Thursday, 31 October 2019

Nottingham Playhouse
Presented by the Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company and the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, this is the first time this Sondheim musical has been performed in the UK by a cast who sings, dances, acts and play all the instruments live on stage.
The action starts with a fairground vending machine that vends guns, as opposed to drinks or confectionery.
This is the first time that I have seen this musical so, without any prior investigation about the musical I sat back to be entertained. Now I know several of Sondheim's musicals and know that he loves to write dark, yet comic shows, and this is exactly what was delivered. And of course the lyrics tell a story with delicious black comedy, set to various music styles ranging from rock to country.
It's like having a history lesson about the infamous assassins, and would be assassins, throughout history, From Brutus leading up to Kennedy's killer, Lee Harvey Oswald. But how I wish my history lessons in school were half as interesting as this one.
But we soon discover that history is repeating, and will possibly do so again as the story takes in the lure of celebrity, infamy, gun culture and politics. We don't need to look too far to see that all of these subjects are just as current today, more so over the pond as they were when this musical was set.
We see dissection of the mind of the characters featured, John Wilkes Booth, Emma Goidman, Leon Czolgosz, Charles Guiteau, John Hinckley, Sara Jane Moore, Lynette Fromme, Samuel Byck, Guiseppe Zangara and of course Lee Harvey Oswald.
There is a wonderfully comic scene between Fromme and Moore, played by Evelyn Hoskins and Nottingham's very own Sara Poyzer, and also the scene with Byck, dressed as Father Christmas, played by Steve Simmonds.
Many of these names, I must admit didn't ring bells but fascinating even so. I've always been interested in what makes people tick and what triggers their actions, and this musical now has me wanting to know more about these characters. Something my school history lessons never got me fired up over.
The cast are totally engaging and tell their stories impeccably. They are also excellent musicians, several of them multi instrumentalists, and often playing two instruments at the same time. look out for the multi-tasking drumming trumpet player.
The sets are typically American with the stars and stripes bedecking the stage, designed by Simon Kenny.
An exciting lighting design, by Ben Ormerod, created a visual treat into the mix.
I can only imagine that Bill Buckhurst, the Director, not only had great fun directing this musical, but maybe didn't have the easiest of tasks because of the on stage instrumentalists, their positioning etc, and having most of the actors on stage at the same time. Great job, Mr Buckhurst.
While it teaches us of what has gone by, it also provides a warning to us for the future with the final scene, which I am not going to divulge, but the wheels seem to keep on turning......
Performed as a one act musical, I was actually really pleased at this because the flow was constant, and interrupting that flow would have done no favours. Not only that, but this musical is such an engaging one that you really do not realise that by the time the final scenes come about, you've already been there for almost an hour and fifty minutes.
Although this musical was written over 30 years ago, it has a certain freshness, an urgency as well as an ability to draw you in, as if being hypnotised. You may not remember any of the songs from this musical, but I bet there are sections that will become earworms after you've left the theatre which will have you wondering where you've heard that tune before.
So, if you enjoy dark, yet comic musicals with clever story telling lyrics, performed by a brilliantly talented cast of actors, singers and musicians, then this is the show for you.
"Assassins" is killing it at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 16 November.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

"The Sound Of Music" by Nottingham Operatic Society.
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Based on Baroness Maria Von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, this wonderful staging of The Sound Of Music tells the true story of nun Maria Rainer, who is sent to be a Governess to Captain Von Trapp's children, and the world-famous singing Von Trapp family, From their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their escape to freedom over the hills as their beloved Austria becomes part of the Third Reich at the start of World War Two.
Before I start, I have a confession to make....I have never seen a West End show.
While local theatre groups continue to produce this standard of quality show in the East Midlands, I have no urgent desire to venture South for my theatrical desires.
While waiting at the bus stop, I overheard a fellow theatre goer ask the person they were with, "well which ones were the professionals? I couldn't tell which were which!" Says it all really doesn't it?
In so many shows I am lucky enough to see, I always say that the only difference between a professional actor and show and the local ones I see is the wage packet.
Directed and choreographed by Dave Partridge, I don't need to go on about this man's talent but to refer anyone to the above. Just wonderful!
Musically Directed by Morven Harrison, the orchestra were exciting as well as tender, they made your toes tap, they made you well up; and the quality of sound and vocal/orchestra mix was perfectly balanced.
The soundtrack includes many many well known songs, "Maria", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do Re Mi", "Sixteen Going On Seventeen", "Edelweiss", "The Lonely Goatherd", "So Long Farewell" and of course the title track. Some clever lyrics from Oscar Hammerstein II in many of these songs; just listen out for the way he uses the word "mercedes", and of course some lush music from Richard Rodgers.
These were a few of my favourite things about the show, and now for some more....
Abby Wells (Maria) was a complete joy to watch, bursting with exuberance at the start and going through many emotions. A gorgeous voice and lovely chemistry with the children as well as the Captain, especially when she gives him both barrels about his children.
Kate Taylor (Mother Abbess), gets to show the restricted fun side of the Abbess as she duets with Maria in "My Favourite Things", but then gets back to her more staid side. A crystal clear vocal, especially highlighted in the powerful and iconic "Climb Ev'ry Mountain".
Paul Johnson (Captain Von Trapp) starts out by delivering a military precision performance as he treats his children like recruits, but lovely when that ice man image starts to melt, thanks to the reintroduction of music into his life by Maria and his children. I've not seen Paul give a bad performance ever, so here's to yet another successful part for Paul.
Simon Theobald (Max), and it's not often we see Simon playing a part baddie, but we see both sides of Simon's good/bad characterisation as Max. Slightly camp which adds humour to Max's personality and a seasoned musical theatre voice, making Simon an all rounder.
Louise Grantham (Elsa), also gets to play a bit of a nasty character in Elsa, the fiancee to Captain Von Trapp,who is a bit of a shallow character. A brilliant role though to add to her ever-growing and varied musical theatre CV.
I loved the change from quite a frosty character to a warmer Frau Schmidt, the Von Trapp housekeeper, played by Linda Croston, who at first didn't recognise.
Von Trapp's butler, Franz, yet another undercover nasty is played by Shaun Hanrahan.
Zak Charlesworth revisits his Rolf role from a few years ago at the Arts Theatre, if my memory serves me right, but this time around seems more sinister in Act Two. His winsome duet with Liesl in "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" shows that Zak is convincing as both a nice guy as well as the more meaty third Reich follower.
The children were the Blue Team tonight and were wonderful (I'm sure the Green Team are just as brilliant). Laurel Fiddes (Liesl), Jonathan Jaycock (Friedrich), Sally Elliot (Louisa), Brogan Haynes (Kurt), Phoebe Crawford (Brigitta), Effie Ballard (Marta) and Poppy Fawcett who stole the cuteness award as the baby of the bunch, Gretl.
A massive ensemble, which turned out to be great fun to spot those that I know, all with wonderful voices, which, as with the nun's chorus, sounded completely heavenly. they have a habit for sounding wonderful those nuns.
"The Sound Of Music" is one of those musicals that we seem to recall from the film they put on at Christmas and being just a bit twee, but with the great soundtrack and also the emotional content, plus, depending on which way you view the ending, is neither a happy one or a sad one.
Performed with class by classy performers, Nottingham Operatic Society continue their extensive run of show stopping musical theatre shows, proven by, what must have been a full house tonight, and the standing ovation the cast received.
I Have Confidence that this week will be a sold out week for NOS.
"The Sound Of Music" is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 2 November.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

“The Producers” by Beeston Musical Theatre Group
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton
Max Bialystock, the one time king of Broadway producers is hungry to strike it rich, and Leo Bloom, an accountant with dreams of someday becoming a theatre producer, discover that they could get richer by producing a flop than a hit and start by finding the worst show, worst director, and worst actors. While this sounds an easy task, all does not go quite as they had both planned!
Adam Guest (Max) makes every role he takes on, his own, and this is one role that really pushes an actor because of the pace of the show, and there aren't many scenes that Max is not in. He really shines in the song "Betrayed" when his speed singing is put to the test; a test that he passes with flying colours. A brilliant comedy role, which Adam really excels at.
Jarrod Makin (Leo) makes his BMTG debut, but this is Jarrod's second time playing Leo. Everything in this role is the opposite of what an actor should be doing. His nervousness, as Leo, is great fun to watch, and Leo's slightly out of step dancing with Ulla in Act One, is balanced out by some of the brilliant dance numbers in Act Two, resplendent in tux and looking every inch a Hollywood Producer. Jarrod and Adam have great chemistry, on and off stage,and it shows in this performance.
Charlotte Howarth (Ulla) is great fun to watch with that Svedish accent,and it's lovely to see her getting a chance to show off what a fun actor she is in this principal role.
Kevin Chatten (Franz Liebkind) is one of those actors who can act and make people laugh by not doing very much at all, he just has funny bones, and this comedy character is right up Kev's autobahn. Over the top and with his own comic ensemble of birds - feathered ones - who add to the fun.
John Hand (Roger de Bris), like Kev's role, this part was made for John. He very naturally slips into the character (ooer missus!) and does camp so well. Over the top De Bris may be, but he is such a brilliant character to play and John is excellent in this part.
Jorge Diniz (Carmen Ghia). I've seen Jorge in several roles and every role has been completely different, showing his range, not only in comedy and character but in vocals as well. Another debut for BMTG, and another brilliant character-driven role.
This show has a massive ensemble with some incredible costumes and dance numbers, looking as if Hollywood had popped in to Long Eaton for the week.
Lucy Castle choreographed the numbers and provided much glitz and glamour to the proceedings.
Directed by George Lamb and Lucy Castle, I spotted a couple of things that could be tightened up on, but this was opening night and normally the night that the Director(s) tweak and tighten. Nothing major needed and probably unnoticed by everyone else.
The Orchestra,and at twelve, I suppose this is big enough to called an orchestra, sounded wonderful, even though I noticed one occasion where they came in a beat too early and threw Jarrod off ever so slightly in Act One, but after that, the timing was spot on.Musically Directed by Chris Toon.
The soundtrack is full of memorable tunes, all with that 1940's style Hollywood feel. Written by Mel Brooks who injects some brilliant comic lines within the lyrics, from the very start, all the way through to "Goodbye", but also listen to the words of "'Till Him" which is Brooks in a more serious song-writing mode.
A very colourful affair thanks to the incredible costumes, thanks to Mina Holtom, as well as the lighting, designed and engineered by David Martin and Laura Olding.
Sound design by Tom Olding, and the only thing I would say is that the actor's mics could have had just a tad more volume in parts, but apart from that, Tom did a cracking job.
All in all this is another big success from Beeston Musical Theatre Group. I was a bit surprised that this show was not sold out but looked to be about 80% full.
It's big, bright, a little bit rude and extremely camp, everything I love, and you'll love from a musical which doesn't take itself too seriously. If you need a pick me up this week, then this is just what the theatrical doctor ordered.
”The Producers” is at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 2 November

Friday, 25 October 2019

“Run For Your Wife” by Burton Joyce Players
Burton Joyce & Bulcote Village Hall
The story, written by Ray Cooney, concerns bigamist John Smith, a London cab driver with two wives, two lives and a very precisely planned schedule for juggling them both, with one wife at a home in Streatham and another nearby at a home in Wimbledon.
Trouble brews when Smith helps an elderly woman who is being mugged and ends up in hospital, where both of his addresses surface, causing both the Streatham and Wimbledon police to investigate the case. His careful schedule upset, Smith becomes hopelessly entangled in his attempts to explain himself to his two wives and two suspicious police officers, with help from his lazy layabout neighbour upstairs in Wimbledon.
This is the best production I have seen from Burton Joyce Players, and showed off the cast's brilliant comic timing, which is what makes a farce a success. And this show was a roaring success.
Even before I got into the Village Hall, the poster outside stated that it was SOLD OUT; I have never seen so many people in that hall as I did on Friday night, and even before the play started, more chairs were being placed at the back.
Everything about this production was just right, The wonderful set, designed by Patrick McDonough, Roger Harwood and Deborah Craddock, allowing both of the Smiths' homes to criss cross to the split second timing of the script and the comedy. And then of course there is the brilliant script by Ray Cooney
Directed by Deborah Craddock, I don't think there is anything else she could have done to make this a perfect farce; it's certainly one of the best farces I've seen for a long time. The laughter was full gales of laughter, not sniggers, not chuckles, but full on gales of laughter.
Patrick McDonough (John Smith) was amazing as the man with two lives, as well as two wives. His pace was swift as Smith is forced to think on his feet, which only meant that he was digging bigger holes for himself. Patrick's energy levels were well up there, and he played an absolute blinder in this, the best role I've had the pleasure of seeing him play.
Kathy Matthews (Mary Smith) and Jane Murray (Barbara Smith) played the two wives. Both feisty characters who at stages of the play, with it being a farce, had to appear in stages of semi undressed states. Both ladies looked very comfortable in their roles, and you could see the fun they were having.
Christopher Mercer (Stanley Gardner) played the upstairs neighbour who while trying to get Smith out of the pickle he had found himself in, managed to get embroiled in a very funny menage a .... well however many he was menaging with according to Smith. As always, Chris' comedy timing and delivery shone through visually, physically and through some brilliant comic lines.
Adam Miller (DS Troughton) was the tough cop who managed to uncover the whole bigamy plot. I loved seeing Adam play the straight man who delivered some great one liners as part of his role.
David Matthews (DS Porterhouse) played the other police man, who we also saw in a different light in Act Two as he tried his best to help everyone out of the sticky situation which gradually got ever more sticky.
John Uttley (Bobby Franklin) I have seen echoes of John's previous Damedom in panto in this character, and as the overtly camp character from upstairs, John was an absolute scream. Some of his facial expressions were classic Dame, and like the rest of the cast, his comic timing was as sharp as a new pin.
Completing the cast, as a cameo role, was Molly Fitches as a reporter.
The script, as I have said is a complete classic where farce, double entendre, and comedy theatre is concerned, and even though there were some lengthy speeches from some of the cast, it was delivered word perfect There was even an insertion of topical political humour.
The slickness of this production shows the hard work that has been put in by everyone concerned, because the results spoke for themselves in a standing ovation and very healthy ticket sales.
Sound and Light for this production was by Steve Armstrong and Jenny Cowan, and like the cast, their timing was spot on.
“Run For Your Wife” is at Burton Joyce & Bulcote Village Hall until Saturday 26 October, so run for the tickets, take your wife and have the best of nights out with this incredible cast.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

“Two Trains Running” by August Wilson
Derby Theatre
The play takes place in the Hill District, an African-American neighbourhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1969. It explores the social and psychological manifestations of changing attitudes toward race from the perspective of urban blacks.
Andrew French (Memphis) plays the owner of the diner that has fallen on hard times. he is holding out for a suitable price to sell, but no one is offering what he wants. Memphis has dreams of setting up a bigger restaurant with more than the one staff he has but first he needs the money to do that, and in this air of unrest, will his dream become a reality?
Geoff Aymer (West) plays the undertaker, and even though he is kept fairly busy, it doesn't pay as we find out in Act Two.
Anita-Joy Uwajeh (Risa) is the put upon only member of staff at the restaurant. We find out she has a few issues which also reveal the answer to the question as to why she doesn't have a man in her life.
Leon Herbert (Holloway) is the wise man of the play, dishing out the level headed words of wisdom.
Derek Ezenagu (Hambone) for me was the character that I was drawn to. Hambone has mental health issues whose kind nature was abused when he painted a fence for the promise of a ham bone, which never materialised. This act tortured him and we get to see the lengths it tortured him as well as the raections of the various characters in the restaurant.
Ray Emmet Brown (Wolf) plays the "fly guy" of the piece; ducking and diving and using the restaurant as the contact point for his "business", which only acts to wind up Memphis. Loved Wolf's outfits.
Michael Salami (Sterling Johnson) starts off as the stranger in town, looking for a job in the local area. he also has his sights, not just on a job, but also on Risa.
The beautiful and intricate set design is by Frankie Bradshaw. there is so much to look at on this set, and you can spot every prop that you would expect to see in such an establishment as this.
Directed by Nancy Medina, the play is a pacy one, but there's a lot of script to fit in a show that lasts just under three hours, including the interval. It finally slowed a little in Act Two when we hear of some sad news, which i won't spoil if you're planning to see the play.
I will admit that the play didn't evoke as much emotion from me as I was expecting and didn't seem to go anywhere for me. It was like I was given a three hour snapshot of the life of a down on its heel restaurant and the regular clientele, who seemed to pay for their food very rarely. Possibly the reason why it was going under.
The acting was powerful but for me I needed a start and an end, which for me was not defined enough. There was one riot which happened outside the stage set in Act Two, which was all done by sound effects and lights to depict police lights,and the fear and racism for me needed more definition to affect my feelings for the characters.
I was almost tempted to leave after Act One as I was getting nothing from the play, but for a few reasons I didn't. I know that many plays at first viewing can be slow burners and Act two can normally be better- it was slightly, thanks to the Hambone storyline and the romance that blossomed between two of the characters. I'm also pretty hardcore and don't like to give up on a play, and like to prove myself wrong.
Not only that but the large Derby Theatre was only about a quarter full,and when a theatre is of the size of Derby Theatre, I didn't want to add to the empty seats. I did notice that several people either moved about with the choice of seats available, or just didn't come back after the first Act.
What I did love though was the music featured in the play and in the interval. They used the music of Otis Redding, Nina Simone, John Lee Hooker and Aretha Franklin and this all added to the feel of the era; so there were a few positives I found within this production.
“Two Trains Running” is at Derby theatre until Saturday 26 October

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

“Hairspray” by Greasepaint Productions
Loughborough Town Hall

The year is 1962. The place is Baltimore, Maryland. Teenager Tracy Turnblad has one dream: to dance on The Corny Collins Show. When she gets put in detention with the African-American students in the school, they teach her some of their dance moves, and her new found groove wins her a spot on Corny’s show.
Overnight, Tracy transforms from a nobody into a star, and uses her newfound influence to advocate for racial integration on the television show. Tracy faces scrutiny and bullying from the network producer, Velma, and her popular, but vicious, daughter, Amber.
With the help of the teenage heartthrob Link, host Corny Collins, and Motormouth Maybelle (the host of ‘Negro Day’), Tracy overcomes the odds and succeeds in her mission to integrate The Corny Collins Show.
Emily Canham (Tracy Turnblad) is everything you'd expect from a 1960's teenager, excitable and a complete bundle of energy. Emily's energy levels makes the stage explode and is completely infectious.
Sophie Dinnie (Penny Pingleton) completely masters the zany and completely scatty sidekick to Tracy and is great fun to watch.
Ollie Lewin (Link Larkin), like all of the cast, is perfectly cast as the "boy-next-door" heart throb jock who just happens to be on the TV. With great likeability and just the right amount of arrogance. They mention in the script that he is the Corny Collins Show version of Elvis, but with Ollie's blond hair, he is just like a 60's singer called Heinz, who had a big hit with "Just Like Eddie"
Kat Pledger (Velma Von Tussle), plays the baddie of the musical, controlling her daughter and, so she thinks, everyone else on The Corny Collins Show. Velma is also a massive racist, so it's always nice to see a character like this get their comeuppance, even if it's in a positive move for her. A way that she does not recognise. Another fun character driven role.
Harriet North (Amber Von Tussell). Again we love to see the bad guys (and gals) get what is due to them, which is what makes this characters so much fun to watch. Like Kat, I bet this pair had great fun playing these nasty characters.
Dawne B Stewart (Motormouth Maybelle), I was so pleased to see that Dawne had got this part because I knew that she would be perfect for this role. Dawne has an incredible voice, so full of soul, which is highlighted in one of my favourite songs from this show, "I Know Where I've Been", which gave me tingles. Big, Blonde and Beautiful; in this role Dawne ticks all three boxes.
Lewis Shaw (Seaweed Stubbs) really brings that soul vibe to the role. He has a great image and a voice to match, especially in the down and dirty "Blacker The Berry"
Georgia Brierley-Smith ( Little Inez) brings the cheeky little sister to life. Not a major role but Georgia stuck out just for the cheekiness towards her brother, Seaweed.
Chris Wilson (Corny Collins), Now as soon as I knew that Chris was in this one, I just knew that this role would be his. The part is made for someone like Chris to play. Wonderful characterisation and a strong powerful voice, and when he smiles, you expect to see a sparkle from his smile and a "ting" sound. You know what I mean. I loved the jackets that Chris had to wear also.
Gary Peake (Edna Turnblad) is up there with the best of the Ednas, I have seen, Michael Stark, Michael Ball and any other local theatre Ednas. Another of my highlights from this musical is the duet between Edna and Wilbur "Timeless To Me".
Keith Reynolds (Wilbur Turnblad) creates a brilliant chemistry between Wilbur and Edna, which makes their duet such a lovely section of the musical.
A couple of minor roles also need to be highlighted her, mainly for the sheer fun they created on stage. Valerie Schmitt-Li (Gym Teacher) was great fun and just a little bit sleazy, and Scött O Tomkins as Mr Pinky, was incredibly camp.
Also loved the vocals of the Dynamite trio, Adele Watts, Gemma Landers and Hannah Bailey who created a lovely Sixties girl Group vibe. They also had some wonderful costumes throughout the show as well.
Another big ensemble group who wee great fun to watch, and when they sang together, the sound they created was full of power.
Directed by James Nelson, who tonight also understudied a few roles. His cheeky cameos - one more cheekier than the others - are worth watching out for. James is one of my favourite Directors because he knows musicals inside out and what they should look like, so i knew that this would be the success that it has turned out to be.
Musical Director is Gareth Wynne. I love a musical to be loud when it needs to be as well as having clarity and Gareth and his gang delivered both.
The soundtrack is great fun, and I doubt if there is anyone who does not know "You Can't Stop The Beat", but there are so many brilliant songs here, "Good Morning Baltimore", "Welcome To The 60's", "It Takes Two", "Timeless To Me", "I Know Where I've Been", "Without Love", "Run And Tell That", "I can Hear The Bells" and so many more.
Loved the lighting design (Kevin Cutts) and the colourful sets. the explosion of colour matched the explosion of energy throughout.
Only one thing could have made this production better for me, and that was the sound mix. I mentioned that the orchestra was loud, but clear, which I am all in favour of, but the mix between the on stage cast to the orchestra level was off tonight as many of the singers were drowned out. Some of the one liner comedy was also missed due to this. Thankfully, some of the cast have real power and projection in their voices when they sing so they managed to sing over this, they probably weren't even aware of it being on stage, but I think a tweak or two with the levels would have made this pinky perfection. I also noticed delays in mic volume for a couple of entrances and also sound leakage from offstage mics. Both need to be tweaked.
Not even this though stopped me from enjoying this brilliant fun musical, and I was only to happy to rise to my feet for the final bows to show my appreciation of such a great piece of musical theatre, A show that will have you singing all the way home and the following day as well; it's as catchy as measles but much more fun.
“Hairspray” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 26 October

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

“My Fair Lady” by LEOS Musical Theatre Company
May Hall, Trent College, Long Eaton
There have been a couple of changes since I last saw a LEOS production at May Hall. First the name. LEOS are now named LEOS Musical Theatre Company, and the second is the seating arrangements inside the venue. The seating is now raked, as opposed to being on a flat level, meaning that everyone gets a perfect view of the stage, and the seats are so comfortable as well.
“My Fair Lady” is the story of Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl transformed into an elegant lady by Professor Higgins and is based on George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”.
The musical is rightly described as a classic. The story is heart-warming and the soundtrack has so many recognisable songs. Songs like ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?’, ‘With a Little Bit of Luck’, ‘The Rain in Spain’, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’, ‘On the Street Where You Live’, ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’, and ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face’.
Emma Collins (Eliza Doolittle) transformation from flower-seller to Lady, even after the several times that I have seen this musical, still makes me sit up even further in my seat. The scene where she is completely spent from practising and then delivers "The Rain In Spain" speech still seems as if it was the first time that I have seen that scene. Emma has a great voice and her dual characterisation is wonderful. She also gets to wear some gorgeous dresses as well.
Simon Parker (Professor Higgins) is also wonderful as the sexist pig of a Professor. His delivery of the insults extracted gasps from the audience, showing that they bought into the character; a sign of a talented character actor. I liked the way that he also sang some of the lines, as opposed to the way Rex Harrison, in the film, spoke the words to the tune.
Dave O'Neal (Colonel Pickering) completed the trio of main actors,and his character made a nice contrast to the brusque Higgins. An easy character to watch and an easy on the ear voice as well.
Rob Chilton (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) nails the upper class Freddy character and his easy going "On The Street Where You Live" reflected that easy going style.
Dan Bates (Alfred Doolittle) to start with was quite unrecognisable, but he made a big impression as Eliza's dad, always on the scrounge, and then when he strikes it rich, still isn't happy. Every little nuance about Doolittle is brought to the fore and magnified. The two big song and dance numbers "With A Little Bit O Luck" and "Get Me To the Church On Time" are show stoppers and received a loud and enthusiastic response.
Liz Woolley (Mrs Higgins), Angela Walters (Mrs Pearce),Phil Deakin (Zoltan Karpathy), Jack Woolley and Harvey Latter play Alfred Doolittle’s faithful sidekicks, Harry and Jamie completed the mains.
The ensemble worked well, especially in the ball room and London Street scenes, and don't they sound good in harmony!
Talking of the sound, it's always been hit and miss in May Hall, but I don't know if the new seating arrangement has changed the acoustic dynamics but I heard every word, and the orchestra sounded good, and it was nice to see them as well.
Directed by Nigel Taylor with James Bowden in the Musical Director seat, I noticed there were some new, but subtle arrangements of some of the songs, which brought a fresh sound to the songs.
This show also has some very classy dance sections, beautifully choreographed by Laurie Trott, and again I must highlight the "Get Me To The Church On Time" segment for some wonderful and fun choreography.
My only negative, and i think that this may be just because it was opening night and nerves are at their highest, I thought Act One lacked a bit of "oomph". That said, Act Two powered through.
This is a musical where you really get your money's worth as it lasts three hours with the break, and that is why they decided to start the show at 7.15pm. You see always thinking of the customer and making sure that they get away at a timely hour at night.
A classic musical given the classic treatment by a classy group of actors. Go on, treat yourself!
“My Fair Lady” is at May hall until Saturday 26 October.