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Show Reports

March 2013

Page 1 of 9

Whitby Pavilion Theatre

Whitby Amateur Dramatic Society
Calendar Girls

31 March 2013

This is a piece which is extremely well known.  The original story on which the show is based was all over the news when the “Girls” decided to produce an alternative WI calendar. The Miramax film with Julie Walters and Helen Mirren had ladies flocking to the cinema and the professional production of this superbly written adaptation by Tim Firth has played to full houses across the country, so when I learnt that WADS had secured the amateur rights I was keen to see what they could make of such a popular piece.   And they really didn’t disappoint.  Director Chris Wales assisted by Sally Jones, had obviously worked very hard with the ensemble cast to pull out all the humour but also all the pathos of the story.  It was full of heart and heartache in equal measures.  It would be unfair to...

Full details for “Calendar Girls”

The West Cliff Theatre

Clacton Amateur Dramatic Society
Calendar Girls

30 March 2013

Based on fact, the plot concerns a WI village group in Yorkshire and its endeavour to raise money in memory of a member’s husband.   The idea was to produce a calendar for local sale in which WI members would appear naked, though tactfully screened, in representation of each month.   In addition to the great comedy that flows from this task there is much to cherish from the wide range of emotions hidden, expressed, explored and accepted by those involved.  

John (Barry Carder), Annie’s husband, had short appearances in Act I, the first quite cheerful, but the last, in a wheel chair saying his goodbyes to Annie in the moments leading up to his death from cancer, was profoundly moving.    Annie (Kathryn Cavender), is determined to support and cooperate in a project, proposed and...

Full details for “Calendar Girls”

Burtonwood Parish Hall

Burtonwood AM&DS
It Runs in the Family

30 March 2013

It Runs in the Family is a hilarious play set in a hospital, and contains the usual assortment of farcical lunatics running in and out of doors mistaking everybody for someone else. The story rests on the efforts of the high-flying Doctor David Mortimore, about to deliver a prestigious speech on which may rest a knighthood, to deal with something that has just now come back to haunt him. Dr Mortimore's efforts to deal with his primary concern, that his wife (at the hospital to hear his lecture) not meet the evidence of his past, sets off a cascading disaster of conflicting fictions to which he and others must react ever more creatively.

The cast of Burtonwood AMADS were on top form as always delivering pace a speed required with any farce and bags of energy and humour that had me...

Full details for “It Runs in the Family”

The Plough, Torrington

Torrington Players
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

29 March 2013

Watching "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" usually leaves me with a big smile on my face and this performance did exactly that. In fact the inaugural production by Dream Kidz of Torrington kept me smiling all the way through. From the outset the enthusiasm and high energy of the cast was clear to see and, for the most part, remained so until the very last "amazing coloured coat" had flown from their lips. Unfortunately, however, due to the design of the set, there was no way to avoid noticing when some members of the chorus became tired and let their attention wander, finding the audience more interesting than the plot!

The Narrator was a joy. She was confident and relaxed, while her timing and perfect diction meant that we understood every word, which is more than I can...

Full details for “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

The Met, Bury

PADOS Youth Theatre Group

29 March 2013

The East Village of New York City was represented brilliantly with a simple yet completely workable, split level set with fine attention to detail. Hidden discreetly in one corner – the band. The lighting was dark and dingy and created great atmosphere – The Met was absolutely the perfect choice of venue for this stunning production. It was in your face and as up close and personal as you could possibly get.

The line up of principals were ideally cast and showcased some truly amazing talent on every level as did the whole company.

Jack Whittle as Mark gave an outstanding performance. His portrayal of the character was so natural and watchable. Jack narrated the plot beautifully with such charisma and precision.

Roger Davies was played by Joshua Leech, again a very natural performer...

Full details for “RENT”

The Armstrong Hall, Thornbury

Northavon Youth Theatre Company
Miss Saigon

29 March 2013

I was unsure what to expect on this visit to the Northavon Youth Theatre Company, as I was aware that several of the older more experienced members of the Company had ‘moved on’, and the production had had to overcome several problems.  Miss Saigon is not an easy show, being mostly sung, with very little dialogue, set against the background of the war in Vietnam, which was before the cast was born, and dealing with very complex topics and emotions, but this young cast triumphed.  The story, based on Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly, tells the tale of a doomed romance between a Vietnamese bar girl and an American GI.  He has every intention of taking her back to America with him and marrying her, but at the last minute they are caught up in the fall of Saigon, with GI Chris unable to...

Full details for “Miss Saigon”

Broadlands School, Keynsham

Keynsham Youth Theatre
Our House

29 March 2013

This is a great modern musical, and for a show built around an iconic group’s music, a rarity of its kind. Rare because it has an intelligent, emotional and meaningful plot line and this was exploited very well by a cast of exactly the right age from Keynsham Youth Theatre.

The director was either governed by cost or had a vision of how well this show could work without scenery and props, especially as the audience has to make a leap of faith in understanding that the story is about a boy called Joe Casey. At the start of the show Joe has to make a decision about wrong versus right and the whole show moves between the ‘Good Joe’ and the 'Bad Joe’ story. The show was very well costumed and the story was told so clearly that there could be little doubt as to which ‘Joe’s’ story we were...

Full details for “Our House”

The Maltings, Berwick upon Tweed

Berwick OS
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

28 March 2013

This show has always been a favourite of mine and Berwick OS’s performance did nothing to dissuade me from that view. The opening chorus introduced us to many of the villages characters, and all grasped their opportunity – none more so than the three ‘Silly Girls’, played by Amy Cowan, Laura Catterall and Sara Rooney, as they swooned and fawned over ‘Gaston’ (Ross Graham) with his bullying arrogance and total disregard for anything or anyone but himself.  Hapless, slightly dim, sidekick ‘LeFou’ was well played by Mathew Jenkins, and was a good ‘fall guy’ for his mentor. ‘Maurice’ was well acted by Derek Butler, and typified the bumbling inventor and protective father of ‘Belle’.  Although a ‘one scener’, Stuart Faed made the most of his role as ‘Monsieur D’Arque’, the asylum owner, in...

Full details for “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”

Kirkham Grammar School

Kirkham Grammar Junior School
Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

26 March 2013

This was my first visit to Kirkham Grammar Junior School and I certainly hope it will not be my last. The audience was treated to a wonderful evening’s entertainment. I have seen “Joseph” many times and never tire of this popular show. Kirkham Juniors, however, have brought a new, fresh, dimension to this piece. Everyone involved exuded enthusiasm and confidence. Four young girls shared the very demanding role of the Narrator and their talent was obvious from the very beginning, never once out of character. All principals were outstanding throughout and it would be very difficult to find a weak link. Diction was excellent, something I feel very strongly about.   “Those Canaan Days”, one of my favourites, was beautifully performed, one of the highlights for me. The “Choir”, so important...

Full details for “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”

Arts Centre Theatre, Aberdeen

Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre (Seniors)
Miss Saigon Schools Edition

26 March 2013

The standard of production given to us by this talented group of 16-20 year olds, their production team and crew just gets better and better. This latest offering was outstanding. Melissa Allan’s (Kim) singing and acting was faultless and had the audience running every gamut of emotion, from innocence to un-abounded joy to despair, with her. Nitai Levi (Chris) gave an equally excellent performance. I particularly liked their rendition of “The Last Night of the World”. Aidan Corrigan (The Engineer) was also excellent, bringing out both the ruthless and sympathetic sides of the character – his “The American Dream” was superb. Strong performances were also given by Jake Shepherd (John), Katy Johnston (Ellen) and Andrew Sweeney (Thuy). The company singing was very strong throughout but...

Full details for “Miss Saigon Schools Edition”

The Masque Theatre

Kettering and District Theatrical Society
Acorn Antiques The Musical !

26 March 2013

Thank you to Kettering and District Theatrical Society for inviting me to see " Acorn Antiques ". Having never seen this musical before, I was really looking forward to it, and I was not disappointed, what a delightful piece of theatre ! The audience was laughing from the opening right through to the curtain calls.

Congratulations to Barry Currall for his excellent direction, I think this must have been a very difficult musical to direct. The actors were all well cast in their roles, well rehearsed and all maintained their characters throughout the show. The musical had a very good pace throughout, and the directors enthusiasm clearly showed through the actors performances. Well done Barry !

Musical director, Barbara Hockey did an excellent job too, overall both principal and chorus...

Full details for “Acorn Antiques The Musical !”

Deptford and Millfield Club, Sunderland

Sunderland AOS
The Good Old Days

24 March 2013

This is a genre of concerts whose popularity waxes and wanes with the years, and I hadn’t seen an Old Time Music Hall concert for some time - It was worth the wait. There was colour, humour and liveliness from the very opening numbers.

There were several sections, each with a separate theme including war time, cockney, regional songs and monologues as well as out and out music hall songs - each section affording ample opportunity for soloists and duets. Costumes were appropriate to each different theme, and changes between scenes were in general covered by a juvenile troupe of dancers from the Kathleen Knox dance school. These dances were well performed and indeed well appreciated by the audience.

The pace of the concert rarely faltered with most songs blending into the next – mainly...

Full details for “The Good Old Days”

Civic Hall Conwy


24 March 2013

A well rehearsed Company resulted in some excellent performances from the talented cast of Juniors and Seniors, together with a nice contribution from the young Academy Members led by Tutor Simon Burrows.

Beth Roberts was quite at home in the title role, with Libby Crowe perfectly cast as Alice Fitzwarren – lovely singing from hero and heroin. The role of Tommy the Cat was shared between Ella Hughes and Layla Johnson, both doing justice to their selection.  Ella Kesteven fitted well into the role of Alderman Fitzwarren, putting her stamp on the character as soon as she took the stage. Need I say more about the role of Sarah the Cook, brilliantly played by Niall Roberts who is off to pastures new to continue his drama studies – well done, you will be sorely missed!

I particularly...

Full details for “DICK WHITTINGTON”

Civic Theatre, Rotherham

Rochdale Phoenix Operatic Society
Into the Woods

23 March 2013

This was the first time I had seen Into the Woods and indeed the first time I had seen Phoenix Operatic Society but I do hope it is not the last, in respect of Phoenix.

It is a very brave society who tackles a Sondheim Musical, especially one as complex as this but Phoenix did tackle it and it paid off. Most people will know Sondheim music is not the easiest of music to get around, at times it is very discordant and can sometimes be said to sound out of key but the talent on stage tonight coped with all this to produce a first class entertaining show.

Into the Woods tells the well known fairy tales such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Jack and The Beanstalk through the eyes of The Brothers’ Grimm played with ease by Steve Wilson and Simon Raffo, they were able to narrate the...

Full details for “Into the Woods”

Church Hill Theatre

Edinburgh Music Theatre Company Ltd.
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

23 March 2013

I had never seen this musical before so looked forward to seeing something new. I wasn't disappointed. The frothy, light hearted script combined with catchy music and energetic tap dancing routines was very well presented and received. Adam Pringle was in excellent form as Finch, the young, ambitious window cleaner who, by following the guidelines in his book "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" manages to reach the top of the tree. Vocally strong and with a chirpy personality he appeared totally at ease in his role and was a most believable and amiable character. David Docherty's performance as Bud Frump, also trying to reach the top of the business ladder but through family connections, was most amusing as he expertly punched out the comical one liners and appeared...

Full details for “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”

Village Hall, New Buckenham

New Buckenham Players
Radio 4 Play

23 March 2013

What an excellent idea to use the spring slot to give an opportunity to new first time directors and a different actor pool to try out new skills in a series of one-act plays. Certainly it will spread the load for future productions and encourage people to ‘have a go’ and succeed on a smaller scale before moving up to the full length production; and I look forward to your big production of ‘Allo, ‘Allo’ in the summer.

I like the idea of presenting the evening as a series of ‘Radio Plays’, the setting looked good with authentic looking sound box and controls, and the radio mikes on stands in the studio.

I have seen the Four by Four group giving their radio plays in Wymondham and so am familiar with authors Alan Huckle and Tony Vale, and I really enjoy their output of original drama;...

Full details for “Radio 4 Play”

Hyde Festival Theatre

Hyde Musical Society
The Wizard of Oz

23 March 2013

You would’ve had to live your life on another planet to not know this show/film which are almost identical save a couple of numbers. Because of this it’s important to be true to the script and not change anything too dramatically which this society really achieved in this portrayal.

The band were upstairs in the bar area and piped into the auditorium which is not always ideal but Simon Pickup the MD and the band worked hard to overcome this difficulty and sounded very effective.

The Kansas set worked well especially considering the lack of wing space and size of stage at the Festival Theatre. The sets and props used to transform most scenes were very effective.

The costumes were lovely and bearing in mind the transformation of every character (bar Dorothy) from Kansas to Oz a...

Full details for “The Wizard of Oz”

Georgian Theatre, Richmond

Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society
This is Where We Came In

23 March 2013

This was a different play, not what we usually expect from Alan Ayckbourne, being a light-hearted comedy, very entertaining, with a slight touch of farce here and there, and is probably one of his lesser known plays. The story of the play centres around three old ladies who are telling the stories, and a group of Players who act them out.  It could even be classed as a Panto.  The first play, for example, was Hansel and Gretel, and was quite hilarious, with the actors presenting the articles that the Storytellers were talking about. Each of the stories was very different. Poor Fred, played by Stewart Kerr, took some time to understand what was going on, which added to the entertainment. He was very good, and coped well with the situation.  He could not understand why the wait till the...

Full details for “This is Where We Came In”

McLaren High School Callander

Callander Amateur Operatic Society
Anything Goes

23 March 2013

This show is fresh and entertaining being a revised version with some new numbers and updated era and humour. The costumes were colourful and carefully chosen to suit a modern cruise while the set made by the company itself was impressive. Taking the lead role of Reno by storm was Lorna Gallacher with fine singing and acting.  Her opposite number Billy played by Michael Coyne gave an assured performance and they were well matched in ‘You’re the Tops’. Marianne Herron suited the role of Hope Harcourt, American debutante, and her singing was clear and true. Her fiancé, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh played by Robert Simpson caught the aristocratic mien well. Thoroughly enjoying the role as experienced Mrs Harcourt was Mhairi Stewart. Also enjoying his role was Matt Duncan in the part of Eli...

Full details for “Anything Goes”

The Methodist Centre Baildon

Westgate Drama Group Baildon
Two of a Kind

23 March 2013

The valiant people who braved the snow and ice in Baildon were certainly treated to an entertaining evening at Westgate. 'Two of a Kind' tells of the problems faced by Wally, a resident in an old people's home, who having lost his room-mate and pal now has to share with a retired military gentleman. The two men, totally different in character, find it hard to get along together and there were many amusing moments as they tried to live with each other's ways. The two residents were expertly played by Richard Knowles and Peter Berry. They certainly got into the roles of an old sea dog and an ex serviceman. They were ably supported by Mary Greaves as the sympathetic friend and Paula Randall as the strict matron of the home.

A lot of thought had gone into the set design. Every bit of the...

Full details for “Two of a Kind”

Lion Theatre, Horncastle

Horncastle Theatre Company

23 March 2013

A man is found wandering the streets of Leicester in the early hours claiming he has lost his memory. As he has identity about his person this should be a simple case for Inspector Monroe. However, confusion is rife as Robert's identity, his wife and his mistress are called into question in the many twists and turns of this very funny David Tristram play. The Director did an admirable job keeping up the pace throughout and she was well served by her cast of four who coped very well with the script which, intenTionally, goes round and round. Nathen Day played the hapless Robert with great confidence and  Shirley Moffat's Julia was both enigmatic and ruthless. Adele Simpson gave an energetic performance as Samantha and Gwyn Williams clearly enjoyed being Inspector Monroe which he did...

Full details for “Forget-Me-Not”

Buccleuch Centre, Langholm

Langholm Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
The Sound of Music

23 March 2013

In this their 90th Year Langholm AO&DS have produced another super production. The Sound of Music is so very well known that the audience will almost always know the main songs and the story line. It is therefore sometimes difficult to put on a performance that everyone will like. I think that Langholm have achieved this with their production.  I am always amazed that a small town the size of langholm has one of the best venues I have seen in a long time.

The full house were treated to some superb singing and the performers made us believe everything they wanted to tell us. The scenery was excellent and the changes were slick and inconspicuous.  The vast majority of the cast, backstage crew and many helpers are local people and this was truly a community event.

The supporting chorus...

Full details for “The Sound of Music”

St Paul’s Church Hall

St Paul's Amateur Dramatic Society (SPADS)
An Act of Murder

23 March 2013

An Act of Murder is a murder mystery play in three acts with well defined characters and the added challenge of a play within a play. Diction was generally good throughout and the pace of the piece well controlled so that the audience could log all the facts and red herrings as the play moved along. This was proved later on in the evening when the audience were encouraged, during the supper break, to complete a quiz sheet and predict the killer. The cast worked well as a team and worked the stage efficiently although the set was not one of the best I have seen the company produce. Ellen Millar (Marjorie) showed her talent for performance once again and displayed an natural ownership of the stage without disregarding other members of the cast and Jordan Clarke (Russell) another young...

Full details for “An Act of Murder”

Public Halls, Harpenden

Harpenden Light Operatic Society

23 March 2013

What a good and interesting show, which I loved.

The set was fairly straight forward, but striking and nicely dressed, with the thrust adding a dimension to the performance area.

Lighting was imaginative and sound was good throughout.  There were some nice sound effects and the gunshots were extremely realistic.

The band sounded full and nicely tuned to bring the best out in the music, the opening was strong.  There were some really nice harmonies from the ensemble, really bringing the music to life.

The things that really gave the production life were the enthusiasm of the cast and the costumes, which were colourful where needed, sexy and suitable.  The effect of the black dresses with coloured coats, hats and suitcases in Just Arrived was super, so right.  The showgirls costumes...

Full details for “Copacabana”

Swansea Grand Theatre, Arts Wing

Swansea Amateurs

23 March 2013

‘Billy’ is a show that is not all that often performed which is indeed a shame as it is a lively and very entertaining piece of musical theatre. This was made even more evident by the fabulous performance that the company gave! The audience were treated to energy, commitment, great singing and some first class individual performances.

The ensemble worked hard and were a joy to watch in the ‘crowd’ scenes. They were all focused and this is all too often where a company falls flat, especially if not all of the ensemble are fully immersed in character. This was certainly not the case with the company here.

There were some excellent performances from the principals. Mention must go to Graham Rowlands as Geoffery, Jean Buckland as Alice and Brenda Davies as Gran who worked beautifully...

Full details for “Billy”
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