‘Wizard of Oz’ – LAODS – Guest Review – Jordan Leith

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Thank you Jordan for writing and allowing me to share your review.  Having stayed in Kansas for the last 3 weeks, I’m totally disappointed not to have been back to see this show, but thankfully I at least have a glimpse into the fun that this show brought.

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After seeing LAODS (Lincoln Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society) bring Spamalot to the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre last year, I was optimistic for this year’s production of The Wizard of Oz, and was not disappointed. The company brought the land of Oz to life fantastically, paying tribute to the classic well-loved story, whilst also making the performance relative for a modern-day audience.

The show opens in weary Kansas and Dorothy Gale (Natalie Rowe) sings a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, the song which traditionally paints the picture of Dorothy as a country girl from the ranch with her head in the clouds, constantly dreaming of better but never doing anything about it. However, Natalie Rowe’s performance developed Dorothy beyond just a damsel in distress, creating more interesting character development and a worthy moral at the show’s conclusion. The director also chose to add a subtle reference to “friends of Dorothy” which was both amusing and a pleasing nod to the legacy of the performance within the gay community.

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After creating a thrilling storm, Dorothy, her house, and her dog, Toto (Daisy), are transported to the colourful land of Oz, turning the stage into a vivid contrast from Kansas. The sudden madcap world of Oz, with munchkins, witches, and talking trees, was portrayed with the wicked sense of humour I have come to expect from LAODS. An outstanding display of comic delivery came from the Scarecrow (Jim Burrows) who brought instant delight with his clumsy tumbling around the stage. Another highlight was the Lion (Andy Morris), charming the audience at every possible moment, and stealing the stage as the dandy lion in every song. Together with the Tinman (Jamie Chatterton), the four leads had an excellent rapport and the friendships felt very real. Every scene between them kept a quick pace and the dialogue and humour between them flowed effortlessly.

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A mention must also be given to Sian-Elizabeth Rees for her portrayal of the wicked witch, a villain we love to hate. She made a menacing foe for the heroes whilst also having a sharp wit, which made her presence missed whilst off-stage. Accompanying her performance was an impressive amount of pyrotechnics to create a stunning supernatural villain. There were various technical elements that brought the show together and although there were a couple of wobbles likely due to the complexity and this being the opening performance of the run, they were all covered smoothly and didn’t take anything away from the show.

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There was also an opportunity for younger children (and big kids) to get photos with the characters after the show to make for a memorable experience. Ultimately it is excellent to see an amateur dramatic group putting on a musical and demonstrating the time and effort of creating a fun-filled show purely because they enjoy it. The enjoyment shines through the performance and altogether, the intricate costumes, the colourful set design, and witty performances created a delightful feel-good show, leaving everyone beaming and skipping home via the yellow brick road.

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The show is on at the LPAC until Saturday 17th of June. Tickets can be bought online by clicking here or at the box office along with the official programme

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‘Made in Dagenham’ – Lincoln College Performing Arts Students  – Guest Review – Dawn Wilson

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Thank you Dawn for taking the time to write a review for this show – it’s definitely one I would have made an effort to get to see so thank you!

Matinee 9th June 2017

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Having a day off meant that I was able to attend the matinee of ‘Made in Dagenham‘ performed by the 2nd year Performing Arts students of Lincoln College.  I have seen this show before when it was performed by a youth group in Spalding, Lincolnshire, and was excited to see how a slightly older cast would handle it.

A very brief synopsis of the show is that it is based on the true story of the female workers at the Dagenham ford plant who find that their jobs are to be downgraded to “unskilled” and later find that they are paid less than their male  counterparts for the same job.

Set in 1968, it tells the story of Rita O’Grady who finds a strength she didn’t know she had, to lead the women in the fight against the might of Ford; but would it come at the expense of her home life, in particular her relationship with her husband Eddie?

From the opening number, ‘busy woman’ we see the domestic Rita, holding her family together, before heading off to work.  That first number set the bar very high for the rest of the show; Rita’s voice sang out and when joined on stage by the rest of the women, the harmonies were perfect – and indeed remained perfect throughout. This is surely testament to the work of the musical directors Lisa Cowley and Lee Harvey and indicative of the hard work that the students had obviously put in. Having been in, and seen lots of shows, I fully appreciate that when the adrenaline of performance kicks in, it is sometimes at the expense of the harmonies – certainly not a problem with this talented cast!

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I am not sure if there was an issue with some of the mikes, but some of the dialogue did get lost in places and the band, whilst note perfect, were a little loud.

The musical numbers in the show ranged from the rousing ‘Made in Dagenham’ and ‘Everybody Out‘ to the tender ‘I’m sorry I love you‘ and ‘The Letter‘ to the wonderful ‘America’ complete with cheerleaders and Marilyn Monroe , an almost Donald-Trump-like ode to the UK!

The struggle that Rita faced as her battle took her to Westminster is surely faced by every single working mum up and down the country; Rita missed her son’s music concert and battled with the guilt. Rita was played beautifully by Rebekah Bowen, strong, feisty and funny, yet vulnerable and insecure.

Joel Gibson who played Eddie O’Grady, Rita’s husband, had just the right mix of being “one of the lads” to baring his soul in the tender song ‘The Letter‘, and he also played out the struggle between wanting to support his wife, wanting his home life to be perfect and trying to stand up to the same factory lads who struck out at him for not “controlling his wife” when they were laid off; another complex role handled really well.

The factory girls Sandra, Beryl, Claire and Connie were brought to life with  humour and some rather fruity language.

Other great performances included Natalie Rowe as the steely Barbara Castle. Natalie must be one of the busiest actors  in Lincoln at the moment as she opens as Dorothy in LAODS ‘Wizard of Oz‘ next week at the LPAC, juggling such different roles is testament to the talent that this young lady possesses.

For me the line of the show belongs to Harold Wilson, when asked if he had ever seen a she lion bring down a wildebeest his response “I’m from Huddersfield” showed a real comic timing from Barrie Howard, however for me personally the portrayal of the gruff northern prime minister was a little too camp.

The set was simple but effective, but some of the scene changes, whilst done efficiently by the backstage crew could probably have been made slicker by the use of trucks, but no doubt budget constraints (the bane of most productions) prevented this.

This production, the choreography, the music, the lighting , the use of the entire stage,  the casting , its entirety, was just wonderful from the opening note to the final note.  It was a shame that they didn’t perform to a larger audience, but whilst we may have been small in numbers we were huge in our appreciation.

Well done Lincoln College, it was a privilege to see this production, and it goes to show that Lincoln really does have talent in bucketloads. Former students of this course have gone onto drama schools and indeed Michael Dyer won the prestigious Andrew Lloyd Webber scholarship to study at the Laine Theatre School so we really are seeing the future stars of stage and screen right here.

I would also like to add that I thought that the direction of the show was spot on. This show has focuses on very adult themes; the struggle to juggle relationships and work being just one, and the director Jenni Bagnall has done a wonderful job coaxing some incredible performances from  young performers – I was able to forget that I was watching a “college” show and just enjoy it for what is was, great theatre.

To know that Jenni not only directed but also choreographed this show is incredible, two very demanding roles. The choreography was just right for this show, at no point did the stage feel “crowded” and the cast seemed to be enjoying every single second, again a testament to the hard work that has gone in. I was looking around the various performers and could not see even one who seemed to be concentrating on the steps at the expense of performance.

I must also give credit to the tech team, the lighting was subtle and effective, even when using the extremities of the stage, thanks to Andy Whitehouse & the LPAC Tech Team!

To  have put so much work into this production for just three “performances” seems a real shame, but as I said earlier, I loved this show and would have no hesitation in recommending future productions of this creative team, they clearly instil a professionalism in their cast which is to be applauded.

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Thanks to Dawn Wilson for this fabulous review, and well done to all the cast and crew!

‘Fun Home’ – Kauffman Centre for the Performing Arts

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For my second show review during my visit to the USA and Canada this time I’m in Kansas and had the privilege to visit the Kauffman Centre for the Performing Arts and see the award winning musical, Fun Home.  The musical is based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir and is the winner of five 2015 Tony Awards® including Best Musical.  I’d only read a few snippets about the story and hadn’t heard of it before, but had been advised to buy tickets as it has been a very popular show on Broadway and now on tour.

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One of the things that struck me about this show was how different it was from anything I’d ever seen before.  It’s absolutely not your typical ‘happy clappy’ fun and happy ending kind of a musical – we had moments of laughter but moments of shock and extreme sadness…  we saw into the lives of an American family, torn apart by a dictatorial, controlling father, who is owner of a funeral parlour (nick named Fun Home) and an English Teacher, who loved books.

 

It was really interesting to see Bruce, Alison’s father’s life, open up in layers, over the years, whilst ‘Alison’ watched on as her adult self, reminiscing about her childhood and the happy times she had with her father.  We saw Alison ‘grow’ physically, with her role being played by small, medium and adult Alison; and growing in both learning about herself and in looking back, reflecting on choices she’d made, discussions she had, and wondering ‘what if’.  We saw her coming to a sense of self realisation and in sharing those intimate moments with the audience gave us very special and brilliantly portrayed scenes using both word and movements.

It was both thought provoking and a beautiful insight into family life and all the good and bad that comes from an uncomfortable level of dysfunction all brought together with clever, witty dialogue, using repetitive, rhythmic poetry and song, with the inclusion of some lyrics in a kind of semi-spoken verse.

I loved the music; the live band at the back of the stage were discrete, yet wonderfully powerful at times; the lyrics and movement of both characters and stage set were very cleverly composed and carried out.  I loved the use of the walls, furniture and intelligent lighting; it all set the mood perfectly, especially in some of the more poignant scenes.

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I can completely understand how this musical has won so many awards; the vocal score was brilliant and there was a couple of absolute stand out moments for me through the show.  “Come to the Fun Home” – John, Christian & Small Alison, the ‘siblings’, played by Henry Boshart, Luke Barbato Smith and Carly Gold were fantastic, the dancing the vocals and the choreography – they pulled it off with magnificence – well done!!

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What a way to end a show – very atypical of musical theatre, we ended with “Flying Away (Finale)” – Alison, Medium Alison & Small Alison.  A triumph of a trio, their voices blended in fabulous harmony, they sang with heartfelt emotion and I was physically moved.  Congratulations Kate Shindle, Abby Corrigan and Carly Gold, you were a sensation!

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If you get the opportunity to see this show while it’s on tour, I would highly recommend it, tickets are available from now until December 2017 in various US States with additional tour dates to be announced soon.

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Jesus Christ Superstar – Louth Playgoers – Revew by Frances Brindle

 

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I’m absolutely delighted that even though I’m still away in the USA I am able to publish a review for this great show via a wonderful friend from Louth Playgoers (LPG), Frances Brindle, for their current production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Rock Opera, in Riverhead Theatre, Louth from 17th to 27th May.

Frances is usually onstage for the musicals but as well as performing for LPS she’s been Assistant Director, Producer and taken Choreographer roles.  She’s also on the marketing team and is on the Board of Directors. You can also find her smiley face in the box office from time to time!!!

Frances next  LPS project is Once Upon a Time, the summer concert on August 12th where she’s Producer and choreographer.

Over to you Fran…

Having not been involved in this years musical (an odd feeling!) I thought I’d embrace being on the other side and I’d review it.

Not being a massive fan of Jesus Christ Superstar, hence not being part of the show, I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to the show, but my reason for going was to support the cast who have worked so hard to produce it.

And a huge amount of hard work has gone into it. I’ve heard first hand that there’s literally been blood sweat and tears, and that was just building the set! Bob Booth and his crew have produced the largest construction our stage has ever seen. With giant steps, platforms, trapdoors, and multi levels, the immense presence of it is the first thing you notice when the curtains go back. It is utilised in so many different ways, which I won’t spoil, but the cast are constantly all over this giant structure making full use of the dynamics this set has to offer.

The most striking thing about this show was that everyone on that stage was fully invested in it and committed to providing a great performance. It was lovely to see so many new faces on the stage too, I hope they’ve loved it enough to join us in the forthcoming season.

The wardrobe team must be congratulated for their efforts because you could quite happily believe you were in biblical times, which is no easy feat when you have to source clothes in a modern society. They were tasteful, suited and my favourite part was that there were so many colours on that stage but they weren’t super bright and they fitted the show perfectly. The use of scarves and shawls was an excellent addition to each costume and I’m sure it aided the cast in defining their characters.

Colours for me played an important role in this show, Pilate in purple typically an “evil” colour, Herod’s glamorous gold, and Judas in Red which is essentially an angry colour and in the scene where he’s fighting his inner demons under the red lighting and wearing a red costume absolutely took the audience on a journey of his mind set.

The lighting in the whole show was very atmospheric and the use of candles to create a hazy glow in certain scenes definitely worked for me. There’s something to be said for emotional scenes portrayed in the flicker of candlelight.

The show is full of strong voices but the trio of Jesus (Jody McCutcheon) Mary Magdalene (Evie Dodds) and Judas (Rik Hardenberg) carry the show along at a pace which tells the story beautifully yet keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, literally. Their performances are brilliant and all differently so emotive that towards the end of Act two my stomach was in knots and I still felt a bit shaky after the show. It’s intense, shocking, heart wrenching and emotional whilst still having moments of upbeat, lively fun.

The fun mostly comes from the ensemble who are the heart of this show. They never stop! They are constantly climbing up and down stairs and scaffolding, on and off the stage, and it’s their commitment to this merry dance that makes the story so believable. All whilst performing perfectly placed choreography (by Sarah Hagerup) remembering harmonies, singing and still managing to breathe!! Hats off too to Keith Weston, the Musical Director, because it takes an awful lot of work to accomplish a rock opera with no spoken lines and just pure singing, and it’s a hard sing! And a hard play for the band too who absolutely rock!

The concept of this show is still one I can’t get my head around, but a lady who has, is the Director, Sue Hamilton. She has had the enormous task of bringing this vision to reality. It has been done in such a way that not only works, but flows so much that a scene disappears before your eyes before you’ve had a chance to realise it’s gone. And it happens more than once!

For a show that I don’t like, tonight I loved it! I smiled, I clapped and I cried, it moved me so much!

So if between now and Sat 27th May you want a great night out then go and see Jesus Christ Superstar, because they’re all Superstars!

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There are some tickets left and you can get them at www.louthplaygoers.com or call Box Office on 01507 600350 open 10am-1pm Monday -Saturday.

Thank you Frances for taking the time to write this great review, I’m just very disappointed that I’m unable to see this show that I know and love, and that I was part of in the Lincoln Cathedral production in both 2015 and 2016 with some of the same cast as in this particular production.

I hope that all the cast and crew have a great rest of the run, and that everyone enjoys it as much as Frances obviously did!

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‘Beatsville – The Beatnik Musical’ – Asolo Repertory Theatre – Sarasota, Florida

It’s not often I get home from the theatre and want to sit up half the night writing the review but last night was one of those occasions…  Working in Sarasota, Florida for a short while, I had a look at what shows were playing locally and came across this one at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.  Written by Glenn Slater and Wendy Leigh Wilf, and based on the 1959 Roger Corman film A Bucket of BloodOne of Slater’s first works with Alan Menken was writing the lyrics for the stage production Sister Act the Musical (2006).

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The Mertz Theatre is described on the Asolo website as ‘An elegant 500-seat facility originally built in 1903 as an opera house in Dunfermline, Scotland.’ So the links to the UK and it also being the first state theatre of Florida were enough for me to have a closer look.  The book was by Glenn Slater and music and lyrics by Wendy Leigh Wilf

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So what is ‘Beatsville’ – I couldn’t say it any better than the Asolo Theatre themselves so…

Dig this. One of the most highly anticipated new musicals from one of the hottest writing teams on the planet, Beatsville has its world premiere at Asolo Rep. It’s Greenwich Village, 1959 – the world of subterranean coffee shops, goateed artists, turtle-necked poets, and bongo-playing jazzbos. Tragically square busboy Walter Paisley wants nothing more than to be one of the beatniks, but he has no artistic talent whatsoever. When he accidentally kills a cat and hides it in a lump of clay, “Dead Cat” is declared a masterpiece, and Walter a genius. More “sculptures” bring more acclaim – but will the world discover Walter’s secret? From the writers of Galavant, School of Rock and Tangled comes this hip and hilarious new musical, hang onto your berets – we’re headed to Beatsville!

The whole premise of the show is about fitting in, about understanding what is real and what is fake, both materialistically and in people – a wonderfully heady, entrancing mix of upbeat music and dance, a lot of American Jazz from the fabulous live band, who took their turn on stage from time to time.

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From the moment I walked into the theatre and found my seat I was entranced…  The set was truly spectacular and as the show got underway outside the ‘Yellow Door Cafe’ with ‘Natasha’ played by the brilliant vocalist Cayman Ilika  and ‘The Claude’s’, hilariously played by Charlie Johnson and Connor Russell, we were in for quite a few more set surprises.  The design was ingenious; spinning, alleyways, doors, panels, sometimes colourful and other times just plain grimy, we had it all and the overall effect was sheer brilliance!  Natasha and Claude’s 1 and 2 took us through the whole show, with their musical narration and beautiful movements and physical shapes – the casting was perfect!

I won’t go into the story any more than I have above with the summary as if you get chance to go and see this show you truly won’t be disappointed.  We moved from extremely fast paced dance and vocals, to static shapes by the main cast and the ‘Beatniks’, in typical mannequin challenge style, ensuring the audience focused on the action intended.  The lighting added its own drama as particular events led to their own special effects – the audience came to recognise these as the show went on and could pre-empt what would happen next – all adding to the comedic effect and overall hilarity.

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Max Crumm was a perfect ‘Walter Paisley’ – the geeky outsider who just wanted to fit in… his sidekick was the wonderful Lauren Marcus playing ‘Carla’, the girl geek who had the same ambition worked brilliantly together.  Their vocal duets and chemistry on stage was great to see and hear, and enabled the audience to get swept away with the story…

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Another favourite character was the wonderful ‘Alice’ played by Billie Wildrick.  I have to say she was sensational – her vocals, dance and acting brought the character to life in every scene she was in.  Sheer brilliance!

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I don’t know a time when I laughed so much at the theatre before, and I was not alone, the whole audience joined in with many laugh out loud moments, and ‘Mrs Zwicker’ played by Ann Morrison looking for her ‘Frankie’ (the star of the show) was something special!

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If you do get the opportunity to visit this show, I cannot recommend it enough, the music, dance, brilliant choreography and direction and the story, which kept me guessing right up until the end.

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Theatre Magic!

 

The whole cast were marvellous so wanted to ensure they were all given a mention…

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Photo’s from Asolo Repertory Theatre Web site and photographer – thank you

Get tickets here until May 27th 2017

‘Into the Woods’ – BOS Musical Theatre Group

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Last night was my third visit to Blackfriars Theatre, Boston, where I saw the BOS Musical Theatre Group performing the American musical fantasy, ‘Into the Woods’.   The whole evening could have been a disaster though; having arranged to arrive in Boston early for some food before the show, my husband and I were just about to leave our Lincoln house just after 5pm when I noticed the tickets said 6.30 start with doors opening at 5.30 – the early start had completely passed me by, so keeping within the speed limits (of course) we made good time and arrived in the car park at about 6.15 after picking up my ‘theatre buddy’ Dawn on the way. We got to the theatre just in time (although the curtain was already up), and as we were taking our seats a cast member came onto the stage, wondering around, looking like he was trying to find something… I didn’t realise at first he was part of the show, but it turns out he was the Narrator and he went on to set the scene, describing the four fairy tale wishes that were the base of the story…

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I didn’t know anything about the story and I hadn’t seen the film so I had no preconceptions.  All I knew was that it had ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in it and that the music and lyrics were by Stephen Sondheim; a favourite with a lot of musical theatre fans with him responsible for the brilliant show Sweeney Todd and writing the lyrics for both West Side Story and Gypsy.

In the words of the Chairman, Rob Barclay in the programme, ‘This is a complex show…‘ and he is absolutely right.  From the very opening number in Act 1, I could see that this was going to be a fast paced production; the musical was completely different to anything I’ve seen or heard before, but once I settled down into the whole ‘Into the Woods’ vibe, I was totally hooked.    For the whole show I was on the edge of my seat, not knowing which way to look;  there was so much to look at my head must have been darting from left to right (sorry to those sitting behind me!); then having to look upwards when a beautiful haunting voice came from ‘the tower’, and then behind me as the cast made full use of the whole theatre and another bewitching solo melody from the middle of a tree…  delightful!

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When I usually write reviews, I mention the few stand out performances of those in lead roles, but in this production, all the cast were in ‘lead roles’ and on the stage a lot of the time, and so I don’t just want to single out one or two cast members.  Every single person on stage did a spectacular job, both vocally and theatrically so I have included a cast and crew list at the end of this review, as they all deserve a special mention.  Their voices and theatrical interpretation left nothing to fault, and I applaud the whole cast for their professionalism and obvious hard work.

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The set design, costume and whole theme of the show was in fact, Steampunk…  I spoke to Kei Bailey, the Director, immediately after the show, to understand whether his Steampunk theme was ‘normal’ for this production having never seen it before, and was surprised and delighted to learn that this was a BOS Musical Theatre Company special!  It was Kei’s idea to go with the Steampunk theme, and I have to say it was genius!  The bowler and top hats, feathers frock coats, dresses and leather straps all looked authentic and just belonged.

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Jo Warrick (Assistant Director/Designer) says in the programme, ‘I find the mix of Victoriana and Fictional technology inventions that are prominent elements of this style fascinating and can create stunning looks…  To try and explain Steampunk in a few words is hard as it has evolved into many sub genres, but think of the writings of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells and you’re almost there.’

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The set and the costumes were ingenious, and well designed.  I loved the use of detailed layering of different materials in contrasting colours and textures, the steampunk set designs and machinery (including the innards of the cow ‘Milky White’) and the simpler costumes of some of the more human characters, with just a few hints of the overall theme.  It all fitted perfectly and I was quite surprised to find out this theme wasn’t always used in this show.

I’ve seen and reviewed shows that have had great dance and movement elements, but to create a totally spellbinding performance such as this, the choreography had to have been brilliant.  Clare Allen, the Choreographer, worked wonders with the complex music that had lots of very fast, syncopated rhythms and along with the hard work of the cast, made sure every single movement and gesture were made with precision, both individual and the group choreographed numbers, all absolutely spot on. I was mesmerised!

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David Hallgate, the Musical Director, called this show, a ‘cacophonous musical‘; that’s a great way to describe what can also be explained as vocally rich, and many times poised somewhere between melody and dissonance.  There were wonderful strains of pure musical sweetness, followed over and over again by the contradictions of discord and purposeful harshness of the syncopated speech and extremely fast ‘tagged’ vocals.  The cast must have rehearsed and rehearsed because everything gelled together brilliantly and no-one seemed to falter throughout, despite the complexity of the harmonies and rhythms.

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I was surprised to find so much humour and comedy throughout the production.  There were some moments that had me laughing uncontrollably and I have to mention the songs that gave me the most laughs, ‘Agony’; sung by the two princes (especially the shirt ripping episode – we won’t forget that in a hurry Christian and Rob!), ‘Moments in the Woods’, sung by the Baker’s wife, and ‘Your Fault’; sung by the giant survivors.  I particularly loved the bed – brilliant!

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I loved the whole show, (just in case you hadn’t noticed);  it was one of the best shows I’ve seen since starting to write reviews in this blog, and I’m urging anyone that hasn’t got a ticket yet, to buy their ticket for one of the remaining shows (Tuesday 25th April through to Saturday 29th April – with matinee show on Saturday).  If you love theatre, musicals, steampunk, or just want a brilliant night out, you won’t regret it!

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Cast – In order of appearance

  • Matt Brown – Narrator
  • Rachel Rowett – Cinderella
  • David Taylor – Jack
  • Matt Barnes – Baker
  • Helen Graves – Baker’s Wife
  • Natasha Connor – Cinderella’s Stepmother
  • Kim Sands – Florinda
  • Jen Sands – Lucinda
  • Kate Sydney – Jack’s Mother
  • Lucy Freeston – Little Red Ridinghood
  • Andrea Townshend – Witch
  • Ben Gilbert – Cinderella’s Father
  • Katy Tabor – Cinderella’s Mother
  • Trevor Fenton – Mysterious Man
  • Julian Warrick – Wolf
  • Clare Allen – Rapunzel
  • Christian Slingsby – Rapunzel’s Prince
  • Abby Johnson – Granny and the Giant
  • Rob Callaby – Cinderella’s Prince
  • Sam Simpson – Steward
  • Kelly Anderson – Milky White

Production Team

  • Director – Kei Bailey
  • Producer – Helen Graves
  • Musical Director – David Hallgate
  • Designer – Jo Warrick
  • Choreographer – Clare Allen
  • Set – Julian Warrick, Steve Dickons and Stephen Clark
  • Lighting Design – Alan Aldous
  • Props – Jo Warrick, Steve Dickons and Matt Barnes
  • Costume – Jo Warrick, Emily Westland and Matilda Wyatt
  • Marketing and Publicity – Audrey Young and Stephen Brown
  • Programme – Robert Barclay and Chris Cook
  • Photography – Neil Watson
  • Stage Manager – Nicole Moore
  • Sound – Alan Aldous
  • LX – Ashley Pope
  • Flys – Callum Thursby
  • Spots – Rowan Druce and Matilda Wyatt
  • Crew – Amy Ash, Natasha Townshend, Caroline Hooray and Audrey Young

 

Synopsis  (from programme)                  

In the realm of fairy tales, a host of familiar characters, each confess their deepest wish.  Cursed by a witch, the Baker and his wife long for a child but cannot conceive, Jack desperately wishes his cow, Milky White, would once again provide milk so he doesn’t have to sell her, and Cinderella dreams of attending the King’s Festival and someday being free of her cruel stepmother and stepsisters.

When all their quests lead them into the woods, their stories, and the stories of other fairy tale characters become entwined, resulting in dreams coming true and wishes being granted.

However, their happiness has consequences, and the aftermath of their actions force the characters to band together to save each other and their kingdom.

 

Buy your tickets by clicking here for the remaining shows.

 

 

“The Lady in the Van” – A Louth Playgoers Riverhead Theatre Production

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When I saw that Louth Playgoers were putting on a production of “The Lady in the Van” I was really pleased to see something a bit different to the usual performances that seem to come up in local theatres.  I’d seen the film with Dame Maggie Smith last year, and loved the story, so was very interested to see how this would work in theatre.  Would there be an actual van on stage?  How would the sets work?  Well I wasn’t disappointed!

The production, Written by Alan Bennett and Directed by Susan Hewer, worked really well on stage. The set design, by John Hollingsworth was very well thought out, the little windows in Alan Bennett’s office in Camden, the garden fence (ivy included), the gate, the houses across the street, all added to the feeling of looking in on a private driveway, people watching.

Susan Hewer, in the Director’s Notes in the programme, says ‘The play is both funny and sad, provocative and uplifting, being a blend of unbelievable truths as we are drawn into Miss Shepherd’s world of experiences”  She’s right, and with the addition of the dual roles of Alan Bennett, (dressed identically, with the same mannerisms and accents) really had us drawn into his life, his feelings towards his own mam, and the way he felt about Miss Shepherd.

From the moment Linda Goodman Powell, who played Miss Shepherd, shuffled on stage in her untidy mac and Nora Batty stockings, I knew we were going to have a few laughs…  She brought ‘Miss Shepherd’ to life in her own way; beautifully portrayed mannerisms, wonderful facial expressions and brilliant accent, bouncing off both Alan Bennett’s in humour and in her own cantankerous way.  The Alan Bennett’s were played by Andy De Renzi (Alan Bennett 1) and Derek Le Page (Alan Bennett 2).  Both Alan’s did extremely well, bringing their own portrayal of either the physical or the psychological characters to life;  and considering all three main parts had seemingly hours of dialogue, monologues and soliloquies, it’s no wonder they had to receive some cue’s from the prompter (Christine Raithby) from time to time.

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I enjoyed seeing a few familiar faces on stage from previous Louth Playgoers performances, including Rufus, the neighbour played by James Burgess;  who along with his stage wife, Pauline, played by Laura Martin, really highlighted the difficulties people must have experienced when faced with this type of situation.

Alan Bennett’s mam, played by Pamela Whalley, portrayed the mam beautifully, initially a happy, caring mother, but later, more reserved and worried; she really did show the different characteristics.

I really loved the way the sound and lighting designers and operators manipulated the lighting between scenes.  The programme tells us the music in the production was from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, op. 90, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, op. 78 and J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor, the Kyrie and the Gloria.  The rest of the music had been special composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage which really added a special something to the performances.

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I can’t mention everyone who was involved, but the rest of the cast did really well, especially those playing multiple roles.  Special mention must also go to the Stage Manager (and controller of The Van! – Tony Blackmore – wow ‘The Van’s’… red, and ‘crushed mimosa’ and even the mop head brush!).  Also need to say really well done for the set build, taking the set designs and making them a reality, Alan Fisher and Team.  The costumes and props also need to be highlighted; Ashley Stevens and John Hallam were responsible for the props and Barbara Vickers, Fern Garland and Pat Fisher for the costumes.  There were a few characters with a variety of costumes but Miss Shepherd’s range of outfits were brilliant…  I loved the whole look, the hats, the bags, the carriers, just her look – it was genius, well done!

Thanks for a good night out, and in the words of the lady I met at the bar before the show started who had never been to the Riverhead Theatre before, “What a beautiful theatre, and a wonderful variety of shows, we should come more often, we only live round the corner”.

There are tickets still available for tonight (Friday 14th April) and tomorrow (Saturday 15th April) so if you can, go along and support, it’s a fabulous story!

Click Here for tickets and more information on other shows coming up!

Thanks to Lesley Jane Mitchell and Jack Lovett for the photographs.

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