Monday, 30 April 2018

“The Bourgeois Gentleman”
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
The play is a comedy in five acts and takes place at Mr. Jourdain's house in Paris. Jourdain is a middle-aged "bourgeois" whose father grew rich as a cloth merchant.
The foolish Jourdain now has one aim in life, which is to rise above this middle-class background and be accepted as an aristocrat.
He orders new clothes and is over the moon when the tailor's boy mockingly addresses him as "my Lord". He applies himself to learning the gentlemanly arts of fencing, dancing, music and philosophy, despite his age; in doing so he continually manages to make a fool of himself.
Alistair Hudson (Monsieur Jourdain), is a face I recognise from Beeston players productions and he goes from strength to strength in this role. He brings a lovely Northern sense of humour to the role complete with some proper Northern chuffin' words into Moliere's script. A lovely comedy role.
Carol Parkinson (Madame Jourdain), is another actor I always look forward to seeing and again, bringing some Northern sunshine to the play. Her straight talking role as the wife kept me smiling.
Holly Williamson, plays the daughter (Lucile) with Alessia Molteni as her servant (Nicole). Jak Andrukowicz-Kearns is Lucile's proposed (Cleonte). I can't remember seeing this trio previously but they show a promising stage career.
Javiar Melhado plays Cleonte's servant (Covielle) and you can tell this man has acted before because of his natural fluidity of acting. He looks comfortable in his skills and that makes him easy to watch
Arnd Korn (Dorante) has graduated from the University of Nottingham drama, and again seems to be a natural performer in this role as a Nobleman.
Emma Carlton plays the Countess (Dorimene) and she has a lovely feel for comedy and reminds me a wee bit of Frances de la Tour as this character and her mannerisms.
Apart from these main roles there's an ensemble fleshing out the cast as singers and dancers among other roles.
Director, Gill Scott runs a tight ship here and the speed is nice and pacy which is right for this comedy.
Set Designer, Rose Dudley has created a stylish set.
Lighting Designer, Simon Carter and Sound Designer, Jack Harris create an atmosphere befitting the time period as well as a nice harpsichord soundtrack.
The wardrobe department of Jean Newton, Doreen Hunt and Paddy Signorini created a wonderfully spectacular and glamorous set of costumes, plus a brilliant Boy George inspired costume for Monsieur Jourdain.
Choreography for this play is by lemma Froggitt and Javier Melhado.
I will admit that it took a bit of time to get into this play and the second half made the play - but that's not a rare thing in theatre - but it's well worth it for the comedy element. i don't think I've become a Moliere convert though.
“The Bourgeois Gentleman” is at the Nottingham Lace Market theatre until Saturday 5 May 2018.

Friday, 27 April 2018

“Rent” by Nottingham Trent University Drama Society
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
“Rent” tells the story of a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS and is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème.
It is set in the East Village of New York City, and is also about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today.
The physical and emotional complications of HIV and Aids pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom, and Angel. Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art; her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble.
Benny has sold out his Bohemian ideals in exchange for a hefty income. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, feels like an outsider to life in general. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves, and conflicts provides the narrative thread to the musical.
Most people may have heard the song “Seasons Of Love” but the soundtrack is full of catchy memorable songs like “Light My Candle”, “Take Me Or Leave Me”, “La Vie Boheme”, "Out Tonight", "I'll Cover You", "One Song Glory", "Santa Fe" as well as the title song.
Louis Simpson (Mark), Benedict Wills (Roger) and Robbie Nichols (Tom) are the three frontmen and make a great trio with some very powerful voices. Robbie's on stage relationship with Angel, played wonderfully by Josh Bingham, is cute and believable - that scene in Act Two with the two of them still beings a tear to the eye, no matter how many times you see this musical.
Carly Davis (Mimi), Rosie Durant (Joanne) and Charlotte Hare (Maureen) provide the sexiness to the musical. This trio also bring some pretty powerful vocals to the stage. "Take Me Or Leave Me" was packed with explosive sultriness, as was "Light My Candle" and "Without You" sent the hairs up on the back of my neck.
Chris Lindsey-Hill (Benjamin) turned his character around with a monetary act of kindness, showing both sides of the landlord and friend to the squatters. Chris was also in charge of design for this show.
A wonderful chorus and ensemble fleshed out the vocals, especially in the song "Seasons Of Love" giving it an almost gospel feel.
David Hails is the Musical Director for this show which is practically rock opera status as there's hardly any gaps in the music.
Rob Kettridge is in charge of the sound and we heard every word from the stage with the mix being just right.
Harry Bridge was in charge of the Lighting Design, again doing a cracking job, creating the atmospheric dinginess of the Bohemian squat among the various other settings.
Talking of the set, this was a simple affair but was just right for the production.
"Rent" isn't the easiest of shows to put on or perform but Directors Jeremy Brown and Martyna Nasiadka kept it all tight and fluid. hand in hand with Stage manager Edward Humphreys, this production just flowed smoothly.
You can see the hard work that everyone involved in this production has put in and the passion injected into this play made this play the entertaining success that it was. I'd have loved to have seen the theatre more full tonight because the cast and crew merited more support in my opinion.
“Rent” is at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 28 April 2018 and at £7.00 a ticket you get an excellent bargain with this show.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

“Quiz Show” by Rob Drummond
Nottingham New Theatre.
Yet again the Nottingham New Theatre present something completely new to me, educating me and expanding my list of viewed theatre productions. And what a contrast to "Fairytale Heart" earlier this week.
Welcome to "False!", the quiz show where there are no questions, only statements, where every statement is a lie, and where the prize is nothing less than the truth.
Everyone's favourite quizmaster, Daniel Caplin, gives tonight's gifted contestants the chance to play for the ultimate prize - to discover what lies behind the Door of Truth. Newcomer Sandra has always been desperate to find out and she's more than a threat to our reigning champion, Molly. Tonight, there is even more to play for as she competes with the other new contestant, Ben. Can the show survive what she discovers?
Much as I'd love to tell you more than this about what happens but that would spoil the whole story for you, and having not done any research about this play before seeing it, I got the full impact, which left me open mouthed and reeling from the unexpected ending.
The set has a lovely retro feel to it and the audience play a part in the play in the sense that they are the audience to the game show’s live recording itself and encouraged to clap when needed. Having been in the audience for “Family Fortunes” at Central TV many years ago, this brings back memories of the fourth wall breaking of the floor manager and the unexpectedness of what is said or done.
The fun starts as you get your ticket which is a disclaimer you sign, which is what happens at any TV recorded or live show, and this alone fires you up for the show.
Director Zoe Smith has done a cracking job here with the tension, and there is tension and an air of expectation in any live TV studio. I've been lucky enough to have been there a few times. Again i am not going to say too much but Zoe has created something very special along with Producer, Laura Wolczyk and Production Assistant, Salman Arif.
Maddy Strauss is the star - among stars - of this piece and her final monologue is packed with emotion and her story of being on "Quiz Show" will....... well I couldn't possibly tell you without revealing too much, so I won't!
Ben Standish plays the other new contestant on the show, Ben. Ben - the character - is.... there I go again wanting to tell you but to say anything would spoil what may or may not happen on live TV.
Rohan Rakhit is brilliant as the cheesy quiz show host.
Cameron Brett is the floor manager, Gerry, who is almost as cheesy as the show host.
Nicola Lang is the current quiz show reigning champion, Molly, who has been winning for the last 14 weeks, but is her time up? Is her fate on the show in the hands of fellow contestants Ben and Molly or......... sorry, there I go again teasing you!
James Curling provides the Voice, or in other words the voice over man who we know has one of those rich voices who give the scores, the prizes etc etc.
Nottingham New Theatre have such a strong technical and production crew that they need mentions as well.
Nathan Penney (Technical Director), Florence Bell (Assistant Technical Director), Ben Woodford (Lighting Designer), Zoe Smith (Shadow Lighting Director), Emily Dimino (Sound Designer), Darcey Graham (Assistant Sound Designer),
Bertie Beeching (Video Designer), Sam Osborne (Video Operator), Laura Wolczyk (Set Designer - which as I said earlier was rather wonderful), Nadia Elalfi (Set Assistant) and a host of stage managers, technical operators making sure that this show was the success that it was.
University is a place of education but I've found out that my theatrical education has been expanded by talented groups like these with people who can fit in with any local theatre group and would be a boon to any production, be it in the spotlight or behind the scenes.
“Quiz Show” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 28 April 2018 and I urge you to see this extremely dark but incredibly entertaining piece of theatre while it's here to see at such a very competitive ticket price.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

“Murder On The Nile” by Bonington Players
Bonington Theatre, Arnold.
Kay Mostyn has led a charmed life. Blessed with beauty, enormous wealth, and a new husband, she embarks on a honeymoon voyage down the Nile.
Fatal circumstances await when the idyllic surroundings are shattered by a shocking and brutal murder. Under scrutiny is a multitude of memorable passengers, all with a reason to kill. The tension and claustrophobia builds, as a shocking and audacious conspiracy is laid bare in this murder mystery set on a river cruiser.
I've not had the pleasure of seeing this Agatha Christie classic and therefore didn't know who had done it, so as a first timer to this murder mystery, I really became engulfed in the story and characters.
Being Christie the play is wordy but she builds great characters with plenty of red herrings and twists along the way.
A talented and able cast built the tension and presented some wonderful characters.
The Steward (Gail Tomlinson), the wonderfully upper crust and bossy Miss Ffoliot-Ffolkes (Val Petty), Christina Grant - the afore mentioned niece and dogsbody (Abi Hemmings), Smith - who is hiding something from the rest of the travellers ( Eddie Januszcsyk), Luisa (Enrica Laprocina), Dr Bessner (Philip Chapman), Kay Mostyn (Helen Holbrook), Simon Mostyn (Luke Bratton), Canon Pennefather (Tony Tomlinson), Jacqueline de Severac (Lauren Hodkin) and McNaught (Matt Davies), all turned in very classy performances.
An absolutely marvellous set, painted by several of the theatre group and dressed by Linda Whitehurst.
The sound design by David Goatham transported you away to 1930's Egypt and created an imaginary out of sight Egyptian community, trying to sell the guests boarding their wares. David also designed the lighting.
One thing about the eras that Christie sets her novels in, means that the costumes are going to be fantastic and The Bonington Players have provided an absolutely wonderful wardrobe for this one. Very glamorous and stylish.
A packed theatre gave a well deserved rapturous show of appreciation for this wonderful production.
“Murder On the Nile” is at The Bonington Theatre, Arnold until Saturday 28 April 2018

Monday, 23 April 2018

Fairy Tale Heart by Philip Ridley
Nottingham New Theatre.
Directed by Joe Strickland assisted by Essie Butterworth.
Produced by Charlie Basley
Technical Director Becca Potts.
Fairytaleheart features two fifteen-year-olds, Kirsty and Gideon, who meet for the first time and come to terms with their broken families by sharing their hopes, fears and past experiences - as well as stories - in a derelict community centre.
Kirsty (Molly Johnstone) is hurting from her mother’s death and stunned by the news that her father is about to remarry, she feels alone and alienated, but encounters the company of an unlikely kindred spirit inside the crumbling building.
Gideon (Summerly Burbridge) is also nursing inner pain, but has found solace within his fairytale heart and his make believe world of Karamazoo. After their initial defensive banter they begin to open up to each other and start helping each other to view their lives differently.
The humour and conversation is typical of the age group, I was going to say juvenile but that would belie the grown up attitude beneath the minds of the teenagers. Gideon's way of solving - or some may say masking - the issues they are both experiencing is clever by putting the very real issues they both have into this imaginary story and finding out what those characters would do.
By doing this they discover that they have a lot more in common than they initially thought, and that brings the two opposites closer together by a little give and take on both sides.
Molly and Summerly really get into character as 15 year olds, and I had no trouble seeing them as such. The physicality and the language style are spot on, which is also a compliment to the Director, Joe Strickland who has brought this little fairy tale bubble to life.
Joe also designed the set, which reminded me of a community centre I used to go to. The mural and the desk of painting bottles, you could almost smell that white PVA glue.
The closed community centre setting with no heating and lighting was made more of a secretive den like atmosphere with the lighting (Ed Eggleton). The dim lighting, which gradually grew lighter the more candles that were lit, as well as when the fantasy story settings were described, the setting was dimmed to make you focus on the story and the two characters.
Also making this story come alive was the soundscape, designed by Tara Prasad. the sound of the traffic, the birds, the jungle sounds all guiding your senses to where the story teller wanted you to transport you to.
Kirsty had come away from her 15th Birthday party so she was dressed appropriately in party gear, whereas Gideon clothes were holey and dirty, again, opposites attracting. Bringing these physical appearances to life as well as with the hair and make up (Nat Henderson) creates a lovely visual piece of theatre.
Ridley's script is also beautifully written and well observed.
This is part of the University's Fringe Season and we often think that "Fringe" means alternative. Not so in this case as this is one piece of theatre that is a lovely, gentle piece of theatre for all age groups leading to thought provoking discussion periods.
“Fairytale Heart” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Tuesday 24 April 2018

Thursday, 19 April 2018

“Boogie Nights – The Musical” by Heanor Musical Theatre Company.
Mansfield Palace Theatre
“Boogie Nights-The Musical” tells the comical yet heart-warming story of Roddy, a Jack-the-lad, whose life of birds, booze and boogie is about to be turned upside down.
Roddy O'Neill is busy dreaming of life as a rock star! Debs, his girlfriend, has her own thoughts... basically that Roddy's a selfish, arrogant, horrible, unfeeling, rude, heartless pig! But the truth is that Roddy is in love with Debs, and Debs is in love with Roddy, but Debs knows that Roddy has more than a roving eye! Through all their tears and laughter - can they both find what they are truly searching for?
The musical starts with a wedding scene and Debs is looking lovely as the blushing bride. Roddy then relates how they got to this day, starting from the day that best mate Terry dared him to ask Debs out on a date. The ending comes full circle but there's a twist, well there always is..... isn't there?
For those who are too young to have experienced a 70s nightclub, this will be an eye opener. For those of us not too young (only just) it will be a nostalgic hustle down memory lane. I am quite proud to say that as a teenager I started my mobile DJ days in 1979 – two years after this story is set, but retro enough to count. The story is set around the day that Elvis Presley died - 16 August 1977 and that also is relevant in this story line..
If you can imagine being at the best wedding or retro party ever, then this is the atmosphere music wise because it has one of the best soundtracks around for a retro musical. “Ladies Night”, “Celebration”, “Blame It On The Boogie”, “You Sexy Thing”, “Kung Fu Fighting”, “Bye Bye Baby”, ”No More Tears”, “Play that Funky Music”, “Disco Inferno”, “I Will Survive”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “YMCA”… I could go on.
Part written by Shane Richie, this could be looked on as part autobiographical, as Richie was a jack the lad in his days of a holiday camp entertainer, dreaming of being a rock star and taking full advantage of the entertainer status,
There are several very good vocalists in this theatre group, Tom Lucking(Roddy) gets to wind the audience up with his sexist attitude but he really shone when he sang "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word". Very classy, and the ensemble backing made it sound like a church choir.
Katie Ward (Debs) also gets to show off her brilliant vocals on "I Will Survive" as well as in a spine tingling duet with Adela Green (Lorraine) with "No More Tears - Enough Is Enough" and the mash up of "Last Dance" and "Reach Out I'll Be There"
Adela has one of the really powerful voices and boy can she hold a long note! Her vocal skills made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, in a good way.
Adam Carpenter (Terry) provides the "not the sharpest knife in the box" character but makes a lovely pairing with Gemma Blake as the loyal girlfriend to Terry as well as Debs.
Roddy's Dad, Eamon is played by Roger Bode, and Eamon is the Elvis fanatic.
Spencer, the singer in "The Love Machine" duo - with Lorraine - is played by Paul Mills who performs an interesting version of "You Sexy Thing". Spencer also gets to wind the women in the audience up by being a controlling bully and drug dealer.
DJ Dean is played by Kheenan Jones, who I'd have loved to have seen perform this role a bit more over the top for a retro club DJ, but loved the cheesy behind the deck dance moves.
Getting us all in the mood from the start was Simon Ward (Baz the Bouncer) whipping the female audience members into a frenzy and encouraging them to provide audience participation throughout and to get up and party.
The live band recreated the 70's sound, and I loved the power from the pit. Under the Musical Direction of Lisa Mills she steered the retro inspired quintet, James Bowden and Birthday boy Martin Lewis on keyboards, Nick Alexander on guitar, Richard Hair on bass and Dave Shipley on drums.
Loved the set and especially the projection scenery by That with the colourful light show and set design by Paul Young made this production a visual delight.
Choreographed by Laura-Jane Jacobs, she made the ensemble pieces an exciting watch.
Directed by Patricia Church, she injected an energetic feel to the running of the production. There were a couple of places that could have been tightened up, bit this was opening night, things will be tighter on Day 2 onwards.
I know some may feel that the sexist jibes and attitudes of some of the male characters could be insulting but that is the way that Richie, Jon Conway and Terry Morrison created the script. This was the 70's and that caveman attitude was rife - remember "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" both had sexist pig characters. This is written in to extract audience reaction, and it succeeded, but in a jovial way because the women did get the upper hand in the end.
The musical is not meant to be a serious piece of theatre, just a good night out with a brilliant soundtrack - some bits better than others - and essentially fun and fluffy. There are some serious moments which come as a welcome break from all the dancing, singing and joking around. On all accounts it delivered.
Wonderful energy, some marvellous vocals, lovely ensemble work, a great soundtrack and some brilliant costumes, but through all this, somehow I just felt that there was something missing and I don't know what that was. It sparkled and fizzed, it just didn't explode. That said I have seen this musical a few times and I felt the same way with the professional touring production.
“Boogie Nights” is the best in town until the last dance closes the run on Saturday 21 April 2018 at the Mansfield Palace Theatre.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

“Spamalot” by Sellador Productions
Derby Theatre
Based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the musical follows King Arthur as he travels with the Knights of the Round Table in search of the Holy Grail.
Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best New Musical, “Spamalot” was written by Eric Idle and John DuPrez and features "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", “Not Dead Yet”, “I’m All Alone”,"The Song That Goes Like This", "His Name Is Lancelot" and "The Diva's Lament".
Having seen “Spamalot” several times now, I knew the comedy and the Python style, but a show like this is constantly updating with topical humour, so no two productions are ever going to be the same. Whether you’re a Monty Python fan or not, you can’t deny that the writing is very funny, even after all these years and has stood the test of time. Silly comedy hardly ever ages and is mostly very cleverly written.
The brilliant cast includes Bob Harms (King Arthur) Sarah Harlington (Lady of the Lake) Rhys Owen (Patsy) Johnathan Tweedie (Sir Lancelot) Norton James (Sir Galahad) Stephen Arden (Sir Robin) Marc Akinfolarin (Sir Bedevere) Joel Benedict (Prince Herbert) and Shane McDaid, Grace Eccle, Gleanne Purcell Brown and Ryan Limb (Ensemble).
There are too many highlights to pinpoint just a few, but I loved the "His name Is Lancelot" section. One of the campest versions of this section I've seen.
Directed by Daniel Buckroyd and designed by Sara Perks. Lighting is designed by David W Kidd, sound by Chris Bogg and the brilliant choreography is by Ashley Nottingham.
Dean McDermott is the Musical Director, and along with his band of three Adam Rustidge (Bass), Ruth Whybrow (Reeds/Woodwind) and Steve Hynes (Drums/Percussion) they create a wonderfully layered sound that filled the Derby Theatre.
“Spamalaot” is at the Derby Theatre until Saturday 21 April 2018, so grab yer coconuts and gallop on down for a wonderfully fun night, and don’t say “Ni” or the rabbit may get ya!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

“The Jungle Book”
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
This is a new adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic story brought to the stage from the same people behind”Goodnight Mr Tom” and Michael Morpurgo’s “Running Wild”.
Mowgli the man cub, has been raised by wolves in the jungle. With the help of his animal friends, including Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear and Kaa the python, Mowgli outwits the cruel and powerful tiger, Shere Khan, and learns the law of the jungle.
The story is the same but this is a million miles away from Walt Disney's film. Straight away the setting looks like a metal block of flats, more "urban" jungle book that the setting we've come to expect from this story.
The trees are symbolised by ladders and the setting where the wolves live look more like a giant climbing frame you may see in a child's playground, again making the whole feel more up to date and urbanised.
Jessica Swale has adapted the story into quite a modern and relevant, as well entertaining piece of theatre. It reinforces, for younger viewers that everyone, no matter how different they are, can get along with each other. Given the current climate of the world at the moment, it's something that should be listened to, and not just by the kids..
Keziah Joseph plays Mowgli, and you forget that this talented actor with the big voice isn't a woman but really is a young boy racing around the forest without a care. Her energy is boundless.
The animals’ personality also shone through, as it did in the Walt Disney film.
Baloo (Dyfrig Morris) bumbling about,is great dun to watch. Let's face it, who wouldn't want a mate like Baloo?
The monkey’s cheeky playfulness and funky dance moves along with their "Essex" style vocabulary and naughty burp and fart jokes would have really hit home with the younger viewers.
The sleek panther, Bagheera (Deborah Oyelade) reflecting a more cool and sensible side of the jungle’s inhabitants all add to the fun. I must admit, I've always found panthers rather sexy.
Shere Khan (Lloyd Gorman) also has an air of cool, but shows that dangerous, edgy side of the animal. Almost like a panto baddie and I was almost expecting the audience to cheer when he got his comeuppance.
Kaa (Rachel Dawson) the snake, for me was not on stage long enough. just like a snake she was hypnotising.
The songs in the production, by Joe Stilgoe, are catchy and unique and had everyone clapping along in the high energy finale. Loved the song that Mowgli revisited several times about her identity, with a catchy "awooo" refrains.
The music was played live on stage, and while I'm normally not a fan of actors playing the instruments while in character, this time around the subtle approach meant that I hardly noticed it. I was so wrapped up in the story and the actors.
A revolving stage meant that the story could be moved on without any resetting of the stage. Not only that but with the running scenes, it gave distance and time span to the piece. The set, as well as the
wonderful costumes were designed by Peter McKintosh.
Some very energetic choreography by Lizzi Gee, once more adding to the fun element.
Directed by Max Webster, he made sure that everyone's attention was held because of all of the above, creating a fluid and entertaining two hour theatre piece.
The show is a fresh take on an old story and it breathes new life into a piece that is far from deceased. it's great fun for anyone who like to be entertained, but it also ticks the box for social commentary and awareness as well. Subconsciously educating without the preaching is a clever see saw to balance and this creative team and cast got the balance just right.
One other thing that i also enjoyed was the opening and the end because it gets you wondering if this was all a dream of a young boy who has a wolf cuddly toy, and we were invited onlookers into his sleeping mind...... or could it really have happened? You decide for yourself!
“The Jungle Book” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 21 April 2018

Friday, 13 April 2018

"Summer Holiday” by Good Companions Stage Society
Guildhall Theatre, Derby.
Four London Bus mechanics, Don, Cyril, Edwin and Steve strike up a deal with London Transport. They do up a double decker London Bus, drive it around Europe as a hotel to win a contract. While on the road in France they pick up three ladies, Mimsie, Alma and Angie, on their way to a gig as the trio Do Re Mi, whose car breaks down. So the lads agree to offer to take them to their next singing job in Athens.
They also pick up a stowaway. A young, American boy called Bobby. Meanwhile, a young American female singer, Barbara has gone missing. Her mother, Stella (who is a VERY ambitious woman) and her aide, Jerry, take the story to the press and it makes the front page. They do all they can to make the story run for as long as possible.
Well we all know that Bobby is really Barbara because of the classic film which transposed into a very successful stage musical.
Mayhem ensues as, Don falls for Barbara. Eventually, when the 8 bus riders reach Athens, they're arrested for kidnapping. In front of her mother, and a Ballroom filled with world-press, Barbara and Don declare their love for each other and the mother accepts (after realising how 'big' Don will become).
I’m a sucker for a happy ending and I love this musical and it’s wonderful soundtrack, “Bachelor Boy”, “Dancing Shoes”, “I Could Easily Fall In Love With You”, “The Last Time”, ”On the Beach”, "The Young Ones" and “Summer Holiday” are just a few of the classic Cliff Richard hits in this musical. They just put you in the mood for popping off to the seaside on a double decker.
Martin Counter (Don), Gary Heap (Edwin), Josh Robinson (Steve) and Ollie Hand (Cyril) are great dun to watch as the four mechanics.
Ellie Mallinson (Mimsie),Kat Adey (Alma), Cat Howourth (Angie) and Claire Jarman (Barbara) are the four lead females. their sense of fun is great to see, matching the lads fir the energy that they put in to their singing and choreography.
Paul Brenham-Foster (Jerry) and Yvonne Taylor (Stella) are also great fun to watch and I loved how over the top Stella was and the mild campness of Jerry.
Brian Counter played Wilf the cafe owner, as well as owner of every other cafe and gelatin seller on the continent.
Directed by Barbara Ashmore, this is her first musical that she has directed but didn't she do well? Nice and tight with some smooth scene changes carried out by a slick stage crew.
Pauline Reader choreographed the piece and made sure that there were loads of energy in the show with a varied selection of dance moves typical of the era.
Loved the bus, which looked like a proper bus as well
Musical Director was Dave Adey with Jeff Widdowson on bass, Tim Wright on guitar, Ben Ward playing a mean sax and Andy Shelton on drums.
Great energy, some lovely voices and a passion for what they do shining through, and what a colourful and fun way to start your weekend off with.
“Summer Holiday” is at The Guildhall theatre in Derby only until Saturday 14 April 2018.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

“Whistle Down The Wind” LEOS
May Hall, Long Eaton.
Long Eaton Operatic Society present the wonderful “Whistle Down The Wind”; the musical written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Jim Steinman, and you can really see the influences both had in these songs.
The musical is based on the Mary Hayley Bell's novel and 1961 Bryan Forbes film and set in the Louisiana bible belt of the late 1950’s.
Three children, Swallow, Brat and Poor Baby are struggling with the loss of their mother and as Christmas approaches, the children are desperate to find something to hold on to and believe in.
One day, they find a stranger injured and hiding in their run-down barn. Unknown to them, the Man is probably an escaped convict, but Swallow seizes on the idea that he is Jesus and, along with the other children in the town, they vow to protect him.
Meanwhile, the townsfolk are on the lookout for a runaway convict, and are urged by their Sheriff to stay vigilant. When they discover where the stranger is hiding, the residents all descend on the farm. As fantasy and reality collide, Swallow is torn between the two and begins to discover who she is and where she is going.
Is he Jesus, or an escaped convict? It’s never revealed and leaves the audience to make their own mind up.
Eleanor Carty plays Swallow, and what a very strong role this has turned out to be for her. Her voice has really matured since I last saw and heard her,a s to has her acting.
Lilly Simons-Clark plays Brat, and once more we discover what a promising strong young actor and vocalist is coming through the ranks of LEOS.
Jude Yellop plays Poor Baby. Again such a strong and confident performance from such a young actor.
Adam Daniels plays The Man. This I am sure is the first time that I have seen Adam on stage and I was suitably impressed with both his acting and his voice. there were a couple of shaky moments in "Nature Of the Beast" which I thought he had trouble with getting the higher notes, but his tenor voice was strong and clear.
Motor bike riding Amos is played by Jack Draper, and there’s even a real motor bike on stage,Jack is one of those actors who has natural stage presence and his young rebel part in this play suited him down to the ground. As with Adam though I felt that the higher, falsetto moments in "A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" didn't quite come off for him, but this soundtrack isn't the easiest to master.
Candy, Amos' friend who he was going to ride off into the sunset with, but didn't, is played by Katie McDonald. Loved the harder outer image which really softened in the later stages of the play. A convincing young actor.
Martin Mould plays the kids' Father, Boone. Always a safe bet with Martin in any production and his vocals in "It just Doesn't Get Any Better", just couldn't get any better. Real emotion as Boone remembered his late wife and the children's mother.
Lots of local theatre regulars in this cast as well. Rob Holsman as Edward, Jack Woolley as Earl, Kheenan Jones as the Preacher at the start and Louise Watkins as the Snake Preacher, and plenty of others in the ensemble.
A large cast consisting of both young and not so young cast members, all complimenting the other age range and accurately depicting a Southern Louisiana community town.
Long Eaton Operatic Society have really pushed the bar with this production, not only with the amazing set they have, but they also include real snakes. They could have made use of puppets but no, actual snakes make an appearance.
The set was one of the best that I have seen , and even better than the professional tour of "Whistle Down the Wind" from a few years ago. it has to be seen to appreciate the magnitude and detail that has gone into it. Scenic Projects have added to the pleasure of this musical no end.
Directed and Produced by Kathryn McAuley, and to say that this is her debut as a director she did amazingly. Such a smooth running piece of theatre. Of course this was also helped along by the help of the hard working stage manager, John Woolley and his incredible stage crew.
Laurie Trott is in charge of the choreography and again, a brilliant job she has done with this large cast.
Great costumes, hair and make up topped off the whole feel of the era and location.
Also loved the lighting and the effects by Tom Olding which created such an atmosphere, especially in Act Two.
Musical director is Tom Watkins and leads a fifteen piece orchestra which really brings out the lush arrangements of Lloyd-Webber and the excitement of Steinman. a beautiful clear sound.
The soundtrack is possibly one of Lloyd-Webber’s most under-rated, with songs that have made it to the pop charts, most notably “No Matter What”, which was a hit for Boyzone and the title track which crept into the lower reaches of the charts by Tina Arena. These aside there are several other pieces which are classic musical theatre with some complex arrangements.
My only bug bear is with something that LEOS and other theatre companies have no control over and that is the sound in the theatre. i don't know what it is but I've never really heard a perfect sound from this place. It may just be the acoustics of the place or it may just need a new sound system. the live orchestra though were crystal clear, so i think it may just be the sound system itself. I knew that this would be the only, very tiny fly in the ointment, because the rest was a massive success for everyone involved.
“Whistle Down The Wind” is at May Hall, Trent College Long Eaton until Saturday 14 April 2018.