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Show Reports

July 2017

Page 1 of 5

The Berry Theatre, Hedge End

Footlights Youth Theatre
Little Shop of Horrors

29 July 2017

Entering the Berry Theatre Foyer I was warmly greeted by Julie and the front of house crew and was met by a large audience and noticed a real buzz of anticipation from a near sell out house. I felt that I was in for a treat. I was not disappointed.

The set supplied by Scenery Solutions was simple but effective and was well backed up by great lighting by Martin Whittaker. Sound provided by Raw Sounds and Pob Wyeth was really well set up, and the balance between the band and the ensamble spot on.

A small ten piece band provided a great soundtrack, despite playing from the Scene dock, they kept a good pace under the direction of Nigel Finch. They sounded like they were having a lot of fun. But this is a fun show.

The tabs were struck and we were greeted by Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon...

Full details for “Little Shop of Horrors”

Longstock Park Nursery

Broughton Amateur Dramatic Group

29 July 2017

Emma, from the novel by Jane Austen and dramatized by Michael Baulch, was the perfect choice and performed in a beautiful location, for BADGP; this being the 200 th year since Jane Austen’s death. The production, outdoors, fondly  captured the etiquette and interactions of the small-town folk as Emma hatched plots and inspected her guests. Emma is full of comic potential, romantic drama and witty dialogue.  Austen described Emma as “the meddling matchmaker” and she is articulate, well-meaning but rather naïve.  She is also bored, rich and a small-town snob.

The grounds were laid out with various performance areas; the main stage being the focus and doubling up as Randalls and Hartfield. There was good provision for the inclement weather. The front of house team was welcoming and...

Full details for “Emma”

Bishop Perowne School, Worcester

Lollipop Youth Theatre
Back to the 80s

28 July 2017

Formed only 16 months ago, Lollipop Youth Theatre brought us back to the mid 80s and for many of the audience happy memories of an era that the cast of 32 youngsters would not have experienced. Of course they may have heard some of the songs, but singing them in front of the MD and musicians located at the rear of the stage is not an easy task, but one they met with credit.

Set in the USA, we hear the story of the graduating senior class of William Ocean High School, as remembered through the eyes of 30 year old Corey Palmer (James Geary). The 17 year old Corey (Mason Carr) falls for Tiffany Houston (Charlotte Peck) who only has eyes for the less than principled but universally popular Michel Feldman (Hugh Jeavons). All three gave a very good account of themselves in maintaining their...

Full details for “Back to the 80s”

Eynsford Village Hall

Riverside Players
Bugsy Malone

28 July 2017

The musical “Bugsy Malone” with music by Paul Williams was adapted from the 1976 film of the same name directed by Alan Parker, featuring a cast of children usually up to the age of 17years. The story is based on the mob rivalries of 1920s' prohibition America as Fat Sam and Dandy Dan battle it out for supremacy. Cue gangland war, a love story and plenty of splurging. Bugsy remains a favourite production for amateur youth groups and schools.

This was an enjoyable production directed by Naomi Morgan with some talented young performers of The Riverside Youth Group, who worked well together and all appeared to be enjoying themselves. It would be impossible to name everyone who took part in this production as they all contributed in their own way to the success of this production. However...

Full details for “Bugsy Malone”

Cannizarro Park

Mayhem Theatre Company
Romeo and Juliet

28 July 2017

Shakespeare in the open air is one of the joys of summer.  Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and Romeo and Juliet became the Tempest which will remain the enduring memory of the evening.  The cast battled on and I must congratulate them on that, but much of the charm and subtly of the play was lost to a strong and persistent wind that drowned much of the beautiful dialogue.

A hard core of audience members endured the weather but many drifted away to seek warmth and shelter.


Full details for “Romeo and Juliet”

The Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable

Nunsense The Mega Musical

27 July 2017

It could seem disrespectful, if not perhaps a little blasphemous, to laugh at a group of nuns but from the moment we entered the auditorium and were greeted by the nuns themselves, permission to laugh was granted. We were transported to their world where they were organising a fund-raising concert for their convent to bury the four dead nuns they had stored in the freezer. Yes I did say that!

The nuns just happen to be performing on the set of the musical Grease (don’t ask) so set was both functional and colourful with some wonderful 1950’s touches. The design team included the band well, without them looking out of place on stage, within a giant 1950s jukebox. Genius.

Although I personally prefer the original version of Nunsense (a 5 cast show) you cannot fault the attention to...

Full details for “Nunsense The Mega Musical”

Coronation Hall, Mundesley

Mundesley Players
The Pirates and Pen's Aunts

27 July 2017

Writer and set designer Nigel Holmes came up with an interesting story-line of pirates hidden in the relations of the two girls Pen and Norm, and managed to incorporate so many songs about pirates and boats and sailing intertwined into the rival pirates’ adventures with a treasure map.   And Director Cheryl Collings had the action going well with some talented youngsters in the cast, some excellent groupings during the numbers, worked on by M.D. Sharon Jiggins and movement from Annemarie Sterne: altogether a lively presentation by all and most enjoyable: very strong singing from all and an energetic hornpipe included.

At the Tavern, young Pen (Una Laurence) and young Norma (Sophie Lewis) came over well with excellent diction and projection and mischief as they wondered where Aunts...

Full details for “The Pirates and Pen's Aunts”

St Anne’s Church Hall

New Stagers Theatre Company
Happy to help

26 July 2017

A dark tale of exploitation and bullying against the background of a supermarket group bent on world commercial domination.  This was an interesting reflection on our times and the unfettered growth and power of multinational conglomerates to operate in a moral vacuum.  Well cast and brilliantly acted the coming together of all the strands of the plot left us intrigued until the very last action.


Full details for “Happy to help”

Newcastle Theatre Royal

Newcastle Musical Theatre Company
The Wizard of Oz

26 July 2017

Once again this top company has managed to fill this substantial theatre with a quality production. No wonder it is playing to packed houses. The Wizard of Oz is an old favourite of musical theatre companies but doesn’t seem to have dated. It is still the charming story well-known from the Hollywood film. The stage version seems to flag a little in the second half but it is still full of entertainment to keep an audience engaged all evening. This production is rich, well presented and pleasing. The company (and what a size; they seem to be able to summon even more cast members each year) is experienced and it shows. The singing, dancing and dialogue are well staged. There are some superb individual performances: Jonathan Cash (the Cowardly Lion), Dan Greener (the Tin Woodsman) and...

Full details for “The Wizard of Oz”


Ringwood Musical & Dramatic Society
Whose Line Is It Anyway?

26 July 2017

RMDS Summer Show has always been one to look forward to and this year's offering was just as good as the rest: three separate shows, all very different in different parts of the building, all running at the same time with nibbles and drinks available between makes for a good night out.

This year’s title was ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’. The directors of each show then work on a story line to fit around the title. We first saw ‘Production Line’, directed by Joanna Day, assisted by Louise Daly and chorography by Charlie Hawker. This was based on a group of ants ruled by the Tyrant Queen. Lots of good songs and story - this was very enjoyable.

We then went to see ‘Headline’ Directed by Charlie Daniels, with Director & Choreographer Becky North, and Musical Director Jonathan Spratt. This...

Full details for “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Knole Academy

Sevenoaks Players
Princeford Pals

23 July 2017

What a refreshing afternoon I've just had at Sevenoaks Players' last performance of "The Princeford Pals" - I'm glad I went. It's nice to see a Musical Drama with no big orchestra, no big dance routines, no big sets - just plain and simple, a musical full of drama. Simon Pergande and Mike Lewis's home grown musical is a little gem. 

With Keith Neville at the helm, this musical was well set and directed. He took his 30 odd cast and gave nearly all of them a chance to shine. Young or older, you all had a chance and you took it. Its nice to see a large chorus of men and girls to match them. 

With all those named parts, I will not attempt to single anyone out. All the leads were good in their roles from young to old, and all gave good characterisations and the back up ensemble of...

Full details for “Princeford Pals”

Bilton Theatre

Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society
Beauty and the Beast

23 July 2017

The story was about the beautiful princess given everything by her father and The Beast who was, in this, case a slug.  The princess wanted a rose from her father.  All she had tried to grow had failed.  Her father had gone in search and, after falling weak from losing his horse, fell into a magical garden.

The garden was looked after by the Master (the Beast or, in this case, the slug). Her father, who had been well looked after in the garden, picked a rose to take back to his daughter but the slug demanded a forfeit from the princess’s father. The forfeit was that his daughter should go and live with the slug.  At first the princess did not like the slug and wanted to go home to her father but eventually, seeing the slug’s broken heart when he agreed to let her go back, she realized...

Full details for “Beauty and the Beast”

Ballard School

New Forest Players
Pull The Other One

22 July 2017

Pull the Other One is a farce by Norman Robbins, and directed by Len Reid. The set, once again with New Forest Players, is superb and the lighting is just right. The costumes are also good. Len has an excellent cast with this production. The chase scenes are very good and the timing is very good and the cast must have worked hard to get it just right.

As with all farces there are lots of laughs, witty one-liners, innuendoes and misunderstandings along the way. Martin Pitman is great in his role of Albert Perkins and has perfect comic timing as he appears in various clothing or lack of it along the way. His wife Muriel Perkins is played by Anne-Marie Stone, they work well together.

Muriel’s mother Boadicea, played by Joy Brown, is a force to be reckoned with. She reads a letter to...

Full details for “Pull The Other One”

Methodist Church, Lanchester

Lanchester & District Choral and Operatic Society
Pink Champagne (concert version)

22 July 2017

“Pink Champagne” is the musical version of the Johann Strauss operetta “Die Fledermaus” and like most operetta it is rarely performed now due to the outdated libretto and the extravagant sets and costumes required. When attending a Lanchester show you know that you are in for an evening of superb singing and this production was no exception. The concert had an entertaining narration of the complex plot of love and revenge and this was in the capable hands of Richard Woods who also provided a good vocal performance as Alfred.  The other male leading roles were sung by guest performers Paul Smith (Gabriel Eisenstein), Jim Morgan (Dr Falke) and Ian Gray (Col. Frank), all were excellent and brought out their character’s personalities within their fine vocal performances. The leading lady...

Full details for “Pink Champagne (concert version)”

Oast theatre

Rainham Amateur Theatrical Society (RATS Ltd)
Sleep No More

21 July 2017

RaTs this time breaking away from the normality of elaborate sets, Melody Harbour captured an old, abandoned theatre well with a bare stage and minimal lighting. This made an excellent setting for ‘Sleep No More’. Intricate lighting used in the supernatural scenes and the repeated use of voice-overs added to the theme of the supernatural and the dangers of playing with the devil. The clever use of music, used frequently all through, as the paranormal activities were performed on stage, represented the ghost becoming more and more involved in the other characters' lives. It was very refreshing to see the modern techniques being utilised in what is perceived to be a more ‘traditional’ theatre.

This production of ‘Sleep No More’ had some solid and strong performances a Darling of a...

Full details for “Sleep No More”

St. Matthias & St. George Church, Astwood Bank

Astwood Bank Operatic Society
A Nice Dilemma & Trial by Jury

21 July 2017

St. Matthias & St. George Church was a splendid venue with great acoustics, which only helped enhance what were already some very good voices. ‘A Nice Dilemma’, written by Mary Dhonau set the scene for the later Trial, as the Court Usher played with great ease by Mike Dhonau, attempted to gather his 12 jury-men from a selection of characters from G&S operettas. The ladies chorus opened the section with ‘Tripping Hither’ from Iolanthe and then followed a selection that fully held our attention including, John Alderson as ‘Capt. Corcoran’, and Melanie Hart as ‘Buttercup’.

Ian Walton as ‘The Pirate King’ gave us a top class ‘Pirate King’, equalled by Mark Tooby’s ‘Major General Stanley’. Then followed ‘Three Little Maids from School’ (Sophie Hill, Roz Chalk and Claire Hardie), almost to...

Full details for “A Nice Dilemma & Trial by Jury”


KYDZ (Keighley's Youth Theatre)
All That Glitters & Interchange

21 July 2017

I was fortunate to attend another KYDZ production that defined “teamwork” by this talented group.  This was a great evening’s entertainment, produced, directed and performed by a dedicated team of people.

This show was a story of 2 halves – the more senior members of the Company appearing in “All That Glitters” in the first half – very cleverly written and directed by Sevi Ledgard, followed by the full company (all 25 or so of them) in “Interchange” – again very cleverly written by David Knights after holding workshops with the cast.  This is an ingenious way to “develop” the members of the Company allowing them to explore their own ideas and be creative.  David, Aidan, Taigen and Georgia directed “Interchange” and the choreography was by Sevi.

Both pieces gave the audience an...

Full details for “All That Glitters & Interchange”

The Brook Soham

Viva Theatre Company
The Bakewell Bakeoff & The Departure Lounge

21 July 2017

The Brook in Soham had been transformed to replicate the venue Viva will be using during their Edinburgh Festival performances.  This year the prolific Viva Group is taking three shows to Edinburgh and the first two musicals The Bakewell Bake Off and The Departure Lounge pre-viewed at The Brook.

The Bakewell Bake Off , book and lyrics by The Baking Committee is not quite but almost a take off of the hit BBC reality show.  Although billed (and licensed) as a musical it is, to my mind, essentially a panto, there’s even a Christmas-themed song and dance.  The script contains some very old-fashioned jokes with plenty of innuendo too. From squirty cream to large buns and, naturally, soggy bottoms, and there’s no danger of political correctness.   

Set in the small town of Bakewell in...

Full details for “The Bakewell Bakeoff & The Departure Lounge”

The Vernon Theatre

Lyndhurst Drama & Musical Society
Blood Brothers (Play Version)

21 July 2017

Blood Brothers (the play version) by Willy Russell was well received by the audience. Director Michele Arkle has an excellent cast in this play. The story is about Liverpool twins who are separated at birth, Mickey brought up with his mother and siblings in poverty and the other, Eddie, in luxury. The set is very simple and the lighting is just right.

The Narrator Phil Rainforth, tells the story and comes over as a very sinister figure. Mrs Johnston, played by Hannah Marks, carries most of the story to start with, and is just right in the role. Having been left to bring up her children alone she has just got herself a little cleaning job but finds out she is expecting twins. Mrs Lyons her employer, played by Ingrid Bond, is longing for a child and as her husband is away on business...

Full details for “Blood Brothers (Play Version)”

The Bradford Playhouse

Bradford Youth Players
13 The Musical

21 July 2017

This was a completely new musical to me, I had never heard of it or any music from it, but I would certainly like to see it again.

The story is basically the happenings of a New York Jewish boy, Evan, moving to Appleton Indiana, trying to make new friends there and preparing for his Bar mitzvah.   All the innocence and idiosyncrasies of 13 year olds come out, together with their early discoveries of what life is all about in a very natural and comedic way.   The girl who is not liked by the rest of the gang, Patrice, and whose only friend is a boy who is totally and easily coping with his terminal illness , Archie, who is also a social outcast, become the two closest friends of Evan.   So all the story of ‘us and them’ evolves between the twelve characters of the show.   The opening of...

Full details for “13 The Musical”

Grange Playhouse Walsall

Grange Players

20 July 2017

Most people know the author of this play, Derek Benfield, as the actor playing Hetty Wainthropp's husband in the detective series on television but he is a most entertaining writer of stage comedies. This play was no exception.

Funny from the moment one of the leading actors Brian (Keith Hayes) appeared in his bright red tracksuit for a rendezvous with his mistress Wendy (Naomi Millard). Location for this was the flat belonging to a friend George (Rod Bissett). Brian was exercising on the orders of his wife Hilary (Liz Webster). I am sure the kind of exercise Brian was undertaking was not what Hilary had in mind.

But back in Brian's home Hilary was using the time to rendevous with flat owner George.. No problems here until surprise, surprise George's wife Jessica (Suzy Donnelly)...

Full details for “TOUCH AND GO”

Village Hall, Blakeney

Blakeney Players
Don't call me Shirley

20 July 2017

When we read the programme list of scenes, it is quite a feat to try to fathom the possible plot from an East End Pub, to the office of a businessman, via Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes, to the garden of Osborne House and Queen Victoria; and with music-hall songs coconuts, bubbles, vans, via Devon, to G&S, R&H, and others, even ‘Gendarme’, and finishing with line dancing!  Certainly Ralph Wiggins has a most fertile and diversely complex imagination to concoct such an entertainment.   And every single participant in a named role that exploits the talent and delights the local audiences; reading through the programme before the excellent group of musicians begin the music, the comment made is ‘all the usual suspects’ and they will all enjoy being a part of this show, and we in the...

Full details for “Don't call me Shirley”

Lancing Parish Hall

Lancing Repertory Players
Port Out Starboard Home

20 July 2017

A very realistic set for the deck of a cruise liner set the scene for what proved to be a very amusing comedy, which was excellent on all fronts. The production was fast-moving, without being too frantic, timing was impeccable, and the cast were at all times aware of each other and the requirements of the movement around the set.  We haven’t laughed so much for a long time. There were good contrasts between the actors, which gave dimension and interest, as well as full-on humour, and many double entendres!! I was delighted, on my arrival, not only with the warm reception but also with the excellent musical entertainment provided by Mary playing an accordion. It set the mood of the whole production.

I thought Val Daly did particularly well as Miriam Miller, a veteran of ‘cruising’ who...

Full details for “Port Out Starboard Home”

The Bridewell Theatre

Geoids Amateur Operatic Society
A Chorus Line

20 July 2017

The show stands alone as the ultimate chorus story.  Built around auditions for a professional show we see behind the mask into the reality of how tough a life on stage is.  With no real leading man or woman every member of the cast bought something different to give us a wonderfully well rounded, thought provoking and enjoyable evening.


Full details for “A Chorus Line”

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”
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