Between Monday 12th and Saturday 17th March Louth Playgoers, at The Riverhead Theatre went back to the 1980’s, the height of TV sit-coms, not that I can remember (much!). Hi-De-Hi was one of those shows where you got to know and love the characters, so it was with great delight that all of those wonderful stars were brought back to life by Louth Playgoers, and took us back to a time of fun and frolics on the stage.
The show was based on the popular TV series by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and won a BAFTA as best comedy series in 1984. For those too young to remember, and didn’t get chance to see the show at Louth, it was based around the lives of the entertainers at a fictional holiday camp, Maplins, in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s; The ‘Yellow Coats’ were a group of either struggling wannabe actors, or washed up has-beens.
From the moment the cast appeared on stage, I had great fun putting the new faces to the well known names. One of the lead roles, the infamous Gladys Pugh was played by Teresa Appleton who mastered her Welsh accent beautifully; forever playing up to the boss, Jeffrey Fairbrother, brilliantly played by Andy De Renzi.
A highlight for me had to be the Sand dance, a hilariously set dance piece by Pamela Whalley and Graham Turner, who played the couple, Yvonne and Barry Stuart Hargreaves; Their onscreen chemistry worked a treat, a great piece of casting and even when they were joined by Ted Bovis, played by Ray Baker, in a costume not leaving much to the imagination. Ray delighted the audience with his garish suit and larger than life character.
The audience would never have realised that the role of Peggy Ollerenshaw, originally played by Su Pollard in the TV series, only stepped into the role at short notice when the original actress fell ill. She did a great job, and obviously threw herself into the ditzy role of Peggy with great vigour, bringing to life that wonderful character on to the stage. It was great to see that Su Pollard visited Louth a few days before the production to visit the Theatre, and NT Shaw of Louth, the Proud Sponsors of Louth Playgoers Hi-De-Hi, and had some photos taken with the cast.
The whole show was great fun, and all the cast worked together to keep the audience entertained throughout. The set was very well put together, it looked great, and I loved the clever use of the doors and overall staging. Thanks and well done to those responsible for costumes, plus the backstage crew and lighting and sound. Director Sue Soper and Producer, John Hallam – a great job; it was a brilliant night out that kept the audience laughing from start to finish.
This weekend marks the end of a very special year in the life of Jeannine Ridha as she has celebrated an incredible 50 years performing in musical theatre. The year was marked in a number of ways, but most specially, by a wonderful celebratory concert that took place on 29th July 2017 at the Riverhead Theatre, Louth. I was fortunate to be part of the planning team for that event, and loved every moment planning and preparing for what turned out to be what can only be described as ‘the show of a lifetime’.
I know Jeannine has done lots this year, but I couldn’t let the year go by without my own special tribute…
To put my friendship with Jeannine in context, we were both cast members of the Lincoln Cathedral production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2015. One day during rehearsal, we started chatting, made a bit of a connection and forged a bond that has developed over the past few years.
Although I saw Jeannine perform in JCS and a couple of other productions, I never really knew the extent of her musical theatre history, or her amazing talent until the first rehearsal for the 50 years in musical theatre celebratory concert where I was blown away by her characterisations. But her professional musical performances in the show that followed on 29th July, portrayed a wonderful variety of characters including her brilliant rendition of ‘Stately as a Galleon’ a Joyce Grenfell classic; it will stand out as one of my favourites of the day!
I can’t imagine the memories Jeannine has made throughout the past 50 years and what the experiences have meant to her, so the words that I’m sharing below were written back on 20th November by Jeannine, and they really say it all…
In Jeannine’s own words…
At 7:15pm Monday 20th November 1967… the curtain opened on my very first musical The White Horse Inn with Grimsby & District Amateur Operatic Society at the ABC Theatre/Ritz Cinema Grimsby Road Cleethorpes in front of 1,450 people….
Tonight at 7:15pm Monday 20th November 2017… I’m having my photo done for the 42nd Street programme… my next musical with same group… now known as Curtain Up Productions, followed by a rehearsal… (in a church hall just few hundred yards from where ABC was… 42nd Street also to be performed on Grimsby Road at Cleethorpes Memorial Hall 8-12 Jan 2018)
To say I’m feeling very emotional is an understatement TBH…. As I look back on those 50 years & all those memories some good some bad, some happy some sad… I’m actually finding it difficult to take in that half a century has passed by…
Many of those friends I worked with who are now sadly just a memory…😥
It makes me realise how lucky I am to still be as passionate about performing at the age of 67… as I was as that 17 year old… Musical Theatre has not been my hobby it’s been my life…
So many highlights including one of my all time favourite roles Calamity Jane 1979…
Also, performing onstage with my own children, Emma & Haitham and now my granddaughters Molly-Mae & Tilly-Grace has been wonderful…
My 50 year celebration show/party at Louth Riverhead Theatre in July was more of a thanksgiving… that through all life’s ups ‘n downs … the one constant thing in my life has been my musical theatre and the forever friends I’ve made because of it …🥂🍾🎶🎭❤️
I feel very, very blessed & for anyone who’s ever played a part in my Musical Theatre journey… from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU…. 😘❤️🎶🎭😘❤️🎶🎭❤️
As a young teenage girl, Jeannine made her debut in 1967 in a production of ‘White Horse Inn’ with Grimsby & Cleethorpes Amateur Operatic Society, now Curtain Up Productions.
Jeannine front left of entire company far right (black trousers) … plait over her left shoulder …. which Jeannine remembers buying in a plastic tube from Woolworths, Freeman Street .. cost her 7/6 …7 shillings and 6 old pence …less than 50p! The actual booking form is above… It’s interesting to look at the price of tickets 10/- (top price) equivalent of 50 pence!!!
The lead roles in her very first show were played by Jeannine’s heroes Mary Adams and Tony Blackmore who she still sees. Mary, now 91 was due to sing at Jeannine’s celebration concert in July 17 but sadly wasn’t very well on the day and so couldn’t perform. The recording below was taken at the rehearsal for the concert a few weeks before… enjoy!
Jeannine did sing a duet from Fiddler with Tony Blackmore (now 81) at her celebration concert in July.
A recording of Jeannine and Tony performing ‘Do you love me?’, which I’m delighted to include a link to below, to which I’ve added some photographs, was produced as a gift for Jeannine’s husband for their silver wedding anniversary… how moving!
Over the 50 years Jeannine has performed in many productions with various amateur and professional companies. (list below courtesy of Haitham Ridha, who edited the programme for Jeannine’s 50 year celebration in July)
The photo below was one of the early shots, taken on the stairs at the ABC Theatre, Grimsby… during the break at dress rehearsal for My Fair Lady in Nov 1968. Her first ever lines in Musical Theatre. Jeannine was the flower girl… and is on left on this picture. Jeannine’s Dad took this shot….🌹🎶
Amazingly, among all the shows Jeannine has been part of over the 50 years, she has played the role of Maggie Jones in 42nd street 5 times!
To mark the end of her 50th year, Jeannine played Maggie again with Curtain Up Productions in Cleethorpes, with opening night 8th January 2018.
On that day Jeannine said…
I cannot believe that tonight .. 8th January 2018 I’m opening as Maggie Jones in 42nd Street for the 5th time … 24 years since I first played this role in 1994… Omg omg …where has that time gone??? 😳😳🎶🎭🎶🎭
1994… With GCAOS at Grimsby Icehouse
1996 .. Semi pro production Octagon Theatre Yeovil, Somerset
2005 .. With GCAOS Grimsby Auditorium
2013 … At Riverhead Theatre Louth
2018 … Curtain Up Productions..Cleethorpes Memorial Hall…
So I’m in another programme of one of my favourite roles …I guess being 2 years of 70 this might be last time I play Miss Maggie Jones….🤔🤔🤔
Am I nervous? I most certainly am… Opening Nights never get any easier
So now to the celebration show on 29th July… What a performance, what an experience, certainly one I will never forget.
Jeannine and Haitham put together a wonderful programme, and you’ll see some excerpts of it throughout this post; I couldn’t say it any better so in Jeannine’s own words – again – from the programme…
As Jeannine said above, most of the friends and family in the audience actually performed on stage at some point throughout the show; (as previously noted, unfortunately Mary Adams couldn’t perform on the day but still appeared in the programme).
Jeannine opened the show in style, as can be expected… Here’s a recording of the opening number, ‘As if we never said goodbye’ from Sunset Boulevard; (apologies for the over exposure at the start but you get the idea!)
Some selected photos from Act 1
Jeannine with daughter Emma singing their special song from when she was 3 and Jeannine played lead in Calamity Jane 1979…
First picture is Jeannine with daughter Emma singing their special song from when she was 3 and Jeannine played lead in Calamity Jane 1979… ‘Secret Love’
And Act 2
And some fun moments from pre and post show where friends and family met the 2D Jeannine
And the icing on the cake were I’m sure the wonderful messages Jeannine received from all her family and friends, and a few very special people. I put all of the messages in a special book for Jeannine, to remind her of this wonderful celebration, and I’m sure, pride of place in the book is this message… and Jeannine receiving it!
…and a wonderful note from the gorgeous Jodie Prenger…
50’s Year’s from NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association)
So thank you everyone for taking part, and to Jeannine for allowing me to be part of this absolutely incredible celebration in your 50th year…
… and just in case you forget, or other people don’t know how much you are thought of in the musical theatre world, here’s some of the messages people sent to you!
Photos and video courtesy of Lewis Harry, Daniel and Eira Hammond and Luke Harry
(and the next time you can see Jeannine will be at Riverhead theatre again on 29th March in her one woman show, ‘Sing Happy’…
Jeannine says about the show…
Hello friends ….. as most of you know I’ve been performing in Musical Theatre since 1967 …. However, on Thursday March 29th I’m coming out of my comfort zone and I’m doing a ‘one woman’ show at Louth Riverhead Theatre … I was approached a few months ago and at first (for various reasons) I said no … Eventually I said I would it…. I’m currently getting the show together and would be thrilled to see some familiar faces in the audience ❤️❤️ I’ve called the show SING HAPPY… I have two 40 minute sets to do …and then there’s a 30 minute interval for a free cuppa… I’m singing songs from musicals. Might even have some surprise guests😉😀Show starts 2:30pm…Tickets £5 🎶🎭🎹🎶🎭🎹🎶🎭🎹🎶🎭🎹🎶🎭😀🎶🎭🎹🎶🎭🎹
Link to theatre below..
Got back late last night from a fun evening of brilliant entertainment at Louth Riverhead Theatre watching their production with Blaze of Avenue Q.
I hadn’t seen the show before and heard a few things about it; I heard comments that it’s cheeky, it’s naughty, it’s a bit rude, it’s edgy; my nephew said its like ‘the muppets twisted sister’ or ‘Family Guy to the Simpsons’. So I had some expectations, but nothing could have prepared me for the lovely, simple story, brilliantly observed comedy, and catchy songs that would stand up completely out of the context of the show. Yes, it has some of those moments that if you’re not open minded, or up for a bit of naughtiness you might be shocked, but overall it’s a show that would make everyone think about our own morality and the way we all think and react about subjects that are often taboo.
So over to the show itself; imagine we’re back in Sesame Street, where we’re transported to a dingy set, a road in the US with trash cans and ‘for rent’ signs (well done to the set and backstage crew!). In comes a recent graduate looking for cheap accommodation, no purpose in life, believing his life can’t get any worse, realising that real life isn’t what he expected, and in come the other residents who show him that in fact, most people also have bad things happening in their lives and all is not as good as it appears.
I’m not going to give too much away of the story because for me, each song and each scene was a wonderful surprise (yes even the naughty bits!), and it wouldn’t do justice explaining the plot or the specific developments. What I will say though, is that I was made to think, ‘what do I think about that?’, ‘am I really like that?’, ‘do I really behave in that manner?’, ‘is that what I believe?’.
There was a cast of 9 ‘real people’ who mastered the art of being puppeteers (despite sore shoulders!) in such a way that the audience were constantly drawn to the puppet rather than the puppeteer. They have perfected the movements, the characterisations (which I didn’t believe was even possible in a puppet!) and the transitions, where sometimes puppets were shared, all completed without the audience hardly even being aware. And one other thing I didn’t bank on, was the fabulous voices of each individual puppet, no small feat for those managing two puppets, at a few points with one on each hand, having a conversation with themselves – pure genius – congratulations!
We’ve all got friends like ‘Bad Idea Bears’, leading us astray, a few of my friends came to mind, and we all sometime feel that other people are a bit too opinionated, but actually aren’t we all in some way? Very strangely, there are definitely a few lessons to be learnt watching this show!
The singing was brilliant, as was the small live band supporting under the leadership of the Musical Director Jacqueline Wilson (Director of Blaze), with Alex Frost and Matthew Gidlow. This is Rob Bishop’s musical directing debut, which he did as well as appearing in this production, with more than one puppet, and one voice to contend with, brilliant!
Cast members, in order of appearance (with their dress rehearsal puppets):
Princeton/Rob – Rob Bishop
Brian – Jamie Harris
Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut – Hayley Wrightam
Nicky/Trekkie Monster – Steven Greenwood
Christmas Eve – Helen Sargent
Gary Coleman/Mrs Thistletwat – Nikki Law
Bad Idea Bears – Kennedy Gardiner and Adam Barlow
Newcomer/Narrator/Ensemble – David Wrightam
The show runs from Wed 14th to Saturday 17th February, so only a couple of chances left to see this brilliant spectacle. If you want something completely different, something to make you think, laugh and just have a great time, get your tickets now. Tickets: £12 / Under 18s £6, TheatreCard £11 / Under 18s £5
Telephone: 01507 600350
The Box Office is open for advanced booking every Monday to Saturday from 10.00am – 1.00pm.
The Riverhead Theatre Victoria Road Louth LN11 0BX
“Filled with gut-busting humour and a delightfully catchy score, not to mention puppets, Avenue Qis a truly unique show that has quickly become a favourite for audiences everywhere. Although the show addresses humorous adult issues, it is similar to a beloved children’s show; a place where puppets are friends, Monsters are good and life lessons are learned.
THIS PRODUCTION IS NOT SUITABLE FOR AUDIENCES UNDER 14 YEARS
It is safe to say that if you are an adult with a good sense of humour, then AVENUE Q is right up your street.
Is it appropriate for kids? Er, well, this is where it gets a bit fuzzy. If your teenager is mature enough to see a musical about issues such as sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn, then they’ll probably love AVENUE Q too! Only you can judge. It’s hard to say what exact age is right to see AVENUE Q – parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children. But we promise you this – if you do bring your teenagers to AVENUE Q – they’ll think you’re really cool!
Tickets: £12 / Under 18s £6
TheatreCard £11 / Under 18s £5
Last night was my first visit to the Caxton Theatre Grimsby for the opening night of the compelling play by Amanda Whittington about Ruth Ellis, the last ever woman to be hanged in the United Kingdom in the 1950’s.
It’s not a subject I know, or have thought much about, but as the play unfolded, I could actually feel the trauma and pain that Ruth was going through in her life the years and months prior to the event leading to her final demise.
Ruth Ellis was played beautifully by Chloey Rose, and we saw her initially portrayed as a glamorous, sophisticated nightclub hostess and model, clearly loving the camera and enjoying the attention of men and the celebrity lifestyle. Through the range of her relationships, some more destructive than others, we see Ruth change as the psychological drama continued and we see Ruth struggling to cope with life. Still showing her strength in public including during the final scenes; but we see more of her vulnerability and inner child coming through when alone. Through Chloey’s portrayal of Ruth, we saw the whole range of emotions, including her inner strength and confidence as well as the vulnerable emotion; a wonderfully immersive performance throughout.
Nightclub manageress, Sylvia Shaw, played by Marie Barker, saw Ruth’s style and potential and genuinely believed in the possibilities for her future. Sylvia supported Ruth, and gave her opportunities; she knew that Ruth was vulnerable, and warned her against getting involved in relationships but Ruth was headstrong and went her own way anyway. During the final meeting of Sylvia and Ruth, we could really see the raw emotion, which up to that point had been well controlled and hidden by Sylvia, creep to the surface as she promised she’d meet her again, but realising that was never going to happen… Sylvia turned and walked away, clearly very distraught.
Vickie Martin (Louise Blakey) burst onto the stage, socially confident and extrovert, she knew she wanted to make it in the celebrity world of London, and wound Sylvia round her little finger, blagging a job, a room and making friends with Ruth. we see the pair have fun, enjoying the lifestyle but unfortunately for Vickie, the life in London was short lived… Louise brought the character to life, her infectious smile and outgoing character lighting up the stage.
The play, wonderfully narrated in a very distinct style, by Detective Inspector Jack Gale played by Ruairidh Greig. Throughout the performance, the DI explains the events of the story as they unravel, sometimes interacting with the characters, but often just speaking to the audience from the sidelines in an intimate style. He showed his strength as a detective, yet when speaking with Ruth privately, you could feel his compassion, striving to get to the bottom of the story, not just believing what he had been told or had seen…
The ‘charlady’ of the nightclub Doris Judd, played by Claire Wright, was the voice of reason for the group of women when out and about, making decisions and taking Ruth under her wing. She was Ruth’s mother figure, showing comfort and care and was there for he when she was most vulnerable and needed her most.
I was thoroughly drawn into the set which was extremely simplistic but very effective. We moved from club to bedroom to court with the stage lights highlighting the area of focus for the audience attention. I was amazed that simple effects could have such an impact that portrayed the emotion of the scene. Any more and it would have detracted from the events happening on stage. The costumes were wonderful, from beautifully fitting, colourful dresses, to astrakhan and fur coats, gloriously reminiscent of the 50’s. Congratulations to all the set, lighting, costume and back stage crew, a great job.
Praise indeed to Director, Cathy Bennett-Ryan for her the vision and bringing this story to the stage in such compelling style.
As Cathy says in the programme;
“We have, legally, moved on and Ruth’s fate could not happen to anyone today. There are still however many people suffering abuse from a partner and death is in some cases the result. A play to ponder on?”
Absolutely, the relationships between such a group of women in a world that was at the time, dominated by men, was intriguing, and definitely got me wanting to know more about Ruth and what compelled her to do what she did.
The play runs until 27th January at the Caxton Theatre, Cleethorpe Road, Grimsby.
There is limited availability on Monday, Friday and Saturday.
*Concessions available Monday performance only – £7.00 (Senior citizens, jobseeker’s and students)
Buy 10 get 1 free for tickets bought for the same night’s production, not available online, please contact ticket offices for this offer
Tickets are available from Tourist Information Centres situated at The Fishing Heritage Centre and Cleethorpes Library where you can either book tickets over the phone or pick them up in person. Alternatively you could contact the Box Office on the night of a performance after 6.45pm to book for future performances or check availability for that week’s production.
Tickets for future performances can also be bought during the interval.
****Please Note, there is a NO REFUND policy on our ticket sales****
It’s that time of year again where Christmas and New Year is over, we had ‘Blue Monday’ and everyone is feeling a bit low with the grey and dismal weather… but if you head to Louth Riverhead Theatre you will be cheered up no end watching this years Pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I had tickets for last Saturdays evening performance where myself and a few members of my family watched the show. I remembered thoroughly enjoying least years show, Dick Whittington, and was definitely looking forward to an evening of fun and laughter.
The whole show was filled with dancing, singing, wonderful set changes and was a real spectacular feast for the eyes as well as the ears. In particular, the neon costumes and backdrops had my 1 year old niece’s eyes glued to the stage! The senior chorus in particular had their work cut out throughout the performance, taking on cameo parts, moving scenery, dancing, singing and obviously thoroughly enjoying the part they were playing. It was great to see Studio 2000 dancers (Choreographed by Nicky Wright), both senior and junior, the little ones did great! Last Saturday, we were watching ‘Team Snow’, a fabulous set of dwarfs that performed brilliantly, as I’m sure ‘Team White’ do on the alternate nights.
Laura Harris, who played Snow White, gave a wonderfully sweet performance, true to how I imagine that character to be; interacting well with the rest of the performers, beautiful singing, and having a great rapport with the dwarfs which came across really well. I read in the programme it’s Laura’s ninth pantomime (as well as performing in lots of other shows in the past), so she’s obviously well versed at knowing what is required to please the audience. Another performer who knows how to bring the audience with him is ‘daft lad’ Willie Eckeslike, played by Jack Lovett. I’ve seen Jack perform in quite a few shows now, and he never fails to please the audience. I’ve not seen another actor in local theatre that can adapt as well with such great timing. I’m sure audiences are looking forward to seeing some of his writing and producing in the comedy sketch show, Here, There and Everywhere, coming to the Louth Riverhead Theatre in March 2018.
Erica Slonskyj did a great job at playing Queen Esmerelda; the audience were disliking her from the first moment she stepped onto the stage… a nice lot of boos at the end proved she did a great job, and how her voice is lasting for all 10 shows I’ll never know! Chris Leeworthy played The magic Mirror and as well as the traditional responses to the Queen’s questions, while things were going on at the front of the stage, we saw the mirror reflections to whoever was standing in front. It was a delight to see Yvonne Bates on stage again playing Fairy Glad Tidings, having seen her most recently in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in which she played the hilarious neighbour. This was a very different role, but the audience warmed to her charm, but also laughed at her telling off Courtney Fish, the pantomime dame played by Neil Warne who was also Directing the show with Sue Hamilton. I understand from the programme that Neil stepped in very late in the rehearsal schedule; the audience would never have known, everyone loved Courtney, with her delightfully garish costumes, over stated make up and crass humour.
There were lots of other performers that did really well, the comedy duo maintenance men, Phil McCavity and Tyler Wall, played by Ray Baker and Neil Le Sueur, and the dashing Prince Charming, played by Evangeline Dodds, who won the hearts of the audience as well as Snow White.
It’s always great to see a live orchestra at shows, and Joel Browne, Musical Director (and piano/keyboard) did a great job along with his team, even getting involved in some of the comedy – I never did work out who ended up £1 better off!
Well done to all the performers, back stage crew, lighting, set, costumes and everyone else who had a part to play in this pantomime. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so much so, I can’t wait for next year!
Unfortunately all tickets are sold out for the remainder of the performances but if you would like to go on a waiting list, please contact the theatre box office in case any tickets are returned. The show continues until 20th January.
This glitzy, glamorous production has wowed audiences around the world, including Broadway and the West End and has now come to the Memorial Hall, Cleethorpes for a very limited 5 night run. The story is set in Broadway, and based on auditions and rehearsals for a musical, Pretty Lady.
Caroline Wright in the programme says:
“With love entwined throughout, the story may be a little dated but it’s aged to perfection and the fabulous musical numbers will leave you tapping your toes with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Musicals just don’t get any better than this!”
She’s not wrong, I had a smile on my face throughout the whole show and if I had time this week I’d certainly be going again and urge you all to get to the coast and have a fabulous night out this week!
I was persuaded to see 42nd Street in the West End during early 2017 for the first time and I was completely bowled over by the choreography and the whole showbiz style of this massive hit musical. So when I was invited to come to dress rehearsal and take some photographs I was really excited to see how the team that performed the brilliant ‘Anything Goes’ back in November 2016 could bring such a big, spectacular show, with some great dance numbers and well known songs to a relatively small stage in comparison to when I saw it previously in London.
The tap and other dance routines (choreographed wonderfully by Hayley Wrightam) really showed the talent and skills of all the dancers in the group as they performed together with style and elegance. The musical numbers (under the musical direction of Keith Weston), including the live band, were exceptional; some of the vocal solo numbers were truly outstanding.
I was really impressed with the sets, props and lighting and although seemingly simple, the sets were clever and used to good effect with very quick and smooth transitions.
Scott Smith, as well as playing Billy Lawlor, had sole responsibility for the costumes. They absolutely made the show; I couldn’t believe how many costume changes there were; they were sumptuous, extravagant and definitely brought a lot of sparkling glamour!
Ruth Blanchard played Peggy Sawyer; she acted and danced with flair and poise and a level of sophistication beyond her 16 years, truly exceptional for a first lead role and I look forward to seeing more of her in future productions.
All the cast performed brilliantly together under the direction of David Wrightam
There were some stand out performances and vocals from Barb Dowell (playing Dorothy Brock) in her first principle role with Curtain Up Productions.
Kirsty Channon (Ann Riley) had some great moments with her personality shining through her characters in this her second time playing ‘Anytime Annie’ in 42nd Street.
Jeannine Ridha has played the role of Maggie Jones five times now during this, her 50th year performing in musical theatre, starting with Curtain Up Productions (was GCAOS) in 1967 at the Cleethorpes ABC Theatre. Jeannine’s characterisations, facial expressions and vocals were sensational!
If you get the opportunity to get a ticket for one of the last few shows, I would highly recommend it; the tap, comedy and glitz make for a show not to be missed.
To buy your tickets for Cleethorpes Memorial Hall follow the link here or directly via Box Office on tel: 01472 323111
I only have a vague recollection of Michelle Magorian’s children’s novel Goodnight Mr Tom from watching the film and TV series some years ago, but I do remember it being a wonderful story with sad, yet powerful moments. Set in a little village in 1941 we see children evacuated from London. A completely different life for some, and especially for the little boy in ‘Mr Tom’s’ care. The audience were taken through the transition of William to life in the country; his visit back to his difficult home in London with his negligent mother, and back to the country. Poor little William had a lot to contend with in his short life, and things didn’t get much better when he went through further losses when back in the village.
In my opinion Louth Playgoers have a great track record of putting on productions that audiences want to see, and this play was no exception; they performed to nearly sell out audiences every night and justifiably so as the whole show was professional, entertaining, engaging and dramatic. I went on the second night, Wednesday 6th December, with a few friends and family, and every one of us thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
The cast overall were brilliant and worked together really well, but I want to mention just a few individuals; I thought Tom Oakley ‘Mr Tom’, played by John Elliot was totally believable and gave a compelling performance, emotional, heartfelt and engaging. William Beech, the young evacuee was played wonderfully by Robert Husband, I totally felt for him all the way through; he showed timidity, the difficult circumstances he’d come from and his difficult background could really be seen in how he portrayed that character. Another standout performance for me was the role of Zacharius Wrench, played by Ben Jones. I did hear after the show that this was Ben’s first ever performance so I can’t wait to see what he does next. His character, exuberance and larger than life personality really shone out in every scene.
Congratulations to the whole cast, you could feel the emotion, through both the happy and the more difficult to watch scenes and most of the audience left with more that a little tear in their eyes.
This is the first production that Daniel Wakefield has Directed at the Riverhead Theatre; Daniel said in the programme “it was daunting… there was 18 different locations to change throughout the show”; he said he wanted to keep the set simple without the need for major set changes. This worked really well as the set was indeed simple, but with a few changes here and there, transformed very cleverly from one location to another, keeping the story and the dialogue moving throughout. Two other elements were also brought into the show that I enjoyed; puppetry and projection; the snippets of film really transported the audience back to the time of the story; my mum certainly enjoyed re-living some of the experiences of her childhood during the second world war as she watched with me. And although I enjoyed the puppet dog, which also worked really well, the audiences laughter as they reacted to the dog in certain emotional moments was a little distracting and a bit unnecessary.
Well done also to the backstage crew including wardrobe and set design and build and the sound and lighting crew. A brilliant job; and another well done to Daniel Wakefield, Director (also responsible for designing and operating the lighting) and Laura Martin, Assistant Director. I’ll look forward to seeing some more future performances!
The last time I saw Annie was on a family trip to the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton in November 2000 where I think (if my memory serves me – and Google is right) Lesley Joseph played Miss Hannigan and Kevin Colson was Daddy Warbucks. But on Tuesday night at the Blackfriars theatre I watched the BOS Musical Theatre Group in the same production. I’d forgotten how many great songs come up throughout the show – including ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Easy Street’ and ‘Hard Knock Life’, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
To be honest I’d forgotten a lot of the story, but as one of the most successful musicals in recent years, it tells the heart warming tale of Annie’s escape in 1933 from an orphanage where the wicked Miss Hannigan rules, to start a wonderful new life with Daddy Warbucks and all the adventures she has in between.
The set and all the changes at Blackfriars were very well done; we were transported from bedroom to sewing room, from street corners to shanty town then to Daddy Warbucks sumptuous mansion, to the N.B.C. Radio Studio, to the White House and around and back again.
In the performance on Tuesday, Precious Stewart-Coates played Annie, and delighted the audience over and over again with her beautiful voice, her positive attitude, characterisation and infectious smile! Very well done Precious, I can see why in the programme you have now fulfilled your dream role; I’ll be watching out for future performances! And what great fun you must have had with that gorgeous dog, I saw the effect you had telling him to stay!
Natasha Connor managed to turn the audience against her, and was very believable as the evil Miss Hannigan with her powerful voice and sharp tongue and in contrast, Katy Divilly as Grace Farrell, secretary to the millionaire Oliver Warbucks, was delightfully prim and proper and showed a loving nature, and kind heart.
Ben Gilbert‘s Daddy Warbucks certainly won over the audience, with his warm and loving character; the perfect contrast to the fiesty Annie, a lovely match!
The nasty trio that was Natasha Connor as Miss Hannigan, Rob Callaby as Rooster, and Lucy Allen as Lily St Regis, brought an element of fun to the show, with their double crossing plan, and Lily’s larger than life enthusiasm; they got their justified boo’s from the audience at the end!
It would be unforgivable for me not to mention Christian Slingsby, (one of my Jesus Christ Superstar, Lincoln Cathedral co-performers), who played a variety of characters including Bert Healy of N.B.C. Radio where he played his usual charming self and the powerful President Roosevelt. A definite change from the last role we saw him in – ‘Into the Woods’ also at Boston, where he played one of the Princes (we’ll never forget ‘Agony’ and the shirt ripping episode! – and just for the record – we can’t wait for the next show!)
All the cast did great and obviously had a lot of fun putting on the show; it was a very entertaining evening with a real feel good atmosphere. There are a few more opportunities to see this show at Boston, so give it a chance, and take the family, you won’t be disappointed! Click here for details and tickets for the remaining performances Tonight, Friday 24th at 7.30pm, Saturday 25th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Well done to all the Production Team, including the Director and Producer, Stuart Bull (who says in the programme he’d prefer to be performing to directing for an easier life!)
Now and again, a production is on ‘for one night only’ and that is the case with ‘Twang’ from Hambledon Productions at Riverhead Theatre Louth. It sounds like it’s going to be a fun night and hopefully this ‘preview’ will help to spread the word to encourage people to attend!
The press release said:
Be One of the First to See the World Premier of
Lionel Bart’s Hidden Musical Gem
Local professional theatre company ‘Hambledon Productions’ (the team behind recent nationwide hits ‘Steptoe and Son’ and ‘Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show’) are back in the area for an unmissable performance of a musical comedy from one of the country’s most popular composers.
Created by Lionel ‘Oliver!’ Bart, this swinging-60s rumbustious retelling of the Robin Hood legend failed to ignite the public and critics upon its first production in 1965, despite including the likes of Barbara Windsor and Ronnie Corbett among the cast list. Bart reportedly lost all his fortune on the show and his score, although being heralded as one of his best, has slipped into obscurity.
John Hewer, local playwright and co-founder of Hambledon Productions, has resurrected the score and written a brand new accompanying libretto for a one-night-only spectacular at the Riverhead Theatre in Louth. “It was one of those extremely lucky moments,” says John, “when the Lionel Bart Estate granted permission for me to revive this mistakenly-neglected show. The score is a wonderful mix of traditional Lionel Bart, fused with a real 60’s-jazz vibe.” When quizzed about the new script, John added, “I’ve allowed my book to be completely influenced by Bart’s score and have created what I believe to have been Bart’s original intention – for a sort of “Carry On Robin Hood” comedy, telling an innuendo-fuelled story of the folklore legend and his more-than-merry men, through catchy numbers, broad slapstick and plenty of one-liners.”
John, who has previously written the popular spoofs “STOP!… You’re Killing Me” and “A Fistful of Spaghetti” as well as numerous pantomimes, will be joined on stage by a local cast of talented performers and a live orchestra.
“This is a truly remarkable event,” he said. “The fact that Hambledon will be the first company to be launching Bart’s score to a new generation for the first time in over 50 years is simply astounding. Tickets are selling extremely quickly with Lionel Bart fans and musical theatre fans booking from far and wide. It’s certainly one to catch.”
From the same company that brought ‘Two‘ and ‘Sleuth’ in previous years, it was an absolute delight to watch Jamjar Productions portrayal of Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Confusions’. I was intrigued when I first heard it had been chosen as the next show as I thoroughly enjoyed the previous production.
The production is a series of 5 plays, with 20 characters played by just 5 actors. The links between the plays were clever and funny and the wide range of characters between the individual plays was very diverse. I really enjoyed comparing some of the characters to ‘real life’ people I had met in the past!
Mother Figure, ‘Lucy’, played by Sophie Grundy-Holmes, gave us a wonderful insight into motherhood, and the strains on relationships where one partner is often away… Holly Mapletoft and Matt Sargent played what I couldn’t work out to be either nosy or concerned neighbours ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Terry’; all 3 characters worked together well, and it was interesting to see the change in characters as the scene played on, with the dominant moving from one actor to another!
In the second play, we get to meet Lucy’s husband ‘Harry’, brilliantly played by Jamie Harris; a travelling salesman who has a bit too keen an eye on the ladies, Paula and Bernice (Sophie and Holly), fuelled with a few too many whiskies, helped along by waiter Darren Melton! Drinking Companion is a very clever insight into the world of business travellers (some of them anyway!).
The third play, Between Mouthfulls, is a hilarious look at a ‘romantic’ night in a cosy restaurant where two couples are out for dinner. I loved the way the clever use of silence brought the audience attention from one couple to another; the scene was brilliantly portrayed, and the fabulous props and set team should also get a special mention, well done Pat and Alan Fisher, and Rob and Holly Mapletoft. The waiter, played once again by Darren Melton, certainly deserved his feet up moment at the end of that play after the twist in events!
I think the fourth play, Gosforth’s Fete had to be my favourite. Matt Sargent showed yet another completely different character, he has a fantastic ability to transform, not only his voice, but his facial expressions. We also saw another side to the brilliant talents of Jamie Harris, playing the village vicar… I’m not going to say too much, but I saw a side of Jamie I’d never seen before, and his whole portrayal of that character was exceptional! I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for a long time!
Holly, playing ‘Mrs Pearce’ the special guest of the Fete, looked like she had great fun playing that part, from being pulled around by Mr Gosforth, to getting lost in the fields… an absolute riot from beginning to end.
Finally, Talk in the Park, the fifth play, was very simply set on 4 park benches; and consisted just of dialogue, which throughout all 5 plays was word perfect. It showed just how awkward it can be when strangers start talking to each other… some difficult yet entertaining dialogue, and definitely thought provoking.
Well done to all the cast and crew for a very entertaining evening. Once of the best and funniest shows I’ve seen at Louth Riverhead Theatre and congratulations to the Director, Rob Mapletoft and Producer, Jamie Harris.
The Director, Rob, says of the show:
I first saw Confusions at Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Stephen Joseph Theatre’ in Scarborough a number of years ago…
…I enjoy trying to push the drama out to the audience, making them feel part of the action, so apologies in advance to those of you in the front row!
I find ‘Confusions’ intriguing, Ayckbourn finds the dramatic in the hum-drum everyday parts of life, and pushes unlikely characters together in uncomfortable situations. Each character may be very different from the next, but they all share similarities and insecurities.
I also like the structure – five short interconnected stories that give a taste of very different lives. Each character with their own motive. Could be confusing?!
The show is on for just one more night, Saturday 4th November, and there are surprisingly still some tickets left. If you have a free evening, I urge you to get your tickets now and go and enjoy a great evening of fun!
Click here for your tickets at £10 or £9 for concessions or call:
Telephone: 01507 600350
The Box Office is open for advanced booking every Monday to Saturday from 10.00am – 1.00pm.
The Riverhead Theatre Victoria Road Louth LN11 0BX