle

Stagedright Youth Theatre
Titanic The Musical

9 July 2017


Titanic is an enormous undertaking for any musical theatre company to take on, but the multi talented Stagedright  company did it with great aplomb.

Everyone knows the tragic story, but the show started with the crew and passenger embarkation at Southampton, and followed right through to the eventual catastrophe. Along the way we were introduced to the crew, Captain Smith and his officers, the stokers and the stewards. We met the First Class toffs, the Second Class, middle class, and the Third Class passengers, who were on the cheaper lower decks.

There were no standout  performances from the long list of main characters, because every last one of them was quite superb. They all played their specific characters wonderfully well. All the solos, duets, trios etc were very well sung,...

Full details for “Titanic The Musical”

Greenbank School Theatre Southport

Beauty and the Beast

8 July 2017

What a lovely evening we had watching SONG’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” which brought back memories of family holidays in Disney World Florida and watching the latest version of the live action film starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens with my grandchildren. The show has music written by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice from a book by Linda Woolverton

Directed by Hilary Thomson with Charles Moss as Musical Director and Hayleigh Griffin as Choreographer, this was a very enjoyable show produced by a company that has very talented young performers in its ranks and the cast of this show were no exception as they all performed very well working together with no weak links and appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. The cast included Astrid Travis who...

Full details for “Beauty and the Beast”

Lowther Pavilion

Fylde Coast Players
Are you being Served

7 July 2017


This play by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft based on their successful T.V. series provided a challenge for this company.  Paul Lomax, Director had selected a group of very talented and experienced actors to reprise the iconic T.V. roles. This is never an easy task and sometimes the transition from screen to stage can be very demanding and I felt that this was the case in this instance. The curtains opened to reveal a well constructed and dressed set with the central stairs and practical lift doors, which mirrored the T.V. programme. Congratulations for set design and for appropriate 1970’s dressing.  The familiar music and store announcements put the audience in the correct mood as we were introduced to the characters one by one.

Chris Slack as the complaining Mash opened the...

Full details for “Are you being Served”

West Walls Theatre Carlisle

Carlisle Green Room Club

1 July 2017


What an excellent performance of Noel Coward’s classic comedy this was.

The very talented cast played their parts extremely well. Seb Coombe was brilliant as author Charles Condomine he commanded the stage from start to finish, He was very well supported by Sarah Waters, playing his second wife Ruth, Jason Munn and Carolyn Mooney, playing Doctor and Mrs Bradman, were dinner guests of the Condomines, and Karen Frizzle, playing her first role with the company was a very good incompetent maid.Special mention must go to Sarah Coyle, playing the ghost of Charles’s first wife. How difficult it is to play a major lead in a performance, but be inconspicuous at the same time, she did it with aplomb. Finally, to complete the cast, there was a totally amazing performance from Caroline...

Full details for “BLITHE SPIRIT”

Lowther Pavilion

Team Christies
A Concert for Christies

30 June 2017


Team Christies had been working on this Biennial Show for six months, gathering together the talented and experienced cast who were prepared to give their time and talents to support this  worthwhile work of the Christie’s Charitable Fund.

The very strong Production Team, of Emma Norman, Director/Musical Director and five choreographers had put together a splendid Production over three nights. They played to capacity audiences and I am sure that they could have filled The Lowther Pavilion for many more nights.

We were taken on a journey through many Musicals, both old and new, by the sixty strong cast, whose energy and commitment was outstanding. The whole programme had been carefully planned from the Overture, from “ The Full Monty” to the final number “We Belong” from “...

Full details for “A Concert for Christies”

Lancaster Grand

Morecambe Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
9 to 5 The Musical

30 June 2017

Written by Patricia Resnick, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, the musical 9 to 5 is based on the 1980`s movie of the same name. After its` first year on Broadway, it received 4 Tony nominations, and 15 Drama Desk Award Nominations. Set in 1979, it centres around the lives of three women- Violet, Doralee and Judy who forge an unlikely friendship, working under their sexist, lecherous, self-opinionated, lying boss (self-made man, who worshipped his own creator). They join up to turn the tables on their boss to prove that together, there is nothing they can`t do, and though triumphant in the end there are some touching, poignant and funny moments along the way.
Dolly Parton introduced the show (via a projected image) introducing us to the main characters throughout the prologue....

Full details for “9 to 5 The Musical”

Burnley Mechanics Theatre

Valley Academy

30 June 2017

I've always had rather a soft spot for this particular show, mainly because I like the dichotomy between the dark and sombre themes of Dickens’ novel ‘Oliver Twist’ and the vivid colours summoned up by the bright and breezy musical version of the same story: there’s a good reason for that jaunty exclamation mark in the musical’s title. It's also a difficult show to really get right. I don’t think I've ever seen - or been in - a production of ‘Oliver!’ which really managed to completely capture the essence of the the show and give a fully rounded evening’s entertainment. The show is a staple of the amateur circuit and is a popular choice for many a society for a whole host of reasons (there's the ‘bums on seats’ factor; the pleasing opportunity to give a large number of young performers...

Full details for “Oliver”

Mawdesley Village Hall

Mawdesley Amateur Dramatic Society
Neighbourhood Watch

30 June 2017

The Play Neighbourhood Watch  was written by Alan Ayckbourn and was  premiered in September 2011 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre  Scarborough. “The Stage” reviewer Mark Shenton described the play as "a brilliant social comedy that is also a fierce and provocative political drama".

The play centres around a devoutly Christian brother and sister, Martin and Hilda who move into a middle-class area next to a run-down estate. So, when Martin catches a young intruder climbing over his fence and following several petty crimes by the residents from the nearby estate that had been either ignored or not taken seriously by the police, he decides to form a Neighbourhood Watch Committee and persuades some of his neighbours to join. These members include a nosy woman, a suspicious ex-security...

Full details for “Neighbourhood Watch”

Little Theatre Southport

Southport Spotlights Musical Theatre Society

29 June 2017

“Spamalot” is based on the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” which is an irreverent and amusing parody of the heroic story of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table. It is a very funny laugh out loud over the top show firmly grounded in the eccentric and wacky British sense of humour. The show is based on a book by Eric Idle with the music composed by Eric Idle and John Du Prez and it also has one of the most played songs at funerals in its score namely “Always look on the Bright Side of Life”. When I watched this production by “Southport Spotlights Theatre Society” I said what a fantastic production and this I think says it all as in the words of other audience members, they really nailed this show, which was definitely due to a very talented cast, excellent teamwork and...

Full details for “Spamalot”

The Grand Theatre Blackpool-Studio

Poulton Drama
Dancing at Lughnasa

28 June 2017


This evening was a first visit to The Studio at The Grand, Blackpool and also the first time I had seen this play. I  was intrigued by both.

The story, by the award winning dramatist, Brian Friel, is set in Ireland, in the 1930s where “five unforgettable women try to eke out an existence where no tears are without laughter and no laughter is without tears. Each woman is filled with passionate longing and yet they deal with it in their own different ways except when they are all equally possessed by the spirit of the dance, welling up from the buried ancient powers of their native land”.

The Studio was the perfect setting for this particular piece. The intimacy of the venue ensured that the audience could feel that they were inside the cottage of the Mundy Family. The incidental...

Full details for “Dancing at Lughnasa”

Toby Carvery, Ormskirk

Ormskirk Theatre Company
Murder Most Obvious & Ormskirk Theatre Company Presents Strictly Sexfactor on Ice

28 June 2017

“Ormskirk Theatre Company’s” (OTC) latest offering for our enjoyment was a comedy double bill of plays written by two different authors but which actually complimented each other very well. The first play called “Murder Most Obvious”, was written and directed by Paul Falcone. This was a short piece which was very typical of the eccentric wacky British sense of humour which centred on an amateur theatre company namely the Ormskirk Theatre Company who were performing a very under rehearsed and unorganised murder mystery play, but unfortunately everything that could go wrong goes wrong, such as stage crew having to take the place of missing actors, sound effects that went wrong, drunk actors and stagehands who nailed their feet to the floor. It was performed by a team of nine actors using...

Full details for “Murder Most Obvious & Ormskirk Theatre Company Presents Strictly Sexfactor on Ice”

Todmorden Hippodrome Theatre

Todmorden Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
The Pitmen Painters

23 June 2017

Before going any further, I think it's worth stressing at the outset that this was one of the happiest,  most worthwhile and interesting evenings I've spent at the theatre in a very long time. Playwright Lee Hall (of Billy Elliot fame) has crafted a play which is richly rewarding and is a deep and multifaceted exploration of the essence of art and culture, as well as an examination of class, politics, education, society… a fully rounded theatrical experience indeed. Based around the true story of the Ashington Group of real ‘Pitmen Painters’ drawn from the Workers Educational Association in the North East of England in the 1930s, the play introduced us to the real life characters who embraced the world of art, taking the audience along with them as they broaden their horizons. This was...

Full details for “The Pitmen Painters”

The Civic Theatre, Oswaldtwistle

ReAct Academy of Theatre Arts
West Side Story

23 June 2017

‘West Side Story’ is a seminal work in the musical theatre repertoire and one not to be tackled lightly by any amateur society. Leonard Bernstein’s brilliant musical score is one of the finest of all musical creations for the theatrical stage and is a punishing orchestral masterpiece which tests the mettle of even the most experienced musicians. As such, it is perhaps worth mentioning at the outset of this show report the slick and opulent brilliance of the sound summoned up from the orchestra pit throughout the evening: this was a wonderful achievement in itself and created a solid framework for the rest of the production. MD Julia Taylor and her orchestra are to be congratulated for a flawless reading of this titanic score in what was a majestic musical display.

‘West Side Story’s...

Full details for “West Side Story”

Lowther Pavilion

Clifton Academy of Dance, Drama & Music
"Urinetown" The Musical

23 June 2017


This unusually named musical “Urinetown” premiered in 2001 at the New York International Fringe Festival before a production off Broadway at the American Theatre for Actors.

The book written by Greg Kotis was the basis for this show and he worked with Mark Hellman to produce the lyrics whilst Mark Hellman wrote the music.

Clifton Academy are always looking to stretch the boundaries for thrir students and this rather obscure and satirical Musical certainly did that.

The show parodies the traditions of Broadway Musicals and draws inspiration from many musicals such as Les Miserables, The Threepenny Opera and West Side Story whilst the subject matter is rather more serious.  “Urinetown” is the story of a greedy corporate manager and his team and the effect on the town’s population...

Full details for “"Urinetown" The Musical”

Whitehaven Civic Hall

The Whitehaven Theatre of Youth
Bugsy Malone

23 June 2017


This was an excellent production from this very talented young theatre company.

There were some outstanding performances from the leading players. Todd Bell was a very fine Bugsy, his commanding stage presence was outstanding. His love interests, Blousey  Brown and Tallulah were also very well played by Natalie Hall and Rachel Donnan, two fine young actresses and singers. Olivia Buchanan was outstanding as would be dancer Fizzy, and Isabella Sloan and James Redmond, as Fat Sam and Dandy Dan were convincing gang leaders. All the other minor parts were well played, sadly too many to mention. All solo numbers and choruses were well sung, and the choreography, suited the period.

I’m sure the young gang members enjoyed using the splurge guns, which left quite a mess for the backstage...

Full details for “Bugsy Malone”

The Forum

CAST Theatre Company
The Wizard of Oz

22 June 2017

The Wizard of Oz is one of the classic film and stage musicals of all time and here we were taken on a journey with Dorothy and her friends Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion down the yellow brick road to see The Wizard of Oz who lives in the Emerald City. This production of The Wizard of Oz was performed over three performances, Thursday to Saturday, I attended the opening night with eager anticipation.

Amelia Holmes played Dorothy with a confidence which belied her years. Considering the amount of lines she needed to learn for the role, Amelia was  great ,managing to bring her character to life (and even managing to prompt the “adults” on some occasions) .  Her scenes with Toto, her dog played by “Darth Vader” (The dog`s name, not the Dark Lord of the Sith)  will live with those who saw it...

Full details for “The Wizard of Oz”

Hope Theatre West Lancashire College

West Lancashire College Skelmersdale
Spamalot (Youth)

21 June 2017

Spamalot is a very funny laugh out loud show firmly grounded in the very British eccentric and some say wacky sense of humour which it could be said is a priceless thing to have. The show is based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail which is an irreverent and amusing satire of the well known and loved story of King Arthur and his Knights of the round table. It is from a book by Eric Idle with the music composed by Eric Idle and John Du Prez it also has one of the most famous comedy songs of all time which is played amazingly at many funerals in its score namely “Always look on the Bright Side of Life”. The cast of young students worked together very well with no weak links, with a number of them playing several different roles as there are many small cameo roles in this show. ...

Full details for “Spamalot (Youth)”

Little Theatre Southport

Maghull Musical Theatre Company
Anything Goes

17 June 2017

With music and lyrics written by Cole Porter “Maghull Musical Theatre Company’s” latest production was “Anything Goes” which has in its score   some of the most well known and loved songs of the 20th century which have stood the test of time. The show is based on a book by Guy Bolton and P.G.Wodehouse which was revised by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. The story is set on board an ocean liner sailing from New York  to London and follows the fortunes of Billy Crocker a Wall Street broker who is at the dock to say farewell to his boss and his friend nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, there he finds out that the girl he is in love with, heiress Hope Harcourt is  a passenger on board the ship, but unfortunately for Billy she is already engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh .Billy stows away on...

Full details for “Anything Goes”

Our Lady of Lourdes Farnworth

Stagedoor Theatre Production
Cinderella Strictly Adults Only

17 June 2017

The Society on arrival were very welcoming and the Saturday night audience were ready for a good night out. The set, props and costumes on this show worked really well and the sound in the main was good although there were a couple of miking issues.

For me Pantomime is built by a great script with actors fully committing to the parts as ridiculous as they are with dames and principal boys etc. The script was filled with rude names and lots of adult innuendo and an ending that changed the usual story which worked well. Chris the Director had also written the script and it was clear lots of fun had been had in the rehearsing of the show.

Musically there was plenty of variation of songs played to backing tracks that suited the vocals and the characters well. Some of the tracks were not...

Full details for “Cinderella Strictly Adults Only”

Rainhill Village Hall

Rainhill Musical Theatre Company
Boogie Nights

16 June 2017

Rainhill Musical Theatre’s latest very entertaining production was “Boogie Nights” written by Jon Conway, it is a Jukebox musical set in a Disco Club of the same name and the story is set around a number of famous hit songs from well-known artists of the 1970s, which included Hot Chocolate, Donna Summer, Rod Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the Village People.We are taken back to the time of platform shoes, flower power, flared trousers, multi-coloured blouses and the Ford Cortina.

This energetic production from Rainhill Musical Theatre Company was directed by Pip Bradshaw. The cast worked hard and the show was full of energy moving from one well-known song to another smoothly. They also worked hard performing the very upbeat good choreography by Lucy Bradshaw excellently. The story...

Full details for “Boogie Nights”

Adlington Community Centre

Adlington Music & Arts Society Youth
High School Musical

15 June 2017

Adlington Music & Arts Society (Youth) latest show was “High School Musical” which is based on the2006 Disney Channel original film written by Peter Barsocchini with a number of different composers, from a book by David Simpatico and has music adapted, arranged and produced by Bryan Louiselle, and is a simple boy meets girl story which appeals to different age groups. Set in a US high school the story follows new girl and maths geek Gabriella who falls for basketball hunk Troy who she had met during the Christmas break before moving to the school when they had sung in a karaoke event together as they both share a love of singing. They audition together for the lead parts in their school production “Juliet and Romeo”, but school diva Sharpay Evans doesn’t want to share the spotlight, so...

Full details for “High School Musical”
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