‘Out of the Hat’ – CAODS Lincolnshire Tour

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For the first time, CAODS – The County Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society of Lincolnshire took the decision to put this variety show together and take it on tour at several venues throughout Lincolnshire over the next few months.  I have seen 2 CAODS shows in the past, the NODA Best Musical Award ‘Sister Act’ in 2015, and the critically acclaimed ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ in 2016.  Both were brilliant shows and so I was really looking forward to what they would bring to a much smaller production in a variety format.

The opening night of the tour was in the Neverland Theatre, Skegness; an intimate, 100 seat theatre in the heart of the town.

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CAODS said about the show:

Join CAODS during their 2017 tour of Lincolnshire. This award-winning company are ready to entice you with a magical evening of song, dance and laughter. A variety show like no other with a magical twist supplied by the talents of the amazing Brian Hellyer.

The show features music from some of the most popular musicals (both modern and traditional) ever staged, together with mesmerising dance routines and comedy sketches, all ages are sure to find ‘Out of the Hat’ delightfully entertaining. With a wave of a magic wand, we will bring the world of musical theatre to life before your very eyes; you just won’t believe what we can pull out of the hat!

Unfortunately, Act One got off to a poor start when a number of unforeseen technical issues detracted from some of the opening acts.  Happily, once those issues were overcome, and the cast settled down into their performances I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

I know a lot of the cast from working with them in previous productions, and for some, this was their very first time performing solo, either singing or taking part in a comedy sketch.  I was delighted to see them out of their comfort zone and the audience applause for the songs and sketches showed how well they’d done!  Congratulations!

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Serena Coney

The 2 Highlights for me both included the fabulous Dawn Wilson (Guest reviewer on this blog for the recent Made in Dagenham);  having never seen her in full solo character mode previously, her comedy timing was absolutely perfect and had the audience in raptures, the first sketch was split into a couple of sections, and we couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, performing with Emma Bowler and Pete Hawbrook; it was brilliant!  She was then joined by CAODS Chairman Andrew Wydrzynski for a fabulous comic duet from ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ I was blown away by the chemistry and fun they seemed to be having on stage, which carried across into other ensemble performances throughout the evening!

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Dawn Wilson
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Andrew Wydrzynski

There were also some great solos and duets, my favourites were performed by Heather Wydrzynska, Rachel Pick, Kellie Loughlin and Vicky Turzanski.

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Rachel Pick

Very well done to all the cast and crew for a great evening of comedy and entertainment, and well done to Director Heather Wydrzynska, Co-Director and Choreographer Rachel Pick, Rehearsal Repetiteur Jonathan Jarvis and Magician Brian Hellyer.  I liked the ‘hat theme’ which ran throughout the show, it linked the magic sections very well.  It was a shame about the technical issues and as with all variety shows, I enjoyed some acts more than others but I wish you every success for the rest of your Lincolnshire tour.  I look forward to coming again when you perform at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln in October.

The show can be seen at the following venues:

The Lion Theatre, Horncastle – Saturday 22nd July, 7.30pm
1 Bull Ring, Horncastle. LN9 5HT
The Corn Exchange, Bourne – Saturday 30th September, 7:30pm
3 Abbey Road, Bourne. PE10 9EF
New Theatre Royal, Lincoln – Thursday 19th and Friday 20th October, 7:30pm
Clasketgate, Lincoln. LN2 1JJ

You can buy your tickets using the following information:

THE LION THEATRE, HORNCASTLE – 22nd JULY 7:30pm

Tickets: £8.00 regular / £7.00 concession

Available: –

  • on the door
  • through the Box Office (Horncastle Music Shop) 01507 526 566

(No online booking facility available at this venue).


THE CORN EXCHANGE, BOURNE – 30th SEPT 7:30pm

Tickets: £11.50 regular / £10.00 concession

Available: –

  • on the door
  • Bourne Library (during opening hours)
  • through the Box Office (Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham) 01476 406 158
  • online at www.guildhallartscentre.com

NEW THEATRE ROYAL, LINCOLN – 19th & 20th OCT 7:30pm

Tickets: £12.50 regular / £10.50 concession / £40.00 family ticket

Available: –

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Some of the team preparing back stage
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Emma Bowler and Geoff Middleton

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Thanks to Lester McCone and Dawn Wilson for photographs

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ROBERT HABERMANN: HIS WAY – The Life and Songs Of Frank Sinatra – Louth Playgoers

Friday, April 28th was something new for me.  All of the shows I’ve watched and reviewed so far have been either musical theatre or a play so to see a show that was a purely vocal performance was a little bit different.  To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from the evening. I’m not a diehard Sinatra fan, although I have a few tracks on my iPod, mostly well known songs that everyone has heard of.  But I have to say, despite not particularly looking forward to the evening, and having a few traffic problems on the way which nearly led me to turn around and go home before even getting there, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Robert Habermann took to the stage with a fabulous pianist and Musical Director, Trevor Brown, by singing one of his own numbers about the horrors of ‘mobile phones’ in theatre; very comical and definitely made the audience reach for their bags and make sure they were silent!

I couldn’t possibly name all the tracks Robert covered but during the two acts he vocalised both the songs and the life of Singer Frank Sinatra, telling stories about his time as band singer to ballad and swinging singer, and building his own record label ‘Reprise.’ It was a pleasure to hear from Robert detailing some of the highs and lows of Frank’s life, together with his wonderful musical renditions, not only of the songs that Frank made famous, but a lot of songs from his early years that aren’t quite so well known.  It was obvious that Robert had done his research and is a big fan of Sinatra, there’d be no other way of retaining so much interesting and entertaining information (without any written notes), especially the snippets about his Christmas with Ava Gardner!

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The audience really warmed to Robert’s easy going style (representative of the Mr Sinatra style we all recognise I guess!), and they took advantage of the opportunity to join in as much as possible… even I joined in with some of the more well known songs!  It was a true delight to hear stories that gave a great insight into the legend, and with Robert’s sincere and genuine personality and beautiful vocal renditions of so many wonderful songs, the audience couldn’t fail to enjoy the evening.

Did Robert sound like Frank Sinatra? Well I shut my eyes a few times, and could easily have been transported to a little club somewhere in the heart of America in the mid 1950’s…  He has the smooth vocals, the easy style, and likeable personality that I can only imagine were typical of the Frank we are all familiar with.  Some of the songs Robert covered included Come Fly With Me,  Fly Me To The Moon, Witchcraft, You Make Me Feel So Young, Strangers In The Night , My Way, New York New York and many more.

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Robert performs many shows across the UK, click on the link here to get details of his up and coming tours and how to buy tickets.  I’ll certainly be watching out for Robert and a hopeful return to Louth Playgoers either later in 2017 or 2018, perhaps with one of his other shows, Broadway and Hollywood musicals, or MGM musicals – after all, I really have got quite enthusiastic about musical theatre!

Robert Habermann by Piano, tie (2)

 

Review – ‘Ton of Bricks’ – Stroke of Genius Community Theatre Company

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This particular show had completely passed me by until I was asked to accompany my friends, Dawn, Jeannine and Helen on a bit of a girlie road trip to The Robin Hood Theatre in Averham.  It’s a small public theatre situated in the countryside close to Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire, seating 150, it has the reputation of producing professional, high standard entertainment and it certainly didn’t let us down last night!

The main reason for our trip was to support one of our dear friends, Cliff McArdle who we all met in the cast of the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar in Lincoln Cathedral in 2015.  Cliff wrote all the Music and Lyrics for ‘Ton of Bricks’, with the script being Written and Directed by Carolyn Drury.  After the show, Cliff said he found the experience a really rewarding one, that was made easier by the clear directions given by Carolyn Drury; he said, “She knew exactly what she wanted from each song , and all I had to do was to write them!”  Well, what a fabulous job Cliff did with every single song; although he’s ‘dabbled’ in song-writing for many years, this particular show was his first foray into composition not specifically for children (despite it being set in a village school), having left the teaching profession a few years ago to concentrate more fully on music and song writing.

The show itself was set in a Village School, where the rich, older generation London weekend visitors were buying up all the property in the village, leaving the local young people, wanting to stay in their village, with no affordable housing.  The result of that, lead to the decline in the numbers of children attending the local school, with the stark fact that it might close within a year or two.  A fleeting thought by the Head Teacher, led to a series of well planned discussions and events, eventually saving the school from it’s sad demise.

There were some brilliant characters that were totally believable from beginning to end.  The wonderfully buoyant Head Teacher, Mrs Esther Dawson played by Sarah-Lee Taylor was so obviously drowning in ‘Paperwork’ as portrayed in a fabulous duet with her efficient school Business Manager Sarah, played by Kerri Saxby.  Despite her drive to success as Head Teacher, she was lonely, having only in the last few years been widowed.  Her school and her ‘school children’ meant everything to her so she needed to save it and them at all costs.

Mrs Dawson was plagued on a daily basis by her nasty neighbour from hell Bob, played brilliantly by David Baliol-Key earning him a very loud ‘booooo’ at the end!  He made Esther Dawson’s life a misery but it didn’t just end there; Bob’s very sad, downtrodden and very bullied wife Marilyn played by Yvonne Cockayne, showed the audience just what a mean character he was, fortunately getting his comeuppance in the end being left one lonely old grumpy man.  Sarah-Lee in pensive thought, gave a wonderful rendition of ‘If Only’, a beautiful song asking the question we might often ask ourselves, I wonder what would have happened if only…?

Two hilarious cleaners Molly and Sandra, played by Zanda Pepper and Flick Millis, doubled as ‘scene shifters’ earning special thanks in the programme from their mum, Writer and Director Carolyn Drury.  They were both wonderful, even just walking on stage, and the looks passing between them brought laughter from the audience.  Their duet ‘Get the bleach’ made me wonder whether there must have been some glue in their buckets and elastic on their mops…  (I will forever wonder!).  (I also thought I saw a slight resemblance to a couple of other ladies in the community meeting towards the end of the show… maybe some older, well-to-do great aunts also lived in the village and occupied a couple of the elusive properties…?)

The snooty Councillor/land owner Edward Montague played by Tony Smith, seemed initially to be the baddy, but with the help and money from the charming suave and sophisticated building entrepreneur Tony Marshall played by Ian Carr, eventually saved the day in more ways than one!

A gorgeous duet by Ian and Sarah-Lee, ‘What do I like?’ showed us that even with our personal differences and preferences, love can still prevail…  after all, we all like a bit of the ‘bright lights’ sometimes!

The wonderfully portrayed ‘posh’ head boy and girl were stunning in their performances, looking down their noses at the lesser beings in the playground, otherwise known as ‘Year 7’s’; Giles played by Kane Stone, was clear and articulate as well as showing a kind brave side, winning the heart of the unexpected girl by breaking up a fight.  Tara, the head girl, played by Hannah Roe, showed more than a hint of ‘Miranda Hart’ (Sorry Hannah I had to say it!).  She showed a brilliant sense of comedic timing and an altogether hilarious performance; their duet ‘I want to go where the action is’ was both enthusiastic and passionate.

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Kane Stone in rehearsal
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Hannah Roe in rehearsal

The other 3 teenagers played by Lewis Wilby, Jo Anna Geary and Toby Lobmeister, despite looking and acting like the sort of teenagers you don’t want anything to do with, were obviously misunderstood, and their song, ‘Pride’, a mix of solo and trio, was very touching…

“…Yes, we’re often skint,

but we’re rich in the important things,

the importance a family brings

fills us up with pride…”

The Year 7’s really got involved in the whole show, both singing, acting, speaking and choreography;  I was impressed by their passion and obvious enjoyment throughout the performance.

One of my favourite numbers, apart from ‘Pride’and ‘If Only’ (there were many favourites!), was the solo ‘Sunday, Sunday’, sang again by Ian (despite my friend Jeannine speculating in advance Sarah-Lee would join Ian in her dressing gown before the end of the scene!).  The humorous reference to building Mr Trump’s wall in Mexico was a delightful addition to the script making it very current!

Since I left school back in 1982, I haven’t had much to do with teachers or schooling apart from through my son’s education, until I joined the Jesus Christ Superstar ensemble in 2015, where I met Cliff and a lot of other either current or past teachers…  being part of a community with a lot of people with a teaching background, you pick up a lot of vibes about the state of schools today, including the fact that record numbers of teachers are leaving the profession.  This production highlighted perfectly for me some of the key issues facing both schools, teachers and students in our world today with both hilarity and extreme sadness with hints of bullying, theft, overwork and long term sickness amongst the teaching staff (the lazy jobsworth caretaker Frank played by John Dodd a typical example).  The script was delightfully funny yet emotional and each song, and the unique, elusive harmonies, were performed with a sense of confidence and assurance.  It was also great to see Cliff supporting the male harmonies whilst playing the keyboard during a few numbers!

Jeannine said about the show:

“Cliff…. I can’t tell you how proud we ALL were of you… the show was fantastic… very refreshing to be honest…
We had no idea what we were coming to…I just thought that we were kind of coming to support you in this fantastic venture… which was ok in itself anyway… You’re our friend and we wanted to support you…
We had no idea that it would be such a brilliant show…
Interesting script… Amazing songs and harmonies… some wonderful performances from the youngest on stage to the older ones… I liked the choreography, it went perfectly with the songs…
It was funny yet at times rather moving…
I just loved it Darlin’ ….. Well worth coming over for……THANK YOU…”

Helen said:

“What a great show!  Funny in places, poignant in others. Very strong cast who were fully into their characters. Loved the score with themes running through it for the characters. Clever lyrics and I really enjoyed all the songs entwined in the final song. I had no idea what Jeannine and gang were taking me to, down the dark country lane, but what a great night. Well done you and your team x”

Dawn said:

“Well, I thought it was incredibly well observed, a modern tale with totally believable characters and songs that just, well, fit in perfectly with clever and moving lyrics.  I went from laughing out loud to holding back the tears”

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Helen Kent, Jeannine Ridha and Dawn Wilson waiting for the show to begin

I don’t know what more to add other than what has been said already above, except congratulations to all the cast and the Production Team, especially Carolyn, Cliff, the Choreographer Rebecca Ladds, the musicians, Stage Manager, Jean Baliol-Key, the sound, lighting, set design and construction and all others involved.  You’ve done a brilliant job and I really hope it’s not the last we see of the writers of this – this show needs to be seen again and again.

Congratulations!

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Cleaner’s break time!

 

Photo’s taken during show rehearsals…

Jekyll & Hyde – TICKETS ON SALE NOW

I can’t believe the day is nearly here, 14th February, when we’ll be able to buy tickets for the eagerly anticipated show ‘Jekyll & Hyde: the musical’ to be performed in Lincoln Cathedral in August 2017.  August seems like a long way away, but rehearsals with the Starring Lincoln Theatre Company and it’s typically large community cast […]

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We’re here, 14th February, when tickets are on sale for the eagerly anticipated show ‘Jekyll & Hyde: the musical’ to be performed in Lincoln Cathedral in August 2017.  August seems like a long way away, but rehearsals with the Starring Lincoln Theatre Company and it’s typically large community cast have been underway since September 2016 and are set to ramp up over the next few weeks now the lead roles have been cast.  (Watch this space over the coming weeks to get more information about who is starring in the cast!)

I had the pleasure of taking some photos in one of the rehearsals at the Assembly Rooms in Lincoln just before Christmas, where the group had it’s first run through…  I was spellbound – although I’ve listened to the soundtrack for the past 5 months in preparation, nothing could have prepared me for the tension, the seriousness, the comedy and the horror that is brought to life by the lead roles going through the motions with their lines and bringing their own individual characterisations to the script and score…  To be honest, if that’s how I felt in the first run through, I can’t imagine what I’ll feel and what the show will look like when I see it for real in August; I can’t wait!

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If the past 2 years productions are anything to go by, tickets won’t last long.

ALL tickets for ALL performances were sold out within 5 hours in February 2016 for the 2nd years production of Jesus Christ Superstar and I’m convinced that if tickets don’t sell even quicker this time, I’d be very surprised!

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Lincoln Cathedral’s Website said:

Lincoln Cathedral will open its doors once more in August 2017 to entertain, delight and dazzle audiences with the Broadway bestseller ‘Jekyll and Hyde: the musical’.

Tickets will be available to purchase from Tuesday 14 February 2017 from 10am.

We anticipate there will be a high demand for tickets so recommend you book early to avoid disappointment.

A link to enable you to purchase your tickets will appear on this page at 10am on Tuesday 14 February.

This hit show was written for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse and is based on the classic novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The musical was written in the 1980s and has been performed worldwide to great critical acclaim. The musical is a much lighter take than the original gothic horror and explores the epic struggle of man between good and evil.

The powerful pop rock music charts the struggle of a Doctor attempting to find a cure for his father’s mental illness, which goes drastically wrong and creates an alter ego who soon wreaks havoc on the streets of Victorian London. So many of the shows themes are universal; love, honour, family, life, death and illness. Thought provoking and moving – this will rock Lincoln’s theatre world!

The performances will run from Tuesday 22 August to Friday 1 September (please note that there will be no performance on Sunday 27 August). The Theatre in the Nave project involves over 250 members of the local community in its cast and crew.

Tickets will be available to purchase from Tuesday 14 February 2017. The best way to purchase your tickets will be through this website. The Cathedral Shop will not have a pre-allocation of tickets for sale, they will simply be able to assist you in purchasing tickets online through Eventbrite.

Accessible seating will be available to purchase by phone only on 01522 504394.

Click the Lincoln Cathedral link on 14th February for tickets!

 

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NOTE:  Although I’ve been rehearsing for the past 4-5 months with the cast, I’ve decided not to continue as a member of the cast this year.  I’m trying to ramp up my own business and may have the opportunity to travel  fairly extensively early in the summer, so I’m continuing to review shows within this blog, as well as write more about Jekyll & Hyde as it progresses over the coming months, including interviews with cast members and some of the lead performers, musicians and back stage crew.  As one of my hobbies is photography, I’ll be able to share some insights into the rehearsals, although don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers – you’ll have to buy your own ticket to see the show when they go on sale in 10 days time!

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Jekyll & Hyde – only 10 Days to go!

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I can’t believe the day is nearly here, 14th February, when we’ll be able to buy tickets for the eagerly anticipated show ‘Jekyll & Hyde: the musical’ to be performed in Lincoln Cathedral in August 2017.  August seems like a long way away, but rehearsals with the Starring Lincoln Theatre Company and it’s typically large community cast have been underway since September 2016 and are set to ramp up over the next few weeks now the lead roles have been cast.  (Watch this space over the coming weeks to get more information about who is starring in the cast!)

I had the pleasure of taking some photos in one of the rehearsals at the Assembly Rooms in Lincoln just before Christmas, where the group had it’s first run through…  I was spellbound – although I’ve listened to the soundtrack for the past 5 months in preparation, nothing could have prepared me for the tension, the seriousness, the comedy and the horror that is brought to life by the lead roles going through the motions with their lines and bringing their own individual characterisations to the script and score…  To be honest, if that’s how I felt in the first run through, I can’t imagine what I’ll feel and what the show will look like when I see it for real in August; I can’t wait!

If the past 2 years productions are anything to go by, tickets won’t last long when the box office opens at 10am on Tuesday 14th February.  ALL tickets for ALL performances were sold out within 5 hours in February 2016 for the 2nd years production of Jesus Christ Superstar and I’m convinced that if tickets don’t sell even quicker this time, I’d be very surprised!

 

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Lincoln Cathedral’s Website says:

Lincoln Cathedral will open its doors once more in August 2017 to entertain, delight and dazzle audiences with the Broadway bestseller ‘Jekyll and Hyde: the musical’.

Tickets will be available to purchase from Tuesday 14 February 2017 from 10am.

We anticipate there will be a high demand for tickets so recommend you book early to avoid disappointment.

A link to enable you to purchase your tickets will appear on this page at 10am on Tuesday 14 February.

This hit show was written for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse and is based on the classic novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The musical was written in the 1980s and has been performed worldwide to great critical acclaim. The musical is a much lighter take than the original gothic horror and explores the epic struggle of man between good and evil.

The powerful pop rock music charts the struggle of a Doctor attempting to find a cure for his father’s mental illness, which goes drastically wrong and creates an alter ego who soon wreaks havoc on the streets of Victorian London. So many of the shows themes are universal; love, honour, family, life, death and illness. Thought provoking and moving – this will rock Lincoln’s theatre world!

The performances will run from Tuesday 22 August to Friday 1 September (please note that there will be no performance on Sunday 27 August). The Theatre in the Nave project involves over 250 members of the local community in its cast and crew.

Tickets will be available to purchase from Tuesday 14 February 2017. The best way to purchase your tickets will be through this website. The Cathedral Shop will not have a pre-allocation of tickets for sale, they will simply be able to assist you in purchasing tickets online through Eventbrite.

Accessible seating will be available to purchase by phone only on 01522 504394.

Click the Lincoln Cathedral link on 14th February for tickets!

 

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NOTE:  Although I’ve been rehearsing for the past 4-5 months with the cast, I’ve decided not to continue as a member of the cast this year.  I’m trying to ramp up my own business and may have the opportunity to travel  fairly extensively early in the summer, so I’m continuing to review shows within this blog, as well as write more about Jekyll & Hyde as it progresses over the coming months, including interviews with cast members and some of the lead performers, musicians and back stage crew.  As one of my hobbies is photography, I’ll be able to share some insights into the rehearsals, although don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers – you’ll have to buy your own ticket to see the show when they go on sale in 10 days time!

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Review – Dick Whittingon – Louth Playgoers

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It was at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton in 1987 that I last saw a Pantomime;  it was ‘Babes in the Wood’ and starred Les Dawson and John Nettles… I don’t have any memories of the show but whatever I thought of it, it has taken until last night for me to see another Panto, ‘Dick Whittington’ in Louth at the Riverhead theatre by Louth Playgoers; and what a fabulous night it was!

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The show was produced and directed by the talented Jamie Harris, with Frances Brindle his very able assistant, who between them choreographed the dances in the show, apart from the Studio 2000 dances with choreographer Nicky Wright.  with Joel Browne Musical Director and ran from 6th to 14th January 2017.  At this moment in time, there are  a very limited number of tickets available for Tonight – Thursday 12th January, all other shows are fully booked, and I’m not surprised.

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The first thing that struck me when the live band started and the curtains opened was the delightful set and scenery depicting London Town, both up close with the shop fronts, including a little tongue in cheek reference to Bake Off and in the distance the London skyline;  all designed and constructed under the direction of Bob Booth, with both new and older set pieces brought back to life for this production.  His team of set builders and backstage crew did a wonderful job and with 8 scene changes throughout the show, each one very different and beautifully crafted, including a ship with moving wheel and brilliant side panels which changed as the ship fared the storm.  I was both delighted and surprised during Act 2 after the storm, to be transported to an under sea world, where fish, dolphins, turtles and other sea creatures sparkled in the near complete darkness with UV light, highlighting a brilliant spectrum of colours and shapes; what a spectacular display with wonderful music accompaniment.  Just awesome and breathtaking!

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We were introduced early on to Alice Fitzwarren played by Sophie Grundy, and her father, Alderman Fitzwarren, Chris Leeworthy.  Both played their characters extremely convincingly, Alice the demure girl, quiet and friendly to everyone, with Alderman a force to be reckoned with.  He came into his own especially in the later scenes where he’s trying to show the deck hands how to mop the deck with very little success, ending in a mass of mops being thrown around the stage! Despite the hilarity, he kept his poker face throughout!

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If a character wanted to make an entrance in this Panto then King Rat played by Ruairidh Greig did that every time he entered the stage.  The special effects team did a fantastic job, with sparks, flashes, smoke and bangs which all added to the dark and exciting side of this character.   The audience got right into the booing and hissing and King Rat’s make up was as brilliantly scary, nasty and mean looking as his perfectly matched characterisation, including the voice (how he learnt so many words I don’t know!!) (photo above not depicting the make-up from the actual production)

At this point I’d like to make special mention to the wardrobe team, – Elizabeth Rodger, Shirley Berry and Mandy Barker and also those responsible for the make-up – what an exceptional range of costumes and designs they came up with – from rats, cats, Captains, Sultan and of course the fabulous Dame, who had more costume and hair changes than anybody.

Dame Dolly, Richard Precious, was for me, one of the funniest characters in the whole show;  how he maintained his act and with so much going is a wonder;  I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for a long time.  The sewer scene with King Rat was probably the highlight for me, most likely for all the wrong reasons; starting with discussing a furniture store bringing in recycled stools and ratchet screwdrivers, those near me (and you know who you are J and E), despite some of us not ‘getting it’ immediately, couldn’t stop ourselves from completely losing it from laughing so much; in fact my cheeks still hurt until I’d driven home to Lincoln several hours later!  What with ‘Hooting Hooters’, ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Oh No He Didn’t’ moments, and general bawdy humour suitable for both children and adults, it was a never ending fast paced feast for the eyes and ears.

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Another favourite scene was in Act 2, in the Galley, where Dame Dolly and her son, Idle Jack played perfectly by Jack Lovett, were cooking for the crew.  The typical ‘slapstick’ routine was hilarious, with ‘soggy bottoms’ a plenty.  The comic timing was impeccable and had the whole audience, including a group of very special young people, joining in with gusto!  Jack showed himself as a very versatile actor, despite most of his stage presence requiring a lot of comedy, he played the fool, the simpleton, the clever son dodging out of work and he did all those with aplomb; a delight on the stage!

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I loved the pairing of Captain Cuttlefish, Derek Maher and Scupper, Darren Melton; they were a great comic combination and bounced off each other throughout all the scenes they were in, especially on the ‘poop’ deck – or was it a deck, or even just ‘poop’?

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Dick Whittington himself was played by James Burgess; I loved the parts where he showed his ability to act the part, as if he couldn’t act; genius, well done James! I couldn’t possibly mention Dick (yes Dame Dolly, we’re talking about Dick again…!) without mentioning Tom the Cat played by Molly Carter; her feline characteristics and mannerisms were purrrfect!

One of the final scenes of the show took place in Morocco, where we saw the Sultan, played by Neil Le Sueur and his many ‘ladies’.  Neil played a powerful character, and held centre stage showing off his formidable strength in front of his ‘harem’; including the fabulous Dame Dolly who he took a shine to!

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I couldn’t end this review without mentioning Fairy Bowbells, played by Laura Kelly.  She narrated sections of the Panto and lead the audience through the scenes, and ended Act 1 with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Hero’…

Along with the Louth Playgoers cast, the dancers from Studio 2000, both junior and senior dancers took a leading role throughout the Panto.  The dancers appeared in many scenes, performing various creative routines, all in different, but spectacular costumes to suit the set and scene.  The junior dancers performed the ‘Hornpipe’ routine, and completely stole the hearts of the audience, they were all fabulous!

The live band carried the whole production together with the cast singing along in lovely harmonies with a number of solos to a vast array of well known and loved melodies including:

Good Morning London Town
Hornpipe
Man I Feel Like A Woman
I Would Walk 500 Miles
At The Shop
Consider Yourself
Live and Let Die
Bad
Hero
Sea Cruise
If I Were Not Upon The Sea
My Heart Will Go On
Proud Mary
Jaws Theme
Wipeout
Hot Hot Hot
Everlasting Love
Happy Days
Good Morning London Town Reprise

From start to finish, my friends and I were enthralled, and engrossed, and although it was sometimes difficult to pick up some of the dialogue,  overall it was a fabulous show, and well deserved of it’s near sell – out run.

Well done to the live band, the technical and creative team, and all the other set builders and backstage crew.  You should be proud.

Thank you to Darren Hobson for use of the photographs.

Now for an insight into the ‘people’ behind the character!

Dame Dolly – Richard Precious

How long have you been involved in theatre?

Started with ‘WAP’ at the Caxton theatre in Grimsby so nearly 34 years!

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

Bouncers by John Godber – been in it twice, directed it once at university

What, for you, makes a great performance?

Thorough preparation with a thorough knowledge of the script so you know others lines too should you need to get out of a ‘mind blank’ moment

What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

Keep quiet. Isolate myself and focus on what’s ahead

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

The Deck scene with Captain Scupper, Jack and Alderman. Visually funny and great to be a part of

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Sir Anthony Hopkins, a great, fantastic all round actor

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

I’ve just done it… The Dame!!

Why is community drama/theatre important?

Which Leads to a focused, confident and relaxing performance

 

Idle Jack – Jack Lovett

How long have you been involved in theatre?

3 years, starting with the Playgoers production of Sleeping Beauty in December 2013

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

Beauty and the Beast – the Playgoers 2015 pantomime. It was an excellent team, a fun script, and my first stab at a principle role

What, for you, makes a great performance?

As an audience member, a great performance is one that draws you into the story and genre, inspires you, and touches your heart. As a cast member, it is one that portrays the story and characters as you, the writer, and the director envisioned; it gets a good audience reaction, draws the cast and crew together as a team, and is fun.

What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

I generally try to start taking on my character in the wings before going on stage, and I go through what the character must be thinking or feeling in the coming scene. There is also no shortage of pacing and stopping in the bathroom, especially on opening night!

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

My favourite part of this show would have to be the scene in which the Alderman is shouting commands at us on deck, and we are making mistakes and getting everything wrong, and throwing mops all around the stage. My favourite song is definitely ‘Consider Yourself’.

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

I would love to work with Tom Hanks – his ability to excel in portraying both comedic and dramatic roles is a tremendous inspiration to me.

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

I would love to ply Cosmo Brown from ‘Singing in the Rain’, especially having seen Donald O’Connor performing ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ on Screen.

Why is community drama/theatre important?

Community drama/theatre is important because it allows you to meet new people, make connections, and build lasting friendships. It teaches you talents that go beyond performance, such as working as part of a team and relating to people. It is also an excellent way to temporarily escape from life and have a laugh.

 

Fairy Bowbells – Laura Kelly

How long have you been involved in theatre?

I have been involved in the theatre since I was 15 years old. My first show was Cinderella panto in January 2010

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

Definitely ‘Sister Act’, it was such an amazing show to be part of and I love the songs in the show. Sister Act was such a ‘feel good’ show and I would love to do it again!

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

My favourite song from the show is definitely ‘Hero’. I think it is such an iconic song, and is definitely a challenge for me! I also love the lighting and special effects during the song, particularly the smoke and the lights on the dancers costumes.

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

I would love to work with Tom Hanks! He is my favourite actor and I’ve heard he’s a very nice person! I would also love to work with Meryl Streep as she is a very diverse actor and I’m sure I could learn a lot from her!

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

I am next auditioning for the role of mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. I love the show as it has some very powerful moments, and also because Mary is an alto singing part which is perfect for me!

 

Tom the Cat – Molly Canter

What, for you, makes a great performance?

Staying in Character

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

500 Miles

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Mara Wilson because my favourite film is ‘Matilda’

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

Annie

 

King Rat – Ruairidh Greig

How long have you been involved in theatre?

Five Years

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

‘Ladykillers’ – I played Professor Marcus and General Gordon (the parrot)

What, for you, makes a great performance?

The script reminds me of the character I’ve worked on for months

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

Good Morning London Town

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Patrick Stewart because of his hair style, Audrey Hepburn because she is… Audrey Hepburn

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

Fagin in Oliver

Why is community drama/theatre important?

Keeping creative drama real not just disembodied on TV screen

Thanks Team, looks like Tom Hanks needs a visit to Louth!

Review – Treasure Island – University of Lincoln Drama Students

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What a delight seeing the University of Lincoln’s graduating drama students in Treasure Island on Tuesday night…  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the production, thinking that it might only be suitable for children (considering the number of Cub Scouts in the foyer before the show), but I was very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

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We’ve all heard of the story, but this show really has got lots of its own twists and turns;  the LPAC website explains the story:

One snowy winter’s night a young girl searches through her uncle’s attic and finds a treasure chest…

With a treasure map in her pocket and the ghost of Captain Flint (James Ashfield) never far behind, young Jem Hawkins (Laura Potente) is drawn into a world of swashbuckling excitement, brimming with buccaneers and buried gold as she sets sail to Treasure Island.

Join us on the good-ship Hispaniola this Christmas for an action-packed retelling of the classic pirate adventure told by University of Lincoln’s graduating drama students.

Yo-ho-ho…!

Walking into the theatre we were transported to the attic room where the big chest was revealed… throughout the performance the set transformed into a pirate ship, the details of which were exceptional, and then to an actual island, and then there was a bit of an ‘Indiana Jones’ theme.  All the sets and staging were so well done I was really impressed by the quality and details and the work that had obviously gone into the production.  I don’t want to give too much away about the finer details, as the element of surprise at each stage added to the overall experience, but all I will say is the show was fast moving, comedic, sometimes beautiful, and definitely great fun.

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The Director, Dominic Symonds, in the programme, writes:

… at times it’s exciting, as the courageous treasure-hunters carry out their quest; at times it’s exhilarating, as the menacing Long John Silver (Jordan Sheil) tries to scupper their plans; and at times it’s downright daft, as we follow the exploits of the bumptious buffoons who fund their voyage into the unknown.  In the end, it’s a story about a youngster’s hopes and dreams, about overcoming challenges and becoming stronger in the process.  That’s something we can all learn from…

There were lots of stand out moments for me; James Ashfield (Captain Flint and the Rock voice) really showed off his ghostly dark side in more ways than one; I definitely jumped a few times at his terrifyingly booming voice and could see the younger children looking a little wary as he made various surprise entrances throughout the show!

Jordan Sheil (Long John Silver) gave an exceptional performance, I’m not sure how his voice is going to last for the whole run, especially with multiple shows daily, but his characterisation of such a nasty character was brilliant.

Laura Potente (Jem Hawkins) and her 3 stage sisters Tabitha Foster (Charlie Hawkins), Holly Marshall (Lotte Hawkins) and Holly Lomas (Fran Hawkins) each had their own characteristics which came across clearly to the audience, I particularly loved the tutu and swan hat!

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Sophie Cole (Mrs Hawkins) showed off her great singing voice with a beautiful solo and Joe Turner (Ben Gunner and Uncle Jim) showed his versatility transforming from the old Uncle, to the Castaway Ben.

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Other cast members all played their parts well and contributed to the whole show, Heidi Green (Hands), Rob Clarke (Morgan), Adam Cockerill (Captain Smollett), Francesca Bolingbroke (Merry), Olivia Calvert (Gray) and Elliot Sargent (O’Brien), who had some of the funniest lines in the show.

But my favourite performances were given by Jason Lodge (Squire Tralawny), supported by his side kick Jordan Leith (Dr Livesey);  their hilarious antics and comedic timing had the audience in fits of laughter on several occasions, and definitely stole the show for me!

 

I can’t review the show without mentioning the brilliant musical score, provided to us by Mark Wilde who is currently the Musical Director for Lincoln Cathedrals 2017 production of Jekyll and Hyde as well as his other commitments which include singing in the Cathedral Choir and many other credits.  We had  a feast of songs and musical numbers which took us from scene to scene and included ‘What’s Within the Chest’, ‘We’ll Follow the Map’, my absolute favourite ‘How I lost me leg’, the most hilarious pirate gospel number you could imagine which had the children and the adults in the audience probably laughing at completely different things!

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‘Ahoy! Ahoy!’, ‘The Proposal’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘X Marks the Spot’, ‘Believe’, ‘Rock’s Riddles’ which the children (and adults) in the audience thoroughly enjoyed as they worked out the riddles as they show progressed. and finally ‘Treasure Island’ which ended the show on a great high (despite the abrupt ending – a little mistake by the sound team I think but all added to the fun!), plus lots of instrumental music for the sword fights which had the children sitting on the edge of their seats with avid interest.

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Those that know me well will understand that I don’t comfortably join in with the traditional ‘audience participation’, and yet the calls for ‘Captain Flint’ throughout the show saw me shouting at the top of my voice to my hearts content along with the rest of the LPAC auditorium, with our endeavours rewarded with the appearances by James Ashfield.  The way the cast embraced and encouraged the audience certainly enhanced the experience for me and I’d encourage anyone who fancies a good giggle and a feast of entertainment during the lead up to Christmas, to get their tickets and go and have a bit of fun!Lincoln University

I wouldn’t be doing the show justice if I didn’t mention those important people that work on shows like this behind the scenes, the Crew.  Firstly the costumes; there was obviously a great team in place to come up with such stunning and authentic (mostly!) designs;  so well done to Helen Symonds, Steve Nash, Regan Bailiss, Gemma Batey, Katie Daw, Oksana Dergachova, Claire Godfrey, Heather Gray, Alexandra Hall, Poppy Howell, Katie Jacques, Lucinda Spurling, Alex Stanley-Ahmed, Hollie Starr, Marine Sztana and Bethany White for all their creative inspiration!

The Producer was Craig Morrow, Director Dominic Symonds, Assistant Director Stacie Cavell and as previously mentioned, Musical Director Mark Wilde.

There was also the Stage Manager, Martin Rousseau, Technicians, Emily Cartwright and Simon Panayi and Lighting Design, Thomas Marcinek. The Fight Choreographer was Andrew Ashenden, Assistant Stage Manager, Dwain Brown and the Production Manager/Designer Michael Hoyle.

 

You’ve still got plenty of opportunity to book tickets and take your family to see this wonderful show; you can click here to book!

Emerald Performances

£15 Full // £10 Child // £6 Schools

Monday 19 December 10am

Tuesday 20 December 10am

Diamond Performances

£15 Full // £10 Child

Saturday 17 December 2pm & 6pm

Sunday 18 December 2pm & 6pm

Monday 19 December 10am

Thursday 22 December 2pm & 7pm

Friday 23 December 7pm

Saturday 24 December 10am & 2pm

(Thanks to Phil Crow and Ashley Walls Photography for the photos included above, and some of my own (taken during the show on Tuesday 13th December, with no flash!).