Tuesday, 30 July 2019

“Wait Until Dark” by Frederick Knott
Nottingham Theatre Royal
The first play choice for this year’s Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season is a thriller in every sense of the word. Written by the same man who brought us “Dial M For Murder”, the play follows the story of Susy, a blind woman. who left alone in her apartment becomes embroiled with a group of conmen hatching an elaborate scam which revolves around a toy doll. As the tension notches up, Susy is left to fend for herself but with the phone line cut dead and the house plunged into darkness, can Susy outwit the murderous visitors?
This is the first time that I've seen this play and I was agog, not knowing who would be the victor, and how.
When the curtain is raised, it gives you time to soak in the wonderful set for a short while before that first knock on the door starts the ball rolling.
From the start we know who the bad guys are, but that old adage "honour among thieves" does not belong with this clan. I didn't see that final twist coming though!
Regular Thriller Season followers will be pleased to see this well recognised cast, with one new face to welcome into the fold, Juliette Strobel who plays Gloria, the child helper/friend of Susy.
Chris Sheridan plays Mike, one of the three bad guys along with David Martin (Croker) and David Gilbrook (Roat), who looks very different without his facial hair. This trio know how to ramp up the menacing atmosphere.
John Goodrum, who seems to look younger every year, plays photographer Sam Henderson, husband to Susy Henderson.
Anna Mitcham really got under the skin of blind Susy, and the physicality of this role is superb as she manoeuvres her way around the set. Anna removed all the instinctiveness of a seeing person, especially when she ascends those stairs.
Directed by Karen Henson who really knows how to inject that uneasy feeling into a play. Karen gets the best out of her cast, and I know the cast know what Karen wants from them, and they deliver.
I mentioned the set, and it is one of those sets that you know you could live in yourself. Every little detail was included for realism, even down to the food in the fridge, the cutlery in the drawers and the many props that make this set look like a home. Sarah Wynne Kordas is no stranger to creating wonderful sets and she has done it again with this classic 1960's feel.
The plays title gives. anyone who like me didn't know or hadn't seen the play, a clue that maybe near the end, something may be happening in the dark, especially with Susy being blind. So at some stage I expected a black out on stage. This was done gradually and with effect. This end section as well as the other lighting designs was the responsibility of Keith Tuttle.
I've always said that the thinning of the Light Design and the Sound Design make or break a play and when it's a non musical piece of theatre, that creeping feeling is brought on by both designers. The sound cues were spot on and gave you the impression that things were happening the other side of the front door and beyond. David Gilbrook created the 3D soundscape.
There are a couple of real jumpy moments but it's that realisation of what is to come, or what you think is to come, along with the actor's reactions and the incidental music that make this thriller a classic. And let's face it, nobody makes a thriller a classic thriller like Tabs Productions. It's good to have them back, and it's great to see such a full theatre appreciating the work this production company produce.
“Wait Until Dark” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 3 August.

Friday, 26 July 2019

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Oddsocks Theatre Company
Lakeside, Nottingham
William Shakespeare’s most amusing and, possibly, most performed works is given the Oddsocks treatment. Last year was my first experience of Oddsocks’ productions when they presented a Mods n Rockers version of “Romeo & Juliet” and a Sci Fi twist on “The Tempest”. These two shows alone made me determined to see what they would do with the already absurd and comical “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”.
In a nutshell, for anyone who has never discovered the Bard’s classic comedy, four young lovers run away to the woods. but before long they unwittingly find themselves the subjects of tricks, played on them by the Fairy King, Oberon. Add to that a troupe of amateur actors hired to perform their new play and the comedy touch paper is well and truly ablaze.
Again there is music involved, some you may know, "You Can't Hurry Love", "It Takes Two", "Dancing In The Moonlight", "Money For Nothing", "Runaway" among them, all performed by live musicians. Music you wouldn't expect to hear in a Shakespeare play.In fact if William Shakespeare wrote pantomimes, this is the sort of production you'd expect to see.
The cast interact with the audience, with one man being employed as "the wall", and woe betide anyone who dared to arrive late or go to the toilet while the play was on,as you will be highlighted by whichever cast member spots you! All additional fun for the rest of the audience.
Like panto there are several topical gags thrown in, regarding the new Prime Minister and Brexit, which just goes to show that with a clever Director and Writer, Andy Barrow, even a 400 year old script can appeal to any audience.
Andy Barrow (Bottom, Egeus and Oberon). Alice Merrivale (Puck and Hermia), Asha Cornelia Cleur (Hippolyta, Helena and Titania), Alex Wadham (Demetrius, Flute and Cobweb), Christopher Smart ( Theseus, Peter Quince and Peaseblossom) and Peter Hoggart (Lysander, Snug and Mustard Seed) are the very hard working cast. When they are not on stage, they are mixing with the audience, selling programmes, handing out forms and generally chatting to everyone. And even the rain didn't stop this play.
The cast's ad libbing and improvisation skills are second to none, and the comedy flows naturally and frequently.
The costumes, by Vanessa Anderson are as usual wonderful, especially Oberon's and Bottom's.
I've said it before and I say it again, this play, and Oddsock's off the wall way of presenting Shakespeare to the masses, are a perfect introduction to the Bard's works for, not only young children, but to anyone who thinks that Shakespeare is a bit stuffy. Oddsocks do more than dismiss this myth
This production is only for the one night, Friday 26 July.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

“Toad Of Toad Hall” by BMTC
Bingham Methodist Church
'Toad of Toad Hall' is the first of several dramatisations of Kenneth Grahame's 'The Wind in the Willows' which was first published in 1908. The play was adapted in 1929. Milne extracted the adventures of Mr. Toad (which form only about half of the original book) because they lent themselves most easily to being staged.
The play has four main characters: Ratty, Badger, Mole and Toad. The story begins with Mole doing his spring cleaning. Fed-up with the task he emerges on to the riverbank and meets Ratty (a watervole). The two encounter various other creatures during their adventures, such as a kindly old Badger who invites them to say at his house.
They also meet the irrepressible Toad who owns Toad Hall, a very impressive property. Toad's caravan and car adventures are included, as well as his imprisonment, brought about by his love of fast cars, too fast though for Toad. But how can Toad escape?
When Toad's beloved Hall is taken over by the wicked creatures from the Wild Wood (weasels, stoats and ferrets) he vows, along with his friends to take back control of his home.But how?
.Graham Buchanan (Toad) injects an enormous amount of energy into his role - especially admirable when you consider the temperature in the hall and outside. This is a physical role and Graham brings the physicality of Toad to life as well as the script with a certain manicness, slightly reminiscent of a previous role he had of Basil Fawlty in the stage version of "Fawlty Towers".
Emily Hudson (Ratty) gave a very refined performance, especially for a rat - but then again the character is of a water vole, so they may be more refined. A lovely double act with Mole.
Becky Morley (Mole) performed with the whole of her body, and you could really see the embodiment of a mole. The whole demeanour was of a timid creature, and I loved the way she used her whole face to show exactly what Mole was feeling and thinking.Oh my oh my was this a fun character.
Richard Fife (Badger) was supposed to be a grumpy elder statesman of the piece, and Richard really got into the role - I know Richard and he is not grumpy at all - I also loved the make up for Richard in particular because it transformed his whole look to make him look like a badger.
Amelia Jerom-Dover (Marigold) plays the young girl who told us of what could be her fantasies of talking to the furry inhabitants of where she lived. Not a massive role but I did admire that she was on stage practically all the time so had to stay in character while appearing to do nothing, something that takes great discipline for a young actor, in fact for an actor of any age.
Nicola Jerem-Dover (Nurse/Usher) keeps it in the family, but as Niurse was not on stage all the time, Nicola got to play a couple of other roles as well, although you had to look closely to spot Nicola from the Nurse to the Usher to being part of a caravan!
Paul Green (Alfred/Washerwoman) always has the ability to make me smile and these two roles are perfect for him. Both being different but both play to Paul's comedy forte.
Nik Hudson (Chief Weasel) gets his weaselly teeth into a proper baddie part,and I thought at one stage we were set for a panto "oh no he isn't/ oh yes he is" bit of panto banter with his scene in the court room. But we all love a good panto baddie don't we? Oh yes we do!
Emma Townsend (Chief Stoat) and Lydia Daniel (Chief Ferrett) also portray some pretty nasty tendencies in their roles, but do all three leaders get their comeuppance? You'll have to go and see!
This is possibly the biggest cast I’ve seen for a Bingham Musical Theatre Company production because there are loads of cast members playing the various Wildwood characters. I loved that the age range was so diverse as well because it's great to see some of the very young ones taking part and learning while loving what they are doing, and they all do an incredible job.
Although not specifically a musical, the play contains six songs.There is no big band or orchestra here and you don't need it because the simple accompaniment by keyboard player Martin Lewis provides just the right tone for the piece showing that less is sometimes more.
I loved the scenery last year they used and this year the scenery again is simple but very effective, making use of a screen to situate everything from the courtroom, prison cell, an underground tunnel, badger's home and much more. It was also multi levelled which gave another interesting side to the scenery. the set was the work of Director Philippa Buchanan, James Loren and a man who is getting himself an excellent name in theatre staging, Roydon Charlesworth.
Loved the costumes - Sarah Dunbavand and Jenny Pike - and I bet the cast shed a few pounds by the end of this run if the weather stays as it is,
Some fun choreography, thanks to Sarah Dunbavand and providing an excellent job with Sound and Lighting were Nik Hudson and Anthony Alldread respectively.
You, like I, will also be impressed with the caravan, motor car and boat that are included in this production. I wondered how they were going to do all three, and now I know how they did it, but I'm not giving any spoilers. Go see for yourself!
It really doesn't matter how old you are because even I found myself being drawn into the story and Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger's little world, and so will you and so will your kids - of any age. It's a family friendly, fun piece of theatre that can be enjoyed at any level, so get your tickets and don't be a party poop pooper!
“Toad Of Toad Hall” is at Bingham Methodist Church until Saturday 27 July.

Monday, 22 July 2019

“Stepping Out” BY Richard Harris
Lace Market Theatre
It’s Thursday night and Mavis, a former professional chorus girl, along with the accompanist Mrs Fraser is getting ready to meet her tap dancing class. Like many a class of this type, the ‘pupils’ are a mixed bunch. There are your loud ladies like Maxine – always able to get things for people at cut-down prices – Or Rose getting over her hair disaster with a wig and sequined trainers – and salt of the earth type Sylvia. Then there are the quieter participants Dorothy, Lynne and Andy, the latter being a bit of an enigma to the others. And finally, there is Geoffrey, recently widowed and the only man in the group.
Everyone is different but they have a common interest in tap dancing so meet up once a week for a lesson. The group has been together a while and everyone, on the surface, seems to get one with each other. Tonight is a bit different though as there is a new person joining the team. Tall, thin and well dressed with a refined accent, Vera has arrived like a hurricane for her first lesson with Mavis and her first encounter with the Thursday night regulars.
As the rehearsals roll on Mavis must mediate the personal dramas that unfold among this mismatched but loveable troop on their ambitious way to the big finale.
We’ve all seen Les Dawson at the piano, playing the wrong notes ( Les was actually a very good pianist) , well I have it on good authority that it’s harder to be able to do something well but give the impression that you can’t do something and make it look, not as good as it could be. I know that most of these actors are quite adept at a bit of hoofing, so it must have been a bit of a task to perform the dance sections “badly” when being able to dance well. This “journey” for the class though makes that pretence, up to the big finale even more heart-warming.
Everyone in this play gets their chance to shine as we discover little bits of their individual characters and back story throughout the show.
Danielle Hall (Mavis), who is also the choreographer for this production, and may I say does a wonderful job of the choreography, after all she is a trained dancer herself. Her portrayal of Mavis is so well done that you can actually picture Danielle as a dance teacher away from the stage. I've seen Danielle dance in productions before but seeing her this close really highlights what a talented dancer she is, and that is not just performing as Mavis.
Sarah Taylor (Mrs Fraser), for me gets the starring role. I love this character and Sarah, while not looking as if she is absolutely relishing this part, I just know that she would be as it is a dream of a role. Mrs Fraser is a bitter woman with some brilliant acidic quips and some lovely comic lines, but oh what a wonderful ending for her. I love this character and I love how Sarah played her.
Charlie Bailey (Lynne) gets to play a quieter role in Lynne, but I love the support that she provides the others, especially Dorothy. Lynne is one of those characters that you would naturally get on with in a class like this. A lovely played down role by Charlie.
Anne Mccarroll (Dorothy) is one of my favourite local actors because she puts so much character into whatever role she takes on. Dorothy is one of those roles where you can let the personality shine without crowding any other character. Dorothy is a trier and I love the way that she triumphs over her own self doubts to be a real team player, and Anne really draws that trait out of this character.
Arwen Makin (Maxine), I don't get to see on stage as often as she should be, and this role as the eager to please "trader" of goods is loud, brash, a little bit naughty and cheeky is a brilliant role for Arwen, and you can see the fun that she is having on stage. Maxine seems to have either a permanent smile or a pout on her face, but later in the story, like the other characters, we discover that this confident exterior has it's cracks.Oh and I love the hair, Arwen!
Amanda Cropper (Andy) plays the quietest of the roles in this play, but while being one of the less upfront characters, she also manages to stick out. Just follow the little clues that this character provides to see what is going on in her life and why she is the way she is, and the reason why she goes to tap classes. Amanda builds this role up nicely and her performance in Act Two comes as a slap in the face moment.
Stephen James (Geoffrey) can tap dance in real life, and I know that he is perfectionist, so for him, he may have had one of the hardest jobs; dancing as a novice and getting things clumsily wrong when it goes against the grain of what he, and every other dancer is taught to do right. You instantly fall in love with this character and his back story. there is a certain fragility with Geoffrey, a bit of a Roy Cropper (Coronation Street) character who can be teased without knowing most of the time, and possibly a little scared of some of the women.
Joanna 'Joey' Hoyes (Sylvia) is another actor I love to see on stage and this role just made me howl.Sylvia is naughty but is lovable with it, she is sarcastic and says the things that we all wished we had the nerve to say. Sylvia is depicted as a bit of a gal, but we learn that she is very loyal to her partner, and you cross her at your peril. I've seen Joanna in some brilliant character driven parts, and this is another one of them.
Liza Pybus (Rose) is another wonderful character actor and gets to show off her accent skills in this part. Liza plays this role quite different to the way it was originally written as Harris wrote the part for a black actress. Liza has therefore had to change the character slightly to play to her one comedic strengths. Undertones of being the outsider as well as the underdog in many ways, Liza reminds us that, even if this is the case, Rose doesn't see herself as either and gives a lot of self belief and strength to Rose.
Sara Heafford (Vera), I think may be a new name to me, it's definitely her debut for the Lace Market Theatre, but what a wonderful role to debut in. Vera is one of those people who wants to take charge straight away, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Likewise with what she says; she certainly puts her refined mouth into action before engaging that middle class brain. The audible gasp from the audience when she tells Sylvia that she was once as big as Sylvia, just after having her child. Sara has wonderful comic timing and is a natural comedy actor who I really hope we get to see more of on the many Nottingham stages.
Bex Mason is Director as well as Set Designer and has certainly managed to bring out the very best in all of her cast with this season finale.
Allan Green’s Lighting Design and Jack Harris’ Sound Design are both inobtrusive but well noted by me. The sound cues were spot on, especially with the piano sections.These and the lighting cues should never be noticed by the audience but at the same time be noted, as when they are noticed, it's normally not intended to be so. Jack also gets an unseen part in this production as well, but no spoilers from me on that one.
I must also mention the amazing costumes. Linda Croston has pulled these costumes out of the bag, so to speak, especially those for Vera, and I loved the suit for Mrs Fraser.
A wonderful, energetic and heart-warming end to the current Lace Market Theatre season. A season which has never wavered from being most entertaining and brimming with talented actors. I can't wait for the new season as there are more goodies on the
It’s now becoming the norm that the productions at the Lace Market Theatre are sold out before their opening night, and this is another show that has done just that. If you want to see this season closer, and you don’t have a ticket, it may be worth contacting the box office for ticket returns/cancellations, as that will be the only way you’ll be able to enjoy this wonderful and fun show which closes on Saturday 27 July.

Monday, 15 July 2019

“Avenue Q”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
“Avenue Q” tells the story of a bright-eyed college graduate named Princeton. He arrives in the city with big dreams and a tiny bank account, He has to move into a shabby apartment on Avenue Q, due to his financial constrictions. Still, the neighbours seem nice. There, he meets Kate, Lucy, Rod, Trekkie, superintendent Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman) and other new friends! Together, they struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life, not helped in the least by the very naughty Bad Idea Bears!
The show is like The Muppets/Sesame Street, but is definitely NOT for the kids due to some of the content of the show, but will strongly appeal to anyone who loved shows like “South Park” or even “The Inbetweeners”, so from mid to late teens
upwards. I find it’s always best to know your kids and their maturity levels before deciding if this show would be for them. That said, the comedy is aimed for adults with a childish sense of humour, but is incredibly funny, albeit puerile.
There are however some really quite serious messages in the show. Homelessness,friendship and coming to terms with one's sexuality create the more sensitive side of this musical, and you could hear from the audience's reaction that they bought into these storylines and the characters that were involved
I’ve seen this show several times and still love to go back and see it again; it’s that funny, and the funnies are laugh out loud funnies.
Even though these characters are puppets, it doesn’t take you long to focus more on the puppet character than the puppeteer and that is when the magic this show radiates start to come to life for the viewer. This in itself is a massive tribute to the actors who control the puppets in channelling their skills through the puppets to make us believe in what they see on stage; almost like a magician’s sleight of hand in influencing us as to where to look and react.
Puppetry, when it is done correctly is a major art form. Your arms ache at having to keep them at a certain angle and the co ordination between what is being said and the mouth of the puppet is a lot harder than you'd imagine. And that is just working with one puppet. Two actors working one puppet
requires great co ordination and faith in your partner to make everything look as smooth and as "human" as possible. Not forgetting that these are very talented actors, singers and puppeteers who have to choreograph the movements of the puppets as well.
Directed and choreographed by Cressida Carre and designed by Richard Evans. The set is different to the touring productions that I have seen previously which gave a fresh appeal to me, who has seen the show before, and that alone gave me new enthusiasm for this naughty but very nice, heart warming show.
The non human stars of the show were created and designed by Paul Jomain who seemed to have inbuilt certain personality traits into the very fabric of them. How do you manage to get Kate Monster to look sexy drunk as well as so sad in the space of a few scenes?
Great sound and lighting as well as some deliciously wicked nods to "Sesame Street" with the TV work on stage.
The songs are catchy - I bet you are singing or humming many of them for days afterwards. the band under the musical direction of Dean McDermott was superb.
It's very naughty in places and the most un PC show you’ll see, but it’s also one of the funniest shows you’ll see, that is as long as you have a sense of humour and not that easily offended.
“Avenue Q” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 20 July.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

“Jesus Christ Superstar” by Tom Bond Amateur Productions
St Mary’s Church, Lace Market, Nottingham.
Before I start, this is meant in no way as disrespectful of any other production of this show that I have seen over the last few years, but this production is the best that I have seen to date.
Local theatre company, Tom Bond Amateur Productions, in arrangement with The Musical Company Ltd, have brought the story of the last few days of the life of Jesus through Judas’s eyes, to a place of worship, which in itself brings a completely different feel to the production, a kind of new respect for the story.
There can’t be anyone who doesn’t know this story but Tom has introduced an immersive element to the production where,on arrival, the audience are welcomed with bottles of wine and fresh fruit already on the tables, which was traditional fare in ancient Jerusalem. Even before the show starts, you’re completely enveloped by the whole feel and it really gets you in the mood for one of the most performed and most loved of musicals.
St Mary's Church is a beautiful church and the lighting and the acoustics really create that special atmosphere where respect should be shown, not only to the building but to the story, and the actors telling the story.
Andy Quinn reprises his role as Judas and, I know I say this every time I see and hear Andy perform, but he gets better and better and his voice gets stronger. His passion for this role is shown with every movement and every word he sings. He does not just sing these songs, he performs, and feels the songs. This is my second time of seeing Andy as Judas, and I thought I'd seen the best performance he did at Mansfield, but this immersive performance gave him more freedom with the character, making it even better than I'd seen him before. Topping an Andy Quinn performance is always going to be hard but when it's done by Andy Quinn... what can I say?
Andy is surrounded by an amazing cast, many I'd seen before, but every one of them seemed to have been injected with some magic that brought out the very best performance an actor can ask for. Every one delivered passion, and that showed on their faces and the fire in which they performed their songs.
David Hawker (Caiaphas), his voice was almost unreal with his bass tones. He demanded you listen to him, and we all did.
Andrew Buxton (Annas), I last saw as George in "Hair", and I though he was great in that show. This performance showed another side of him that I had not noticed before. As the blood hungry Annas, his faced looked like a rottweiler about to devour his prey - and I mean that in a complimentary way to his acting skills - , his manic angry looks were really quite alarming. The fire and blood lust in his eyes were quite scary! Needless to say, his vocals are excellent and really highlight his rock vocal talents.
Zain Abrahams (Jesus) brought a very soulful tinge to the vocals which in turn made the character softer, but when the scene came where he was clearing the traders you got to hear the other side of Jesus, the angered side. "Gethsemane" has always been one of my favourite musical theatre songs and Zain absolutely nailed this song. You could feel Jesus' search of his soul for the understanding of why he was being asked to die, and then the coming to terms of his fate was emotional to say the least.
Jessica Bridge (Mary), I don't think that I had seen before, but I am now a fan. Her voice oozed calm and controlled emotion, and again, possibly the best performance I have seen of this character. She completely tugged at heartstrings when she implored in "I Don't Know How To Love Him" and the gorgeous duet with Peter in "Could We Start Again Please".
Samuel Ward (Peter), is another new actor to me, and again a passionate performance from Samuel and his duet with Mary was so well matched vocal wise.
Benito Preite (Pilate) again showed me something I'd not seen in Benito before. Fire and passion, and I can't remember ever hearing him sing so powerfully and with such emotion as he did in this production. Like all these incredible actors, he climbed within the skin of the character and morphed into the role. Like Andrew he really acted with his face and we felt Pilate's frustration and anger with Jesus.
And finally, another young actor who again has raised his acting bar. I have seen Lucas Young in many roles over the years and have loved everything he has done. In his role as King Herod, which we all know is camp, Lucas delivered the most campest of performances and the whole audience absolutely loved it, giving him a massive show of appreciation after "King Herod's Song", and he still amazes me how he gets those high kicks and splits in heels, but then again, he is an incredible dancer.
A wonderful ensemble swelled the choral sounds and fleshed out the other characters like guards, merchants, lepers, reporters etc.
Musical Director is Tom Bond, who left the baton for this last night in the hands of another, whose name I also didn't get but did an incredible job with the band. The acoustics in church are beautiful and amplified the perfect sound created by this musical combo.
The lighting for this show was also perfectly designed to highlight not only the actors in the best light, but also the beautiful features of the church. At one stage the giant cross above the stage was flooded in blue light and gave an eerie feel over the whole church.
I also loved the costumes which were similar to the original film version, which I felt respected the performance space. Herod's costume was the sort that would not look out of place at Nottingham Pride, lots of gold body glitter paint and hot pants that Kylie would be proud to wear.
I've never seen an immersive version of "Superstar", and I was told afterwards by Heather from the media team, that this was the first time this had been done. Maybe this is why I enjoyed this production as I did. "Superstar" is, and always has been, one of my all time favourite musicals - it was the first soundtrack I bought on the old Music For Pleasure record label when I was just a kid, so has always had a special place in my heart. All these years on, this group has made me love this musical even more.
I've had the greatest of pleasure tonight telling the people around me all about the previous roles of many of the actors I know in this cast, and confirming what talented people they all are, they didn't need any confirmation by the end of this show.
I said on the way out that you don't need drugs to get yourself buzzing, just see a show like this. What's the buzz? This show and this cast, that's the only buzz I need!

Friday, 12 July 2019

“Sister Act” by Spotlight Theatre Company
Nottingham Playhouse
“Sister Act” is the feel-good musical smash based on the hit 1992 film Featuring original music by Tony, and eight-time Oscar winner, Alan Menken (Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors), this uplifting musical was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
When disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier, witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won't be a found: a convent! Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community but, in doing so, blows her cover. Soon, the gang is giving chase, only to find them up against Deloris and the power of her newly found sisterhood.
Filled with wonderful music, outrageous dancing, “Sister Act” leaves you feeling euphoric. I left the theatre feeling like I'd been plugged in to a charger for the last two hours, practically skipping to the bus stop, I felt so energised by this production
Grace Hodgett-Young (Deloris), well what can I say? I could just say "WOW" but why say one word when a hundred would suffice. I can remember seeing Grace a few years ago on the Nottingham Arts Theatre stage and loving her confidence and her voice. Skip forward a few years and here she is blowing the roof off the Playhouse with that incredible voice she has. Grace has swag and attitude and this part fitted her so well, and that applause she received on her final bows rose by decibels, and she deserved every single second. And can I also say that she looked fabulous in those wonderful costumes.
Lizzie Fenner (Mother Superior) swaps one powerful woman (last week as Roxie Hart in "Chicago") for another woman with power. Lizzie channelled her inner Julie Andrews for the clipped and oh so proper accent, and her voice is just so clear and controlled, And that worked so well in the song "I Haven't Got A Prayer" because you heard every word and every comical line in that song it really is heavenly.
Holly Neil (Sister Mary Robert) is another woman with an incredible voice. Sister Mary Roberts big song, and I do mean BIG, is "The Life I Never Led" and she gave me goosebumps with the high notes in there. It was not the only time Holly gave me goosebumps with her singing in this show. Her powerful vocals soared.
Laura Thurman (Sister Mary Patrick) oozes fun with this role, again perfectly cast, and once again a powerful voice with an infectious smile.
Kimberley Allsopp (Sister Mary Lazarus), so full of mischief and fun, so who else would be playing this role? Only Kimberley.
Mike Pearson (Monsignor O'Hara). Normally I see Mike on stage in a frock, so this is a slight departure, and it's great to see Mike in such a lovely role. O' Hara's facial expressions when the Nun's choir emerge after Deloris has been working with them was a joy to behold.
Adam Collishaw (Curtis) is the baddie of the show, and he looks the part. Tall and imposing, you would not like to meet Adam, as Curtis naturally, in a dark alley!
I love the trio of henchmen who work for Curtis, Ray Samuel Mcleod (TJ) is great fun to watch - nice to see he stole some of my dance moves. Liam Arthur Petruccio-Hall (Joey) and Patrick McChrystal received a massive round of applause with their song "Lady In The Long Black Dress", which is one of my favourite songs from this show
Stan Cook (Eddie), who I last saw as Romeo in "Romeo & Juliet", channels a bit of a romeo in this role as well. I loved his main song "I Could Be That Guy", and the staging of this number was done really well with the costume changes. I won't spoil it for you if you plan to see the show on Saturday, but it's different to how I've seen it done in the past. Stan has an old school voice and suits this song well, and it's always good to see a character go from zero to hero and get the girl at the end.
I feel that I need to mention all of the ensemble and others individually so here goes; Harriet Hopkins (Sister Mary Martin of Tours), Laura Ellis (Sister Mary Teresa), Ellie Monterosso (Michelle), Beth Wear (Tina), Daisy Donoghue, Charlie Evans, Lucy Greig, Emma Gregory, Erin Hanby, Maddie Keown, Madelyn Pritchard, Lily Proudlove, Rachel Smith, Kemi Stewart, Zoe Turton, Tilly Wishart, Louis Barnes-cupitJonah Williams and Joseph Smith - who gets to play an altar boy, a policeman as well as a drag queen - I'm so impressed with his walking in those heels!
Directed by Matthew John and this is his first musical theatre piece he has directed; can I just say that this man can do anything he puts his mind to as this was a roaring success; that's all I need to say as it's well documented in past reviews just how high esteem I hold Matt. The legend that is Amanda Hall is producer for this show.
Sophie Petruccio-Hall also debuts as choreographer. Again Spotlight shows what an incredibly talented group of people they have. The choreography was spot on and very exciting to see this mass of people carrying out the dream of the choreographer. They made me want to dance.
Geoff Burnhill is Musical Director for this show and I love the soundtrack, and hearing this wonderful soundtrack by Alan Menkin and Glenn Slater played live, with such punch and clarity is all down to the Musical Director's hard work with the cast and his band.
Lighting Design is by Tom Mowat, so the lighting is guaranteed to be the best quality, which it is. Rob Kettridge is responsible for the Sound Design, again guaranteed to be crystal clear, which it was as I could hear every single word of this show.
There are many set changes in this show and the stage managers did a sterling job at getting all the bits and bobs on and off unobtrusively.
I've been very lucky lately to have been able to see several local theatre shows that have been on a par with any touring professional show. This is another one of them.
I sat in my seat with a fixed smile on my face all the way through, because that is what this show makes you do, smile! The story of belief in yourself and others and friendship makes you feel all warm inside, as if you're in an Andrex ad, but without the Labradors.
I made sure that I was first to my feet at the end and my lead was very quickly followed by every single person in that theatre. An audience who showed their appreciation of the talent on stage continuously throughout the evening.
I've had the pleasure of reviewing Spotlight shows for a few years now and every show is of an increasingly excellent standard. Forget the bar to be raised, Spotlight have bypassed that and left it behind and productions like this are of the standard that all local theatres should match or aim for.
As the prophet Hozier once said "Take Me To Church" because these sisters really rock!
“Sister Act” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 13 July.