Saturday, 19 September 2015

"An Evening Of Comedy and Song" by A Company of Friends
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.

As the old Bette Midler song goes "Oh you gotta have friends...." and Saturday night in Long Eaton at The Duchess Theatre there were many friends joined in one aim, to raise money for the Bone Cancer Research Trust and the Haematology Department of the Nottingham City Hospital, by raising smiles. And they certainly succeeded in doing that.

Rachel Bates, one of the members of A Company of Friends, was treated at the hospital, was one of the performers tonight along with her husband Dan. Joining them were Kay Cocks, Andrew Honman, Howard Mackintosh, Louise O' Boyle, Dave Dallard and his band, Andrea Kemish, Jane Maltby, Adrian Perkins, Tyna Burnett, Hayden Fletcher, Gary Lever, Martin Mould, Zak Charlesworth and Sophie Robbins.

We were treated to an evening of comedy with sketches and monologues and a whole range of music from well loved musicals and more contemporary numbers, as well as a trip down memory lane and back to the 50's. We were also treated to a taster of a few songs from upcoming productions at The Duchess Theatre up until Christmas.

There was a running gag with Adrian doing whatever he could to get a song into the show and always being sent off, much to the pleasure of the audience. Gorilla suits, Elvis costumes and even drag was attempted to get his way but it wasn't until the end when he got his way, and it was well worth waiting for with his duet with Tyna of Bobby Darin's "Thing" and Gerry & The Pacemakers' "I Like It".

There were some lovely acoustic numbers performed by Dan Bates, who not only can carry a song but plays guitar extremely well, a very pleasant surprise for anyone who didn't know of this talent. Rachel, Howard and Gary also performed acoustic numbers but it was Louise O'Boyle, who blew me away with her version of Sting's "Fields Of Gold" that really made me sit up even further. Louise has a gorgeously pure voice which she also put to good use in later on in the show with "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" and "Cry Me A River".

Many of the singers are regular faces at The Duchess through their work in the many musicals performed there, among them were Hayden Fletcher and Martin Mould who gave us the chance to see them sing something more contemporary. Hayden put his stamp on Michael Buble's "Just Haven't Met You Yet" and Martin got everyone swaying to "That's Amore" and "Moon River" as well as teaming up with Gary for some cracking duets.

I don't know who created the choreography but that too was cracking. the disco dancing of the 70's music section all the way through to the "Strictly" routines. I made a special note as well that the hands were well extended in the Bossa Nova, something non professional dancers quite often forget to do. Some lovely waltz steps as well, especially during "Moon River".

Sophie Robbins gave us "Somewhere That's Green" from the upcoming "Little Shop Of Horrors", Zak Charlesworth performed a beautiful version of "Love Changes Everything" from "Aspects Of Love" (6-10 October 2015 at The Duchess) and Martin Mould and Claire Collishaw gave us " Love & Weather" from "White Christmas" (20-24 October 2015 at May Hall, Trent College, Long Eaton). All backed by the very sweet sounding, as ever, Dave Dallard and his band.

The evening was topped off by an original song written especially for the group, called "A Company Of Friends".

The audience, and it was packed to the rafters, lapped up and loved every minute of this very entertaining fund raising evening of entertainment, which managed to raise 1200 pounds for Bone Cancer Research and 600 pounds for the City Hospital.

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