Thursday, 12 October 2017

“Forever Young” by Heanor Musical Theatre Company
Guildhall Theatre, Derby.
Having seen this play several times before, I had an advantage over the majority of the audience. This is the British Amateur Premiere of this comedy play.
The play is set in the future in the year 2030 and the Guildhall Theatre is a retirement care home for retired actors and musicians. But do retired performers take retirement to a relaxed life of being cared for? Not this lot!
Their days are filled with reliving their past glories, or as they see their past glories which includes sex and drugs and rock n roll, all with an open eye for Sister Sara and her hypodermic needle, just in case it gets a little too raucous. Sara is the perfect nurse for these young at heart veterans as she also treats them to her operatic outbursts. With critics like this crowd though I don’t think Sister Sara will be giving up her day job too soon.
Sara is played wonderfully bossy by Katy Gaskin, but what a lovely voice she has, especially in the wartime favourite "I'll Be Seeing You"
Ben Sherwin plays an old retired TV actor called Mr Sherwin. Along with his partner in the care home, Ms Richmond, played by Katie Richmond, they made a lovely couple, especially when we got to the poignant section where Miss Moran sang "Without You". I won't tell you what brought this song on because while it had its' funny side, it was quite a sad moment in the play.
Mr Mills is an ageing rockstar who croons "Green Green Grass Of Home" while passing the dooby round. Paul Mills is the rocking hippy in this production. he is also part of a brilliant comedy double act which closes Act One with Mr Ward in a shocking manner!
Simon Ward is Mr Ward, and I had to look twice because he morphed into this fragile bent over little old man. The physicality in this role was wonderful and never faltered. For those old enough to remember Edward Malin from "Nearest & Dearest", Simon, in character looked the spitting image of this actor.
My favourite character in this musical comedy play has always been the foul-mouthed posh character, played this time round by Alana Moran as Miss Moran. A wonderfully politically incorrect potty mouthed character. Again i had to really look past the large glasses and brilliant wig to spot Katie.
Adela Green plays Mrs Green, a retired costume and wardrobe mistress, who has a belter of a voice. She belts out Lulu's "Shout".
The last of the main residents is Mr Lukinski, a Russian concert pianist who has no grasp of the English language. it made me smile when the woman behind me commented that she couldn't understand a word he said. Played by Tom Lucking, another wonderful character driven performance.
This performance was different in several ways from the other performances I'd seen in the past. The care home was fleshed out with additional nurses, Laura Jacobs and Lucy Stokes, and dive additional residents who joined in with the fun and helped create a fuller sound in the vocals. Tracy Coope, Brett Waller, Roger Bodie, Al Tandy and Adam Carpenter add to the jollity of growing old disgracefully.
Some of the comedy may not be politically correct but who cares as it’s very funny with some clever arrangements of popular songs. “Barbie Girl” has never sounded so good. That’s just one of 20 songs performed in this comedy which also takes in “Sex Bomb”, “I Got You Babe”, “I Will Survive”. “You Can Leave Your Hat On”, “Green Green Grass Of Home”, “I Love Rock n Roll” and of course the poignant title of the play “Forever Young”, both Bob Dylan and Alphaville versions were performed.
The make up is excellent, thanks to professional Nottingham make-up artist, Jayne Hyman.
The costumes and wigs were also excellent, provided by Trish Church and the company.
Lisa Mills did an excellent job as Director as well as Musical Director.
The sound was just right, comfortable on the ear and clear, thanks to Chris Banks and the lighting by The Guildhall Theatre was perfect, at times almost like a disco. Great atmosphere and fun.
Even though I fell into the younger end of the scale with the age of the audience, the elder contingent showed that they had a naughty sense of humour, laughing raucously at the often explicit language and well crafted arrangements of the songs
Throughout this run, Heanor Musical Theatre Company are supporting the Derby and Derbyshire Age Concern, which is pretty apt.
Even though I've seen this play about four times before this production, it still makes me laugh and I love all the characters, which just does to show that good humour is ageless and timeless. With a talented company like this, they create a great evenings entertainment, and at just a little over two hours running time, including the interval, you can retire to the bar afterwards to decide who was your favourite party pensioner.
All this as well as an homage to Derbyshire's finest thespians projected on the care home wall behind the action
“Forever Young” is at the Guildhall theatre in Derby until Saturday 14 October 2017.

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