Amateur Stage - December 2011

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amateurstage | December 2011


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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Professional set, costume and prop hire As one of the country’s largest producers of professional touring musicals we have an extensive catalogue of high quality sets, costumes and props available for hire to amateur companies, including stocks from our professional pantomime range. Our experienced design team can also produce bespoke items just for you from our comprehensive workshop facilities – from a one-off costume to a full stage set. We also have other equipment for hire including wigs and wardrobe equipment, music stands, communications, glaciator/low smoke machines and pyrotechnic equipment. Find out how we can help your production to be a success – call us now on 01483 423600 or email

42nd Street

Our musical productions include: • Disney’s Beauty and the Beast • Fiddler on the Roof • 42nd Street • Carousel • South Pacific • Jekyll and Hyde • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers • Oklahoma! • Singin’ in the Rain Our traditional family pantomimes: • Jack and the Beanstalk • Dick Whittington • Sleeping Beauty • Cinderella • Aladdin • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs • Peter Pan • Mother Goose • Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood

Singin’ in the Rain

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Churchmill House, Ockford Road, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1QY

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amateurstagedec11 FROM THE EDITOR Well that was an interesting year! 2011 saw Amateur Stage double in size from 40 pages to 80 pages as a result of our new association with NODA. Who knew it would take 64 years for that courtship to result in a marriage of the minds. Combining forces hasn’t been easy and lots of lessons have been learned. Over the past 9 months we’ve recived enormous amounts of constructuve feedback from readers and as a result in January we are taking the next step in the development of our relationship. Our ultimate aim is to make Amateur Stage an informative source of news and information for everyone in the world of amateur theatre. 2012 will see further developments including further development of our website, the Amateur Stage Expo in March, the results of our first playwriting competition and the delayed launch of our online video content - all of which will keep us busy and hopefully keep you informed and entertained. Finally, this month we say a temporary farewell to our beloved Doris. With fans from Scotland to Sydney, she will be sorely missed.




News from across the country



The calendar for RSC Open Stages productions


Publisher news


Latest news from play publishers



David Muncaster looks at the latest script offerings



Radio acting, puppetry and audition tips.






noda north east





National show listings



Her last stand. Or is it??????



credits Published monthly by Amateur Stage Limited ISSN 00026867 3rd Floor, 207 Regent Street, London W1B 3HH P: 0203 0062845 Editor - Douglas Mayo : SUBSCRIBE NOW UK Rates - 1 Year £24. 2 Years £40 Subscribe online or by sending a cheque payable to Amateur Stage to the address shown above. DEADLINE FOR JANUARY ISSUE DECEMBER 27 All rights reserved throughout the world. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written consent of Amateur Stage. The views and opinions expressed by the contributors to this magazine may not necessarily represent the views of Amateur Stage. (c) 2011 Amatuer Stage Limited

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In March 2011, Amateur Stage formed a collaboration with the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) to publish its regional news.

amateurstage E MONTHLY MAGAZIN THE UK’S ONLY www.amateursta






Over the past nine months that collaboration has developed, and feedback from readers has lead to a further development in how NODA news will be presented in Amateur Stage.

| Septemb amateurstage er 2011

From January 2012, all NODA national and regional news will be amalgamated into one section of the magazine. All NODA regions will be featured every month, enabling NODA members to receive news with more immediacy, and allow news of a national nature to be featured along with other articles of interest. Each month, Amateur Stage incorporating news and information from NODA will be distributed to all Amateur Stage Subscribers, NODA Societies and NODA Individual members. In addition, 2012 will see the roll out of Amateur Stage to retailers and specialist stores across the UK, giving Amateur Stage unparalleled distribution. For the first time, Amateur Stage incorporating NODA will give advertisers and news providers access to almost every amateur theatre group and many enthusiasts in the UK.



Tony Gibbs, Chief Executive of NODA today said:” This is a major development in the distribution of information from NODA to our members as well as the wider amateur theatre community, and we look forward to working with Amateur Stage on this exciting new venture.”

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Douglas Mayo, Editor of Amateur Stage Magazine said “We’re pleased to announce this development in the way we publish NODA’s news each month. The new format of the magazine to include news for all NODA regions each month means Amateur Stage will be the definitive publication for amateur theatre. Working together with groups and organisations within the world of amateur theatre remains of utmost importance to us.”

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national news * events * products * competitions * stuff

Central Council for Amateur Theatre / AATO Disbands It was recently announced that CCAT (recently renamed Alliance of Amateur Theatre Organisations) has decided to cease operations. CCAT was an amalgam of umbrella bodies & organisations who represented amateur theatre groups through their membership. It met regularly to talk about points of local and national significance and was able to pass on information from a wide and divergent base to government and local authority legislators. It was also the only representative of Amateur Theatre on the “Theatre Safety Committee”. The talking shop atmosphere of the organisations has meant that all members have had the opportunity to network, thus keeping each other aware of concerns and developing a national consensus of the ever developing situations. It has meant that the chairman when approached, invariably at very short notice by a government agency, was able to present a well considered response on behalf of Amateur Theatre in the UK. Following the winding-up of CCAT the “Theatre Safety Committee” have agreed that Tom Williams of The Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain will continue to represent Amateur Theatre.

BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR ACHIEVEMENTS ON BEHALF OF AMATEUR THEATRE • 1977 CCAT formed • 1978 Three projects undertaken, including lobbying Regional Arts Associations & the Home Office together with a fact finding exercise on the cost of hiring educational premises by amateurs. • 1979 Statistical survey on “Amateur Theatre in Great Britain”. • 1981 The First full national survey was carried out & a lobby campaign against the GLC proposal that it take over GLAA. The proposal was subsequently withdrawn. • 1982 Became a Band A member of the Theatre Advisory Council & carried out a

theatre attendance survey on behalf of the TMA. • 1983 Responded to the Select Committee Report on public & private sector funding of the arts. • 1984 CCAT presented a paper to the ABTT on Safety Precautions in Public Places, met with Sir Ian Hunter to work towards establishing an Amateur Arts Council & carried out investigations into current levels of performance fees. • 1985 Investigation into current levels of theatre licensing requirements for the TMA & the future of the International Theatre Institute. • 1989 Second statistical survey on “Amateur Theatre in Great Britain”. • 1988 National Conference organised. • 1992 Third statistical survey on “Amateur Theatre in Great Britain”. • 2005 Published Drama Association for England Feasibility Study. • 2008 Involvement with the DCMS/ACE study on Amateur Theatre. • 2009 Involvement with the initial Cultural Olympiad organised by the RSC. • 2011 CCAT takes the decision to cease operating.

Beware the Ides of March! Julius Caesar brings a Twitter Revolution to the streets of Balham As part of the RSC Open Stages festival, Southside Players will be staging Julius Caesar – with a twist.This version won’t be set in Ancient Rome but here in modern London. Inspired by the events of the Arab Spring and the blog “Twenty Reasons Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere” by Newsnight’s Paul Mason – this production asks the question –could it happen here?In this contemporary setting both Brutus and Cassius will be women. There will be a live twitter feed projected onto the back wall of the theatre. Characters will tweet their off stage thoughts and comments and the audience will be able to join in via a hash tag. Director Deborah Mason says: “I wanted to let the audience into the play and I think the twitter feed will help - the other great thing about the contemporary setting is I can have a female Brutus and Cassius– why not when we have people like Hilary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, and Angela Merkel? I hope that it will make the play much


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OVERTURE show. Karen Cody, ATG Theatre Card Manager, said: “It is the perfect membership card to ensure customers get the seats they want, for the performance they want and at the price they want.” Howard Panter, ATG Joint CEO & Creative Director, said: “The unique feature of the ATG Theatre Card is that it gives our loyal customers exclusive access to benefits and special offers across our entire portfolio of UK venues including 12 in the West End.” There is also one website address and one telephone number for all ATG Theatre Card members, and 0844 871 7633. To celebrate the launch of the ATG Theatre Card, ATG is offering all ATG Theatre Card members a free premium upgrade for Ghost the Musical to the best seats in the house for £65 (a £35 saving) and a complementary CD of the Ghost the Musical original cast recording per booking.

Joy as theatre hits £50k target It’s Mission accomplished for a £50,000 appeal to expand a city centre theatre – in just two months.

Brutus(Kate Parry), Cassius(Julie Weston) more exciting for the audience – more a political thriller – less elderly men in togas!” Chestnut Grove Theatre at Chestnut Grove School, Boundaries Road, Balham SW12 8JZ. Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 February 2012 Box office 07914 657 524or book online at:

Donations from £2 to several thousand pounds have flooded in to the Next Stage Theatre Company to help it transform a rundown two-storey former bakery building at the back of its Mission Theatre in Corn Street. It has a 25-year lease on the building where it wants to create light and spacious dressing rooms and a rehearsal space for both its adult and youth companies. Work will start on the project next month. The group launched the Space-Mission fundraising campaign, which aimed to bring in the money by the end of the year, with entrepreneur Andrew Brownsword offering to match every penny raised, meaning the group needed to raise £25,000. The money has come from theatre company members, parents of Next Stage Youth members, keen theatre-goers, other amateur dramatic organisations and local charitable trusts. Artistic director of the theatre, which opened seven years ago, and Next Stage founder Ann Garner said: “We are all thrilled and overwhelmed by the speed with which we have reached our target. “Over and over again we have received the same message accompanying donations: that in just seven years, the Mission Theatre has become a much-loved Bath institution that has delighted audiences and performers with its intimacy, friendliness and versatility. “So many contributors have said that they wanted to celebrate all that has been achieved here so far, and help the Mission take its next step into the future.” Actor Chris Harris, who opened the theatre and who is directing the Theatre Royal panto, said the Mission was a “gem”.


The Ambassador Theatre Group’s Joint CEO & Creative Director, Howard Panter and Joint CEO, Rosemary Squire, were joined by Richard Fleeshman and Sharon D Clarke (Sam and Oda Mae Brown from Ghost the Musical) at London’s Piccadilly Theatre recently to officially launch the brand new ATG Theatre Card – the UK’s biggest theatre membership scheme. ATG Theatre Card is the very first UK wide Theatre Card, offering a range of benefits that customers can use in their local theatre, other ATG theatres in major cities (including ATG’s West End venues) and tourist areas around the UK.

ATG Theatre Card benefits include priority tickets, ticket offers (including half price on selected shows), no booking or postage fees on most shows, priority brochure mailing, fee free ticket exchange, 10% savings on pre show and interval drinks, free cloakroom and the biggest bonus is that the exclusive card is accepted at 39 venues across the UK and in the West End. Members will also have the chance to attend special events such as launch nights and Q&A’s with cast and creative teams. 
 The ATG Theatre Card costs £30 and allows customers to buy up to 4 tickets per

He said: “Don’t underestimate what they have accomplished. It is a huge achievement.” Any further donations received in the next few weeks will help equip the new rooms with mirrors, work benches and carpeting. The Mission is also hosting a fundraising night on Saturday, January 7, with The Amazing Street Cred Band. For more information on how to help, go to, call 01225 428600 or email

SEND US YOUR NEWS We aren’t clairvoyant so get those press releases and high quality pictures in to us so we can print it in the magazine or post it on our website. In 2012 we are planning on developing a major online news service covering news from as many groups as possible. Don’t forget to give us loads of notice though. Your news needs to hit us at least 4 weeks before publication to be printed. Send your news and pictures to | 5

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OVERTURE Fringe Benefits Theatre Company Merchant of Venice Venue: Venue TBC Dates: 26-28 April 2012 Web: Manx Shakespeare Players Shakespeare’s Best Bits Venue: Douglas Head Amphitheatre, Douglas, Isle of Man Dates: July 2012 (Dates TBC) Contact, Manchester Chester Theatre Club Macbeth Venue: Chester Little Theatre, Chester Dates: 5-12 May 2012 Web:

RSC OPEN STAGES CALENDAR With RSC Open Stages events planned throughout 2012 we bring you a rough guide to some of the events you can expect to see. NT Scotland Shakespeare @ Traquair - Pebbles Scottish Borders Twelfth Night Venue: Traquair House, Innerleithen, Scots Border Dates: 23-26th May AND 30 May-2 June Web: Edinburgh Theatre Arts Macbeth in Scots aTranslation by Robin Lorimer Venue: St Ninians Hall, Comely Bank, Edinburgh Dates: 2-7 May 2012 and 2012 Edinburgh Fringe (Dates TBC) Web: Marooned Productions As You Like It Venue: Byre Theatre Dates: February 2012 (TBC) Web: JET Julius Caesar Venue: Reid Kerr College, Paisley Dates: TBC Giffnock Theatre Players Wooing Wedding and Repenting Venue: Rehearsal Rooms at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Dates: 8-9 June 2012 Web: The Barony and Linlithgow Players The Winter’s Tale Venue: The Barony Theatre, Bo’ness Dates: 24-29 April 2012

Monument Performing Arts School Bapties Lass Venue: Monument Dance Centre and Theatre Dates: Feb-July 2012 (Dates TBC)

The Sage, Gateshead day8 Production Ltd Festival of Shakespeare Venue: Playhouse, Whitley Bay and other venues in North Tyneside Dates: April 23 2012 onwards (Dates TBC) Web: Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society Twelfth Night Venue: Georgian Theatre Royal Dates: 21-24 March 2012 Web: The Castle Players As You Like It Venue: Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle Dates: 10-14 July 2012 Web: The People’s Theatre and Youth Theatre group Quick Bright Things by Alison Carr, in collaboration with Tony Childs AND ‘Romeo & Juliet Condensed’ Venue: The People’s Theatre plus an outdoor venue (TBC) Dates: 17-21 April 2012 Web: Westovian Theatre Society Worker’s Playtime (TBC) Venue: The Pier Pavillion, South Shields Dates: Dates TBC

Andante Chamber Choir Borderin’ on Shakespeare Venue: TBC Dates: 17-24 June 2012 Web:

Saltburn ‘53 Drama Group Twelfth Night Venue: Saltburn Community Theatre Dates: 17-20th October 2012

Arkle Theatre Company We Happy Few Venue: Edinburgh and Melrose Dates: April 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

A Sage Gateshead production in association with the RSC’s Open Stages West Side Story Venue: Hall One at The Sage Gateshead Dates: 4-7 July 2012 Web:

Strathclyde Theatre Group Coriolanus Venue: The Cottier Theatre, Glasgow Dates: 26-30 June 2012 Web:


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Lyric, Belfast South Bank Players The First and Last Performance of the Titanic Shakespeare Society Venue: South Bank Playhouse Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Formby Little Theatre A Rock ‘n’ Roll Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: Formby Little Theatre Dates: 3-7 July 2012 Web: The Hub Community Players Romeo and Juliet Venue: The Hub, Kirkburton Dates: March 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The New Quorndon Shakespeare Company A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: Rawlins Community College, Loughborough Rd, Quorn AND The Y Theatre, 7 East St, Leicester Dates: 7-9 June AND 23 June 2012 Web: Grim North Theatre Midsummer’s Nightmare Venue: Hebden Bridge Little Theatre Dates: May 2012 (Dates TBC) Bolton Little Theatre Much Ado About Nothing Venue: Bolton Little Theatre, Bolton Dates: 17-24 March 2012 Web: Sheffield University Drama Society The Rise and Fall of the House of York’ an adapation of Henry VI Part 3 and Richard III Venue: Sheffield University Drama Studio Dates: November 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Hand in Hand Theatre Productions After the Dream Venue: Ness Gardens, South Wirral, Vale Park (New Brighton), Birkenhead Park AND The Tea-room garden, Eastham Country Park Dates: 21-24 June 2012 AND Sunday 1 July 2012 Web: Bramham Drama Group A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: Bramham Village Hall, Bramham Dates: June 2012 (Dates TBC) Erewash Musical Society Youth Theatre West Side Story Venue: Duchess Theatre, Chatsworth Dates: 12-14 July 2012 Web: Fulneck Dramatic Society Tempest at Tesco Venue: Fulneck Comenuis Arts Centre Dates: Winter 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Indulgence Theatre Company A Sonnet for Ann Venue: The Room Upstairs, The Drill Hall, Lincoln Dates: 25-27 April 2012 Web: Bingley Little Theatre Macbeth Venue: Bingley Arts centre Dates: 14-19 May 2012 Web:

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Chads Theatre Company The Careful Glover Venue: Chads Theatre, Cheadle Dates: 20-27 October 2012 Web:

Masque Theatre The Tempest Venue: Abington Park Museum Courtyard, Northampton July-Aug 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Alsager Community Theatre Twelfth Night Venue: Little Moreton Hall, Congleton, Cheshire Dates: 14-23 July 2011 Web:

Abingdon Drama Club All’s Well That Ends Well Venue: Abingdon Arts Festival Dates: 28 - 31 March 2012 Web:

Stockport Garrick Theatre Stuff! Venue: Stockport Garrick Theatre Dates: April 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Horsehay Amateur Dramatic Society Taming of the Shrew Venue: Horsehay Village Hall, Telford Dates: Oct 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Barton Theatre Company Macbeth Venue: Barton Theatre Company Dates: 2012 (Dates TBC)

Caramba Coriolanus Venue: The Hall of the Shakespeare Institute, Stratfordupon-Avon Dates: 26-29 March 2012 Web:

Wilmslow Green Room Society A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: Gawsworth Hall and Quarry Bank Dates: June 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Ilkley Playhouse Measure for Measure Venue: Ilkley Playhouse Dates: 18-28 April 2012 Web: Nottingham Arts Theatre Macbeth Venue: Nottingham Arts Theatre Dates: 27-31 March 2012 Web: The White Circle On Your Imaginary Forces Work Venue: Contact Theatre Dates: Dates TBC Web: Inspiration Theatre Company West Side Story Venue: Pomegrante Theatre, Chesterfield Dates: April 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Liverpool Network Theatre Group Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest Venue: Venues TBC Dates: Dates TBC Web:

RSC Codsall Dramatic Society We Happy Few Venue: Codsall Village Hall Dates: 7-10 March 2012 Web:

Phizzical Picture House (Based on Cymbeline) Venue: Upper Brown Street (previously Arts Centre), Leicester Dates: 11-14 April 2012 Web: Rugby Theatre Society Romeo and Juliet Venue: Rugby Theatre, Rugby Dates: 12-19 May 2012 Web: ADHOC Lovers Complaint Venue: The Harrold Centre and possibly Hinwick House Dates: 5-7 April 2012 Pattingham Drama Group Bottoms’ Up’ - Rustic Shakespeare in a rural setting Venue: Venues around the village of Pattingham, South Staffordshire Dates: 16-19 May 2012 with the festival on Saturday 19 May 2012 Web: Cumnor Players The Darke Years: Shakespeare 1585-1592 Venue: Cumnor Village Hall or Cumnor Cricket Club(TBC) Dates: June-July 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Bridgnorth A Tempest in a Teacup (working title) Venue: Community Halls in Bridgnorth (TBC) Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC)

Henley in Arden Drama Society (HADS) Shakespeare and The Henley Chronicles Venue: Guild Hall, Henley in Arden Dates: Dates TBC Web:

Leicester University Theatre (LU Theatre) Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare Marathon, Measure for Measure, Lost and Found Venue: Queens Hall, University of Leicester and the University Campus Dates: Lost and Found, 23-25 Nov 2011, Measure for Measure, 8-10 Dec 2011, Romeo and Juliet, 21-23 March 2012. Shakespeare Marathon, 18-22 June 2012. Web:

Side by Side Theatre Company Dream On Venue: Stourbridge Town Hall Dates: 20-22 June 2012 Web:

Warwick University Shakespeare Society Macbeth Venue: Coventry Cathedral (TBC) Dates: 8-10 May 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Highbury Theatre Centre Brush up your Shakespeare Venue: Highbury Theatre, Sutton Coldfield Dates: 16 April 2012 and 21 May 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Fruit Cake Theatre Company Shakespeare’s Small Parts (working title) Venue: United Reform Church, Stratford-upon-Avon (TBC) Dates: Spring 2012 (TBC)

Stratford-upon-Avon Gilbert and Sullivan Society A Royal Request Venue: TBC Kenilworth Castle, Warwick Castle, Stratford Armories Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Leicester Drama Society Limited Cymbeline Venue: The Little Theatre’s Hayward Studio Dates: April 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:


Trinity Players Pericles (An adaptation) Venue: Holy Trinity Parish Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon Dates: 26-29 September 2012 Wellington Theatre Company The Merry Wives of Windsor Venue: The Belfrey Theatre, Wellington, Shropshire Dates: 6-8 July and 13-15 July 2012 Web: Hall Green Little Theatre Shakespeare Old Time Music Hall (working title) Venue: Studio, Hall Green Little Theatre, Olton, Solihull Dates: 23-28 April 2012 Web: Quaintwood Players A Midsummer Nights Dream Venue: The Gardens of Shakespeare House, Grendon Underwood Dates: July 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

New Wolsey, Ipswich StageStruck Theatre Romeo and Juliet Venue: The Garden, 66 High Street, Haddenham Dates: July or August 2012 (Dates TBC) Shakespeare at The George Trust (SATG) Loves Labours Lost Venue: The George Hotel, Huntingdon, Cambs Dates:26 June-7 July 2012 Web: The Dovercourt Theatre Group As You Like It Venue: Venue TBC Dates: Summer 2012 (Dates TBC) New Buckenham Players The Merchant of Venice Venue: New Buckenham Village Dates: June 2012 (Dates TBC) Viva Theatre Company Much Ado about Nothing Venue: Anglesey Abbey, Lode, Cambs Dates: 12-14 July 2012 Web: Mere Players Shakespeare Sandwich Venue: Diss Corn Hall Dates: October 2011 and June 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Southend Shakespeare Company Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra Venue: Dixon Studio, Palace Theatre Dates: 20 Nov-1 December 2012 Web: | 7

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OVERTURE Settlement Players The Wise Man Knows Venue: Letchworth, Haynes, Sawston, Welwyn Garden City Dates: March-June 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Llandudno Youth Music Theatre Production TBC Venue: Craig Y Don Sports Community Centre Dates: January 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Open Hand Productions A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: Venue TBC Dates: 21-24 May 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Writtle CARDS and Phoenix Theatre Company Chelmsford A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: Writtle Village Hall Dates: June 2012 (Dates TBC)

Jam Bones Troilus and Cressida Venue: Wales Millennium Centre Dates: Dates TBC Web:

Network Theatre The Tempest Venue: Network Theatre, Waterloo, London Dates: 8-10, 15-17, 22-24 and 29-31 March 2012 Web:

Artisans Drama Society Titus Andronicus Venue: Brentwood Theatre Dates: 18-21 April 2012

Artistic License Romeo and Juliet Venue: Picton Castle, Rhos, nr Haverfordwest Dates: Summer 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Oval House Theatre (Creative Youth) Romeo and Juliet Venue: Oval House Theatre Dates: 12-21 July 2012 Web:

Attfield Theatre Company Production TBC Venue: Attfield Theatre, Owestry Dates: 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Lansbury Players Merchant of Venice Venue: Teviot Neighbourhood Centre (Poplar) and The Space (Isle of Dogs) Dates: September 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

King’s Lynn Players Drama Club Aspects of Love in Shakespeare Venue: Venue TBC Dates: May or June 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Peterborough Mask Theatre The Tempest Venue: Peterborough Central Park Dates: June-July 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

The Owestry Drama (OD) Project The Tempest Venue: The Venue, Park Hall, Owestry Dates: 11-15 July 2012

OVO Coriolanus Venue: OVO @ Pudding Lane, St Albans Dates: March 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

St Paul’s Players Dragons’ based on King Lear Venue: Hamilton House Events Space, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol Dates: 25-28th April 2012

Thurrock Courts Players Much Ado About Nothing Venue: Royal Opera House Production Park, Purfleet, Essex AND Thurrock Drama Festival Dates: 5-6 May 2012 AND 12 June 2012 Web:

Lisvane Players All the World’s a Stage Venue: Lisvane Memorial Hall, Heol-y-delyn, Lisvane, Cardiff Dates: 27-28 April AND 4-7 May 2012

Sherman Theatre Louche Theatre Twelfth Night Venue: Aberystwyth Castle Dates: July 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Class Act Theatre School The Tempest Venue: Pontardawe Arts Centre Dates: 28-29 March 2012 Web: Impatient Vagrant Based on Macbeth (title to be confirmed) Venue: Marlwood School Dates: 24-25 April 2012 Web: Actonians Drama Group The Paddington Tank (Working Title) Venue: Iron Acton Parish Hall Dates: 23-26 May 2012 Web: St Michael’s Players Lord What Fools... Venue: The Settlement Adult Education Centre, Pontypool Dates: March-May 2012 (Dates TBC) Wye Theatre Company The Taming of the Shrew Venue: The Powell Theatre, Hereford Cathedral School and The Kindle Centre Dates: April-May 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Shakespeare Link Spirit of Place Venue: Willow Globe, Llanwrthwl, mid Wales Dates: 25 Aug 2012 Web: X-entricity Theatre As You Like It Venue: Parkfields, Pontshill, Ross on Wye (TBC) Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Newport Playgoers Society No Holds Bard Venue: The Dolman Theatre, Kingsway, Newport Dates: 14-17 March 2012 Web: Blackwood Little Theatre Gentlemen and Players Venue: Blackwood Little Theatre and Tour Dates: Feb-June 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Everyman Theatre Cardiff Ltd The Comedy of Errors, A Rose by Any Other Name, Falstaff and Hamlet Venue: St Fagans National History Museum and Chapter Arts Centre Dates: Comedy of Errors, 20-30 July 2011, A Rose by Any Other Name (Dates TBC), Falstaff (July 2012 Dates TBC), Hamlet (Winter Season 2012-2013 Dates TBC) Web:

Questors Archway Theatre Horley A Winter’s Tale Venue: Archway Theatre Main House Dates: April-May 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Theydon Bois Drama Society Macbeth Venue: Theydon Bois Village Hall Dates: 16-19 May 2012 Web: Iver Heath Drama Club Fifteen Minute Hamlet Venue: Iver Heath Village Hall Dates: April 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The People’s Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: The Sir Bernard Miller Centre, The Odney Club Cookham Dates: 12-15 May 2011 Web:

Good Company Theatre Group Olympus - The Musical Venue: Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon and Minack Theatre, Cornwall Dates: May 2012 (Dates TBC) Folkestone and Hythe Operatic Society Production TBC Venue: The Tower Theatre Dates: Summer 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The Dulwich Players Pericles Venue: The Crown and The Greyhound Pub, Dulwich Village Dates: July 2012 (TBC) Web: Teddington Theatre Club All’s Well That Ends Well Venue: Hampton Hill Playhouse Dates: 29 Jan-4 Feb 2012 Web: Argosy Players Romeo and Juliet Venue: Compass Theatre, Ickenham Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The Tower Theatre Company Baba Shakespeare Venue: Central London and the Minack Theatre Dates: Spring 2012 and Summer 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: Sevenoaks Shakespeare Society Macbeth Venue: The Stag Community Arts Centre, Sevenoaks Dates: (Dates TBC) Web: Southside Players Julius Caesar Venue: Chesthut Grove Drama Hall, Balham Dates: 15-18 February 2012 Web: The CornerHOUSE Community Arts Centre Much Ado About Nothing Venue: The Corner HOUSE Community Arts Centre Dates: June 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: KDC Modern Shakespeare History Project Venue: TBC (London Fringe) Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre The Tempest Venue: The Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre, Crayford Dates: 30 June-7 July 2012 Web:

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Company of Ten Much Ado about Nothing and The Sonnets Venue: Abbey Theatre, St Albans Dates: 24 Feb-10 March 2012 Web:

Petersfield Performing Arts Federation Lord and Ladies (A version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Venue: St Peters Church yard or The Heath (TBC) Dates: July 2012 (Dates TBC)

BOATE (Bexley Open Air Theatre Event) Henry V Cultural Olympic event Venue: Foots Cray Meadows, Bexley, Kent Dates: 24-27 August 2012 Web:

Shaftesbury Arts Centre (Music and Drama Group) S-Factor Venue: Shaftesbury Abbey Ruins Dates: June-July 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Hubbub Theatre The Sonnets Venue: Site-Specific outdoor space in Essex Dates: May 2012 (Dates TBC)

Bench Theatre Love’s Labour’s Lost and Cymbeline Venue: The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre Dates: Loves Labours Lost, Feb 2012 (Dates TBC) Cymbeline, 19-28 April 2012 Web:

Bromley Little Theatre Twelfth Night Venue: Bromley Little Theatre Dates: 18-25 February 2012 John Lewis Partnership Dramatic Society Back to the Bosom of the Bard Venue: The Odney Club , Cookham, Berks Dates: Summer 2012 (Dates TBC)

The Maskers Theatre Company A Midsummer Night’s Dream Venue: The Maskers’ Studio, Emsworth Road, Southampton, SO15 3LX AND Hamptworth Lodge, Landford, Salisbury, SP5 2EA Dates: 11-21 July 2012 Web:

Threepenny Theatre Tarquin of Cheapside Venue: Venue TBC Dates: Spring 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

The Guernsey Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Club Sea Change Venue: Princess Royal Performing Arts Centre, Guernsey Dates: 3-5 May 2012 Web:

Woodhouse Players Goodnight Desmonda (Good Morning Juliet) Venue: Welsh Church Hall, Leytonstone, London Dates: Summer / Autumn 2012 (Dates TBC) Web:

Funtington Players We Happy Few Venue: The Village Hall, West Ashling Dates: 24-28 April 2012 Web:

Pinner and Hatch End Operatic Society Kiss Me Kate Venue: Watersmeet Theatre, Rickmansworth Dates: 19-23 June 2012 Web:

New Theatre Productions The Taming of the Shrew Venue: The Pergola Open Air Theatre,West Dean Gardens, nr Chichester Dates: Dates TBC

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company Return to the Forbidden Planet, Wyrd Sisters Venue: The Boxmoor Playhouse Dates: RTFP - 26-29 January 2012, WS - 16-19 May 2012 Web:

Hall for Cornwall, Truro End of The Line Theatre A Splash of Shakespeare Venue: The Jubilee Pool, Penzance Dates: June 2012 (Dates TBC)


Isis Productions The Earth Doth Sing Venue: Penlee Park Open Air Theatre Dates: 26-30 July (Dates TBC)

Carnon Downs Drama Group The Tempest Venue: Trelissick Gardens on Fal Estuary, Truro Dates: 20-23 June 2012 Web: Gadzooks Theatre Company Love’s Labour’s Lost Venue: The Muse Theatre, Lipson Community College, Bernice Terrace, Plymouth Dates: 19-21 March 2012 Web: South Devon Players Macbeth Venue: Brixham Theatre Dates: July-August 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The Elysium Theatre Company The War of the Roses Venue: Venue TBC Dates: July-August 2012 (Dates TBC) Troy Players The Wyrd Sisters Venue: Fowey Town Hall Dates: May 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: The Tavonians Theatre Company The Caper Through Shakespeare Venue: Central Tavistock and Buckland Abbey, Tavistock Dates: April 2012 and July 2012 (Dates TBC) Web: St. Agnes Theatre Players Comedy of Errors Venue: Wheal Friendly, St. Agnes Dates: July 2012 (Dates TBC) Luxulyan Dramatic Society Brush up your Shakespeare (Working title) Venue: Luxulyan Village Hall Dates: May (Dates TBC)

The Questors Theatre Romeo & Juliet AND Othello Venue: Questors Theatre, Ealing Dates: March 2012 Onwards (Dates TBC) Web:

Nuffield, Southampton Royal Navy Theatre Association Much Ado About Nothing Venue: Royal Navy site, Portsmouth TBC Dates: July 2012 (Dates TBC) Studio Theatre Measure for Measure Venue: Studio Theatre, Salisbury Dates: 24-28 July 2012 Web: Yeovil Youth Theatre TBC Venue: Venue TBC Dates: Dates TBC Web: Titchfield Festival Theatre Shakespeare and Titchfield, Comedy of Errors, Loves Labour’s Lost, Henry V Venue: St Margaret’s Arts Centre, St Margaret’s Lane, Titchfield Dates: Shakespeare and Titchfield 4-14 July 2012, Comedy 8-28 July 2012, Love Labour’s 15-25 Aug 2012, Henry V 17-28 Oct 2012 Web: | 9 rsc.indd 7

11/12/2011 13:07


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11/12/2011 05/12/2011 23:49 15:35


s g n i s u M Jane’s My late father (I hate that expression, my father was never late for anything) never threw anything away, as my mother and I discovered after his death. His words were always, “It might come in handy”. We knew that he kept everything, of course, but it wasn’t until we started going through his things that we realised that he literally kept everything! We had every MOT Certificate for my mother’s H reg car, as well as household bills going back years, not to mention the tins of canned fish and chopped tomatos (it was almost as if he was preparing for war). I also found a suitcase with every bank statement he had ever received, going back to the 1950’s! I’ve always laughed at my father for this hoarding, but I had cause to think twice about it a while after that. I lived with two lodgers, both of whom were and still are amdrammers and friends. One of them wanted to move into a larger room in my house, and once he has proved that he planed to stay awhile I agreed. The problem being was that the room he wanted was my storage room (hence the reluctance to give it to him originally). The move involved shifting everything out of his current room into my bedroom, moving everything that was upstairs downstairs into his old room and then moving all his stuff upstairs. I think that makes sense. Not too difficult an operation you would think. However, I had forgotten how much stuff I had “stored” upstairs. As we were going through my beloved “junk” moving it from point A to point B, I realised that most of it related to theatre. Did I really need to keep that handmade, freestanding ship’s wheel from pantomime eight years ago? Would these white doctors’ coats ever be used again? Were these three wigs ever going to be used? As Lee questioned me on each item I replied “But it might come in handy” over and over again. I guess I really am my father’s daughter! Incidentally the suitcase mentioned above was kept, more for sentimental reasons than anything else, my father had travelled quite a lot with it. A couple of years later it made a starring appearance in ‘Allo ‘Allo, true to the period! And in case you’re wondering, I gave up the ship’s wheel! But I did start clearing the garage out later and found collapsible handcarts and a hillock made of papermache and chicken wire!

Not making a drama out of a crisis since 1997 Did you know that: - is free to use? You can list your group? You can list your productions? You can list your auditions? You can search for props, sets, etc? You can sell items after productions? You can read reviews of playscripts? You can chat in the forum?

Why not visit today? The free online place for the amateur theatre community

I talk to other amdrammers and they say the same thing. Wardrobe and props are always kept because they might come in handy. Perhaps local groups should club together and hire storage space, then individuals can get their houses back. The other alternative is to recycle and that’s where I’m particularly proud of It gives groups the opportunity to “pass on” used props, costumes etc as well as to find “stuff” for their next production. But why should this recycling be restricted to inanimate objects? I’ve performed with various different groups over the years, and several times with more than one group at the same time. But somehow I’m always made to feel like it’s something bad, that I’m “prostituting” myself. Why can’t amateur theatre people belong to more than one group? I can understand that people who put a lot of time and effort in behind the scenes waiting for their chance would get annoyed if someone came in, got cast in a starring role and then disappeared again, but is this always a bad thing? Men have always been a problem, but in this piece I’m referring to them in amateur theatre. Surely it’s better for someone who is perfect for the part to audition and ensure that the play actually reaches opening night? Or do people want to be cast regardless of how inappropriate they are to part involved? Sometimes you need someone of a particular age who isn’t currently available within your group. Should you try and age someone else, ignore the age discrepancy and carry on regardless or find someone outside the group? In my experience it’s always been worthwhile using someone else, and you never know what other talents they can bring to your group.

Jane If you want to write to Jane you can do it care of this magazine or via email – She would be delighted to hear from you and who knows she might even muse about your comments. | 11

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LAzy bee scripts

All the latest from the publishers.

Aladdin dot com, a panto by Ian Hornby – variable casting The traditional pantomime story of Aladdin but with a modern twist – the plot is littered with computer jokes. The audience is challenged at the start to cheer, jeer and boo whenever they hear one. Evil Cabanazar and his “mini-me” lookalike Mini are after the lamp and dupe Aladdin to get it for them. But Aladdin won’t give it up without a fight. His eyes are set on the beautiful Princess Jasmine - definitely not her overweight sister Princess Wontun. Aladdin is helped in his quest by Wishee and the Widow Twankee and hampered by the palace guards Sweet and Sour. Richard James is an actor and playwright. (Amongst numerous TV credits are 24 episodes of Gerry Anderson’s “Space Precinct” in which he was unrecognisable under the prosthetics of Officer Orrin.) His latest full-length play is “A Fete Worse Than Death”, a murder mystery and comedy rolled into one. The murder mystery is beautifully crafted and paced whilst the comedy comes from character, situation, and very snappy dialogue. Actor Ray Martin is opening the village fete, playing on his fame as TV’s “Inspector Brady”. Little does he know that ambition, infidelity and marrow envy will lead to murder, which he’ll be left to solve – without a script! (Four men, three women and a brilliantly simple marquee setting.)


Samuel French Ltd are pleased to announce the publication of THE MADDENING RAIN by Nicholas Pierpan. This riveting and hard hitting monologue is currently touring the UK before touring the US throughout autumn and winter 2011. The performance rights have been released so please do contact our Amateur Rights Department to find out more.

Some plays are hard to categorise. On the one hand, such originality is a good thing. On the other hand, it’s difficult to guide someone searching for a play if you can’t pigeon-hole it. This problem is manifest in “Happiness” by Paul Mathews; the nearest convenient peg to hang it on is “romantic comedy”, but that doesn’t really do justice to the serious moments and themes of the play scattered amongst the comedy and romance. As with all plays from Lazy Bee Scripts, you can make up your own mind by reading the full text on the web site. (A full-length play for three men and four women, with a single domestic set.)

THRILL ME by Stephen Dolginoff is also available for amateur performance. This dark and tense musical is based on the true story of Leopold and Loeb who killed a young boy in 1924 in order to commit the ‘perfect crime’. For more information please contact the Samuel French Musicals Department.

Moving into one-act territory, there’s “Jump”, a black comedy by Australian writer Johnny Grim. The action is split between ground level and a rooftop parapet. Given the title, you can probably guess why. Then there’s a modern interpretation of a medieval mummers’ play in the form of “Brave Saint George” by Kate Goddard.

We also have a release in LIFE AND BETH by Alan Ayckbourn. It’s Christmas and Beth is mourning the loss of her husband but her son and sister-in-law have come to stay to ensure that she has a stress free holiday. However they don’t count on the ghost of Gordon turning up to look after Beth himself!

In even shorter territory, Lazy Bee Scripts publishes sketches, skits and short plays. New in the monologues category is “Lorelei” by Jonathan Edgington. (A dramatic monologue in this case, thought there are also comic pieces available.)

Our latest Panto is LITTLE BO PEEP by Paul Reakes. His riotous retelling of the classic nursery rhyme features all the traditional pantomime elements as well as magic, dancing and an extraordinarily talented cow!

TLC Creative have just put the finishing touches to the third in their line of spoof audio advertisement CDs. These are designed as foyer or interval announcements (generally appropriate to panto or family shows). The latest set of parodies includes adverts for Strictly Come Lancing (the contest for B-list celebrity knights) and iGlass (the latest innovation from Poisoned Apple) . The CDs can be found on the Lazy Bee Scripts web site, along with greetings cards, customembroidered clothing and other theatrical goodies.

Samuel French ltd are also pleased to announce that we are now handling amateur rights in several Joe Penhall titles; LANDSCAPE WITH WEAPON, WILD TURKEY, SOME VOICES, PALE HORSE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING and The BULLET.

NEW THEATRE PUBLICATIONS New releases this month include:Funny Business, a comedy by Dave Withey (2-3m 3-4f) Simpkins is the office workaholic they all rely on - until he suddenly drops down dead. But who will get his job? Jack, the office Romeo with a divorce to pay for, or Tony, the ambitious and devious executive? Both want to appear keen to get the promotion - while working hard to avoid it! Combines strong character comedy with visual laughs and a unique beginning. As Simpkins’ secrets are revealed, the plot twists right to the feel-good ending. It’s also flexible - the 14 parts can be performed by two men and four women. Jack and the Beanstalk, a panto by Pat Jones and Brian Travers – variable casting A full length pantomime with 12 principal parts, a cow and a goose and a chorus of adults and children. The people of Loose Chippings live in fear of the Giant. With the help of some magic beans and his friend Fairy Lights, Jack Trott sets off to climb the huge beanstalk. Squire Fumble-Trumpet’s henchmen, Chip and Pin, have been instructed to turn Jack’s mum, Polyester Trott, out of her cottage if she can’t find the rent. To save his mum, brothers Clever Dick and Simple Simon and win the hand of the Squire’s niece, Jill, Jack must find his fortune. The Giant is frightening enough but his assistant, Fleshcreep, is a nasty piece of work who will stop at nothing, even kidnapping and cooking the principal girl, to serve his master.

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BACKSTAGE The characterisation is excellent. Alan and his wife can barely stand each other but they loved each once and the author hasn’t forgotten that. Laura’s parents have a much more stable relationship but, at times like these when the cracks begin to show, this is subtly done. Driving Force is an opportunity for actors to show us what they can do and I am particularly pleased to see a strong role for a teenager in an adult play.


AreMiLLer you paying over £200 for your Organisation’s Insurance? Luise Nick Hern Books ISBNHowever, NO: 9781848421479 it is Reagan that introduces the first note of conflict. His invasion of Grenada CAST: 3F over7M concerns that Russia and Cuba were planning to use the island as a re-fuelling stopFull were highly criticised by the British monarch, Head of State of the island, and TYPE: Length


His mind is as empty as the first page of the play he is supposed to be writing. Then Then, in the midst of the horror, comes humour. Two protesters, Margaret and Lorraine, he has an idea. How about a stage direction discuss the problems of trying to keep everyone happy: the difficulties in arranging the tocooking get himroster, going?how Thunder andupsetting lightning? A to avoid delicate emotions and how to remain ‘politically Circus? Let’s start the withterm the had characters, correct’No? years before even been invented. Within the first few pages the then. thispresented point ausman woman authorAthas with and the both big picture and the practicalities of organising a appear the Helen stage,iscompletely protest.onWhen the victim ofwooden an attack by local residents, angry at the notoriety because playwright hasn’t brought caused the by the campaign, she yet returns home to a confrontation with her husband. For them toweeks life. she has been away ‘registering her protest’ leaving him feeling inadequate seven unableWriter’s to cope with running the house Soandbegins Block, a subject that on his own. In an allusion to the cold war the leadstothem bothDunlop’s to threatening isarguments perhaps dear Lauren heart to unleash their weapons, the power to hurt oneone another, unless the other backs down. and that has certainly produced a very They don’t want to use these weapons, they just want thelittle otherplay. sideThe to know that theyinhave them. entertaining playwright Make-up Hair Prosthetics Ai our story makes the mistake of deciding it is 2009. protest but now the participants are slick, choreographed for Fashion / TV / Film / Theatr thatSuddenly his woman shouldAnother have ‘an attitude’ and as breathtakingly efficient. responsible for talking to the press, to and, a result, things soon They spiralhave out people of Short courses the police even, and the arguments are not about who is going to cook, but whointensive is going his control. Things don’t quite go the way to appear on Newsnight. The child Helen was carrying in 1984 is James, a product of the heroine had imagined, however, as her Greenham Common and very much his mother’s son who is dismayed at how things dreams are spoiltbut byitthe villain of the piece have changed, is Lillian, a woman already in her fifties at Greenham, who brings being, homewell, whyvillainous. it is important that ordinary people continue to stand up for what they www.grease Writer’s clever andisfunny and something that will be enjoyed by cast and believe Block in, andiswhy protest still relevant. audience alike. With the villain being the only British character it should do well in the American but of there no reason work why itbefore shouldn’t also betoenjoyed on theWimmin British Having market read some LucyisKirkword’s I expected enjoy Bloody stage. and I was not disappointed. This is another fine play from a remarkably gifted writer.

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her government. However, it was Mrs Thatcher that Reagan chose to apologise to by

telephone. “Why he ringMiller. me?”He asks Ferdinand is in lovedidn’t with Luise is Queen Elizabeth. the son of a Chancellor: the chief minister thisprince episode between the two women begins to break down. to a After German andthetherelationship most powerful The monarch’s concern the daughter commonwealth conflicted with Mrs Thatcher’s desire statesman in the land. Shefor is the do what court was best, in herand opinion, for Britain and Britain alone. Disagreements over of to a humble musician marrying sanctions against South Africa, the government’s handling of the miner’s strike and an outside of one’s class just isn’t done in 18th agreement with the USA to allow missiles to be launched against Libya from our shores Century Germany. A further complication is led to newspapers carrying stories that the Queen was dismayed with her government’s thatpolicies. Luise is pursued by another man; the appropriately named Wurm, who Luise’s father sumstheupQueen’s rather well It was Pressdescribing Secretary,him Michael Shea, who paid the price for the public as squabble a “civil-servile, rat faced, writ scribbling and the House of Windsor and his fate was between the elected government poxsealed blister”. lives words up to his reputation withWurm just three from Mrs Thatcher as he sought to apologise for the trouble by hetelling the Chancellor of were Ferdinand’s had caused. These words “Never mind, dear”. affection and intentions towards Luise. This is proves a very absorbing fascinating period in recent history and another Ferdinand himself toplay be aabout fool.aHe piece quality drama frombya Wurm, highly acclaimed writer. falls for of a scheme, hatched that forces Luise to write a love letter to another man in order to free her father from prison where he has been locked up for defending his daughter. Ferdinand seems destined to marry instead Lady Milford but although her ladyship herself declares that ‘a play must have a happy ending’, it is not to be. In a Plays for review should be submitted to: sense I was quite satisfied that Ferdinand paid the price for his lack of faith in his young Amateur Stage Limited Lucy Kirkwood love but it is8F impossible not to be moved by the sad fact that the innocent must suffer 3rd Floor, 207 Regent Street, London W1B 3HH CAST 7M along with the guilty. Whilst all efforts will be made to review scripts received the publisher cannot A tale seductionexcels and inpolitical manipulation, Mike Poulton’sof adaptation is, at guarrantee reviews. We regret that scripts cannot be returned.The opinions LucyofKirkwood strong imagery. Even her description the set is powerful: times, quite barbed wordy by feels what as contemporary as the television an angry wiremodern fence –standards we knowbut exactly she means. Bloody Wimmin is of our reviewers do not reflect the views and opinions of the publisher. Please programme The ThickofBrokers OftheIt. Greenham Despite in House, fiveprotests acts,14-16 theand overall running time will suit Bridge Limited.being Cobac Charlotte Street, Manchester, 4FL. Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Members of the up to 3 months for publication of review. about theInsurance legacy Common as the action begins it is M1allow British Insurance Brokers Association. modern audiences and the story certainly packs a punch.





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and understanding to the dialogue. The first meeting between the newly elected Mrs 1984 and Helen, a heavily pregnant young mother, describes the effects of radiation Thatcher and her Queen is awkward until they find common ground: their mutual on human beings. The imagery continues as a young child decorates the fence with A playwright stares blankly at his laptop. Friedrich Schiller adaptedReagan. by Mike Poulton admiration for Ronald ribbons before turning to the audience to reveal her bleeding gums.



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05/12/2011 11/12/2011 13:09 23:41


playscri pts


Edgar and Annabel Sam Holcroft Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848422193 CAST: 4M 3F TYPE: Long One Act

Edgar and Annabel is published within Double Feature, the first of two volumes published by Nick Hern Books which bring together four authors who have received their first commissions from the National Theatre. A review of the second play in this volume, The Swan, is included in this month’s column. Sam Holcroft has written some of the most interesting plays that I have read in the last couple of years. Reviews of While You Sleep and Pink have appeared in these pages and her inventive and prolific output bodes well for the future of British theatre. Edgar and Annabel starts with familiar domesticity. Marianne is in the kitchen preparing a salad and when Nick comes in his first line, ‘Hi, honey, I’m home.’ emphasises the ordinariness of it all. Why then does Marianne turn round and stare at Nick in disbelief for a few moments before going on with her routine? When Nick then produces two scripts from his briefcase, and the scene continues with the pair reading their lines, it is clear that something very much out of the ordinary is occurring in this domestic setting. We begin to understand what is going on when, under the cover of the sound made by an electric carving knife, Nick gets Marianne to hide some documents. Echoes here of Big Brother is watching you; or, in this case, listening. Nick and Marianne are playing the roles of Edgar and Annabel as their contribution to a resistance movement seeking to overthrow a

There is much humour drawn from Nick’s initial ineptness at playing the role of Edgar and there is even something for fans of Farndale type comedies as the pair refer to what is clearly a chicken as ‘the salmon’. Over time Nick and Marianne begin to grow quite fond of each other, in contrast to their scripts which has them growing apart. The couple host a party and, as the guests take it in turn to sing karaoke, the others set about assembling the bombs. We sense tension as they approach their big day and Nick, unable to take the pressure, finds himself seriously going off the script. The next day, Marianne is again in the kitchen preparing dinner when her husband comes home. But it isn’t Nick. There has been another replacement. Edgar and Annabel is the sort of play that has us pondering long after the final curtain has fallen; not because anything has been left unexplained but because of all the possibilities that the script has created. Were Nick and his predecessor really arrested by the authorities or were they removed by their own organisations? Which is the greater evil: the totalitarian government or its opposition? The fact that an apparently simple tale can have such depth is a sign of a very good writer. Sam Holcroft is innovative and thought provoking but she never forgets that people go to the theatre to be entertained. This is her best yet.

A Click of the Heels

The Essence of Love

Pauline, middle-aged and overweight, stands before us in her swimming costume, a towel wrapped around her to hide what she sees as her unsightly flesh. She starts to chat. In her conversational manner she tells us about her experiences of bikini waxing, why she calls fast swimmers ‘juliennes’ and of how she auditioned for the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she was a girl.

Imagine that you are the son of the UK’s most popular living playwright and you decide to have a go at writing yourself. What would you do? Write under an assumed name so that nobody can accuse you of using your father’s name to give you a leg up in the industry? Or do use your real name and hope people will judge you on your own merit? Philip Ayckbourn has chosen the latter path and must, therefore, accept the inevitable comparisons with Sir Alan.

Eleanor Fossey J Garnett Miller ISBN NO: 9780853436638 CAST: 1F TYPE: Monologue

Despite clicking her heels until her ankles were sore she didn’t get the part and was instead asked to be Chief Munchkin. She was ideal for the role, explained her teacher, because she was ‘responsible’. Pauline explains to us that, in the language of school auditions, ‘responsible’ means ‘fat’.

David Muncaster reviews the latest playscript offerings.

totalitarian government. They are attempting to give the illusion of normality whilst their house is, in fact, a bomb factory. Nick is actually a replacement for an operative who has been arrested. He is the new Edgar, provided by the movement so that the authorities don’t link the man they have arrested with the property that houses three gallons of petrochemicals. This explains Marianne’s surprise and, in a meeting with their coordinator, she expresses her anger.

This disappointment paved the way for the attitude that Pauline was to have to life. Instead of following the yellow brick road the path she chose was a comfortable beige. Amongst all this self effacing humour there is pathos as well as some real laugh out loud moments such as her description of men’s hairstyles: parted, unparted and departed. Then Pauline meets Max and her life changes forever, though not in a way that we might have expected. She embarks on a new venture during which she learns that it was not the magic slippers that gave Dorothy the power to shape her life but the things that she had all along: courage, enthusiasm and love. This is a very well written monologue which will give an actress the opportunity to run the gauntlet of emotions before we reach the uplifting conclusion.

Philip Ayckbourn Stagescripts ISBN NO: None CAST: 2M 2F with doubling TYPE: Full Length

The Essence of Love is, of course, a love story. On adjoining roof terraces in Marrakesh are Martin with his son, Tom, on one and Diana with her daughter, Gemma, on the other Things are a bit strained for Martin. His son hasn’t forgiven him for running off with “that tart” and the only reason Tom is there on the holiday is because his father’s latest conquest dumped him after it had been booked and paid for. Meanwhile, the couple next door seem like an ideal match and we feel romance must be in the air, but the first time Tom speaks to Gemma his attitude is bordering on being rude. However, his behaviour changes dramatically after drinking a magic potion that Diana slips into his water bottle. She got it from a Moroccan street vendor with the promise that the drinker will fall in love with the first person he sees. Unfortunately, having drunk the potion it is Diana that Tom sees rather than Gemma. With the mismatched pair out on the town, Martin and Gemma are left to try to work out what is going on. Then Gemma chokes on a peanut and Martin passes her Tom’s water bottle to take a drink and, of course, Gemma instantly falls in love with Martin. In an effort to sort it all out Diana purchases an antidote from the street vendor. The potion was free – the antidote is one thousand dirhams – but, with the potion and the antidote in identical phials, this just leads to more confusion, especially when Martin drinks some of the potion then looks in the mirror!


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BACKSTAGE So how does The Essence of Love compare with the plays of Alan Ayckbourn? Well, the elder is no stranger to introducing a fantastical element to an otherwise mundane setting, so the idea of a magic potion in a play aimed at adults has a nice Ayckbourn feel to it. The clear characterisation and the exploration of the nuances of speech make this an accomplished first play but, most importantly, Philip Ayckbourn has found his own voice and produced a script should make his father proud.

As We Forgive Those Andrew Smith Samuel French ISBN NO: 9780573132063 CAST: 3F TYPE: One Act

Alex, a girl in her late teens, sits in her sister’s living room. Sophie, the sister, comes home from work and is shocked to see her: “How did you get in?” she demands. It seems that Alex has broken in through a window and she pleads with her sister not to call the police. She needs help; somewhere to stay. Eventually Sophie agrees but it is clear that there is something very much amiss with the siblings’ relationship. The sisters are very different: Alex survives on the streets, hangs around with gangs and mugs people to make ends meet; Sophie is a Christian, successful in her chosen profession and attractive – apart from a scar on her cheek. Sophie’s flatmate, Jen, comes home, sees Alex, and is convinced that she is the girl who mugged her and stole her mobile phone. Alex, of course, denies it all, but she is soon found out. As We Forgive Those explores the bonds that exist between family and friends with Sophie choosing to stand by her sister despite the permanent reminder that she carries on her face of how Alex has behaved in the past. It is written with a teenage audience in mind but says nothing new.


Anton Chekhov Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848422100 CAST: 7M 5F TYPE: Full Length The very first production of The Seagull was an unmitigated disaster and the play would have been lost to the world had Constantin Stanislavski not rescued it and turned it into a worldwide hit. The first production in 1896 was marked by the actress playing Nina losing her voice, so intimidated was she by the hostile reaction from the audience. Meanwhile, Chekhov left his seat in the audience and hid behind the scenes for the final two acts. Although it is reported that Chekhov was, himself, unhappy with Stanislavski’s production, without it I doubt if audiences would today still be enjoying the genius that is Anton Chekhov. This new translation is by Charlotte Pyke, John Kerr and Joseph Blatchley. They have meticulously undertaken a word by word translation of the original script, restoring and removing cuts and additions made by the censor prior to that catastrophic first production. A challenge for the translators is to use language understood by a modern audience yet still make it feel ‘of the period’. For some reason the phrase ‘Annual Leave’ seems out of place. I can’t recall anyone really using it before the nineteen eighties; it was always just ‘holidays’ but maybe I’ve led a sheltered life. Blatchley claims that restoring the words cut by the censor gives depth to the characters and I suppose it is true that we do gain a better understanding of their motivations though I was, in the main, left pondering what the censor found so awful about phrases such as Polina’s line, “I have been your wife and friend for twenty years.” However, as this play is, in common with most of Chekhov’s writing, more reliant on characterisations than plot, the better we understand their complexities, the better we can enjoy the play. If this new translation results in a few better productions then it has been worth the effort. | 15

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BACKSTAGE The Funeral of Macie Loverett

Three-Quarter Moon

Attached to the back cover of this script is as CD containing a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation. The slides form part of the production which explains the curious statement on the back cover that this is a story that is told, in part, through a variety of fonts. The script also contains lengthy descriptions of the thirteen characters in the prefix and there are yet further instructions as each character enters the action. I feel this is a bit of overkill but at least the actors will be left in no doubt about the type of person they are required to portray.

Three-Quarter Moon is a thriller. The setting is a middle class sitting-cum-dining room with a coffee table set dead centre with an unusual object on it – a heavy looking paperweight about the size of a fist in the shape of a human skull. A potential murder weapon if ever I saw one!

Gytha Lodge Drama Association of Wales ISBN NO: 9781898740933 CAST: 6M 7F TYPE: One Act

We start with the first of the slides being projected onto a screen, the text welcoming the audience and giving us an example of the type of humour we can expect. Then the first of Macie’s family enters and the bickering begins. In the next scene the slides tell us that it is after dinner and this is where the conversation first turns to fonts: “If you thought in a font what font do you think it would be?” asks Spiro, son of the departed. He thinks he would be Rage Italic. He did consider Rockwell Extra Bold but felt this too straightforward for a complex person such as himself. After some consideration, Lausanne, his sister, settles on Copperplate Gothic Bold. Spiro mocks her: she might as well have chosen Times New Roman! I assume that the fonts being discussed are supposed to match the slides in the Powerpoint presentation but on my computer they all displayed as Calibri. However, technical issues aside, good use is made of the slides to display the unspoken thoughts as the guests begin to assemble. As the story develops we delve deep into the minds of the characters and their relationships. I became totally absorbed by this odd group of personalities and what they could tell me about the departed Macie. We learn of a life that Macie kept secret throughout her marriage, the reason why her children have such unusual names and that love will always win in the end. The Funeral of Macie Loverett is consuming, witty and intelligent; a play that would be demanding to perform but well, well worth the effort.

The Swan

D C Moore Nick Hern Books ISBN NO: 9781848422193 CAST: 3M 4 TYPE: Long One Act This is the play that accompanies Edgar and Annabel in Double Feature, the first of two volumes published by Nick Hern Books. The Swan is a pub in Lambeth, London. There is a short prologue set in 1956 then we are in the present day with Jim standing in the doorway, cigarette in mouth, attempting to keep the smoke outside. When it is clear that there is no one around he enters the pub, still smoking, and helps himself to a beer, all the time shouting out good natured threats to the absent landlord. The Swan is the sort of pub that seldom gets busy, barely surviving due to its inability to attract any passing trade. Today, however, there is a buffet wrapped in clingfilm which Jim barely acknowledges. He sits with his pint and is joined by Russell. With still no sign of the landlord the pair engage in coarse but witty banter and it becomes clear that these men come from very different backgrounds. Jim was virtually born in the pub, whilst Russell chooses it simply because it is the type of place in which his wife would not be seen dead. Speaking of which, the buffet, it transpires, is for a reception following a funeral, possibly the last “do” the pub will host before the developers move in, and there is an awkwardness in the air as both of the men acknowledge that they really ought to be at the service. Jim is a very engaging character, his use of very strong language disguising an intelligence and charm that make him hard to dislike, even when we learn that his presence in the pub is due to him wishing to avoid the funeral for his own son. As other family members arrive we get a little insight into their complicated lives and how Jim, in his own way, is struggling to keep it together. All the characters have dialogue that is fresh and free flowing and, though the strong language will put a lot of people off this particular play, D C Moore does demonstrate here a talent that promises much for the future.

Bryan Darby Jasper Publishing ISBN NO: 9781906997328 CAST: 3M 3F + 1M with Doubling TYPE: Full Length

Enter Laura, the lady of the house. She is bustling around preparing for a dinner party and awaiting the arrival of her husband. The front door opens and closes and she calls his name but gets nothing in return except silence. Paperweight at the ready, she prepares herself for an intruder but it turns out to just to be Helen, her neighbour. The first attempt at humour comes as the pair reminisce about old boyfriends. The he-turned-out-to-be-gay punchline was so obvious I found myself wishing them to just get it over with so that we could return to the plot. Once we do so we learn that Laura is very happily married. She tells Helen that she adores her husband, but that adoration doesn’t apparently mean that she trusts him. She is suspicious of him having an affair, her evidence being that, though he often brings gossip home from the office, he has never mentioned his new secretary. So, when he telephones to say that he is leaving immediately to go on a business trip, and Laura believes she hears a voice in the background, her imagination goes into overdrive and she throws the paperweight into the hall in frustration. Moments later Paul, Laura’s husband, staggers in with a head wound explaining that he has been in a car accident. Helen is a nurse and attempts first aid but Paul will have none of it and refuses to go to hospital. When Helen leaves there is a fight and it is Laura that is in need of medical attention. Red herrings come thick and fast as the story becomes ever more baffling. Helen returns, the dinner guests arrive and then the police turn up investigating Paul’s accident. At odds with what we have just seen, the accident happened fifteen miles away and, what is more, both occupants of the car were killed. The significance of the skull shaped paperweight is finally revealed as we enter the world of the supernatural before a final scene that is a repeat of the first one except that it ends differently. Three-Quarter Moon is a terrifically tangled web of a tale which I fear could confuse audiences into losing track. The story is certainly imaginative but perhaps it has just too many elements. Plays for review should be submitted to: Amateur Stage Limited 3rd Floor, 207 Regent Street, London W1B 3HH Whilst all efforts will be made to review scripts received the publisher cannot guarrantee reviews. We regret that scripts cannot be returned.The opinions of our reviewers do not reflect the views and opinions of the publisher. Please allow 3/4 months for publication of review.



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Samuel French Ltd The play publisher play publisher and leasing agents New releases!

Prince of Denmark

A one-act play by Michael Lesslie Cast 10 characters. Extras sCene Simple settings This prelude to Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy was commissioned by the National Theatre Discover Programme in 2010. It provides a fascinating back-story to Hamlet and a sophisticated insight into the psyche of its hero. “superb ... breathtakingly eloquent ... shockingly funny.” Nancy Groves, Price £5.25

The Sociable Plover

A one-act play by Tim Whitnall Cast M2, Voices. sCene A bird hide Nothing will stop Roy Tunt from spotting his wild birds and with one more tick in his dog-eared notebook he will have recorded all 567 species on the British List. The conditions are ideal and the time is perfect to spot an elusive vagrant, the rare and beautiful Sociable Plover. “This quirky two-hander has real charm ... there is as much humour as pathos to be found in Tim Whitnall’s tightly written script.” – Time Out Price £6.50

Thrill Me

A musical by Stephen Dolginoff Cast M2. Voices sCene Simple settings Thrill Me is based on the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two 19-year-olds who murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago in 1924. With simple staging requirements, this tense, two-character musical drama explores the unusual love story behind the “crime of the century”. “Thrill Me is thrilling indeed.” Evening Standard Libretto Price £9.50. Music available on hire French’s Theatre Bookshop 52 Fitzroy St London W1t 5JR Tel: 020 7255 4300 Fax: 020 7387 2161 Email:

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drama training



Amateur Stage Magazine continue our training section. If you are interested in a career in professional theatre either on stage or behind the scenes, then you will find these pages very helpful. Each month we bring you top advice and information, course ideas and all the latest news from the training world. This month, we give you the best

guidance for when it comes to your acting audition. Do not step one foot in the audition room until you’ve read this valuable advice! We take a look at training in the art of puppetry, as well as the skilled training of radio actors. Take control of your career, and read on!

NEWS * NEWS * NEWS * NEWS * NEWS * NEWS * NEWS * NEWS STUDENT PRODUCTION INSIGHT Why not see a student production to gain insight into what drama school graduates are capable of? Combining the talents of the Acting, Music and Technical Theatre Departments of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is a collaborative student-led production, bringing together departments and individuals within the Guildhall School of Music & Drama to perform a piece of new writing. Originally a novel by Irish author Roddy Doyle, this adaptation by Guildhall student Sarah Elizabeth Harrison brings the story of Paula Spencer to the stage. Paula is trapped in an abusive relationship, struggling to bring up her children and deal with her alcohol problems. However, when the police arrive at the door everything could change... Admission is free, however there is limited availability due to the short run of this production. Arrive early to avoid disappointment. Saturday 7 January at 7:30PM - Silk Street Theatre.

RADA YOUTH ACTING WORKSHOPS RADA Youth Acting Workshops offer people between the ages of 16 and 24 the chance to experience the kind of training that RADA students go through every day. The morning session of each workshop (10am1pm) is run by RADA graduates who have completed RADA’s Graduate Training Programme and the afternoon session (2-5pm) taken by RADA teaching staff or a guest director (see details online at the school’s workshop diary). Typically morning sessions work on general acting exercises whilst afternoons focus on the title of that week’s workshop. The morning session complements the afternoon’s work but may not be directly related to the title of the workshop.

To submit news, article or interview suggestions, please email us at

JUNIOR CONSERVATOIRE OF MUSIC Music-making can transform and at the Junior Conservatoire of Music in Scotland, they aim to change lives. But they also like to have fun! Whether it’s your individual music lesson to make you the best you can be, playing in the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Wind Orchestra or the Big Band, singing in the Choir or taking part in music workshops, Saturdays will never be the same. The Conservatoire, part of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, have some of the country’s best teachers, enjoying Scotland’s best facilities and engaging with some of the most talented young musicians from far and wide. You too can be one of them. Classes take place from mid-September until June and each year about 270 students attend. There is a wide variety of music classes available for each student. Students may also have the opportunity to take part in, or attend, concerts at a number of venues around Scotland. Since all the classes are held on a Saturday, students can enjoy their music-making without interruption to their normal weekday school and family life. The atmosphere is supportive, encouraging and welcoming - above all, students are encouraged to fully develop their musical potential.

EAST 15 GRADUATE CAST IN NEW BOYLE FILM Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle seems to be keen on East 15 actors for his new projects. Following on from BA Acting graduate Mark Armstrong being cast in Boyle’s stage version of Frankenstein at the National Theatre alongside Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch earlier this year, another East 15 graduate has been cast in his latest movie, the re-make of the art theft story Trance. Wahab Sheikh, who graduated from the BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre course in the summer, has been cast as Riz. He goes directly to the set from his success in Edinburgh where his play Thugz n Tearz has finished a run at Zoo Roxy, Edinburgh Festival. The play picked up some great reviews and April de Angelis is quoted as naming Sheikh “A modern day Jacobean”.


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IT’S A PUPPET! Who said puppetry was for kids? Karla Crome looks at the art form that is working its way into mainstream theatre and discovers the possibilities are endless.


pparently, puppetry doesn’t begin and end with Sooty and Sweep. With shows such as Avenue Q and War Horse having generated sell-out shows (in the West End and Broadway) and receiving rave reviews, the theatre industry has been forced to wake up and notice this art form - and it aint just for kids. November 2009 saw the launch of the Suspense Puppetry Festival, the first cross London puppetry festival in 25 years. The festival, produced by The Little Angel Theatre, covered a massive spectrum of performance from object manipulation, marionette theatre and glove puppets. Even objects blowing in the wind was discussed - That’s ephemeral animation to you, thank you very much.

It seems then, that graduates from courses such as these have not only the added edge of the unique skill of puppet and object manipulation, but are also accomplished performers. With handfuls of school leavers applying for further and higher education in visual and performing arts, why are courses such as this one in such a small minority? “I think that a lot of young people are not aware of puppetry enough and simply wouldn’t know that the course existed. At the age of 18-20 when most people are applying to University / Drama School they are generally more interested in acting, which is natural at this age, it’s when people want to be seen. Puppeteers often don’t want to be seen!”

And guess what? It was all for us grown-ups. The stigma of puppetry being predominantly for children is aptly described as ‘the Punch and Judy hangover’ by Lynette Shansbury, General Manager of The Little Angel. “Puppetry has been largely pushed in children’s theatre direction because it fits nicely, and actually, funding wise its had to find somewhere to fit into. We’re our own distinct art form and we have a lot more to offer than just entertaining kids.” Indeed, the use of the mask and puppetry has the power to magnify the grotesque, often reflecting the darker sides of human emotions and relationships. One such company is Bristol’s acclaimed puppet theatre Green Ginger (pictured) who bought Rust to the festival, a satirical glimpse into a future dystopia in which mutants live a submarine, transmitting rock music to the shores. A far cry from muffin the mule. Although puppeteers hail from many backgrounds, training in puppetry is also working its way into mainstream theatre education. The Little Angel Theatre works closely with students on the puppetry course at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Central pioneered the 1st UK degree in Puppet Theatre and is a leading institution in puppetry training. To the average philistine (namely me) a ‘degree in puppets ‘ is somewhat baffling. Cariad Astles, lecturer in puppetry and object theatre at Central, points out what she looks for in potential students.

One student who can stand to be upstaged by a puppet is second year student, Joanna Hurby. “I have no background in performance whatsoever, which means that I see puppetry in a very visual way, which can sometimes be a problem, but its an interesting problem...” Joanna, who considers herself to be first and foremost a visual artist, was drawn to the course after an art foundation degree - in search of something different. However, she recognises the variety of talents needed to make a successful puppetry student. “I think everyone who does puppetry has to be quite’s a scary thing doing a subject like this; you have a lot of questions like what am I going to do with this afterwards? How big is the market? You have to know what you want. [Puppetry] welcomes so many different things and the more random and diverse the people are the better it is.’ As the art form begins to creep further into mainstream theatre, so training is edging its way into the curriculum at Theatre Institutions - The Little Angel Theatre also runs regular Adult Puppetry Workshops. Edward Gordon Craig said theatre students should study puppetry as part of their essential vocabulary. In this climate it’d be hard to disagree.

“A sensitivity towards materials, design, the visual element and performing and an interest in animation. Some degree of both visual and performing skill. They must be able to do both. Often the best puppeteers come from visual arts backgrounds, but often performers make the best puppeteers too as they are able to exist on stage in collaboration with the object or material.” | 19

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RADIO DRAMA: A CAREER IN JUST YOUR VOICE Radio Acting is arguably the most challenging. With 90% of communication non-verbal, facial expressions, gestures and eye contact are essential to convey the majority of emotion and meaning. This leaves only 10% of their dramatic armory to create and convey a believable character and engrossing atmosphere, writes Helen Dunning. Marilyn Le Conte, senior lecturer at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, has taught radio drama at Royal Welsh College since 1986 and is co-author of the Radioactive series of radio audition books and a freelance dialect consultant. “There are four essentials to making radio drama,” she says. “Voice, sound effects, music and silence.” She cites Carleton Hobbs, the legendary radio actor, who lived by the mantra, less is more, and was renowned for expressing emotion and presence with very few words. BBC Radio Drama’s Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award is one of the year’s main highlights for final year undergraduates and MA students. Around 80 students from 20 UK drama colleges compete each year for this prestigious award and the Royal Welsh College has produced eight winners and four runners up since 1996. Rhys Jennings won the award in 2008 and went on to work with the BBC Radio Drama Company for five months. Jennings relishes the challenges of mastering radio acting; “You have to use small intonations in your voice as you are close to the microphone so you can’t bawl out a Shakespearian monologue.” He points out that you must read without sounding as though you are reading and turn pages without making a noise. Radio microphones are extremely sensitive and can be very unforgiving; they pick up every detail so every detail must be perfect! “You aren’t using your body in the same way so you have to put absolute focus into your voice and the sounds you make,” he explains. A wide range of expression and colour must be expertly portrayed by the voice, a very specific art. “You can really make people listen to the smallest sound,” whispers Le Conte. She continues, “In radio you can play any character that suits your voice: you may not be typically good-looking but in radio, if you sound like Romeo, you can play Romeo! You’re also much more likely to land a lead role as, unlike film and television, radio has no star culture. On screen you can sometimes look grim when you’re not supposed to, but on the radio you can look like the wrath of God and nobody cares as long as you sound like an angel!”. Other advantages to radio acting include the speed with which a radio project can be produced due to the lack of visuals, meaning that a radio job can be done in a day or less – although more usually 2-3 days. There is more new writing in radio than in any other genre, bar Hollywood film, so the amount and range of work available is enormous.

course reflects that.” Students start in their first year with sight reading lessons, an all-round skill which sharpens reading aloud skills ready for the start of radio tuition in year two. Second year students work in small classes, leading to an end of year full-scale radio production, directed by a professional radio producer with a professional ex-BBC sound designer. Students learn about microphone technique, studio practice, how to connect with their text, character and microphone, and ultimately about the intimacy of the relationship with their ‘audience of one’. Study is essentially about drama, but students also spend time on readings and monologue work. The third and final year takes these elements to a more sophisticated level. Preparation also begins for auditions for places on the College’s Carleton Hobbs team. Unusually the College opens these auditions to 3rd year and MA students, in line with their policy of mixed group showcases and production castings from mid-spring onwards. “Everyone’s contribution is equably valuable and it’s important they all benefit from the same opportunities,” says Le Conte. Mentor David Hunter, Senior Executive Producer from the BBC London, visits the College annually to lecture on radio work. The College has great relationships with BBC Radio Drama in Cardiff, and Senior Producer, Kate McAll, also talks to the students and sees them in productions and showcases. “Kate often needs young Welsh voices for radio dramas being produced in Cardiff, and comes to us for suggestions,” says Le Conte, who organises auditions for Kate and other freelance producers, both from the BBC and independent companies. Several students have had professional work before they’ve graduated, for example five third year students and two post-graduate/MA students were recently to be heard in the Radio 4 drama serial, Writing the Century, where one of the leads was Royal Welsh College graduate Elin Philips. “Many young actors don’t think of radio as a potential source of work, but once they’ve tried it they always want to do more,” concludes Le Conte. “Many graduates find that their radio training gives them so much confidence in their ability to be creative with only their voice, that they became successful voice over artistes, despite the very different techniques involved. Many carve out big careers in audio books, radio plays, animations, even computer games.” For more information visit

“We invest in radio excellence”, says Le Conte, “and the timetabling of the acting


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THE AUDITION: BE PREPARED. BE YOURSELF. So you’re about to begin the process of drama school auditions? Now is your time to shine. Warning! Do not set foot in the audition room until you’ve read this. Best advice.

Come prepared and be yourself. These are the two best bits of advice for an audition.

How do you be yourself?

Well, if you are not usually prone to asking questions you already know the answer to, don’t start doing it in an audition. It won’t get you noticed in a positive way. It’s too obvious. In fact, trying to be noticed is a mistake. If you’re doing that you won’t be being yourself. Most tutors won’t want to spend the next three years trying to train a socially unskilled attention-seeker.

This is your audition remember.

Asking for explanations if confused is perfectly OK. You’ve paid for this chance, you’re entitled to be treated with respect. Putting yourself forward if volunteers are asked for shows confidence, this is good. Filling that awkward silence that often follows the question, “Who wants to go first?” with a no fuss, “I will” might come as a welcome relief to your examiner on his fifth session of the day.

Improvisation and group exercises.

Those who listen to and support their partner or other members of the group in improvisation exercises often stand out far more than those who dominate. But stepping in and taking the lead if the thing is sagging is also smart and helpful. There’s nothing wrong with taking the front row but maybe not every time. So already a whole host of what appear to be contradictions and we’re only just getting started! You have to make these judgements, be brave and stay true to yourself and you’ll probably get it right. The word ‘true’ is one we’ll come back to.

I’m crazy, me!

Here’s another contradiction. Try not to make a prat of yourself, but in certain circumstances being prepared to play the fool can show that you’re secure and generous. A moment of insanity from someone often works as a catalyst, empowering others to let go and open up.

Try not to cry.

Let’s hope this never happens to you in an audition, but if you are asked to share with the group the most painful experience in your life, avoid breaking down, you could appear unstable. Try not to cry in any exercise even if you are finding the day awkward and tough, it’s only a day and it’s not going to last forever. Be philosophical, nobody is going to die. You want to train be an actor, to put on costumes and pretend to be other people, not a brain surgeon.

Oh. My. God!

If the above has scared you here’s some comfort. Many people actually end up enjoying the day. The school should be making the process enjoyable for you, and if they are – it’s a good sign of a good school. Remember that when you get the offer of a place.

no difference; Let’s suggest occasional eye-contact is okay if you feel it is called for.

I’d like to sing....

As with speeches try to look outside the box, do some research. You can often find little gems in the biggest flops. Sondheim’s Anyone Can Whistle ran for nine performances and contains at least two of his best songs. Perfect audition material and will save the panel from their sixty-ninth rendition of ‘Green Finch and Linnet Bird’ that day.

Gotta dance!

Don’t do a routine. It will be rubbish. You are not qualified yet to emulate Bob Fosse, that is what you are going to drama school for. Approach the song like a speech. Start by reciting it without music and not in rhythm. A more difficult exercise than you think, but one which helps to get to the truth of what is being said. Did you notice that word again? What the panel are looking for in speech or song is truthful interpretation, not technical fireworks. Strive for truth through understanding every word. Perform your material to friends and family (after them an audition panel is a piece of cake) and ask them, your drama teachers and singing coaches and most of all yourself these questions; Is it truthful? Do I understand every word and convey it truthfully? Honesty, sincerity, truth - that’s what you need to go for.

See stuff.

If you want to be a drama student, start studying drama now. Go to everything at your local theatre, especially the stuff that doesn’t appeal to you. Write your own reviews of the piece. Try to analyse what worked and what didn’t. This will help you in the interview stage of your audition. The wrong answer to, ‘Tell us what you’ve seen recently in the theatre and what you thought of it?’ is, “Chicago. Amazing!” Even if it was. The interviewer is trying to establish if you are mature enough for the course. So demonstrate an ability to analyse why something is successful or not. Explain why you liked something or why you didn’t. Make those choices and judgements so that you are not seen to be taking everything at face value. It’s called growing up. Bingo!

Read stuff.

Get informed too about more than just the latest cast change of Wicked. Read about playwrights, actors, directors, theatre companies. If nothing else read the ‘Culture’ section of the Sunday Times each week so you know who Complicite, Propeller, Northern Broadsides, Kneehigh are.


Much of the above is academic if you don’t perform your speeches and songs well. The single greatest reason for not passing an audition is lack of preparation. You should know your speeches backwards, but don’t perform them this way, unless asked! Luck doesn’t have a lot to do with it, but ‘Good Luck’ anyway.

Photo: Rose Bruford

You could still be Nancy!

The audition will not be like the X Factor or How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria? If it is, the college is getting it wrong and I wouldn’t advise going there. The panel want you to be good. They’re all really nice people willing you to succeed. If ever they are firm or strict, they might just be testing to see how you respond to tough training – meet them head on!

I’ve got nothing to wear!

Don’t dress to impress your peers, those you are auditioning with, they are not the ones who can pass or fail you. Low rise trousers might be all the rage, but an examiner does not want to spend three minutes avoiding staring at your pubic bone or half your bum for the duration of, ‘Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds’ or “Now, gods, stand up for bastards!” Wear what you are comfortable in. Have it clean and ready for the day - all part of being prepared. If you favour a hairstyle that covers half your face, change it. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing someone repeatedly flicking an overlong fringe, it also says something about you – that you are hiding, actors don’t hide.

Choosing a speech.

Ultimately, provided you nail the speech, there really shouldn’t be any rules. But here are some tips. Avoid clichés like the plague - the panel enjoy being presented with something they’ve not heard that day. Choosing a speech from say, one of the less performed Shakespeare plays can also demonstrate a breadth of knowledge and research. Don’t use props, ever. If you must use a chair, you don’t have to ask permission, go and pick it up. It’s your performance, you’re in charge. Read the play from which the speech comes so that you can put it in context. Same goes for songs. Some panels prefer not to be eyeballed for the duration of a speech, others it makes

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SOUTH WEST NODA South West December 11.indd 1

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COUNCILLOR’S NOTES Hello! Time moves on a pace and as I write we are all deep into our Autumn productions. Isn’t it strange how everything that seemed so well planned and far away in the Summer and suddenly it all becomes so immediate and there appear to be lots of things simply not ready? I hope all your presentations have gone well and you are looking forward to a quiet time over Christmas..... well, assuming you’re not heavily involved in Seasonal Pantomimes. 25th September saw the end of the year’s National Presidency for our very own Gerry Branton. We extend our congratulations to her and Denis on the wonderful way they have carried out their roles. We couldn’t have asked for a more charming and supportive figure-head and consort. During the last few weeks of her Presidency Gerry was handed a number of extra heavy burdens, but she carried these off with her usual pleasantness and saw us safely through to the end of the year. I’m sure that Gerry & Denis are enjoying a well-earned rest, but Gerry still available to represent the Association at your functions and shows should, you wish, as Immediate Past President. Don’t hesitate to invite her. This year’s President is Mr. Fred Piggford from Tyne & Wear. You will find him a most supportive, knowledgeable and cheerful ambassador for the Association. Do invite him to your special events, particularly if you are celebrating jubilees of some kind. He can add something really special to your celebrations.

From The Editor Well, I’m back for a second go at editing the South West part of Amateur Stage, so it can’t have been too painful last time! Whereas in the last edition we focussed on show reports, this time we’ve gone for articles and features. This is just as well, because from January 2012, show reports will only be available on the NODA web-site and not in Amateur Stage. As a result, we have packed in articles and pictures from all over the South West region. We’ve also looked to try to create some regular features - profiles of your district representatives and societies, ‘top tips’ on parts of Amateur performing that affect us all and a section on popular shows at the moment that your Society may be considering to do. I look forward to any feedback you have on these. In addition, please, please do continue to send me your top society stories, photos, posters and news so that we can present a greater real flavour of what’s going on in the South West. This is your magazine! Matt Heaton NODA South West Regional Editor email:

Diary Dates:

In common with many organisations and in the light of recent financial difficulties, Noda’s Council & the Peterborough staff have been seeking ways of making reductions in the Associations expenses. A number of areas have been identified and have resulted in some savings being implemented. It is hoped that these will not impact upon you and the Association continues to offer a wide range of services to its members. There is easy access to these through our website and, of course, through the office at Peterborough 01 733 865 790. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you think we might be able to offer assistance.

Tuesday 31st January 2012 Closing Date for Bursary Applications. Our 2012 Fabulous Summer School will take place at Warwick University between 4th & 11th August. Details of courses and booking forms will be available online and by post from 1st December. Make the most of this wonderful opportunity to expand your skills. A limited number of Bursaries to students from the South West are available. Applications forms can be downloaded from the website or got from HQ or your councillor. Completed forms should be in by 31st January 2012

You should find your Regional Representative’s reports on shows on the website and, naturally, your Society Secretary will have a copy which he/she is encouraged to share with you. Should you not have access to the website and wish a hard copy of the reports please contact me and a copy of the Reports will be posted to you.

Saturday 3rd March 2012 7:00 p.m. NODA South West Regional Awards Dinner The Palace Hotel, Torquay. National President, Mr. Fred Piggford, will present the South West’s Regional Awards for 2011. Early booking is advised for the special event. Nominations for awards will be announced in January. The hotel is offering a special low rate for overnight stay should you wish to make a weekend of it.

Every member of an affiliated or associate society is a member of Noda and therefore is entitled to access to our website and its members’ area. Society Secretaries have a username & password which appears on your subscription invoice (if you can’t find it contact HQ 01 733 865 790). These should be given to all your members and while your subscription is paid up all members can access information on My best wishes to you all for a happy and success year ahead. Nick Lawrence South-West Regional Councillor

COVER: Taunton Amateur Operatic Society’s final scene from their Production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, October 2011. PHOTO: Kennedy Clarke


Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd July 2012 NODA South West Regional Weekend Bicton Agricultural College, East Budleigh, East Devon. Courses will include masterclasses with West End Actor/Director Mr. Jim Paterson and West End Choreographer, Mr. Andrew Wright. Especially for this year, a day’s workshop on the production of good Sound Enhancement is planned. Also classes in make-up, acting skills and voice production. At this moment everything points to us being able to keep the cost to a similar amount to last year! Brochures and booking forms will be sent to you & appear on our website in March. Keep your eyes open. Friday 5th – Sunday 7th October 2012 NODA’s National Weekend at the Marriott Hotel, Cardiff. Join us to see Mr. Derek Grattidge be inaugurated as President and have a fun weekend in the company of like minded thespians. Open to all. More information in the New Year.


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REGIONAL COMMITTEE REGIONAL COUNCILLOR Mr. Nick Lawrence 01404 811 177 07 812 812 631

District 8A [Mid & West Somerset] Mrs. Jo Wilson-Hunt 01 823 663 257

TREASURER Mr. Adrian Vanstone 01395 272 803 07 909 116760

District 9 [Mid & North East Somerset] Mrs. Sue Pomeroy 01 278 662 181

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY Mr. Peter Wheeldon 01 929 552 092

District 10 [East Somerset & South Wiltshire] Mr. Andrew Carpenter 01 373 465 503 07 738 373 249

YOUTH ADVISER Mrs. Lynne Caygill 01 395 272 577

District 11 [West Dorset] Mr. Peter Wheeldon 01 929 552 092 District 12 [East Dorset] Mr. Brian Oliver 01 202 424 645

REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES: District 1 [West Cornwall] Mrs. Laura Hargreaves 01 326 210 851 District 2 [East Cornwall] Miss Kathy West 07 970 965 394 01 637 880 622 District 3 [Plymouth & West Devon] Mr. Michael Simpson 01 752 330 159 District 4 [South Devon] Pantomime Liaison & Committee Secretary Mr. Iain Douglas 01 803 290 371 District 5 [Mid & East Devon] Opera Liaison Mrs. Lynne Caygill 01 395 272 577 District 6 [East Devon, Lyme Regis & the Channel Islands] Mrs. Janet Elworthy 01 823 680 117 District 7 [North Devon] Mrs. Diane Gilchrist 01 271 342 365

District 13 [Bristol] Mr. Tony Winstone 0117 944 2044 District 14 [Bath, North Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire] Mr. Graeme Savage 01179 866 516 District 15 [Gloucestershire] Mrs. Frankie Telford Sundene, 4, Gloucester Street, WOTTON-UNDER-EDGE, Gloucestershire GL12 7DN 01 453 842 695 Long Service Awards Secretary: Past President Mrs. Mary Hobbs 01935 862 475 South West Editor Mr. Matthew Heaton 01249 713743 Webmaster: Mr. Stuart Lyddon Youth Strategy Mr. Philip Barnett 01 736 796 171

District 8 [Mid & South Somerset] Mrs Trudy Dyke 01 935 428 382

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CENTRE STAGE FOR 40 YEARS In 1971, Beryl Whitehead arranged a meeting to set up a youth theatre group in Exmouth. From that meeting The Exmouth 14-20 Music and Drama Society was formed. Sadly she is no longer with us but she left behind a legacy of 40 years of musical theatre, which members past and present have recently celebrated. Over the years we have performed many shows at the Exmouth Pavilion. We’ve seen lots of fresh faced young people come to audition who just can’t wait to get on the stage and show off their passion for music and drama. Some of those young people have gone off to make a whole career from the performing arts, while others still regard it as a hobby and a place to meet up with friends and socialize. Whatever the motivation we gave them training in the arts of music, dance and drama and tried to have lots of fun whilst doing it. It is very special that over the years many members have returned, once too old to be acting members, to run the society and organise and assist backstage. In 1991 it was decided to lower the age group to include young people from the age of 11, and it was at that point we changed the name of the company to Centre Stage. Exmouth has some amazingly talented performers and the town should be very proud of the work and determination which is given by so many people both on the stage and off and it is team effort by all that has enabled this company to go from strength to strength. The recent anniversary concerts included songs from every show performed over the last 40 years, with a party in the park on the Sunday and culminating in a Gala Concert on the Sunday night. It was a very happy weekend, meeting up with friends old and new and past and present members performing together. Lynne Caygill TOP: Michael Smith with past and current members of Centre Stage perform ‘Any Dream Will Do’ from Joseph BOTTOM LEFT: Alistair Brammer sings ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’, a song he has gone on to perform in the West End playing the part of Marius for 18 months MIDDLE LEFT: Choreographer (along with Sue Bonnett) Rachel Worsley and Matthew Jackson perform’ I’d Do Anything’ from Oliver!



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Jane Dyer, from the Bradford Players gives her view on the week……. What can I say but ‘WOW’!! What a great week - from the welcome on arrival to the time we left. Fantastic tutors, who were so knowledgeable and committed and such great fun too! The well planned sessions during the day, then something different in the evening. It was not all work though, the Quiz on Sunday night was great fun - our team came third much to our surprise! All the other students were friendly and encouraging with a good mix of ages - so lots of new friends. Just wish I could have boogied all night like the young ones! I would certainly like to go again next year and would encourage everyone to go at least once. I learned so much on the Youth Directing course that I can’t wait to try passing it on to our junior members. A lovely venue at Warwick University - just like a good hotel. The only downside was their overactive fire alarm system!!! Anyone who was there will know what I mean! Finally, a big thank you to all those involved in the organisation, which must have been a huge task ongoing from 2010 - everything ran so smoothly. Thank you for letting me be a part of it!

60 Year Diamond Award

Shirley Croker - Taunton Amateur Operatic Society

55 Year Pin

Eddie Smith - Barnstaple Mus. Com. & Dramatic Soc.

50 Year Gold Award

Linda Howe - Wayfarers Pantomime Soc. Taunton

45 Year Bar

Edward Gigg - Sounds Musical Theatre Company Derek Chapman - Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society Betty Chapman - Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society Janet Barrow - Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society

40 Year Bar

Derek Chapman - Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society Betty Chapman - Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society Kevin Behan - Barnstaple Mus. Com. & Dram. Soc.

35 Year Bar

John Clark - Melksham Comedy & Drama Denise Avent - Sounds Musical Theatre Company Jenny Bright - Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society

30 Year Bar

Jenny Bright - Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society Jennifer George - Sounds Musical Theatre Company Edward Creswick - Taunton Amateur Operatic Society Peter Edwards - Gloucester Operatic & Dram. Society Andre Potier - Barnstaple Mus. Com. & dram. Soc.

25 Year Medal

Georgina Walkey - Truro Amateur Operatic & D.S. Jenny Bright - Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society Lynne Purrington - Tiverton Amateur Operatic Society Rowena Davies - Gloucester Operatic & Dram. Society


20 Year Badge

Donna Crane - Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society Helen Cole - Barnstaple Mus, Com. & Dram. Soc. Sue Spiegelhalter - Banstaple Mus, Com. & Dram. Soc.

Chardstock Amateur Dramatic Society, a small village company in Somerset keep their community at their heart. They are a thriving society, giving the young and young at heart the chance to tread the boards in their multipurpose village hall in at least two productions a year. But that is not all they do…… On Saturday the 3rd September 2011 as part of their village Fayre, they staged the second Panto Horse Derby! An event which is hoped to be repeated annually to bring together all those panto creatures in the area! So, do you have a future Derby winner wanting to show their style, athleticism and creativity in such exciting events as show jumping, flat racing and dressage?

15 Year Badge

Graham Rumleman - Barnstaple Mus. Com. & Dram. Society Michelle Tucker - Zenith Youth Theatre

10 Year Badge

Brian Hodgins - Sounds Musical Theatre Company Mary -Ellen Harris - Weston-super-Mare OS

This year, 5 creatures competed for the coveted ‘Rocking Horse’ trophy, including the stylish Ellie Gaga, Betty the Cow and the overall winner ‘Crackers the Horse’. The most engaging element of this event being that this year’s competitors were all junior member of the society! However, CADS want to invite all those panto animals to get training and be ready for Derby III…so put it a note in your diary today for Saturday 1st September 2012 or contact to register your interest! Don’t miss out on one of the most fun events in the South West Calendar 2012! Jo Wilson-Hunt

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AND THE WINNER IS……..? SOUTH WEST REGIONAL AWARDS RESULTS AT THE BICTON WEEKEND It was another good South-West Regional Weekend at the Bicton Agricultural College from 22nd to 24th July 2011. There were many excellent workshops and events to keep everyone entertained. Our thanks to all those who spend so long planning and organising it. At the AGM that followed there was also plenty to discuss. Nick Lawrence reported in an eventful year in NODA. Raymond Wright was given an excellent send off as retiring South-West Regional Treasurer and Gerry Branton was able to give a humorous and very interesting report on her year as NODA President. As ever, the big draw at the AGM was the announcement of the winners of the NODA South - West Regional Awards, Programme and Poster Competition Awards and District Excellence Awards. The results announced are detailed below, as well as some photos of some of the recipients. Well done to the Winners and thanks too to everyone else who took part. Matt Heaton

Excellence Awards

District 1 - CENTENARY DRAMA GROUP Pantomania District 2 - CARNON DOWNS DRAMA GROUP War of the Worlds District 3 - WRANGLERS THEATRE COMPANY - Disney’s Beauty & the Beast District 4 - TOPS MUSICAL PRODUCTIONS - Disney’s Beauty & the Beast District 5 - CENTRE STAGE - Disney’s Beauty & the Beast District 6 - SIDMOUTH AMATEUR DRAMATIC SOCIETY - Dancing at Lughnasa District 7 - NORTH DEVON ALL STARZ - Annie Junior District 8 - GALSTONBURY & STREET MUSICAL COMEDY SOCIETY - Jesus Christ Superstar District 8A - BRADFORD PLAYERS - Arabian Nights and Blue Suede Shoes (2 one act plays) District 9 - NAILSEA MUSICALS - Little Shop of Horrors District 10 - THE BRADFORDIANS - Humble Boy District 11 - ENCORE THEATRE CLUB - Dancing at Lughnasa District 12 - BOURNEMOUTH & BOSCOMBE LIGHT OPERA COMPANY - The Producers District 13 - ST MARY’S PLAYERS - The Producers District 14 - KEYNSHAM YOUTH THEATRE - The Drowsy Chaperone District 15 - COTSWOLD PLAYERS - Sustaining high standard of staging throughout season The John Moore Trophy Noda South West Basic Programme Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society - Snoopy Runner Up Sidmouth Arts Club Operatic Society - When The Lights Go On Again The Mary Hobbs Shield Noda South West Standard Programme Cotswold Savoyards - Scrooge Runner Up Exmouth Musical Theatre Company - Jesus Christ Superstar The Mary Hobbs Shield Noda South West De-luxe Programme Kidz R Us - Beauty & the Beast Runner Up Kidz R Us - Bugsy Malone The Mary Hobbs Shield Noda South West Poster Bournemouth Gilbert & Sullivan Operatic Society - The Mikado Runner Up Axminster & District Amateur Operatic Society - Showboat Wilfred Roe Trophy for Chorus Singing Winterbourne Opera - Acis & Galatea Wilfred Roe Trophy for Stage Decor The Bradfordians - Humble Boy Allan Brooking Cup for Best Gilbert &Sullivan Production Cotswold Savoyards - The Pirates of Penzance June Barker Pantomime Cup for Best Pantomime Production Sodbury Players - Sleeping Beauty

Noda Operatic Award for Best Musical/Operatic Production Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society - Snoopy Noda Dramatic Award for Best Drama Production Encore Theatre Club - Dancing at Lughnasa Haslemere Award for Visual Excellence Kingsbridge Amateur Theatre Society - Chess Stage Electrics Award for Technical Achievement Penpont Players - Snow White Councillor’s Cup for Best Youth Production Bristol Musical Youth Productions - Billy Elliot Top Left: Nick Lawrence gives his South-West Councillor Address Top Right: Raymond Wright gives his address as retiring South-West Treasurer Bottom right: NODA President and South-West Councillor showing that they take NODA matters very seriously! Middle left: The AGM audience appreciates the joke too!



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1. Winner – Wilfred Roe Trophy for Stage Décor: The Bradfordians - Humble Boy. 2. Winner – Allan Brooking Cup for Best Gilbert & Sullivan Production: Cotswold Savoyards – The Pirates of Penzance. 3. Winner - June Barker Pantomime Cup for Best Pantomime Production: Sodbury Players - Sleeping Beauty. 4. Winner - Noda Operatic Award for Best Musical/Operatic Production: Bath Operatic & Dramatic Society - Snoopy. 5. Winner - Noda Dramatic Award for Best Drama Production: Encore Theatre Club - Dancing at Lughnasa. 6. Winner - Haslemere Award for Visual Excellence: Kingsbridge Amateur Theatre Society - Chess. 7. Winner - Stage Electrics Award for Technical Achievement: Penpont Players – Snow White. 8. Winner - Councillor’s Cup for Best Youth Production: Bristol Musical Youth Productions - Billy Elliot.

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SHOW REPORTS - SOUTH WEST DISTRICT 2 - EAST CORNWALL MISS KATHY WEST Threemilestone ADS CURTAIN CALL Saturday 10th September 2011 Producer/Director: Margaret Dawes Threemilestone Village Hall, Threemilestone We arrived to a warm and friendly welcome from the Front of House Team, who ushered us to our seats in the ‘Thurlow Playhouse’, which was the setting for the play. It’s always nice to see groups making an effort to extend the theatrical experience beyond the proscenium arch. The play opened onto an impressive interior set representing the office of the Playhouse. Good use had been made of the limited space, with a desk placed off centre left, and a chair off centre right. A second chair, far right, was moved in by the actors when needed for more intimate conversations, and this was done very naturally and worked well. Office furnishings and props were authentic. Scene changes were a little slow, which was understandable, given the restricted wing space and entrances. The use of some well-chosen music would have helped to hold the interest of the audience, and could have even enhanced the scene changes. Lighting was simple but effective. This was a difficult piece, with some sensitive subject matter, and for the most part, it was handled well. The comedy moments were well played, which balanced out the drama nicely, but the difficult scenes were not shied away from, which was good to see.

DISTRICT 3 - PLYMOUTH & WEST DEVON MR. MICHAEL SIMPSON Weston College Players HI -DE- HI Wednesday 27th July 2011 Producer/Director: Jill Nicholas The Drum Theatre, Plymouth This stage adaptation of the iconic television series of the same title gave a very welcome lift to all of us in these austere times. This is a tongue-incheek take on Butlins and Pontins, with yellow coats as the camp entertainers rather than the red or blue of the real thing. The characters were very well portrayed bringing all the humour to the fore in this very funny play. As in the T.V. show, all the action surrounds the antics of the staff. I always think it unfair to pick out individuals in an ensemble piece like this, however, I feel special mention should go to Gareth Roberts who played Jeffrey, Rachel Shoheth for her portrayal as Gladys, Andy Barton for the comic Ted and a particularly grouchy Mr Partridge played by Barry Sanigar. Other commendable players were Barry and Yvonne (the delightful professional dancers), and Spike who is the butt of Ted’s hair-brained ideas. One other super character was Peggy played by Claire Roberts. Of course, in any production one relies on supporting cast and in this we had bright and breezy Yellowcoats and talent show competitors. The Director should take credit for producing such a good production working with minimal sets on a difficult stage and to the stage crew who handled the many changes with skill. I must also congratulate the lighting which showed Irene Wilcox costumes at their best. I had my brother with me on the night I attended (as he had come from Liverpool to see me) and he also thoroughly enjoyed the show - so this is not just based on my opinion! Very well done to all! Torpoint Players LITTLE GRIMLEY / THE LADYBIRDS Reviewed by: Marylyn Simpson on Saturday 8th October 2011 Producer/Director: The Players Torpoint Council Chambers, Torpoint Two one act plays were the Autumn presentation for the Players. The first offering - “Little Grimley” featured four of the company in a situation well known to many societies. Down to four members the group had to disband or try and carry on, with one member determined to do a musical. The laughs came thick and fast when finding there is a rival group in the next village they are persuaded by the chairman, ably played by Tony Bowditch to sabotage the other company by many different ways. All four end up with various injuries having clashed with their perceived rivals. The quartet were excellent in their roles and handled the comedy very well. The set was a typically bare rehearsal room with just a table and chairs. Although the writer was not credited it seemed fairly certain He/She had observed some of the detail and had given a lot of thought to the whole piece. The second play was equally funny, entitled “The Ladybirds”. Again, the situation is set in rehearsal room but this time no men, and the local producer having a mind set still in the 20s//30s. This role was played by Gill Prideaux with a degree of excellence. When a visiting producer steps through the door things move up a gear. This lady also with fine acting ability really sets the cat among the pigeons having written a play about lesbianism she intends to enter into a festival but first she must convince the group and dispel their inhibitions. The cast handled this with aplomb. There were some hilarious moments especially the Tea Lady and between Marge (Frances) and Faye (Sally). In the end the play gets a special commendation at the Festival. Again there was no credit to a writer but whoever it was I can only say well done. Lipson Community college THE WITCHES Reviewed by: Marylyn Simpson on Wednesday 19th October 2011 Producer/Director: Steve Baker Muse Theatre, Plymouth This play forms part of the BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts Unit 11, Theatre for Children and as such the input by the children has to be enormous and logged as part of their course work. Firstly I must congratulate the children on their inventiveness with costumes. The opening scene as the audience entered had the witches lying on the stage absolutely still, an achievement in itself and the red cloaks and hoods were stunning. A good, strong narrator Emma Payne led us through Roald Dahl’s dark writing. Starting with the death of boy’s parents, he is taken in by his grandmother in Norway and then on to England. The whole point of the play is that witches are ordinary people and unfortunately the boy and his friend Bruno find this out to their cost. Both these parts were played with excellence by Joseph Black and Michael Berry, the latter having a fine grasp of comedy. Many of the children played multiple roles and moved seamlessly from one to another. A very clever set and lighting added to the atmosphere. I must mention the wonderful mouse heads and the


extra large Mars Bar wrapper and sandwich. As the children had input into all aspects of the production they showed that there was enormous talent on and off stage. I do hope that many of them will go on to forge a career in the Performing Arts. They have the ability.

DISTRICT 5 - MID & EAST DEVON MRS. LYNNE CAYGILL The Exmouth Players CHARLEY’S AUNT Tuesday 9th August 2011 Producer/Director: Mary Mulcahy The Blackmore Theatre, Exmouth This is a classic, light hearted comedy about two Oxford University students, Charley and Jack who are in love with Amy and Kitty and are hoping for the opportunity to ask them for their hands in marriage. When Charley discovers his aunt from Brazil is making a visit, he realises that they will have that opportunity as his aunt can act as chaperone. Needless to say things do not go as planned. The Director of this production always pays attention to detail. The set was thoughtfully constructed and decorated and the costumes were colourful and appropriate for the era in which the play is set. The production had some cast with little or no experience, but with a director who spent time supporting them, even down to advising them how to walk, they were able to play their roles with confidence and an understanding of the comedy. It was also clear that they were being encouraged by the more experienced of the cast and team work was evident. This is what amateur companies should be about, welcoming new members and giving them a chance to realize their potential. The end result was a production with clear diction and convincing characters and a most enjoyable evening with a lot of laughs. Newton Abbot and District Musical Comedy Society THE BOYFRIEND Wednesday 5th October 2011 Producer/Director: Iain Douglas Musical Director: John Amery Choreographer: Sara Roche The Alexandra Theatre, Newton Abbot I had a really good evening when I went to see this show. It was a polished performance with plenty of humour - a production you could just sit back and enjoy. It was extremely well cast with everyone fitting into their roles perfectly. The choreography had been carefully thought about; it was stylized and effective but simple enough to be performed well by all on stage. Both chorus and principals gave energetic performances and the show had a great pace. The music was extremely well played and was balanced with the singers. The costumes were colourful, but I did feel the Pierrot and Pierrette costumes at the end looked a little old and tired. The scenery changed with ease and props were brought on and off without fuss. I would have liked the champagne bottle to have some liquid in, apple juice and soda water works well and can look like the real thing. Just a little criticism in what was an extremely well directed show. Well done to all those involved, I hope it gets the accolades it deserves. The Exmouth Players CASH ON DELIVERY Saturday 15th October 2011 Directed by Daphne Fensom The Blackmore Theatre I started to laugh the moment the curtains opened and continued laughing until the final bows and went home completely exhausted. What a fabulous evening’s entertainment this was. This play is a very well written farce by Michael Cooney about fraudulent DSS claims with layers of complexity and running gags building right to the end. It was extremely well directed with attention given to detail, including the inclusion of the washing machine in the final bows. The play was slick and the action was paced to perfection. It was very well cast with characters that had had good comic timing and clearly enjoyed working together and supported each other whilst on stage. Their characterizations were quickly formed and were held until the end, diction was clear and the comedy was communicated perfectly to the audience. All the cast gave polished, energetic performances. The set had been carefully thought out, worked very well and made the stage look much bigger than it is. This performance was thoroughly entertaining and I had a most enjoyable evening.

DISTRICT 7 - NORTH DEVON MRS. DIANE GILCHRIST Atlantic Coast Theatre THE PRODUCERS July 7th 2011 Director: Jake Goodenough Musical Director: Paul Moulton Choreographer: Sarah King The Queen’s Theatre This is one of the most difficult reports I have had to write during my time as a NODA rep. The problem being that there are just not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe this production. The curtain went up and for the next two and a half hours we were held spellbound. The acting, singing and dancing of the six named principals, Max, Leo, Ulla, Roger, Carmen, and Franz were without doubt some of the best seen on our local stage for a long time. It would be really unfair to select any one of this group because they were all so good and so versatile. Full marks go to the rest of the cast for the superb singing and dancing, and especially to the Randy Little Old Ladies for the Zimmer frame routine. The choreography was incredible and was performed with great style and panache. The costumes were excellent, as were the sets, and the lighting was very innovative and effective. Just a minor criticism, at times the orchestra was rather loud. Congratulations to all concerned and long may ACT provide North Devon with entertainment of this quality. North Devon All Starz PETER PAN – THE MUSICAL Saturday 13th August 2011 Director: Tolley Angell Musical Director: Anneli Talbot-Imber Choreographer: Helen Cole Grosvenor Church, Barnstaple This musical version of J M Barrie’s Peter Pan, provided plenty of scope for the abundance of talent that exists within this group, and the Director made

sure that every part was well cast. The opening sequence of flashing lights accompanied by taped music was rather lengthy, but once the action started it soon picked up momentum. The introduction to the Darling household was well performed and with the arrival of Peter Pan and the delightful Tinkerbell the standard was set for the evening. The singing voices of Wendy and Peter were superb and blended so well. The elfin portrayal of Peter balanced the more down-to-earth approach of Wendy. With the visit to Never Land we encountered Captain Hook (very well played) and the Pirates, all of whom were menacingly frightening. A special mention must be made of Smee, whose facial expressions were priceless. The Lost Boys were good and looked terrified during the fight with the pirates. In Act II we met up with the Indian Chief, Tiger Lily and the Indians and full marks go to the Chief for his innovative war dance. The musical numbers in this act were good and the choreography was excellent. The last duet ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’ was very poignant and so beautifully performed. The set, although minimal (partly due to the size of the stage) was effective, and the lighting was good. The costumes were good especially Nana’s. Yet another success for this young group, who are going from strength to strength. Tiverton Dramatic Society IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT Friday 21st October 2011 Director: Jeanette Simmons The New Hall, Tiverton This play was described in the programme as a shameless spoof, loaded with laughs and thrills – and it certainly lived up to expectations. Set in Ye Olde Wayside Inn which is situated just outside Exeter, it might well have been on the road to Tivvy! The set was good and allowed for plenty of scope with which to frighten possible guests and audience alike. The ladies of the house, Hepzibah and Arabella were enough in themselves to scare anyone away and with the entrance of Ebenezer, the scene was set. The characterisations of the cast were all believable, even the skeleton! The contrast between the occupants and the possible guests was good, in movement and costume. Each appearance of the next possible guest or job searcher proved more mysterious than the one before. How easy it is to be fooled by first impressions and even when the play had ended, I’m sure a lot of the audience were left wondering if they could really believe their eyes! A very unusual play, but well directed and performed. Congratulations to all who took part.

DISTRICT 8 - MID & SOUTH SOMERSET MRS TRUDY DYKE Castaways STRIKE IT LUCKY Thursday 21st July 2011 Producer/Director: Lynn Lee Brown Musical Director: Martin Emslie Choreographer: Kirsty Beaumont The Swan Theatre, Yeovil Castaways hit the ground running when they presented this NEW! Musical - ‘Strike it Lucky’. This musical was conceived by Director; Lynn Lee Brown which tackled taboos like Alzheimer’s, Autism, and Bullying - not to mention Social Snobbery! Both the script and lyrics were written by Lynn Lee Brown and Martin Emslie, the Musical Director, composed the music. Strike It Lucky was created to accommodate Castaway’s large company of mixed ability ranging in age from 7-70.Despite its subject matter this production was in no way all doom and gloom! The opening scene sets the picture of to two very different families, both sat at their breakfast tables. The ‘Lights’ struggle to survive, where mother Janey Light works every hour God sends to put food on the table and keep what at first glance looks like a dysfunctional family! Her father has Alzheimer’s and her daughter, Star has Asperser’s and spends her meal times under the table! One of her many jobs is to clean for the Hemple-Simons, who can only be described as social snobs. They want for nothing, until the final scene where the fortunes of both families are reversed as Janey wins the lottery and Mr Hemple-Simon’s announces his business has gone broke and they are penniless! Throughout the production there were some beautiful moments - one in particular that tugged at the heart strings was Janey singing to her father. This portrayal was masterful and scarily realistic! Rock Nativity was a fun and upbeat number which gave the company the opportunity to show off their musical theatre skills, giving each child their own chance to shine. Costumes and set had been well thought out; scene changing was seamless and kept the pace moving at all times. Congratulations to all who brought this ‘unique’ piece of art to the stage. C.U.D.O.S SWEET CHARITY 7th September 2011 Director: Ann Brolly Musical Director: Martin Emslie Choreographer: Sarah Elliott Victoria Hall, Crewkerne CUDOS opened their production with Charity (Alex McCullum) frozen in silhouette. Instantly she was ‘kooky’ Sweet Charity. Sweet Charity is mainly a one woman show, so it demands a girl who can sing dance and act! Alex did not disappoint and delivered with confidence. There are many other colourful characters featured in Sweet Charity and these were skilfully portrayed. Nick Harris playing Oscar added his own unique talent to the mix making the chemistry between him and Charity electric. In the Fandango Ballroom (a seedy dance hall) we meet the sad and bitter hostesses who like Charity, dance with the low life that pass for men - each girl dreaming of the day they can get out and find a better life. Nikki (Charmaine Bray) and Helene (Lorraine Dash) singing ‘Baby, Dream Your Dream’ brought that sentiment to life! Fosse is not an easy style to learn! Your choreographer captured the style well and created choreography to enhance the ability of the company. Musically the company was strong and their singing of Rhythm of Life was one of the highlights of the production. Both costume and the use of wigs were excellent and enhanced the visual. Once again Bodgit, Scarper & Co didn’t disappoint creating an original and stunning set. Well done CUDOS!


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Wells Operatic Society BRENDA BLY - TEEN DETECTIVE 14th September 2011 Director: Alan Hooley Musical Director: Sheila Ross Choreographer: Carol Applegate Wells Little Theatre, Wells W.O.S’s ‘Brenda Bly - Teen Detective’ was a Somerset Premiere. It’s 1958 –Connie Francis and Brenda Lee are the ‘teen idols’ of the day, Scooby Doo, Happy Days, Grease and Rock and Roll rule! All of the above are influential in this new musical. Teenage sleuth Brenda Bly attends Whitney Ellis Private School for girls where ‘Rocket Girl’ is only days away from opening, when the leading lady is knocked unconscious with a sandbag! Brenda sets out to solve the crime, catch the crook and save the day. She is a strong, feisty self confident girl - the glue that holds everything together and Harriet ‘Harry’ Collins delivered on all counts. BBTD has a large cast so it is an ideal choice of production for a company from raw beginners to seasoned performers. Vamp Headmistress Vera Van Straker (Anna Friend) and Cecil Sessile (Chris Briton) were the perfect odd couple! The Torch Choreography by the chorus as they narrated the story was beautifully executed. Singing and dialogue were strong and projected clearly. Costume was bright and colourful and pure 1950’s. Set was simple and effective and complemented production. Well done! Y.A.O.S THE SOUND OF MUSIC 6th October, 2011 Director / Choreographer: Alan Spencer Musical Director: Matthew Holmes Octagon Theatre, Yeovil YAOS’s outstanding production of The Sound of Music was fortunate to have two exceptionally talented actors playing the lead roles of Maria (Naomi Riglar) and Captain Von Trapp (Mark Lawson). The chemistry between them was effortless each showing a natural ability to act without acting! Completing the Von Trapp family were the children, made up of two groups – ‘Rogers’ and ‘Hammerstein’. At this performance they were played by the ‘Rogers’ Group and for most of these children this is their YAOS debut and for some it is their very first show! Watching them taking on these roles and perform them was a delight, as each child obviously understood their own individual character and gave 100% to their performance. Equally so did Mother Abbess (Ros Broad) and the Nun’s chorus singing was simply breathtaking, especially the accapella. Director Alan Spencer made good use of colour, lighting and choreography to enhance each scene and create mood. Vocally the company was strong. Costume had been well selected. The set worked well on the Octagon stage and back stage crew kept pace moving. Well done all you thoroughly deserved your standing ovation.

DISTRICT 8A - MID & WEST SOMERSET MRS. JO WILSON-HUNT Taunton Amateur Operatic Society JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR 7th October 2011 Director: Jeremy Tustin Musical Director: Matthew Tilke The Tacchi Morris Arts Centre, Taunton ‘What’s the Buzz? Tell me what’s a happening!’ Talent in every area of the stage, fabulous band, experienced talented performers both old and new, great lighting, and a real electric buzz!!! But, isn’t the story more about Judas and his torment, knowing what he is witnessing will eventually end in tragedy and the one person he feels should be listening refusing to listen to his plea …confusion in the audience. It is always fantastic to put your own twist to a production but in this case Jesus became the Rock God of the title and Judas a jealous and unstable man…all played out beautifully by too great actors, but isn’t Jesus supposedly the calm within the hysteria? Both these extremely talented actors gave 150%, but diction was lost with the unleashing of uncontrollable emotions in the case of Judas, and Jesus seemed just a touch too arrogant. But, all was not lost as the beautiful portrayal of Mary Magdalene touched our hearts as we saw her try to understand her emotions and finally break at the feet of the man she loved. Also worth a mention are Simon and Peter who again enveloped us in their emotional hell. The final tableau can forgive any twists in the tale as a true depiction of the horrific ordeal of crucifixion was unravelled before our eyes. Congratulations to all involved in creating this, which was a piece of creative artistry.

DISTRICT 9 - MID & NORTH EAST SOMERSET MRS. SUE POMEROY Clevedon Light Opera Club SWEENEY TODD 18th July 2011 Producer: Jeff Prescott Musical Director: Xander–James le Petit Choreographer: Emma Wright Princes Hall Clevedon Although Clevedon LOC played to a small house when I attended, the absent audience missed a very good interpretation and production of this difficult musical. The ‘CLOC’ designed and built set permitted the production to be slick and fast paced. The costumes perfect for the period could have shown more dirt and wear and tear. The orchestra was mostly sympathetic to the performances and the MD handled his orchestra very professionally. Lighting and sound were good. Sweeney Todd - Jeff Prescott and Mrs Lovett - Julie Ashton, were totally convincing as the murderous couple with the supporting roles all coming together to make a very good show. I also really liked the performance of Christine Richards’s ‘Beggar Woman’. This is a complex musical both to stage and perform and everyone did a very good job. Sadly they suffered from the curse of Sondheim… audiences don’t like what they don’t know or understand, but it is wonderful that the club doesn’t shy away from the challenge. I love the show Sweeney Todd and thoroughly enjoyed this production. As usual CLOC can be relied upon to be adventurous, talented and they always give exceptional ‘musical theatre’ value for money. Well done.

Winscombe Youth Theatre HONK! 10th July 2011 Directors: Theresa Hemming & John Butler Singing Director: Griffiths Churchill School This was a youth theatre presentation of the Hans Christian Anderson story ‘The Ugly Duckling’, which was made into the musical ‘Honk!’ in 1993.The young children sang, acted and danced their way throughout this junior version of the show with enthusiasm and commitment. The scenery enhanced the whole production and the lighting and costumes were excellent. Although this is a ‘fairy tale’ story, there are cleverly written ‘adult’ lines containing a good deal of humour, though sadly some of this was lost in the retelling by children too young to understand the nuances and innuendo. Nevertheless this was an entertaining afternoon spent in the company of enthusiastic and talented children. On a general note - although it is difficult to find regular musicians, I felt this youth production would have been enhanced by a live piano rather than the taped backing track, which is unsympathetic to the performers and cannot support them if they are uncertain in their timing. All the characters were well portrayed with excellent performances from ‘Ugly’ and ‘Cat’ and the ‘froglets’ were a delight. Well done to everyone concerned with this quite complex production. Clevedon Light Opera Club ‘Juniors’ OUR HOUSE Friday 16th September 2011 Producer/Director: Jeff Prescott Musical Director: Sue Marsh Choreographer: Julie Ashton Princes Hall, Clevedon The music of the iconic group Madness from the 1980’s is the backdrop for this complex musical, the story of which could so easily lost in the difficult duel portrayal of good and bad. From the start CLOC Juniors established the story with excellent theatricality using black and white scenery and costumes and we were never in doubt as to which Joe Casey was which. This was an outstanding production on every count, the acting and singing and interpretation of characters with their strong emotions was wonderful. Direction, choreography and music were safe in the hands of the production team and the cast was one of the best I have ever seen from a youth production. Adam Fox stole the show with his portrayal of Joe, the boy discovering with immense heartache the difference between wrong and right- but he was closely followed in excellence by the whole company … not one weak link. The energy and execution from this company will remain in my memory for a very long time and watching this production would have been good for many adult companies who would find it hard to emulate the pace, timing and attention to detail. Very well done. Portishead Players THE OLD COUNTRY 14th October 2011 Director: John Fidell Somerset Hall, Portishead Having never seen an Alan Bennett play ‘live’ before, I was interested to see how this very intellectual man of words would come across as entertainment. With no detriment to the excellent cast, watching the performance, I felt I was subjected to a cross between a modern history lesson and the Oxford English Dictionary. The performance was entertaining, despite the lengthy and often protracted speeches and this was due to excellent characterizations from the small cast. John Fidell, the director, had taken the leading role of Hilary at short notice; a lesser actor would have balked at learning the huge amount of repetitive dialogue. He is to be congratulated on his performance and his obvious understanding of the play. The role of Hilary’s wife Bron taken by Kim Cheasley was equally difficult. As the foil for Hilary most of the time, Kim did the part justice with her concentration and excellent acting ability. Edd Watling, Eric, enjoyed his cameo role, whilst Clair Flower did ‘chillingly’ well with the cameo role of Olga. Janet Astley was Hilary’s imperious and snobbish sister Veronica; she played the role with assurance and Tony Sutcliff as Duff gave his now excellently ‘studied’ role of the pompous and arrogant government minister. This was a challenging play. As someone commented to me after the performance… it’s a ‘Marmite‘ show… you love it or you hate it…well I like Marmite but I wouldn’t want to eat too much of it. Weston-super-Mare Operatic Society ACORN ANTIQUES THE MUSICAL Saturday 29th October 2011 Producer/Director: Ian Doswell Musical Director: Annie Doswell Choreographer: Marina Fairhead Playhouse Theatre, Weston-super-Mare I am probably one of few members of the audience who had never seen Victoria Wood’s iconic TV sit-com Acorn Antiques; thus I watched the musical with no ‘baggage’. I was captivated by the sheer professionalism of the cast…I loved it! Will it stand the test of time as a great musical… probably not, but this show is of our time, it is contemporary, topical and we understand and appreciate the fast paced innuendo and humour. A brilliant set (society made) provided the setting for the show and wellplanned and cued lighting added to each scene. The costumes looked good and were in keeping with each character, as were makeup and wigs. Direction of this show was first rate, Ian Doswell had taken the show seriously, allowing the dialogue to be the star…and we roared with laughter. The music was pleasant with a few memorable tunes. The band performed excellently, never overpowering the singers well controlled by Annie Doswell. Company singing was very good, with some exceptional principal voices. The choreography was simple and very slick. This was a large and talented cast with not one weak link, each performed to the highest standard. This musical has wonderful opportunities for older women and oh how they all took up the challenge. It is difficult among so many excellent performances to single out anyone, but Ethne Rudd’s portrayal of Mrs Overall was staggeringly good…she was Mrs O! As Victoria Wood said on the first night of her new musical “ My intention is to give people a lovely, happy night in the theatre”… well she certainly did that and so did WsM OS!

Valley-Arts WIZARD OF OZ...ISH Saturday 29th October 2011 Producer/Director: Janet Elworthy Choreographer: Jo Elworthy Parish Hall, Hemyock Hard work had transformed the ‘village hall’ into a theatre; impressive lighting, a stage with a ‘Yellow Brick Road’ leading to floor level, eye catching scenery and many seats filled by an enthusiastic local audience. Under the guiding hand of producer Janet Elworthy, this small and inexperienced cast had entertained with almost sell out audiences… no mean feat with today’s depressed economy. The enthusiasm of the cast was infectious and the audience enjoyed and participated in many ‘local’ jokes. Many of the cast were identifiable local characters, but I was still able to appreciate and enjoy the comedy presented. The costumes were very good, and were well worn by everyone. The scenery was of a unique design and the artwork was excellent. Sound was good as I could hear every word. The direction was good. It must have been difficult for Janet Elworthy working with limited facilities, an inexperienced cast who were presenting a musical when she was unable to use the traditional songs from Wizard of Oz. This was due to the ongoing production in the West End…although I wonder what harm to a West End Box Office could come from a small village production in the West Country … but copyright regulations are very strict. The added music was fun but not very easy for the cast to sing, but the show finale was a triumph of fun and energy. First time performer Tyla Elworthy, presented a pretty and individual Dorothy with assurance and she maintained her accent and character very well throughout. Scarecrow, Sam Shepherd showed talent in both his singing and acting and presented a lovely sympathetic character; Tin Woman, Anne Monk showed a real talent for comedy with excellent timing and delivery of lines, but the star of the trio was The Lion played by local landlord Geoff Taylor. His cowardice and ‘jumpiness ‘was very funny and demonstrating a well thought out character, he received the biggest approval from the audience when delivering some of his lines. Talented Richard Shepherd was Elvis, with his mobile physique and good voice presenting some gyrating hit songs, he was a delight. All the other performers performed well and with enthusiasm. This story was a cross between a play and a pantomime, quite far removed from the original, but with added local material it was well suited to the small company who took every opportunity to make the audience smile and laugh. No one can ask for more than to have entertained and sent an audience home wanting more. Well done

DISTRICT 10 - EAST SOMERSET & SOUTH WILTSHIRE MR. ANDREW CARPENTER Zenith Youth Theatre Company INTO THE WOODS Friday 15th July 2011 Director: Scott Rogers Musical Director: Roy Page One has come to expect great things from Zenith Youth Theatre Company and we weren’t disappointed with this first class production of Into the Woods. The production showed just what strength in depth Zenith Youth Theatre Company has. Tom Corbishley and Sabrina Messer, two ‘old hands’, as The Baker and his wife showed their experience with a very well executed double act. Kier Krishnama Hillier played the part of Jack with distinction and Maisy Carter as Little Red Riding Hood, Maria Torres-Massouras as Rapunzel and Sophie Baxter as Cinderella were an absolute delight. Cara Withers as The Witch shone as the ‘star’ of this production however. Here was a young actress who oozed stage presence. Her acting was strong with a singing voice to match. Definitely a young lady with a very promising professional stage career ahead of her if she chooses that route. As always the on stage team were supported by a wonderful back stage set up with lighting, sound, props, costumes, hair and make-up all perfect and an orchestra that blended perfectly. Once again I find myself saying ‘three cheers’ for this very talented young company who seem to go from strength to strength each time I see them. Winterbourne Opera DIDO & AENEAS Saturday 23rd July 2011 Musical Director: David Davies Director: Ben Occhipinti The Barn at the Grange, Winterbourne Dauntsey A visit to Winterbourne Opera is so much more than just the production. The grounds of the Barn at the Grange in Winterbourne Dauntsey are idyllic and perfect for a pre-performance picnic. The production was most impressive with the simple staging and the use of exits and entrances from all available parts of the barn – making the production more interesting from a visual point of view. The professional principal players all performed with distinction. I was particularly impressed with Jessica Broad, as Dido’s, diction. Her rich voice was just right for the title role as was Ross Ramgobin as Aeneas. They were ably supported by Sarah Forbes as Belinda, Luke Sinclair as Sailor and Louisa Barry as the Sorceress all of whom sang beautifully and acted accordingly. It was delightful to see Winterbourne Opera’s own members in principal roles and I congratulate Coral Ballinger as Second Woman, Mandy Buckley as First Witch, Genny Davidson Smith as Second Witch and Hilary Sharland as Spirit for their part in the principle line up. Of course the chorus plays such an important part in any opera and in this production it was no exception. They proved why they were justified winners of the NODA SW Wilfred Roe Trophy for Chorus Singing. Finally, a word of praise for the orchestra who also play such an important part in any musical production. They were well balanced and never overawed the singers. In fact the balance between the two was perfect and I congratulate David Davies for achieving this. Frome Amateur Operatic Society - Spellbound BUGSY MALONE 4th August 2011 Director & Choreographer: Emma Hill Musical Director: Jamie Mason Memorial Theatre, Frome The overriding impression one got throughout this excellent production of Bugsy Malone was that the youngsters on stage were thoroughly enjoying themselves and this enthusiasm spilled over the footlights and into the audience. Of course it’s the gunge they like best and in this production there was plenty of opportunity for them to enjoy it!

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This was truly a team performance with no one person stealing the show. Obviously one needs a good Bugsy Malone however and in Louis McKee you had just that. Playing opposite Bugsy, Flora McLaren as Blousey gave a very confident performance and her rendition of ‘Ordinary Fool’ was one of the highlights of the show. Lily Morrison as Fat Sam was a performer of the highest calibre. Great comic timing, an accent that was accurate and held throughout and stage presence that would be the envy of many people twice her age encapsulated this high quality performance. I am aware that Emma Hill stepped up to take on the joint role as Director/Choreographer at short notice and I congratulate her whole heartedly for her achievement. All in all this was a production full of fun and vitality that was obviously equally enjoyed by cast and audience alike. I congratulate all concerned on achieving something very special. Melksham Music and Drama OKLAHOMA! Friday 9th September 2011 Director: Donna Ruderman Musical Director: Geoff Mitcham Choreographers: Penny Taylor & Katie Mence Oklahoma! is one of THE musicals and it was given the MMAD touch on Friday 9th September when I visited. The first impressions were good as the open stage revealed a simple yet effective set that complimented this production throughout. The principal line-up was good and each complimented one another very well. Justin Haggett as Curly brought out more humour than is usual from the part and in the role of Laurie; Rosie Raikes-May was a perfect foil. Rosie’s singing voice was most pleasant and her rendition of ‘Many a New Day’ was one of the highlights of the show. If you get the characterisation right the part of Jud Fry can leave a major impact on any audience and Hereward Newton-Edwards did just that. He appeared mean and inwardly tortured and his steely eyes said it all before he spoke. It’s the first time I’ve seen a full musical done to taped music and I have to say I wasn’t entirely convinced although the chorus singing was good, particularly the harmonies early on. All in all this is a production of which MMAD can be very proud. I only hope in the future more people from Melksham and district come and support this talented and enthusiastic company Trowbridge Players MACBETH Reviewed by: Nick Lawrence, Regional Councillor on Friday 30th Sept 2011 Director: Sylvia Seaman The Arc Theatre, Trowbridge

Macbeth presented a major challenge to the company. It was pleasing to see a varied spread of ages taking part, especially the youngsters who hopefully now wish to do more of the bard. The decision to go for definition of speech and clarity of meaning was much appreciated by the audience. The exciting sword fights certainly added excitement. Macbeth and his lady were certifiable, the King loved being king, the witches had great fun interfering in people’s lives and the goodies won. Unfortunately the desire to achieve this welcome clarity did make the script drag in places. Dialogue rarely achieved the pace of conversation. The audience was treated to a varied number of deliveries mostly admirable. No doubt if more rehearsal time had been available this could have been ironed out. Some variation in pace especially between characters would have given a much needed lift and maintained the audience’s interest in what people had to say. What was particularly admirable was the obvious enjoyment the cast got from performing Shakespeare. No one in the audience could be in any doubt as to the fun that can be got working with the greatest of playwrights even in this very dark play, and this alone is worthy of praise.

Frome Amateur Operatic Society RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET Reviewed by: Sue Pomeroy on Friday 7th October 2011 Producer/Director: Andrew Carpenter Musical Director: David Hynds Choreographer: Sue McNamee Memorial Theatre, Frome This show is a cult classic and rarely have I watched a production that fulfilled all expectations. The outstanding line-up of principal performers were tailor made for the roles; there was no weak link. The production values shone through - excellent music, outstanding IT achievements (audio and visual), backstage dedication (presenting this show in just 12 weeks), the production team and the cast, right through to front of house … all outstanding. The home-produced scenery was a triumph … a spaceship with technology and stunning sound and visual effects. Costumes were excellent - the idea of coloured wigs for the crew with matching tights was


great. The rock band was controlled perfectly by the MD … yes the volume was loud … but this is a rock musical for goodness sake … I am bit tired of audiences who go to a rock musical and say the music is too loud! The choreography was simple but slick; the direction was excellent; a firm hand was at the controls that still allowing the cast the freedom to shine. The pace was smooth and fast moving. Excellent principals were unique and talented. I loved this production - I laughed and rocked along with the rest of the audience. Congratulations on a superb production.

DISTRICT 11 - WEST DORSET MR. PETER WHEELDON South Coast Ballet THE SNOW QUEEN Thursday 14th July 2011 Producer/Director: Caron Yardley Choreographer: Caron Yardley The Lighthouse Theatre, Poole I continue to be impressed by the scale of the enterprises undertaken, almost single-handedly by Artistic Director, Caron Yardley on behalf of South West Ballet. This production is a prime example of her industry, because the concept, creation, staging and direction are almost entirely her own work. Set to the music of a miscellany of composers, The Snow Queen is a fairy tale based on the writings of Hans Christian Anderson. The twenty eight young dancers taking part are drawn from teaching academies in the locality. It is an extremely colourful production employing excellent backdrops and an extensive wardrobe of fine costumes. Its staging in one of the principal theatres in the area provides the best possible forum for the young protégés to experience the thrill of performance and to show what they can do. The dancers clearly relish this opportunity and repay it by giving their all – it’s something, one suspects, they will never forget. The scourge of many classical dance initiatives, this company included, is a high degree of public indifference, thereby resulting in sparse houses and a compounding of the difficulties in balancing the books. Here’s hoping they will overcome this obstacle in the future. Weymouth Operatic Society CRAZY FOR YOU Wednesday 20th July 2011 Producer/Director: Sylvia Denning Musical Director: Sam Ryall Choreographer: Damaris Fowler Pavilion Theatre, Weymouth WOS took a brave leap into the unknown with this production. Accustomed to more sedate musical drama, the donning of tap shoes took them, in the words of their Chairman, “...outside their comfort zone”. But undaunted, and with expert guidance from their directors, they relished the challenge. And so evident was their delight with, and enjoyment of, this new experience that it spread infectiously through the audience to produce a splendidly entertaining evening for all present. Paul Brewster headed the lively cast with a superbly spirited performance as Bobby. His romantic partner, Cate Pullin as Polly made an impressive debut in a principal role. There were several amusingly convincing character parts – Dave Clinch as the quirky impresario, Helen Pickard and John Mullins as the (oh so!) English couple, Ralph Ricardo as the waspish saloon owner and three close-harmony cowboys “bidin’ their time”. Seven gloriously vivacious Follies Girls provided the glamour and much of the movement. The entire cast put their all into making this a genuinely ‘feel good’ show, full of pace and humour. The small backstage team coped well with the sixteen scene changes and the orchestra demonstrated confident mastery over the intricacies of Gershwin. A great evening! Burton Bradstock Players OUT OF FOCUS Friday 29 July 2011 Producer/Director: Gillian Knight The Village Hall, Burton Bradstock For her debut as director for the Players, Gillian Knight chose this play by Peter Gordon. It is a comedy that depends heavily on near-farcical situations, together with a cast to match, for its humour. As such, it presents all the familiar challenges of farce. A series of disparate characters inhabit the stark Church Hall setting. Their widely varying personalities provided the players with plenty of opportunity to stamp their individuality on the proceedings – an opportunity they readily embraced. Liz Slater showed her class as the neurotic vicar’s wife, Gill East as Helen, drawing on her pantomime experience, was the picture of petulance when her endeavours to snare handsome policeman David (Doug Sheppard), were thwarted by Sue (Katherine Slater) with whom betrothal beckoned. Marital fireworks between Kath (Janet Tolputt) and Bob (Chris Briant) caused much mirth, particularly when siren Linda (Karen Venn) was on hand to fan the flames. Earnest attempts by Leonard (Chris Roberts) to deliver one of his many ‘lecture-with-slides’ presentations were frequent sources of amusement, and leather-jacketed, cool Wayne (David Mayo) posed bravely as a lion, but turned out to be a bit of a mouse! All in all, an entertaining evening. Sturminster Newton Amateur Dramatic Society WHEN WE ARE MARRIED Friday 21st October 2011 Producer/Director: Linda Cowley The Exchange, Sturminster Newton To portray, with conviction, Priestley’s West Riding setting of this play, with vivid Yorkshire characters to match, can pose somewhat of a challenge to amateur drama groups far removed from the locality. But SNADS rose to the challenge admirably – an achievement in itself – and in the process produced a really excellent play that was only marginally diminished by a slight loss of pace after the interval. The members of the large cast had clearly worked very hard to capture the distinctive features of their individual parts, the outcome of which was a finely delineated set of characters and situations, thereby providing the essential ingredients on which the humour of this play is so dependent. To pick out names from the fifteen players would be inappropriate – they all deserve due plaudit for their efforts. A roomy period set of the early 1900’s was furnished and dressed with careful attention to detail, and added an authentic atmospheric background to the proceedings. Likewise, an impressive wardrobe of costumes made its own significant contribution to the overall effect. All-in-all, this was a very creditable performance and a feather in the cap for director Linda Cowley in particular and for SNADS in general.

DISTRICT 12 - EAST DORSET MR. BRIAN OLIVER Christchurch Gilbert & Sullivan Society THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD Reviewed by: Peter Wheeldon on Wednesday 21st September 2011 Producer/Directors: Nigel Finch & Sarah Vandervelde Musical Director: Nigel Finch Choreographer: Sally Hughes The Regent Centre, Christchurch Some aspiring societies find that shortage of men prevents them from presenting this show. No such problem at Christchurch. They assembled the requisite number of pike bearers and proceeded to stage a very creditable production of this classic. Experience and blossoming freshness in the forms, respectively, of Brian Oliver and Cora Hardy were at the forefront as their voices stamped indelible impressions on the parts of Colonel Fairfax and Elsie Maynard. On this occasion, Nigel Finch forsook his usual position on the rostrum in favour of a part as jester Jack Point, a role he has long wanted to play, and one that he portrayed with much energy and poignancy. Other notable performances included Mark Ward as an animated jailer, Jan French as Phoebe, and Christine Eastwood as Dame Carruthers. There was some agreeably harmonious part-singing from the quartets, and the chorus was in fine voice. As ever, the orchestra, this time under the baton of guest conductor Ian Partridge, was in top form and gave excellent support to the performers. This was a colourful production both visually and audibly. The setting and costumes were very effective, although the lighting at front of stage could have been better. P & P Singers THE GIFT OF MUSIC Saturday 9th July 2011 Producer/Director: Jean Chambers Layard Theatre, Canford School, Canford This excellent award winning group of singers certainly have the gift for delivering a superb evening of wonderful choral music. With the trophies that they were awarded at recent Bournemouth Music Festival proudly displayed, we were treated to a superb selection of choral music. This ranged from Mozart to Mendelssohn, through the ages to finish with a selection from “Hairspray”. Although for various reasons the singers had a few members missing, the quality of the sound that they achieved was still outstanding and they provoked a full range of emotions from the close to capacity very appreciative audience. Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society HALF A SIXPENCE Wednesday 28th September 2011 Producer/Director: Janet Barrow Musical Director: Jean Roach Choreographer: Leanne Dade Barrington Theatre, Ferndown I am sure that when Ferndown Phoenix chose “Half a Sixpence” as the show for their 25th Anniversary, they were thinking of the original version made famous by Tommy Steele. But rights holders often produce new versions of shows and seldom are they as good as the original, particularly when musical numbers are chopped and changed. In this production the younger principal cast certainly looked good and well balanced and they were supported by a very enthusiastic ensemble. I thought that the characterisation of all the cast was very good and Kipps was excellent with a lovely cheeky smile. However, the show suffered from a lack of projection throughout. The projected back cloth, although a clever idea, was not wide enough for the Barrington stage and therefore created on odd look behind the cast. Although no doubt it was to help to speed up the flow of the show, scene changes in full lighting behind ongoing dialogue and musical numbers were more than a little distracting. However, the lighting crew did inform me that they were making adjustments to try and resolve the problem for rest of the week. I think the company can hold their heads up and feel proud of their achievements over the last 25 years in what have been difficult times for Amateur Theatre.

DISTRICT 15 - GLOUCESTERSHIRE MRS. FRANKIE TELFORD Promenade Productions GUYS AND DOLLS July 14th 2011 Director: John Pannett Musical Director: David Manifold Choreographer: Heather Newman The Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham. This enthusiastic group ably presented this ever-popular show, with so many well-known songs, great story lines and with good triumphing in the end. From the lively opening street scene on Broadway to the enthusiastic finale, the audience enjoyed it. The costumes were colourful, in keeping with the period and well worn. The sets from Scenic and Property Hire created the right atmosphere - the use of a painted backcloth set near the front of the stage enabled scene changing to be carried out behind and therefore did not slow down the action too much. The orchestra was well controlled and managed by David Manifold. The quality of the singing from both principals and chorus was good, particularly the harmonies in male chorus numbers. The diction in speech and singing was clear. The choreography required in this show is demanding especially for the men and Heather Newman had devised lively routines suited to the capabilities of the cast. The characterization was effective and the pairings of the four main characters worked well. The audience applauded this pleasing production enthusiastically, appreciating the hard work, which contributed to its success, particularly from John Pannett and Heather Newman. Well done! Cheltenham Operatic and Dramatic Society BILLY Wednesday 21 September 2011 Producer/Director: John Knowles Musical Director: Beverley Whitaker Choreographer: Jack Tucker The Playhouse, Cheltenham It is unfortunate that Societies need to perform well-known Musicals to encourage audiences, because this lesser known Musical has real entertainment value; with the pedigree of writers one could expect nothing less. It is based on the play ‘Billy Liar’ by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, with a book by Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, music by John Barry and lyrics by Don Black. It has wonderfully written dialogue and although there are no


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well-known songs the music is varied and right for the moment. The split level set had been cleverly designed for this small stage, as Billy spends a large amount of time in his room visiting Ambrosia, his own private country where he can fulfil his dreams and escape from his boring existence in Yorkshire. The contrast between Billy’s two worlds was enhanced by the bright, colourful costumes of Ambrosia, and the more ‘normal’ ones of Stradhoughton. Director John Knowles had a strong cast to work with and took full advantage of it. Matthew Crumpton brought sensitivity and energy to the lead role of Billy Fisher giving an excellent performance. He was ably supported by the whole cast. Gary Rawlings and Melissa Brunger as Mr and Mrs Fisher were clearly playing roles beyond their years but carried it off well. Margo Thompson as Gran Fisher was delightful, bringing much humour to the part but never going over the top. Young Jack Tucker had worked hard with the choreography, producing routines which were lively, interesting and, I imagine, stretched the abilities of some of the cast, especially in the tap number, but they all looked confident and relaxed. The Band was on top form, playing well and enthusiastically. The singing was excellent throughout with Robin Oliver, as Duxbury, giving a memorable rendition of ‘It Were All Green Hills’. The chorus singing was excellent with confident harmonies and good diction. This was a production that was obviously a great team effort; everyone appeared to be relaxed and knew what they were doing. The whole atmosphere was one of happy confidence. It was very clear that both cast and band had thoroughly enjoyed working with Musical Director Beverley Whitaker. Congratulations everyone on a well presented, entertaining evening. The Cotswold Players A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM October 7th 2011 Director: Graham Bill Composer of original music and Leader of the Musicians: Rob Kempner Cotswold Playhouse, Stroud This was the Centenary Production for this Company and Shakespeare at its very best. The set was excellent, with the woodland glade a masterpiece. It had been decided to set the production in Elizabethan dress and all the costumes looked authentic and were well worn. Those of the fairies were rather zany and combined with make-up, helped establish their individual characters. The play had been well cast and everyone was totally at ease and confident in their roles. The Mechanicals were obviously enjoying themselves and contrasted in costume and manners with members of The Court. The scene with Titania and Bottom was lovely, with a brilliant Ass’s head. Bottom’s voice was not muffled while he was wearing it and it was removed easily. As the overall standard was so high it would be inappropriate to single out too many individuals, but I must mention Nic Sims as Puck, who maintained his physical stances so well for so long. The Company had obviously benefited from the involvement with the RSC Open Stages Project. Congratulations must go to Graham Bill, in drawing so much from his cast; to Rob Kempner, for his original music and to Rod Clifford, for his wonderful set.

TOP TIPS……… FOR AUDITIONS We thought it would be a good idea to have a new regular feature for advice-sharing on topics and issues that affect everyone in Amateur Theatre today. As it is such a constant challenge affecting nearly every performer, we’ve gone for how to make the very best of the ‘Dreaded Audition’ as a starting point. Many thanks to Michael Simpson, Laura Hargreaves, Nick Lawrence, Sue Pomeroy and Andrew Carpenter for their valuable input. 1. Decide what to audition for… • Stay focused on the role you would like and don’t hedge your bets by auditioning for too many parts at the same time. You can always tell the panel if you are prepared to accept a lesser role. • Although everyone should stretch and challenge him or herself, be aware of your strengths and weaknesses … musically, dramatically and visually. For example, if you have a bass or contralto voice, don’t think you can sing like a tenor or soprano just because you like the part. Be realistic: - if the society is asking for a young woman or man and you are getting on in years, it is unlikely you will succeed. - if you can’t dance and the role calls for a good dancer… it is unlikely you will succeed. 2. Before Audition Day…. • Preparation, preparation and more preparation! No audition panel can tell what your potential is just by you reading from the book, nor can they judge your possibilities to sing the role if you audition with an unprepared piece. • You cannot know the part too well, so learn the lines and songs and try to audition without a script or score if you can as it is difficult to act and present yourself at your best when looking down at a book. Knowing the audition piece lets you give a performance, but keep it at hand, should you ‘dry-up’ at all. No audition panel wants to be told the auditionee has “only just seen it”, or “has a bit of a cold” (they can hear that), or “that they were persuaded only today to go for the role”. • Decide how you see the character. Use modern technology (such as You Tube) for ideas and knowledge about shows that you don’t know personally. Investigate the path the character has been on before he/she appears in the particular scene you’ve been set and understand what follows. Also investigate the character(s) you’re also playing with in the scene to understand the relationship/chemistry required. • Try to convince an audition panel that you will be right for the part with accessories like props and dress but don’t hire a full costume and wig! • Try to get plenty of rest the night before an audition. You won’t give your best if you audition tired. 3. On Audition Day… • Arrive in plenty of time and in the correct clothing (particularly if dancing/movement is required) • Get rid of distractions, e.g. mobile phones, so that you can focus on the job in hand. 4. During the Audition….. • Show confidence in yourself and try to relax - remember most people on an amateur audition panel have stood just where you are standing and understand how you feel. • Take control – it’s YOUR audition. Inform the auditioning panel what you’d like to do first i.e. libretto, singing or movement unless the director insists otherwise. Be confident and say your name and that you’ve come to audition for the role of ….. • Keep calm, deep breaths, drink water and be yourself in terms of your characterisation i.e. don’t try and copy others • Don’t make excuses - come in and show the panel what you can do and leave them to make allowances for nerves, colds, death of your cat etc etc. If you really don’t know the show, bring something you can sing. (don’t forget the accompanist will need a copy). And don’t forget to breathe! • Believe in yourself and never apologise for a missed note or a forgotten line. Remember that there are many factors that are taken into consideration before a final casting can be made, so keep going and keep positive. • Remember auditioning is worse than performing. When you have the part you have weeks of rehearsal to perfect the role. • Enjoy yourself… it may be the only chance you have to show just what you are capable of doing in that show. And after all, it’s our hobby! Next edition we’ll be looking at ‘Top Tips’ for Attracting Men to your Society Membership and then keeping them interested – another age-old problem affecting most Amateur groups! Please do send your tips you have to your District Representatives or to me at Matt Heaton

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What is the biggest challenge with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? The feedback seems to be around the shear scale of the show, whether you are making your own set or ending up with a set that was bigger than the plans indicated! Managing Chip the Teacup’s Trolley on a heavily raked stage seems to be a repeated theme too. The show also seems to attract big casts due to its popularity, which gives its own challenges in terms of space on stage and also discipline (controlling 50 people between the ages of 14 and 18 for a youth production sounds like an experience!). The transformation scene (where the Beast turns back to the Prince) is the big effect in this show and many groups cover this by using a lot of smoke and a sheet to hide the Beast. Warminster School managed the spectacular and ended up with a mix of live action, pyrotechnics, smoke and some very expensive CGI graphics made especially for them using their cast, through contacts at ITV and Pixar UK. The rest of us can probably but dream on this one…..

EVERYBODY’S DOIN’ IT!!!!! Now that the title above has got your attention (!), this new feature has the intention of focussing upon a popular new or re-released production that a number of Societies have performed or are planning or considering to perform. This is so that ideas and experiences can be shared between Societies to help them all make better and more informed decisions in their choice of show and then how they then manage them too. We hope you enjoy this article and that it proves to be useful too. Our first production to look at is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which has been a phenomenon since its release for Amateurs over two years ago. Thank you to Jo Wilson-Hunt at The Willow Tree Theatre Company in Tiverton, Phil Barnett at KIDZ R US, Brian Martineau (Director Of Music) at Warminster School, Andrew Carpenter at Frome AOS, Lynne Caygill at Centre Stage and Graeme Savage at the Theatre Royal, Bath for their valuable contribution to this article, as well as my own experiences when chaperoning my son when performing with CLOGS Musical Theatre.

DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Which groups are performing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? It is real a range of societies, both adult, youth and combinations of both. The feedback is that the show works really well with young people and they have no difficulty in singing it. Where is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast being performed? It tends to be at bigger venues with bigger capacities (300 seats and over). This is for several reasons. Firstly, it does tend to be really popular and has large audiences, which is great. On the down-side, it is quite an expensive show to put on and so needs to be planned to sell a lot of tickets. The hired sets also tend to be very large and need a lot of space. Why are Societies choosing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? The reasons collected are broad, but most Societies seem to be thinking on the same lines… • It has good principal parts and has lots for the chorus to do (unusual in more modern shows) • The company seems to really enjoy doing it – it is something ‘lighter’ • It is a well known show and it does tend to do well at the box office in terms of audience. • Visually it is very exciting and technically challenging • Beautiful music - lovely melodies, great orchestration, interesting harmonies and rewarding to sing • Great costumes • The Societies whom performed it in 2010 have said that it was nice to perform a show that few other local companies had yet to do, due to the licensing restrictions on the show and also to do the show before audiences got bored of it! The level of saturation that the show has now had with Societies performing it is the challenge facing those Societies who are performing it now and into 2012.

What do people enjoy most with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? People seem to enjoy everything about this show, even when they are making it all themselves. It also even seems to be a hit in attracting men and even more surprisingly young men. For example, half of the Warminster School’s 1st XV rugby team were in their production! What were ticket sales like and how do the Finances go with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? Ticket sales have generally gone pretty well, particularly with those Societies performing the show first. However, audiences are sometimes not as large as people expect. This may be the effect of the large National Tour and perhaps the current economic situation. So the advice is - don’t plan to make a big surplus on this show. Costs are a key feature to watch. Average figures provided indicate that the additional expenses required on set and costume can increase normal show costs by 15 to 20%. Average show costs seen are between £35K and £40K, though some are considerably lower and others considerably higher. That said, surpluses have been seen, particularly from those groups doing their own set, props and costumes. What ‘Top Tips’ are there for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? • The Willow Tree Theatre Company in Tiverton presented the production in December last year and decided to move away from the typical Disney look and gave the costumes a move in a different direction, taking inspiration from other performance genre - e.g. Ballet etc. They say don’t be afraid to use your own ideas...their director had the inspiration to have moving gargoyles on the set and had Chip sitting in the cup with his legs (fake) crossed on his saucer. It says nothing about it being a tin-type copy of the film - so be adventurous! • Warminster School also looking at each character and gave them new mannerisms, particularly Lefou, Cogsworth and Lumiere. They also made sure that the Beast wasn’t at all camp, which he often can be. • Centre Stage had 11 people in their orchestra which worked very well and sounded fabulous. This consisted of 3 Woodwind players played a variety of instruments between them including Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet; Horn; Trumpet; Cello; Double Bass; Violin; Percussion; Keyboard and Synthesizer • When performing the show with young people the title song ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is written in a very low key. For a small charge the rights holders transposed the song, including the orchestra parts up a third which made it much easier to sing. What is the summary on performing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? The overwhelming feedback is that though the show has many challenges, it is a really good production and the company thoroughly enjoys every minute of rehearsals and every performance – it’s a feel-good show to be in as well as to watch! If you are interested in performing the show, you may have to be quick with your application for a while as rumour has it that licences may be closing for Amateurs soon in preparation for another UK tour! If you’d like to see it, Frome AOS (who contributed to this article) plan to perform it at the Memorial Theatre Frome from 15th – 19th May 2012, Matt Heaton We’ll pick another show for the next edition. If you have any ideas on shows to look at then please let me know. Billy Elliot has been suggested as it is really popular with Youth Groups at present, but I’m open to suggestions!

What activities are Societies doing themselves for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and what are they getting outside help for? There is a real range of activities here. Set and Props from Proscenium are reported as being beautiful, but be aware that they are huge! Costume sets to hire are limited, though the Costume Workshop (Isle of Wight) are reported as having an amazing set. KIDZ R US in St Ives made their set, costumes and props themselves and now hire out their costumes for £1,000 to £1,500 for the whole show. Choreography and Musical Direction have tended to be in-house on this one, with occasional use of professional Directors.



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IN MEMORIAM: 2011 Doug Kirk 1929 - 2011 A full church at Farway, East Devon, confirmed how much appreciated Doug was and not just in the world of Amateur Dramatics. Exeter Little Theatre and the West Hill Players among others particularly benefited from Doug’s enthusiasm and attention to detail. He served East Devon as Regional Representative and his reports included some deserved criticism but always with suggestions for improvements. Doug wanted us all to be the best we could be. As my predecessor as Editor of our local magazine he sought to inform all the membership and reorganised the presentation to a much clearer style. His erudite comments at committee meetings were much appreciated by Councillors Mary Hobbs and Gerry Branton. Nick Lawrence

Paul Robinson 1947 - 2011

GOOD ACTING IS EASY! Ben Crocker reports…. Have you ever noticed how good performances seem so much easier than bad ones? The show feels light, everyone is on the beat - and yet, the next evening, everything feels heavy, everyone seems just off the beat – AND TRYING HARDER JUST SEEMS TO MAKE IT WORSE??!! And have you ever noticed how good actors almost never seem to be trying? How their performance just appears to come out of them without discernable effort?

I was pleased to represent the Association on 26th September at the memorial service for Paul Robinson who had been the powerhouse and light behind many wonderful entertainments in Sidmouth. I only enjoyed working with him on a couple of occasions, but for many years he inspired the Sidmouth Musical Comedy Society to raise large sums for local charities while giving local actors plenty of fun. Graham Liverton spoke of Paul’s many attributes which included the provision of a wardrobe “try on” in a back room at the Building Society he worked for. One would pay a visit to the Building Society and come away with your show costumes. Breaking his leg on stage while playing Francis Fryer and having to be carried off to casualty in full drag was one of his claims to fame. After Paul left Sidmouth, he went on to arrange entertainment for thousands of cruise ship voyagers. He loved people to be entertained. Just thinking back to some of his shows inevitably brings on a smile. Nick Lawrence

Mike Hinks

We were saddened to receive the news of the death of Mike Hinks (Past President). We have fond memories of his visit with Wyn to our Regional Weekend during his Presidential Year, and the charming and fun-loving way in which he represented the Association. Another gem for the star-keeper to look after. Nick Lawrence

1_4 Page Advert_Layout 1 26/05/2011 17:18 Page 1

Yes, there is a lot of truth in the paradox that good acting is easy. Of course, it isn’t quite as simple as that - acquiring expertise requires hard work. But if you have tried to perfect any activity, you will know that half the battle is getting rid of all the unhelpful stuff. You can’t give of your best, if half your effort is actually pushing you in the wrong direction. And here we come back to the paradox; because much of the helpful stuff is actually very easy. A note like “Remember to listen,” can really make a difference. It can help you to stop trying to re-heat the previous evening’s performance - and put you in the present, which is the only tense where you will succeed as an actor. I want to share the straightforward, helpful stuff which really works. I’ve been a professional theatre director for over twenty years. Ten of those years, I spent at Exeter’s Northcott and I still live in the South West. So whether your company is about to tackle a light comedy, a Shakespeare, a Chekhov, or a pantomime, I can put together a workshop specific to your text, which will help you and your colleagues to develop as actors and make you more powerful, more truthful and…. FUNNIER! Ben Crocker was Artistic Director of the Northcott Theatre between 1998 and 2008 – a period which saw the highest audience attendance levels in the Theatre’s history. He has directed over seventy professional productions. Highlights include ten of the acclaimed Shakespeare in the Gardens series, the hilarious Northcott pantomimes and many twentieth century classics like Habeas Corpus, All My Sons and The Deep Blue Sea.

“you perform it, we’ll dress it”

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He is contactable on 01271 815856. Alternatively, you can check out the Workshops page on his website

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View the full collection online at: HWL GROUP OF COMPANIES Tel: 0845 607 4867 Fax: 0161 320 3928 Email: expoadteaser.indd 5

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COUNCILLOR’S NOTES The South East Conference was held on 9th July at the Mandolay Hotel, Guildford and was well attended. We were delighted that Gerry Branton, NODA President and her husband Dennis were able to join us for the day. Paul Doust, our guest speaker, made his talk “Darling, You were Marvellous” into a small workshop involving four volunteers to explain how delivery of lines could be improved upon. Worthing Light Opera Company ended the day with superb excerpts from “Orpheus in the Underworld” and sent everyone home with a smile on their faces. Next year the Regional Conference will be held on Sunday 1 July, the venue for which will be notified next year. I was very grateful to Bob Cousins agreeing to continue for a further year as our Treasurer, but he would like to step down next year. Therefore I would appreciate hearing from anyone in the Region who would be willing to be our Treasurer. Please do contact me if you want more information. We had 20 students from the South East Region who attended Summer School. In 2012 it will be held from 4 -11 August at Warwick University. More details will be found on the NODA website in due course, including bursary application details. If you have never been before comments from past students can be found on both the website and on Facebook and they would be pleased to explain how beneficial and exciting an experience it is.

as well as the latest news. Reviews of productions are sent by the Regional Representatives to their societies, and on the website you can find a shorter version. It is expected that from next year this Region’s magazine will no longer contain show reviews but will have articles of interest. If your Society produces a newsletter I would be pleased to receive a copy by email or snail mail, or any articles that would be of interest to other members. My sincere thanks for the invitations received to see productions, with apologies to those that invited me but which I was unable to attend. Please do not leave it until the last minute before inviting the President, Regional Councillor or your Regional Representative as diaries do get filled up especially when a large number of productions are in the same week. Another date for your diaries is the NODA National Conference from 5 – 7 October 2012 at the Marriott Hotel, Cardiff. Membership renewal notices were issued in October, so if you have not already taken action please do so as soon as possible. I hope you will all have a very Happy Christmas and the New Year will bring good fortune to each and every one of you, and that your productions during the festive season are successful. John W Barnes

The NODA website is where all changes of information for society contacts and forthcoming productions should be inputted. All members of NODA and NODA Societies have access to the Fact Sheets which can be found on the website



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REGIONAL COMMITTEE Regional Councillor John Barnes Tel: 01580 830830 Mob:07803 905000

Hon Secretary Miss Priscilla Titford Tel: 01892 669719 Hon Treasurer Mr Bob Cousins Tel: 01276 23130

Hon Membership Secretary Mr Jim Hatley Tel: 01483 770130 Hon Award Secretary Miss Eileen Dobson Tel: 023 92839593

Youth Advisor (East) Cheryl Mumford Tel: 01227 366846 Hon Editor Mr Gregory Gower Magazine & Adverts Tel/Fax: 01323 737813 Regional Representative Phillip Hall District 1 Tel/Fax: 01273 473500 Regional Representative Brenda Gower B.E.M. District 2 Tel/Fax 01323 737813 Regional Representative Anne Lawson Districts 3 & 4 Tel: 01424 428693 M 07976 801295

Regional Representative Gordon Harris District 5 Tel: 01634 402323 Regional Representative Sylvia Blogg District 6 Tel: 01843 861083

Regional Representative Doreen Grierson District 7 Tel: 01474 813611 Regional Representative District 8 Mr Lance Milton 07803 896871 Regional Representative Jose Harrison District 9 Tel: 01903 892248 Regional Representative John E. Thomas District 10 Youth Advisor (West) & jetner@ Tel: 023 92256443

Regional Representative District 14 Mrs Kay Rowan 01420 83076

Regional Representative Roy Brown District 15 Tel: 023 9283 9888

Regional Representative Rita Boffin District 16 rita.boffin@peterboffin. Tel: 01983 731491 Regional Representative Margaret Fields District 17 Tel: 01962 775438 Regional Representative Betty Haslam District 18 Tel: 01420 83532 Regional Representative Helen Mills District 19 Email: 01932 845616

Regional Representative Barbara Fairclough District 11 Tel: 01489 690140 Regional Representative Gloria Smith District 12 Tel: 01932 866323 Regional Representative & Web Manager Stuart Ardern District 13 Tel: 023 80293120

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Having seen “See How They Run” at this theatre and remembering having seen the original cast in my youth, when Ronald Shiner took the lead role, it brought back many happy memories which made me book for a second visit to see the play again. For a start the set looked comfortable to look at and so did the sofa!

Welcome to another issue of Noda Regional South East News Magazine within Amateur Stage reporting Regional Representatives Reviews and featuring other articles of interest as well as giving out important information and reminders that may help Societies from tripping over copyright problems.

Hello Paul – Thank you for inviting me on stage of the Devonshire Park Theatre, here in Eastbourne! Paul Debreczeny is Stage Manager of the famous Devonshire Park Theatre and has been for the past 24 years. The Devonshire Park Theatre is grade II listed building designed by Henry Currey. It was built in 1884 and improved by celebrated Theatre Architect Frank Matcham in 1903. It is one of the best examples of a small Victorian Theatre in the country with ornate interior featuring decorative plaster work with scrolls and caryatids by Schmidt of Holloway. The theatre won the Martini/ TMA Regional Theatre Award for ‘Most Welcoming Theatre’ in 1994. Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, say where you were born? A: I was born in NE London (Tottenham) at a very young age. I lived most of my early life in Ilford and Walthamstow. My first experiences of theatre were the pantomimes my mum took me to as a child in the pavilion in Lloyds Park. I was always the mouthy child in the audience that actors seem to despair of!! I moved down to Eastbourne in 1987 for a job at the DP and have been here ever since. This theatre is a second home to me – in fact I’ve spent more hours of my life here than in any other building.

In 2000 The “Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre” were bequeathed a legacy of £2000 by Roger Neil, a former house manager at the Theatre, and they decided to hold a competition to design a new Safety Curtain for the Theatre. The eventual winner of the competition was Michael Stringer (pictured) who, we discovered later, had been a scenic designer in the film industry for more than 50 years and who had 52 films to his credit. We also discovered that he had received an Oscar nomination for his design work on the film, “Fiddler on the Roof”.

Q: What schools did you attend? A: William Fitt Junior High then Sir George Monoux in Walthamstow East London. After school I studied an HND in theatre production and design at Croydon college of Art Q: What did your Mother and Father do for a living?

The drawings which were on display were found by Michael’s daughter after he passed away in 2004 and she has passed them on to the “Friends” so that the public can get an idea of how he put together various ideas which resulted in the Safety Curtain as it is seen today. It would have been seen that the head of the character on the extreme left hand side of the curtain was changed from the original. This is because the “Friends” wanted to have a facsimile of Roger Neil as a memorial to him. Michael, therefore, produced a drawing taken from a photograph of Roger and then recreated the character you can now see on the final version. These drawings show how much work Michael put into this project and are representative of what a great artist he really was. We are so fortunate to have, with the Safety Curtain, an example of this great artist’s work which will, hopefully, be on view for many years to come.

A: My mum was a nurse and is now a lecturer on health issues. My father had a chequered career after he escaped from Hungary in 1956 (where he was a psychology graduate) including accountancy and minicab driving.

Q: What influenced you to become interested in this kind of work? A: I was interested in a career in the arts or publishing and managed to get on a youth programme at a local theatre - The Tom Allen Centre in Stratford atte Bow (London E15) – as Chaucer described it, where I served a kind of technical apprenticeship for a year. I was hooked after that! Q: Have you a favourite sort of Production that you like doing more than any other and give the reasons why? A: No preferences really though I have a penchant for dance and panto is the most fun

Submitted by Harry Lederman Chairman of ‘Friends of Eastbourne DPT’ Committee EDITOR’S PAGE The image of the Safety Curtain from the Devonshire Park Theatre will be permanently situated on the Editor’s page as ‘Setting the Scene’. It will be a constant reminder that some Theatres are thriving industries and need to be in constant use so as not to become “A SLEEPING BEAUTY”. CELEBRATIONS OF A SORT! I believe it was in 2006 I became Editor for Noda South East News Magazine – only 5 years! I have served 35 years as a Committee Member for Eastbourne Gilbert & Sullivan Society as Secretary, Vice-Chairman, Publicity Officer and now as Patron Secretary and 25 years as an actor and singer. Come Boxing Day 2011 - I have noted that I will have lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 50 years! Celebrations of a sort!



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Q: Following on from the last question – have you ever been asked to play a part in any of the productions that have been performed here at the Devonshire Park Theatre? A: This happens from time to time. I have been a corpse shot down by Herbie the Huntsman in Snow White who magically revives at the end of the show and does a little dance. Another time, I was a caretaker who had to take a drum kit out of a meeting room (I forget the play). I built the part so much that I got a director’s note. But my favourite was the finale of Barnum, where I had to secure the zip wire and entered in a leotard doing a backwards roll. Q: What has been the most difficult and technically designed layout that you have had to set? A: Even the simplest sets can be problematic but the most challenging was definitely ‘Neville’s Island’, where we recreated the island complete with surrounding lake full of water. There were issues of containment, weight and water quality to contend with Q: What is the least you and your team have had to do for a show? A: The simplest shows are the ones were there is no scenery. Then we will only put up a ‘black box’ (Masking legs and borders), maybe operate the lighting and that’s it Q: With the recession in full swing, what have you noticed with different professional Companies their way of reducing costs but still producing a top notch production? A: Producers always claim poverty and most commercial productions are on a tight budget, recession or otherwise. In reality it is usually the difference between producing a show or not. So the only thing I’ve noticed is that there has been a shift downwards in the scale of production that comes through the theatre allowing some smaller producers access. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Q: Many of the Theatres in London have ‘Micro-chip’ scenery where at a press of a button, scenery flies in and out, stage rotates and all manner of wonderful magic is performed! Can you visualize the Eastbourne Devonshire Park Theatre becoming computerised back-stage? A: Automation is creeping in all the time. We have 3 motorised winches here already and are planning on upgrading more in the near future. It isn’t always 100% reliable but it does reduce levels of staffing (and therefore costs). In any case, most of this technology comes with the production. It is not dependent on the venue and is stripped out when the show leaves. Q: Can you share with our readers what plans are in hand for improvements to this grade II listed building outside? A: The structure of the building is a constant source of despair but is dependent on a source of finance being available. This is beyond my role as stage manager. However, there is some hope as the immediate area is possibly being redeveloped and money is then going to be available for these kinds of improvements Q: Can you tell our readers the improvements that have been completed especially back-stage and inside the theatre in general, going back to January 2010 to the present day? A: Many areas have been re carpeted, the auditorium has new seating, and the emergency lighting system has been upgraded. Backstage we have more power and lighting dimmers and improved domestic lighting. Shortly we will be upgrading the décor in wardrobe and the dressing rooms but it’s a never ending project. Q: ‘Break A Leg’ is one saying that most Directors or Producers would say to a Production Company going on stage on the very first night? Probably most of the show biz members will know what this means, but for our non-performing readers who do not know, can you please describe the correct meaning? A: “Break A Leg” originated from the old days when the main curtain was manually pulled up and down to open the curtains for “Curtain Calls” by the performers. It was a rope that was in situ in a recess in the “Wings” and of course the rope tended to get frayed and would eventually break thru’ usage! The only one I know of is in the Theatre Royal in Brighton Q: As a Representative of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) I find it very intriguing why there are no notices displayed in the foyer and in programmes or announced that due to copyright from any sort of production performed at the Devonshire Park Theatre, informing the public that photographic, video and/or recording devices are not allowed, whereas all Amateur Societies who perform at professional venues and elsewhere have to announce and print in their programmes a warning to the audiences. For Amateur Societies the penalties of not advising their audiences are very severe and can lead to a heavy fine and termination of the production and an embargo on the Society ever performing again?

A: I have no idea why this is so but our front of house team is very proactive in stopping those activities regardless of the status of the company. Q: At a earlier consultation meeting between Amateur Societies and your Management Team, you indicated to those present that Societies could help themselves to reducing costs of performing at The Congress and The Devonshire Park Theatres by helping with some of the back-stage duties. Can you define what would be needed for members to participate within the boundaries of “Health & Safety” issues to be able to carry out such tasks and would there be special training needed and given in advance of Amateur Societies performing at professional venues? A: Most societies (if not all) already participate in these activities by moving scenery. I would say, they should already be doing risk assessments for their ‘staff’ and actors. There is no more danger in operating a lighting board, sound desk or followspot. We wouldn’t allow any untrained personnel on our fly floors however. The other factor is allowing strangers to operate expensive equipment which they could damage. In answer to your question those moving scenery or operating lights etc should be trained (within the confines of the task) or the tasks should be performed by those qualified to do so (at a cost.). We could certainly train any amateur company stage crew but this is beyond our remit and would again incur costs to the society as the theatre shouldn’t be expected to subsidise the activity. Maybe there’s a business opportunity for someone out there! Thank you Paul for taking part in this interview, I know just how busy your working day schedule is! Not only working back stage but also attending many managerial committee meetings to discuss many aspects of theatre-work and with new legislative safety measures that seem to come onto the scene for us performers to inwardly digest and why it is so important that all companies, professional or amateur should have the necessary insurance to cover for those unexpected problems that may occur. Most importantly for those of you who perform at the Devonshire Park Theatre and other venues throughout the UK, for your own safety please ‘obey the rules and regulations’ of the theatre’s Stage Manager!

REMEMBERING JOHN (JOHNNY) WOODHAMS John (Johnny) Woodhams was a stalwart of the entertainment scene in Hastings for over 50 years, displaying his prowess as an M.C., compere, toastmaster, actor and director, In the 1950’s and onwards he was in great demand as an M.C. and compere for dances and cabarets in many hotels and other venues in the area. Being a member of the Hastings Theatre Guild he was in at the beginning of the Stables Theatre in 1959 and appeared in many productions including ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’, ‘The Secretary Bird’, ‘The Seagull’, and twice as Chairman of ‘Old Time Music Halls’. As recently as 2002 he wrote the Christmas Pantomime ‘Red Riding Hood’ for a joint production by the Stables Theatre and Hastings Stage Studio. He also served a long term on the “Front of House rota”. John was a long standing member of the Hastleons serving them as an actor, director, stage manager, props, social secretary and committee member. He played a variety of roles including Captain Andy in ‘Showboat’, Nikki in ‘Kings Rhapsody’, Luthor Billis in ‘South Pacific’ and Fagin in ‘Oliver’. His service was recognised in 1993 when he was made a Life Member of the Society. He also appeared with the Nalgo Players partnering the late Bert Freeman as the comedy duo in pantomimes and with S.E.T.S. as Colonel Pickering in ‘My Fair Lady’ and Max Detweiler in ‘The Sound Of Music’. The Hasting Musical Festival has also been grateful to him for his long service as a platform steward, concert compere and Executive Committee member and made him Vice President of the Festival. One aspect of his talent to which possibly only his fellow thespians were privy was the satirical sketches he wrote for the after show parties at the end of a production, which were always thoroughly enjoyed by all. In 1996 he achieved his highest honour when Hastings made him the 28th recipient of the prestigious 1066 Civic award for his “Services to Entertainment”. John’s funeral was held on 19 October in Hastings with a Guard of Honour by the RAFA and Royal British Legion Standards and was attended by representatives from The Hastleons and NODA and other organisations with which he had been closely associated.

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Following such a wonderful time at Summer school last year, I could not miss out on going again – and what an amazing way to spend my summer holiday! Although the venue was different, I felt at home at once, with the friendly welcome and faces that I knew from my time before. The accommodation was superb, the food outstanding and the whole week was, once again, a real learning experience. I had forgotten just how full the week could be – with every minute, if you so wish, catered for, but those hours when friends meet in the bar, or sit and have a coffee, is a reminder of how everyone is of a similar mind, how everyone is so friendly and how many friends I can now add to my contact book. The Make-up course at Summer school was truly informative and apart from dressing up as a 1960’s Beatnik, complete with wig and make up, I learned how to create realistic scars, wounds, cuts and burns – so realistic in fact that several people felt quite squeamish at the result. Coupled with techniques on ageing, covering tattoos and a variety of “themed” face make up (witches, cats etc) the group learned how to dress a wig and spent time styling long and short haired wigs and how to fit them without the risk of them falling off during a performance. A great week, and one I can thoroughly recommend. The week at Summer school is certainly the highlight of my year, and I will be returning again, when I know that I will be learning yet more new skills and enjoying every minute – from the early mornings to the late night Disco! Penelope Tobin


The thought of arriving alone at a gathering as large as the NODA Summer School was enough to make me pause before walking in, but an immediate welcome both by the NODA reception team and the Warwick University staff soon dispelled any apprehension. I even got a free tee shirt for booking early. The accommodation and catering in the Conference Centre was more like a hotel rather than the student digs I expected, and the teaching facilities were excellent. I had chosen the course “Writing for the Stage” and, anticipating a comparatively sedentary week, I opted for more energetic evening workshops. Nine of us had signed up to learn how to write dialogue, and a more disparate group would be hard to find. We varied from total beginners to a published playwright. The tutor, Alan Drury, was highly experienced both in writing drama and in teaching the skill. He had a deceptively laid-back style, but at the end of each day the quantity of notes I had taken confirmed how much ground we had covered. Alan knew what needed to be tackled to improve a passage of writing. His advice was well targeted, so that I always felt encouraged. We explored aspects such as sub-text by doing group exercises. We formed smaller sets to explore the roles of protagonist and antagonist; and some time was devoted to working individually on our own scripts. Alan asked us to choose an idea to work on throughout the week, refining it as we covered more aspects of writing. On the final day we presented our work to each other. We were all delighted not only at how much progress each had made but also how different each piece was: historical, mystery, docu-drama, light comedy, high drama, gritty realism and more. I was very pleased with the scope and content of the course and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in scripts and how they are constructed. There were plenty of opportunities for socialising with others, especially at the BBQ and Quiz evening. There were about 200 students at the Summer School doing 13 different courses. The enthusiasm generated was palpable. I would hear excerpts from Sondheim from an adjacent room from time to time, and often got the chance to talk to others about their courses. I was able to get a taste of other topics in the evening workshops. “The Big Sing”, gave me the chance to get immersed in multipart harmony. “Burlesque” left me exhausted but enthused – although I don’t know any more about burlesque than I did at the start. The most fascinating workshop was “Making Connections”, a taster of physical theatre so absorbing and so compelling that I am tempted to sign up for the full course next time. Elizabeth Knight


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District 3 The Weald and South East Sussex ANNE LAWSON

THE HAVEN PLAYERS Let It Be 16th July Stone Cross Memorial Hall Producer/Director: Angel Gordon A lovely evening, giving us memories of the 60’s, an era when you could actually hear the words of the songs! The whole cast put their heart and soul into this production, conceived and directed by Angela Gordon in memory of her father, Ian. Everyone was in good voice and looked great. The dancing was a delight and everything was accompanied by a live trio on Piano/Bass, Guitar and Percussion. The narration was handled very well and our supper was much appreciated – a real 60’s feast.

Bexhill Light Operatic & Dramatic Society Copacabana Reviewed by: John W Barnes on 2 July 2011 De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea Producer/Director: Kitson Wellard Musical Director: Carl Greenwood Choreographer: Sophia Lefevre This was lively with an enthusiastic cast and well presented. The big part of Stephen/Tony was superbly played by Charlie Legg and well supported by Hannah Bates as Samantha/Lola. Both of them gave high quality dancing and singing with good clear diction. Gladys (Kate Dyer) was very convincing as Lola’s mentor; the wig-wearing Sam was well played and amusingly so by Bernard Simon. Joao Villar gave us a convincing character as the villainous Rico with Lesley van Egmont as Conchita was well matched. All the other characters were finely executed with strong support from the Ensemble; good lifts in the Bolero De Amor number; the exotically costumed female Copa Dancers together with the smartly suited males danced and looked as though they had come from a top class West End floorshow. This was a show that BLODS could be proud of and was fine entertainment. Congratulations to all involved and especially to Kitson for his first large production.

LEWES LITTLE THEATRE Tonight at 8:30 by Noel Coward 29th July Lewes Little Theatre Producer/Directors: Cathryn Parker & Michael Beach This was a tri-partnership production of Lewes Little Theatre, The Oast Theatre and Archway – I was able to see four of the one-act plays at Lewes. All three theatres are to be congratulated for the first production of Noel Coward’s ten plays under the above title since the original West End production. Out of “The Astonished Heart”, “Fumed Oak”, “Red Peppers” and “Family Album,” I guess the best known one would be “Red Peppers” – the story of the decline of Variety and the trials and tribulations of the eponymous song and dance act. “The Astonished Heart” was a typically Coward stiff upper lip piece set in a drawing room of definite 1930’s style, “Fumed Oak” was a real contrast, giving us a middle class family who were certainly not happy and “Family Album,” billed as a ”sly Victorian comedy with music,” taking place at an after the funeral gathering. A very entertaining evening with excellent acting by all taking part and a very positive form of Little Theatre Guild co-operation. EASTBOURNE OPERATIC & DRAMATIC SOCIETY Much Ado About Nothing 3rd August The Italian Gardens, Eastbourne Producer/Director: Gareth Brighton Musical Director: Simon Pickering Choreographer: Tracy Watton EODS are so fortunate to have the lovely Italian Gardens in which to use their consummate performing skills during the summer and Shakespeare’s plays are ideally suited to this type of venue. Beatrice and Benedick are the ideal couple on which to base this romantic comedy and David Nicholles and Becky Robinson certainly brought these characters to life. The rest of the cast were all ideally suited to their parts, especially Nick Moon as Dogberry – hilarity knew no bounds at his appearance! The simple set was ideal for the garden and sound, lighting, costumes and all the work that goes on backstage made for a memorable performance. THE HAVEN PLAYERS The Farndale Avenue Townswomen Guild Amateur Dramatic Society Production of the Haunted Through Lounge & Recessed Dining Nook at Farndale Castle 24th September Stone Cross Memorial Hall Producer/Director: Natalia Beams For those familiar with “Farndale” productions will know that they are excellent examples of how not to put on a play or a show! The ladies of the Guild certainly acted their socks off with Doug Dalziel giving his all as Phoebe Reece playing the redoubtable Lady Madge Graves. Michelle Moon was hilarious as Jasmine Boniface who managed to play the Old Yokel, Arnold Death, Dr William Blood and Reverend Tombs, not quite all at the same time but very nearly! They, and the rest of the cast are to be congratulated as it is really very hard to act as badly as that! The set was ideal and the programme or, I should say, the Farndale Avenue Townswomen’s Guild Newsletter was entertaining. All in all, a very enjoyable evening with lots of laughs. LEWES OPERATIC SOCIETY The Big Iolanthe 1st October Lewes Town Hall Producer/Director: Andy Freeman Composer & Musical Director: Lee Reynolds Choreographer: Emily Murray This was a home grown and very professional production to celebrate LOS’s centenary. This really was the big one – a Big Band Sound that was very big indeed! The sound did work with G & S’s Iolanthe, although sometimes the words (both singing and speaking) were lost due to the glorious combination of instruments played by an excellent orchestra – an amazing jazz composition by the very talented Lee Reynolds. The whole story was there, set in the 1930’s with some updated words by Director Andy Freeman. The Fairies and Peers were very lively indeed and used Emily Murray’s excellent choreography to great advantage. All the principals came over very well and looked just as they should due to the hard work of the wardrobe department. All the other backstage work combined to make this a very interesting and successful production.

District 5 Kent Three Towns GORDON HARRIS GDS Productions Oliver Hazlitt Theatre Producer/Director: Jeanette Davis Musical Director: Brian Skinner Choreographer: Emma Hodge GDS’s production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver at the Hazlitt this week was very much a shortened version, but this didn’t matter as Oliver can sometimes be too long. Jeanette Davis took this Oliver to different heights.The set was minimalist, perhaps too much at times as there were too many blacks!Musical direction in the very capable hands of Brian Skinner was superb.Choreography although sparse was of good standard by Emma HodgeCostumes were believable in some scenes but in others they were too clean, likewise cast members were also too clean and tidy. One green dress should have been cut and shoes on boys and girls in the workhouse should be boots or nothing. Fagin’s costume was not flowing and dirty enough and this didn’t help his characterisation. Ben Graves as Oliver, only 9 years old gave a great performance, what a talented little actor. He has a terrific voice for one so young. He was teamed with Aaron Ramsden as the cheeky Artful Dodger, these two worked well as a team. I am disappointed that we had 2 Oliver’s and 2 Artful Dodgers as this doesn’t give me chance to review the second set…who are Tommy Jeal and Nivraj Babraa good luck to you two boys.A stalwart of GDS took the lead as Fagin (John Endicott) his portrayal of the wily and miserly Jewish receiver of stolen goods was believable enough and John was in good form. As I said earlier a more flowing costume would have helped the characterisation. Zoe Pozo was in superb voice and gave us a well acted down trodden Nancy. Grant Baker as the vicious Bill Skyes, big on stature as well as on voice managed to frightened the audience. He pattered “My Name” extremely well.Although there is limited work for the chorus in Oliver, when they were onstage together they seemed to lack lustre except in “Om Pah Pa” when they shone through. Jeanette, this was your first attempt a directing a musical and to take on Oliver was VERY BRAVE. You managed to cope with all those kids, two casts and the challenges of bringing Oliver to the Hazlett. It was enjoyable in a minimalist way and Jeanette you rose to the challenge.

District 9 West Sussex JOSE HARRISON ACT TWO JUNIORS Les Miserables school edition Thursday 20th, 2011. The Capitol, Horsham. Producer/Director: Lance Milton Musical Director: Michael Hinton Choreographer: Beth Landskroner It is difficult to know where to start with this outstanding production. I have rarely seen a junior society perform better with the most remarkable acting and singing. They did justice to this wonderful score from the opening to the close when they received a standing ovation from a capacity house. The principals, ranging in age from 9 to approximately 18, sang every number with incredible maturity and performed their parts with total conviction. You could have heard a pin drop in the theatre the audience were so entrapped by the moving numbers which they sang with such emotion and passion. Every member of the chorus looked equally involved in the events taking place, acting, singing and moving around the stage with complete involvement in the story line. The lighting design and smoke effects were exceptionally good building a great atmosphere, despite lack of scenery, and the costumes and makeup were excellent. My heartfelt congratulations go to Lance Milton and his team for coaching his young people to such a high standard and staging such a brilliant production.

RUSTINGTON PLAYERS Run for your Wife 14th July 2011 Woodland Centre, Rustington Producer/Director: Lin Jones What a wonderful production this society performed and how encouraging that the audience was reasonably large and obviously enjoyed every minute of the play. It is seldom that one gets so many excellent actors, especially male ones, in one society. This was the first time I had seen “Run for your wife”. It is almost as manic as ‘Noises Off’ and just as much fun. This cast were all ideal in their parts, word perfect and kept us all laughing from start to finish. The set was very cleverly designed and furnished giving an excellent impression of two houses despite the smallish stage area. The lighting team headed by Michael Nott, managed to keep up with the many comings and goings so that the audience were never confused and the cast somehow managed to remember which side they were supposed to enter. Simon Birks as John Smith was excellent making full use of pauses as did Paul Jones (Stanley Gardner) whose facial expressions were a show stopper as a comedy act in their own right. Colin Bolton was superb as Bobby Franklyn and Justine Richardson and Marielle Cottee portrayed the two wives to perfection. Dave, Derek and Tim provided excellent supporting parts but the honours go to Lin Jones for quite outstanding direction. STAGE DOOR THEATRE COMPANY Pull the other One 21st July 2011 The Windmill Entertainment Centre, Littlehampton Producer/Director: Tony Makey This play by Norman Robbins is a true farce which is one of the most difficult parts of the genre to perform requiring exceptional timing and frequently a stage set with many entrances in constant use. This particular production was no exception. The set was very well designed and built allowing free access across the stage to the many doors but I would like to have seen a little more movement during the actual dialogue in act one. The cast sometimes tended to stand in lines or groups when they could have been busy doing chores around the room. Act two more than compensated giving the play much more life. The props were well chosen, the costumes and make-up looked right for the parts and the sound and lighting were inconspicuous giving that touch of realism required in any play even in such a farcical situation. Brenda Hargraves gave an excellent performance as the jealous and bossy mother-in-law of Albert Perkins performed with total conviction by Martin Sworn. All the other members of the cast gave very amusing interpretations of their various characters and the audience went home having had a very entertaining evening. WORTHING LIGHT OPERA COMPANY Acorn Antiques! The Musical 22nd September, 2011 Pavilion Theatre, Worthing Producer/Director: Jon Henwood-Wardle Musical Director: Julie Mackrill Acorn Antiques was described on their programme as the funniest comedy show to hit Worthing in years. They were right. I have seldom laughed til I cried in any production but I did this time. Obviously some credit goes to Victoria Wood for her marvellous script but the direction and performance of this production was brilliant. The entire set was laid out to perfection with wonderful props, the lighting was simple but worked really well and immense care had been taken over choice of costumes. I will never forget Tony Hill (Mr Furlong) after his make-over! I don’t really know where to start with the performances as there were so many really brilliant interpretations of the various characters, all so different and all so appropriately dressed and maintaining their roles throughout. On this occasion I am going to mention just one although all the principals were a joy to watch. Alison Booker (Mrs Overall) has played many leading parts in the past but this time she could have gone straight onto a professional stage and taken it by storm. She was magnificent and should play comedy at every opportunity. Her timing was sublime and her acting and singing perfect. Amongst a cast of excellent performers she stole the show. This society did Victoria Wood proud. DTS JUNIORS Little Shop of Horrors 10th September, 2011. The Barn, Field Place. Producer/Director: Julie Jordan Musical Director: John Woodman This was my first time of viewing this show and found it very entertaining. It was a brave choice for a junior production as it depended almost entirely on four good principals. They held their own well supported by four young singers and ten chorus members. All the other members of the cast were padding who seemed rather under rehearsed and hardly made an appearance on stage. Jack Winrow was quite outstanding as the dentist. His entrance and subsequent performance gave the entire production a lift to a new level. Grace Merry gave an excellent interpretation of Audrey both singing and acting exceptionally well. William Watson (Seymour) and Sam Lumsden (Mr Mushnik) sang well and gave creditable performances in very demanding roles. The four girls Talia, Grace, Abigail and Frankie moved and sang well providing good support for the four principals. The costumes and scenery were excellent, the lighting was well designed and the orchestra supported the soloists and small groups of singers but was inclined to drown the words in the chorus numbers. The part of Audrey 2, the plant, was brilliantly performed by some of the senior members of the society and the whole effect of the show was polished and fun to watch.

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LITTLEHAMPTON POS Trial and Tributes Friday 14th October, 2011. The Windmill Entertainment Centre. Producer/Director: Jill Waller & Sarah Smith Musical Director: Clare Wolfe & Daniel Paine This was an unusual and delightful combination. Trial by Jury was amusingly performed and sung by the cast, especially Stuart Box as The Learned Judge. The costumes were simple and the set gave a realistic feel to the court room. Unfortunately the very amusing words of W.S.Gilbert were far too frequently obliterated by the over enthusiastic percussion area of the orchestra. After the interval this company proved that they are really delightful singers under the baton of Daniel Paine whose orchestrations provided excellent support to the various singers. The content of Tributes was very well chosen and arranged by Sarah Smith, giving a number of chorus members a chance to sing on their own as well as in groups. There was some outstanding singing from Sarah herself, also from Chris Shanks, Peter Barnes, Jimmy Lynch, Caroline Baylis and Simon Smith. The costumes again were simple with all the ladies looking attractive in long evening dresses with clever touches to depict the various songs. The programme included a moving rendition of ‘I remember it well’ from Gigi, an outstanding performance of ‘There is nothing like a dame’ from South Pacific and finishing with a medley from Les Miserables which was superbly sung and choreographed by this very talented society. REGIS PLAYERS Deckchairs Saturday 22nd October, 2011 Felpham Village Hall Directors: Peter Green and Philip Amor This was a delightful compilation of 5 short plays each consisting of two ladies sitting on deck chairs on the promenade. Having no scenery, no movement, minimal lighting changes and very few props these plays are very difficult to perform, depending entirely on their costumes and varied expressions and interpretations of the words. All ten ladies carried off their parts well, were word perfect in general and brought their characters to life with conviction. Each piece had a twist in the tail to add extra humour to the duologues. I particularly liked the first one, ‘Shoppers’ because of the interaction between the pair and the amount of activity with endless bags of goodies that they kept unpacking and showing to each other. I would like to have seen even more passion building between mother and daughter as the second play ‘Early Blight’ progressed but ‘Dancers’ closed the first half brilliantly despite a couple of prompts. Their costumes were a work of art and their facial expressions and body language said it all. After an excellent supper the second half started with ‘Late Frost’ which was slightly disappointing as we couldn’t hear the words very well but the last play of the evening ‘Doggies’ was brilliant. Both performers gave wonderful interpretations of their characters but the star of the evening was Liz McNally with her glove puppet dog Robbie who kept moving and acting throughout without causing Liz to forget her dialogue. It was a superb performance which kept the audience in fits of laughter from start to finish.

District 11 Mid Hampshire BARBARA FAIRCLOUGH CENTRESTAGE PRODUCTIONS YOUTH THEATRE The Wizard of Oz Reviewed by: Barbara Fairfield The Point, Eastleigh Producer/Director: Pete Harding Musical Director: Alex Pope This production was the summer project for this young company. It was a great show with lots of enthusiasm from all the cast. The technical special effects were very good and excellent lighting with the use of gobo’s in the cyclone. Special mention to Daisy Wheeller a very believable Dorothy with a great voice to match and Joey Warne who played the Cowardly Lion with great gusto and comic timing, Also the balance between the 25 piece orchestra and the singing from the cast was brilliant. Fantastic show .

District 13 New Forrest. STUART ARDERN POULNER PLAYERS Katherine Howard Poulner Church Hall Producer/Director: Sally Whyte William Nicholson’s script explores Henry VIII’s marriages as a proxy for the struggle for the English church, with Katherine’s uncle, the Duke of Norfolk (Peter Ansell) championing the Catholic cause, opposed by Archbishop Cranmer (John West) after Cranmer’s choice - Anne of Cleves (Adele Buxton) is rejected by Henry. Cranmer, later (under Mary) a protestant martyr, doesn’t come at all well out of this portrait, in which he is shown as devious and manipulative, making brutal sacrifices of Henry’s courtiers. The simple set was dominated by a (retractable) curtained bed, and otherwise there were just a few pieces of movable furniture. This was very effective and the action flowed very well. The women of the court had the best of the comedy (notably Caroline Dearden, for the “When Harry Met Sally” moment), but largely, this is a dark political play in which the gentle, sympathetic and entirely believable relationship between Katherine (Steph Dearden) and Henry (Bernie Langosz) is torn to shreds by the competing factions. Lots of visual delights and attention to detail; the following day I visited Petworth House where there is a recently-restored sixteenth century copy of one of the Holbein full-length portraits of Henry. He was wearing the same


shoes as on the previous night. BURLEY PLAYERS Moroccan Twist Burley Village Hall Producer/Director: Wayne Priestley and George Rhodes Wayne Priesley’s script was a pastiche of 1940s American radio drama and film noir, with radio studio sections morphing into dramatised action and back again. Whilst I think it might have benefitted from a clearer separation between the studio and action elements, on the whole it worked very well. The hard-boiled private eye yarn spun effortlessly through multiple locations on three continents without the need for major changes of set. A huge roster of roles necessitated a lot of doubling from the cast, with only Wayne Priestly as the detective, Kirsty Danks as his assistant and Lindy Capon as Big Ying (one of a pair of villains) sticking to one character throughout, but again, this worked well. Amongst the highlights were Sandy Simpson’s turn as the French Count Marcel (her whole way of moving changed), and the final shoot-out which left the bodies literally and hilariously piling up on the stage. NEW FOREST PLAYERS Dancing at Lughnasa Ballard School Producer/Director: Ann Ramm Dancing at Lughnasa breaks a couple of rules of theatrical writing. The maxim of “show don’t tell” is firmly broken by the narration of Michael (Matthew Walker) taking us into his reminiscences of childhood and family. The other is about plot: it doesn’t really have one, although the slice of life does show changes for the characters. Despite that, the exploration of rural Ireland in the 1930s and the depth of the characters (and their portrayal by the cast) makes the audience care about the outcomes. All the roles were played well, and the sisters were well-differentiated - a tight-knit family but individually distinct. A particular delight was the way Chris (Susie Hirst) lit-up at the arrival of her feckless lover, Gerry (Giles Milner). It would be easy to treat Jack (the missionary priest who has returned ill and in disgrace having gone native) as a figure of fun, but this would be to misunderstand the humanity of the role. As it was, Tim Schuler (and the rest of the cast) treated Jack with seriousness and sympathy, underlining the disgrace that Jack’s reputation visits on the whole family. At the end of the play, the lights were brought down over a long passage of Irish music, after which, prior to the applause, there was a deep silence as the audience breathed a collective sigh. BURLEY PLAYERS The Visitor Burley Village Hall Producer/Director: Paul Berry There is something slightly mechanical about the set-up of The Visitor (the first third of an evening billed as Mystery, Meal and Mayhem). Laura Knight (Janet West) is living in a cottage that she has unofficially inherited from her boss - a man who died in an unfortunate accident involving a high window and the ground beneath. We learn this and more in an unguarded conversation between Laura and a visiting acquaintance, Gail (Sharon Street). This is slightly unnatural; it is a bit too obvious that the purpose of this conversation is to give information to the audience. Thereafter, the play gets changes of pace and direction from the taciturn housekeeper, (Mary Turner, bringing comedy to the role by playing with well-judged stolidity) and the arrival of The Woman (Veronica Johnstone) with a manic, slightly unhinged air. Their transformations into their true seleves as the plot is finally revealed were excellently worked. LYNDHURST MUSICAL & DRAMATIC SOCIETY Haywire Vernon Theatre Producer/Director: Liz Balfour/David Balfour At the centre of Eric Chappell’s “Haywire” is Alec, a man for whom curmudgeonliness has become a life’s work. If Alec has a good word to say for anyone - and particularly for a member of his family - then it’s probably meant sarcastically. Contrary to his intention when he chose the script, David Balfour ended-up casting himself as Alec; this turned-out to be a good choice, and didn’t detract from the direction as the play zipped along at an excellent pace. Alec spends the play trying to get the rest of his family out of the way so that he can consumate his affair with his bookshop assistant, Liz (Sarah Short). The rest - unknowingly - thwart his ambitions. I enjoyed the playing of all the cast: Vic Milne convincingly acting below his age as the feckless son with the broken leg, Amanda Fordham had the awkward movements spoton as the heavily pregnant daughter, Hilary Causey got the best of the laughs as Alec’s disreputable mother and Di Buck struck the right note as the wife reluctantly going on holiday without her husband - in order, it turned-out, to embark on her own affair. The set, with two practical doors and a practical window, packed a lot into the small stage, but the crowding seemed entirely appropriate to the flat above a second-hand bookshop. RINGWOOD MUSICAL & DRAMATIC SOCIETY Past - Present - Future Greyfriars Community Centre Producer/Director: Cindy & Dave Wischhusen, Jenny Elward & Poppy Garvey, Sheryle Sketchley Musical Director: James Stead, Jonathan Spratt, Stuart Darling Choreographer: Cindy Wischhusen, Jenny Elward The set-up of the RMDS summer show is unusual, with three separate small theatre spaces each presenting a different show, and the audience rotating between them. The “past” show mined songs from 100 years of previous RMDS shows.

The library offered the most space for the excellent choreography and for the set with revolve and doors which enabled the joke for “there’s a coach coming in”: it was a mock-up of a Ringwood bus. “Present” was a compilation of songs from shows currently running in the West End. A lively selection, delivered with panache by the cast, and very enthusiastically received by the audience. “Future” was very different, with a story created by Sheryle Sketchley: a dystopian vision of 2084 dominated by the authoritarian Lady Gaga, opposed by the forces of the outcast RMDS, and their hero Malec Horus. (Look carefully at that name.) Okay, there is no rule that says the plot of a musical needs to be logical! The setting was essentially a promenade stage, with the audience on either side of a narrow catwalk and the opposing forces at either end - with the Gagas on the platform of a scaffolding which also enclosed the keyboard and drums. The musical selection was eclectic - nowhere else have I heard Rogers and Hammerstein and The Jam in such quick succession - but the effect was very good with some excellent singing, notably from the younger members of the ensemble.

District 14 North Hants KAY ROWAN STARBURST Boogie-Nights-the 70’s Musical St Nicholas’ School, Church Crookham Producer/Director: Pete Woodford Musical Director: Andy Milburn Choreographer: Liz Woodford Boogie Nights-The Musical tells the hilarious and heart-warming story of Roddy, a Jack-the-lad, whose life of birds, booze and boogie is about to be turned upside down. The action takes place on the night Elvis died. From the moment the audience entered the theatre they were immersed in the disco scene with Dean the D.J., played by Marc Spicer, involving them in the action. This company of young people just overflows with talent. In all areas of the production the calibre of all those involved shines through. The audience were so spell bound throughout the performance that the time sped by. The quality of the choreography was first class and the performance was a study in movement throughout. A great deal of work had gone into sourcing authentic costumes particularly the shoes and boots which were particularly appreciated by those in the audience who remembered the 70’s. Curtis Varns played the role of Roddy O’Neill, the good-looking, brash, confident ‘ladies man’, with panache and addressed the audience with great assurance. Christine Cook very ably acted the role of Debs, the long time girlfriend of Roddy, and sang both the solos and duets with vitality and good tonal quality. Congratulations to the director and choreographer for a very well cast show with very slick moves including those of the stage crew.

District 16 Isle Of Wight RITA BOFFIN SOUTH WIGHT YOUTH THEATRE Shakespeare Revue Quay Arts, Newport, IOW Producer/Director: Isabel Favell Musical Director:Kim Ball Choreographer: Alain Smith Once again, the South Wight Youth Theatre has come up trumps, creating a revue with an unusual theme - Shakespeare.. This ambitious project, nominated and supported by The Royal Shakespeare Company, involved a cast of some forty budding thespians performing twenty six items, with many highlights. Which Witch was sung by the attractive, multi-talented Harley Mackness, whose enviable rapport with the audience is most unusual in such a young performer. Swap a Jest, was an amusing item, very ably presented by two of the younger performers, Thea Callaghan and Juliette Wrixon. That wellknown song, Brush up Your Shakespeare, featured six young men, including stalwarts David Jowitt and Christopher Pickett. Giving Notes came across with effortless aplomb by Olivia Hickey who engaged members of the audience in a style reminiscent of Joyce Grenfell. Ladies of London showed off the excellent costumes created by wardrobe mistress Di Boxall and gave four young ladies a chance to display their undeniable talents. Othello in Earnest featuring Kate Lines and Michael Pearl was a very clever adaptation of a sequence from the well known Oscar Wilde play, with Egypt replacing Victoria station and that most memorable utterance of Lady Bracknell, `a Handbag` becoming, appropriately, `a Sandbag!`. Finally, I should mention Marlee King, Olivia Hickey, Kate Lines and Juliette Wrixon who dazzled us all with their happy smiles throughout. COWES A.O.D.S. The Secret Life of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 Sunday 18th September 2011 Trinity Theatre Cowes IOW. Producer/Director: Jo Adams Musical Director: Alex Quilter The staging of this play was quite outstanding. Two rows of seats were taken away to add an apron with steps, then came the stage proper with acting areas in each wing and finally a bedroom, complete with two beds, which was on a rostrum at the back. The auditorium was also effectively used. The play itself by Sue Townsend, has many funny lines and these, added to the jaunty beat of the songs, make for an entertaining evening. A bespectacled Jacob Burland who played Adrian Mole was ideal for the role, being tall and, on stage at least, slightly gauche yet coming across as a young man wise for his age, quite unfazed by the events going on around him. Carol Simpson, the love of his young life, Pandora, was equally well


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cast and, I imagine, typical of the eager adolescent of that era. I particularly liked the attack of Zoe Divers` Ronnie Kent, the spirited girl from `the other side`. Hers was a brief but memorable appearance. She has a strong voice and good stage presence and I should like to see her in a major role. In fact, all the characterisations were good, from the mobile facial expressions and natural delivery of Robbie Gwinnett - Nigel; through the members of the Mole family to the often eccentric additional cast, each in various roles. However, no CAODS show would be complete without its unusual trade mark. Yet another stage struck dog! ARRETON COMMUNITY THEATRE Twelfth Night 14th August 2011 Budbridge Manor Arreton IOW. Producer/Director: Isabel Favell Shakespeare plays seem to lend themselves to outdoor productions and a whole range of wildly differing interpretations. The walled garden of Budbridge Manor made an ideal back drop for this play, which was an amusing mixture of the traditional and the unexpected. Feste the Jester was played by a talented young lady - Tanya Verey - who, with her Gothic style make-up made a feisty, slightly sinister, though charismatic jester, who could also sing and play the recorder. Linda O`Connor gave an unusual twist to the part of the Countess Olivia. So, not the standard rather haughty countess, whose repressed passion gradually evaporates as she becomes enamoured of Viola - Ashleigh Mackness - who she thinks is a boy, Cesario. No, this countess was eager from the start, almost adolescent in her repeated, petulant rejection of Count Orsino and her unbridled infatuation for Viola. And as for Count Orsino himself, Oliver Fry saw him and played him as an excitable buffoon! Certainly an arresting performance. No wonder he was scorned by Olivia, although why the level-headed Viola was immediately enraptured remains a mystery. Other parts were more in the traditional style and I was most impressed with Mick Thirkettle - Sir Toby Belch - whose projection and natural delivery defeated the wind which at times eclipsed the dialogue of some of the cast. All in all an entertaining, memorable afternoon was had all those who braved the inclement weather.

District 17 Southampton & West Hants MARGARET FIELDS CHESIL THEATRE The Herbal Bed The Chesil Theatre Winchester Producer/Director: Tom Williams The Herbal Bed is the story of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and how she was publicly slandered by young Jack Lane. Eleanor Marsden was an interesting Susanna, a mixture of quiet control and great passion, and Alec Walters, as her husband John was a master of restraint and reason. Alice Chadwick was an animated servant, Thom Hayes was a wild and exuberant Jack and Graeme Langford was a very passionate Rafe. Noel Thorpe-Tracey was very convincing as the Bishop of Worcester and Tim Robbins was quite scary as the obsessive Vicar General. The production was quite lively, but occasionally it seemed very “wordy” and a bit dull. However the play covers an fascinating period of history and contains some interesting ideas. RAODS Dead Certain The Plaza Romsey Producer/Director: Matthew and Georgette Ellison “Dead Certain” is a taut psychological drama. Michael, a not too successful actor, visits Elizabeth, a disabled ex-dancer, to act out a play that she has written. The action starts in a straightforward manner, but gradually Michael begins to see that things are not quite as he first thought, and that Elizabeth seems to have some sort of hidden agenda. In the second act things become even more tense and Michael becomes more and more anxious and confused. The climax of the play is quite gripping – even shocking – and the boundaries between truth and illusion become very blurred. Emma Portlock is very convincing as the wheelchair-bound Elizabeth. Her mood changes are believable and she constantly keeps Michael in a state of confusion. Clive Butcher plays Michael and successfully shows his descent from confidence to total perplexity. The interplay between the two characters is fascinating, with Elizabeth pulling all the strings and constantly manipulating Michael until he has lost all of his self confidence. The directors, husband and wife team Matthew and Georgette Ellison, not only brought out all the suspense of the play but also found plenty of humour in the text. The play is set in a large, very bright, and well furnished room with space for Elizabeth to move around in her chair. As the light gradually fades the tension builds up and we were never quite sure of the outcome until the final curtain. CHESIL THEATRE Last Train to Nibroc Chesil Theatre Winchester Producer/Director: Mary Stone This is a lovely short play set in the early 1940’s. May and Raleigh are a young couple who meet on a train going from Los Angeles to Chicago. We see their relationship gradually develop and become involved with their meetings and misunderstandings. The dialogue is at times very humorous, but it is also very touching. SarahKate Abercrombie was a delightfully homespun May and Graeme Langford was brilliant as the rather “odd-ball” Raleigh. The set was superb – opening like a book for the three scenes – and changed completely with the minimum of fuss.

RAODS Guys and Dolls The Plaza Romsey Producer/Director: Liam Meggison Musical Director: Rhys Scrivener Choreographer: Adam Myers RAODS’ latest show was a lively production of this ever popular musical. Alison Vincent, Sarah, and John Earwood, Sky, sang well together and the classic songs “I’ve never been in love before” and “If I were a bell” were beautifully sung. John and the Guys were fabulous in “Luck be a Lady Tonight” with great singing and excellent dancing. Wayne Ings was a very “Runyonesque” Nathan Detroit, and his various trials and tribulations were very funny. Sally Bailey was a super Miss Adelaide, bemoaning her fourteen year long engagement. Her “Lament” was an absolute joy, and “Take back your mink”, performed with the excellent Hot Box Girls, was very well done. Adam Myers devised the brilliant choreography, and also played a very amusing Nicely-Nicely. “Sit down you’re rockin’ the boat” was amongst the high-lights of the show, with great singing and movement. The small band, under the direction of Martin Paterson, played with style and enthusiasm. Liam Meggison, the director, produced an exhilarating show, full of great singing, dancing and laughter. RAODS YOUTH Bugsy Malone The Plaza Romsey Producer/Director: Lisa Gilmour Musical Director: Shaun Dodimead This was a super production and the action moved swiftly from the first “splurging” to the final custard pie. Stephen Lilly was excellent as Bugsy, the charming rogue and Ashleigh Ings was delightfully confident as his girlfriend Blousey. At times Tom Hopgood stole the show as the larger than life Fat Sam, making us all laugh at his troubles with his arch enemy, Dandy Dan. George Lambourne was a super Dandy Dan, playing a mobster boss, with an impressive false moustache, and Kerry Butcher, as Fat Sam’s vampish girlfriend, gave a lovely rendition of “They call me Tallulah”. Scott Gilmour as Fizzy seemed to be on stage almost all the time and his swift repartee and endless sweeping helped the many scenes changes to be accomplished with the minimum of fuss. Lisa Gilmour, the director, used all the stage, the aisles, front of stage, in fact using all the auditorium so that the story moved swiftly and the action never dragged. The dancing, devised by Jess Connelly, was very lively and Fat Sam’s dancers were super. Shaun Dodimead and his orchestra got the sound of prohibition era and accompanied the singers well. It was all very colourful, and the large cast was so very confident that it was hard to believe that rehearsals had only lasted for three weeks of the school holidays. SOUTHAMPTON MUSICAL SOCIETY The Best of Times The Theatre Royal Winchester Producer/Director: Chris Magdziarz Musical Director: Kelly Avis with Ryan Saunders Choreographer: Chris Magdziarz, Dawn Broomfield, Wendy Brook, Paul Warne This was a lovely compilation of some of the best songs from the best musicals. The very talented members of SMS got a chance to try something a bit different and the well balanced programme was a joy from start to finish. The dancing was super and because there was a quartet of choreographers involved we saw several different styles of dance so the musical numbers were always interesting. I particularly liked “It’s too darn hot” with some brilliant choreography and execution. The singing was pretty good too, with solos, duets and some excellent chorus work. I loved the different slant on “I am what I am”. The production was a super opportunity for the society to show off their talent. The only thing missing was a tap routine – but you can’t have everything in life! RAODS Oleanna The Plaza Romsey Producer/Director: Paul Green Oleanna is a fascinating play dealing in many levels with the relationship between tutor and student, and the different ways of communication between men and women. Mathew Ellison is very convincing as John, the somewhat pompous and preoccupied teacher and Becky Mills is excellent as Carol, the student. It was interesting to see her develop from an inarticulate young girl to a confident and quite aggressive woman. The taut direction of Paul Green helped the audience to form their own views of the characters and left us to make our own judgement and decide whose side to take. FOOTLIGHTS YOUTH THEATRE Oklahoma! The Nuffield Theatre Southampton Producer/Director: David Tatnall Musical Director: Martin Paterson Choreographer: Louise Hodson This was a most enjoyable version of this ever popular musical and Footlights managed to find a slightly different angle to the action, making it all very natural and rather more believable than usual. The young people looked like teenagers and I thought that their clothes were very much in keeping with the period – not a shred of gingham in sight! Laurey and Curly were lovely and used their youth to advantage. They sang and acted well although occasionally Curly’s dialogue was difficult to hear. I liked the just slightly mature looking Aunt Eller, it was more in keeping

with the youthful idea. Will and Ado Annie were terrific. Their dancing and singing were excellent and they brought out all the humour and kept in character the whole time they were on stage. Harry Butterwick did well as Jud – it’s not an easy role – and Maria was a very confident Giggling Gertie – what a laugh! I loved Olaf – his portrayal of Ali Hakim was delightfully witty. The chorus was excellent and, as usual, all on stage gave at least one hundred percent. The cast was full of confidence, very focused and sure of what they had to do. I liked the set. It was well thought out and multipurpose, saving on scene changes. I actually rather liked the orchestration, although perhaps it could have done with a bit more bass. The sound was big enough and we could still hear all the lyrics. The audience tend to concentrate on those on stage, not the orchestra (except when it is too loud!!) My only slight disappointment was the ballet. It was quite well executed but was a bit flat. Overall this was a super production – bright, lively and full of energy – although I would have liked a final chorus of “Oklahoma!” before we all went home! PERFORMING ARTS COMPANY Guys and Dolls The Berry Theatre Hedge End Producer/Director: Kevin Warne Musical Director: Martin Bennetts Choreographer: Kerry Evans The Berry Theatre is a brand new venue and it seems to be a very comfortable venue, seating about 300. Performing Arts were the first amateur company to perform their show there and everything went very smoothly on their opening night. There was some excellent singing and dancing. Danny Kent was a very cool Sky and Helen Waller was a rather prim Sarah - although she certainly let loose in the Havana scene. Joseph Warne and Kelly Blackburn were super as Nathan and Miss Adelaide, bringing out all the humour in their roles. The Crap Game in the sewer was brilliant, starting with some great choreography and then an excellent version of “Luck be a Lady” from Sky. The Mission Meeting was super, with great singing from Dave Smith, and well choreographed movement from the chorus. The men’s costumes were very good and the ladies – especially the Hot Box Girls – were very stylish. The set was very simple – mainly cloths and a few props – so scene changes were swift – and there was plenty of room for the lively chorus. PAC certainly set a high standard for this opening production.

District 18 East Hants & South Surrey BETTY HASLAM GODALMING OPERATIC SOCIETY Patience 24th February 2011 Borough Hall Godalming Producer/Director: Pat O’Connell Musical Director: Robin Wells Simon Cakebread as the aesthetic poet Bunthorne gave a performance with great panache ably supported by Jenny Sanders as the simple milkmaid Patience who displayed her talented acting and enhanced with the delightful rural dialect. First class singing from Lee Power (Colonel Calverley) who was well assisted by his fellow officers and men of The Dragoon Guards especially Jeremy Bourne as The Duke and a very young (6th Form Godalming College student) Sam Barrett playing his first G&S role as the Major. The experienced Richard Arthur (Grosvenor) made good use of his bass baritone voice giving a very creditable performance. Nora Price (The Lady Jane) is a very experienced actor who always does justice to these parts, her comedy timing amused the audience especially her ‘duet’ with the cello in Act 2 . Alexandra Lawrence (The Lady Angela), Ruth Parr (The Lady Saphir) and Katie Wood (The Lady Ella) all gave very good supporting roles both in singing and acting. The chorus of Love Sick Maidens and Dragoon Guards were very colourful and their singing greatly enhanced the opera. The overall production delighted the audience. Congratulations to director Pat O’Connell, the cast and the back stage crew. ALTON OPERATIC & DRAMATIC SOCIETY The Mikado 10th March 2011 The Assembly Rooms Alton Producer/Director: Kay Rowan Musical Director: Steven Moore The director Kay Rowan maintained a traditional G & S format to her enjoyable production of the Mikado. The principals gave commendable performances in both singing and acting. Simon Jenkins (Nanki-Poo) Graeme Cooper (Pooh-Bah) and a young Ben Dowsett (Pish-Tush) did justice to their parts. Geoff Vivian (Ko- Ko) has played most G&S roles but Ko-Ko was a first, as well as his acting and singing he brought a lot of humour to the part. Jane Mabbitt (Yum-Yum) was delightful, her singing was first class and a pleasure to listen to, as were her sisters Beth Mills (PeepBo) and Eleanor Bradbury (Pitti-Sing). Kate Youll (Katisha) played the part well but at times the orchestra rather drowned her singing. John Rowles (Mikado) was very comfortable in the part having spent time in Japan. Supported by a well drilled chorus. The set was simple but successfully transported the audience to Japan. Of particular note was the design of Act 11 which was commendable The large enthusiastic audience enjoyed a splendid performance of Mikado – many congratulations –well done AODS celebrating your 90th Anniversary Year.

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GODALMING THEATRE GROUP Annie Get Your Gun 14th April 2011 The Ben Travis Theatre Godalming Producer/Directors: David Dray & David Kast Musical Director: Steven Bean Choreographers: Paul Prebble & Alison Chapman David Dray & David Kast’s direction of Annie started on a high note and to the delight of the audience maintained the pace. The opening number of No Business like Show Business by Nick Wyschna ( Frank Butler ) was a veritable treat, his singing and acting were superb. Sophie Bostock (Annie Oakley) as the feisty leading lady was very comfortable in the role. A special mention of Hilary Harwood whose depiction of (Dolly Tate) was very good. Paul Furlong (Chief Sitting Bull) looked the part and his excellent acting added to the role. The Jessie, Nellie and Little Jake on Wednesday night (this review) were delightful. The rest of the cast and crew fully supported the principals. Musical Director Steven Bean with his musicians dressed as cowboys and cowgirls gave a pleasing performance in true traditional style. The chorus of dancers gave a lively performance. Very colourful and sparkly costumes which we have come to expect from Madeleine Gibb and Carol Gallacher. A minimal set with the changes executed well by the stage manager and back stage staff.A very enjoyable evening well done GTG GUILDFORD OPERA The Tempest 30th April 2011 The Electric Theatre Guildford Musical Director: Francis Griffin Stage Director: Jackie Shearer The Tempest by Shakespeare, using the poetry of the play was the basis for Joe St. Johanser’s operatic composition which Guildford Opera premiered. Rob Mills design for the scenery cleverly depicted a stormy sea, a giant wave and a sea shore with sand Excellent lighting designed and operated by John Whitehead. Kris Benjafield used costume from the in house wardrobe which was very effective. Specialist costumes by Leslie Griffiths. Clever makeup with especial note of how Richard Arundel (Caliban) was transformed by Louise Walsh The rich timbre of bass/baritone Tim Baldwin (Prospero) coupled with an excellent stage presence made for an excellent portrayal of the part. Richard Arundel (Caliban) the deformed slave whose powerful baritone and acting enthralled the audience . Anna Loveday, Lizzie Hull, and Leo Shearing as the three Ariel Spirits played their parts well. Helen Sample (Miranda) had a very pleasant voice and was comfortable in her part. Yuri Sabatini (Ferdinand) thrilled the audience with his wonderful tenor voice. Musical direction by Francis Griffin and Stage direction by Jackie Shearer complemented with a strong cast of excellent singers made for a very enjoyable evening. PH PRODUCTIONS Sweeny Todd 21st April 2011 The Mill Studio Guildford Director: Joe Vetch Producer & MusicalDirector: Alex Parker Musical Staging: Louise Olley The legend of Sweeney Todd began in 1846 as a Penny Dreadful. This production by Joe Vetch took the story back to its black and white origins and added to the atmosphere by directing the ensemble to interact with the set using simple objects. The orchestra made a good job of Sondheim’s music and was conducted in a professional manner by Alex Parker Minimal staging was very effective especially in the ‘murderous’ effects using Red lighting and very effective atmospheric sounds. The Director Joe Vetch had the difficult task of switching the leading man due to the indisposition of Mark Mowbray. Darren Street superbly took over the lead role of Sweeney Todd ably supported by Joe Vetch (Judge Turpin), Michael Colbourne (Anthony Hope) and Ana Richardson (Jonas Fogg) who all stepped in to the breach. Victoria Jukes (Mrs Lovett) and Cathryn Humphrys (Beggar Woman) were also superb. The whole ensemble supported the principals in a truly ‘gruesome’ fashion. Joe Vetch and PH Productions can be proud of this very enjoyable version of Sweeney Todd. FARNHAM AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY Jack The Ripper 15th June 2011 Farnham Maltings Producer/Director: Emma Culley Musical Director: Bob Good The musical Jack the Ripper is set in London in 1888 during the rapid growth in the East End due to an influx of migrants The director, Emma Culley’s production, and an excellent cast portraying the evils of the period and subsequent murder of the five women mainly prostitutes, and a bawdy romp of the Victorian Music Hall, made for an enjoyable evening. Larissa Street (Marie) and Alex de Courcy (Druitt) played their parts well. Mary Heath (Annie) acted in the “Jack” the last time FAOS perfomed it in 1993, gave a highly accomplished performance. Tony Ostime (Chairman) was in a role that suited him, to which he did justice. Andrew Culley (Dan) was well supported by his pupils in the audience and did not disappoint them.Mandy Grealis (Lizzie) and Hannah Pilkington (Polly) played good supporting roles as did the rest of the company. Stage Manager Tara Exell and her assistant Jim Goebel assisted by a large team built and painted a set depicting the East End with an insert of a Music Hall Stage. An excellent production, well done FAOS.


District 19 MID Surrey HELEN MILLS STAINES MUSICAL THEATRE GROUP Kiss Me Kate 4th March 2011 Producer/Director: Lynne James Musical Director: John Whelan Choreographer: Annelly James A Shakespeare and a Cole Porter Musical that the company performed with gusto. The two principals Fred/Petruchio (William Hann) and Lilli/Katherine (Lucy Norfolk) performed with style, though perhaps a bit more ‘anger’ would have made their scenes even better. There were some nice characters in the minor parts, especially Bianca (Glennys Hann) and Lucentio (Dan Curtis) in the secondary plotline. The first and second gangsters (Danny Kendrick and Tony Collins) were excellently authentic of New York’s East Side; the other American accents did sometimes slip a bit, accents, especially American, are not easy. There was some excellent dancing and choreography the youngsters shone brilliantly and danced with vitality, but all the chorus were good and ‘Too Darn Hot’ was rendered with verve and vigour. The costumes and scenery made the show nicely bright and colourful while the orchestra was well-balanced and didn’t overwhelm the players. It was a happy show all round. EPSOM LIGHT OPERA COMPANY Orpheus In The Underworld 30th March 2011 Producer/Director: Charlie Hoddell Musical Director: Dennis Hooker Choreographer: Dawn A fantastic show with a new translation by Snoo Wilson which he first did for the ENO and then tweaked for ELOS. The scenery was minimal and effective with some very clever lighting effects. Costumes were excellent. All parts were sung and acted well and with gusto, they could not be faulted. The choreography was excellent with the dancers taking full advantage of the can can and their other dances. The principals Richard as Orpheus, Chris as Jupiter, Anthony as Pluto were first class, as was Sally as Eurrydice. a joy to hear. But all played their parts well and it would be invidious to single out others. A well-balanced production which was a delight to see and hear. THE NOMADS The History Of Mr Polly 6th March 2011 Written & Director: Alan Wiseman Alan, with 50 years experience in the theatre, took on a mammoth task in adapting a complete book and therefore a life onto the stage. The beginning was slow but it did gather pace as the play progressed. The different scenes were depicted on the cyc by back projection which worked well, however the changes of scenes and the appropriate stage dressing were achieved in blackouts which disrupted the flow of the action. Much use was made with minimal props etc. which were effective as was the clever use of lighting. The part of Mr Alfred Polly was the glue which held the play together and Richard Peachey managed superbly, he always kept our interest. The cast played many roles through the years of his life. I particularly liked Mrs Larkins (Elaine Burns) and Uncle Jim (Paul Asher) but all deserve praise, children included. A brave effort at a difficult genre and Alan deserves much praise in tackling it. Perhaps with some tweaking it may go further on the amateur and maybe professional stage. DDOS West Side Story 5th March 2011 Dorking Halls Producer/Director: Sasha Silver Musical Director: Jamie Coredell Choreographer: Sasha Silver An iconic show tackled with innovative staging. A background of ‘Brickwork’ some scaffolding with different areas lit and moveable trucks showed us every scene delineated with clever lighting. The principals Tony (Elliot Griffiths), Bernardo (Peter Wright), Maria (Danielle Taylor) and Anita (Amy de Roche) were all first class. But all the other actors did exceptionally well and couldn’t be faulted. Doc (Geoff Collins) and Lt Schrank (Brian Inns) were good foils to the Jets and Sharks, as were Glad Hand (Julie Grob) and Officer Krupke (Simon Openshaw). The dancers and dancing went with a real swing, altogether great choreography. The fights and the ‘rumble’ were so realistic the audience were wincing ! As the fourteen piece orchestra were behind the scenes, the company’s technical abilities were tested considerably and to the audience it was a seamless performance. All are to be congratulated. MOLESLEY MUSICAL THEATRE Carousel 23rd March 2011 Producer/Director: Lynda Barrett Musical Director: Fiona Wimblett Choreographer: Jennie Melodie Highes A rousing and tuneful production with some nice acting and singing especially Julie (Jenny Jordan), a lovely voice. (Not an error her name is Jenny Jordan) Carrie (Karen Young) also did well. The male principals were OK they, and the minor characters performed well. Mrs Mullins (Anne Jones) was a real Irish ‘slut’ and Nettie (Bahija Cassidy) rendered ‘Walk Alone’ with great feeling with her lovely voice. The costumes were colourful and of the period. The Carousel was nicely done, and although some of the cloths were slightly bizarre the scenery was fine. The use of front tabs as a change of scene was disconcerting while some scene changes were too long. Putting

the Heavenly Friend into a ‘prologue’ and the intimate scenes was disturbing and muddled the plot. Jennie worked the chorus hard with her innovative choreography and the chorus numbers were a delight. Lucinda Hennessey as Louise in the ballet was enchanting. It was good to see the children acting their socks off, let’s face it they are our future thespians ! CLAYGATE DRAMATIC SOCIETY Slim Chance 7th May 2011 Claygate Village Hall Producer/Director: Liz Ness Face The Music Producer/Director: Bobbie Watson These were two all women plays with ten actors in total of which six played in both plays. Jilly Moss very competently played the ‘lady in charge’ in both. All three ladies Kim Groom, Gill Robinson and Freda Collins each played two different roles in the two plays and were excellent they pulled out all the emotional stops, as did Belita Charrington who was first a mouse and then an extrovert. Sue Wall, Juliet Bagnall were great characters in Slim Chance and Dawn Lacey acquitted herself well in Face the Music. First-timer Sally Burns performed her acting debut with CDS. An ingenious set with minor alterations served both plays and the costumes were of the period (1960s). It was an evening full of humour, well directed AND a supper included. THE WOODVILLE ENTERTAINERS A Coming Of Age 14th May 2011 Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall Producer/Director: Mel Schmidt Choreographer: Mel Schmidt This was a compilation production celebrating their 21 years of existence and featured items performed in their revues over this time scale, though most seemed to be from the early 2000s. Though the year and revue was named from which they were culled the items were not attributed to their original shows. There were amusing and competently performed sketches, songs and choruses. As all contributed one can’t pick out individuals and among them there were some talented singers and actors. Mime artists in a tennis match with a ball on the end of along steel pole and two individuals one with arms and the other legs were very innovative. Supper was included with the show and the founder members were acknowledged during the evening. A lively and humorous production excellently directed and choreographed by their Chairman Mel Schmidt. LEATHERHEAD OPERATIC SOCIETY Trial By Jury & Thespis Producer/Director: John Harries-Rees Musical Director: Colin Copestake This was a double G & S bill An excellently well sung Trial in modern dress with some nice touches of humour, especially from the Judge (Chris Stanton). A good set, though I did disapprove of the photographs that were being taken by a member of the public. A new version of Thespis first performed at Christmas in 1871 employed Gilbert’s libretto(still extant) and Sullivan’s and Offenbach’s music. It was somewhat incomprehensible as to plot with roles of the Olympian gods being supplanted by a troupe of ‘actors’ who then caused chaos. All played their characters well and acted and sang with verve, particularly Mercury, (Rachel Yelland) who stayed with, and oversaw the troupe and was a kind of Principal.Boy. It was an innovative set with scaffolding, colour-coded boxes and clever lighting with white costumes. Act II had more cohesion, maybe more dialogue in Act I would have helped. Some of Gilbert’s quick words were lost. A nicely balanced orhestra. EWHURST PLAYERS Improbable Fiction Producer/Director: Bruce Dean A convoluted play with typical Ayckbourn twists and turns. A writer’s group is meeting to discuss their current projects in the Chairman’s home, he, Arnold ( Jason Butler) is always on stage and his playing of this involved and bewildered man was masterly. Six other characters all with disparate views and their stories; in Act II these ‘fictions’ become real with Arnold still himself. The carer of Arnold’s mother, Isa (Gaynor Arnold) was a French maid, a haunted heroine and so on. Jess (Jane Biggins) an unsuccessful farmer hopefully writing romances became a governess in her own story and played other parts. Grace (Tricia Cooper) a downtrodden mum, with her non-existent children’s book transformed into many other people, a ‘lady’, a science fiction person, etc. Vivvi (Wendy Davies) {writing detective thrillers} roles were a policeman, a housekeeper, etc. Clem (Peter Barnett) was an obnoxious character writing impossible science stories and then being villain, and detective inspector, etcetera! Brevis (Roland Butcher) writing libretti, an irascible ex-teacher then transmuted into a romantic doctor and the chief of the Star Wars alien hunters. I couldn’t fault all these actors changing from one character to another with different accents and costumes, they needed a team of dressers. The set was first class and enhanced by great sound, special effects and lighting. The pops were excellent with fantastic stage work. Director and cast are to be congratulated. ANYONE4THEATRE Seussical the Musical Saturday 21 April 2011 Venue: Pavillion Theatre, Producer/Director: Amelia Regnante From the very opening I was transported into the wonderful world of the beloved characters of Doctor Seuss with a simple but effective set and some brilliantly original costuming. This show was a feast of Technicolor. The excellent ensemble worked with enthusiasm, energy and panache with some inventive staging by Amelia Regnante. It was obvious that


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every member of the company from age 3 to 20 worked as a team and thoroughly enjoyed performing the show. The show as a whole was magical with some solid and professional choral singing but I especially enjoyed the creative effort that went into the musical number It’s Possible with fluorescent costumes, rhythmic ribbons, hats disguised as fish and an ample amount of bubbles! There was some clever choreography and the movement of the Wickersham Brothers was very well observed! There were a couple of sound issues at the performance I attended but they certainly didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the show. Hakeem Haidar (Horton the Should anyone interested further details please Elephant) vocally excelledbe himself and gaveina sympathetic portrayal of his contactwhile me Becky - MaxBuxton Howse, Moulton Theatreherself both vocally character (Mayzie LaBird) excelled, tel:(The 01604 and with her comedic timing. Rosie Shaw Cat in645505. the Hat) kept the pace of the piece going with her two versatile sidekicks Emma Hartfield and Jorge Latter (Thinks) who were constantly involved in the action in “DisGusTeD of CrayforD” someway supporting the fact thatplaygoers Sammie Minchell’s were The problem of older being (JoJo) upsetthoughts by strong always important. All the supporting principle performers gave confident language just does not go away, and although it is not performances but a special mention should go to both Douglas Wood (Mr moreand prevalent in the Home the folk living there Mayor) Poppy Branch-Tarry (Sour Counties, Kangaroo) whose diction and singing seemwere to be the quickest complain, just like ‘Disgusted voices exceptional. A well to rounded and polished production. A real of Tunbridge Wells’more so many years ago. shame that there weren’t in the audience.

dance numbers those that stood out were Anything Goes, Chicago, Nine and Zeigfeld Follies stood out.

thought out costuming. The costumes showed the period of the piece and helped create character. If I’m being picky I would have liked a Ten Gallon Hat for Theodore Shimmer but that is purely a personal thing. A society on a budget, they made effective use of the lighting available and resourced props and furniture from the Maresfield Recycling Centre. I liked the edges of the stage being decorated with buoyancy aids. This definitely made the job of directing for first timer Ben Stevens easier. Having made the transition from actor to director he used his performing experience to influence his directing style. There were comedic opportunities missed and at times the After a little refreshment he talked to us about pace of the piece was slow but it was certainly an admirable first attempt recruitment members, and Ben’s skills problems, will continue encouraging to grow the moreyounger directing he does. There his trip nerves to New Zealand to certainly film The Hobbit, wereforthcoming some opening night evident but they didn’t detract from answered the enjoymentquestions. of the production. Froud and It wasThea Steward/Doctor real honour Aspic to have (Mikewith Chamberlain) two very well out characters both vocally him us, andwere experience histhought enthusiasm for, and love andamateur physically, theatre Frances Chattoire (AimeeWe Bateman) was suitably theatrical of first hand. celebrate 25 years of using every event to her advantage to create her next film script and The City Theatre this year, and it was a dream come true Gervase Epicure (Toby Carter) used his serious expression to his advantage to have him visit. as a Russian body guard to Theodore Shimmer (Liam Keirnan) the Texan cruise host. This was a real ensemble piece and the projection and diction of atcompany Royaltywas Theatre, theAnd entire excellent.Sunderland: However, I must applaud Inspector Credit (Tom to role projection excellent. With OnWare) thewhose 25thcommitment of January thisandyear we, were at the Royalty real shades were of Robbie Coltrane his understanding of character Theatre, lucky enough to be visited by and Sir comic Ian timing are mature his years. young man is to watch in the McKellen. He beyond visited our This production ofoneMacbeth, a future. This was a well rounded and enjoyable evening’s entertainment from production which the theatre was staging for the first a youth group that definitely has plenty to offer. I’m looking forward to their time in years. Directed by a senior theatre member and next production already.

LTGnews > LTGnews > LTGnews > LTGnew

“I have to say I was quite disappointed in last night’s DDOS performance of Glengarry Glen Ross. Far too much I swearing Love You Because in my opinion and much of it unnecessary. Thursday 22 September One couple left after about 10 minutes. I do hope this The Green Room Theatre, Dorking is not Kit going to be the trend for future plays.” (A letter Director: Mei Kong to Whitwords, theSargeon Newsletter for Geoffrey Whitworth Musical Director: Martin Crayford) Crayford nearYork Tunbridge Wells?) ATheatre, new American musical,(Is2006, set in New charting the loves and livesThis of six characters. Vince letter Baldwinof(Austin Bennett) playing the man wasn’t the only disapproval! abandoned by his girl friendtoand his life on backour on track acted “We just wanted puttrying pentotogetpaper thoughts well with many emotional moments. In contrast his bumbling regarding thediffering. production of the play Glengarry Glen Ross brother, Jeff Bennett (Aidan Godwin) trying to help with his mistakes and which we attended on 14th February. malapropisms acted well. Angie Schultz (Diana Bingley) an Actuary, pointing Why did the Committee think this particular play would out the mathematics of dating etc. was good. Jo Cullen (Marcy Fitzwilliam) appeal to unsure the GWT audience? been members was the new girl friend acted andWe sanghave well. Kate Chapman (NYC for a good many years (and the Woman) and Dan Bickerdike NYChave Man) thoroughly completed theenjoyed cast playing different all six struck each other and dovetailed their roles varietyroles, of plays put sparks on at offthe theatre and the excellent excellently. Minimal props a revolve portrayed (a gobo) acting, but we sets are and sorry to onsay that this playNYwas the café, bar,boring sitting room, and restaurant, brilliantlywe done. Costumes most and bedroom foul-mouthed production have seen were fine. The sound and lighting were all of a high quality. This was not a to date. musical that one went out singing but tuneful nevertheless and there was We are not averse to some swearing within the context plenty of action and humour. Well done Kit and company.

of a play, but our ears felt asaulted by the end of the

evening!MANOR We therefore feel that the play deserves the HINCHLEY OPERATIC SOCIETY Awooden Musical A-Z spoon!” 21 “Three September of2011 us (nice respectable ladies) saw your February The Vera FletcherGlengarry Hall, ThamesGlen DittonRoss on Wednesday. We were production, Director: Chris Malone warned about the bad language; we were also told by Musical Director: Ana Lopez friends that the play was “awful”. Our expectations were Choreographers: Kelly Neilson, Lisa Guerrierro, Claire Izzard, Sarah Pratt notEleni high. However, we were impressed and really quite and Varon theshow evening. Aenjoyed compilation with 26 numbers corresponding to the initial letter of the musical from Anything Goes to Ziegfeldof Follies. There were some The subject-matter wasn’t great interest to really any innovative numbers with some Theterms individualinsongs of us, and without theexcellent usefulchoreography. glossary of the from the shows were a high standard. Bernicevery Baughen, Ellie Germaine, programme weofmight have been confused, but Lynn Menzies, Francoise Rabin and Susan Sworn performed well as did overall we felt engaged in the story and thought that the Marc Batten, Kevin Litell, Sebastien Roughley and John Stanley Smith. I am characters were brilliantly portrayed by the actors. afraid men were conspicuous by their absence apart from those mentioned Theweswearing was the foulbalance but reflected the were unpleasantness and therefore missed of voices. There some excellent of the even menfantastical, using ait.basic Weset felt that props. the actors costumes, and minimal Far stagesdealt right fantastically well with the fast were and good pacey and left were in shadow. The Orchestra anddialogue. not overwhelming andSo the congratulations sound mix was good.toAllthem, in the choruses played andand danced well. to the director, indeed The ployinvolved of having two comperes to introduce and embellish thethat history of to all in this production. I have a feeling you the musicals worked well. As it was necessarily and mainly comprised of

POLESDEN LACEY Twelfth Night 16th July 2011 Director: Rosalind Rokison Musical Director: Ian Stone For many years each summer this company have commendably performed may receive a number of angry andwhen just wanted to Shakespeare here. The twelfth night ofletters Christmas anarchy and put forward view. reputation for Saturnalia ruled an is a alternative brilliant comedy alongThe with GWT’s its pathos. Malvolio (Gately taking on the controversial is admirable. need to and be Freeman) encompassed all the emotions, imperious, We misunderstood then unhappily he played magnificently. Thank Feste (you!” David shaken out ofwoebegone; our comfort zonesitsometimes! Longes) was a true clown his deceits and sang “Nothing like a with fewallexpletives tosubterfuges, activate he thealsoMary delightfully with the four musicians, Ian at the keyboard and three recorders. Whitehouses who, despite or perhaps because of all Sir Toby (Giles Shenton) a suitably belching conspirator and Sir Andrew prior warnings, went to Glengarry Glen Ross, and then (Kevin Hawkes) a fearful frightened duelist another conspirator along with feel they have to complain content. Howinfectious dull it comedienne Maria (Alison Hannent) about devious,the coquettish and with would be if allthetheCount plays were squeaky laughter. Orsino, (Matt Beasley) neededclean.” more gravitas; Viola The Editor writes. about to could say that can (Rhiannon Williams) playedI was the role well but have audiences been feistier. Olivia (Olivia Flanagan) that was athe strong performed The as minor rest assured restCountess of the and season is aswell. clean a characters wellIcast and played Costumes whistle, were but all then noticed thattheir tworoles of suitably. the plays are and by wigs were who of the pre-date period. The the scenery was excellent the various authors Puritans. It waswiththeall Puritans, exits and entrances effectively used. Altogether an enjoyable production, you may recall, who banned Christmas and closed all the Rosalind and all the cast are to be congratulated.

theatres on the grounds that there is no testamentary evidenceMumford that Jesus ever laughed and so there was no Cheryl reason Advisor for us to (East) be allowed to laugh, let alone enjoy Youth profanity, in this slough of despond and iniquity. I am WYTKIDS afraid that The Canterbury Tales will contain a lot of Talking With(IAngels lewdness have little doubt that that is what led the Commemoration Hall, Wadhurst Youth Theatre to choose the play). Then The Merry Wives Producer/Director: Wendy Barr of Windsor will have the usual quota of Shakespearean Assistant Director: Alison Finlay bawdiness, although you have to listen carefully order How do you attempt to represent historical fact onstage? Thisinwas the to catch all. by Even Duetwith FortheOne contains couple of difficult taskitfaced WYTKidz play Talking WithaAngels by Neil Duffield. Now I expressing really like this play experimental scope itextreme gives the expletives oneforofthethe character’s director was certainlyNo used to good effect here; by Wendy Barr and Alison anger and andthis frustration. consolation I wish I hadn’t Finlay. There were lots of imaginative ideas used to enable the audience to started this.

be transported to France in the time of Joan of Arc. The use of freeze frame, tableau and breaking the 4th wall by the cast were most effective and sir ian visiTs Durham & sunDerLanD added to the drama of the story. There was no set present and for this I was Lesley Anderson City Theatre, Durham: grateful. It made both thewrites audiencefrom and the actors concentrate fully on the January 25th ofwas very action. The impression hard abattle andexciting desperationday werefor alsoDurham enhanced by the lightingSociety and the ,use a lone drummer (Ben Mummery) positioned Dramatic asofwe were expecting a visit from our stage throughout. elementswhist of costume over “blacks” LTG right Patron Sir IanSmall McKellen, he was in our enabled area. the be distinguished each aother. The cast worked Sir characters Ian duly toarrived and wasfrom given ‘Prince Bishop’s’ brilliantly as an ensemble and in a very professional way. It would take welcome before meeting the press, being shown around too long to mention everybody individually but I must applaud Blue Soldier The City Theatre (71 seats) and watching a snatch of our (Cameron Napier) who’s commitment to role and projection were excellent nextCaptain production ‘Gaslight’.(Elspeth Evans) whose understanding of and of the Guard/Scribe character and comic timing are mature beyond her years. Verity Game and Tassia Rosenberg (Voices/Angels) were used effectively throughout the play to support Joan of Arc’s turmoil. A well rounded production and a suitably different challenge for the group. Keep stretching yourselves as its really paying dividends. NEWICK YOUTH THEATRE The Death on the Smug Juggler Thursday 25 August 2011 Newick Village Hall Producer/Director: Ben Stevens From the very opening speech I was transported onto the Smug Juggler making its way to Cairo with a simple but efficient set and some well

combining a youth and senior cast the production was focused on strong acting and stark staging to create ANYONE4THEATRE the magical tension atmosphere the piece needed. Seussical thehigh Musical Saturday April 2011 On first 21hearing that a Shakespearean legend would be Venue: Pavillion watching us Theatre, do Shakespeare there was more than a little Producer/Director: Amelia Regnante boost in nerves, the relatively young cast were excited From the very opening I was transported into the wonderful world of the and terrified in equal measure. But, as our director beloved characters of Doctor Seuss with a simple but effective set and reminded us,original he was coming toshow see was a show, needed some brilliantly costuming. This a feastwe of Technicolor. to one on. Theput excellent ensemble worked with enthusiasm, energy and panache In some the last few staging years by ourAmelia audience figures been with inventive Regnante. It washave obvious that every member the company from age 3 toin20need worked a team and dropping andof we were desperately of as a publicity thoroughly enjoyed the show. TheIan’s show willingness as a whole was to magical boost. This wasperforming it. Thanks to Sir be with some solid and professional choral singing but I especially enjoyed involved in the publicity we were able to whip up a storm the creative effort that went into the musical number It’s Possible with around his visit. We contacted radio, press and TV all fluorescent costumes, rhythmic ribbons, hats disguised as fish and an of whom jumped to be thischoreography massive event. ample amount of bubbles! Thereinvolved was someinclever and the Every paper openedBrothers in thewas runvery upwell to observed! the show haswere a movement of theyou Wickersham There piece it and buzz about our little theatre grew. a coupleabout of sound issuesthe at the performance I attended but they certainly didn’t detract from the–enjoyment the show. Hakeem (Horton the Typical headline “Royaltyofhas a Knight at Haidar the Theatre”. Elephant) vocally excelled himself and gave a sympathetic portrayal of his Rehearsals continued. character while Becky Buxton (Mayzie LaBird) excelled herself both vocally When the night of show arrived, we’d got the opening and with her comedic timing. Rosie Shaw (The Cat in the Hat) kept the night under our belts and we were ready for the sell out pace of the piece going with her two versatile sidekicks Emma Hartfield audience and (Thinks) specialwho guest...and the TV crews...and thein and Jorge Latter were constantly involved in the action radio teams...not theMinchell’s press (JoJo) photographers. someway supporting thetofactmention that Sammie thoughts were When Sir Ian arrived he madeprinciple it veryperformers easy to relax in his always important. All the supporting gave confident performancesmaking but a special should go to both and Douglas Wood (Mr company, timemention for every performer audience Mayor) and Poppy Branch-Tarry (Sour Kangaroo) whoseofdiction and singing member, but always singing the praises the LTG and voices werelike exceptional. A wella rounded and polished production. A real theatres ours. After brief chat with cast and press shame that there weren’t more in the audience. he took his seat in the auditorium and we were ready to go. The show passed in a blur to be honest, one of the best blurs of my performing nights. The audience and Sir Ian expressed their enjoyment, and he was kind enough to give us feed back on our performance, which made my day. He stayed sharing food with the cast and

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RETIRING COUNCILLOR’S NOTES COUNCILLOR’S NOTES (FROM YOUR NEW COUNCILLOR!) Dear friends and colleagues, This letter is to let you know of some important changes which are happening within NODA North East. During the course of the National AGM Weekend in Durham in late September I was deeply honoured to be elected as Chairman of Trustees (Council) by my fellow Councillors. The Chairman of Trustees is effectively the leader of Council and thus the Association overall. The Chairman is elected for a three year term of office. There many challenges ahead for NODA, particularly at this time of international financial turmoil and restraint. However I am very much looking forward to meeting these challenges and playing my part in ensuring NODA continues to offer excellent service and support to our membership. Under the Rules of the Association I must now relinquish the role of Regional Councillor, indeed it would be an impossible task to try and hold both positions since there are not enough hours in the day to carry out the duties of both. At our Regional Committee Meeting on Sunday 23rd October, I formally tendered my resignation as Councillor and I am delighted to announce that, in accordance with the Rules of the Association, the Committee unanimously elected Reg Vinnicombe as Councillor until the Regional AGM in April next when a new Councillor will be elected by you the members. I am sure that Reg needs little introduction from me – we have worked together in NODA for more years than either of us care to remember. Indeed Reg preceded me as NE Regional Councillor from 1991 to 2001 when he was elected President of NODA. After his Presidential year Reg continued to be very much involved as a Past President elected to Council and as treasurer of our Summer School. Reg thought he had retired from NODA duties a couple of years ago, but I am sure that you will be as delighted as I and the Regional Committee that he has agreed to fill the role of Councillor until April next when my permanent successor can be elected. I would like to thank you all, the members of NODA NE, for the warm welcome and tremendous hospitality extended to Mary and me when we have attended your productions and events. I must similarly thank my colleagues on the NE Regional Committee for the wonderful support they have given me (and you) throughout my ten year tenure of office as Councillor and I know that they will continue to offer that support to Reg and to the new Councillor when elected. They are a remarkable team of hard working people without whom NODA North East would not function and survive. I already have many show visits in my diary for this year and even some going into 2012. I hope that I will be able to fulfil some of these engagements but I do hope that you will make Reg and Margaret welcome for those which I cannot make. Either Reg or I will of course contact you to seek your approval if we have to swap! I look forward to seeing many of you at our NE Weekend and AGM in Bridlington in April next (20th to 22nd). Yours sincerely Chris Ingram Chairman of Trustees Above: President, Fred Piggford presents new Chairman of Trustees, Chris Ingram with his insignia. Photo: Julie Webb Above right: The Old and Even Older! Councillor Chris hands back to Councillor Reg. Photo: Chris Ingram


Of necessity these Notes will be short! I have been thrown in at the deep end! Chris, in his Councillor’s written report for the Regional Committee on Sunday 23 October said, and I quote, ‘’Reg is currently on holiday and as such will not be at our meeting on Sunday but he is happy to offer his services in absentia, which has the advantage that he will be in the post before he has a chance to object! The Regional Committee agreed and NODA Council approved and I was formally notified on Tuesday, just as I was recovering from jet-lag, that I was to be your new Councillor. Then a phone call from Chris – ‘’Reg the Councillor’s Notes are due to the Editor before the end of the week – over to you!’’

So, for better or worse you have me back again until April, when your new Councillor will be elected. It is over 10 years since you said farewell to me as your councillor. I don’t know whether I am making a habit of making a comeback but I did it as Treasurer for the Summer School for a further year and now as your Councillor again. I feel like the old Music Hall star who keeps doing his farewell farewell performance! I will do my best. Many things have happened in NODA over the past 10 years and although I have still been in touch, I have not been in the detailed end of all that has been going on for over 2 years now. It is something I will have to catch up on. I hope you will be patient. Chris has done sterling work as our Councillor over the last 10 years. Our congratulations and best wishes go to him on his appointment as Chairman of the Association. This is a most onerous position but I know that he will put 100% into it. We wish him well. Our grateful thanks go to him for his tireless commitment, enthusiasm and leadership of our Region over the last 10 years, coupled with our thanks to his wife, Mary, for her great support. I do hope to see you at your shows, district meetings, workshops etc. in the near future. I earnestly request your attendance at any of the meetings and workshops that are being arranged and particularly I would like to see you ALL at our North East Regional Weekend at the Spa Complex, Bridlington, 20th to 22nd April 2012. Full details will be out at the end of January. Please book early. It will be first come first served! Let’s have a FULL HOUSE. I realise that these times are difficult but this is somewhere you can come and let your hair down with like minded people, further enjoy your hobby and forget the troubles outside for just a few days. Kindest regards to you all and the very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Reg Vinnicombe

EDITORIAL This is the second edition of Scratchings within Amateur Stage and I hope that you are enjoying the chance to read not only what is happening in NODA North East but also further afield and matters concerning amateur theatre generally. The first months of this collaboration between NODA and Amateur Stage was inevitably a ‘trial run’ and a number of practicalities have needed to be ironed out. Together with these it has been agreed that, from January 2012, Noda will include Theatre Business and other national news within the magazine. The Regional editors will be able to contribute monthly if they so wish but sadly the decision has had to be taken that Show Reports will no longer be printed in the magazine. They will continue to be sent by the Regional Rep visiting the show, direct to the Society and will be put onto the website, normally within two weeks of production. This does offer a more immediate system in that reports will be available so much earlier after the show than waiting for a magazine where the reports can be as much as six months out of date. The very good news is that Amateur stage will now be sent to ALL Noda member Societies and Individual Members EVERY MONTH. So keep sending me your news and show photos (remember they need to be high resolution for printing) and together we will continue to keep the North East flag flying.


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WHO’S WHO IN THE NORTH EAST Regional Councillor Reg Vinnicombe 01274 581237

District 4 John Parsons (See Membership Secretary)

District 12 Judith Smith 01274 568305 / 07831 290246

Regional Secretary David Streeter 0114 2352490 / 07891 295765

District 5 Les Smith 01226 756654 / 07506 711643

District 13 (Drama) Geoff Haywood (see Regional Treasurer)

Regional Treasurer Geoff Haywood

District 6 Mary Titterton 0114 2368619 / 07772 186963

District 14 (Drama and Editor) Julie Webb 0114 2551869

Membership Secretary John Parsons 01724 334931 / 07946 909114

District 7 Noel Rigg 01924 466659

District 15 (Drama & Awards) Pamela Booth 01943 430318 / 07946 228831

Youth Adviser Giles Atkinson 01274 614393 / 07717 783848

District 8 Jean Taylor 01422 376058

District 16 (Drama) Marguerite Jennings 01423 797714 margueritejennings@nodane.

District 1 Geoff Turner 01904 622164

District 9 Alan Smith 0113 2573429

Web Manager Bryan Craven 0113 2522514

District 2 Rosalie Newlyn 07799 832766

District 10 Jacqui Hartley 01422 321513

District 3 David Oliver 01482 656411

District 11 Leslie Appleyard 01943 877347

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Election of Councillor for NODA North East The Role

Members of Council serve as Trustees of the charitable Association and as shareholders in NODA Limited (our trading company). The aim of the Council is to ensure the efficient operation of the Association and to manage its affairs prudently. Members of Council are expected to attend every meeting of the Council (normally four per year, including the National Weekend) and to act upon its directives. It is incumbent upon members of Council to abide by the majority decision of the Council, and to take no action that may be deemed to undermine the financial viability or reputation of the Association. The Regional Councillor is Chairman of the Regional Committee and is ultimately responsible for the management of all aspects of the Region, leading a team of regional officers, regional representatives and other co-opted members. These responsibilities include: • Management of finance. • Organisation of the Regional AGM and Weekend. • Chairing of meetings of the Regional Committee. • Visiting Society productions and functions in their Region if invited and when practicable. • Ensuring good communications between Council, Regional Committees and our members. This list is a broad outline only and is by no means exhaustive. Full Guidelines are available.

The Candidate

Anyone who is a member of an affiliated society in NODA NE or an individual or joint individual member of NODA North East is entitled to seek election as Councillor. Anyone who would like further information about the role of a Councillor is very welcome to contact either Chris Ingram or Reg Vinnicombe to informally discuss the position and obtain a copy the full Guidelines for the role. Either Reg or Chris would be delighted to meet up with you and discuss the role of Councillor and Trustee with you. As a trustee of a charity you are not allowed to benefit financially from your trusteeship and as such a NODA Councillor cannot accept fees from member societies for such as directing a production. Reasonable (and accountable) out of pocket expenses can be accepted.

The Process

The formal notice of the North East AGM will be issued in January next along with nomination forms for Councillor. Each nomination must be supported by the equivalent of 25 votes (societies count as five, joint IMs as two and IMs as one). Completed nominations should be returned to the CEO (the deadline will be specified on the nomination form). If there is more than one candidate then a postal ballot will be organised and each candidate will be asked to submit a brief CV which will accompany the ballot papers. The result of the ballot will be announced at the NE AGM in Bridlington on Saturday 21st April 2012. (The candidates will be advised privately of their success or otherwise in the ballot, prior to that meeting). The successful candidate will assume office immediately. Chris Ingram October 2011

lighten his load and has therefore decided that he will not seek re-election in April next. I would like even at this early date to thank both Geoff and David for their tireless work for NODA and the Amateur Theatre, although a more fitting appreciation will be made at the Bridlington Weekend in April next. Formal notification of the election for their successors will come out in due course (February next) in readiness for our NE AGM in April 2012. However I would like to informally invite anyone who is interested in succeeding Geoff or David to contact either Reg or me so that we can discuss what is required, I am sure that with the four months’ lead in time we will be able to find the ideal candidates and ensure that they know what is expected of them in this voluntary position. So what does the job involve? - There are comprehensive Guidelines for the role and these will be sent out to anyone who would like to be considered for the job. However a brief outline of the main duties is: The main contact between societies and NODA • Attending productions by invitation and submitting brief reports of the shows to the society and regional website – District 1 has approximately 20 societies, both drama and musical and District 3 has some 10 societies again drama and musical. • Meeting society committees and members away from productions and promoting NODA services and membership to them – this is becoming a very important part of the role, helping to ensure that our members can feedback what they want from their Association and that they are also aware of the services available to them. • Organising District Evenings - no more than one per year and these are an opportunity to ensure our members are informed about current issues in the amateur world. They also offer opportunities for members to network. This is done with the support of the Councillor and other members of the Regional Committee. • Helping societies find a replacement for a performer who is incapacitated or unable to perform. • General advice to societies. To attend all meetings of the North East Regional Committee. • We normally have 4 each year and these are on Sundays, running from approx 10am to 3pm with a break for lunch. The meetings are usually in February, June, August and October. • Attending and participating in the Regional Weekend and AGM (April). Participating in the organisation of regional workshops and other regional events It is essential that a regional rep has: • Computer skills and access to the internet - a major proportion of communication is by email. • Their own transport - a contribution towards running costs is made as a mileage allowance on NODA business. District 1 is the geographic area bounded by York Harrogate and Ripon, although there are a few drama societies in the more rural surrounding areas. District 3is essentially Hull and East Yorkshire. • Other out of pocket expenses (phone calls, postage, parking etc) are also reimbursed. I do hope that whether you are secretary of a NODA society or an individual member of NODA in either of these districts, you will bring this to the attention of every member of your society. The voluntary position of Regional Representative is not only enjoyable but also most rewarding and can make a significant contribution to the success of your society, the Association and the Amateur Theatre in Yorkshire.

SITUATIONS VACANT As you may know two of our Regional Representatives for NODA North East have announced their retirement as from the NE AGM in April next. Geoff Turner District 1 (York, Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough). Geoff was co-opted on to the Regional Committee 1994 to succeed the late Connie Bateson and was then formally elected to the role in April 1995. Since then he has given sterling support to his societies and to NODA. As well as his involvement in our own region, Geoff has also acted as Chairman of the National Meeting of Regional Committee Members which is held as a part of the National AGM and Weekend. Having attended many society events with Geoff, as well as meeting many members at our NE Weekend, I know the affection and respect with which he is held by you all. David Oliver, District 3 (Hull and East Riding) David was elected to the Regional Committee some 14 years ago. Since then he has given sterling support to his societies and to NODA. Having attended many society events with David as well as meeting many members at our NE Weekend, I know the affection and respect with which he is held by you all. As I am sure you know neither David nor Joyce have been too well in recent months and although he is now feeling a lot better he understandably feels that he would like to



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N.O.D.A. SUMMER SCHOOL August 2011 Read how the North East Bursary Winners fared during this exciting week STAGE LIGHTING (and the NODA BUBBLE) Tutor: George Thomson

Wow! What an amazing week! That first Saturday driving down to Warwick I felt as nervous as a child on his way to his first day at a new school. With me were a young couple, Jamie & Rachel Greiff from Bradford Youth Players, Rachel had been to a previous summer school and knew what to expect. They were both on the Directing Youth Theatre course and were buzzing with excitement & enthusiasm for the week ahead. On arrival we were met by the NODA representatives who seemed to be full of the same excitement & enthusiasm which did nothing for my nerves. They were all very helpful, eager to point us in the right direction and get us settled in to the fantastic accommodation at Scarman House. At 5.00pm I headed down to the first school meeting, still full of nervous apprehension, feeling a little outside of what is known as the NODA Bubble, where every body appears to know everybody. At 8.00pm we had an introductory session to meet fellow students and course tutor. Ours was the smallest group of this year’s summer school, we all hit it off straight away, discovering that we all had a similarly limited knowledge of stage lighting. Our tutor was Matt Strachen, Chief Electrician with the Scottish Ballet, who proved to be an absolute fountain of knowledge. This being Matt’s first visit to the Summer School he had fully programmed/structured the week, I think we were all surprised by the amount of work we were expected to get through. Anyway meeting over we all headed to the bar where I had my first taste of the social side of the summer school. By the end of the evening my nerves were gone and I was very much inside the NODA Bubble! Sunday, the first day of class Matt stripped lighting back to the very basics. He touched on the power source & its control, the different types of light source & their limitations. Over the next few days he fed us with a wealth of information. He would answer the most muppetry of questions, allowing this to steer the course of the lesson until we all understood the principles under discussion. The way Matt delivered the course it was very much hands on from the start. We were taught how to correctly position & focus lights for colour & cross washes, demonstrating how these affect light & shadow. Monday afternoon we took a little diversion into special effects. We looked at different smoke machines from Hazers, various different sized foggers down to the Ultratec tiny fogger which is small enough to be hidden in props such as a Genies lamp. We also looked at the safe use of Pyros, creating small flash effects to loud explosions. For the finale we set fire to a sofa without causing any damage to it, you need to see the pictures to get a true impression, these can be found on the NODA Summer School site on Facebook. The sofa was a prop that Matt had built for a Scottish Ballet production. Wednesday afternoon we were able to put into practise what we had learnt by lighting the model boxes that had been created by the students on the Directors course. It was interesting taking on board how each of the students had different ideas as to how the same scene should be lit with their different choices of colour & light intensity. Thursday, part of our day was spent lighting individuals from the Make Up course. Here we learnt how the correct position of light such as back light and cross washes can eliminate shadow creating a more natural balanced look or can be taken the other way to help exaggerate special effects make up. Having spent the week in the studio theatre it was Friday we got to do a full rig/set up on the main theatre stage. The pressure was on to get everything set for 2.00pm, which was when we had to work with each of the tutors to create and programme the lighting cues for their group’s set pieces. It was an extremely long day, we were still setting cues as the audience were arriving. The show ran without any problems and was an absolute joy to watch. It demonstrated the dedication and hard work put in by the students & tutors. I’m home now and the Bubble has well and truly burst. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my theatre group and especially NODA for the bursary for making the week possible. I do feel that anyone who is involved in amateur should at some point experience what it is like to be in the Bubble. We partied hard that Friday night & Saturday morning. It was difficult saying goodbye to new friends, but what you take away as in the experience & knowledge acquired will stay with you for a lifetime. In fact I want more and so I am looking in to the possibility of doing it all again in 2012! Steve Burd The New Community Arts Academy Bradford


Tutor: George Thomson The course was going to run from the basics, to kill any bad habits we had all surely picked up, (with none of us being qualified only educated) through to playing with some crazy expensive lighting, and an array of gadgets to boot... These including the aforementioned pyros and the smallest fogger on the market... Yes I was excited, and yes so too were my fellow geeks... An hour of talking ‘shop’ and it was off to the bar for

a drink and a chat before bed... Though to be honest I think if Matt had said we’re off to unload the van and start the get in right then, rather than the 9.30 that was given, I think we were so giddy to get playing that we all would have gone there and then... A nervous excitement hung over me on the morning of the first day of NODA Summer School. Having received the student pack earlier in the week, on looking through, the time away became somehow more real, and as I glanced down the list of attendance I was unsure as to whether having just three other people on my course was to be a good thing, or would merely mean that I would be unable to take a back seat. After arriving at the venue, which was far nicer than I would have ever expected, I settled into my room and went down to sign in and pick up my identity for the week; Tina Nutt, Stage Lighting... Arriving as early as I had done it was at this point that it was nice to have a familiar face around and a friend from a mutual society and I wandered off into the glorious sun to find a pub. On returning there was time for a quick freshen up before the meet and greet, tour, and dinner. It became obvious quite quickly that there were a lot of people who were either old hands at NODA Summer School, or had been once and made a very big impression. Nonetheless old faces and new alike were welcomed with the same friendly and helpful address and the reassurance soon had me feeling more excited then anything else. After the brief ‘hello’, we went on a quick tour of the area surrounding the Arts Centre that was to be my home for the coming week. Though the Studio itself was closed the facilities that were open for viewing ensured that my excitement was only increased. Once we were all back in the main building we went through for Dinner, where a three course self service meal was provided, for myself and a few fellow students it was a main course only and then into the bar. A casual pint and a lot of chat lead nicely into a meet and greet with the tutors and the rest of the students on our individual courses... A needle in a haystack comes to mind... With just three other students and a tutor to find in a sea of nameless faces I found myself wandering through the bar fruitlessly. As the numbers dwindled I approached a member of the NODA crew who helpfully led me upstairs where I bumped into fellow techie Craig. “Ah, the missing member” he said. Apparently the other three had met on the walk over to the Arts Centre earlier on, though by sheer happenstance, as they too had found the pale yellow colour of our card as hard to determine from the deeper yellow of the swarming musical performance group as me... Lecture Room 1 was to house the smallest group of the school. However, though I had at first been apprehensive of such a small group, I suddenly realised how beneficial it would be to be working all but one on one with such a knowledgeable and experienced tutor. Our Stage Lighting teacher for the week was Matt, Chief LX of the Scottish Ballet Company; his specialities lying in Lighting, Props and Pyrotechnics... Our thoughts... Yes, we were gunna get to blow Sh*t up ... *coughs, I mean, learn a lot... 8 hours later... and wow... Before the course I had known that I had a lot to learn about lighting, however I hadn’t expected the first day to be filled with so much knowledge and tricks of the trade. It set up the week perfectly, with an amazing balance of theory and practical, the latter combining both equipment and lanterns myself and the members of the group had within our area of work, and those that were far beyond anything we had ever used. Nevertheless, learning about how the Vari-lites worked, for example, (stunning movers with shutters... wow), was not only useful for the showcase on Friday, but also to demonstrate theory we had touched on earlier. Taking apart the mover and looking at the inner workings allowed us to see how the fixture mixed the colours, and provided a hands-on approach to the theory we had covered earlier, to do with colour palettes and creating colour. We spent a good deal of time looking at basic rigging and correct focusing practice. Each of us, (the students) realising our bad habits and misuse of instruments. Simple exercises such as trying to focus multiple lights into a diamond shape on the wall were so effective, enhanced by the small scale of our group as we could all have a go without it taking too long. Whilst we were all taking turns, questions were free flowing and our tutor was only happy to answer as best he could, frequently resulting in him delving into his box of goodies to show us something either so simple its was genius, such as asexual Velcro, or so amazing, that I’d look to stretch a budget or two just to have one, such as the magic arm... After hours of what felt like playing, we sat back around the table to have a look at some scrollers (colour changing lights). Though having used them before in theatre, I have never really paid them much attention. However having seen what they are capable of, reaffirmed by their use during the showcase on Friday, bringing the stage to life, they are definitely something I shall be making more use of in the future. A quick recap and it was back to the room to get ready for dinner... What a first day... The rest of the week seemed to go past in a haze. We continued to practice rigging and focusing with lanterns both up on the gantry of the studio, and at floor level on stands. We experimented at some length with cross lighting, using three lanterns on each of the four stands; taking our time to get the feel of how the beams of light changed as we tried different things. Throughout this process, Matt, (our tutor) was discussing colour and positioning, shadow and light;

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each of us having time to have a go at lighting other members of the group to see what focus, positioning and colour did to different clothing and skin tones. A practice that many would never have time to do in day to day work. In addition to the sidelights (Source fours) we were also using four Vari-lites (moving heads), to light and shade each other, using colour and strength of beam to alter the overall look. It was interesting to note that Matt assured us, despite the superiority of equipment we were using at times, that all the looks we had created, though slightly more work, would be possible with the lanterns we were using with our own theatre groups/work. We finished the day with a quick recap before having a look at some of the special effects/pyros that Matt was doing his talk on later and setting a few of them up for test runs. How much fun are bombs, explosions and burning sofas? In theatre... Lots!!! The days were racing past and we had covered so much material that we could look closer at the basics and further into the heart of stage lighting. We spent the day looking in greater depth at colour and their uses, and the use of frosts; something none of us had ever used, and were certain to go back and say we wanted to. Turning sharp edges of a profile soft with a simple gel... Lengthening beam diffusion... Brilliant... This theory could have been learnt sitting around a desk; however to actually have chance to play with different types of frosting and the effect they had on different lanterns was invaluable. The second part of the day was all about geeks having fun, yet still learning so much. We started experimenting with gobos (which Matt rang a colleague to find out the reason behind the name, a question I was asked at interview... Apparently it’s a bastardisation of the word Logo by its inventor). We used them in both the standard fixtures and moving heads and with rotating gobo units. To see the different effects that could be achieved both on a high budget and minimal budget scale was so useful, as was incorporating our work with colour. I’d never thought of cutting a gel in half to create a multiple colour one... I now will. The final section of the day was all about lighting and projection on stage, at which point it was time to gather around the laptop and sit in awe. A hard day’s work rounded off with watching it all in practice. A little more sit down theory was introduced as the week was winding down and we started collecting together our gel swash books and tables and grids. Yet somehow, with the banter and camaraderie that had been created between the five of us over the short time we had known each other, allowed, even the more formal learning set up to be fun, and with ‘muppetry question time’ it meant that no question was off limits, no matter how ridiculous or stupid you felt asking. After lunch was one of my favourite parts of the whole week. The Directing group had all created model boxes for various shows and it was our task to light them, for a showcase latter that week. It was a chance to put everything we had learnt into practice. However with the model boxes being rather small, it was down to a small lighting desk strip light, four birdies, and a couple of leds that we had taken from balloons to light the show. Until later when we started to use the moving head as a down light and a source four for front of house; that someone did point out was larger than the theatre in scale... Getting the chance to light 13, (possibly), different boxes with very different tones and visions was really one of the best ways to explore the wealth of knowledge that Matt had imparted throughout the week. Despite the size, colour and angles and light and shadows all played similar parts as they would in a large theatre, and as such the pressure to get them all done before dinner was tight. As they each posed there own problems. However as someone who often has a had in design or at least building / painting set, it was interesting to see what colours worked, which didn’t, and what attributes of each model were the hardest and simplest/ best to light. Finally after a few hours of working, we all felt the buzz start to build, myself edging ever closer to knowing that I want to be a lighting designer. Lights on, lights off, a totally different model getting it right looked amazing, getting it, even okay, left you feeling like something was really missing. Though, I must say, a few really benefited from the tiny fogger misting up the scenes. Overall, I think everyone was really happy with the results... The final teaching day before the craziness of the showcase and we took it quite easy, really just tying up loose ends and derigging all of the equipment that we would be taking across to main theatre space in the morning. We also had a look at planning rings and got to ask to go over anything and have another look at the lighting desk we had been using. However surprisingly, we had just a little time on the desk throughout the week, by being so hands on, we all had the basic controls pretty much down. We went to see a couple of the groups performing in the showcase, to get an idea of what they were wanting to try and give ourselves an upper hand in regards to plotting and programming on Friday. We were all very impressed by the work that had been produced, if not a little daunted by the task that lay ahead. With notes taken we had a brief meeting over coffee (we seemed to do that a lot during the week) and discussed ideas for the piece. It was really good to have people to bounce off and also someone so experienced as Matt, however in the end we decided that for the main piece it maybe a case of ‘wing and a prayer’ it.... Running the cues off the cuff... For the final part of the day we had the makeup group come to see us. It was really interesting to see the effect the lighting had when on youthful skin and the aged tones they had made themselves up with. I had always known costume, set and make-up would be affected by lighting and vice versa but I’d never really had time to see how and experiment with different solutions as we did that afternoon, something we all got a great deal out of. And yet as the session came to a close it was a shame to walk out of the studio for the last day. Tomorrow, get in, rehearsals, show, get out.... Party... Friday, the last day... We got into the theatre at 9am. For the next 13 hours, it was to be our home. We’d had a look about the space a couple of days previous but trying to gauge the scale of what lay


before us had been hard. Suddenly the thought of only having a few hours to derig and rerig and focus felt far more daunting, yet exhilarating all the same. We started by flying in several bars to derig the in house kit and rig to suit our plan. 24 Fresnels, 4 Varilites, 12 Scrollers, and 18 Sidelights plus Front of House. In how long? The bars were stripped in no time and we started getting up the fresnels and cabling the movers and scrollers. After a quick water break and some conversation with the Sound team, also fitting up, we put out side lights into place, rigged front of house and moved the LX desk into position to start focusing. Watching the in house staff flash through the lighting circuits to check the lights we had just rigged and numbering their corresponding plugs was just another of the ‘tricks of the trade’ that had made the whole week that little touch better. Having only ever focused off of a gantry or from a genie, the prospect of going up the talescope was both exciting and a little out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless it wasn’t long before we were flying along with the focusing, listening to instructions and trying to remember exactly what it was that I was doing, so that any bad habits that were addressed and ironed out, stayed that way after the course. Once all the lights were focused, and the board was patched, we started grouping the lanterns ready for the carnage that was to be the rehearsals. Lunch arrived on a tray, thanks to the sound crew, and we had time for a few mouthfuls before we were getting prep’ed for the first group. All systems go... The next four hours went passed in a blur. It was group in, group out; trying to plot and program as they went. Rigging additional lights last minute - having only worked under the conditions when I knew the board inside out, it was quite a deep end shock to get behind the controls of a desk I barely knew, however so nice; to know that sometimes things are going to get that crazy, no matter where you are, and who you’re working with. And suddenly the last group were on, and Matt turned to us and said, ‘’we’re just gunna program subs and wing this - they’ll get a wash, but you have no hope of programming rock and roll style lighting without rehearsal’’. Again I thought that was just a me thing...Six o’clock came and went and as we struggled to get the desk into the tech box, I think the fact that within the hour we would be running our first large scale production as a team became very real. And so, with a few alterations by Matt, to tweak and refine, our show was cued up, ready to run and for the next two hours Sound and Lighting came together for one night only under a Sound course single day DSM. We were flying by the seat of our pants, and what fun it was...It would be a lie to say that the show went off without a hitch but it was noted that only a few techies in the auditorium would have noticed, and did it matter? We were at Summer School and we had come so far... Learnt so much. The show was over... And all that remained was the get out... And to celebrate the way we had been all week, with good beer and better company. Two Englishmen, a Welshman, a Scotsman and a Woman walk into a Theatre....It sounds like a joke... And to be honest, laughs were had, in excess, (I quote), friends were made... And so so much was learnt. I was ridiculously lucky with both an amazing tutor and group, where we all just clicked, but I’d certainly not hesitate to do it all over again. What I can take back to both my societies at Theatre, and work in a school, is friends, contacts, experience, knowledge and a heightened passion for Theatre and desire to excel. Perfect. But for now - Fade to Black. Tina Nutt Stage Lighting Cosmopolitan Players


This Summer I had my second experience of the NODA Summer School. I had my first “NODA experience” in 2004 on the “Acting Skills” course and, having taken on a different role within my society, returned this year to take “Directing Youth Theatre”. When we arrived the staff were very helpful, and showed us how to check in to the conference centre at Warwick. The new summer school venue was simply amazing, beautiful rooms with double beds, Freeview television and free wireless internet, and downstairs in the lounge: tea, coffee, fresh juices and fizzy drinks for free on tap. The meals were no less incredible, there is a trophy cabinet full of awards won by the chefs and we could tell why – the food was delicious, and there was definitely plenty of it. It made the transition back to my normal beans on toast difficult to bear! On the first day we had a school meeting to find out what to expect from the week, and a tour of the campus, before going to meet our tutor groups. Our tutor was Sarah Osborne, an extremely successful youth theatre director, and someone who was brimming over with passion for the subject. In this first session we did some icebreaker games. We participated in every activity throughout the week as if we were members of Sarah’s youth theatre group, but afterwards we would sit down and talk about how the games and activities we had done might be used with young people. We also spent some time thinking about what we wanted to achieve from the week, and Sarah incorporated those goals into her session planning. The next day we started out with some team building activities. Again, participating in them to begin with, and then discussing how we might use them with our youth groups. Sarah talked to us about how we might market our groups to increase membership and in the afternoon we did an improvisation session which increased the demands on participants in such small increments that even I, who would normally run a mile at the thought of doing an afternoon of improvisation, was amazed to find I had done just that


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and, what’s more, enjoyed myself. Sarah created a failure-proof environment that was so conducive to thinking creatively. I hope that I can recreate it in our youth group. In the evening we went to the NODA Barbeque and quiz. Our class entered as a team and were proud to come third – there was some very stiff competition! On Monday, we did some work on voice and some Children’s Storytelling theatre, as well as a group activity where we thought about the qualities required in a youth theatre director and narrowed these down to core skills and personal attributes that we wanted to develop. We were also introduced to “two touch” theatre, a style of theatre where each character is only allowed to say two or three words before the next person speaks. It made for a high-energy performance. On Monday evening I attended Tri Cumming’s workshop “Acting by Numbers”. I was a little sceptical about this course, having been placed on it because the workshops I had chosen were very oversubscribed. It was described as a course for people who wanted to “dip their toe” into acting and I was worried that, having acted for several years, the pace would feel too slow. What I actually found was that it was a wonderful re-education of the basics of acting, which I think will help to simplify what I do on stage and make it more real. There were also some exercises that she did, including one focusing on the importance of eye contact, and one about Uta Hagan’s six questions that I am definitely going to bring to our youth group to help the members with their acting and character development. Back in my main course, on Tuesday we did some physical theatre, which had the crafty title “chorus work” when it was first introduced. That was helpful for me because I have never done any physical theatre, and always assumed it would require someone much more fit and athletic than I can claim to be. Actually, I found that it can be quite simple and beautiful and very inspiring. It is now on the session plan for the first term back with our youth group, and I was so personally inspired that if I am able to return to the summer school in the future, I might consider doing the physical theatre course myself. In the afternoon we did some “failsafe plays”, simple stories with four main characters that would be easy for small groups to produce, and had a go at designing a session plan for a youth theatre group. On Wednesday we spent some time working on a scripted play which one of the students on our course directed. Over the week each of us had the opportunity to lead one of the creative tasks and one game. Directing my classmates was terrifying but a good opportunity to practice some of the principles we had learnt. After the script work we were given some director’s notes as actors and some information about how we might give notes when we are leading a group. After that, we began working on our piece for the Friday showcase. We collectively wrote a piece of creative writing about what we thought youth theatre should be like to which we set some physical theatre. It was lovely to be involved in the creative process from start to finish and we plan to devise some pieces with our youth group using this format. On Wednesday evening I attended the “Next!” workshop with Jodie Oliver. I found this class too advanced for my musical abilities, but we were given a lot of information and a chance to put it into practice in a mock singing audition. It would have been great for someone who wanted to attend professional auditions or for a singer or director who wanted to add a more professional quality to the way they participate in or organise auditions. On Thursday we did some work on Child Protection and then took a script and did a rehearsal schedule for it and a plan for what we would need to consider as a director of that play. Friday was taken up with a lot of final preparation for the evening presentation, but we did have time to finish off by making a wish list for things we wanted to achieve in our youth group. At the presentations on Friday evening, we shared our piece of physical theatre and were able to get a taste of some of the things that had been going on in the other courses. There was such a range of work presented, from traditional performances of musicals and plays to make up physical theatre presentations, a singing skit put together by the singing for modern musicals group and, from the musical theatre directors, presentations of models of their set design for their chosen musical. The sound and lighting teams arranged the tech for the show, and I was really impressed by the way they were able to enhance our performances. I had an amazing time at the Summer School and it felt like a real journey. When I started the course I was a volunteer director because I felt our new acting section was beneficial for the members, but I didn’t really know what I was doing, and with our section leader leaving in July I felt I was finally going to be found out as incompetent. Now, I am bursting with enthusiasm about helping to lead the group and feel confident in the skills and techniques I have learnt. I just can’t wait to get started in September! A huge thank you to NODA North East for granting me a bursary and making this wonderful opportunity possible. It’s made such a difference to me, and I hope it will make just as big a difference to the members of our youth group. Rachel Grieff Bradford Youth Players

MUSICAL THEATRE in REHEARSAL – SONDHEIM Tutors: Paul Milton and Dane Preece

How to sum up my time at the NODA Summer School. To say this is a tough ask is an understatement. Why? Because how do you put into words what was one of the best weeks of my life. I guess that’s a good start actually. This was the first time I had ever been to the Summer School, it was also the first time I had ever heard of it. After being recommended to go by the president of NODA Mrs Gerry Branton, when she came to Keighley to see our pantomime in 2010, a quick mention to our chairwoman about it and the wheels were put in operation. I was nervous to say the least, I had no idea what to expect. Nerves about going to

a place where everyone would know infinite amounts about musical theatre would leave me feeling rather alone and with the feeling that I wouldn’t belong. From the moment I arrived at Warwick, the opposite was true. Greeted merrily by the NODA team, I got my t-shirt, name badge, room key and settled into a truly amazing week. The accommodation of the University of Warwick was second to none. Brilliant facilities and wonderful food! Oh my the food! The temptation to have 3 courses for lunch and tea plus a fried breakfast was strong but I resisted. To this day I don’t know how. I made the late change to the Sondheim Musical Theatre in Rehearsal course after realising I knew nothing about Sondheim and many people said that I would love it. They were right. It was exactly the course for me. With the help of Dane Preece and Paul Milton, we explored the world of Sondheim and songs such as ‘Being Alive’, ‘I Remember’, ‘Ladies who lunch’, ‘Now you know’, ‘Side by side by side’ and also did extensive rehearsals and eventually a performance at the end of week showcase of ‘Company’. I love learning about the subtleties of Sondheim’s work. The clever way he puts music to suit his lyrics, his use of repetition, his views on love and relationships are scarily accurate for a man who never had a relationship until he was 60! His musicals are simply classy. Dane and Paul were wonderfully patient tutors. Dane’s musical knowledge and the way he taught us the songs were staggering. Complex harmonies and some rather ear bending chords from Sondheim didn’t faze him. We all picked it up really quickly. His vocal warm ups are brilliant and I continue to use them. Paul as well really understand Sondheim and his works and taught us brilliantly, his choreography was simple but effective which was exactly how it should be with Sondheim’s work, it’s not all jazz hands and acrobatic dancing. It’s about the music and words like it should be and anything we did do in terms of choreography was almost tongue in cheek, in parody of the conventional cheesy ‘bubblegum’ musicals. Spot on. Overall I learnt about how to act a song as well as how to perform it better vocally. It has made a real difference, my singing is much better now as a result and as I like to do plays as well as musicals, the week about Sondheim has helped me with my acting as well. Sondheim was very insistent of having actors who could sing. The people in my workshop group were so kind and supportive and we all had a great time learning and rehearsing all week, a mixture of all ages and backgrounds from across Europe. It was wonderful. I was genuinely devastated when the week in the ‘bubble’ had to end. I never once felt like I shouldn’t have been there, I was made to feel so welcome and a part of the bubble, even in the optional extra workshops working with people not in my Sondheim class. Every single person was a joy. The week was a joy. The bubble is a joy. I finish by saying I cannot thank NODA enough for awarding me a bursary. Without it I never would have been able to attend and experience such a fantastic environment that anyone with a love of theatre and musical theatre couldn’t fail to love. The support of NODA throughout the whole time has been heart warming. The care that they show to helping keep Amateur theatre going is sublime. And judging by the people at the Summer School, amateur theatre is in the safest hands possible. Thank you so much for a wonderful time. My confidence has increased in my performing and my love for theatre has grown to new heights. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Tim Steere Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society


I arrived at Warwick on the Saturday and this would be the first of many changes to my usual summer school experience. Previously I had always done the Performance courses and they were at Loughborough, but now it was to be Singing for Modern Musical Theatre at Warwick. The facilities and food at Warwick were great and all the staff there made me feel very welcome. The first evening session was a real eye opener. Pam Rudge, the course tutor talked about how the week would occur and the “science” of singing. The next day we learnt all about correct breathing and did some great exercises for breathing technique and singing. As a group we sang and learned about placing the voice and resonance. Day two was the big one – singing in front of each other for the first time. We were all really nervous but Pam and the rest of the group were really supportive and encouraging and the master class was really good for learning all sorts of different tips and techniques. As the week went on we spent the mornings examining topics such as belt, twang, speech, classical versus modern musical singing and breathing techniques and in the afternoon doing master classes with our group and learning through performance. A highlight of the week was when we joined forces with the American Theatre course students and looked at acting through song – this was great and I think both sets of students got a lot out of this combined session. My most exhausting part of the week was when Pam had me singing “On the street where you live” from ‘My Fair Lady’ whilst literally running around the room. Apparently this was to encourage me to add excitement into the song and although I was completely knackered by the end of it I have to say it actually worked. Pam was a great tutor at getting us to think beyond the song and look at words and meanings and intention as well as the physical aspect of singing. I had a great week and would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone – whatever your experience in singing.

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I would also like to thank everyone at NODA, especially for giving me the opportunity of attending the summer school with the aid of a bursary and also for the organisation of summer school at regional and national level. Martin Scattergood Individual Member

MUSICAL THEATRE IN PERFORMANCE – STAGE and SCREEN Tutors: Lynne Bustard and Jodie Oliver

NODA Summer School was absolutely fantastic! As soon as I arrived I was made to feel right at home and the fun started and didn’t stop! It was like arriving in theatrical heaven, where it seems that almost everybody sings in the shower! The week was jam packed with not just the course but all manner of theatrical evening classes and social events. The course itself “Musical Theatre in Performance” was even better than I could have imagined, it was such a privilege to be tutored by professionals! I was so inspired and I learnt so much, not just from the tutors but also from others attending the course, all of whom have now become firm friends. The grand finale at the end of the week, with the presentations from all of the different courses, was not only incredibly entertaining, but also served as a showcase of all the possibilities of courses you could attend next year. The accommodation, the food and the facilities made us all feel like celebrities for the week, it really was top notch. They say that once you try “the bubble” (as the Summer School is known) you’ll be hooked. I didn’t believe them at first, but now even I am a bubble addict and have already made plans to attend next year! I would like to say an absolutely massive thank you to all at NODA for organising such a brilliant event, and in particular for awarding me with a bursary with which to attend. The Summer School has made such a massive difference not only to my performance but also on my aspirations, ambitions and my self-belief. Thank you NODA! Kirsty Woodsworth Dale St. Michaels A.S. Mytholmroyd

THE NORTH EAST REGION welcomes the following New Members

LETTERS Dear NODA Scratchings, I opened the last edition of Amateur Stage magazine and imagine my surprise and delight when I saw the picture of what used to be the Abbeydale Cinema (Pictured left). I spent a small slice of my boyhood watching the films there. I lived on the Thorpe House Estate and it was one of several cinemas (The Heeley Palace, The Coliseum, The Heeley Green and two at Woodseats – one of which I believe was called The Chantry) which we used to visit. I imagine that they are all long gone. Pleased to read how you rescued it from a terrible fate and that it is still a temple of the performing arts. I am vice-chairman of a small amateur stage group here and although I am nearly 80, I still play cameo roles. At the moment we are rehearsing for pantomime. I hope to be in Sheffield for a ‘’nostalgia’’ visit next year and if I get the chance would like to call in and see for myself the valuable work you are doing. All power to your elbow, carry on the good work. Yours sincerely J. F.G. (Caister)

CONGRATULATIONS! Leeds Civic Arts Guild awards 2010/2011 Winner of the Rose Bowl for the Best Play last year with their production of “The 39 Steps” - The Cosmopolitan Players The Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Production, joint winners in “The 39 Steps” - Bernard Wilson, Graham Siddle, Ed Corbet & Peter Coates. Photos: Carolyn Craven

Tockwith Players – District 16 Mr and Mrs Ball – District 5 Mr and Mrs Jeremy Handley – District 9

Diary events

11th April 2012 - Youth Workshop (venue TBC) 20th – 22nd April - NE Weekend and AGM, Bridlington Full programme and application forms will be sent to all members in January 16th – 17th June - Theatre Skills Weekend Workshop with Martyn Knight and Scott St Martyn Venue TBC) 5th – 7th October - Presidential Gala and National AGM, Cardiff (Marriott Hotel) We are also scheduling a series of District Evenings throughout 2012 – there will normally be one for each of Districts 1 to 12 with the four Drama Districts (13 to 16) being invited to the their nearest meeting. The topics which will be covered at these meetings are: • A general update about NODA both North East and National • Relationship with Amateur Stage magazine, • Child Licensing and in particular the Body of Person’s Licence • The NODA Website including Online Membership



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Amateur Stage 297 x 210mm + 3mm bleed


Where your dreams are shattered


A magical new musical from the creators of A Christmas Carol

Tom Mair - Longwood AOS Joyce Edmondson - Huddersfield Light Opera Co.

PIN FOR 55 YEARS SERVICE Gwen Hulley - Wombwell AOS

GOLD BAR FOR 50 YEARS SERVICE Jill Pickles - Bingley AOS Robert Longwood - Brighouse Theatre Productions Hilary Speight - South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Soc. Dorothy Spyve - South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Soc. Fred Smith - Ripon AOS Trudy Wilson - Settle AOS

THE FOURTH SILVER BAR FOR 45 YEARS SERVICE Jennifer Wood - Bingley AOS Shirley Mair - Longwood AOS Mavis Hinchcliffe - Huddersfield Light Opera Co. Hazel Ingham - Halifax Light Opera Alan Mclernon - Settle AOS John Reid - Settle AOS Helen Reid - Settle AOS Yvonne Humble - Goole AO&DS Alan Humble - Goole AO&DS Sheila Carroll - Goole AO&DS


hen Alice notices

Book & Lyrics:

something strange

Chris Blackwood

about the looking


glass in the parlour,

Piers Chater Robinson

little does she know

From the novel by Lewis Carroll

that she is about to become

H 12 stunning musical numbers *

a pawn in the Looking Glass

H Arrangements for solo keyboard, 4-piece, 5-piece or 8-piece band

War. In a world of grinning identical twins, cracked nursery

H Digital delivery of scripts, scores and band parts

rhyme characters, gallantry and madness, Alice is about to see things

H Top-quality backing track CD also available

are seldom what they seem.

THE THIRD SILVER BAR FOR 40 YEARS SERVICE Terence Brookes - Kippax AOS George Mitchell - Halifax Light Opera Soc. Susan Blackman - Harrogate Phoenix Players Anne Weston - Brassneck Theatre Peter Stebbings - Brassneck Theatre

THE SECOND SILVER BAR FOR 35 YEARS SERVICE Jennifer Normanton - Brighouse Theatre Productions Pamela Oxley - Encore Theatre Company Kay Moorhouse - Huddersfield Light Opera Co. Pat Schofield - Halifax Light Opera Soc. Lois Swales - Halifax Light Opera Soc. Jill Pownall - Meltham Parish Church G&S Soc.

We haven’t had a reaction to a new show like this before, the membership are very taken with it

Keith Badham, Barton Players (about A Christmas Carol)

I want to thank you at IT&M for such personal and excelLent atTention

Deborah Dehart, St Edmond’s Academy


Listen to the songs now at :

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS World amateur and professional rights controlled by International Theatre & Music Ltd Garden Studios, Betterton St, London WC2H 9BP · Tel 020 7470 8786 · Email

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Stage your own production Piers Chater Robinson’s award-winning international best-seller



200 amateur

June Longward - Brighouse Theatre Productions Andrew Sheppard - Encore Theatre Company Martin Lawlor - St. Matthews Theatrical Soc. Jaqueline Tolley - St. Matthews Theatrical Soc. Eric Vernon - Harrogate Phoenix Players Margaret Vernon - Harrogate Phoenix Players Elaine Hardy - Brassneck Theatre Pamela Slater - Brassneck Theatre

productions lice nsed in 2010/11 across 15 countries! Primary & secon dary schools Amateur theatr e groups Youth theatre


his ever-popular adaptation retains all the charm and magic of JM Barrie’s original, making it the ideal family musical and a sure-fire winner at the box office.

THE LONG SERVICE MEDAL FOR 25 YEARS SEVICE Christine Bottom - Kippax AOS Jonathan Tate - Bingley AOS Joyce Scott - South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Soc. Linda West - Encore Theatre Co. Shirley Ward - Huddersfield Light Opera Co. Paula Straw - Halifax Light Opera Co. Josephine Owen - Wombwell AOS

H Unforgettable characters

such as Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook and a host of lost boys, pirates and Neverland Indians

H 13 catchy, up-tempo songs*


arranged for solo keyboard, 4-piece or 7-piece band, or 22-piece orchestra

20 years service badges 2 10 years service badges 3 Youth Awards 16

H Top-quality professional

After their production of When the Lights Go On Again, Regional Rep, Leslie Appleyard presented Long Service Awards to four long time members of Settle AOS Picture shows (L to R) Chris Ingram – NODA Chairman of Trustees an “old” friend of Settle AOS Helen Reid 45 years Alan Mclernon 45 years Trudy Wilson 50 years Lelsie Appleyard John Reid 45 years

Backing Track CD also available

H Lots of tips and tricks

on how to “fly” your cast without wires

PETER PAN is fantastic and I realLy enjoyed performing it – the best few months of my life

Cast member -– Holt School

Peter Pan the Musical stands up alongside Oliver and Joseph as one of the best productions around for schoO ls

Sedbergh Junior School, Cumbria


Listen to the songs now at:

PETER PAN THE MUSICAL Book, music & lyrics by Piers Chater Robinson UK amateur licensing: Samuel French Ltd (London) · Tel 020 7255 4301 More details from: International Theatre & Music Ltd , Garden Studios, Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BP Tel 020 7470 8786 · Email

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NORTH EAST SHOW REPORTS DISTRICT 1 GEOFF TURNER York Light Opera Company Limited Little Shop of Horrors Reviewed by: John Clithero on Saturday 25 June 2011 Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York Producer/Director: John Hall Musical Director: Phil Redding Choreographer: John Hall A summer delight from York Light, in a fine production of this ‘dark’ comedy, with simple set, perfect costumes, terrific band and small but excellent cast. Richard Blackburn was superb as hapless geek Seymour Krelborn, trying to leave the economic wasteland of Skid Row and win gorgeous Audrey, a lovely performance from Rachael Wilkinson. Her rendition of ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ tugged at the heart-strings, whilst their show-stopping ‘Suddenly Seymour’ was a highlight. They had strong support from scheming Mushnik (Eric Daines), manic dentist Orin Scrivello (Anthony Gardner) and a nice cameo by Richard McDonald. ‘Doo wop’ trio Ronette (Alexa Chaplin), Chiffon (Emily Rockliff) and Crystal (Jen Summers) harmonised well and looked great, with support from a lively Chorus. The ever-growing Audrey 2 (Lee Gemmell and Ashley Stilborn) with an insatiable appetite for human blood and body parts stole the show, but had a health warning – ‘Don’t feed the plants’ – you have been warned!! Super entertainment. Harrogate Operatic Players Serenade Monday 17 October 2011 Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens, Harrogate Producer/Director: Tina Davis Musical Director: James Rodgers Choreographer: Tina Davis It might have been raining and blowing a gale in the Valley Gardens but inside the Sun Pavilion was a haven of harmony and song. The audience, arranged in cabaret style, were treated to a wonderful evening of music and dance, from this multi-talented company. The evening’s programme was a delightful confection, a mixture to suit all tastes; carefully choreographed musical selections from “Salad Days” via “Half a Sixpence”, through to “Sister Act” and “Hairspray”, interspersed with a myriad of solos, duets, quartets and some very impressive full chorus renditions. And some hilarious comedy interludes too! All was stylishly staged with slick precision and breath-taking pace, making ingenious use of the restricted performance space. Special congratulations must go to Tina and James, each making their respective directorial debuts with the Players. They can both be justifiably proud of their undoubted success. Congratulations on an evening of sheer delight!! Harrogate St. Andrew’s Players Our House Wednesday 26 October 2011 Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate Producer/Director: Louise Denison Musical Director: Jim Lunt Choreographer: Louise Denison Oh what a rare joy, invited to see a musical on the amateur circuit that I haven’t set eyes on before! “Our House”, the 2003 Olivier Award winning show, is a musical featuring the songs from the ska/pop band Madness, and was named after one of their most popular hit singles. It relates the story of Joe Casey, who becomes involved in petty crime and follows different directions in his life in London’s Camden Town. Joe Mellor’s Casey was an outstanding performance, calling upon his many and varied talents to carefully portray the contrasting Good Joe/Bad Joe roles with confidence and style. Sarah (Vicki Holmes), the girl of his dreams, complemented the delightful pair, particularly at her best in her musical duets with Joe and with his Dad (Darren Roberts). Jennifer Cowling’s sympathetic portrayal of Kath, Joe’s mother, completed an exceptional principal line up. I also especially enjoyed the characterisation of Joe’s quartet of friends; they were terrific. And all received the fervent support from the well drilled chorus; their slick routines left me breathless. Congratulations HSAP on another excellent production; long may you continue having the courage to introduce an audience to these less familiar shows. Wetherby MTG Let Us Entertain You Reviewed by: Alan D Smith on Friday 28 October 2011 Wetherby High School, Wetherby Producer/Director: Enid Doyle Musical Director: Andrew Whitaker Wetherby MTG certainly gave its audience an evening with a first class show. We had a small but very well drilled competent Trio orchestra accompanying each number with a correct tempo and in no way drowning the cast, which can happen in shows today. Well done Andrew Whitaker (MD) / keyboard, Janet Stoney (Assistant MD / Pianist) and Andrew Wood (Percussion). The soloists and chorus were a joy to hear and the choice of numbers was brilliant - all blending in together. It was sad to see only 3 men on stage but they held their own and provided one of the hits of the night by performing ‘Sisters’ in full evening dress, wigs and feather boas. To add to this, a treat as far as I was concerned, was to hear several of the numbers sung in 3/4 part harmony - a skill a number of societies are ignoring - a lot of the shows these days rely on unison singing. Most of the second act was reliant on comedy numbers - as mentioned ‘Sisters’, ‘The Young Ones’, ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ (Gypsy), ‘7 Little Girls’, ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ and - star of the section - a young man, about 4’ tall - sorry forgot to ask his age but his name was Josh Stubbs, who was ably assisted by Mike Earl in ‘That’s Your


Funeral’ (Oliver) - look out for Josh in the future. One would think that would have been a jolly good conclusion to an excellent evening but no we were provided with a fine buffet supper and tea or coffee, followed by selection of modern musicals topped by ‘Anthem’ - a most wonderful piece of music and part singing to really bring the evening, by very talented people, to a great conclusion. Thanks Wetherby MTG for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

DISTRICT 2 ROSALIE NEWLYN Phoenix Players The Happiest Days of Your Life Friday 17 June 2011 YMCA, Scarborough Producer/Director: Felicity Stephenson The period setting for this well known John Dighton script provided ample opportunity for this talented cast to get to grips with the stereotypes of the era, and they didn’t disappoint. The hapless Headmaster Pond (Ian Cocker) was complimented by his two side-kicks Dick Tassell (Stuart Ackroyd) and Rupert Billings (Roger Shutt). The fierce Miss Whitchurch (Margaret Robson), the archetypal Head Mistress, maintained her domineering presence throughout. Whilst Miss Gossage, “call me sausage...”, (Rae Yaldren) stole the evening for me with her jolly hockey sticks approach to everything. The post-war farce centred around the unlikely pairing of a boys and girls school forced to share the same premises by the Ministry of Devacuation, which gave rise to some very corny puns but also to some well considered set pieces. Whilst there were obviously a few deviations from the script, the ensemble cast worked hard to keep things on track and delivered a comical evening’s entertainment. Whitby Amateur Dramatic Society Funny Money Tuesday 30 August 2011 Pavilion Theatre, Whitby Producer/Director: Alison Steele Farces are notoriously difficult to get right, but once again WADS pulled out all the stops in presented Ray Cooney’s ‘Funny Money’. I attended towards the end of a six week run of performing Tuesdays and Thursdays to appreciative Whitby audiences over the summer holiday period. This is a huge commitment from the entire cast and it is to their testament that the play was performed with assurance, whilst still remaining fresh and convincing. This was especially pleasing given the complexity of the script and the extent of name, identity and relationship swapping that took place throughout the course of the evening. It is a wonder any of them knew who they were actually playing by the end of the night! As the unassuming accountant Henry Perkins, Ian Dobson, maintained the pace required of the role whilst engineering the convoluted plot. As his wife Jean, Katrina Stead, declined into a state of drunkenness which was convincing and highly amusing. Other characters of note include Sarah Cox as Betty and Chris Wales as Bill, the cab driver, who ultimately resolved the whole affair. The set was typical of this genre, the action took place in Henry & Jean’s Living Room off which were numerous doors through which various characters were ushered out of the way. Unfortunately though, the “rooms” behind these doors were noticeably undecorated and unlit. However, the cast coped well with the movement of all the characters from one room to another with the use of the doors having been carefully choreographed by the Director. With some witty one liners, plenty of laughs and a confident cast, this was another enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

DISTRICT 3 DAVID OLIVER Bilton ADS - Junior & Youth Sections Four Short Plays Sunday 24 July 2011 Bilton Theatre, Hull Producer/Director: Helen Davison The society’s Junior Section began the evenings entertainment with a most enjoyable play entitled ‘Noah’s Ark’. The young actors, 18 in all, did themselves proud with a faultless performance. Sam Benge (Noah) gave a very creditable portrayal with commendable support from Bethany Jones (Mrs Noah), sons Jack Mortimer (Shem), Daniel Robinson (Ham) and Allanah Hutchinson (Japheth) and their wives Leah Robinson (Ruth), Matheea Ellerby (Rachel) and Grace Stevenson (Rebecca). All the cast gave 110%, and the audience enjoyed every minute. The play included a couple of musical numbers which were performed unaccompanied, but nevertheless perfect tune and tempo maintained throughout. Very well done. Three very different plays, ‘Emporium 2’, ‘Panto Question Time’ and ‘Last Tango in Little Grimley’, were performed by the Youth Section, several members playing parts in two plays, a difficult task for any performer. As space is limited individual mention is impossible, but it is true to say that everyone played their part with competence. Those with parts in two plays were very capable of portraying two different characterisations, which is not necessarily easy. Congratulations go to everybody for, despite hiccups, commitment and ability was obvious, and the humour was certainly enjoyed by a very appreciative audience. Off Shoots Musical Theatre Company Summer Holiday Thursday 21 July 2011 The Memorial Hall, Beverley Producer/Director: Russell Fallon Musical Director & Choreographer: Jane Walker This youth society, with ages spanning 7 to 19, bravely chose to stage this very popular film musical, originally released almost 50 years ago featuring

Cliff Richard and the Shadows. No mean task but one which was attacked with gusto. Not having seen this musical on stage before I couldn’t really envisage how the problem of the London double-decker bus would be dealt with. In fact it literally filled the stage and was very effective. Unfortunately all other scenes, not involving the bus, were performed in front of a black curtain drawn across the stage, which seemed to limit the space available, and especially so when involving the chorus. Nevertheless everyone worked hard and a creditable production was the result. Joey Langfield (Don) together with Brandon Wass (Edwin), Diego Perez (Cyril) and Johnny Holmes ((Steve) were not short of enthusiasm in their portrayals. Similarly Katie Evans (Barbara), Grace Langfield (Alma), Amber Tatman (Mimsie) and Jessica Lowery (Angie) were more than capable as the four girls hitching a lift across Europe. Alice Gold (Stella) and Oliver Robertson (Jerry) were excellent as they provided the humour. The four man band was terrific as they reproduced the 60’s musical sound. Well done everybody. Hessle Theatre Company Nunsense Wednesday 28 September 2011 Hull Truck Theatre, Hull Producer/Director: Martin Beaumont Musical Director: Peter Abraham Choreographer: Martin Beaumont No-one doubts this society’s expertise in producing a musical of professional standards in a professional theatre for an audience of up to 1200, but to put on a show in a small theatre seating only a 100 or so, demanding personal interaction with the audience, could be a very different challenge, for both cast and producer. Everyone knows ‘Nunsense’ with its unlikely scenario, and with a good cast is an absolute hoot. Hessle showed to perfection their versatility and did a great job. Shirley Watts (Mother Superior) was ideally cast. The way she dealt with being inadvertently under the influence was just right, super. Katherine Fitzgerald (Sister Hubert), Linda Burgess (Sister Robert Anne) and Rachel Waters (Sister Mary Leo) were all excellent in support, completely at ease in these intimate surroundings. A good Sister Amnesia is essential and Lynne Murphy-Bristowe’s characterization was spot on. Bekki Grange (Sister Rose), Rianne Haynes (Sister Richards), Nicola Skeer (Sister Ruth) and Elaine Windass (Sister Thomas) completed this excellent line-up. All musical numbers were, as one would expect, of the highest standard. I must not forget accompanist Michael Phillips for a job well done. The result was an evening of thoroughly good entertainment. Congratulations everybody. Bridlington A O D S Nunsensations ! Friday 21 October 2011 Spolight Theatre, Bridlington Producer/Director: Pauline Pope Musical Director: Margaret Shackleton Choreographer: Pauline Pope Subtitled ‘The Nunsense Vegas Revue’ this production was, I am told, the UK Premier of this particular episode in the life of the Little Sisters of Hoboken. In early 2007, two years after first visiting the Convent, we were last entertained by the same five ladies in ‘Nunsense 2’, and they have picked up from where they left off with enthusiasm and humour in abundance. Producer Pauline (Sr Mary Regina) was again the perfect Mother Superior, and Julie Dyl (Sr Mary Paul) gave her usual excellent portrayal of Sr Amnesia as was until her memory returned. Liz Edwards (streetwise Sr Robert Anne), Diana Bould (Sr Mary Hubert) and Abigail Hutchinson (wanabe dancer Sr Mary Leo) were, as previously, ideally cast as they enjoyed every minute. Bob Downing (Brother Bob) was their very capable Asst Stage Manager for this Vegas concert they had been persuaded to stage. The society built scenery was excellent as it also accommodated the musical duo of MD Margaret and Sue Tompkin who provided faultless accompaniment for the super vocals. The audience entered into the spirit of things throughout making it a most enjoyable evening. I’m sure another episode is anticipated, and I will be there. Outstanding!!

DISTRICT 4 JOHN PARSONS JOPSOX Olivia Reviewed by: Giles Atkinson - Youth Advisor on Sunday 3 July 2011 Plowright Theatre, Scunthorpe Producer/Director: Jacky Bacon Choreographer: Sophie Haigh This brilliant and innovative show, set in Victorian times, traces the steps of Olivia, from downtrodden orphan to star of the stage. On her journey to the bright lights of London, she is befriended by Eliza Doolittle from ‘My Fair Lady’ and, after a series of adventures, becomes a singer in a new Gilbert and Sullivan show, thanks to the unlikely assistance of Fagin and The Artful Dodger. The show began with a somewhat nervous cast but their confidence grew as the show went on. It included a great mix of characters from different musicals which were all played by young strong actors, in particular Emily Richardson who took the lead role of “Olivia”, the excellent partnership shown by Fagin and Dodger who were played by Laura Hunt and Jacob Richardson and Jenni-Mae Wardman who played Eliza Doolittle. This was a well rehearsed and slick musical and my congratulations to the production team on such a well done job. The choreography was simple but effective and the singing and acting were very well done by a very enthusiastic cast. Congratulations on a job well done.


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DISTRICT 5 LES SMITH Take 2 Theatre Company Les Musicals 111 Friday 24 June 2011 The Academy Theatre, Barnsley Producer/Director: Geoff Whitfield Musical Director: Iain Price Choreographer: Sue Dring Take five extremely talented performers namely, Julie Cooper, Sue Dring, Karl Brennan, Martin Cooper and Mike Brobbin add them to an equally talented five piece combo under the direction of Iain Price and you have all the ingredients for a perfect evening’s entertainment. These five performers sang songs from no less than twenty six musicals ranging from ‘Showboat’ to ‘Evita’ and from ‘Me & My Girl’ to ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, they also managed to get in other songs from the charts such as ‘One Voice’ and ‘No Matter What’. Highlights of the evening were Julie Cooper’s rendition of’ Love Never Dies’, Martin Cooper singing ‘Love Changes Everything’, Mike Brobbin’s breathtaking ‘Bui Doi’, Sue Dring performing ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ and Karl Brennan singing’ Ol’ Man River’. We were then entertained even more when a group of eight talented youngsters came on stage to perform songs from a show they had done two weeks previously, which included a superb performance of ‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent, to raise money for Barnsley Hospital where Lucie Cooper, one of the youngsters performing had spent three months last year following an infection in her back. They managed to raise £1,100. The evening came to a brilliant climax when all thirteen performers came on stage to sing a fantastic rendition of ‘One moment In Time’. Once again Take 2 thank you for yet another truly magical evening in your theatre. The Lamproom Youth Theatre Ensemble High School Musical Tuesday 5 July 2011 The Lamproom, Barnsley Producer/Director: Jane Robinson/ Anne Kelly Musical Director: Sam Whewall Choreographer: Julie Porter Take a group of 32 young people put them on stage to perform “High School Musical” and you are sure to have a hit on your hands, especially if the young people are the same ones who have performed this show at The Lamproom tonight. The American accents were first class and nowhere did I spot any odd words of Yorkshire coming through which tends to be the case in so many productions. These certainly are a talented group and it would be difficult to single anyone out but this is what I am going to do. The four “lead” characters were played to perfection by Jordan Bateman as Troy, Catherine Thompson as Gabriella, Daniel Wilkinson as Ryan and Megan Bassett as Sharpay. Throughout the whole of the show as well as all the dance numbers and the songs, which were done to backing tracks and meant they had to stay in strict time, they never faltered. I also enjoyed the performance from Alex Quinn as Kelsi and mention must be made of Luke Shepherd who played the role of Jack Scott and who again managed to keep in the character every time he appeared. The set was simple but very effective and was easily changed by both the back stage crew and the members on stage working together. Well done LYTE and the very best of luck for the rest of the week. Take 2 Theatre School West Side Story Thursday 14 July 2011 The Academy, Barnsley Producer/Director: Geoff Whitfield Musical Director: Iain Price Choreographer: Sue Dring It is always a gamble to produce a show like West Side Story using very young people in the cast but I have to say this is a gamble which has certainly paid off for Geoff Whitfield at The Academy Theatre this week. All the young cast were stars in this production without exception, the choreography was tailored perfectly for these young stars who performed the dances with enthusiasm. Mention must be made of Lydia Cawthorne who played Maria with all the sensitivity it deserves, add to this her beautiful singing voice and you have the perfect mix for this part. Abbi Ellison played Anita and again she was able to give this part the right mix of fiestiness and sensitivity which Anita deserves to bring it to life. Thomas White played the good natured Tony who gave this part his all, his singing was perfect being able to abilities to the full in the moving balcony scene which featured the song ’Tonight’.As always at Take 2 the music was under the baton of Iain Price whose music actually accompanied this cast and did not overpower them. Many thanks Take 2 for another great show. Steps Productions Annie Warbucks Reviewed by: Chris Ingram on Wednesday 20 July 2011 Civic Theatre, Rotherham Producer/Director: Ash White Musical Director: Matthew Symonds Choreographer: Leah Binns Steps Productions is a young society in every sense of the word – formed less than three years ago its members are all 7 to 19 years old and their director (and founder), Ash White is only 20. Although the group does have the guidance of a small group of shall we say ‘parent types’, they only act as mentors, virtually all the administration is done by the youngsters themselves. Annie Warbucks, as a sequel to Annie, has catchy tunes but an even thinner plot than the original, it does not capture the imagination in the same way. The production had an accomplished and well balanced orchestra (mainly undergraduate student colleagues of the MD), giving

sympathetic support to the cast. There were some very accomplished performances – Commissioner Doyle (Sam Shirtliffe), the (eventual) villain of the piece, showed a maturity and commanding stage presence well beyond her years, as did her accomplice, Miss Kelly (Chloé Mae Sayles) as the alluring temptress set to snare Warbucks (Brad Swinburn). I did think that some of the principals, including Warbucks needed a bit more light and shade in their characters – they perhaps came across as bit heavy. Another highlight for me was the duet early in Act 2 between Annie (Victoria Taylor) and CG (Jess Charlesworth) their voices blended beautifully. Annie Warbucks gives lots of scope for smaller cameo parts who are also the ensemble. Overall an excellent evening’s entertainment which reflected the hard work put in by everyone. Wales Musical Theatre Company Showstoppers 2011 Saturday 17 September 2011 The Acorn Theatre, Worksop Producer/Director: Nicholas Chandler Musical Director: David Burgess Choreographer: Victoria Taylor From start to finish the enthusiasm came over the footlights from the members who were having a ball enjoying themselves throughout the entire show. From the opening “Another Opening, Another Show” to the “We will rock you” finale it was apparent the whole company was enjoying themselves and this enthusiasm came over the footlights to the audience. One hesitates to single out members on a show like this but two outstanding soloists were Toni Lemm who not only sang “Can’t say No” from Oklahoma, but put her all in this number, playing it to the full, she was able to get across the whole personality of Ado Annie in a single number, well done Toni. Another one who I must mention came in the finale when Claire Cook sang “No One But You” from “We will Rock You” her voice was so sweet I am sure many of the audience must have been in tears by the end of it, a truly beautiful song which was also sung beautifully. The music was under the direction of David Burgess, this was outstanding and included keyboard, two guitars, bass and saxophone who together gave a great sound although I have to say a little overpowering for the singers a couple of times. The whole show was put together by Nick Challenger who not only did a great job of this but also performed on stage in the “Big Spender” number, I am sure many members of the audience were left wondering is it or isn’t it? All in all a great show, well done WMTC. Rotherham Teachers Student Academy Bad Reviewed by: Giles Atkinson - Youth Advisor on Sunday 18 September 2011 St Anne’s Performing Arts Centre , Rotherham Producer/Director: Dee Bennie - Marshall Choreographer: Dee Bennie - Marshall This new production that told the musical life story of Michael Jackson, was written by its Director and Choreographer Dee Bennie - Marshall and was full of enthusiasm from start to finish. From beginning to end the show was full of energy the cast having a great connection and eye contact with the audience who felt that they were part of the show too, a great achievement from a cast so young. Young Michael Jackson was played by Chloe Jackson who was excellent in the role communicating to the audience in a consistently focused and engaged way, showing flair and commitment to the role which showed great confidence and a believable character in action, character and vocals. Other outstanding performances also came from Ben Green (Quincy Jones), Charlie Hucknall (AJ Prisoner 1), Emily Huddleston (Diana Ross), Katie Eyre (Gladys Knight) and Jonny Stewart (Jermaine Jackson). A special mention also must go to the piece of contemporary dance performed to Michael Jackson’s “Earth Poem” by Leah Binns who displayed an excellent sense of style in her performance, with confidence, interpretation and artistic flair. This company never fails to impress and such an original production managed to show the full range of excellent artistic quality they possess. Superb performance! Wombwell AOS September Serenade Reviewed by: Mary Titterton on Thursday 22 September 2011 The Operatic Centre, Wombwell, Barnsley Producer/Director: Josephine Owen Musical Director: Julia Fellows How to travel through the whole spectrum of musical theatre in two hours. From a selection of “Curtain Up” numbers, items from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, “Biblical Times”, ie Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, Sweeney Todd, Fiddler on the Roof, “Join the Parade”, ie Hello Dolly, The Music Man, Barnum, Easter Parade etc., “Ballad Time” which included American Trilogy, One World, and several sketches to allow seven changes of costume for the ensemble, which showed off the Society’s own wardrobe. Congratulations to all who sang solos, duets or quartets, and particularly those who took part in the sketches. The staging/groupings were excellent. Under Julia’s baton, Jasmine’s accompaniment together with David on percussion was a delight, which together with the excellent ensemble singing made a super evening’s entertainment. It was a great pleasure to present a 55 year pin to Gwen Hulley, 25 years Long Service Award to Josephine Owen and a 10 year badge to Teresa Roberts. This Society produces 4 shows per year and works so hard for the local community. Congratulations on being awarded the Duke of York’s Community Initiative.

Company gave us, never missing any opportunity to extract every inch of humour out of this very amusing script and score. The casting of all the five major roles was exceptional with Sue Dring (Sister Mary Regina) and Julie Whitfield (Sister Mary Amnesia) perhaps being especially outstanding. The excellent dance routines and simple but effective stage sets made sure the show flowed at a good pace and was well complimented with a super musical accompaniment. I laughed from start to finish! Take 2 Theatre Group The Full Monty Tuesday 11 October 2011 The Academy Theatre, Barnsley Producer/Director: Geoff Whitfield Musical Director: Iain Price Choreographer: Sue Dring This show follows the lives of a group of redundant steel workers hoping to make money after being made redundant. All the members of “Hot Metal” played their parts to the full getting every ounce out of the characters they were portraying, they brought both the comedy and tragedy out of every part especially when Malcolm’s mum dies and he sings the very moving duet, “You walk with me” with Ethan at the funeral. It was great to see Barbara Marshall in the part of Jeanette which she created the last time Take 2 performed this show in May 2010. Barbara was able to bring this character to life keeping the lads in check with their routines. There are some very moving songs in this show, the duet with Malcolm and Ethan plus one between the two wives, Georgie and Vicki played by Sue Dring and Julie Whitfield. As always the music was under the direction of Iain Price who accompanied the actors on stage and never once overpowered them. All in all a great evening’s entertainment and I did notice quite a number of ladies in the audience gasp when the guys actually did “THE Full Monty”, well done to all of you. Dinnington Operatic Society Anything Goes Thursday 13 October 2011 The Lyric Theatre, Dinnington Producer/Director: Gail Cobb Musical Director: Jonathan Wilby Choreographer: Michelle Holland This show has a slow start, not a fault of the production but I feel of the show itself, however once the opening scene had ended the pace of this production pushed full steam ahead and did not stop until the final curtain. This was Gail Cobb’s first production but it did not show and indeed she was able to add some nice touches which brought out more of the comedy especially between Billy Crocker and Moonface Martin, these two characters were played excellently by Phil Probert and Jonathan Cobb. Phil dedicated his performance to the memory of his mum who I am sure would have been very proud of her son, his singing was polished and perfect for this part. Jonathan was a mix between Groucho Marx and Jimmy Durante and was well at ease sailing throughout this show. I was particularly impressed by the orchestra under the leadership of Jonathan Wilby, although there were seven in the orchestra they never once were too loud so as to drown out the voices on stage. Sally Hartley played the part of Reno Sweeney with ease, she was totally confident in the part and was able to keep her command of the stage throughout the entire show, another of Billy’s love interest is Hope Harcourt played by Olivia Egan, her singing was so sweet and she was able to play this demure lady with perfection. All in all a very well rehearsed show and I am sure this will not be the last one we see under the direction of Gail, well done to all for a great evening’s entertainment. South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Society A Kind of Magic Thursday 20 October 2011 The Dearne Playhouse, Goldthorpe Producer/Director: Alex & Karen Wilkins Musical Director: Natalie Bryant Choreographer: Ann Rutherford, Emma Turner, Rhona Haynes After a shaky start this show got underway and we were entertained with a total of 51 songs which varied from “Make Believe” from “Showboat” to “It’s a kind of Magic” from “We will Rock You”. We were treated to some excellent numbers such as “Show Off” by Emma Turner, this young lady was perfect, she danced and sang with the greatest of ease and I am sure you could never get tired of watching her perform. Emma was joined by Natasha Simpson and Amy Cooper in the “We will Rock You” selection to sing “Only the Good Die Young”, this is favourite song of mine and it was performed perfectly, well done girls. I must also mention “Love can build a Bridge” which was performed by Karen Wilkins, Claire Rowley and Natasha Simpson, the harmonies in this song sent shivers down your spine. The sound from the band was first class all together and never overpowering the singers on stage, the society had tried a new idea of putting the band on stage behind the performers, all in all this worked very well although I have to say there were a couple of timing issues. If I was to make any criticism of this production is has to be the use of mikes for individuals. It was perfectly fine for them to have them in their solos etc but when it is the full company on stage it can become unbalanced with some voices standing out above the others. Thank you for a great evening’s entertainment which I am sure the whole audience thoroughly enjoyed.

TAKE 2 THEATRE COMPANY NUNSENSE Reviewed by: Noel G. Rigg on Thursday 22 September 2011 The Academy Theatre, Barnsley Producer/Director: Geoff Whitfield Musical Director: Iain Price Choreographer: Sue Dring Nunsense the funny nunny musical and that is exactly what Take 2 Theatre

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The Lamproom Musical Theatre Company A Musical Magical Mystery Tour Thursday 27 October 2011 The Lamproom Theatre, Barnsley Musical Director: Maria Willis Choreographer: Dani Sampson It was called “A Musical Magical Mystery Tour” and magical it certainly was, although it was a bit sticky at the start, it soon picked up speed and then it was full steam ahead for the rest of the show. The society made full use of the stage, most of the numbers having the chorus fronted by a troop of well rehearsed dancers from the Betty Chappelle Dance School. The chorus gave us some truly wonderful harmonic numbers which included “Danny Boy” in the “Londonderry Air’’selection and “Don’t Stop Believing” from “Glee”. The latter was a wonderful number which was able to show off both the chorus and the dancers who were exceptional and certainly added to the whole experience of a great show. This show included some lovely solos from members of the society; one especially was “Someone Like You” which was sung with true feeling by Alex Myers. The whole show was backed by a small combo under the baton of Maria Willis, who actually did back the singers and not overpower them which happens all too often in some shows. If I was to make one criticism of this show it would be the costumes, in most cases the ladies were in trousers and coloured blouses and the men in coloured shirts, it would have been nice to have seen more changes for the numbers. Many thanks to you all for a Magical evening. Goole AO&DS Fiddler on the Roof Reviewed by: Reg Vinnicombe on Saturday 29 October 2011 Goole High School, Goole Producer/Director: Doreen Chappell M.B.E. It was Doreen Chappell MBE’s last production for the Society after 40 years as Producer/Director and nearly 60 years as a member of the Society. What an innings! Her enthusiasm, dedication, leadership and motivational skills over the years have never subsided. This show was no exception. The pride and dignity, sorrow and oppression and the traditions were all to the fore. We all felt a part of it. A very heartwarming and thoughtful production. Tevye (Phillip Sharp) is the mainstay of this show and he was excellent, as was each one of the principal characters and the villagers. Diction and projection were outstanding. No microphones! To convert the newly built vast gymnasium into a theatre with a temporary stage the length of it - this must have been the widest stage ever- to dress it, light it, curtain it etc.,etc. is all credit to the Stage Manager and Technical crew. This vast length was used very effectively. Congratulations to everyone. Doreen could not have bowed out on a better production....A happy retirement to her.

DISTRICT 6 MARY TITTERTON Manor Operatic Society Carousel Friday 13 May 2011 Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield Producer/Director: Richard Bradford, Linda Kelly Musical Director: Andy Collis Choreographer: Maureen Law, Linda Kelly Apologies to Manor for this report not being in the North East section of the last edition of Amateur Stage/Sratchings- a new procedure/system for submitting reports got me all in a “tis-was”!!! All principals played their characters extremely well. I particularly liked the casting of a younger person as Cousin Nettie. The ensemble singing and movement was excellent. Special mention must be given to the Snow Children, who gave a delightful and disciplined performance. Much thought and hard work had been given to the Dream Ballet. Some of the tempos were rather slow and although the orchestra sound was excellent - I personally don’t think it necessary to have 19 orchestra members! Congratulations to the Back Stage Crew, not only do they have to contend with sorting out the set, but also the building of the proscenium arch on what is normally a concert platform. One small criticism regarding scenery/legs was that from where I was sitting I could see into the wings, which I found very off-putting. Looking forward to “Dick Whittington” - oh yes I am!! Handsworth & Hallam Theatre Company Half a Sixpence Friday 24 June 2011 University Drama Studio, Sheffield Producer/Director: Dee Clarkson Musical Director: Grahame Keay Choreographer: Claire Harriott This is the third time I have seen the “new version” of this show in nine months, and the interpretation of each Director has been different. Mark Holmes (Kipps) gave delightful characterisation to the part whether it be singing, acting or dancing. From Macaulay Connor in ‘High Society’, to an Ugly Sister in ‘Cinderella’, to leading man in ‘Half a Sixpence’ in less than nine months is quite some feat!!!! Helen Holmes (Ann & yes Mark and Helen are married!) showed the demure and spunkey side of Ann’s character in her interpretation. The shop boys and girls were excellent, and I must mention the excellent harmony singing of the shop boys. Chitterlow (Steve Mather), Mrs. Walsingham (Debbie Mather), Young Walsingham (Mark Harris) and Mr. Shalford (Kevin Cheesewright) gave good portrayals. The choreography for the ‘big’ company numbers brought the stage to life. Costumes and props were very good, and the set worked well on the limited space of the Drama Studio stage. Well Done!


Picture House Youth Theatre - Juniors Henry the Tudor Dude Reviewed by: Giles Atkinson - Youth Advisor on Sunday 3 July 2011 Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield Producer/Director: Laura Duxbury Musical Director: Lizzie Barker Choreographer: Annie Purcell Sophie Dann The life of King Henry VIII - England’s most outrageous monarch - is accurately related in this rock and roll musical which has been written for young performers. Battles with France, the reformation of the church, umpteen executions and the tale of six wives are all brought to the stage by the Tudor Newsteam in this riotous extravaganza that had the audience laughing throughout when performed by the Picture House Youth Theatre Junior Section. This show was performed by a very confident and well rehearsed cast who when things occasionally went wrong carried on like true professionals. The show ran at a great pace, was slick and included catchy music performed by a cast from 6-12yr olds who obviously loved what they were doing on stage and were really enjoying themselves. The story was well narrated throughout by its news readers Matthew Hinch and Joey Humphries. Other outstanding performances came from Oscar Goldman as Wolsey, Ella Morley as Catherine of Aragon, Molly Hunter as Anne Boleyn, Tilly McQueen as Princess Mary and the dry witted comedy character of Thomas Cranmer played by Isabelle Hoare. My biggest congratulations must go to James Hadabora aged 12yrs who played the title role of Henry. Such an excellent professional performance from one so young. James played this huge demanding role with such gusto and remained in character throughout and this young man, if he continues, will go far. An excellent show that really showed where Sheffield’s next generation of stars is coming from. Congratulations Easy Street Theatre Company Les Miserables School Edition Reviewed by: Giles Atkinson - Youth Advisor on Thursday 7 July 2011 University Drama Studio, Sheffield Producer/Director: Sallianne Foster Major Musical Director: Andy Collis Choreographer: Amanda Tyas I have seen the professional version of Les Miserables a few times but somehow have never seen the “schools” edition. I went wondering if such a mind blowing show could be done by such a young cast. I was proved wrong from the moment the show started it was superb. Les Miserables has a mosaic of characters - police, prostitutes and pragmatic students - woven onto an automatically dramatic backdrop of tragic revolution in France where there is glory in death for a cause. Richard Granger as Jean Valjean was mind-blowing. Rarely is a performer found who can sing so well, and act absolutely convincingly at such a young age. His rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ was superb both physically and emotionally. His performance was spectacular. Joining Richard onstage was Ben Helliwell as Thénardier he encapsulated the scheming and manipulative ‘Master of the House’, and his occasional asides are hysterical comic relief. His vocal performance is convincing, and his chemistry with Lilli Wright who played Mme Thenardier was a joy to behold bringing that lighter moment to the show. Digory Holmes was fantastic as Javert, performing ‘Stars’ with wonderful emotion. Alex Jones took the part of Fantine and utterly nailed ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. She was a most endearing Fantine and sounded beautiful alongside Granger in ‘Come To Me’. James Smith as Marius and Toby Steers as Enjolras were excellent; utterly moving and convincing, joining an indescribably powerful ensemble and Cosette was performed beautifully and with grace by Jourdan Storey. Katie Dolling as Eponine, sang ‘On My Own’ wonderfully, with great feeling and played the role in true tom boy style but also revealing the soft and vulnerable side of the character. Other notable performances came from Gavroche, played by Ethan Carley who performed with great gusto and won the audience over with his cheeky characterisation of the part and Emma Guest playing Young Cosette who sang ‘Castle on a Cloud’ beautifully. This was a fantastic show that was powerful, strong and made up of astounding performances by a well-directed and strong cast. Sheffield City Opera The Magic Flute Reviewed by: Julie Webb on Wednesday 7 September 2011 University Drama Studio, Sheffield Producer/Director: Gavin Magenty Musical Director: Gavin Usher One is always slightly concerned when one reads that a ‘classical’ piece has been adapted or modernised by the Director. However I was quite taken by this interpretation and certainly the rather complex plot was clarified successfully. Most importantly, although some changes had been made, the music was skilfully conveyed by the orchestra and singers alike. Pamina, beautifully sung by Andrea Tweedale, was played as a modern adolescent with a crush on Pop star Prince Tamino, Richard Hansen, a true operatic tenor. In her dreams she sees her estranged mother as the Queen of the Night - Lorraine Webb in excellent voice in this extremely difficult vocal role. Matthew Palmer was a delightful and well sung Papageno, while the fearsomely costumed Monostatos with two dancers ‘attached’, made a compelling threesome. Three is a recurrent number in this opera and Alison Robertson, Emma Magenty and Gina Walters as the three Ladies and Rosie Williamson, Catherine Noble and Debra Finch - the three Boys but here depicted as Boy Scouts, were all a pleasure to hear. The remaining characters and the chorus added to the musical excellence of this performance. I hope that continuing success might make it possible for the chorus to be as well costumed as the principals - my only tiny criticism of a super night at the theatre.

Splinters Theatre Group The Wedding Singer Friday 23 September 2011 University Drama Studio, Sheffield Producer/Director: Ian Walker Musical Director: Steve Myers Choreographer: Aggie Gryszel Ian Walker must be a “glutten for punishment” taking on the direction of two new releases in two years. As usual the Group pulled all the stops out! James Parkin (Robbie) was excellent and together with Emma Townsend (Julia) made a good leading couple. Both Ian Bell (Sammy) and James Bell (George) played their parts with great aplomb. Antonia Gallagher (Holly), Danielle Smith (Linda) and Laura Collis (Angie) did extremely well. Helen Kempton (Rosie) was great as Robbie’s randy rapping gran and as usual Adam L. Walker (Glen Guglia) gave of his best. I personally didn’t know the music but thought that the band played well. Congratulations to Aggie on her first year as Choreographer - the company numbers were great - what vitality. Costumes and props were excellent (just wish that the boys would have polished black shoes, not trainers when wearing evening suits). Keep up the good work - see they have bagged another Sheffield premiere next year with “Eurobeat”. Intake Methodist Musical Society Fabulous at 50 Friday 14 October 2011 Intake Methodist Church Hall, Sheffield Producer/Director: Angela Brothwell Musical Director: Monica Eyley It certainly was “Fabulous at 50”. This society has produced only Gilbert & Sullivan operettas for their main show, and for their Golden Jubilee Concert the content was mainly G & S. As usual opening with “Hail Poetry” sent a tingle down my spine! Excerpts from Ruddigore, Iolanthe, The Sorcerer, HMS Pinafore, The Mikado, Patience, Princess Ida, Trial by Jury, The Yeomen of the Guard, Pirates of Penzance and The Gondoliers, together with songs from Oliver, Oklahoma, The Dancing Years, Perchance to Dream, Phantom of the Opera and a selection of Classical Pops, eg ‘My heart will go on and on’ (Titanic), ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. One of the highlights of the evening was their accompanist, Peter Waring’s solo performance of the “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”. Good Luck for “Princess Ida”. Dronfield Light Opera Group Anything Goes Friday 21 October 2011 Dronfield Civic Hall, Dronfield Sheffield Producer/Director: Gavin Ward Musical Director: Karen Cook Choreographer: Andrea Powell The band was excellent under Brian Winter’s baton - their sound very much in the 1930’s style. The set looked good and worked well. I think hard work and much thought had been put into the costumes and what a difference it made. All the characters played their parts well. The company singing numbers were great, but on some occasions it was difficult to hear the principal singing and dialogue. Keep up the good work entertaining the Dronfield Community.

DISTRICT 7 NOEL RIGG . Wakefield West Riding Operatic Society Hot Mikado Wednesday 11 May 2011 Theatre Royal, Wakefield Producer/Director: Dee Bennie-Marshall Musical Director: Nicky Lyons Choreographer: Dee Bennie-Marshall This production was, as the title suggests,’Hot’ in every way, with fast moving brilliant choreography throughout the production. The cast was made up of very experienced performers who all gave superb performances but I feel special mention should be made of Rachel Marshall who gave a truly outstanding performance as Katisha. Such a pity that the show attracted only a very small audience on the Wednesday evening. Batley Amateur Thespian Society Calamity Jane Thursday 12 May 2011 Batley Town Hall, Batley Producer/Director: Jane Griffin Musical Director: David Hall Choreographer: Melanie Harrison Calamity Jane is a show full of the most enjoyable and tuneful songs, especially ‘My Secret Love’ made famous by Doris Day, and B.A.T.S. with only a very small company, gave a most creditable performance. Jane Griffin not only directed the show but also gave a most enjoyable performance as Calamity and Melanie Harrison gave a very stylish performance as Katie Brown. I did feel that the orchestra could have been a little more sympathetic to the principals on a few occasions. The excellent costumes and a very clever set design did much to enhance the production. Kippax Amateur Operatic Society Sweet Charity Friday 13 May 2011 Phoenix Theatre, Castleford Producer/Director: Mark Waters Musical Director: Marie Collins Choreographer: Lorraine Harrison This production of Sweet Charity was well up to the high standard expected


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from this society. The principal line up was very strong in all roles, with what can only be described as a most amazing and very professional performance from Victoria Goff playing the leading role of Sweet Charity. I must say I am personally not a lover of predominantly black box sets but the staging was very well organised. The direction and choreography were of a very high standard and the orchestra was very sympathetic to the principal and chorus numbers. Crigglestone Theatre Company ‘Death in Character’ and Song and Dance Saturday 14 May 2011 Horbury School, Horbury Nr. Wakefield Producer/Director: David Hartill Musical Director: Alison Hadson & Dawn Folker Choreographer: Rebecca Helen Davies This was a double barrelled production comprising of a One Act Murder Mystery Play in the first half and a Song and Dance Cabaret for the second half. The play was well performed leading the audience along to guess the murderer in good time. The Song and Dance routines in the second half were good indeed and were much enjoyed by a most appreciative audience. This unusual combination seemed to work well The Elizabethans AOS Oliver! Thursday 19 May 2011 Town Hall, Ossett Producer/Director: Karen Bond Musical Director: Maureen Boocock Choreographer: Robin Mitchell This production of Oliver! was undoubtedly one of the best by the Elizabethans in many years. The general casting was strong in all the roles with especially strong performances from David Hookham as Fagin and Pamela Liley as Nancy. The chorus singing was excellent and we had two lovely performances from Alice Schofield as Oliver and Hollie Bragg as The Artful Dodger. The large set was very impressive but would have benefitted from better lighting. I think a very big plus for the show was the super sound system, it was outstanding. Saint Austins Players The King and I Friday 20 May 2011 Saint Austins Theatre, Wakefield Producer/Director: Geoff Haywood & Keith Lowe Musical Director: David Hann Choreographer: Emma Walker This production will, I feel, always have one very outstanding feature in the eyes of most of the audience and that is they are never going to see a taller King (Keith Lowe) again. He did in fact give us a very strong portrayal of the role and was well backed up by Irene De Tute who was a very charming and every inch the perfect English governess. We were also given a fine performance from Emma Walker as Lady Thiang. The show benefitted from some good staging. 5 Towns Musical Theatre Society Oliver! Friday 24 June 2011 Alice Bacon Community Centre, Normanton Producer/Director: Chris Oxley Musical Director: Elaine Oakley Choreographer: Sam Hayward This production had the benefit of two very strong performances in the leading roles from David Hartill (Fagin) and Sam Hayward (Nancy), they were excellent and were well backed up by Simon Goodall (Mr.Bumble) and Margaret Melvin (Widow Corney) who both gave very eyecatching portrayals. The title role of Oliver was well cast with a confident performance by Daniel Sadler and Jordan Barker was a very likeable bright and chirpy Artful Dodger. The sets were all very impressive and extremely well built if perhaps just a touch on the very new looking side for Oliver! The good diction of the principals was well complimented by the excellent sound system and most suitable lighting enhanced the stage sets. Encore Theatre Company Fiddler on the Roof Friday 1 July 2011 Theatre Royal, Wakefield Producer/Director:AndyLunn Musical Director: Sarah Crowley Choreographer: Helen Hubbert The Encore Theatre Company will look back in years to come and think this may well have been one of their best if not THE best show they have given. Paul Barron was an outstanding Tevye as was Pam Oxley’s Golde his wife. They both worked together with perfect understanding, they were superbly supported by the three eldest daughters who all sang, danced and acted with great confidence and they were well supported by their partners Motel, Perchik and Fyedka. Sue Sheppard gave us a lovely typical Jewish matchmaker and Paddy Sherlock was a most impressive brooding Lasar Wolf. The production as a whole benefitted from a very simple stage set that worked very well with very good sound and stage lighting and fine stage direction.

CARLINGHOW THEATRE COMPANY 42ND STREET Thursday 15 September 2011 Batley Town Hall, Batley Producer/Director: Jane Griffin Musical Director: David Hall Choreographer: Amanda Eyre The show was fortunate to have two high standard principals in the main roles, Nigel Dixon as Julian Marsh and Melanie Harrison as Peggy Sawyer were both outstanding and were backed up superbly by the remaining cast members. The show was very well directed with very fine choreographed production routines. The impressive stage sets considering the limitations of the stage did much to enhance this production which was well costumed and benefitted from excellent back up from the sound and lighting crew. The show was well up to the high standard we have come to expect from this theatre company. KIDS FROM CRIGG DISNEY’S ALADDIN JR Thursday 29 September 2011 The Lodge (formally Lupset Lodge WMC), Wakefield Producer/Director: Jodie Ellis & Norma Warren Musical Director: Alison Hudson Choreographer: Anne Clarke, Dawn Folker, Rosie Smith Aladdin Jr is a Disney version of the original story written to suit juniors both in characters and length but does lack much of the charm of the original fairytale. Crigg juniors did however give us some very entertaining song and dance routines to enjoy and all the principals gave strong and confident portrayals and should prove to be a great asset to this very go ahead theatre company. It is good to see that the junior section receives strong backing from the senior members of the society and back up crews. CASTLEFORD GILBERT & SULLIVAN SOCIETY H.M.S.PINAFORE & TRIAL BY JURY Thursday 6 October 2011 Phoenix Theatre Airedale Academy Castleford Producer/Director: Trevor Bye & Graham Weston Musical Director: Stuart Whitwell This was a two part production. The first half was H.M.S.Pinafore done in more of a concert style with a narration of the plot by Graham Weston. It was well organised by producer Trevor Bye and we were treated to some very fine portrayals by Bobbie Greatorex as The Rt.Hon.Sir Joseph Porter K.C.B. and by David Parker as Captain Corcoran. The second half was Trial by Jury and again well produced by Graham Weston with all the principals giving excellent performances. It must be very hard to rehearse two shows at the same time but I think they all did very well. CRIGGLESTONE THEATRE COMPANY BAD GIRLS Thursday 13 October 2011 Wakefield Arts Centre, Wakefield Producer/Director: Donna Turner Musical Director: Elaine Oakley Choreographer: Rebecca Helen Davies This show is not one for the faint hearted as it does contain a considerable amount of raunchy adult material. However that being said Crigglestone gave us a superb production. The casting was excellent in all the main parts with both the singing and acting being brilliant. This show does rely very much on creating the right atmosphere and for this the stage crew must take great credit as the projection scenes and super lighting and sound effects provided the icing on the cake. I have to say I left the theatre laughing all the way home despite some reservations regarding some of the material. Congratulations to the production team you didn’t miss a trick. THE ELIZABETHANS AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY THIS THING CALLED LOVE Friday 14 October 2011 The Town Hall, Ossett Producer/Director: Karen Bond Musical Director: Maureen Boocock This Thing Called Love is a show that is just what the title suggests, in that it is all about the various kinds of love from young to old, told in song and verse. It is a show that has lots of scope for a society to use all its members both young and shall we say the more mature. The Elizabethans were lucky as they had a number of the mature members who still have excellent singing voices. The show was very well organised and ran very smoothly.

DISTRICT 8 JEAN TAYLOR Longwood A.O.S. Godspell Thursday 6 October 2011 Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield Producer/Director: Neil Broadbent / Jayne Davison Musical Director: Caroline Robinson Choreographer: Jayne Davison The Principals worked so well on movement, facial expression, singing and acting- and Jayne and Neil found lots of humour for our amusement. They worked really hard, playing principal characters themselves. Dominic Moccia and Richard Brook played Jesus and Judas convincingly, but everyone played their parts well. They were all splendid and had great support from the very able chorus, who also moved and sang all the well known songs with nicely rehearsed harmonies. Costumes had been provided by the company themselves and were very varied. The set was very good and the lighting was really striking - adding a great deal to the overall effect. The Musical Director and the band made their contribution

to the show from backstage, to allow the orchestra pit to be used as an exit, and their work was well balanced and nicely controlled. It really was a tremendous performance from everyone - many congratulations. Marsden Parish Church A.O.D.S. The Full Monty Wednesday 26 October 2011 Marsden Parochial Hall, Marsden Producer/Director: Dawn Leigh Musical Director: Natalie Davies Choreographer: Dawn Leigh I had the feeling this would turn out to be a romp of a show and the ending really was just that. The cast were so enthusiastic and produced some very good characters who made us think - or laugh - excellent ingredients for a show. The music was not so well known and must have been quite hard to sing, yet they coped really well with it (but that is the normal situation with the Marsden Company). While the girls are not so prominent in the show, they certainly made things hop, but when it came to making us feel a deep sympathy for them - and for their menfolk, we were with them all the way. This is a show which takes you through a whole range of emotions, but leaves you cheering their courage. I wish it had still been set in Sheffield rather than Buffalo, because that is where it began, but we can’t have everything can we? Many congratulations though to the Production team and all the Company on a very entertaining show and a special ‘WELL DONE’ to the lads and their mystery pianist!

DISTRICT 9 ALAN SMITH Morley AOS Oliver! Wednesday 21 September 2011 Town Hall, Morley Producer/Director: Ann Lockwood Musical Director: Lee Spink Choreographer: Nicky Haley The choice of Lional Bart’s most famous and successful musical brought Morley, what I felt was, one of their most entertaining shows for a long time, having a really keen and enthusiastic chorus, along with a fine set of Principals. As always the youngsters are the hit of the show - as workhouse kids and Fagin’s gang - I think 22 in all. Both Oliver (Aaron Cawood) and The Artful Dodger (Ashley Young) shone. Steve Holt (Bumble), Stuart Marshall (Fagin), Rob Smith (Bill Sykes) and Sarah Young (Nancy) gave very good portrayals of their characters. The other principals added their skills and support. The whole cast gave the impression they were enjoying themselves and this ‘brushed off’ onto the audience. The set was well designed, which enabled the stage staff to change the settings quickly. I was impressed by the small combo orchestra which added to the evening’s entertainment. Thanks Morley for a very enjoyable evening. All the best with Wizard of Oz and Dick Whittington.

DISTRICT 10 JACQUI HARTLEY The Heckmondwike Players When The Lights go On Again Saturday 25 June 2011 Cleckheaton Town Hall, Cleckheaton Producer/Director: JeremyShoesmith/Peter Forsyth Musical Director: Jon Wilby Choreographer: Sheelagh Wood Once again the Players performed this nostalgic show only fifteen months after the previous production, and I think it was received with even more enthusiasm from both the cast and audience alike the second time. This show tells the story of how one family lived through WW11, their ups and downs, happy times and the heartache as they moved throughout the war years. It gave lots of opportunity for company members to perform small cameo parts, from neighbours, ARP wardens, Elsie and Vera duo, the separated loved ones who kept reading out letters to one another with singing in the background to provide extra atmosphere. In Act 11 we had the hilarious camp concert with a very ‘camp’ Gay Gordon, and wonderful harmony from the Andrews Sisters Trio. There was much more movement and dancing this time around, and the show was packed with war-time songs which the audience knew and loved. A delightful team of youngsters from the ‘West End Middle School’ appeared in both Acts singing in the School Concert and again in the street party. There was a cinema screen showing scenes from the war years and famous speeches from the various war-time leaders. With lots of singing and flag waving, everyone came away feeling very happy and patriotic. The Savoyards Appreciation Society West Yorkshire HMS Pinafore Saturday 10 September 2011 Victoria Hall, Settle Producer/Director: Alistair Donkin Musical Director: James Newby A splendid production, with a first class line up of experienced principals all of them performing their parts with enthusiasm and showing good portrayal of characters, with excellent singing and good diction from each and everyone. Chris Liston, after only four rehearsals, was outstanding with his performance of Ralph Rackstraw and along with his Josephine (Helen Fieldsend) they made a commendable pair. The highlight of the production for me was in the second Act when the trio performed ‘Never mind the why and wherefore’ with Sir Joseph Porter (Graham Weston). With his fantastic facial expressions, antics, dancing and clowning around, he had the audience clapping along demanding encore after encore, I just lost count as to how many times they actually performed it. Excellent orchestra, good scenery, bright clean costumes and strong lighting all added to the

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production. How the large cast managed to perform big company numbers on the small postage stamp sized stage, amazed me. This was my first official visit to The Savoyards who are a touring company and take their performances to different venues around Yorkshire and further a field to promote Gilbert and Sullivan Operas. What a delightful evening it turned out to be, I do hope there will be many more.

recitations and short sketches, so that everyone on stage had a chance to shine. She also allows any child to be a member, no matter what their ability and though many don’t have the experience of stage school kids, they all enjoy performing and do their best, with the Leaders and Seniors guiding the younger children, as well as confidently performing their own pieces. Well done kids.

Halifax Amateurs’ Theatre Youth Footlose Friday 28 October 2011 Halifax Playhouse, Halifax Producer/Director: Ged Marescaux Musical Director: Cathy Sweet Choreographer: Andy Milthorpe What an energetic and enthusiastic performance from these youngsters, who burst into life right from the opening number with hits from the 80’s which set your feet tapping away. This all singing all dancing show is based on the eighties movie of the same name. ‘Footloose’ is set in a small farming town where it is illegal to dance. When Ren and his mother moved to Bomont from Chicago, he met the rebellious daughter of the Reverend at his new High School. Together they convinced her father and the town that it was alright to dance after all. The accolades for outstanding performances must go to Ariel (Katie-Faye Moorhouse), Ren (Adam Tolson) who had never been on a stage before, Reverend Moore (William Frost) only fourteen years of age giving a performance that belied his years, Willard (Jack Moorhouse) and their respective partners. All the cast worked hard and managed to bring out the humour, especially in the roller skating scene, the audience really loved that. Nice little Orchestra well controlled and they did play quietly when necessary. I liked the way they projected the scenes inside the house which helped to switch between the scenes quickly and efficiently. Congratulations to all involved

Glusburn Youth Theatre Showcase 2011 Friday 2 September 2011 Glusburn Institute, Glusburn, Keighley Producer/Director: James Jennings and Fiona Spencer Glusburn Youth Theatre does a great service by giving their young members the chance to perform. The evening’s entertainment was compered by Howard Clough who introduced the varied programme of songs, dance and comedy sketches featuring twenty young people of all abilities, aged from six years olds to teenagers. Also taking part in this revue was Special Guest Nikki Barrett, a local singer and actress who delighted the audience with her selection of melodies from the musicals, showing the youngsters what can be achieved. The older more assured soloists sang their own favourite numbers well, whilst gaining more experience. But what sticks in the memory are youngsters like six year old Ciara, a pretty little dancer, who featured in five items, a skilful young guitar player Lily and also accordionist Sammi, who gave his first public performance, especially his expression of relief when he’d finished. Then of course there was Henry in ‘Greased Lightning’ who also proudly led the company in a most appropriate finale ‘We’re all in this together’! Well done everyone!

DISTRICT 11 LESLIE APPLEYARD Sutton in Craven AODS Sugar Thursday 14 April 2011 The Village Hall, Sutton in Craven, Keighley Producer/Director: Doreen Smith & Brian Blackie Musical Director: Brian Fothergill Choreographer: Alison Waters This company have successfully presented several new and challenging shows in recent years, as well as their popular pantomimes and plays, but the ‘Some Like it Hot’ musical was just too demanding for a small stage production and though they did their best with the available space, perhaps a stage extension would have helped. Musically, at times the tempo of this difficult, jazzy score was rather slow, although, in the main it came over reasonably well. In the Marilyn Monroe title role Sugar, was Roxanne Williams. Philip Smith, being well experienced at comedy, had the Jack Lemmon role of Jerry/Daphne while a comparative newcomer to principal roles Darren Lorriman, played the Tony Curtis, Joe/Josephine part. The audience laughed at their antics, especially when Joe, in order to seduce Sugar, poses as a millionaire and Jerry, forgetting he’s a man, almost falling for the frisky old millionaire Osgood (Alan Senior). Completing the principal line-up were a bossy Sweet Sue, the Girls Band Leader, and her long suffering manager Beinstock, nicely played by Philip Boocock, the gangster boss Spats Palazzo (Brian Blackie). Further support was given by the chorus of gangsters, the Girls Band and Singers and the young Dancers. Haworth West Lane Baptist AOS We’ll Meet Again Friday 13 May 2011 West Lane Baptist Church, Haworth, Keighley Producer/Director: Michael Lofthouse assisted by Christine Ingham Musical Director: Pam Dimbleby This hardworking G&S company again held a 1940’s concert, to coincide with the famous Haworth Village 1940’s Weekend. The programme consisted of many favourite songs of the era and included a couple of solos from Roly Robertshaw and Janine McAndrew and also featured a mind reading magician. What an enjoyable, entertaining and relaxing evening it was. I say relaxing, but the audience were given song sheets and were invited to join in and sing for our supper, which was free! In effect it was two shows in one as we were treated to an ‘Allo Allo’ type sketch performed by a group of 11-14 year olds, using ridiculous French accents, which was really funny, two adults helped out, Rene was played by the Minister Chris Upton, while Director Michael was the pilot of a super makeshift aeroplane. Musical Director Pam played in a string quartet to start the second half of nostalgic melodies and the concert closed with a Grand Finale which was an outstanding rendition by the adult company and the children of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ blended with composer Gordon Balmforth’s ‘Sing a Happy Song’. Bright Sparks Simply the Best Friday 24 June 2011 Guiseley Theatre, Guiseley, Leeds Producer/Director: Dorothy Darnbrough Choreographer: Dorothy Darnbrough & Leaders The set had several different levels so that every youngster could be seen. Bright Spark’s shows get more and more technical every year, lots of colourful lighting effects were used and video screens enabled the young performers to be seen in close-up throughout. Backing tracks provided the music for their varied programme of songs which included a selection of Beatles music and medleys from ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ and ‘Oliver’! I particularly liked ‘Candle on the Water’ sung by Eshe Jones, also 7 year old newcomer Jesse Trigg’s poignant rendition of ‘Where is Love’. The producer spends many hours sourcing suitable material for the many songs,


Sutton Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society Thank You for the Music Saturday 10 September 2011 The Village Hall, Sutton in Craven, Keighley Musical Director: David Boddy At this time of year this society usually do a play, however in order to raise necessary funds, it was decided to present a revue for this year’s autumn production. Devised by the Musical Director, this was a musical journey through the last 70 years, in which the cast of 15 members performed popular selections from the company’s last four shows, plus a taste of 8 musicals, some of which are currently running in the West End. For this nostalgic evening’s entertainment, the audience were seated around tables, cabaret style, enjoying a drink or two and they were occasionally encouraged to sing along with the cast. The band, which provided a rousing opening to the show, also featured their two guitarists, singing Rock & Roll numbers from ‘Dreamboats & Petticoats’. While it was a pity to see so few men taking part in this show, it was good to see young teenagers being given the opportunity to sing solos. The simple set was lit very effectively from the new Lighting and Sound control room that the technical members of the group had recently adapted from unused space high in the back of their village hall. BrassNeck Theatre Bouncers and Shakers Reviewed by: Pam Booth on Wednesday 14 September 2011 Yeadon Town Hall, Yeadon, Leeds Producer/Director: Royston Bayfield These two plays give an insight into the lives of working class people at work and play. The two casts, four male for ‘Bouncers’ and four female for ‘Shakers’, portray a variety of characters, workers and customers at the local nightclubs. It took great skill on their part to move from one character to another but this was done faultlessly, and with superb lighting and well chosen music the pace never slowed. Very wisely they had chosen to open with ‘Shakers’ as this play doesn’t quite have the side splitting humour of ‘Bouncers’. However it does have its amusing and very moving moments and congratulations to all four ladies for coping with the various characters. They certainly deserved the loud applause at the end. Although there is more humour to be had in ‘Bouncers’ it is a much darker play. The contrast between the four players as bouncers, ‘ladies’ and lads out on the town was brilliant. With no set, no costume changes and very few props these two plays depend on skilled direction, talented actors and as mentioned before exceptional lighting and sound. ‘Bouncers’ and ‘Shakers’ had all these and more, resulting in a near professional end product. Guiseley Amateur Operatic Society A Century of Song Sunday 2 October 2011 Guiseley Theatre, Guiseley, Leeds Musical Director: Alan Hughes As the title of the concert suggests, this was truly a night for reminiscing. While the audience entered the theatre, an attractive empty set was displayed, beautifully lit, it had a blue ruche centrepiece with red panels on each side and when all the audience were seated, the house curtains closed then opened again with the assembled chorus on stage, throughout the performance, by using subtle lighting effects, the panels changed through a variety of pastel shades which complemented the colourful array of the ladies evening gowns. The concert opened in fine style with an exhilarating rendition of ‘It’s a Grand Night for Singing’’, Chris Ingram was a genial Master of Ceremonies, stepping out from within the chorus to introduce the musical items and the guest soloists, who were flautist Zara Jealous and singers Alan Parkinson, Tenor and Richard Aldham, Baritone, who have all been associated with GAOS in the past. Another soloist, a former leading lady and the immediate past chairman of the company, eighty-two years young Margaret Dexter, Soprano, delighted the audience with her two solos. The Guiseley AOS chorus, which was augmented with singers from five other local societies making a total 40 voices, did justice to the excellent programme which was devised by Alan Hughes using the works of Franz Lehar, Gilbert & Sullivan, Sigmund Romberg, Benatsky & Stolz,

George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Lowe and Boubil & Schonberg. The Finale was a superb medley arranged by Ed Lojeski from Les Miserables. Yeadon Operatic and Dramatic Society Blithe Spirit Reviewed by: Marguerite Jennings on Friday 7 October 2011 Yeadon Town Hall, Yeadon, Leeds Producer/Director: Adam Gregory This Noel Coward play, which seems to be having a revival with Drama Societies, requires a sophisticated style, good delivery and accents for the script and well rounded and witty characterisations. This Society achieved these objectives and presented a very amusing production. The scenery, furniture and properties were in keeping with the style. The acting was of a high calibre with the required accents, diction, projection and good comic timing. The production had good pace and plenty of attack and the whole was a pleasant entertaining evening. Keighley Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society Footloose Tuesday 18 October 2011 Victoria Hall, Keighley Producer/Director: Jamesine Livingstone Musical Director: John Sandland Choreographer: Judith Chapman KAODS made the right decision by choosing this feel good show, it allowed their younger members to shine, while offering some challenging roles for the experienced adults. Instead of cramming the big cast onto a restrictive stage, they placed the band on it and moved the main performance area down into the hall, enclosing within the lighting rig, so that it was colourfully and effectively lit from all sides. Mathew Gardner sang well and was an excellent mover as Ren McCormack the Chicago teenager, who was intent on brightening up a small mid-west town, he was matched with a feisty Brogan Hollindrake as the minister’s rebellious daughter Arial, who he steals from the cool bad boy Chuck (Dalton Wood). Greatly amusing the audience was Rick Greenwood as the not so bright small town hick Willard, his attractive small town gal Rusty (Fiona Spencer) and teenage friends Urleen & Wendy Joe (Chloe Judge & Jessica Chay Croden) who were a delight. There were excellent emotional performances of the domineering Reverend Moore (Mark Rundle), his wife (Nicola Brook) and Mrs McCormack (Laura Judge). It was good to hear so many ‘80s hits and to see the sheer enthusiasm and energy of the young cast in the big routines. Well done!

DISTRICT 12 JUDITH SMITH Bradford Youth Players Act II The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) Friday 22 July 2011 The Lord Kalms Theatre, Bradford Producer/Director: Kathryn Tonks Musical Director: Ian Sapiro - Assistant MD Dave Ireland Choreographer: Kathryn Tonks I enjoyed every moment of my evening with BYP. I had no idea of what to expect of this show but from the first few moments I realised it was a loving send up of well loved musicals and it certainly helped if you could remember some of the dialogue and lyrics!! The show is made up of five musicals, all with the same story of a beautiful girl who cannot pay her rent, evil landlord demanding rent and young hero offering to pay the rent, each section performed in the style of a particular composer and era of musicals covering almost the last 80 years. The young people coped excellently with the differing techniques of the musical through Cole Porter, Rogers & Hammerstein, Lloyd Webber, Sondheim and many more; together with the different eras of the musical came the differing styles of singing, diction, acting, deportment, choreography etc etc and the cast and production team depicted these with accuracy, ease and aplomb. I cannot see this musical as a main production for an adult AODS but for a fun, well performed evening by young people I think it will be a while before I see anything so enjoyable. Idle & Thackley Theatre Group Through the Years Thursday 6 October 2011 The Little Theatre, Idle Producer/Director: Sara Devitt & Emma Burton Musical Director: Helen Brandt Choreographer: Danielle Rice & Katie Burton This was a well arranged programme of some of the well known, and refreshingly, not the most famous hits from musicals spanning the last 50 years. The costuming was very simple with only a slight change between Act I and Act II. The scenery too was effective with enlarged programme covers of the featured shows randomly displayed on black flats depicting the passage of time. The style of the choreography and movement fitted and depicted so well the era of the show. The accompaniment was by backing tracks and, at first, some of the intonation from the singers was a little suspect but soon, with a tweek upwards of the volume control, it became obvious that everyone on stage relaxed as they could now properly hear the music and all was well from thereon. The IT Kids brought the smiles and the show to life with their numbers and the adults, together with the compere Richard Knowles, held everything together well. It is really unfair to pick anyone out, especially from this small and very conscientious cast, but Alyson, Emma and Liam put every ounce of energy they had into their performances. Good Luck to this hardworking society


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DISTRICT 13 GEOFFREY HAYWOOD Priory Players Junior Section Ossett Dumsey Meadow Friday 24 June 2011 St Ignatius Parish Centre, Ossett Producer/Director: Gillian Shelton Musical Director: James Greatorex Choreographer: Vicky Webb, Donna Crabtree, Gillian Shelton An open stage showing a good scene representing a farmer’s field complete with a gated wooden fence and stile, a fully “grassed” stage, shrubs, flowers and apple trees with real fruit. And so the scene was set for an evening’s entertainment in Dumsey Meadow. Lady Dumsey, who owns the meadow has fallen on hard times and has had to rent out the meadow to various groups of campers in order to boost her somewhat falling income. In this instance an unfortunate double booking has occurred resulting in two very different parties of school children along with their appropriate teachers demanding that they occupy the camping area to the demise of the opposition. St Winifred’s’ School seems to be an establishment for genteel young ladies, whilst St Albert’s’ School are a bunch of scruffy scallywags barely under the control of the teacher. The youngsters involved in this production gave an all round excellent performance and one must mention the ability shown by Eliza Keane (Milly) and William Fealy (Alec), playing the rival detectives from each school, attempting to solve the mystery of the haunted fields of Dumsey Meadow. Lighting, costume and the music were complementary to the show. The Junior Section of the Priory Players should indeed be proud of their accomplishment.

DISTRICT 14 JULIE WEBB Honley Players ADS This Happy Breed Wednesday 14 September 2011 Southgate Theatre, Honley Producer/Director: Dennis Thewlis This gentle but moving play, picturing a working class family coping with life between the two World Wars, shows Noel Coward in a totally different light from his other well known plays. With 9 scenes covering 20 years, props. and wardrobe were essentially very busy, so well done to those teams, with the setting, fashions and music between the scenes in keeping with the changing periods. The cast was led by Andrew McDermott as Frank, a particularly successful interpretation in somewhat different style to his previous roles. He was given strong support by Helen Martland as his wife Ethel, a very natural performance and Andrea Gosslin as his complaining mother in law, who did not fall into the trap of playing the part for laughs. His neurotic sister (Veronica Brophy) and wayward daughter (Jenny Taylor) both made strong contributions, especially as the play proceeded. The remaining characters were well conceived and the whole made a team to be proud of. Though rather a long production, the audience was totally engrossed. Congratulations to the Director and everyone involved. Rotherham Rep Curtain Up On Murder Wednesday 21 September 2011 Civic Theatre, Rotherham Producer/Director: Rosie Burke I am of the opinion that a Comedy Thriller is the most difficult genre. Betty Manktelow gives her characters a number of clever lines, keeping the audience amused if slightly bemused as to where the story line is going. A group of actors are apparently rehearsing a play when the performers start to die, by accident or murder? Another case of ‘And Then There Were None’, one begins to think or is there a ghost in the theatre? The close of the play is unexpected and effective but I found it rather a long wait, especially after the OTT preceding scene which did not seem to fit in with a group of experienced actors. The cast worked hard to try to make it all acceptable and to be fair many of the audience enjoyed it all. Phoenix Players Fawlty Towers part 2 Reviewed by: Les Smith on Friday 21 October 2011 The Civic Theatre, Rotherham Producer/Director: Julie Webb I would imagine almost everyone in the country has seen Fawtly Towers on television at some time or another even if they are not a fan, so for an amateur society to select a show of this type they have to have confidence in their actors to carry off the parts. Phoenix Players need have no worries about this production. The characters were all played to perfection, the mannerisms of Basil Fawlty, the voice of Sybil and of course Manuel and Polly could not be faltered, they were absolutely fantastic. They were ably supported by an excellent cast of guests and visitors to the hotel. Neil Mather was hit about the head, kicked on the shins and still came back for more as the hapless Basil Fawlty, if ever John Cleese needed to have a stand in, Neil is your man. Tracey Briggs played the overpowering wife of Basil, Sybil, and as one person said if you closed your eyes you would have thought it was Prunella Scales on stage, but it was not only her voice, she tackled the part and got every ounce of comedy out of it. As Basil’s side kick to all his plots is Polly who was played by Sue Briggs, again she played the part to the full and was a great ploy for both Basil and Sybil to feed off. Lee Sanderson was perfect as the bundling Manuel with his catch phrase of “Que” which sent the audience into uproar with their laughter. Well done to all involved in this production and very well done to Julie on an excellent production.

Emley Drama Group See How They Run Wednesday 26 October 2011 The Methodist Church Hall, Emley Producer/Director: Karen Kirkup Originally written in 1944, this Philip King farce continues to be successfully revived by both professionals and amateurs alike. The sight of partially or incorrectly dressed clergy rushing about the stage never fails to keep the audience in stitches. As always Director Karen Kirkup managed to control her nine character cast on their tiny stage, as the third act becomes a frantic chase. All the characters have clearly formed personalities and everyone of the cast stepped up to the mark making a very good team. The particular efforts of Gary Wilkinson (Clive Winton), Betsy Whitwam-Kirkup (Ida,the maid) and newcomer Sebastian Bales (Serg. Towers) gave the comic scenes excellent timing. Well done everyone. The Village Players, Everton We’ll Always Have Paris Thursday 27 October 2011 The Village Hall, Everton, Notts. Producer/Director: John Brown This pleasantly amusing play by Jill Hyem gave the audience a relaxed evening’s entertainment. Nancy, (a sound portrayal by Ann Marie Edwards), is enjoying her retirement in her small Paris flat. Away from her years as a Headmistress, she enjoys the culture and ambience of the French capital. Hearing that an old school friend has recently been widowed, after a long period of nursing a difficult husband, she invites her for a stay. Anna, (a nicely developed character by Jane Bardsley), soon blossoms with the attention of local handyman and out of work actor, Charlot and his touch of romance. Tony Ballarini gives the Frenchman a lively and charming portrayal which helps to set the tone of the play. Sue Simpson is the third ‘old girl’ frantically trying to defy anno domini and Jan Bailey, with her torrent of French, makes a suitably bossy landlady. All play their part in helping Nancy and Anna face up to the years ahead.

DISTRICT 15 PAM BOOTH Burley Millennium Theatre Group Outside Edge Saturday 25 June 2011 Queen’s Hall, Burley-in Wharfedale Producer/Director: Mike Newman There had been as many dramas offstage as on stage in the course of this production but well done to everyone for overcoming them and making the play a great success. The extended stage and exit off to the car park at the side of the hall gave you a real feeling that you were part of the cricketing afternoon. A well dressed set showed that someone obviously had a good knowledge of the inside of a cricket pavilion. Well done to the cast members who had stepped in at the last minute, they certainly proved their worth. All the characters were well portrayed and I’m sure that the audience could identify with them. Good direction meant that characters were positioned well and never masked each other. The cast worked well with the invisible walls of the pavilion, it’s very easy to forget they are there and talk through them. The first act moved rather slowly but the pace quickened in the second half and the audience responded well. Ripon Rowel Players ‘Allo ‘Allo Thursday 14 July 2011 Ripon Leisure Centre, Ripon Producer/Director: Audrey Hewson This is by no means an easy play to put together with such a large cast and so many different scenes that need to flow without a pause, but Ripon Rowel seemed to have coped well with all these problems. Audiences do tend to compare actors with the characters they have seen in the TV version of this comedy and the Players were very fortunate to have found an excellent Rene who closely resembled Gordon Kaye both in looks and bearing. There were some excellent performances from other members of the cast and the capacity audience enjoyed themselves to the full. The minimum amount of scenery had been used and, with the help of the German soldiers, this made for quick scene changes. Props had been well chosen and again these can’t have been easy to find. Costumes were good but I would have liked to have seen the ladies with a little more make up, luscious red lips were the order of the day back then. The cast had worked hard with their French and German accents and maintained them throughout the performance. A very entertaining evening and well done to all involved with this difficult play. Harrogate Dramatic Society Dad’s Army Reviewed by: Marguerite Jennings on Wednesday 5 October 2011 Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate Producer/Director: Paul Dunstan Musical Director: Band MD Craig Ratcliffe This was the stage version of 3 episodes from the much loved Television programme with the added component of the Harrogate Band appearing as the Warmington-on-Sea Brass Band. The setting, which was very effective, was mainly the office and the Parish Hall. The furniture properties and costumes had all been chosen with great attention to detail. The characterisations, as in the programme notes, were “appropriate but faithful to the concept of the originals and not an impersonation”. There was good concentration, projection and great team work as one expects from this society with every member of the cast of 37 plus 12 band members giving of their best. The whole was a great trip down memory lane for a full house.

Grassington Players Slim Chance Thursday 27 October 2011 Octagon Theatre, Grassington Producer/Director: Margaret Wilson It’s good to welcome Grassington Players back to NODA. As this was a one act play the first half of the evening was given up to two monologues written by local playwright Keith Bromley. These amusing speeches, the first about a hopeful spinster, the second a hard working mum, were both well performed. A strong cast had been assembled to portray the members of a not too successful Slimming Club and they definitely got as much humour as they could out of this one act play. There was a good range of characters and not even the fact that one of the cast had her leg in pot could dampen their enthusiasm. The Octagon Theatre is the ideal venue for a one act play and the acting area was well suited to the theme of the play. There was no need for scenery and props were kept to a minimum. A most enjoyable performance from a great team of ladies.

DISTRICT 16 MARGUERITE JENNINGS Bramley Parish Theatre Players Summer Spectacular 2011 Reviewed by: Alan D Smith on Sunday 19 June 2011 Parish Hall, Bramley Producer/Director: Judith Armitage assisted by Linda Birch Musical Director: Emma Smith Choreographer: Hannah Birch What a wonderful selection of musical numbers started by a very talented group of young people with a selection from ‘Annie’. The Society has no worries for the future knowing these Juniors are waiting ‘in the wings’ when the time comes. I was very impressed with the items which followed - a well chosen and balanced programme of Songs from the Musicals, Films, Tribute to Eva Cassidy (the American vocalist) and Glee. It was really wonderful to hear some really excellent voices showing their talent. The first half of the show concluded with a great arrangement of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ sung by the whole well balanced members of BPTP. In the second act we were treated to numbers from the 30s to the 70s, with songs from World War 2, Dreamboats and Petticoats and the Beatles - where we were encouraged to clap and even wave our hands. The time flew by because of the enthusiasm of the cast. One could not get bored as we even had a tap routine meaning we kept awake. The Show actually started at 7pm and finished at 9.45pm. However the time passed very quickly and everyone had a really super evening. Thank you BPTP. Knaresborough Players A Slice of Saturday Night Reviewed by: Marguerite Jennings on Thursday 6 October 2011 Frazer Theatre, Knaresborough Producer/Director: David Crosthwaite Musical Director: Will Lynch Choreographer: Amy Clifford The Heather Brothers` take on musicals of the early 1960`s was a brave departure for the Players in the hope of attracting a younger cast. Their efforts were well rewarded with some new talented members who seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The set was simple but worked efficiently with the lighting adding to the club atmosphere. The costumes and hair styles mainly suggested the correct period. The Choreography was energetic with good attack and in keeping with the 60`s. Musically the singers were mostly in tune with a very good young trio of musicians who, in the small auditorium could have lowered the volume. The company worked very well together with good characterisations, concentration, projection and the production, which was well paced, gave every cast member the opportunity to shine. A very enjoyable evening of nostalgic entertainment much appreciated by a large audience. Cosmopolitan Players The Shell Seekers Saturday 22 October 2011 The Carriageworks, Leeds Producer/Director: Pam Elsey This play was adapted by Terence Brady & Charlotte Bingham from the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher and was an intriguing story about where a mother of 3 adult children should leave not only her money but also “The Shell Seekers “ a painting by her famous artist father which had become very valuable. The play was perhaps a little slow in the 1st Act but gradually built to an impressive and moving climax. The setting, with various levels not only depicting several locations but flashbacks to World War 2, was outstanding and was helped by some very clever lighting, highlighting the action for which Tina Nutt (a bursary winner for the NODA Summer School Lighting Course) was responsible. The acting from the whole cast was of a very high calibre with the palm going to Judith Daniels as the mother. A most moving and worthwhile performance from the whole company both on and off the stage. S.T.A.R.S. The Man With Two Gaffers Tuesday 25 October 2011 Adel & Ireland Wood Community Centre, Leeds Producer/Director: John Haywood This play is an adaptation by Blake Morrison, who has worked with the Northern Broadside Theatre Company, of the classic Italian comedy “The Servant of Two Masters” setting it in the Yorkshire Dales with the appropriate dialect and accents. The setting was outside the local pub (on the unused stage) with the audience on 3 sides of the auditorium, with boxes and beer barrels as seating and tables for the actors. The pace was fast and furious with some great comic timing and included Yorkshire folk songs from the

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songs from the whole cast of very versatile actors. The comedy was well handled by Chris Binns (“Arthur Dodge’’ the Servant), Gary Darbey (“Samuel Towler” local Farmer), Dave Collins (“Pub Keeper”), Judith Smith (“Esme Dean” the local maid on the lookout for a husband) & Simon Field (“Rev. Lamb” the Vicar), with the rest of the cast providing great support. Costumes and properties were of 1850`s period and mainly supplied by the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Ilkley Playhouse & the Horsforth Museum. The play has more than stood the test of time and the adaptation worked a treat with many allusions to Skipton, Bingley, Bradford, Five Rise Locks & Muker being thoroughly enjoyed by a very receptive and appreciative audience. Heaton Amateurs Outside Edge Friday 28 October 2011 Skipton Little Theatre, Skipton Producer/Director: Andrew Howorth A new venue for Heaton with this Richard Harris play and how well it worked with a full house enjoying every minute of this production. The set, depicting the inside and outside of a cricket pavilion, was more than adequate and the team of players was well established with strong performances from every character. The fact that there was very little space for the actors to work on did not detract from their portrayals. Concentration and team work were paramount and with some good sound effects for what was going on on the field the audience was treated to an evening of well paced and timed comedy and duly showed their appreciation of an evening well spent. Tockwith Players The Holy Grail Thursday 27 October 2011 Tockwith Village Hall, Tockwith Producer/Director: Sue Corbett Musical Director: Sue Corbett & Dave Hardman Choreographer: Lorna Kennett Welcome to NODA North East to an enthusiastic society In the English tradition of the whole village taking part in the annual pantomime. And what a show!! It had everything required - a handsome principal boy, pretty principal girl, two entertaining servants, a jester with unfunny jokes, a wicked witch and pathetic son, comic Dame with nincompoop husband, a very promising boy double act, magic from Merlin, skullduggery, an enthusiastic and well dressed chorus from young to more mature, good sound and lighting effects, well chosen music, well sung and danced and the audience participating with its own comic repartee. All in all a very entertaining evening.

THEATRICAL TRADERS ASSOCIATION The Theatrical Traders Association represents all the affiliated Traders who supply the Amateur Theatre in the UK. Membership of the TTA means a reputable supplier, who maintains the standards set by the Association.


Ace Theatrical Costumiers Unit G, Crown Business Park, Dukestown, Tredegar Blaenau Gwent NP22 4EF Tel: 01495 350008 email: Dress Circle Costumiers Brook House, Maldon Road, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HY Tel: 01376 515500 Fax: 01376 502101 Molly Limpet’s Theatrical Emporium Ltd 712 Chesterfield Road Sheffield S8 0SD Tel: 0114 250 0851 Northern Costume Hire Long Ing Mill, Long Ing Lane, Barnoldswick, Lancashire BB18 6BJ Tel: 01282 817351 Stage Costume Unit 2, Victoria Industrial Park Victoria Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 5AJ Tel: 01322 311787 Fax: 01322 311827 Triple C’s Costumes Clarkson Place, Dudley Road, West Midlands, DY9 8EL Tel: 01384 893911 Fax: 01384 892911 Utopia Costumes Utopia House, Academy Street, Forfar, Angus DD8 2HA Tel: 01307 468231 Fax: 01307 468600

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Scenery, Props etc: Albemarle Scenic Studio Unit C1, Prees Industrial Estate, Prees, Nr Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 2DJ Tel: 0845 6447021 The Border Studios Riverside Mill, Level Crossing Road, Selkirk Scottish Borders, TD7 5EQ Tel 01750 20237 Fax 01750 20313 Clifford and Brown Unit E, Weddington Industrial Estate Weddington Terrace, Nuneaton, CV10 0AP Tel/Fax 0247 6346742 www.clifford& Howorth Wrightson Ltd Cricket Street, Denton, Manchester, M34 3DR Tel 0161 335 0220 Fax 0161 320 3928 Prosceneium Ltd Sladen Wood Mill, Todmorden Road Littleborough, Rochdale, OL15 9EW Tel 01706 377226 Fax 01706 371953 Scenic Projects The Studios, London Road, Brampton, Suffolk NR34 8DQ Tel: 01502 575000 Fax: 01502 575840 Scenery Hire Ltd Scenic & Property Hire, Unit 2, Usk Way Industrial Estate, Newport, NP20 2HZ Tel: 01633 262 728 Fax: 01633 244 104 Scenechange Studios Ltd Unit D4 & 5 Palmers Brook Farm Park Road Wooton, PO33 4NS Tel: 09183 883930

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Lighting and Sound: Northern Light Assembly Street, Edinburgh EH6 7RG Tel: 0131 622 9100 Tony Atkinson and Associates Lime Kiln House, near Piercebridge Darlington, Co. Durham, DL2 3UJ Tel: 01325 374790

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Look out for the TTA logo – For help with the supply of anything for your productions contact the TTA help line on 0845 126 0631



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COUNCILLOR’S CHAT Welcome again to our collaboration with NODA North West magazine appearing within Amateur Stage, I must apologise for the late distribution of the September magazine, that ultimately had a knock on effect on us having to move into the December slot from November due to copy deadlines. I am really pleased with your comments about our September issue and would be interested to your views of this issue. I know I mentioned this last issue but our membership is still on the up within the North West, which is great news for you NODA members, but we are keen to welcome any group or individuals who are interested to join one of the most progressive associations to help and support amateur theatre, please call me directly if you require further information. We are busy planning the May weekend and in late January you will receive notification of the event, booking forms and nominations if you have been successful. Please make sure they are returned promptly and before the closing date, to avoid disappointment. We will be limiting numbers this year, and will not be having an extra room so unfortunately when we are full, we are full. I can tell you that due to the success this year, with it having been the largest weekend we have ever held, we are forging ahead with the plans announced last edition to split it over two days next year. As a reminder to the North West membership, there will be a full Noda North West Youth Awards on the Saturday with the Adult Awards on the Sunday evening. We plan to make this event extra special with fantastic workshops over three days and other exciting thing to see and take part in. Details will be sent to your society secretary in January. I would like to thank my committee for working tirelessly during the past 12 months to keep the North West the jewel within the crown, and finally may we all wish you and your friends and loved ones a very special merry Christmas and a happy new year. The new website is working for societies, and I encourage you to put the details of your next productions on. It’s free as part of your membership ,and can help you to sell more tickets. Well that’s all from me this time but just keep inviting your regional representative to your productions. May I once more thank you for all your wonderful invitations and the hospitality shown to me and Michelle on our visits. Your productions have been an inspiration, showing the talent we can really showcase within the region. Keep acting, singing, directing, and staging, selling raffle tickets, and whatever other roles you enjoy about our fantastic hobby, but most of all let’s all keep amateur theatre alive.

REGIONAL COMMITTEE Regional Councillor: Kevin Rawcliffe Tel: 01254 888340 Mobile: 07988 213896 Email: Regional Secretary: Claire Pilkington Tel: 07837 231922 Email: Regional Treaurer - Trevor Mills Tel: 07773 814268 Email: Regional Youth Advisor: Jenny King Tel: 0151 639 4189 Mobile: 07788 998832 Email: Regional Editor : Anna Mansell Mobile: 07971 193616 Email: Regional Website Manager: Ian Johnston Tel: 01900 66209 Mobile: 07711 591856 Email: Awards Secretary: Colin Magenty Tel: 01942 679606 Email: Advertising Accounts: Edith Yates Tel: 01995 603551 District Officials District 1: SIMON MURRAY Mobile: 07815 870910 Email: District 2: CHRISTINE HUNTER HUGHES Tel: 01772 728817 Email: District 3: RICHARD SANDERSON Mobile: 07519 327373 Email: District 4: BERYL RIGBY Tel: 01925 261612 Email: District 5: JACKIE KAY Tel: 01204 852410 Email: District 6: POSITION VACANT (Contact Kevin Rawcliffe) District 7: SHARON DRUMMOND Tel: 01706 854208 Mobile: 07976 076962 Email: District 8: MICHAEL JONES-McCAW Tel: 0161 368 5388 Mobile: 07545 096023 Email:

Kevin Rawcliffe Front page picture: Josh Hindle and Liz Wellock as Joe Casey and Sarah in Accrington Theatre Group’s production of Our House. Photograph courtesy of the Lancashire Telegraph.

District 9: HELEN ATTISHA Tel: 07772 408828 District 10: ED McGEE Tel: 01900 603050 / 07768 021157 Email: District 11: KATHARINE CARRADUS Tel: 01539 725908 Email:




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PUBLICITY ... IT’S MADNESS! As the saying goes, all publicity is good publicity. Then there’s the publicity opportunity that money can’t buy... Like the musical genius behind your latest production arriving out of nowhere down the road from your work. That’s what happened to Accrington Theatre Group member Josh Hindle in November. Just days before he was taking to the stage as Joe Casey in Our House – The Madness Musical, word started spreading that the ska star and Madness frontman Suggs was in East Lancashire. He had been spotted at Blackburn train station, and a company member alerted the cast to the sighting. Next thing 20-year-old Josh knew was that the pop singer and musician was with a film crew outside a pub in Colne, just round the corner from where he works at the town’s leisure centre. “I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard he was down the road from work,” Josh said.

David Smith and Becca Ginley with Suggs Josh Hindle with Suggs

“We’ve been rehearsing for the show, which has all the well known Madness hits, since June and I was really excited to be playing Joe Casey the lead character. “Meeting Suggs, getting him to sign a poster and have a photo taken with me felt like a good omen for the show.” Suggs, real name Graham McPherson, was in Colne filming for a documentary for the Titanic disaster’s 100-year anniversary next year – as it was the hometown of the famous band leader Wallace Hartley. He is buried in the town’s cemetery. Also on the Suggs’ trail were chorus members Becca Ginley, Kelly Dolman and David Smith, as well as Sam Crabtree who played Joe’s friend Emmo. “We invited Suggs to our rehearsal, although he didn’t come,” said Becca. “He said he was aware of it being very popular with amateur theatre companies at the moment.” Barbara Ginley, ATG treasurer, said: “It was brilliant to meet Suggs and he wished all the cast and crew the best time doing the show. He said it was a hard show to stage and for the lead guy to play, but we assured him Josh and ATG were up for it.” The group got a pack of Madness, Suggs and Our House memorabilia signed by the star, which is said to be worth £30 unsigned. This was then offered by free ‘sealed bids’ to audience members during show week November 8 to 12, at Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre – with the winning bid going towards ATG funds. Anna Mansell

The cast of Our House by Accrington Theatre Group. Courtesy of the Lancashire Telegraph


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120 YEARS FOR LANCASTER ADOS One of NODA’s founding member societies, and one of the North West’s oldest companies has celebrated 120 years in action during 2011. Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society – as it is now known – began life as Lancaster Amateur Dramatic Society in January 1891, going on to perform Blow For Blow and Ici Un Parle in March that year, at what was Atheneum, now the Grand Theatre. Within just three years, the society had decided its focus would be on musical works and changed its name to the one it goes under today – LADOS. From 1894 up to the outbreak of the First World War, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas were the popular choice, as well as shows such as Dorothy, Falka, Merrie England and Miss Hook of Holland. Productions resumed between the wars, with highlights including 1936’s Showboat – thought at the time to be too difficult for amateurs due to the casting and staging difficulties, and the first amateur production of Royal Exchange a year later – which was attended by the show’s composer Edward Horan. In 1944 LADOS was granted a long-term lease of the Custom House, allowing the society to convert it into a mini theatre and the drama side of the society began to flourish. The Custom House was home to LADOS for 40 years until it became the

Maritime Museum. Through the second half of the 20th Century, ‘Broadway’ shows hit the amateur stage, including Brigadoon, Annie and Oklahoma, among many others. To celebrate 100 years, LADOS staged The Merry Widow in 1991, with a final night gala evening at Lancaster Town Hall. In 1996, the society had finally been granted permission to stage Jesus Christ Superstar – a show usually reserved for church or school productions. Mr LADOS Chris ‘Pom’ Riley had been trying with no success to gain a licence for the show, and often bemoaned: “If they don’t hurry up and let us do this show, I’ll be up there with Him.” This, sadly, was indeed the case, but permission was eventually granted with the condition it was billed as a tribute to the company stalwart. Six years later, chairman Michael Orr, a long-time chorister at Lancaster Priory, thought it would be a good idea to stage ‘Superstar’ in the Priory church. In February 2002 the Priory was transformed into ancient Israel for an extremely moving interpretation of the last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ. To mark the 120-year anniversary, LADOS staged Pirates Of Penzance, for the third time – having first put it on in 1893 as its third ever show. For LADOS’s full history, visit


A 75-year-old programme has been handed to Blackburn Musical Theatre Company as it prepares to celebrate its centenary year. Committee members were approached by Stanley Whittaker from Rossendale, who had kept a copy of the programme for the 1936 production of The Student Prince by what was then known as Blackburn Amateur Dramatic and Musical Society. Alongside the programme itself, a thick booklet containing cast listings, photographs and adverts, Stanley had also uncovered a cutting from the Northern Daily Telegraph – featuring 10 caricatures of the principal cast. Stanley said: “It’s been in my family since 1936 as my uncle was in the cast, but I thought the Amateurs might like it for their archives.” Next year, the Amateurs – now known as Blackburn Musical Theatre Company, will celebrate its centenary year with a production of Carousel at Thwaites Empire Theatre in May. Chairman Gary Worthy said: “This is a great find for us, especially as we are making plans for our hundred years in 2012. “We’d like to invite any past members of the company to get in touch to help us celebrate at some special events we have lined up. “After the centenary production of Carousel, there will be a black tie gala event in the summer and then in October we are staging a review show – in which we hope to feature some of our former stars. “We have such a long and very proud heritage, and many members have gone on to enjoy professional success on the stage, so we invite them and any other past members join us next year. “And, of course, if anyone else has any wonderful mementoes such as Stanley’s programme we would be love to see them.” Call or email BMTC secretary Tony Fry on 07735 584560 or to register your interest in the centenary celebrations. Top : Society chairman Gary Worthy and secretary Tony Fry read the 1936 The Student Prince programme. Below Left: The programme cover. Below right: One of the charicatures




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Guys And Dolls from 2005

Military men in South Pacific from 1972

The showgirls from 2000 production of Crazy For You

A society originally formed with the ‘majestic’ backing of its local theatre is marking its 40th anniversary. Macclesfield Majestic Theatre Group was set up in 1971, with the support of the town’s family-owned Majestic Theatre and Cinema. The first production of Oliver! began a run of varied shows taking in musicals, light operas and pantomimes, with The Little Shop of Horrors being Majestic’s 2011 anniversary performance in October this year. The society was based at the Majestic up until its sale in 1997, which saw the start of a nomadic existence, to venues including Macclesfield Silk Heritage Centre, The Evans Theatre Wilmslow and Fallibroome High School Drama Centre. In 1999, the company settled into MADS Little Theatre in the town. Society chair Pauline Maurice said: “We have endeavoured to provide our audiences with a mixture of variety, familiarity and entertainment whilst at the same time provide our company of performers and crew with new challenges, new experiences to maintain enthusiasm and interest “The Macclesfield Majestic Theatre Group has an excellent reputation and as a consequence attracts what we consider the very best amateur performers, musicians, dancers and members with special skills which include design, carpentry, painting, lighting and sound experience. “We are fortunate in our wardrobe department whose ability to make, adjust and design, who see through rolls of fabric, thousands of sequins and yards of Velcro to produce our costumes to the highest standard and design.” Former members of Macclesfield Majestic have gone on to work in professional stage and screen careers, including Jonathan Morris, Marshall Lancaster (Life On Mars, BBC ), Chris Donnelly, Lindsay and Emma Hurst (professional dance companies), Tina Lynn (cruise ship singer), Steve Helliwell (RSC), Johnny Bower (national tour of Buddy), and Micheal Daws in the recent West End production of Love Never Dies. Pauline added: “We all feel a unique pride in our society, ourselves and our aspirations for the next 40 years of entertainment, music, dance and productions to our audiences as Macclesfield Majestic Theatre Group plays on.”

WALLASEY CENTENARY One hundred years of amateur theatre was marked by Wallsaey Operatic Society during its centenary year with summer ball at Wallasey Golf Club. Special guests for the event were Dennis and Susan Kelly, with a presentation

made by president Ron Taylor and chairman Alison Wotton, to celebrate his 62 years with the society.


Members of Crosby Gilbert And Sullivan Society came together to celebrate its 60th anniversary with a dinner earlier this year. Main speaker for the night was David Mackie, a former member of the Doyle Carte Opera Company. Noda North West awards secretary and former District 6 representative Colin Magenty also joined in the celebrations.


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From left, Joyce Perrin (30 years), Graham Hall (10 years), Tony Adamson (20 years), Thelma Adamson (20 years) and seated, Anita Davies (35 years) receive awards for long service at Maghull Musical Theatre Company’s annual dinner dance. Also honoured by the society this year, although not at the event, were Joan and Andrew Albertina for 35 years’ service.


Workington Amateur Operatic Society (WAOS) has celebrated the 60 years service of member Raymund McHugh. His gold pin award was presented on opening night of the society’s October production of Fiddler On The Roof. Raymund’s first appearance was as a male dancer in WAOS’s 1950 production in Wild Violets, followed by the part of Thomas DeQuincey in the Society’s own arrangement of locally-written musical, John Peel in 1951. His big break had to wait until 1965 when he played a superb Prince Chulalongcorn in The King And I. Thereafter over the years in addition to being a valuable chorus member Raymund played many supporting roles including Avram (1973) and Rabbi (1992) in the society’s previous productions of Fiddler. His most recent roles have been Priest in Jesus Christ Superstar in 2004 and Dr Jekyll’s manservant in the 2008 production of Jekyll And Hyde. In addition to serving on the society’s wardrobe committee for 33 years and on the selection committee for eight years, Raymund has also been call boy, helped with props, been part of the stage crew and has been WAOS’s archivist for the past six years WAOS’s chairman Norman Brayton said: “A stalwart indeed - many, many congratulations!” Society awards are presented to, from left, Judith Walker (25 years), Mike Walker (25 years), society president Tom Walker, Raymund McHugh (60 years) and Sonia Crawford (40 Years)

300 years of service was celebrated by members of Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company at its recent Silver Anniversary Grand Party Night. From left, Shirley Kenyon (60 years), society chairman Keith Walton who presented the awards, Susan Thorp (50 years), Catherine Cox (15 years), Marina Butterworth (10 years), Lindsey Brady (20 years) and Mark Brady (10 years). Fellow members Stephen Burrows and Brian Fothergill have each completed 40 years’ service and Harry Nuttall has completed 55 years, with these awards having been presented at the society’s October production of The Baker’s Wife.


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01/08/1931 – 27/09/2011 Geoffrey Holme was a legend. He was my best friend and a second father, but I guess that I do not have the market cornered in that respect. He died on September 27 in Spain, having finally moved there only several days before. His move had been delayed by poor health which in the end took him from us. Medical complications had plagued him for many months but when he passed away he was surrounded by a family who loved him so very much. He was the backbone for what seems a lifetime of the Greater Manchester Drama Federation and an adjudicator, actor, director, compere, raconteur, after dinner speaker, lecturer, cabaret artiste, singer, teacher, mentor, confidante, friend... Where does one stop? Geoffrey taught me all I know about theatre and performing. But all that I know probably only accounts for a fraction of all that Geoffrey in particular knew. It is no exaggeration that he had a national reputation. He was involved in theatre when it was huge and won awards when they meant something and were not dished out like confetti. He performed in some of the most prestigious theatres such as the Palace and the Liverpool Empire in defining roles that made him a one of the most sought after performers of his time. Danilo in The Merry Widow, Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Haj in Kismet were just a taste of his repertoire and skills in both amateur and professional performance. His one-man show was legendary and in cabaret he could not be equalled and I doubt he ever will be. His knowledge of drama and musical theatre was immense and the master classes that he ran were not just interesting and informative, they were inspirational. As a consequence, he has influenced the careers of many successful professional performers of stage and screen. Geoffrey had a personality as large as his heart and he did more for charity, good causes and the common good than anybody I know. His faith was his rock and influenced the countless things he did every day to help others. If you asked Geoffrey to do something, his answer was always: “If I can...”. But then, he always did. I believe that we are the product of all the people with whom we have shared our journey. Geoffrey contributed so much to so many without expectation of thanks or reward; the ultimate gentlemen, the epitome of style and the end of an era. The world is a better place for having been blessed by the life of Geoffrey Holme. It is now a darker, quieter and a little less beautiful place without him. I and many, many others mourn his loss and to all who knew him I know we share a love, appreciation and the greatest of respect for a man we have an obligation, never to forget. Martin Roche

NORMA M DEANE 1933 – 2011

It is with great sadness that we record the death of the president of Dukinfield AODS NORMA M DEANE on Monday, October 17 2011. Norma had been ill for some time and she passed away peacefully on the opening day of Dukinfields 2011 production Me And My Girl. Norma first joined Dukinfield in 1948 for the production of Show Boat. She became assistant treasurer in 1961, secretary in 1963 and chairman in 1980 a position she held for 28 years before due to ill health she retired and became president in 2009. In her years with Dukinfield she won many accolades including a Manchester Evening News Oscar in 1975 for her work resulting in the foundation of Tameside Theatre, in 1986 she won a Reporter Award for services to amateur theatre and in 2004 she was awarded a NODA Lifetime Special Achievement Award for her services to amateur theatre in the North West. Just last year, in 2010 Norma received her 60-year Long Service Award from NODA. But awards were just the icing on the cake for Norma, her great love was amateur theatre and Dukinfield in particular. Everyone knew if you crossed swords with Norma you would come off worse. She was dedicated, tenacious and at times stubborn, but underneath she was warm hearted, she was Aunty Norma to the children of her close friends and she always had time for anyone with a problem. The passing of Norma is the end of an era in the history of Dukinfield AODS and amateur theatre in the North West. Goodbye Norma you were a great lady and you will be missed by everyone who knew you.


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NORTH WEST SHOW REPORTS DISTRICT 1 SIMON MURRAY Broadway Nights 2 West End Days First Stage Theatre Company Directors Diane Hatton and Neil McDonald Musical director Simon Murray The show took place at Royal Northern College of Music and the room was set with round tables, cabaret style. There was no stage as such so the numbers took place on the floor with the band set back behind the cast. This worked well for most of the numbers and I felt the space had been used very creatively, especially where the cast used the tables in the audience. I loved the light and shade of numbers chosen, with many popular musical theatre numbers as well as numbers which were unknown to me. The set list was really well put together so well done to Simon Murray and his production team. The opening numbers from Hercules were a great start to the show which had so much energy throughout. It is impossible here to name and do justice to all the talented performers as every soloist performed well but in Act 1 I particularly liked Climbing Uphill by Lizy Pickup, which I’d not heard before, and Anthem – traditionally sung by a male, but on this occasion, led by Vicki Stott who sounded wonderful. The Michael Jackson Medley was the pinnacle of the act for me with the harmonies drilled by Simon, so the whole thing sounded amazing. In Act 2 the opening Glee-inspired numbers were great with the dance to Single Ladies looking very effective and Teenage Dream and Landslide performed beautifully. I love The Wedding Singer score so the songs from this were a real treat, and I’m itching to see The Jersey Boys so well done to the guys who performed those difficult falsetto notes. A great finish too with songs from Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Well done to everyone involved both onstage and backstage as I had a wonderful evening. Sharon Drummond Canterbury Players ADS Strictly Murder Director Roger Finn On my first visit to this talented group, I was greeted with such a warm welcome, I knew I was in for a great night’s entertaiment, and I was not disappointed. This play was a change from the normal schedule of comedy farce which the society tends to perform as it was a thriller, but it paid off – a great choice of production. For opening night, the pace was fantastic with great movement around a smaller than average stage. There was great attention to detail with the homemade set looking fantastic: Well done to Terry Walker and Gordon Wells. The sink even had running water and the lights worked on the set walls. The director brought this somewhat strong emotional piece of theatre from the pages of the script to life. A super job, with no masking on stage and great reason for the moves that were plotted. The cast were just fab with the opening scene moving at a fast pace with no flaws. Josef was played to perfection by Brad Wigglesworth who gave us a very funny but complex character. His forgetful afflictions were fantastic, I could hear every word, and it was a great characterisation. Peter was played by Damian McHugh, who took this interesting character and made it his own. I felt he took a few paragraphs to get into the swing but when he did there was great empathy, and light and shade. Do try to build up to the aggressive parts of the script more rather like roller coaster to create more interesting dynamics, but nonetheless a great performance. Suzy was played by Jennifer Coupe, who gave a lovely relaxed performance. I certainly saw different sides to this vulnerable character. Try to control the over use of the hands in telling the dialogue. Ross was superbly played by the talented Jonathan Coupe who gave us a very sinister performance as the twin brothers. I felt the dialogue was intimidating and hit the spot, it connected with the audience and the exchange with Peter in Act 1 worked well – a super performance. Ross was well partnered by Laura Finn’s Mariam. I loved the performance, but just felt the accents seemed a little forced at times. Again, I liked the sinister noncaring way this character conducted herself. The sound effects worked well and the costumes were excellent and in keeping with the era. I loved the props and the use of the old radio that sound announcements came out was super. Annmarie Okoli’s props team should be congratulated, the attention to detail was second to none. The use of typically French incidental music, from scratched vinyl records, brought the audience closer to this piece during the scene changes. The society worked so hard to bring everything together, and that was very evident by the quality of this play. The Director nailed this complex script, well done. And the cast captured the ethos of these special characters. Each one was delivered believably and I could follow the complex story thanks to the high levels of diction. Kevin Rawcliffe

DISTRICT 2 CHRISTINE HUNTER - HUGHES Salad Days Lytham Amateur Operatic Society Director Barbara Butcher Musical director Margot Wright Choreographer Charlie Ellis This musical has been labelled derisory, and it’s even been lampooned by Monty Python, but this long-running 1950s’ musical still has the power to sweep you up in the sheer ridiculous escapism of it all – your toes tap throughout it and you come out humming the tunes – maybe it really is a magic piano?


It was a charming evening’s entertainment. Yes it is very twee but no less enjoyable for that! The set was very simple with the musicians, two keyboards and a drummer, on stage. I did wonder on a couple of occasions if the MD would have been better facing the cast so they could see the baton, but overall it worked extremely well. The direction was generally good – and apart from one or two members of the chorus looking a little ‘lost’ on a couple of occasions everyone seemed to know where they should be. The chorus was very good – lots of smiles and looking really happy. In fact the whole cast managed to convey the care-free nature of what little story there is. There were some great cameo performances and I loved the ‘Find Something to do Timothy’ scene which was spot on. Principals were all good with some good characters developing and some very pleasant singing in which the harmonies could be clearly heard. The production moved along well and scene changes were quick and efficient – but for some reason I did find the second half very long. But the audience were not fidgeting so you clearly held everyone’s attention right through ‘til 10.30pm – not an easy task! Lights, Camera, Action II Preston Musical Comedy Society Director Brian Lawson Musical director Jim Thomas Choreographers Anne Arkwright, Lorna Cookson, Rachel Cookson, Lee Thomas, Julie Oldfield, Luke Taberer This was an excellent example of a compilation performance, featuring – as the title suggests – some of the most memorable songs from the movies. Some well known and fondly remembered, some Oscar winners, and some totally unknown – to me at least. I must congratulate the whole company on an excellent production. Great attention had obviously been given to every detail – no matter how small. The music was played by a combo of three, under some excellent musical direction. The lights and effects were splendid and the costumes (of which there were lots) were just superb. The only ‘stars’ in the whole production were the ones on the star cloth backdrop – as the society worked as a team to provide essentially what it is all about: A great evening’s entertainment which was apparently thoroughly enjoyed by the whole audience. On a personal note I enjoyed the first half more than the second – due I am sure entirely to the choice of songs, and in absolutely no way a reflection of how the numbers were put over. Many thanks to the small army of people on and off stage for their hard work in this excellent production. Party Piece Penwortham St Mary’s ADS Director Katy Bradley The scene is set for us to eavesdrop on Michael and Rom’s fancy dress house warming party. The evening is set to be a disaster featuring, amongst other things; the meat still frozen, a distinct lack of guests, a marauding and irate husband on the prowl, an escaping Zimmer frame, and a next-door neighbour who brings her own form of party entertainment in the guise of her squabbling son and daughter-in-law. The set was very good – featuring as it did two adjacent back patio areas; one relatively new and the other obviously older and much worn. Many congratulations must go to the crew for such a splendid construction. The protocol of the imaginary fence (including a peep-hole) was well observed by the whole cast, and made for some very funny moments. The only disappointment from my point of view was a lack of pace – particularly important when working a split set. Pick up was often a little slow from one property to the next so the audience were just waiting for someone from the other side to speak. That said the play was roundly enjoyed by the audience – and there were many laugh out loud moments along the way. The cast, which I understand were a mixture of established and very new members, are to be congratulated for working together so well. Costumes were good and lighting and sound were appropriate for the occasion. It’s A Cracker Teresian Players Director Tom Gradwell It’s A Cracker, written by the director, tells the story of an elderly lady living alone in her own home and being cared for by her daughter and carers. It was a very well-observed play, and was real theatre in that we were laughing out loud one minute and crying the next. It touched on many topical issues surrounding care of the elderly in the form of government cut-backs, health and safety regulations, rising fuel costs, not to mention employee rights – and in spite of it all it was funny and thought provoking. The set was very representative and set the scene well – costumes similarly were appropriate and worn with ease. The cast all worked well together and there were some good, believable characterisations. Some of the dialogue involved talking to the audience which was handled well, but it was slightly confusing when a couple of cast members addressing each other seemed to look out as if to include the audience in the conversation, making it slightly un-real. There were some memory lapses which unfortunately resulted in a lack of pace and I thought a couple of times that the cast got themselves into a loop. However, the capacity audience, including ourselves, thoroughly

enjoyed the production. It was billed as a One Act Play, with afternoon tea, although I think it was a little too long for one act and would perhaps have benefitted from an interval. Certainly some of the audience were beginning to fidget by the end which I am sure was not from lack of interest. This was a highly entertaining and most enjoyable afternoon. The Gondoliers Marton Operatic Society Director Carol Lawrance Musical director Peter Weston As one of the more popular operettas I will not mention the plot, but would say it was the 12th opera written together by Gilbert and Sullivan. Despite opening on December 7, 1889 at the Savoy Theatre, it is still hugely enjoyed by audiences today. It ran for 554 performances, and was the last of the G&S operas to achieve wide popularity. I know the society had a number of hiccoughs with this production but they did not show in the least. What the three quarters-full audience, including myself, enjoyed on the last night was exactly what we should have seen: A happy, colourful, joyful show with everyone looking as if they were having a wonderful time. The audience hugely enjoyed and appreciated their efforts. The 16-piece orchestra set the scene wonderfully with the national anthem followed by the overture which was taken at a superb pace. The scenery was very good, although the backcloth did appear to have some movement in it – making St Paul’s wobble alarmingly on occasions. Little is required from the lights and perhaps the couple of effects would have been better omitted. Costumes, from The Boyz Theatre Costumes, were superb, bright and colourful and with plenty of movement in them – so necessary for this particular show. I must congratulate the company whole-heartedly on the pairings and blending of principal voices – they were excellent and so melodic, it was a real pleasure to listen to them. The chorus was generally energetic and enthusiastic although two or three could perhaps have smiled a little more. Very many thanks to everyone both on stage and off, for their hard work in this excellent production. Hobson’s Choice Fylde Coast Players Director Teresa Mallabone Hobson’s Choice tells the story of a tightfisted Victorian patriarch and boot-seller Hobson, who is outwitted by the eldest of his three grown-up daughters, the clever Maggie. It offers a fascinating historical mix of Northern grit, suffragette impulses and belief in hard work and the transforming opportunities of small business – and it coined the phrase ‘Hobson’s Choice’ when the eponymous Hobson is left with no choice at all. The open set was simple but very effective, and the three changes in set were completed very quickly, quietly and efficiently – well done to the crew. I would have liked to see some representation of a fire in the grate or a small change in the lines to cook the bacon and toast off-stage. Costumes all looked appropriate and everyone looked comfortable wearing them. I went on the first night and there were some slight lags in pace – but such was the skill of the cast that the pace soon picked again and from listening to the reasonably-sized audience (some would say good for a first night) everyone, myself included, thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. It was quite simply, a superb production of a Northern classic. The cast worked extremely well together and individually every single one of them presented a rounded and believable character – you wanted to know what happened to them. Very many thanks to everyone both on stage and off, for such a superb evening’s entertainment. The Gondoliers Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society Director Val Cowley Musical director Graham Kirkland This must be the Gilbert & Sullivan opera of choice this year: Having seen it already three times this year I will not go through the synopsis again. However, this particular production was different again – being set in the 1920s. I was somewhat doubtful of this, as something of a traditionalist where G&S is concerned, however it worked really well. The whole show was taken at a really good pace – however I was somewhat disappointed when a good half of the overture was cut (and ‘the join’ was very apparent) but the orchestra were wonderful. The business on stage during the overture was excellent and really set the scene – far from being in a theatre in a very wet and windy Douglas we were transported with ease to a Venetian piazza. The scenery, comprising a backcloth and posters, was more than adequate; and I simply loved the jet-propelled gondola. I must mention that the costumes were quite simply superb – so bright and colourful. Being set in the 1920s gave the opportunity for each chorus member to have a real character and identity, so we saw street sweepers, priests and nuns and Gianetta and Tessa as waitresses – superb! Every single person on stage was a part of what was going on, took an interest in it and reacted to it which made it a real pleasure and interest to watch. There was some excellent characterisations from the principals – I loved



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Don Alhambra as a ‘Godfather’ figure – and his henchmen complete with ‘violin cases’ was a stroke of genius. There was some wonderful solo and ensemble singing – where every part could be clearly heard but the blend was magnificent. My thanks to all concerned for a great production and a superb evening of G&S. Third Week in August Preston Drama Club Director Liz Procter Two couples, a stray sister, and a would-be writer seeking peace and tranquillity to concentrate on writing find themselves thrown together on a remote and run-down caravan site from hell – where they end up recreating the horrors of a British caravan break in the 1960s. The set provided just the right air of dowdy dilapidation, just the sort of place you would not want to find yourself booked into for a week’s holiday. Lighting was generally good – although the shadow cast inside the caravan by a member of cast waiting to come on was so obvious that people outside must have been able to see it. Sound was good and we could hear the vast majority of the lines. In my opinion this play is far from being author Peter Gordon’s most entertaining work, and although there are a couple of laugh out loud moments, for the most part it is gently humorous and perhaps could (or maybe should) have been 15 – 20 minutes shorter. There was a slight lack of pace – especially when picking up from one group to another but generally the play moved along very well. That said, there were some good and believable characterisations from the cast of six and the almost capacity audience enjoyed and appreciated the whole production. Costumes were appropriate and everyone ‘looked the part’ and looked comfortable doing so – I loved the flowery wellies! Me And My Girl Thornton Cleveleys Operatic Society Director Howard G Raw Musical director Chris Andrews Choreographer Elaine Morrison Congratulations to the society in its 75th anniversary year on such a slick, polished show. To quote the London Press, Me And My Girl is the happiest show in town; and it showed. There is so little real plot in the show that it really needs pace – and it certainly had that in buckets from beginning to end. The stage had been extended so that the cast were working on a split level – but everyone used the stage area well. Many congratulations to the crew for the silent and efficient many scene changes. The costumes were excellent. Choreography was very good, although perhaps a few too many choreographed hand movements for my taste. There were some excellent characterisations from all the principals who really brought out the humour in the whole show. I simply must congratulate the ‘living statues’ they were superb – they really did not move a muscle for what seemed like ages. My only real concern was the sound: Somehow the balance was all out – I was unable to make out most of the words of the chorus singing. And in places, especially noticeable in Act 1, when principals and chorus were singing and the orchestra playing it just seemed like a mass of indistinguishable noise, which was such a shame. It was, quite simply, a great show and the almost capacity audience on a wet and windy Thursday in Fleetwood joined in the Lambeth Walk with great enjoyment. Very many congratulations on your 75 years – and being able to boast not one but two founder members still attending rehearsals and attending and enjoying the show on the night we were there. Here’s to the next 75 years! A Spot Of Murder Harlequins Director Chris Shelstone A Spot Of Murder is a full-length murder mystery with a traditional format: Ten people, including two policemen, stranded in a country house, and one of them is murdered. There were many laugh out loud moments, and several guests turned out to be not quite what they seemed. The group must be congratulated on the set, as the stage has to be extended before any traditional ‘set building’ can even begin. This group does not use, or even need to use, traditional flats – it dresses the walls as they stand and builds an exit on either side of the stage. And very well it looks too. Sound and light were very good – and the link music was wonderfully evocative – every time it was played it made me smile. Costumes were good and worn with ease. There were some good characterisations and the change when their true identities were revealed was handled well. The group is able to boast several new members, but a couple of them tended to speak so quickly that we were quite unable to catch what they were saying, which I feel sure is only down to lack of experience. However, there were also quite a few memory lapses, which did unfortunately slow the pace down. The Crucible Preston Drama Club Director Brailsford Arthur Miller’s classic drama of the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials in 1692 – one man’s struggle to almost literally ‘tell the truth and shame the devil – and extreme warring neighbours – demonstrating so clearly the biggest threat to a community is collective paranoia. This is considered to be his most difficult play to convincingly direct and perform as the audience needs to be persuaded to accept the realities of small town life in the 1690’s . The open set was stark and appropriate and set the tone well – the gallows at the end were excellent: Very chilling and an almost physical presence. Lighting was good although there were some unfortunate shadows in act two and three. Costumes were superb, highly appropriate and for the most

part worn well I went on the first night and (unsurprisingly for such a wordy play) there were some memory lapses which inevitably resulted in slight lags in pace which were soon corrected. It is such a dark and sinister play, and the cast held the audience right to the end – which with a 10.20pm finish takes some doing – and they are to be congratulated for that. There were some excellent characterisations – in fact my only real reservation was all the shouting. There is a considerable amount of anger and frustration in the dialogue which was all portrayed by shouting and at times there was just a mass of shouts and we were quite unable to make out the words. That said, the story was put over effectively without hearing the dialogue. The group had to amend its cast in the last couple of weeks due to the illness of a cast member. Congratulations to the whole cast for dealing with the changes so well – had there not been an announcement at the beginning no-one would have known. Very many thanks to everyone both on stage and off, for a thoughtprovoking and gripping evening.

DISTRICT 3 Richard sanderson The Baker’s Wife Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company Director Andrea Jackson Musical director Barry Jackson This was the first time I had seen or heard any of the music from this show and what a wonderful little gem it is. I loved it and it was great to see it at Pendle Hippodrome too, as if anyone can stage an unknown musical then this is the company to do it with their attention to detail and talented cast and crew. The set construction and workings were amazing with wonderful props and costumes too. The lighting plot and sound complimented the show. It’s a simple plot but more than made up for by the characters and beautiful songs. Every member of the cast including the chorus looked and sounded the parts they were portraying. The company numbers were outstanding with gorgeous, full-bodied harmonies drilled by the MD and accompanied by a talented bunch of musicians. Jill Harrison as Denise, opened the show with Chanson sung in French, then became the narrator of the story. All of which she performed very well. Simon Jackson as Dominique acted sensitively and vocalised well in a role that could be hated by the audience if not acted and directed well as was achieved here. John Preston as the Baker suited the role well and had good vocals to compliment his acting. Sophie Lord played Genevieve brilliantly. Her voice is stunning and the number Meadowlark was so beautiful it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. She bought humility to the role which again can be tough to portray to an audience. This show had many firsts for me. Not least was it the first time I’ve seen a real cat appear on stage, but the scent of fresh bread filled the auditorium and I came away with a warm loaf, cooked by the leading lady! Well done to everyone involved in this fantastic production. Sharon Drummond

DISTRICT 4 BERYL RIGBY Catch Every Note Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust Director Elsie Kelly Musical director Tricia Gaskell Choreographer Charlotte Elverstone A very unusual title for a selection of song and dance I thought, but I liked it. This company always appears to have a wealth of talent, and they all appeared in this very entertaining show. It is always difficult to pick someone out, but I would like to mention one particular lady – Meryl Langford. Every society should have a Meryl. She sang four solos, all from the heart, with a fantastic voice. Well done. Being a dancer myself I particularly enjoyed the tap routine by Chris Simmons and the chorus. Well done to the choreographer, this was favourite number in this show. The song Mr Snow from Carousel was another favourite, and Melanie Isaac had just the right romance in her voice. The ladies’ chorus singing Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair was extremely well done, as was the men’s South Pacific number, There Is Nothing Like A Dame. Another good chorus number was The Rhythm of Life. When choosing numbers from so many shows it isn’t easy, but the producer made a very good choice. One Day More from the sensational show Les Miserables was chosen to end this wonderful evening, and what a choice! A show to be remembered. Carousel St Paul’s Operatic Society Director John Corcoran Musical director Andrew Peckham Choreographer Julia Whitehead I think Carousel is one of the best Rogers and Hammerstein musicals and St Paul’s certainly did it justice. The opening scene of the Carousel was excellent, there was everything that the fairground would have had, a fortune teller etc. and of course the carousel. The choreography certainly put the audience in the right mood. The owner of the fair Mrs Mullin played by Julia Hart excelled in this part. The two main girls Julie Jordan and Carrie Pipperidge played by Helen Rex and Maxine Hughes worked well together. Julie is attracted to the barker Billie Bigelow (Kevin Martin), working for Mrs Mullin, and Carrie is engaged to Enoch Snow. Kevin really worked hard to get into the character and it was his first lead – well done. His soliloquy was very well done. Danny Shaw’s Mr Snow was a really nice contrast to Billie. When Billie looses his job, and ends up with no money and a baby on the

way, he joins Jigger (Wayne Gleeson) a shiftless sailor, and the pair plan to rob wealthy mill owner Mr Bascombe (David Cordell). Wayne looked evil and portrayed this character well. This show has a wealth of musical numbers; the ones you go away singing are When I Marry Mr Snow, If I Loved You and You’ll Never Walk Alone. The chorus also deserve a mention, they kept the pace going with bright numbers. Billie and Julie’s daughter Louise was played by Sarah Clarke, and her ballet with the Snow children and urchins was another good number. The scenery, costumes, orchestra and direction were all of a high standard. Let’s Face The Music And Dance Ellesmere Port Musical Theatre Company Director Liz Legerton Musical director Craig Price Choreographer Sue Hickman German Putting a revue show together is much harder than putting on a musical, which has a score and script, so everything you need is already done. A show like this one is much more in depth and choosing the music takes a lot of care. This show really had something for everyone, even a comedian came on to add to the variety. It is very hard to pick any one person for comment, there were so many songs and dances included. Pam Watson singing They Call Me Pam was most entertaining. Very funny and well done. Another good number was Honey Bun. The choreographer did a good job, the chorus numbers were well rehearsed. Night Must Fall Port Sunlight Players Director Gareth Jones A couple of weeks before this production a key member of cast had to drop out and the director Gareth Jones had to step into the role of Dan. The set looked fantastic, the lighting added to the atmosphere and the costumes suited the characters well. A couple of the cast took a while to project voices to the audience so some of the early dialogue was lost. Adelle Riley played Mrs Bransome wonderfully well with an air of authority despite playing disabled. She clearly ruled the house regardless of who else lived or stayed there. In later scenes her softening attitude was very believable and Adelle really connected with this character. The other actors were very believable and portrayed the fear and suspense very well. I enjoyed Bettina Wilkins’ portrayal of Mrs Terence. Yvonne Bush Downey as Olive worked hard to convince the audience of her annoyance at the changing ways of the house. Cheryl Williams as Dora was well cast as the scatty maid who brings Dan into the house. Dan played by Gareth Jones had to use his script for a couple of the lengthy monologues but he had clearly worked really hard to learn the lines and portray the psychopathic and charming qualities of this character. This was a piece of dark theatre well portrayed by the cast and crew. Sharon Drummond

DISTRICT 5 JACKIE KAY Children OF Eden BCMCS Director Robert Margolis Musical director David Wilson Choreographer Barbara Grant This show had everything anyone could wish for. The scenery and scene changes were well done. The sound was just right from a very talented, orchestra under the baton of David Wilson. Together with a fantastic cast we were treated to an exceptional show. The show is based on Old Testament stories; the Creation of the world, the story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the conflict between Cain and Abel. Act 2 tells the story of Noah and the Flood. It was almost impossible to pick out individual performances as they were all so very good. Special mention must go to Carolina Garcia-Cox for her outstanding performance as Eve / Mama Noah. Great characterisations also came from Jonny Cunliffe (Father), and Christian Brabin playing Adam and Noah. Sometimes the chorus can be forgotten but not in this case, they all sang their hearts out. The children especially were wonderful. I loved the scenes when they came on stage as animals especially as they went into the Ark – the costumes were brilliant as indeed were all the costumes in the show. All the musical numbers from principals and chorus were really well done. I especially liked Let There Be by Father, Children Of Eden, and Ain’t It Good by Eve / Mama Noah. It was difficult putting pen to paper and describing how good this show as: How many times can you write superb, brilliant or wonderful? My congratulations to everyone, a great evening’s entertainment. Dead Heat Ss Simon and Jude ADS Director Gary Kennedy I was so impressed with the welcome I received from this society, being greeted with nibbles and a drink before the play started. It was a great pity that so few people were in the audience, as the cast had obviously worked very hard to make this play a success. The society has a policy of encouraging works by new writers and this was one such play. Rhiannon Fraser’s mystery thriller is set in a run-down hotel where seven survivors of a mountain expedition meet each year to mark the event. Each one has to face up to the truth about the unexplained death of their leader, especially as her daughter makes an appearance. Was it an accident, or was there another sinister reason for her death? There were some obvious first night nerves especially in Act 1. Sometimes the cast faced upstage or blocked one another, so it was difficult to hear what was said. However Act 2 was much better. As the story finally unravelled, everyone improved and settled into their parts.


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I enjoyed Frank Lynch as the inebriated Laurence Trueman. He had for years carried the guilt that he might have killed Lady Jane Lincoln, but had he? David Crank was well cast as Dr Howard Somervell. Did he have something to hide? It was fun trying to work out the plot, but we got the very unexpected ending wrong. Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime St Paul’s AOS Director Peter Smith The curtains opened to reveal a most charming set. The numerous costumes worn by the ladies were beautiful, the men were quite handsome too. Set in Victorian times, the play revolves around Lord Saville, who is due to be married and is told by a clairvoyant that he will commit a terrible crime: Murder. He endeavours to carry out the deed before his wedding. Needless to say, this doesn’t work out as planned. With help from his servant Baines, played superbly by David Griffiths, and Herr Winklekopt, well acted by Howard Clare, all the plans go wrong. Bryn Lunt played a wonderful Lord Arthur Saville – alternating between amusing and serious, to downright hysterical and manic. Well done. All the other characters in this play were really well cast and all gave good performances. Pickwick Walmsley Church AODS Director Nora Howcroft Musical director Mike Pinder. Choreographer Lara Crombie Having read the book Pickwick years ago I was interested to see how Walmsley would bring the story to life on stage. I am glad that I read the synopsis of the show; there wasn’t much of a story, but the music was extremely good and under the baton of Mike Pinder it bounced along at a cracking rate. Some of these numbers were very wordy and must have caused many a headache to learn. The set was simple but very effective and the costumes were in keeping with the period. Philip Morris gave a good solid characterisation of Pickwick. Ian Barlow was an excellent ‘gentleman’s gentleman’ as Sam Weller. One of the stars of the show was David Wilson who was great as Alfred Jingle the wily womaniser. His scenes with Vicki, his real-life wife, who was brilliant as the maiden aunt Rachel, were hilarious. Finding out that although Rachel was not very attractive, she was nevertheless an heiress he immediately set about wooing her. These were lovely funny scenes. Cathy Turton was well cast as Mrs Bardell with a lovely voice and excellent stage presence. The rest of the cast were very impressive in the small parts. The chorus singing as usual, was excellent. I am always impressed with the harmonies from this society. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Five Saints ATC Director Paul Cohen Musical director Neil Ravenscroft Choreographer Elisa Fielding Many societies would have a problem putting on this show as so many men are needed – and they have to be able to sing and dance. This society had no such problem. Half the 40-strong cast was made up of the younger members of the society. Congratulations to the director and choreographer who succeeded in getting everyone on stage ‘dancin’, fightin’, an’ lovin’’with really great numbers. The scenery was very good although the boys’ house could have been a little dirtier – after all there were seven of them. James Eccleshare as the eldest boy Adam was wonderful, in the badtempered bossy, older brother role, and had a cracking singing voice. He decides to go to town and get himself a bride. I wonder how today’s girls would react to his proposal to Milly...? She decides to marry him and goes home to meet his six wild brothers. Realising they know nothing about girls, she sets to teaching them. Fun and games start when they go to the town’s social, and the brothers are smitten with the girls. Jenny Tilly sang and acted really well as Milly. Glad That You Were Born was beautifully sung. I also thought Adam and Milly’s number with Gideon (Matthew Gavin), Love Never Goes Away, was a beautiful rendition. All the brothers looked as though they were having a ball, especially having to deal with the naive and giddy girls. All the parts were so well cast, the couples looked as though they were meant for one another. All ends well as the girls marry the brothers and Adam and Milly declare their love for one another. With lovely costumes and an excellent orchestra, I am sure the audience left humming some of these beautiful songs – as I myself did. The Ghost Train St Vincent’s Dramatic Society Director Vincent Bradley Once again St Vincent’s have put on a really good play. Never having seen this before I got the ending all wrong, the final scene was such a surprise. I was sorry to hear that Stan Porter had been in hospital and, with 24 hours’ notice, Keith Hindley had taken over his part of John Sterling. As Stan was on his way to recovery, Keith did an excellent job on stage. Congratulations to the set construction team who gave us a wonderfully tatty railway waiting room. The lighting and sound effects were really well done as were the delightful costumes. Bert Halliday played station master Sam Hodgkin with a super Cornish accent, as he told the ghostly tale of why the station was haunted. Charles Murdoch was played by Ben Kilburn, who was vocally very strong and the


role was well acted. Vincent Bradley playing the camp Teddie Deakin, complete with striped jacket ,was excellent, although all was not as it seemed. Everyone in this play tried very hard to work at each character and this was obvious, well done everybody. The Producers Bolton Premier Productions Director and choreographer Marje Brayshaw Musical director Steven Sandiford. Years ago I watched the film The Producers and so was intrigued to see how Bolton Premier were going to tackle this show. It does, after all, become a show within a show. There is only one word to describe what I saw: Fantastic. What talent! Scenery was very good, scene changes were very quick and the costumes just right. The orchestra was excellent, your lead violinist played really well. All the parts were so well cast and really well acted. Singing was spot on from the principals and the chorus. The two lead men Max and Leo, played by brothers Andrew and Timothy Platt were excellent. What an enormous part for Andrew, his characterisation and vocals were of the highest quality. I doubt there would have been any better seen on the professional stage. Timothy playing Leo was equally outstanding. His facial expressions were wonderful. The show tells the story of the producer Max and accountant-turnedproducer Leo, as they set about trying to create and put on the worst show ever seen on Broadway – in order to fleece their investers out of millions of dollars. The laughs came thick and fast, with so many outrageous characters being introduced to us. The show is loud, brash and very, very funny. The number with the Zimmer frames was hilarious. I know that all the audience came out laughing.

DISTRICT 7 Anything Goes Orrell Musical & Dramatic Society Director Matt Morrell Musical director Linda Scott Choreographer Charlotte Morrell This was a lovely experience from the time I entered the building as the front of house staff were dressed as officers on the SS American and handing out complimentary drinks. A lovely touch and great start to the evening. Keyboard player and percussionist sounded great under the supervision of the MD, Linda Scott who played the keyboard. The choreography although simple in many numbers worked well as the cast had varied abilities and age ranges. The cast did a fabulous job singing, dancing and acting their way through a fantastic score of Cole Porter numbers. The set with projection worked brilliantly and the costumes looked the part too. The sound and lighting all complimented the piece and all this whilst being in a new venue. Well done to all concerned backstage. Victoria Fairhurst as Reno sounded lovely and performed her numbers with ease especially Blow Gabriel Blow which is one of my favourite numbers in this show. Paula Waring as Bonnie put in a fine performance as did Diane Jones as Hope and David Jones who played the drippy Sir Evelyn. Bill North played Elisha J Whitney and I liked his drunk scenes which are often difficult to play. For me the two roles I enjoyed the most were David Pritchard as Moonface Martin as his characterisation worked and his height made for a very comic role. His song Be Like The Bluebird was hilarious with him dancing his way flapping his imaginary wings! The other role which stood out for me was Andrew Southern as Billy Crocker. He had a wonderful singing voice, clear diction and his acting looked effortless. I particularly liked You’re The Top and All Through The Night. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast Birkdale Orpheus Society Director Liz Clarke Musical director Jeff Rimmer Choreographer Mandy Evans The set looked wonderful and the lighting, sound, costumes, wigs and props all fitted perfectly. The director had set the scenes with care with nice little touches such as some delivery from the wings. The orchestra sounded great and the MD had clearly drilled the harmonies as they sounded wonderful. The choreography was very effective including the beautiful ballet by the enchantress and wolves. Beast played by Ben Wake had a strong voice and the acrobatics on a wire in the transformation scene were extremely effective. Bridie Flanagan as Belle acted her socks off and had a wonderful singing voice. This was her first show with any society and I hope it won’t be her last. Every member of the cast supported these roles well with well characterised and thought out performances. Cogsworth played by Steve Coghlan was fantastic, Babette played by Miriam Ashcroft was wonderful and Mrs Potts and Wardrobe played by Liz Smith and Shelagh Swift put in sterling performances. The star of the castle characters was Adam McCoy as Lumiere who put in a faultless performance including his stunning dance moves. Gaston was played excellently by Nick Lloyd with a wonderful singing voice and ably assisted by Lewis Hunter as Lefou, his annoying sidekick. All three silly girls were great including the swooning and snorting, and David Davies as Maurice was soft and gentle. Chip played by Thomas Corcoran on the night I saw the show, delivered his lines with ease and tugged at the heart strings. Carl Sedman as Monsieur D’Arque was the best I have ever seen this role played. It’s a small part but integral to the plot particularly with the delivery of dialogue and the song Maison des Lunes. Well done on a fantastic show.

Boogie Nights Pilkington Musical Theatre Company Director James Kirby Musical director Charles Moss Choreographer Anna Wilkinson This was my first visit to St Helens Theatre Royal which is a lovely venue. Boogie Nights is a feel good show which takes 1970s’ music and a fairly predictable plot, then allows the cast and audience to have fun with it. The costumes, props and staging worked well as did the crews dealing with these areas. The show overall worked well but some of the scenes lacked enthusiasm from the cast and I felt the choreographer missed an opportunity to set Play That Funky Music/ Boogie Wonderland by allowing the cast to free style the final number because they were at a wedding. Roddy played by Paul Robinson seemed very relaxed in this role although I felt he missed the opportunity to shock the audience with his delivery of his more chauvinistic lines. His singing voice suited the songs well. His best mates Terry and Dean were played well by Gary Lumb and Antony Macklin. Gary performed Sugar Baby Love which starts in falsetto very well. Jason Bacon was very good as Eamon, Roddy’s dad. His comic timing seemed effortless and his singing and dancing really suited the role. Director James Kirby played Spencer with a nasty edge. His girlfriend Lorraine was played and sung really well by Julie Molyneux. Diane Glover as Debs worked hard to get the character right in this role but had some pitching issues with her vocals which are difficult numbers. Katie Speakman as Trish was for me the best vocalist of the night. She played her part well and her scenes with both Debs and Terry were very funny. Overall, well done. Titfield Thurderbolt St Ambrose Players Director Tom Lane The play essentially tells the story of a branch train line under threat of closure, and a group of dedicated local residents fighting to save this much-loved feature of their community – a fairly large section of the play featuring on a race between the local bus and the train. It was a super evening’s entertainment. Walking into the hall we were greeted by front of house staff in ‘railway’ uniform and an absolutely superb open set featuring a bus stage right and the control panel of a train stage left – constructed entirely by members of the cast and crew. The very many scene changes were effected quickly and efficiently and for the most part quietly. The programme was a mini masterpiece with lots of interesting and factual information. The direction was wonderful – I loved the audience involvement (taking ‘water’ up to the stage) and the ‘general meeting’ when the cast (except two on the stage) came and sat in the body of the hall – talking to people next to them – just exactly as people do at any form of public meeting and doing it wonderfully well. The society must also be congratulated in presenting this play which features a cast of no less than 10 men: What an achievement! Lighting was very effective and added greatly to the overall production and the amount of hard work, dedication and effort from everyone was obvious. There were some splendid and wholly believable characterisations among this large cast, there were some rather obvious and unfortunate memory lapses but the cast picked up the pace and the whole thing moved along well. Very many thanks to everyone connected with this excellent production. Christine Hunter The Memory of Water Chorley ADOS Director Mark Jones This is one of the best plays written for female parts with strong characters and brilliantly written lines. Of course all this is well and good but if you don’t have the right cast and direction then those lines will be lost. Not in this theatre though. We had a brilliant night with lots of laughter and tears and a lovely journey home discussing families and the parts played in this production. The set worked well, the lighting added to the atmosphere and the costumes were in keeping with the characters. The sisters played by Zoe Duffin-Jones, Joanne Jones and Sara Worswick were excellently cast and had clearly worked hard on their characterisation. Zoe played the spikey Mary who had some brilliantly-funny lines delivered so naturally. Teresa played by Joanne was the so-called responsible one who, in trying to cope with the unravelling family dramas, gets drunk. This can be very difficult to play but not by Joanne who made it look easy. Sara as the youngest sister Catherine was so funny in her selfish role but had me in tears when her boyfriend dumped her. Beautifully played, all three of you. Joanna Gillespie played Vi with an ethereal quality which suited the role perfectly. Ryan Norse as Mike worked well opposite Zoe displaying his real feelings later in the play with a mix of arrogance and shame which was well portrayed. Matt Routledge played Teresa’s nerdy husband Frank brilliantly. His attention to detail, the little touches to his glasses etc worked so well. Well done to all involved with this production especially the Director who cast the show with great actors and directed the play beautifully. Never overstated or underplayed. Guys & Dolls Wigan Musical Theatre Group Director Betty Hall Musical director Joan Bond Choreographer Jayne Quinlan This is one of my favourite shows which can sometimes make it difficult for a society performing it – as I know it backwards and am very critical. I have to say this society did a fantastic job and it is a long time since I have seen an amateur society perform it so well. The venue has very limited space and had a cast of more than 50. The set changes were seamless with great use of space including a walkthrough area in front of the band for the mission band to cross the auditorium. The costumes looked great (I loved the matching ties and spats for the Guys) as did the lighting, props and set. I thoroughly enjoyed Luck Be A Lady including the dripping water sound effect. Very well done to the production team as there were some wonderful



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fish packers until she had a drink and then couldn’t keep a secret. It’s often difficult to play drunk but Dianne performed this very well. Carole Griffiths had the sassiest and probably funniest lines as Shelley and delivered them with ease and experience. Every glance, look and action fitted the character wonderfully well. Her costume at Ascot suited the character well,particularly those fabulous shoes. Young Lauren Copp played Linda very well and came across as lovable, charming and naïve (or not very bright). Well acted Lauren. The supporting male roles were all played well with Andrew Kirk making a good TV pundit and Martin Dowey another good drunk performance on the stage. A particular mention must go to Gary Greenwood playing Jockey Patrick who did well to continue his lines with the raucous laughter from his friends in the audience. Another well directed show by a lovely society who always seem to have so much fun in every show they put on. Thank you for a very enjoyable evening.

touches including showing the girls dreams of their men in Marry The Man, which was inspired as were the vocals where I could hear every word. The music sounded great and the choreography looked very effective with good use of age appropriate performers. Each member of the cast played their parts well with great characterisation and vocals but the lynchpin is to get the four lead characters right, with chemistry in each couple. Debbi Mulligan as Sarah and Karl Heaver as Sky played this to perfection. They both had bags of stage presence, great vocals and the chemistry that is so important. Equally Tracey Unsworth as Adelaide and John Clinton as Nathan were so believable as the older lovebirds. Again, great vocals and clear diction (I heard every word of Sue Me) by both actors and fabulous dancing by Tracey. Funny Money Chorley ADOS Director Barbara Wilcox This play is one of the later Ray Cooney farces premiering in 1995 and also being made into a 2006 movie. The set was fantastic with four entrances/ exits from the living room where the play is set. The lighting plot really complimented the scenes and the costumes looked in keeping with the play and the characters. The play is set on Henry Perkins’ birthday as he gets home from work and is due to have dinner with his and wife Jean’s close friends Betty and Vic. On the train on the way home he picks up the wrong briefcase which has more than £1million in it which he decides to keep. The comedy then ensues with two police officers, taxi driver and Mister Big added to the mix. Brian Clarke as Henry played the part brilliantly with endless manic decisions and innuendo. Sue Hilton’s Jean was my favourite characterisation, particularly when drunk as this can be so hard to get right and be understood. The scenes early on when Jean is trying to get the taxi to wait and with Sgt Davenport as she is getting drunker were extremely funny. Alan Pearson and Kath Townsend played Vic and Betty respectively and added to the comic mix especially with Vic’s complete non-understanding in certain scenes. David Hartley as the taxi driver Bill was well cast and very funny particularly when losing his temper which never looked contrived. The rest of the cast worked well to support the main characters to excel in their roles. The direction of the piece and the experience of the cast made this a lovely evening’s entertainment with many laughs from the appreciative audience. Well done to all concerned, on stage, backstage and front of house. 15th Opera Supper Concert Una Voce Opera Company Musical director Kirsty Ligertwood This was a wonderful night of song, and while the patrons dined in the interval music students from The Sacred Heart College, Crosby entertained. Dr Roger Philips from BBC Merseyside introduced the evening and we were given music ranging from grand opera to operetta. Maria Caravanas started the ball rolling with the Habanera from Carmen followed by Edward D‘Arcy Hatton with a very expressive La Vendetta by Mozart. Nick Hardy gave us numbers from Tosca and Faust in the first half – all to his usual standard. From Samson and Delilah the lovely Danielle Thomas sang Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix, followed by Mark Gairrusso with the Cobbler’s Song and Stephen Riordan with When I Was King from Orpheus, and to bring an end to the first half Ortsma Ejuoneatse sang the Jewel song from Faust. The second half really got going when Edward D’Arcy Hatton sang The Song Of Liberty by Elgar. Danielle Thomas returned with Til There Was You from The Music Man, very well sung indeed, followed by Stephen Riordan with I Got Plenty Of Nothing by Gershwin. On a lighter side Maria Caravanas sang Song of a nightclub Proprietress by John Betjeman Mark Gairrusso sang Some Enchanted Evening and the evening came to a close with one of the best renditions of the Pearl fishers’ duet I have heard, by Nick Hardy and Edward D’Arcy Hatton. Colin Magenty

DISTRICT 7 SHARON DRUMMOND Back to the 80s Hey Kids (Heywood AODS) Director Joanne Marshall Musical director Anthony J Quimby Choreographer Gemma Singleton There were more than 60 Hey Kids on the stage for this production and all have come through the ranks of workshops and previous shows. Well done to all the production team and backstage helpers with this number of cast. A huge achievement. The set built in house and using the side areas well, looked great. The lighting and sound complemented the scenes well and the props and costumes looked very effective. Liam Dodd as Corey Snr delivered his lines with ease never losing the American accent. His vocals sounded fantastic especially on You Give Love A Bad Name. Julia Boardman and George Jones as the teachers performed really well. I totally believed in their relationship and vocally both sounded great especially on such difficult numbers as Man In The Mirror and Julia on Total Eclipse Of The Heart. It isn’t possible to mention everyone by name but I think the supporting roles played by Connor Taylor, Thomas Winstanley, Lottie Davey, Charlie Thomas, Jack Warburton, Thomas Hall, Will Dawber, Beth Curran and Alex Davey were really well played. Feargal played by Marc Duffy was extremely funny especially in the fight scenes. Calum Lill made a great Michael and his vocals were extremely good. My favourite number in the show was Footloose as the energy oozed out. Henry Roadnight put in a fab performance as Corey with bags of stage presence and a lovely singing voice. Lydia Gillibrand played Tiffany a sweet girl-next-door character. She suited the role well and delivered her lines with ease. Esther Weetman was great as the sassy Cyndi and Abby Dickson as Eileen was sweet and performed her numbers with a maturity beyond her years. A fantastic feel good show performed superbly by a talented group.

A Chorus Line. Photo: Martin Ogden A Chorus Line Whitworth Amateur Musical and Dramatic Society Director Mark Rosenthal Musical director Jonathan Chalker Choreographer Joanne Leese I have to start by saying how pleased I was to be going to review this production on behalf of Sharon Drummond as I just love some of the music from this show. Like many, I am familiar with the film, but not the stage production so naturally I was looking forward to see how this would compare. This show was stunning! Seldom have I watched a production with a cast as strong as this. Mark Rosenthal should be praised for not only being wonderfully creative, but also picking a fine cast for this demanding piece of real musical theatre. The orchestra was small, yet together and under the very capable baton of Jonathan Chalker. This is the fourth show I have seen Jonathan MD and have never been disappointed. As with any musical of this nature, the dancing is always expected to be of a good standard, and we had excellent choreography from Joanna Leese. Joanna was clever, and indeed wise to stick with traditional choreography with dance routines such as One, yet showed great examples of creativity with other, lesser-known numbers throughout the show. As I have said, the cast were all of a high standard. Leading this team, with some of the most heartfelt acting I have seen for some time was Phil Clegg as Zac. This role spends most of his time off stage, at the back of the auditorium, talking or at times, shouting at his cast on stage. It was incredible how we the audience didn’t need to see him due to the richness and tone of Phil’s voice. Without seeing him, I still believed every word he was saying. For me, this is a real skill. Everyone on stage had a story to tell, and everyone certainly brought their individual characters to life. Two particularly memorable performances came from Johanna Batterby and Elouise Drummond. Johanna played Diana with great emotion and feeling throughout. Her two solos really grabbed my attention. I was in tears as she sang Kiss Today goodbye. A mixture of wonderful vocal and heartfelt acting made for a very polished performance. Elouise really played her part well and was naturally funny through a combination of great comedy timing and priceless facial expressions. A real talent and one that I am sure will develop as the years go on. This show is certainly a challenge, however with a combination of great direction, inventive choreography, a well controlled band, mixed with some stunning acting certainly made for not one, but many a singular sensation! Richard Sanderson Godspell Whitworth Amateur Musical & Dramatic Society Director Andy Kelly Musical director Chris Addington Choreographer Shayon Bali This show was the second in a double bill with A Chorus Line the previous week. Although the shows had different production teams and cast this is a challenge for any society. This was a strong cast led by Darren Fricker as Jesus who never put a foot or note wrong. His warmth and chemistry with his disciples was touching, his comedic delivery was spot on and his clarity of voice is beautiful. The society cast CJ Demooi (from the TV programme Eggheads) as John the Baptist/Judas. I felt he often tried too hard and in a number of scenes that was quite distracting. I did however enjoy the number All For The Best with Darren. This was really well staged and a big well done to the backstage team for creating the costumes/props on this. The rest of the cast had wonderful vocals and the harmonies in Day By Day led by Helen Claire Rose, By My Side by Collette Pedder and Aileen Williams, and the faster We Beseech Thee, led by Terry Banham, sounded fantastic. The staging of The Prodigal Son as a Jeremy Kyle Show was inspired with the cast having to improvise on questions from the audience. I also loved Nicky Mead in Turn Back, O Man and her interaction with the audience and guys in the cast. The dancing and movement in the show was really well put together by Shayon Bali and never seemed out of place which can be difficult in this sort of show. The band under the supervision of Chris Addington were housed behind the stage and sounded fantastic throughout. They complimented and supported the cast well. Well done to all involved on an entertaining night and beautifully sung score. Ladies Day St Herbert’s Amateur Dramatic and Entertainment Society Director Maureen Bowes This play was filled with great characters and well-written Northern humour and follows the fortunes of Pearl, Jan, Shelley and Linda. St Herbert’s have very limited space backstage but as always the sets looked great and were used well with good use of action in front of the curtains. The costumes worked well with the characters personalities and the lighting complimented the scenes. Pearl was the central character to the play and was expertly played by Lesley Dowey who has a knack for comedy and whose character had a secret. She looked and sounded the part and her scene with Barry played by Tony Cenci was extremely funny. Jan, played by Dianne Campbell was the quieter character of the three older

We Will Rock You (Schools) Whitworth Amateur Musical and Dramatic Society (Youth) Director Terry Banham & Richard Rudman Musical director Nick Sanders Choreographer Kathy Williamson The stage was simple with great large props. I loved the use of the projectors on the back wall and the live video link from backstage worked really well. The costumes and props looked fantastic with the futuristic bohemian feel. The lighting plot was good in certain scenes but the atmospheric plot in others left a lot of the cast in very dim lighting. The choreography moves looked effective in the main but in some instances weren’t blocked well, with too many performers on one side and barely anyone on the other. All of the performers were under 19 and vocally as one sounded fantastic with drilled harmonies on really difficult numbers. Tom Boardman as Galileo was only cast in the role three weeks before opening so did well to learn the lines and many songs he had to perform. Leonie Richardson as Scaramouche had strong vocals and clear delivery of lines. Holly Withington vocally sounded great as Meatloaf especially on No One But You (Only The Good Die Young), the tribute to Freddie Mercury, but this was one number that could have been better lit in my opinion. Ochi Odie played a blinder as Killer Queen, sounding powerful and commanding the stage opposite Callum Forbes as Kashoggi who performed this role with marvellous touches and vocals. For me, the most well-rounded performances of the night came from Adam Sweeney as Pop and Tom Shiels as Britney. Both had excellent stage presence, acting skills and fabulous vocals for their numbers which were delivered with ease. Both engaged the audience in every scene they were in. Well done to all involved in this production and giving the audience a great night out. The Pirates of Penzance Saddleworth Musical Society Director and choreographer Anita Stuttard Musical director Harry Butterworth The set design on this production looked fantastic in both acts. The lighting really complimented the scenes and the costumes and props looked wonderful. I am always impressed with the orchestra at Saddleworth under the expert guidance of Harry Butterworth. This time was no exception as although no one is individually miked, and there were 18 in the orchestra, the audience could hear every word of dialogue and no instrument drowned out the vocals. This is due to effort in sound, MD and the cast projecting voices. Anita did a fabulous job of directing and choreographing this production especially as the society has mixed abilities and ages. She chooses the right people to do the right roles and has them performing dance moves that never look out of place. Brent Andrews played Frederic very well with great vocals. Mirriam Lawton played opposite him as Mabel with a stunning soprano voice. The chemistry between them worked well. Martin Bradbury as the Pirate King played it for laughs which worked really well and his vocals sounded wonderful and appeared effortless. Alison Starrs was very funny as Ruth and again great vocals. Ian Ball as Samuel looked and sounded the part and ably assisted the Pirate King. Colin Watt as the Sergeant of Police and his officers performed some lovely comic numbers and dance routines. Gerard Marsden was a joy as Major General Stanley performing the best known song I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General brilliantly. Not a word of dialogue was missed in this number. The society has many fantastic vocalists and it showed throughout. I particularly liked the harmonies performed with no backing instruments. A lovely evening’s entertainment with some of the best performers and production team around. Well done.

DISTRICT 8 MICHAEL JONES McCAW Iconic Encore Productions Director Nick Cupit Musical director Craig Stewart I’ll start by congratulating Nick Cupit for having such brilliant artistic vision: This production was an accumulation of sheer brilliance and such apparent teamwork all supporting Nick in this venture. The choreography, by various company members, was really fresh and energetic. I was really impressed by the costumes, made from scratch by Ruth Ennion and friends. The staging was very simple and very effective with wonderful lighting effects which only enhanced what was already an amazing show. With an extremely strong cast, the production was packed with so many great moments which had me smiling, clapping and singing along all the way through. Special congratulations must go to Ben Cupit, Jordan Carr and Kit Philips who all gave West End-standard performances and are by far some of the most talented young men we are lucky enough to have on our district. Well done!


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Keeping Up Appearances Congleton Players Director Pamela Mien I was really looking forward to this production of Keeping Up Appearances – who wouldn’t look forward to the infamous, incorrigible snob Hyacinth Bouquet. I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. The director Pamela Mien had done a sterling job of whipping the production into a fine state and was obviously well equipped with her years of knowledge and wonderful experience. It really does show. Margaret Taylor and Hyacinth Bouquet were a match made in heaven: Her whole stature and every unintentional witticism was done with fine delivery. I would imagine that a role of this size would take over your life for a number of weeks leading up to the production – well done Margaret. Emmet played by Matthew Butler was great; his obvious sensitivity to Hyacinth’s involvement, his comic timing and great facial expressions made his character really stand out. The role was supported by his sister Elizabeth, and Helen Sutton again made the most of a bit of a wet character. Word has it that Chris Mann is becoming a bit of a chameleon on the stage so, after his brilliant performance as Onslow, I look forward to seeing him again soon. He was well supported by Sarah Redfearn as Daisy. I loved Mary Bolide’s performance as Rose – she was excellent. Her taste for short skirts and provocative outfits, and her quiet, seductive and tone, left me almost feeling sorry for Ken Brindley who played Milly. I don’t know how he kept a straight face! The production on the whole was really good, the prompt was quite busy the night I was in and so we lost the pace slightly at certain points. Saying that, there was also some very quick thinking and recovery when you were let down by the technical side. Well done everyone! Not Now Darling Burtonwood Amateur Music and Drama Society Director Judith Maffitt This lovely little society produced one of the best plays I’ve seen all year, despite being played on one of the smallest stages I’ve seen. Packed with hilarious bouts and perfectly-timed comedy the cast, crew and production team should all be very proud of themselves. Making his debut as a lead character, John Hickey did a grand job as Arnold Crouch, and had a really great on stage relationship with Brian Moffitt as Gilbert Bodley. He brought so much humour to the role and literally had me in stitches one minute and on the edge of my seat the next. Superb! Kelly Jane Sergeant as the company secretary gave a very assured performance. Wealthy Mrs Frenchman played by Jeanne Large and her husband Commander, played by Colin Frodsham, were both great. Special mention must go to Jenny Hamner and Jan Adair who both bravely bared all and played their characters really brilliantly. I really liked Sue Sefton’s portrayal of Mrs Bodley who created some very intense moments where we were waiting for the plot to come undone. Really great theatre. I had a truly lovely evening with this society. Oliver! Congleton Musical Theatre Director and choreographer Nicky Evans Musical director Richard Tadman What a delightful show this turned out to be. Plaudits to the MD and director for their innovative ideas. The show opened with a small scene explaining the arrival of baby Oliver Twist, very atmospheric. This was followed by a lively rendition of Food Glorious Food from a very well-trained set of children, which led on to our first introduction to Oliver: Well played by Thomas Fastiggi. The scene with Mr Bumble and Widow Corney was well played by Peter Johnson and Edna Ferriday. I was a little disappointed that they omitted the very funny song I Shall Scream. The Sowerberry couple together with Charlotte and Noah gave us a very amusing undertaker scene. On reaching the city, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger really well portrayed by Charles Dale. The pair worked very well together. Consider Yourself was super, as were all their other solo numbers. I was most impressed with Nancy, beautifully acted by Yzzy Pearce-Higham. What a fantastic singing voice, well done. Her rendition of As Long As He Needs Me was exceptional. Simon Dean worked very hard as Fagin, singing and acting really well. His rapport with the gang of children was wonderful. What do I say about Bill Sykes and his dog Bullseye? Brilliantly played by Nigel Evans and Arthur Baker – the dog. Bill was so very menacing. The scenes with Nancy were superb. Finally I must again congratulate all the children, you were all fantastic. Not a mistake in sight. Jackie Kay Our House Sol Theatre School Director Simon Wain Musical director David Birkenhead Choreographer Louise Carter In a week that was dominated by the media headlines of rioting, looting and mindless rioting in several parts of the country, it was a delight to be in Congleton to see and hear what can be achieved by a youth group under the guidance of a dedicated production team and backed by an equally dedicated support crew. Dealing with the problems of teenagers, growing up in the current state of the job market, the temptation of getting involved in petty crime and trying to maintain a stable romantic relationship, Our House proved to be a most apt show to perform at this troubled time. That the show could be prepared in just 10 days of tireless rehearsals speaks volumes for the talent of this cast and the expertise of the production team, with more than 30 songs and routines to be mastered in such a short space of time – as well as the design and building of sets, costume and lighting plots, and the fundraising necessary for such a project. With such a vast number of characters in the cast plus the chorus members and dancers, it would be invidious to appraise individual performances – needless to say each one of them played their part admirably and is deserving of praise. Their obvious enjoyment in what they were doing was infectious and they are all to be complemented on their commitment both on and off the stage.


The Importance Of Being Ernest Centenary Theatre Company Director Anita Warburton Wow! The staging and attention to detail in this magnificent set was something quite exquisite. Leonard Rowlands and Walter Brown really pulled out all the stops to create three scenes which set the period beautifully. Dedicated and extremely competent as director, Anita Warburton chose a wonderful cast, which delivered a very slick, charming and highly witty production. Derren Dolphin was perfectly cast as Jack, the gentleman with the secret life, and he had a some great moments with Malcolm Wallace as Algernon. They both offered some very comedic moments and showcased a lot of sophistication and verve which both these characters required. Jane Rigby, no stranger to the stage, gave a stunning performance as Gwendolyn. She held herself beautifully and without a doubt gave the most confident and consistent performance of the night. Another performance worthy of much praise was talented Patsy Roberts who played Lady Bracknell, with a brilliant portrayal of this old, mercenary and dominant character. Rachel Alcock did a wonderful job in her debut performance as Cecily. Marilyn Baxter presented us with a memorable performance (for all the right reasons) as Miss Prism. What a lovely evening I had, well done to all cast and crew. The King And I Acton Amateur Operatic Society Director Sheryl Haydock-Howarth Musical director Anne Sleigh Choreographer Sarah Mould Give me a Rogers and Hammerstein musical any day! They’re my favourite and I can honestly say I wasn’t disappointed with this fine production. Director Sheryl Haydock-Howarth, striving for attention to detail, achieved something wonderful with quite a brilliant line up of principals – probably the strongest I’ve seen in the King And I. Anne Sleigh had done a great job as musical director with not a note noticeable out of place from the principals, company or orchestra – that takes some doing! I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the beautiful set, which looked even richer in the scenes where the full cast dressed the stage in the most stunning costumes. Again, the attention to detail – wigs, make up, etc. – it was all so noticeable. I instantly liked Debbie Cornock as Anna. With her subtle characteristics, strong vocals such obvious natural talent – she was absolutely the perfect choice. I was very disappointed, as I’m sure Debbie was, with the sound issues with her mic, especially in some of the best numbers in the show. Robert Earl as the King was great, his mannerisms were perfect. Every stance, glance and gesture mimicked everything you would imagine of the role. If anything, I thought we saw the nicer side to him too early. These leads developed a beautiful relationship which was a delight to watch. Congratulations. My jaw dropped when Gemma Robertson as Tuptim started to sing – she and Matt O’Donell as Lun Tha gave stunning performances with completely flawless vocals. A highlight of the evening for me. Another credible performance came from Jennifer Hall as the first wife to the King, Lady Thiang. Her interpretation of Something Wonderful was just that! With goosebumps from head to toe, I believed every single word. The children were always going to be a delightful addition to the company and though probably hard work to control on and off stage, this was worth every minute from my point of view. Charlie Edleston gave a confident and poised performance, with a very pleasant singing voice, and self-assured Dominic Steele as the King’s son Prince Chulalongkorn is definitely a talent to look out for in the future. The choreography was effective and complemented each setting perfectly, I am sure Sarah would be welcomed back with open arms after such great work on her first production with Acton.

DISTRICT 9 HELEN ATTISHA Celebration Chapel Players Director Dave Mowl Although Chapel Players first performed this play in 1990, I soon realised why I’d not seen or heard of it before. It’s an odd choice for a society, mainly because it has no plot or central character to carry you through. I must, however, congratulate the cast and director for giving each character the right ingredients to keep the audience interested which is no easy task for a play without a plot. The casting must not go unmentioned, Celebration could have easily been written for Chapel Players as each player suited their character down to the tiniest detail; no one upstaged anyone else and most roles were underplayed, drawing the audience in to great effect. This play has 16 characters, so I can see why it would be attractive to a committee, but I would like to have seen more of some of them. The feisty Margo and the relationship with her mother-in-law set the roots for a confrontation between the two which never evolved into anything; did she turn up to the wedding in her scruffs? The audience was left to its own conclusion. The direction was risqué as backs were turned, players were masked and lines were delivered upstage; whether deliberate or not, I liked it as it made the play even more real and added to the ‘fly on the wall’ feel which was prominent throughout. Being Yorkshire born and bred, I felt I knew each and every character on stage, every detail from the scenery décor to the characters’ footwear was carefully thought of which made the play even more believable transporting the audience back to the late 1950s. Special mention must go to Melvin Wright as pub bore Arthur. The fact I missed a few of his lines through his slurring didn’t matter as it made me laugh even more. John Gilberthrope brought superb touches to Edgar Lucas as the peace-keeping head of the household who never gets his own way. Jenni Hague as Irene made the audience sympathise with her character’s lack of social skills which, in those days, would have been looked upon as an illness. This was maturely characterised. Deborah Barnes as May Beckett brought glimpses of Elsie Tanner to her role which worked and came across strong but more importantly, not too strong. If I have to be picky, I will say that at times, some of the actors did slip and

reverted back to what I’d call ‘traditional acting’ (playing out front) but on the whole, it was an enjoyable and pleasant production by Chapel Players, and it was a shame that on the night I attended the audience wasn’t more in numbers. Kevin Proctor The Mikado Poynton Gilbert and Sullivan Society Directors Richard Huggett and Anne Mitchell Musical director Katharine Brown I always enjoy seeing a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado because it has a bit of everything thrown in to the story for good measure; comedy, unrequited love, mistaken identities, prospective ceremonial beheadings, and lots of familiar songs. All that, and the great fun the cast always seem to have performing it. This was my first outing to Poynton G&S and it was a real pleasure to visit a group who so enjoy their craft. The performers sing together all-year round, and the musicians offered their services during show week free of charge – truly refreshing in this day and age. This dedication clearly showed; choral singing was enthusiastically delivered on each occasion, dynamics paid keen attention to (credit to MD Katharine Brown) and choreography kept simple and effective with great use of fans throughout, particularly by the male ensemble! Andrew Pugh as Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado who is disguised as a minstrel having fled the Imperial court, gave a fine performance; his vocals lifted the room each time he sang. The three little maids Yum-Yum (Sue Sawyer), Pitti-Sing (Sarah Parker) and Peep-Bo (Roey Darling) added lightness and fun to proceedings, and So, Please you, Sir showcased beautifully sweet harmonies interspersed with cheeky glances and mischievous looks. Yum-Yum in particular had a lovely soprano voice and warmly sang The Sun Whose Rays Are all Ablaze. Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner (who also happens to be engaged to one of his wards, Yum-Yum) was energetically played by Richard Huggett, who very much suited the comedy role. Ian Whitfield as Ko-Ko’s pompous sidekick Pooh-Bah also gave an enjoyably performance; he was delightfully smug and delivered his lines well. Betty Davidson was excellent as the petulant Katisha; Alone, And Yet Alive demonstrated clear and expressive vocals as she threw herself into the role. The comedic pairing of Katisha and Ko-Ko also worked well; particularly in There Is Beauty In The Bellow Of The Blast. The modernised lyrics of As Some day It May Happen That A Victim and Mi-ya-sa-ma, mi-ya-sa-ma were nice touches; particularly when even a mention of the NODA rep gets sneaked in! The real highlight of this production though for me was Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day, expertly sung by the quartet of Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Nanki-Poo and Pish-Tush; it really showcased the quality of the performers. Some of the longer chorus numbers lost momentum a little in this production, but overall, despite the mismatching of ages to parts, the principal cast was strong and Poynton G&S produced an extremely colourful, bright and lively production; it was clear just how much everyone enjoyed being involved. The Rise and Fall of Little Voice Mossley AODS Director James Schofield Jim Cartwright’s gritty northern drama demands a lot from its cast. The central characters are complex; each battling with their own sense of loss, whether it’s as a result of a life or career unfulfilled, or, in the case of Little Voice, the loss of her beloved father. Despite the heavy themes, there are also however moments of lightness and humour. Mandy Mallinson as Little Voice’s mother Mari was larger than life, screaming her way into our focus from the very start. She cleverly switched from feisty life and soul of the party to an abusive drunk and was immensely interesting to watch, pulling you right into the heart of the story. Despite the cruel nature of her character, she still managed to evoke some sympathy from the audience in her portrayal of an essentially broken and unhappy woman. A really excellent performance; well done. Sofi-Jo Bennett as the withdrawn and neglected Little Voice also put in a great performance, totally committing with her whole face and body to each persona as she emulated the great female vocalists. She was simply captivating when she sang. The cabaret medley worked well, though it did lose some of its impact by the choice in this production to include a full rendition of ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ which wasn’t necessary. The quick song switches (e.g. Falling in Love Again; Happy Birthday; Chicago) demand the real skill, and the little idiosyncrasies added in to help stylise the vocals were especially nice touches. The rest of the supporting cast also were also good. Little Voice’s shy admirer Billy (Matt Hassall) provided an equally-awkward counterpart. Although it started a little uncomfortably between the two, their relationship on stage blossomed into something quite lovely to watch; particularly as Billy shared his love of lights with Little Voice, in turn getting her to open

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice



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up to him. Mari’s sidekick Sadie May (Lisa Kay) with her sluggish movement and vacant features offered great contrast to Mari, and skilfully gave the impression the light was only slightly on deep within. Paul Allison gave a suitably slimy performance as the rather repellent talent agent Ray Say, and although there was perhaps scope for more sinister undertones to develop in his interactions with Little Voice, he dealt with his final scenes well. Paired with the equally sleazy Mr Boo (Jon Crebbin), the two made a good double act. I do feel there were occasions where the pace flagged a little, and perhaps more could have been done to allow the performers to find their own rhythm without unnecessary ‘theatrical’ pauses added in to several scenes. Overall however, with a cast as talented as this one, the end result was a thoroughly enjoyable interpretation of a thought-provoking and sensitively executed story.

DISTRICT 10 ED McGEE Show U Care 2 Workington and District Amateur Musical Society This was a very enjoyable ‘songs from the shows’, by WADAMS. The full weight of the society was thrown behind this musical extravaganza. The adult and the kids clubs treated us to songs and dances from shows previously produced and shows not yet released for amateur societies. The show moved along at a great pace, and the numbers and dances were enjoyed by a very appreciative audience. Well done to the production team for a very enjoyable evening. On a more serious note, two local cancer charities will benefit from the society’s efforts. Well done to all concerned, and I look forward to Show U Care 3. The Regina Monologues Cockermouth Amateur Drama Society This play was an excellent offering from CADS, an all-female cast performed a modern version of the six wives of Henry VIII. Each girl, and there were young and slightly more mature ladies taking part, played each wife beautifully. There wasn’t a poor performance to be seen, and not one character stood out above another. Although the play was fairly static, it didn’t in any way detract from the enjoyment. There wasn’t a lot of interplay between the characters, but even if we hadn’t known the names of characters being played, it was very easy to understand which wife each was playing. This is a very powerful piece of theatre, and needs six very accomplished actresses to pull it off, and the company certainly achieved that. We were treated to cheese and wine at the interval, and to a dose of two grumpy mature ladies, discussing their opinions on life. A very enjoyable evening at the Kirkgate, and thanks to the society for your hospitality. Fiddler On The Roof Workington Amateur Operatic Society Director Ed McGee Musical director Stephen Hunter-Brown Choreographer Adrienne Kelly Ed McGee as artistic director gave this show an extra dimension with all the performers clearly having their best qualities brought out. Tevye played by Gareth Douglas-Brown was excellent, he was very much head of the family and portrayed a wide range of emotions, and together with Elizabeth Turnbull as Golde – who I thought sang beautifully, they made the perfect couple. The three eldest daughters played by Natasha Durham as Tzeitel, Louise Robinson as Hodel and Jennifer Hawley as Chava gave a good rendition of Matchmaker. They blended well. I also enjoyed Hodel’s poignant Far From The Home I Love. Kimberley Fisher as Yente was in fine form, as was Norman Brayton as Lazer Wolf. Tony McGee’s characterisation of the timid and hesitant Motel was good, Craig Norendal also did well as Perchik and I did like Peter McGuckin in the part of Fyedka. I thought the dream scene was superb, I liked the wailing banshee Fruma Sarah, well done Laura Johnston. The chorus of villagers sang well and did everything expected of them, and well done to everyone who had smaller roles. The society seemed totally at home with the Jewish traditions. I thought that the company’s singing of Sunrise Sunset in the finale was quite beautiful. The costumes were good as was the choreography plus lighting and sound, and I thought that the orchestra, not forgetting ‘The Fiddler’, must take full share of the praise. Katharine Carradus

DISTRICT 11 KATHARINE CARRADUS An Evening Of One Act Plays Storth Entertainers Easy Stages Director David Sorrell Gerry, the stage manager and his crew are really struggling getting to grips with the mechanics and co-ordination of the set and props. It can’t get any worse – or can it? A good presentation of what I thought was a difficult play, and an example of team work required to keep the audience attentive and maintain the pace throughout. With seven members in the cast they all worked very hard indeed, especially Alan Gardner as the stage manager experiencing difficulties in training his stage crew for a production of Hamlet. All the principles had been well cast and maintained an excellent link. A good set, props and costumes. Well done. Last Panto In Little Grimley Director David Green This play is the sequel to last year’s Last Tango... . How the audience laughed throughout this play, the comedy was brought out well. Very well done to the cast of four, you all worked very hard at your parts and it paid off, a jolly good play. I hope in the future there are more sequels in Little Grimley. Thank you Storth.

Great Movies – Great Songs Barrow Operatic Dramatic Society Musical director Paul Blake Choreographer Sally McKimm This was a most entertaining and well received concert, with good choreography and a fine band. There was plenty of talent on display, contributions from the company ranged right across the musical spectrum, with many different styles and tempo. There are so many people to name individually, so sorry if I miss anyone, but I did feel that the ladies perhaps were stronger than the gents. Part One opened with the company singing It’s A Kind Of Magic from Highlander, followed by Joe Kaye’s rendition of Everything I Do, I Do It For You, from Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves. Sarah Carrick sang beautifully Angel from City of Angels, followed by a James Bond medley from the company. Also worthy of note was Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, sung superbly by Rachel Craig, also well done. Gents I did enjoy Unchained Melody from Ghost. Part Two opened on a rock medley, followed by Deborah Bird singing from Titanic. I enjoyed all the songs from Trainspotting, Alfie, Love Story and Louise Marshall’s Shoop Shoop Song. I thought the company’s finale was really good singing from Dirty Dancing and the final number Up Where We Belong from an Officer And A Gentleman. Thank you BODS for a very entertaining evening devised by Paul Blake and Beryl Dixon. The Wizard Of Oz Morecambe Warblers AOS Production and ensembles Lynda Clarkson Musical director Phil Allcock Production assistant Carol Liptrott What good, all round, family entertainment this musical proved to be. The production was lively and creative with an excellent combination of colour. Beth Isherwood as Dorothy gave a good pleasing performance with a well maintained accent. She sang well and had an abundance of enthusiasm. She worked well with her three friends: Ray Jenkinson was a totally cowardly but lovable Lion, Gavin Wells was great as the rubber-limbed Scarecrow, Chris Isherwood made an impressive Tin Man. All three sang well and made a formidable team. I really enjoyed Mandy Doherty as the Wicked Witch of the West, she excelled in the part. A nice performance came from Zoe Dainty as the Sorceress of the North, she made an impressive entrance on a swing, but I thought she needed better make up, she looked very pale, and a more attractive wig was needed. The Professor/Oz was a very colourful character, but could not maintain his accent, sorry. This was a well balanced cast, all the smaller parts were played with enthusiasm. It was good to see all the many children as Munchkins, Crows, Winkies and Monkeys, obviously enjoying themselves, very well done. Shannon Whittle who as ‘understudy’ for Dorothy was given two performances, I came along during the week to see her also, and I thought she gave a commendable interpretation as Dorothy, and deserved the right to wear the red shoes. There was good singing and dancing from the company, excellent sets, brilliant lighting and effects, the band played well. The star for me was Toto (akaTiree), Gorgeous! A very responsive audience on Saturday evening, who I am sure went home happy. I did. Pictured: Bethany Isherwood as Dorothy, with Toto and, from left, Lion Ray Jenkinson, Tin Man Chris Isherwood and Scarecrow Gavin Wells. Me And My Girl Walney Junior Amateur Operatic Society Director Martin Craig Musicall director Paul Blake Choreographer Tracy Warby Well, congratulations must go to the production team. This was a confident and well-rehearsed show. There was enthusiasm in abundance, the sound on stage was very impressive; all the children sang off stage as well as on and it really did make a difference. Bill Snibson was very well played by Kane Carson – a role he took on just a fortnight before opening night (due to the original Bill having been taken into hospital with appendicitis). This young man really made the role his own and I’m sure he will be in demand for further productions. He was well matched with Sally Smith played by Megan Doherty. I liked her rendition of Once You Lose Your Heart. Another strong characterisation came from Mili Rich who played the Duchess. The library scene where she sang the Song Of Hereford was the best I have heard for a while. The long-suffering Sir John was well played by Aydn Blake. Jaqueline and Gerald, played by Amy Turner and Thomas Lowes, brought up the comedy angle, though Amy played a very seductive part in You Would If You Could. The other parts were well played and all the cast must be complemented on their accents and diction – be it upper crust or Cockney. There was a good deal of dancing in the show, all of which was very well rehearsed and in time. The Lambeth Walk was absolutely brilliant and had the audience clapping along. All of this was complemented by the orchestra which supported the company very well. A good night’s entertainment, well done. Little Shop Of Horros Kendal Amateur Operatic Society Director and choreographer Graham Barker. Musical director Angela Pearson. This was a very pleasant trip through the Lakes, on a beautiful autumn day to Kendal, to review the show for NODA colleague, and society stalwart Katherine, and the show certainly didn’t disappoint either. Graham Barker had done a sterling job to blend a tight company, creating what was a splendid evening’s entertainment.

Sarah Calderbank as Audrey and Glen Hamner as Seymour in Kendal Amateur Operatic Society’s production of Little Shop Of Horrors. Photo courtesy of The Westmorland Gazette. There were some delightful performances from the leading characters. I particularly enjoyed society newcomer Sarah Calderbank as Audrey, she gave an excellent characterisation, and Somewhere That’s Green was lovely. Glen Hamner was a very convincing Seymour, who combined well with Sarah in their duets. Simon Yaxley was a suitable curmudgeonly Mushnik. Society veteran Bob Christie played the dentist-boyfriend-from-hell Orin very well, and all the minor parts were convincing – particularly the Ronettes, I enjoyed their 1960s doo wop numbers, and their harmonies. I thought the pre-set open stage worked very well, with the bag ladies and down and outs mixing with the audience a nice touch. I believe modern audiences like to see the mechanics of the show these days, it looked a very convincing Skid Row. Special mention must go to the plant Audrey 2, and particularly the operators, puppeteer and voice Adam and Chris Barker, quite a talented family! The plant became more menacing as it grew in stature, having been fed by the hapless Seymour. There were times though when it was rather difficult to follow the script between Seymour and Audrey 2, because of underscoring and sound distortion. The set worked very well, as did the lighting and sound, generally, and the costumes were of period. The society do very well with limited facilities in the Town Hall, and they deserved a better audience than they had on the night I was there. Well done KAOS for a lovely evening’s entertainment, and the long drive home is always easier if you leave the theatre happy. Ed McGee Hot Mikado Garstang Musical Productions Producer Paul Jones Musical director David Kennedy Choreographer Pam Sullivan The company wowed the audience with their 25th anniversary production, and it really was hot! The staging was brilliant with the opening set in a nightclub / cabaret-style on the floor in the front of the stage, the set on stage was very authentic looking which I liked very much, with good lighting to get everyone in the mood. Creative performances were given by this excellent cast. Nanki-Poo, was played by Karl Roe who gave a lovely rendition of A Wandering Minstrel. His singing all evening was of a high standard, well done. Steven Bryant made a good Pish-Tush, I really enjoyed Braid The Raven Hair. Peter Cooney had a nice easy and cool style as Poo-Bah Lord High Everything Else, he was an ideal foil for Ko-Ko. The portrayal of the scorned Katisha was wonderfully played by Ceri O’Neil, her singing of The Hour Of Gladness and Alone And Yet Alive brought a well-deserved applause from the audience... I would not like to meet this Japanese dragon up a dark alley, or a brightly lit one for that matter! The Three Little Maids were the hottest cats in town, they were very street wise. All gave good performances and were vocally strong. I would have liked to have seen Yum-Yum in a traditional Japanese wedding Kimono for The Sun Whose Rays rather than the Suzi Wong-type dress which was more Chinese, but good performances anyway Hannah, Alice and Lucy. Ko-Ko was superbly played by Paul Jones, he really won over the audience with his singing of Tit Willow, he had great facial expressions, diction and stage presence. The Mikado played by Andrew Burdett worked hard but didn’t look at home in this role. The principles were well backed by a strong chorus of Ladies and Gentlemen of Titipu who all gave a good account of themselves. I loved the choreography and I thought that the musicians were perfect. HMS Pinafore Staveley Amateur Operatic Society Directors Alan and Janet Thompson Musical director David Tattersall The curtains opened up on HMS Pinafore anchored at Portsmouth and congratulations must go to Stephanie Conway for a superb set. This was equally matched by the costumes which were all bright and fresh, and the ladies had all spent time on their hair, bringing it in keeping with the period. The romantic leads were well played by Steve Jones as Ralph Rackstraw and Sue Richardson as Josephine. Good characterisation came from David Towers playing The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter KCB and Nick Birbeck as Captain Corcoran. Both must be complimented on their diction. Janet Thompson’s portrayal of Little Buttercup was full of character and had good singing. It was unusual to see Hebe being played by two girls but both had delightful voices. The other smaller parts were well played but I would like to commend Charlotte Pyne on her portrayal of Midshipmite Tom Tucker. Her stature and manner were held from the beginning of the show to the end. It was lovely to see someone so young taking the part seriously, and hopefully we will see her again. The orchestra was good under the baton of David Tattersall.


77 11/12/2011 22:25


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P.O. Box 1, 16 Flag Lane, Crewe, Cheshire. CW1 3BQ Telephone: 01270 212389 e-mail: festival news nov 11.indd 1

05/12/2011 14:56

Wdiary>>SHOWdiary>>SHOWdiary>>SHOWdiary>> Aladdin

Beauty and the Beast


13 - 18 February 2012 Luxulyan Amateur Dramatic Society Luxulyan Village Hall Luxulyan, Cornwall 01726 850515

Blithe Spirit

28 February - 03 March 2012 Chelmsford Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Soc Civic Centre Chelmsford, Essex 01245 606505

24 - 29 January 2012 The Watson Players The Guildhall Theatre Derby, Derbyshire 01773 882774

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass 10 - 21 January 2012 Jersey Amateur Dramatic club Jersey Arts Centre St.Helier, Jersey 01534 700444

18 - 21 January 2012 Farnworth Performing Arts Company Theatre Church Bolton, Lancashire 01204 452610

23 - 28 January 2012 Keighley Playhouse Keighley, West Yorkshire 08451 267859

Brassed Off

13 - 18 February 2012 Little Theatre Gateshead Little Theatre Gateshead, Tyne & Wear 0191 4781499

Caramba’s revenge

14 - 18 February 2012 Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society Playhouse Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear 0844 2772771

31 January - 04 February 2012 Tyldesley Little Theatre Tyldesley Manchester 01204 655619

Annie Get Your Gun



28 February - 03 March 2012 Wickersley Musical Theatre Company Rotherham Civic Theatre Rotherham, South Yorkshire 01709 823640

28 February - 03 March 2012 Selkirk Amateur Operatic Society Victoria Halls Selkirk, Scottish Borders 01750 21719

Babes In the Wood


13 - 21 January 2012 Louth Playgoers Society Riverhead Theatre Louth, Lincolnshire 01507600350

17 - 22 January 2012 Wellingborough Pantomime Society The Castle Wellingborough 01933270007

07 - 11 February 2012 Circle Light Opera Company Highbury Theatre Centre Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands 0121 3085522

06 - 11 February 2012 Cupar Amateur Musical Society Corn Exchange Cupar, Fife 01334 654187


23 - 25 February 2012 SOSage Factory Solihull Arts Complex Solihull, West Midlands 0121 7046962

22 - 25 February 2012 Fasten Your Seatbelts The Electric Theatre Guildford, Surrey 01483 444789

10 - 15 January 2012 Whitley Bay Pantomime Society The Playhouse Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear 0191 2523681


13 - 22 January 2012 Bacup Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Soc The Royal Court Theatre Bacup, Lancashire 01706 874080

19 - 21 January 2012 The Young Performers The Duchess Theatre Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire 01158 490598

14 - 18 February 2012 Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company Bridgnorth Leisure Centre Bridgnorth, Shropshire 01746 763257

Drowsy Chaperone, The

Dick Whittington

18 - 21 January 2012 Witley Pantomime Company Chichester Hall Godalming, Surrey 01420 474369

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast


Stockport AODS. My Fair Lady. Photos: martin Ogden | 79 diarydec11.indd 5

11/12/2011 16:39


Dunkinfield AODS - Me & My Girl. Photos: Martin Ogden Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery, The 22 - 25 February 2012 Cromer & Sheringham Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society Sheringham Little Theatre Sheringham, Norfolk 01263 822347

Full Monty, The

24 - 28 January 2012 Sunderland Amateur Operatic Society The Sunderland Empire Sunderland, Tyne and Wear 0844 8713022 27 February - 03 March 2012 Melyncrythan Amateur Operatic Society The Gwyn Hall Theatre Neath, Neath Port Talbot 01639 635302


19 - 20 February 2012 Havering Music Makers Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Essex 01708 762256

Half A Sixpence (new version)

15 - 18 February 2012 Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Colne, Lancashire 01282 699779

Hello, Dolly!

11 - 18 February 2012 Clitheroe Parish Church AO & DS St. Mary’s Centre Clitheroe, Lancashire 07974 323832

Indepentent Means

21 - 25 February 2012 Penwortham St Mary’s Amateur Dramatic Soc St Mary’s Church Hall Preston, Lancashire 0370 7705945


19 - 21 January 2012 Loughton Amateur Dramatic Society Lopping Hall Loughton 0208 502 5843

Jack and the Beanstalk

16 - 21 January 2012 Northampton Gilbert & Sullivan Group Royal Theatre Auditorium Northampton, Northamptonshire 01604 624811

13 - 21 January 2012 Oxted Players Barn Theatre Oxted, Surrey 01883 724852

Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!

Jack and the Beanstalk

Gondoliers, The

29 February - 03 March 2012 Quarry Bank Operatic Society The Cornbow Hall Halesowen, West Midlands 01384 820902

06 - 14 January 2012 Broxbourne Theatre Company Broxbourne Civic Theatre Broxbourne, Hertfordshire 01992 441946

15 - 18 February 2012 Cheadle Amateur Theatrical Society (CATS) Cheadle Community Theatre Cheadle, Staffordshire 01538 751173

La Cage Aux Folles 22 - 28 January 2012 Leatherhead Operatic Society The Playhouse Epsom, Surrey 0208 393 7248

La Vie Parisienne 08 - 11 February 2012 Southgate Opera Wyllyotts Theatre Potters Bar, Hertfordshire 01707 645005

Les Miserables 05 - 14 January 2012 Dynamo Youth Theatre St Faith’s Church Havant 02392454244

Little Red Riding Hood 11 - 14 January 2012 Rainhill Musical Theatre Company Rainhill Village Hall Rainhill, Merseyside 01925 411787

Mother Goose

21 - 28 January 2012 Haverhill & District Operatic Society Haverhill Arts Centre Newmarket, Suffolk 01440 714140


24 - 28 January 2012 Halifax Thespians Halifax Playhouse Halifax, W Yorks 01422 365998


24 - 28 January 2012 Buttershaw St Paul’s AODS St George’s Hall Bradford, West Yorkshire 01132 853007

Once Upon A Time In the Wild West 18 - 21 January 2012 ACTion Community Theatre Co Terry O’Toole Theatre North Hykeham, Lincolnshire 01522 883311

Party Piece

21 - 25 February 2012 Penwortham St Mary’s Amateur Dramatic Soc St Mary’s Church Hall Preston, Lancashire 0370 7705945


07 - 11 February 2012 St Andrews Operatic Society Priestman Hall Sunderland, Tyne and Wear 0191 5484621

Pirates of Penzance, The 14 - 18 February 2012 Godalming Operatic Society The Borough Hall Godalming, Surrey 01252 703376


diarydec11.indd 6

11/12/2011 16:40

Wdiary>>SHOWdiary>>SHOWdiary>>SHOWdiary>> Pirates of Penzance, The 23 - 25 February 2012 Godalming Operatic Society The Leatherhead Theatre Leatherhead, Surrey 01252 703376


11 - 14 January 2012 Tipton ARTS Coneygre Arts Centre Tipton, West Midlands 07910 522690 12 - 14 January 2012 The Offord Players The Offord Village Hall Offord Cluny, Cambridgeshire 01480 810049

Revue 2012

12 - 14 January 2012 Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association Brunton Theatre Musselburgh, East Lothian 0131 6652240

Robinson Crusoe

Snow White

20 - 28 January 2012 South Shields Westovian Theatre Society Pier Pavillion South Shields, Tyne and Wear 01914 560980

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs 07 - 14 January 2012 Huddersfield Light Opera Company The Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield, West Yorkshire 01484 430528

Sound of Music, The 18 - 04 January 2012 Ballywilliam Drama Group The Riverside Theatre Coleraine, County Londonderry 02870 123123

14 - 18 February 2012 Rochdale Amateur Operatic Society Gracie Fields Theatre Rochdale, Lancashire 01706 716689

21 - 28 January 2012 The Stourbridge Pantomime Company Ltd Stourbridge Town Hall Theatre Stourbridge, West Midlands 01384 836963

15 - 18 February 2012 Leatherhead Operatic Society Leatherhead Theatre Leatherhead, Surrey 01372 365141

Sleeping Beauty

South Pacific

03 - 07 January 2012 Putney Light Opera Society Putney Arts Theatre Putney, Middlesex 07594 464799

27 February - 03 March 2012 Guisley Amateur Operatic Society Guiseley Theatre Leeds, West Yorkshire 0845 3705045

Southern Counties Drama Festival 20 - 25 February 2012 Southern Counties Drama Festival Barn Theatre Oxted , Surrey 01959 561811

26 - 28 January 2012 Harrogate Phoenix Players Harrogate Theatre Harrogate, Yorkshire 01423 502116

28 February - 03 March 2012 Ware Operatic Hertford Theatre Hertford, Hertfordshire 01992 531500

Spring and Port Wine 22 - 25 February 2012 St Ambrose Players St Ambrose Church Hall Leyland, Lancashire 01257 270112

Treasure Island 13 - 22 January 2012 Shinfield Players Theatre Reading, Berkshire 01189 758880

Stepping Out

15 - 18 February 2012 CADOS Chingford Mornington Hall North Chingford, London 02085 244380

Veronica’s Room 16 - 21 January 2012 Little Theatre Gateshead Gateshead, Tyne & Wear 0191 4781499

Summer End

26 - 28 January 2012 Petuaria Players Elloughton Brough Village Hall Brough 01482 666908

16 - 21 January 2012 Little Theatre Gateshead Saltwell View Gateshead, Tyne & Wear 0191 478 1499

This Happy Breed

When We Are Married

07 - 11 February 2012 Stafford Players Malcolm Edwards Theatre 01785 254653

Thoroughly Modern Musicals 07 - 11 February 2012 Paisley Musical & Operatic Society King’s Theatre Glasgow, Scotland 01488 73025

Titanic, the musical

15 - 18 February 2012 New Forest Players Ballard School New Milton 08451668775

Wizard of Oz, The 16 - 18 February 2012 Bolney Players Rawson Hall Bolney, West Sussex

Mossley ADOS - High School Musical. Photo: Martin Ogden | 81 diarydec11.indd 7

11/12/2011 16:40

the last word


Wisteria Cottage Garrick Lane

My dear, dear friends, I fear the little world of Campton Royal Amateur Players has crashed about my ears and just when it was going so well. Dangerous Corner had been cast, mostly to my satisfaction. I say mostly, because for the first time in the group’s history, we had a casting panel of four. The newformed committee decided that this would be more democratic, though since Nikki and Jeff were both on the panel and auditioning, not as democratic as all that. Marjorie was also on the panel, since I had previously persuaded her that she should develop her theatrical knowledge and take the role of prompt. She was flattered and agreed. I breathed a sigh of relief since, on this occasion at least, I would not have to find a period costume that would upholster her, shall we say, ample figure. I had hoped that the vicar would take on the part of Robert, but he was called away to discuss a surplus of choirboys –or was it a choirboy’s surplice? Be that as it may, to my horror, Crispin appeared and my three so-called colleagues begged him to take the role. How they expected me to direct this self-opinionated amateur, who has far too many ideas, than is good for any actor, is beyond me! Still, I hoped that if I put my foot down with a firm hand, my experience would prevail. I, naturally, would take on the role of the distinguished Maud Mockridge. It would give me the opportunity to ‘re-cycle’ my Madam Arcarti costume. The first rehearsal went tolerably well, though Crispin took issue with my blocking notation. You may remember, I use red for moves, blue for emotion and green for props and business. He suggested I should write everything in pencil to allow the actors their ‘natural fluidity’. I ignored him, particularly since given the number of times he reached for his hip flask resulted in his performance being not so much ‘fluid’ as well-oiled. I was working on the moves for the next rehearsal, with the aid of a box of Quality Street to represent the characters; Nikki was the thin gold one, Crispin was the strawberry cream (which I detest, far too sickly sweet), Jeff was the green triangle and so on, when my door bell rang and the whole cast piled into my kitchen. Vera was in tears, Nikki was ranting about Fascists and Philistines, and another word beginning with ‘F’ that I didn’t catch and Crispin was puce in the face, and for once, speechless. It seemed that Jeff had gone to book the community hall for the performance to find the windows boarded, the door locked and adorned with a badly drawn but recognisable skull and crossbones bearing the legend ‘Closed Indefinitely’. It seemed that Mr Jobsworth had decided to remove the outsize garish daubing, (the youth worker called it a mural, but we’ll let that pass) that covered the acoustic tiles on the back wall. The tiles came away in the process revealing a thick layer of asbestos insulation. Need I say more? I tell you, my dears, this was a dagger blow, a bullet in my heart and hemlock in my sherry. The council have no money having decided instead to install half a dozen unnecessary sleeping policemen outside the school. And so, unless some generous benefactor comes forward, the hall will be demolished in the spring and, I fear, the Players will be no more. Totally bereft, I have accepted an invitation to stay with a cousin in America. I do not know when, or if, I shall return. Parting is such sweet sorrow, Yours in grief,

Doris Richardson-Hall 82|

dorisdec11.indd 2

11/12/2011 16:30


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