Once Upon a Time – Louth Playgoers – 12 August 2017

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The first show I ever went to see at Louth Riverhead Theatre was ‘Musical Memories’ as I’d just started to get to know some of the performers from the Lincoln Cathedral Production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2015.  I was so overwhelmed with the talent in that particular show that when I saw that there was going to be ‘Once Upon a Time’ featuring songs from our favourite family films I couldn’t resist.

Once upon a Time was Directed by Jamie Harris who has directed several of the shows I’ve enjoyed at the same theatre, and the Musical Director Keith Weston who I also have enjoyed work from.  Frances Brindle and Derek Smith were the Producers and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the production.

Derek Smith was a complete natural as our host for the evening and kept the audience interest as he relayed details about Disney and the other films, and I particularly enjoyed his first number with the children, ‘Heigh-Ho’; what a delight to see Derek getting right in with the kids performing the 1937 Disney Classic from Snow White.  It was wonderful to see the small children enjoying participating around the stage and the theatre.

A few highlights for me include another Derek Smith number, this time performed with his son Toby, where they had great fun with the favourite from the 1967 Disney film, Jungle Book, The Bare Necessities.  Kerry Ward did a great job as Mary Poppins, with her rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious performed with Ruairidh Greig, a perfect crowd pleaser, followed by A Spoonful Of Sugar from Janine Walker, another really lovely performance.

Laura Harris delighted us with Colours Of The Wind from Pocahontas followed immediately by Jamie Harris who sang Alan Menken’s Out There from Hunchback of Notre Dame – he brought an absolutely beautiful song to another level!

A favourite film from my sons childhood was Space Jam in 1996, and Joel Browne, with the cast, uplifted the whole audience in Act 2 with I Believe I Can Fly. Although I enjoyed the whole production, Love Is An Open Door performed by Charlotte Bushell and Jack Lovett was another highlight.  Taken from Disney’s Frozen, 2013 its become a worldwide favourite and both Jack and Charlotte brought a whole lot of fun, comedy and romance to the performance, great characterisation and wonderful musicality.

Finishing the show with a Despicable Me 2 favourite, Happy, Sunny Williamson, Molly Carter & the cast brought the song to life on the stage with the audience really wanting to sing along, with the final performance from the whole cast of When You Wish Upon a Star ending the show with a rapturous applause from the whole audience.

There were quite a few young children in the audience which all seemed to be delighted with the great variety of films and musicals the songs represented, keeping the adults entertained with some of the older favourites.  A couple of older teens sitting near me delighted in singing along to just about every performance which although nice to see, got a little frustrating when they were nearly singing as loud as those on stage!

 

 

 

Details of the show:

ACT ONE

‘Be Our Guest’ (Neil Warne, Vanessa Allison & cast)

‘Heigh-Ho’ (children)

‘I’ve Got No Strings’ (Madeleine Barnes-Browne, Theresa Appleton, Beth Raithby, Poppy Barnes-Browne)

‘Cruella De Vil’ (Ed Mapletoft)

‘The Bare Necessities’ (Derek Smith and Toby Smith)

‘Supercali’ (Kerry Ward, Ruairidh Greig & cast)

‘Spoonful Of Sugar’ (Janine Walker)

‘Feed The Birds’ (Janet West & cast)

‘Somewhere Out There’ (Melissa Jenney, Ian Cahill & cast)

‘Part Of Your World’ (Katie Graham)

‘Beauty And The Beast’ (Helen Riley)

‘Friend Like Me’ (Neil le Sueur & tappers)

‘Love Survives’ (Natasha Connor)

‘I Stand Alone’ (James Burgess)

‘They Live In You’ (Helen Riley, dancers & cast)

‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ (Charlotte Bushell & Ben Browne)

‘Circle Of Life’ (Chris Driffield & cast)

ACT TWO

‘Mine, Mine, Mine’ (Derek Smith, James Burgess & cast)

‘Colours Of The Wind’ (Laura Harris)

‘Out There’ (Jamie Harris)

‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (Joel Browne & cast)

‘Rumour In St Petersburg’ (cast)

‘When You Believe’ (Katie Graham & Evangeline Dodds)

‘I’m A Believer’ (Michelle Scott & cast)

‘What If?’ (Erin Ramsay)

‘Holding Out For A Hero’ (Sarah Hagerup & cast)

‘Happy Little Working Song’ (Natasha Connor)

‘Mother Knows Best’ (Kim Burchall)

‘In Summer’ (James Burgess)

‘Love Is An Open Door’ (Charlotte Bushell & Jack Lovett)

‘Let It Go’ (Evangeline Dodds)

‘Happy’ (Sunny Williamson, Molly Carter & cast)

‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ (cast)

 

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Director – Jamie Harris

Producers – Frances Brindle & Derek Smith

Stage Manager – Bob Booth

Sound Design – Brooke Vickers

Sound Operator – Ash Hagyard

Musical Director – Keith Weston

Choreography – Frances Brindle & Jamie Harris

Lighting Design – Jamie Harris

Lighting Operator – Peter Hall

Follow Spot Operators – Martyn Underdown & McKenna Smith

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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