Hi-De-Hi – Louth Playgoers – Riverhead Theater

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Review – Avenue Q – Louth Playgoers and Blaze

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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.

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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?’.

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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

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BrianJamie Harris

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Kate Monster/Lucy the SlutHayley Wrightam

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Nicky/Trekkie MonsterSteven Greenwood

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Christmas EveHelen Sargent

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Gary Coleman/Mrs ThistletwatNikki Law

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Bad Idea BearsKennedy Gardiner and Adam Barlow

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Newcomer/Narrator/EnsembleDavid Wrightam

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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

Email: admin@louthplaygoers.co.uk

The Louth Playgoers Website says:

“Filled with gut-busting humour and a delightfully catchy score, not to mention puppets, Avenue Q is 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

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The Thrill of Love – Caxton Theatre Grimsby

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

You can buy tickets online by clicking here.

Saturday performances – all seats £8.50

Monday to Friday performances – all seats* £8.00

*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****

Contact Information

Tourist Information (01472) 323111

Fishing Heritage Centre

Alexandra Dock

DN31 1UZ

Cleethorpes Library

Alexandra Road

DN35 8LG

Caxton Box Office (01472) 345167

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Louth Playgoers Pantomime

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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.

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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

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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

 

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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