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Sweet Charity
May 19, 2017

Sweet Charity

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The Mikado
November 2, 2016

The Mikado

2016 Gallery ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]    Review his is the most well-known and popular operetta from Gilbert and Sullivan and I had no doubt that Director Simon Moss would have given it a new twist. As the programme notes say it is set in ‘a timeless Japan of the imagination’, and as the […] 2016 Gallery " order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"]   
Review This is the most well-known and popular operetta from Gilbert and Sullivan and I had no doubt that Director Simon Moss would have given it a new twist. As the programme notes say it is set in ‘a timeless Japan of the imagination’, and as the alternative title is ‘The Town of Titipu’ it was fitting that it was set in various locations around the town, including the humorous scene in the gents loo. The costumes had been cleverly designed to give a flavour of ancient Japan in more modern costume, as with the ladies chorus with traditional wigs but dressed in white blouses and black skirts, with a small ‘obi’ at the back. The men’s chorus were in shirts with ties, and a waistcoat with a jacket, which had long flowing sleeves, all topped by a bowler hat. The male principals were dressed similarly but had additional parts to their costumes to identify their characters. The dresses of the ‘school girls’ were more like kimonos but they wore their hair loose and had straw hats. I particularly liked Katisha’s costumes, Yum-Yum’s wedding dress and The Mikado’s headdress. The show opened with arrival, by train, of ‘The Citizens of Japan’, as there were not many men in the chorus having a full chorus of ‘citizens’ worked well; the ‘train’ was used again later for the arrival of the schoolgirls. A great deal of the action took place in City Hall, with the ladies chorus as secretaries. The idea of the Japanese screens to separate the different ‘offices’ was good and would have worked very well if it had been possible to slide them in and out, but unfortunately they took quite a lot of manoeuvring and slowed the action. At first I liked the scene changes happening in silhouette but there were so many complex changes delivered by a team of ‘Ninjas’, that it became quite distracting and drawn out; especially when the ‘Ninjas’ started developing characters and dancing off. The bathing scene in silhouette during the overture of Act 2 was a nice idea, with Yum-Yum preparing for her wedding. The lighting was well-cued and had been well designed, giving some dramatic moments such as Katisha’s entrance and the finale of Act 1. The sound balance was good with no microphone problems. The singing was of a good standard with excellent diction both from principals and chorus. The ensemble drowned out Katiisha very well in the finale of Act 1, and sang Mi-ya Sam-ma with feeling. The harmonies in the unaccompanied ‘Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day’ were lovely. MD Suzanne Barnes kept her musicians under control, although they seemed to be a little quiet at times. The show had been well cast with some strong performances. The chorus worked well together and as everyone had been given a name I think it had helped them develop individual identities. Chris Roberts, as Nanki-Poo, sang and acted with confidence, he had the air of a good-natured playboy, his interaction with Yum-Yum was good, and they handled the sometimes-difficult ‘kissing’ scene well. Grace Hawker, as Yum-Yum, gains in confidence each time I see her; she brought an element of feistiness to the role and worked well with Nanki-Poo, and sang ‘The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze’ delightfully. Bryony Smith, as Pitti-Sing and Juliet Biard, as Peep-Po both sang beautifully throughout and supported Yum-Yum well. Rob Burbidge, as Ko-Ko, came across very well as someone trying to compete out of his league. I thought the new words to ‘I’ve Got a Little List’ were very clever and ‘Tit Willow’ was sung with feeling. I actually ended up feeling quite sorry for him. Tom Mullins, as Pooh-Bah, in his many official roles, had a wonderfully supercilious sneer. He was obviously enjoying the role, gave a good performance and sang well. Selwyn Morgan, as The Mikado, gave a good delivery of the reworded Mikado’s song, but for me he was too gentle and did not show enough madness. Karen Dacre gave a commanding performance as Katisha; she took control of the stage with each appearance, and showed the unhinged side of her character well. This was a production of a work which originated over 100 years ago to which director Simon Moss had brought new ideas. Most of the ideas worked well as with the introduction of puppets, with KoKo as puppeteer for ‘Here’s A How-de-do’ in Act 2. There were good costumes, singing, movement and acting; but the main criticism I have is the number of drawn out scene changes, which slowed everything down and lost the momentum. Also, perhaps as a result of this, the production lacked energy and for me there was something missing. Everyone had clearly worked hard to bring the production to the stage and other members of the audience clearly enjoyed it very much. Frankie Telford
Jekyll & Hyde
May 17, 2016

Jekyll & Hyde

17 – 21 May 2016 Stage Director – Barry Austin Musical Director – Richard Abrams Chorus Mistress – Stephanie Walsh Production Assistant – Rachel Wright Cast Gabriel John Utterson – Andrew Richardson Sir Danvers Carew – Selwyn Morgan Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde – David Emms Simon Stride – Jonathan Baron Lady Beaconsfield – Kate Crow The […] 17 – 21 May 2016 Stage Director – Barry Austin Musical Director – Richard Abrams Chorus Mistress – Stephanie Walsh Production Assistant – Rachel Wright Cast Gabriel John Utterson – Andrew Richardson Sir Danvers Carew – Selwyn Morgan Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde – David Emms Simon Stride – Jonathan Baron Lady Beaconsfield – Kate Crow The Bishop of Basingstoke – Mike Viret Lord Savage – Paul de Boer General Lord Glossop – Chris Coleman Sir Archibald Proops – Iain Hicken Emma Carew – Becci Smith Lucy Harris – Sarah Kilmister Nellie – Rachel Wright Spider – Simon Roberts Poole – Paul Springate Bissett – Ryan Walters Chorus Aileen Anderson, Peter Bartlett, Rachael Bartlett, Caroline Brookes-Fischer, Helen Colledge, Geoff Cox, Katherine Dipple, Catherine Edmond, Grace Hawker, Ailsa Kennedy Ballard, Tom Mullins, Belinda Ogle-Skan, Fiona Paterson, Gemma Pearson, Sue Roffe, Molly Skuse, Lisa Smith, Liz Souter, Karen Spriggs, Nicole Wallace, Natasha Webb. Gallery " order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] 
Review Last night, I had the pleasure of watching Cirencester Operatic Society’s production of Jekyll & Hyde at the newly refurbished Barn Theatre in Cirencester. Usually, when attending opening night of an amateur show, I would expect slight hiccups or teething issues with certain aspects and these can certainly be forgiven. However, with Jekyll & Hyde, there were none! Although it has to be said that there was nothing, whatsoever that was amateur about this show. The standard of singing from the principal characters, combined with the costumes, clever set and excellent orchestra made for an amazing production. The technical aspects of this show (which are very challenging) were executed well. The sound was clear and of a high quality although I would have liked the characters of Jekyll and Emma to have been a bit louder at times, especially when they were singing in ensemble numbers. The set was very cleverly done, allowing for the different scenes with minimal change and also minimal space so as to allow for the large chorus. I particularly liked the use of lighting inside the columns to portray the two characters of Jekyll and Hyde. The lighting in general was fairly unusual for the production but actually, I liked this very much as it added another dimension to the production. The only comment I would make is that at times, it was a little difficult to see expressions on some of the principal’s faces especially if they were further back on the stage. The orchestra, led by Musical Director Richard Abrams were excellent throughout and the cast seemed to be able to see him clearly on the screens. I particularly liked that you could see the band in the pit, without them being at all intrusive as it added another dimension to the performance. The large, capable chorus worked really well in this show. The clever direction from Director, Barry Austin meant that the large numbers on stage worked really well, which is not always the case. There was a fullness to the sound which was particularly effective in Façade. The contrast between the rich and poor characters were clear through not only the excellent costumes but also through the characterisation of each individual which is not always a given and was most definitely noticed! The only comment I would make is that some of the chorus members didn’t always know their words which was distracting at times. The small male ensemble were particularly good with singing of a very high standard. All of the principal characters in Jekyll and Hyde were excellent. There were no weak links. The role of Emma (played by Becci Smith) was sung beautifully with a sweet, youthful tone and the relationship between her and her father, Sir Danvers (played by Selwyn Morgan) was portrayed in a very natural way. I feel that a couple of the smaller principal roles need a particular mention. The characters of Nellie (played by Rachel Wright) and Spider (played by Simon Roberts) both were very convincing, had great stage presence and worked really well as a ‘double act’. Their performances were somewhat reminiscent of Bill and Nancy in Oliver. For me though there were two characters who absolutely stole the show. Firstly, Lucy (played by Sarah Kilminster) was played very well with outstanding singing and brilliant characterisation. She commanded the stage at all times and the contrast between her confident and vulnerable sides came across well both in her singing and acting. A very emotive performance. Last but by no means least, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (played by David Emms). I have very few words, which is strange for me as I’m usually full of them! It was a breath taking performance with a very obvious contrast between gentle Jekyll and evil Hyde. He managed to change every single aspect of his character seamlessly between the two parts and was actually pretty scary as Hyde! The singing was absolutely faultless and the performance as a whole was without a doubt, one of the best I’ve seen. It is rare in amateur theatre for so many aspects of a show to be of such a high standard. I thoroughly enjoyed it and every single member of the cast, crew and production team should be incredibly proud. Natalie Chequer
Die Fledermaus
October 19, 2015

Die Fledermaus

19 – 24 October 2015 Stage Director – Belinda Ogle-Skan Musical Director – David Manifold Chorus Mistress – Stephanie Walsh Cast Rosalinda Eisenstein – Ailsa Kennedy Ballard Gabriel Eisenstein – Bob Hills Adele – Stephanie Walsh Dr Falke – Rob Burbidge Alfred – Samuel Taunton Frank – Keith Swinford Prince Orlofsky – Karen Dacre Ida […] 19 – 24 October 2015 Stage Director – Belinda Ogle-Skan Musical Director – David Manifold Chorus Mistress – Stephanie Walsh Cast Rosalinda Eisenstein – Ailsa Kennedy Ballard Gabriel Eisenstein – Bob Hills Adele – Stephanie Walsh Dr Falke – Rob Burbidge Alfred – Samuel Taunton Frank – Keith Swinford Prince Orlofsky – Karen Dacre Ida – Grace Hawker Dr Blint – Richard Schofield Frosch – Selwyn Morgan Mitzi – Catherine Welch Ivan – Richard Schofield Footman – Peter Bartlett Prison Warder 1 – Richard Coole Prison Warder 2 – Lance Trodd Chorus Kate Crow, Teri Dale, Anthony Dale, Katherine Dipple, Cat Edmond, Jennifer Gaden, Clinta Hull, Mike Ide, John Leicester, Rose Leicester, Marta Leskard, Ruth Ludlam, Sue Roffe, Liz Souter, Karen Spriggs, Olivia White. Gallery " order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"]  Review This Operetta, a story of dalliances, philandering, hidden identity and revenge, with music by Johann Strauss, was a challenging show to choose and particularly for a directorial debut. It is performed infrequently and although has lovely music, much of it, although recognised when you hear it, is not generally well known by cast, musicians or audience. It is written in three Acts with a significant scene change for each. It had been decided to have the interval after the first Act, with a shorter break between Acts 2 & 3. The sets for each were very different. The first act was set in the apartment of Gabriel Eisenstein, it had wallpaper flats with drapes down the flats and French windows to one side, with suitable furniture to add atmosphere to the room, and it had a set of steps leading to other parts of the apartment. The second Act is set later that evening at a Ball at Prince Olofsky’s Villa. It was much simpler, with screens, which had cut out sections and furniture, which gave the impression of being in a garden or on a terrace. The third Act is set in the Office of the Prison Governor and had large brown flats with a bare table and chairs. Between Acts 2 and 3 the curtains needed to be drawn as it was a major set change, but it was covered amusingly by two of the party guests clearing the bottles and glasses from the tables, which remained on stage from the ball. The lighting had been well designed giving pleasing effects in all scenes especially at the Ball. The cyclorama at the back was used to good effect, with colour washes helping create the ambience of the scenes. The microphones were well cued and well balanced, giving a natural sound, with all effects being appropriate and well cued. The costumes were mostly appropriate and well worn. The hairstyles and costumes for the ball were suitably grand and decorative, apart from that worn by Prince Orlofsky, which was ill fitting and did not live up to the image of someone with the great wealth that is spoken of. Also Rosalinda’s mask in Act 2 was disappointing, it was too small, making it difficult to believe that her husband did not recognise her. The most well known pieces from the Operetta come from Act 2 including ‘The Laughing Song’, ‘The Tick-Tock Polka’ and ‘Champagne’. The orchestra on this occasion seemed under rehearsed and disappointed me. Musical Director David Manifold appeared to struggle to keep everyone together. There were some good solo performances from cast members particularly the central characters of Rosalinda and Gabriel, Adele, Dr Falke, Alfred and Prince Orlofsky. There was good characterisation and musicality and, for the most part good diction. However, in some of the chorus numbers the diction was not clear and the audience could not hear the words. Getting the words across to the audience is so important in any show but particularly something not so well known, ‘What a Feast’ was particularly indistinct. The Principals had created strong characters in this increasingly silly and convoluted plot. Rosalind, the wife, who entertains her ex-lover, singing teacher, Alfred, is discovered with her by the prison governor, who has called to escort her husband to prison, and later is disguised as an Hungarian Countess, was very adaptable and obviously enjoyed each transformation in character. Alfred, the singing teacher, who agrees to go to prison in the guise of the husband, to save the lady’s reputation, was very flamboyant and affected. Gabriel Eisenstein, the husband, played the philanderer, first trying to seduce Adele, his wife’s maid, and then the Hungarian Countess. He played Dr Blind, a supposed lawyer who is trying to release Alfred from prison, extremely well. Adele, the maid, who has aspirations to be on the stage, showed good character changes within her role. Doctor Falke, Eisenstein’s friend, whose plans to seek revenge for having been previously abandoned dressed as a bat, was always in control and developed the story well. Frank, the prison governor was amiable and provided much amusement when drunk. Prince Orlofsky had an air of someone who is in authority and was relishing the mayhem being created at the ball. Ida, Adele’s sister was believable as a fun loving, young member of the ballet company. The other minor roles were well presented, but I must mention Frosh whose drunken antics had the audience roaring with laughter. The chorus worked well with the principals, supporting the action and reacting well as the story unfolded. Director Belinda Ogle-Skan had worked hard to scale this production down to the limited space of the Barn Theatre stage and it was interesting to see something different to the normal G&S fare of COS in their Autumn production. She had made good use of the limited space. There were some very good chorus groupings particularly in Prince Orlofsky’s song in Act 2. The audience clearly enjoyed the evening and went home smiling after the high comedy of Act 3. Well done everyone for rising to the challenge. Frankie Telford
Anything Goes
May 11, 2015

Anything Goes

11 – 16 May 2015 Stage Director – Barry Austin Musical Director – Rachel Howgego Cast Reno Sweeney – Rachel Wright Billy Crocker – Jon Baron Hope Harcourt – Grace Hawker Moonface Martin- Andy Richardson Lord Evelyn Oakleigh – David Emms Erma – Beth Cox Elisha Whitney – Iain Hicken Mrs Harcourt – Kate Crow […] 11 – 16 May 2015 Stage Director – Barry Austin Musical Director – Rachel Howgego Cast Reno Sweeney – Rachel Wright Billy Crocker – Jon Baron Hope Harcourt – Grace Hawker Moonface Martin- Andy Richardson Lord Evelyn Oakleigh – David Emms Erma – Beth Cox Elisha Whitney – Iain Hicken Mrs Harcourt – Kate Crow Captain – Chris Roberts Fred/Purser – Geoff Cox Henry T Dobson – Peter Bartlett John – Mike Viret Luke – Joseph Annetts Girl in Bar – Bryony Smith Angels – Rachael Bartlett, Molly Skuse, Natasha Webb Chorus Chrissie Carling, Helen Colledge, Richard Coole, Cat Edmond, Mike Ide, Selwyn Morgan, Tom Mullins, Belinda Ogle-Skan, Sue Roffe, Liz Souter, Karen Spriggs. Gallery " order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] 
Review The Company had decided to perform the 1987 version of the show, which has Erma and not Bonnie as the girl friend of Moonface Martin, having performed the 1962 version 13 years ago. I was interested to see it as previously I had only seen the 1962 version, and there are several differences. As you entered the Theatre you were greeted by a stark white set, which was unmistakably on board a ship, although it would have been nice to see the name of the ship somewhere. It had been built on three levels, which extended the full width of the stage, with ‘ships’ rails at the edge of the two upper levels, with circular holes depicting portholes. There were staircases linking the levels and two practical doors on the higher level. Furniture was taken on and off on the lowest level when required to represent the various venues on board, such as the cabins and ‘lock up’. I thought it worked extremely well, although owing to the small stage, space was a bit restricted for the dance numbers, but Beth Cox, Natasha Webb and Rachel Wright had devised careful choreography, which utilised the varying levels. This combined with a great deal of energy meant nothing was lost. The ‘cabin’ areas were set on either side of the stage and had no doors to them. The knocks on the doors were cleverly handled through well synchronised miming and ’knocks’ from the percussionist. Due to the way it had been staged the auditorium was use for several entrances and exits, which worked well, apart from a lack of carpet on the floor to deaden the sound of noisy feet, which drowned out some of the dialogue. I imagine lighting this production could have been a challenge with the starkness and height of the set, but it had been well designed to give intimate atmosphere to the individual scenes and whole stage lighting for whole cast numbers. There was a good sound balance with no crackling microphones, always well operated and all the sound effects were well cued. The costumes and hairstyles were of the period all looking suitably expensive, and the sailors very smart. Director Barry Austin must have been pleased with his cast there were some strong performances, with everyone working as a team, which all contributed to the success of the show. There are a few individual performances I would like to mention. Rachel Wright gave a relaxed performance as Reno, the Evangelist turned nightclub singer, was a woman of the world unexpectedly smitten by love, she sang and danced her way through with flare. Grace Hawker, as Hope Harcourt, was a gentler character who was torn between love and duty, she moved and sang well. Jon Baron played Billy Crocker with confidence, coping with the singing, dancing and various disguises, while trying to keep out of the way of all who were trying to catch him. Kate Crowe brought a domineering, social climbing Mrs Harcourt to life and had trained her dog well. Lord Evelyn Oakleigh was epitomised by David Emms as an upper class twit, his rendition of The Gypsy In Me was a delight. Andrew Richardson gave a memorable performance as Moonface Martin with his comic timing and ‘Be Like The Blue Bird’. Beth Cox as Erma was a sexy young lady with attitude; I loved ‘Buddy Beware’. Also Chrissie Carling took great delight in the cameo role of the wheelchair bound gin-swigging passenger! Everyone, both principals and chorus, had developed individual characters and worked as a team supporting each other. The way the show had been staged enabled the action to continue seamlessly, so keeping the story and the pace moving. There were a few weak points, I was a bit confused at the opening of show as it looked as though Elisha Whiney was on board ship waiting for his assistant to bring some items he needs for his trip to England, and I am afraid I could not hear the dialogue to give me a clue as to events. Also the passenger reaction to the revelation that a notorious criminal was on board was pretty tame. The cast obviously enjoyed singing the wonderful music of Cole Porter and produced lovely solos and harmonies under baton of Musical Director Rachel Howgego. The orchestra were always well controlled and sympathetic to the singers, keeping the volume down while people were speaking and singing, then giving full rein in the dance routines, which helped create high-energy numbers. I really enjoyed the music. Barry Austin had made excellent use of the set with lovely groupings particularly at the beginning and end of Act 2. This was a good all round production with everyone working together to achieve a high level of entertainment. The audience the evening I was there certainly enjoyed the show and left the Theatre smiling and humming the tunes. Frankie Telford
Patience
October 21, 2014

Patience

21 – 25 October 2014 Stage Director – Simon Moss Musical Director – Suzanne Barnes Cast List Colonel Calverley – David Stephenson Major Murgatroyd – Lance Trodd Lieut. The Duke of Dunstable – Tom Mullins Reginald Bunthorne – Rob Burbidge Archibald Grosvenor – Jon Baron Lady Angela Fortescue-Fforde – Rachel Wright Lady Saphir Van Hoffman […] 21 – 25 October 2014 Stage Director – Simon Moss Musical Director – Suzanne Barnes Cast List Colonel Calverley – David Stephenson Major Murgatroyd – Lance Trodd Lieut. The Duke of Dunstable – Tom Mullins Reginald Bunthorne – Rob Burbidge Archibald Grosvenor – Jon Baron Lady Angela Fortescue-Fforde – Rachel Wright Lady Saphir Van Hoffman – Stephanie Walsh Lady Jane Fotherington-Grey – Rachel Howgego Patience Mills – Megan Strachan Ella Singleton – Grace Hawker Mr Prendergast – Iain Hicken Miss Lily Prickett – Marta Leskard Maximillian Snell – Simon Moss Chorus Audrey Applegate – Jessica Bragg Coporal Cody – Mike Ide Cynthia Curzon – Kate Crow Sergeant Donnington – Selwyn Morgan Private Falls – Richard Schofield Harriet Fitzgerald – Sue Roffe Hilda Fitzgerald – Pearl Foster Lance Corporal Harrington – Geoff Cox Pinky Joyce – Liz Souter Cornelia Kennedy – Ailsa Ballard Laura Newton-Bridges – Karen Spriggs Amelia Jane Ponsonby-Smythe – Olivia White Daphne Anne Ponsonby-Smythe – Rachael Bartlett Cressida Reid – Jenny Gaden Mrs Scott-Leonard – Aileen Anderson Celia Thenardier – Bryony Smith Gallery " order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"]  
 
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
May 19, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

19 – 24 May 2014 Stage Director – Bob Hill Musical Director – Jessie Thompson Assistant Director – Belinda Ogle-Skan Cast List Senex – Keith Swinford Domina – Libby Walklett Hero – Sam Stafford Hysterium – Elizabeth Gravestock Pseudolus – Tom Mullins Erronius – John Leicester Miles Gloriosus – Marta Leskard Marcus Lycus – Simon […] 19 – 24 May 2014 Stage Director – Bob Hill Musical Director – Jessie Thompson Assistant Director – Belinda Ogle-Skan Cast List Senex – Keith Swinford Domina – Libby Walklett Hero – Sam Stafford Hysterium – Elizabeth Gravestock Pseudolus – Tom Mullins Erronius – John Leicester Miles Gloriosus – Marta Leskard Marcus Lycus – Simon Moss Philia – Megan Strachan Courtesans Tintinabula – Ailsa Ballard Panacea – Kate Crow Geminae – Jenny Gaden and Helen Colledge Vibrata – Rachael Bartlett Gymnasia – Olivia White Chorus Peter Bartlett, Richard Coole, Anthony Dale, Teri Dale, Samantha Hawkins, Iain Hicken, Rose Leicester, Belinda Ogle-Skan, Sue Roffe, Bryony Smith, Karen Spriggs, Catherine Welch. Gallery " order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] 
 
The Yeomen of the Guard
October 21, 2013

The Yeomen of the Guard

21 – 26 October 2013 Stage Director – Simon Moss Musical Director – David Manifold   Cast List Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Lieutenant of the tower) – David Stephenson Colonel Fairfax – Chris Roberts Sergeant Meryll – Lance Trodd Leonard Meryll – Samuel Taunton Jack Point – Bob Hills Wilfred Shadbolt – Tom Mullins First Yeomen […] 21 – 26 October 2013 Stage Director – Simon Moss Musical Director – David Manifold   Cast List Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Lieutenant of the tower) – David Stephenson Colonel Fairfax – Chris Roberts Sergeant Meryll – Lance Trodd Leonard Meryll – Samuel Taunton Jack Point – Bob Hills Wilfred Shadbolt – Tom Mullins First Yeomen – Richard Schofield Second Yeomen – Raphael Goodrich Elsie Maynard – Catherine Welch Phoebe Meryll – Elizabeth Gravestock Dame Carruthers – Chrissie Carling Kate – Olivia White Chorus Peter Bartlett, Rachael Bartlett, Geoff Cox, Kate Crow, Anthony Dale, Teri Dale, Cat Edmond, Alan Flint, Jeannie Flint, Jennifer Gaden, Krysia Leskard, Marta Leskard, Belinda Ogle-Skan, Dave Selwood, Val Selwood, Sam Stafford, Libby Walklett.
Hello Dolly
May 20, 2013

Hello Dolly

20 – 25 May 2013 Director – Dave Walklett Musical Director – Malcolm Webb Assistant MD – Michael Dukes Assistant Director – Aileen Anderson Cast Dolly Gallagher Levi – Libby Walklett Ambrose Kemper – Iain Hicken Horace Vandergelder – Roy Archer Ermengarde – Krysia Leskard Cornelius Hackl – Chris Roberts Barnaby Tucker – Matt Perry […] 20 - 25 May 2013 Director – Dave Walklett Musical Director – Malcolm Webb Assistant MD – Michael Dukes Assistant Director – Aileen Anderson Cast Dolly Gallagher Levi – Libby Walklett Ambrose Kemper – Iain Hicken Horace Vandergelder – Roy Archer Ermengarde – Krysia Leskard Cornelius Hackl – Chris Roberts Barnaby Tucker – Matt Perry Miss Minnie Fay – Carina Mendes Mrs Irene Molloy – Sandra Dukes Mrs Rose – Kate Crow Ernestina – Marta Leskard Rudolph – Gerald Elphick Waiter 1 – Geoff Cox Cook – Kate Crow Waitress 1 – Rachael Bartlett Judge – John Leicester Paper Hanger – Peter Bartlett Waiters – Peter Bartlett, Andy Bennett, Geoff Cox, Duncan Sinclair Waitresses – Rachael Bartlett, Olivia White Chorus Richard Coole, Cat Edmond, Rose Leicester, Sue Roffe, Karen Spriggs, Simon Welch.
The Pirates of Penzance
October 15, 2012

The Pirates of Penzance

15 – 20 October 2012   Stage Director – Rachel Wright Musical Director – David Manifold Assistant MD – Elizabeth Gravestock Production Assistant – Krysia Leskard Dance Captain – Natasha Webb Cast Major General Stanley – Simon Moss The Pirate King – Derek Hill Samuel – Dave Walklett Frederic – Chris Roberts Sergeant of Police – Tony Jones Mabel – Stephanie […] 15 – 20 October 2012   Stage Director – Rachel Wright Musical Director – David Manifold Assistant MD – Elizabeth Gravestock Production Assistant – Krysia Leskard Dance Captain – Natasha Webb Cast Major General Stanley – Simon Moss The Pirate King – Derek Hill Samuel – Dave Walklett Frederic – Chris Roberts Sergeant of Police – Tony Jones Mabel – Stephanie Walsh Edith – Natalie Chequer Kate – Libby Walklett Isabel – Catherine Welch Ruth – Elizabeth Gravestock
Follies
May 21, 2012

Follies

21-26 May 2012 Stage Director – Bob Hills Musical Director – Jessie Thompson Choreography – Beth Cox and Rachel Wright Cast List  Sally – Alison Canning Phyllis – Liz Gravestock Buddy – Bob Desmond Ben – Paul Skidmore Young Sally – Catherine Welch Young Phyllis – Carina Mendes Young Buddy – Dave Phillips Young Ben – Chris […] 21-26 May 2012 Stage Director – Bob Hills Musical Director – Jessie Thompson Choreography – Beth Cox and Rachel Wright Cast List  Sally – Alison Canning Phyllis – Liz Gravestock Buddy – Bob Desmond Ben – Paul Skidmore Young Sally – Catherine Welch Young Phyllis – Carina Mendes Young Buddy – Dave Phillips Young Ben – Chris Cleal Stella – Libby Walklett Young Stella – Rachael Bartlett Carlotta – Chrissie Carling Hattie – Jenny Gaden Young Hattie – Laura Bovenizer Solange – Marta Leskard Young Solange – Belinda Ogle-Skan Heidi – Aileen Anderson Young Heidi – Natalie Chequer Emily Whitman – Kate Crow Young Emily – Krysia Leskard Theodore Whitman – Gerald Elphick Young Theodore – Pete Bartlett Weismann – Roy Archer Roscoe – Bob Maskell Christine – Sue Roffe Vanessa – Val Selwood Vincent – Geoff Cox Young Vanessa – Natasha Webb Young Vincent – Dave Phillips Dee Dee – Cat Edmond Meredith – Karen Spriggs Kevin – Chris Roberts Max – Iain Hicken Francesca – Beth Cox Fantasy Sally – Laura Bovenizer Margie – Natasha Webb Photographer – Iain Hicken Loveland – Song to be lead by Chris Roberts Major-Domo – Dave Selwood Chauffeur – John Leicester   Show review by Anthony Brown Cirencester Operatic Society perform Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” Sondheim is often compared to Marmite, you either love it or you hate it and as a huge fan of Sweeney Todd I sat in the very warm auditorium and waited with much excitement. Having been to the Barn Theatre many times before I expected the Operatic Society to undertake this production in the same way as many previous productions but I was immediately struck by the extension to the stage and the unusually small band.  The introduction of new blood “Bob Hills” as Director and “Jessie Thompson” as Musical Director have obviously made their mark and the opening of this production does not disappoint. Not knowing the story of Follies one could spend a long time reading the programme between numbers or you could enjoy the music of Sondheim filling the hall so beautifully.  The characters of this work return to a rundown theatre just as the it is about to be bulldozed into a parking lot, we hear the mature actors of today sing the songs of their yesteryear with the actors on stage playing both young and old – the way this was done was excellent. It can be easy in Amateur Theatre to use the chorus as spare bodies to boost the sound but here was a production where neither was required, every member of the cast had a character with well thought out movement and choreographed dancing.  I particularly liked the “Waiting for the Girl Upstairs” number where the four main characters were joined by their four younger counterparts and the harmonies this made was superb.  One of the few criticisms I have of this production is using the auditorium as an exit for the actors, unfortunately with a wooden floor and noisy feet it sometimes spoils the start of the next number and you lose the element of surprise as you can hear the next actor arriving. Both principal ladies deserve special praise “Alison Canning” sang and acted exceptionally well throughout and she tackled the well-known song “Losing My Mind” very well indeed, Elizabeth Gravestock looked stunning and sang her difficult and wordy songs with precision and finesse.  Complementing the ladies was “Robert Desmond” and “Paul Skidmore” both skilful actors who helped the audience keep up with the twists and turns of the plot and added lots of humour. For me it was a show of two halves – the second half didn’t quite feel like it was the same show, maybe it was the plot or maybe it was just Sondheim but the music and the energy of the cast shone through.  All told it was a very enjoyable night so hats off to all of the cast, who were accompanied by talented musicians and supported very well by the technical team all of whom were under the leadership of Bob. Long may Cirencester Operatic Society put on productions such as this and if you missed it you missed out so see them again next time. NODA Review FOLLIES. The Barn Theatre, Cirencester.  May 23rd Director: Bob Hills MD: Jessie Thompson Choreographers: Beth Cox and Rachel Wright This was not a show I was familiar with, although as the show progressed I realised I recognised some of the musical numbers.  As is often the case with Sondheim this was a very complex show, with difficult music and although the basic story is fairly simple, the way he tells it, interspersing the present day characters with their younger selves, was at times confusing; I think I got there in the end.  As you entered the Theatre the open set with dramatic lighting created the atmosphere of the soon-to-be-demolished Theatre of the story.  The opening was effective with the ‘ghosts’ of the showgirls assuming lovely poses during the overture. They were lit in such a way that you knew they were not real; and when they mingled with the guests you knew the guests were unaware of them.  The set was simple but well designed, providing a variety of entrances, exits and levels; it had been well dressed with old lamps and distressed furniture.  Using the auditorium for many of the entrances and exits helped to keep the pace moving on this small stage and drew the audience more into the show.  However I do wish it had been done quietly, as the noisy clumping of shoes, as the cast passed was very distracting and I missed bits of dialogue.  The costumes were a major contribution to the show with the glitzy outfits of the showgirls and the glamorous gowns of the former showgirls all trying to outdo each other, providing a stark contrast to the Theatre where they once performed.  On the whole makeup was appropriate but I think some of the former showgirls could have been aged a little, as they all looked far too youthful!  The sound was mostly good although there were one or two gremlins in the system.  The lighting had been designed and operated really well and enhanced the production.  A point I would make is that the actors and the moving lights were not always co-ordinated and so the lights were a little late, leaving the actor in darkness until the light caught up.  The choreography was interesting and within the ability of the company, I think it stretched some of the cast but they rose to the challenge.  The routine, ‘Who’s That Woman?’ where the ex-showgirls join in was very well executed by everyone, but I wondered if it should have been so polished for the ‘oldies’.  Musical Director Jessie Thompson had made a good decision to use a reduced orchestration, as there was a good balance between music and voices.  She had obviously worked hard with the cast and instrumentalists to deliver this complex music in a meaningful way.  There were some lovely musical moments both from the company and individuals. The diction was excellent throughout, which is essential to any musical, but especially to this with its complex story.  The Principles brought a wealth of emotion to their songs and the harmony singing was strong.  The prospect of performing a Sondheim Musical had obviously generated much interest and attracted new members.  The show has a large number of principles, with twelve of the characters also having a younger version.  Roles had been well cast with some excellent performances.  The most challenging roles were those of young Sally, Phyllis, Buddy and Ben, as they required discipline in many aspect of theatrical performance.  Director Bob Hills is to be congratulated on making sure his cast used the small stage to the maximum effect, creating interesting pictures and encouraging everyone to develop well rounded, individual characters, who all worked well together.  Whether or not your audiences followed and understood the action they certainly enjoyed the music.  What an anti-climax the ending is, no fault of the production just the way it is written.  I found it a difficult show to take in in one viewing and would like to see it again to fill in the gaps!  Congratulations to everyone in producing a most enjoyable Show.