Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Louth Playgoers Summer Workshop – 3rd-5th August 2017

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Having seen and reviewed the CAODS production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels back in November 2016, in fact it was my very first show review on this blog, I couldn’t wait to see what Louth Playgoers Youth Theatre would do with the production, especially since it was the outcome of the Youth Theatre and a very limited rehearsal time of a couple of weeks in the school holidays.

Louth Playgoers Says about the show:

“Directed by John Hewer and Musically Directed by Chris Peters once more our talented young people take to the stage for their annual summer workshop production.
This year they have chosen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – the Musical as their challenge for 2017. Almost two weeks of hard work culminates in three impressive performances of this popular musical.
Synopsis: Two con men, a beautiful woman and the elite of the French Riviera collide in this sexy and irreverent farce.
Based on the popular 1988 MGM film, this hysterical comedy features a delightfully jazzy score by David Yazbek (The Full Monty) and was nominated for a staggering 11 Tony Awards”

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The young people did brilliantly well and I was not disappointed for one moment.  The main roles of Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson were played by Ed Mapletoft and Jack Lovett; the way they both played their opposite characters worked really well together.  Ed brought the classy, suave sophistication with what looked like with incredible ease whilst Jack produced some hysterically brash, loud and overstated comedy.  A brilliant portrayal by both, especially as Lawrence was trying to teach Freddy how to win women, having his work cut out as Freddy was usually only in it to make a quick few bucks.  Jack as Freddy and especially Ruprect was the highlight of my evening; having seen the previous CAODS production, to be honest I wasn’t sure how he was going to match up, but he absolutely did; every element of Jacks performance was outstanding.

I also wanted to mention Beth Adams who played Murial Eubanks, and Matthew Claypole who played Andre (with a brilliant French accent!).  They both played great parts, and the little cameo by Joel Coward (who also played the Hotel Manager and the Policeman) was pure genius – never before have I experienced such a random way of keeping the audience amused during scene changes!

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Well done to the whole ensemble and the other cast members, you all did brilliantly, remembering all the words, dance moves and keeping the audience very well entertained.  I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of you in future LPG productions!

It was great to see and hear a live band which were a lovely addition to the show; Musical Director and Keys 1 – Christopher Peters, Key 2 and Violin – Amy Baker, Reeds – Mike Wood, Trumpet – Andrew Taylor, Trombone – Mark Tong, Bass Guitar – Chris Smith, Percussion and Drums – Stuart Spendlow.

The Director was John Hewer and Choreographer was Rebecca Miles.  Sound Design – Christopher Peters, Lighting Design and Operator – Jamie Harris, Sound Operator – John Hewer and Chloe Jackson, Follow-Spot Operators – Robbie and Holly Mapletoft, Set Design – Jean Bradshaw and Malvina Willis, Costumes – Fern Garland, Christine Cliffe and Barbara Vickers.

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Cast (in alphabetical order)

Beth Adams – Muriel Eubanks

George Adams – Bellboy, Sailor & Ensemble

Emilia Berriman – Woman (solo) & Ensemble

Charlotte Bushell – Jolene Oakes

Matthew Claypole – Andre

Jade Fraser – Maid & Ensemble

Joel Howard – Hotel Manager, Policeman & Ensemble

Jemima Jefferies – Woman (solo), Violinist & Ensemble

Carrie-Ann Leahy – Conductor, Nun & Ensemble

Saskia Lewis – Desk Clerk, Dancer & Ensemble

Jack Lovett – Freddy Benson

George Maher – Porter, Sailor & Ensemble

Ed Mapletoft – Lawrence Jameson

William Mapletoft – Bellboy, Sailor & Ensemble

Beth Raithby – Renee & Ensemble

Erin Ramsay – Sophia, Nun & Ensemble

Lydia Reeves – Lenore, Nun & Ensemble

Erica Slonskyj – Christine Colgate

Jade Smith – Usherette & Ensemble

Mollie Tunnicliffe – Waitress, Croupier & Ensemble

 

Well done to everyone – congratulations!

Rehearsal Photographs courtesy of Andy Evans (and Facebook!)

 

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Musical Mayhem – Stardust – Thursday 3rd August – Walesby Village Hall

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I really had no idea that the concert I was invited to attend by my good friend Dawn Wilson was anything other than an evening of songs from the musicals until I arrived and realised that the youngsters taking part all had a common interest – Stardust

James, Alice, Emily, Emily, Martha, Rosy and Stephenson were the performers and did a fantastic job of entertaining the sell out audience with their renditions of songs from popular musicals and shows, a lot of the songs I recognised and loved, while others were less well known but equally enjoyable.  I recognised at least one of the team, Stephenson, who had performed in a show I’d seen previously, The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe – Lincoln Minster School.

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The group had obviously worked hard on the programme, choosing a great variety of music, showing comedy, romance as well as showcasing all their individual talents, they obviously all had a great time performing, as much as the audience, and I, loved their performances.

 

The pianist did a fabulous job with some of the accompaniment, and also a lovely solo piece, and Charles Cooper behind the curtain manning the music and backing tracks also did a great job, thankfully he got his chance to join the team on stage at the end for his well earned bow!

The whole show was professional and its fabulous to see such great talent in our local community.  I for one, can’t wait to see where these young people end up – I’m sure we’ll be watching some of them performing on much bigger stages in the years that come.  Well done to all!

Here’s their full names to watch out for them…  Alice Joyce, Emily Bland, Emily Zehetmayr, Martha Stewart, Rosy Smith, Stephenson Catney and James Sprague

I believe across both the matinee and evening performance raised a fabulous £1,010 and an NCS coffee morning the day after in Louth raised £460. There was also a sponsor for the event, NFH Consultancy Ltd so now have £2,165 and are able to offer all 15 students selected a fully funded place this term!

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For those that may not have heard of Stardust before, here’s some background information:

More than 11 million people in the UK are classified as disabled; figures made up primarily of adults over the age of 65, but also including children and young adults, who for one reason or another, face more day to day obstacles than the average person. While suitable education and extracurricular groups are often accessible for under 19’s with additional needs, choices are limited for young adults. Sara Sprague, a Lincolnshire mother, certainly found this to be the case when her daughter, Brianna, recently left school to begin her adult life in the community. In this unique story, you will see how Sara, Brianna and her family challenged the odds, and their relentless determination has shown that they are far more than just a statistic.

Following her first performance in “Peter Pan” Brianna became an active member of the Lincoln theatre group New Youth Theatre from the age of six, where she had the freedom to express herself through song and dance, despite being non-verbal for many years. A brain injury at just three days old limited Brianna’s development, and although she was just months behind her peers hitting milestones as an infant, the gap soon began to show. Access to equine therapy allowed Brianna to walk at two and a half, but when she began to fall behind her peers significantly, her parents discovered ‘FISDAC Academy’ which enabled her to continue with her love of musicals, whilst also being able to accommodate Brianna’s additional needs.

Unfortunately, the effects of puberty caused Brianna to suffer up to fifteen epileptic seizures each day, but by the age of sixteen they had increased to over 100. The inability to socialize or even achieve an enjoyable quality of life could later have become detrimental to her mental health, had Sara not begun to look for alternatives. The organisation “Chicken Shed”, a ‘fully inclusive’ theatre group looked ideal but was based in London, while the only similar, existing groups in Lincolnshire ran only as evening classes, and so were inaccessible to Brianna, as her epilepsy limits her to just a few hours of activity each day.

In 2014, Brianna joined St Francis School in Lincoln, which was equipped to cope with her additional needs in a safe environment, allowing her to reach her full potential. Through the school Brianna was able to participate in more theatre productions, even taking on main roles as her confidence grew, but in 2016 concerns were raised about how the young people could continue their passion for drama upon leaving school. Discussions with parents, Rachel Pavitt and Jo Slack, around the issue inspired Sara to formulate plans for a unique theatre group in Lincolnshire, specifically for young people ages 18-25, with additional needs, enabling Brianna and her peers to maintain their love for musicals and performing.

Quickly, the idea began to become a reality, and with fund raising events organised, and huge support from the Lincolnshire charity “Every-one”, the goal for STARDUST was to start sessions in September 2017. The unique organisation will be able to provide for up to 15 students per term, running from 9:50am-12:15pm on Thursday mornings, at St Francis school, with the sessions delivered by ‘New Youth Theatre’. STARDUST is built on the ethos of ‘Inclusion, Creativity, Positivity, Choice’, but funding is still desperately needed in order to deliver these sessions, as well as providing similar classes on weekends and in other areas of the country in the future.

On top of basic care needs, extra-curricular groups like STARDUST are a vital resource for these young people, as well as their carers. A local NCS group are currently working to raise awareness of the social issues around young adults in this instance, as well as raising funds for the new drama group. Organisations like STARDUST provide an essential and valuable safe haven for young adults like Brianna; in an environment where they can meet and make friends, while enjoying a shared passion for singing, dancing and performing, as well as the sense of achievement that comes with it. If you would like to be a part of making this dream a reality, contact stardust@every-one.org.uk

The group have found their song which epitomises their ethic and really tells the story of what they’re all about – they ended the performance with this rousing rendition!

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‘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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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

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)