Review – 42nd Street – Curtain Up Productions

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‘COME AND MEET THOSE DANCING FEET’

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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All the cast performed brilliantly together under the direction of David Wrightam

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There were some stand out performances and vocals from Barb Dowell (playing Dorothy Brock) in her first principle role with Curtain Up Productions.

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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.

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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!

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Full cast following dress rehearsal

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

Adult Tickets £12, Children 16 and under £9

More information on this and previous/up coming shows from the Curtain Up Production website

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Goodnight Mr Tom – Louth Playgoers Production

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

To see other up coming performances at Louth Riverhead Theatre please look at their website https://louthriverheadtheatre.com for ‘What’s on’

 

‘Annie’ – BOS Musical Theatre Group

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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.

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The orphanage

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.

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Daddy Warbucks Mansion

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!

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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.

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Grace Farrell and Miss Hannigan

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!

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Daddy Warbucks and Annie

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!

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Miss Hannigan, Rooster and Lily St Regis

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!)

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Bert Healy at N.B.C. Radio

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!)

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Preview – ‘Twang’ – Hambledon Production – Riverhead Theatre Louth

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!

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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.”

SATURDAY 25TH NOVEMBER, 7.30PM
RIVERHEAD THEATRE, LOUTH

TICKETS: £12.00

CALL: 01507 600350
WWW.LOUTHRIVERHEADTHEATRE.COM

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Click here for Tickets – Louth Riverhead Theatre

Twang!!

Review – Confusions – JamJar Productions – Louth Riverhead Theatre

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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!

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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!).

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

 

Mad About the Musicals – M A Promotions – Louth Riverhead Theatre

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Billed as ‘Songs from the Greatest Shows of the West End and Broadway’; Mad About the Musicals was certainly a feast of Musical Theatre, with a mixture of well known favourites and lesser known delights.  The show, part of a UK tour, features Michael Courtney, from Lincoln; Jai McDowall, from Scotland and winner of Britain’s Got Talent in 2011; Rosanne Priest from near Sheffield, and Kerry Whiteside from Lancashire.

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The cast were supported by a wonderful live band, and despite only 4 members, Musical Director Michael Lovelock on Keys 1; Marc Hayes on bass guitar (who I believe was also part of the orchestra for the Lincoln Cathedral Production of Jekyll and Hyde in August 2017); Rich Craig on drums and percussion and Josh Weaver on Keys 2.

Some of the early numbers included Don’t Rain on my Parade from Funny Girl, and songs from Little Shop of Horrors and Song and Dance, but one of my favourites from the whole show was ‘This is the Moment’ from Jekyll and Hyde.  Having recently seen the Lincoln production (mentioned above) it was wonderful to hear an alternative live version of the powerful ballad, and Jai’s rendition was beautiful.

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Act 1 ended with songs from Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, then a medley of a number of musical favourites melded together wonderfully.

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Act 2 started with a lovely medley from Chicago and then some numbers one of my favourite musicals, Evita.  Rosanne Priest gave a stunning performance of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina which was a highlight for me.

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After a feast of other great musical theatre power ballads, including I Know Him So Well from Aspects of Love and Love Changes Everything from Chess, we were delighted with ‘It Sucks to be Me’ from Avenue Q, puppets included!

The whole show was brought together with some brilliant compering from Michael Courtney who linked the numbers with some funny comedy lines; breaking up the music with great banter.  The audience were thrilled with the whole show, and they weren’t left disappointed with the finale of a brilliant Les Miserables medley.

Vocals from all performers were spot on, the sound and mic balance was just right and the lighting effects all added to the professional performance.

There are tickets left for this evening if you are near to Louth and want to take advantage of a wonderful night of song; click here Louth Riverhead Theatre or visit:

Box Office

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

Email: admin@louthplaygoers.co.uk

For details of the whole UK Tour visit Mad About the Musicals

 

 

(Photos from Mad About the Musicals Facebook Page)

 

 

 

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – Louth Playgoers

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My first show of the new season, 11th – 16th September 2017 sees the current Louth Playgoers Production, written by Jim Cartwright, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.  I knew the film fairly well so was interested to see how the Director, Jeremy Smith and the Producer, Jamie Harris translated this story onto the stage and brought to life the funny yet sad story to the stage.

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The play tells the story of a shy, reclusive girl named Little Voice and her larger than life, out of control mother Mari.

Desperately missing her dead father, Little Voice spends her time locked in her bedroom listening to his old record collection and perfecting astonishing impersonations of famous divas including Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Dusty Springfield.

When Mari starts dating small-time club agent Ray Say, she thinks he’s her last chance for a better life. When Ray Say hears Little Voice sing, he thinks she’s his ticket to the big time. Little Voice just wants a normal life and to be loved. Not everyone is going to get what they want

I actually can’t believe its 25 years since the film was made with Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn and Jane Horrocks, and was delighted to see that the play had its own particular quirks and nuances that added a brilliant comedic effect; definitely not a copycat version of the film despite still only having 7 cast members.

Helen Crawshaw played ‘Little Voice’ and I was really impressed by her impersonations and her portrayal of shyness in the beginning and her transformation on the stage when she eventually found herself (which brought a tear to my eye); it was really well done.

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Laura Martin, who played ‘Mari Hoff’ was very funny and utterly believable as the drunken, uncaring mother, delivering her lines with clarity and great comedy and her sidekick, Yvonne Bates who played ‘Sadie May’ made a brilliant pair; their MJ disco moves were fab.  I really relished the ‘vacant, vacuum and void’ look of Sadie, what a character.  Her little personal ‘gems’ totally grossed me out if I’m honest (in a good way), but added fabulous detail to an already brilliantly played character.  I’m just glad I wasn’t the one clearing up after her!  Very well done, I can’t say you were born to play that part Yvonne but I bet that was fun.

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Derek Maher obviously had a few fans in the audience on Tuesday evening as he played ‘Ray Say’; I loved the way his character changed from Mari’s lustful lover, to showing empathy and being manipulative in equal measures with Little Voice and then turning completely, by totally humiliating Mari; he moved from one Ray to another with believable ease despite some scenes being a bit uncomfortable to watch.

It was a wonderful performance by Jack Lovett in his third venture into a dramatic role as ‘Billy’ the telephone engineer’s assistant, and love interest of Little Voice.  His ability to show sensitivity and understanding to Little Voice’s concerns and helping her to overcome them came across beautifully.  I loved the way the audience could see his emotions without him having to say a word… a complete change from other roles I’ve seen Jack play previously.

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I loved the way the set was built, and the attention to detail was very clever; I did wonder how the transition to the club scenes were going to happen with the size of the set but it was very well done (the set was Designed by Eric Cahill and Brian Disbrowe)!  I also loved the use of lighting, to highlight the different elements of the stage and set, and the changes between scenes.  It all added a great atmosphere and made the audience feel they were there in the moment, especially in the ‘club’ scenes which were very cleverly thought out and Billy’s ‘lights’ at the end.  Well done also to Gareth Bates who played a delightfully cheesy ‘Mr Boo’; I don’t think I was the only member of the audience who felt that they had gone into the wrong theatre for Act 2; the ‘Phoenix Nights’ vibe was very funny!  It was good to have live musical accompaniment too from Matthew Jeffery  on piano and Stuart Spendlow on Drums (is that really your accent Stuart?).  I must also mention the ‘Phone Man’ Andrew Milsom, he played a dual role the ‘Showbiz Agent’ looking to take ‘Little Voice’ to greater things.

The Director was Jeremy Smith who has been with Louth Playgoers for six years;  the Producer was Jamie Harris, a familiar name at Louth Playgoers, directing, producing, singing, acting and even designing lights in many productions, as well as forming his own theatre company, JAM JAR PRODUCTIONS, who are currently rehearsing for their next production, ‘Confusions’ by Alan Ayckbourn to be performed at the Riverhead Theatre in November.

Well done to the whole cast and crew; a fabulous production that I urge anyone who can make it this week before the end of the run to take the time and book your ticket, you truly won’t be disappointed.  The show runs from 11th to 16th September and tickets can be purchased from Louth Riverhead Theatre Box Office or by visiting Louth Riverhead Theatre, Victoria Road, Louth, LN11 0BX or by Telephone: 01507 600350, prices range from £4 to £8.50.
The Box Office is open for advanced booking every Monday to Saturday from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

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