The Offies Winners 2018

Female in a Play

Mimi Ndiweni / The Convert / Gate Theatre

Male in a Play

Ken Nwosu / An Octoroon / Orange Tree Theatre

Supporting Female in a Play

Jo Martin / Doubt: A Parable / Southwark Playhouse

Supporting Male in a Play

Tom Rhys Harries / The Pitchfork Disney / Shoreditch Town Hall

New Play

Neil Anthony Docking / The Revlon Girl / Park Theatre

Most Promising New Playwright

Katie Bonna / All The Things I Lied About / Soho Theatre

Ensemble

Bucket List / Battersea Arts Centre

Production

Contractions / New Diorama

MUSICALS & OPERA

Female in a Musical

T’Shan Williams / The Life / Southwark Playhouse

Supporting Female in a Musical

Sharon D Clarke / The Life / Southwark Playhouse

Male in a Musical

Michael Rouse / Superhero / Southwark Playhouse

Supporting Male in a Musical

Cornell S. John / The Life / Southwark Playhouse

Musical Director

Gareth Bretherton / Hair / Vaults

Musical Production

The Life / Southwark Playhouse

New Musical

Superhero / Southwark Playhouse

Opera Production

Tosca / King’s Head Theatre

PLAYS & MUSICALS

Costume Design

Jonathan Lipman / Death Takes A Holiday / Charing Cross Theatre

Lighting Design

Ben Jacobs / The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase / Jack Studio

Set Design

Rosanna Vize / Low Level Panic / Orange Tree Theatre

Sound Design

Max & Ben Ringham and George Dennis / Killer / Shoreditch Town Hall

Choreographer

Chris Whittaker / Top Hat / Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Director

Ned Bennett / An Octoroon / Orange Tree Theatre

SPECIAL AWARDS

TBC Award

Lucy J Skilbeck / Joan / Ovalhouse

The Last Straw / Ovalhouse

Christopher Green / Prurience / Southbank Centre

Lucy McCormack / Triple Threat / Soho Theatre

Production for Young People under 7

Zeraffa Giraffa / Omnibus Theatre / Little Angel Theatre

Production for Young People 8

Laika / Unicorn Theatre

Production for Young People 13

What Once Was Ours / Half Moon Theatre / Zest Theatre

Well done to everyone!

Anna Neary

A Preview of Batboy by Spotlight Productions

Spotlight Productions presents Bat Boy the Musical

27th-29th July 2017

“A production not to be missed, surprising changes of emotions from start to finish and a fantastic sound” 4 out of 5 stars.

On Sunday the 23rd July I had the pleasure of watching the first rehearsal run with costume and props, of Bat Boy the Musical, which Spotlight Productions will be performing at St Gabriel’s School, RG20 9BD, from 27th-29th July at 7:30pm. They took me on a journey through the life of Bat Boy and the Parker family with a brilliant mix of funny, scary and serious scenes. Having not seen Bat Boy before I wasn’t expecting to find anything funny because the impression I got was that it is a serious, dark, show, which it is but I love that there was still a bit of cheese in the show, particularly at the end of “show you a thing or two”

Music sets the scene immediately with eery underscoring and screeching of a creature (which we later find out to be Bat Boy, played by Pete Warbis). As the show progressed the music kept improving with both intensity and strength in vocals. This is a cast who are all strong singers and their strength probably lies here, which is fantastic as this is a very important asset because of the nature of the show. However, I feel that because of this they could work a bit more on scene movement and dance content, some seemed more comfortable with the dance content than others. Firstly, because I think they could’ve rehearsed these sections more and secondly, because at times it was quite sexual. Spacing was sometimes out but they may have been because Matt Collins was missing so that might explain some spacing issues. It’s very clear the Musical Director, Trevor Defferd, has worked very hard with the cast on the music and this is certainly where they excel. The music changed when Anna Neary and Tom Hazelden attempt a rap which seemed well practiced and brilliantly awkward at times, in the right way, Anna don’t take up beat boxing! (Hehe)

It’s hard to comment on costume as this was their first attempt so it was obvious there were items missing/not quite right, which I’m sure will be ironed out and corrected before the real shows. But, I can’t forgo mentioning the costume for Pete Warbis as Bat Boy. It was absolutely appropriate for the part complete with ears and teeth, how you sing so beautifully with those in I do not know! From the start, wearing next to nothing and the end of act one looking like a prep school student, the costume cleverly changed with the changes to Bat Boy. He also made it look very comfortable, being nearly naked on stage is not easy and he must’ve felt very exposed but it only added to the part.

Props included multiple news papers highlighting the first theme of the show which looked very professional, a cage to contain Bat boy, a table and chairs which at times I was worried were going to break with Pete’s energetic leaping! And a walking frame which was a great asset to a part. A white cloth was also used very well in act 2, this was a great way of getting over a technically difficult scene.

Pete Warbis acted brilliantly always in character even though he didn’t have any real lines in the beginning he still portrayed his discomfort and sadness through noise and movement. There were many great relationship shifts in this production, you can definitely tell the cast have worked very well together, Anna Neary, Debbi Ledwith and Pete Warbis were a great combination. In “a home for you” it was lovely to see Bat Boy warm to Meredith Parker (Debbi Ledwith) and slowly form a bond but still show the struggles that were coming to them. “Show you a thing or two” continued this feeling with Shelly Parker, as well. These were the loveliest moments of the show and Anna Neary and Debbi Ledwith made a very believable and relatable connection as mother and daughter. I particularly enjoyed their song when the sheriff introduces them to Bat Boy as it defined their characters and feelings toward Bat Boy very early on. Pete Warbis and Anna Neary particularly worked well together in Act 2 where their relationship changed again. I can’t say too much without ruining the show, just know that these three were a great combination. Each of them very talented and a great asset to one another, showed their contrasting emotions very well.

Shaun Blake as the sheriff was very well practiced and seemed to know exactly what he was doing with lots to deal with throughout the show. Alice Keeping showed a lot of contrasting roles and I enjoyed her connection with Shauna Saunders as her mother, Mrs Taylor, she sang her song beautifully but needs to believe in herself more because she does it beautifully, I felt her contrast to anger and sadness was much more comfortable for her and this was very moving. George Stacey as Pan in “Children, Children” really came into his own and this was his star moment in the show and oh my didn’t he go for it, I don’t want to give too much away with this song but you’ve got to see how George performed this with such… shall we say enthusiasm!

Special mention to our own Tom Hazelden, who changed character and costume about 4 times in the space of about 2 minutes. This showed diversity as he changed genders and made both as believable as the other. I really enjoyed seeing his anger as “Rick Taylor” and he really excelled in this performance, even though we weren’t in a theatre setting, it really moved me and actually gave me goosebumps! This was a great performance and one not to be missed.

I’d like to believe there was more reason to not want to be wife to Dr Parker, Simon Cherry could be creepier or nastier e.g rougher with Bat Boy at the beginning. But he got firmer as it continued And I started to understand his character more in act 2. I really enjoyed his softer side. Again this is a part where I don’t want to give too much away!

This rehearsal was great to watch, with a fantastic atmosphere from start to finish. It’s always hard to imagine how a show will really look until its on a stage, but if this rehearsal was anything to go by you’re all in for a treat. Good luck to each member of the cast of Bat Boy!

Lucie Dale – It’s all an act podcast

http://www.itsallanact.co.uk

Jaz writes for Newbury Spring Festival

Our Presenter Jaz has been reviewing on behalf of Newbury Spring Festival and here are all the reviews that he has done for them, now for you to enjoy.

Film: Sense and Sensibility

10th May 2017, Corn Exchange, Newbury

So I arrive at the Corn Exchange in the heart of Newbury. What a fantastic looking building, almost church-like with it’s sand colour brickwork and tall arched doorway shaped windows. Then I entered and the inside complimented the outside beautifully, with its open spaced foyer, rustic feel bar, but with bright coloured seating to give it a modern feel. I continued on through to the auditorium where I was greeted with the biggest projector screen I think I have ever seen out of a cinema! I think watching a film on a projection in a theatre made it feel special, more like live theatre rather than a film at the cinema.

Seeing that the film had an all star cast with the likes of Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, and Emma Thompson to name a few, I was hoping for greatness, which is exactly what I got. The film was an old classic from what I could gather from the conversations going on around me before the film started. The film was a throughly enjoyable experience, not something I would normally choose but so glad that I saw it. It was awkwardly funny for all the right reasons, the set locations were amazing, the attention to detail was exquisite and the story had a great twist in it (I won’t give too much away) but I can assure you that there is a happy ending which everyone loves. I would definitely watch something like this again.

A taste of Spain

15th May 2017, The Vineyard, Stockcross

The perfect setting for the perfect recital! The Vineyard upon arrival is a spectacular looking grounds, a gravel driveway leading to a canopy right outside the front door, that overlooks a marvellous water feature making the place feel tranquil and highbrow.

Just as I thought the outside was amazing, the inside was something to behold. As soon as you walk in you are greeted with two glass walls full of wine bottles.

I was shown to the room where it would all take place.This room was full of people anxiously waiting and all that you could see was large painting of a landscape with mountains and vineyards that covered an entire wall behind where Morgan Szymanski would be playing. The minimal look made me think that the talent was going to be nothing short of fantastic.

So we started, Morgan introduced himself and played his first song which translated to Mozart’s Flute. What a beautiful sound this man could make with just one instrument, making it sound like two people were playing at the same time and filling the room with a sweet and soft sound. It was mesmerising watching Morgan play with such passion, care and love for not only the music, but the instrument and Andrés Segovia whom the evening was dedicated to. Morgan told a few jokes along the way such as, the part about where the famous Nokia ringtone had come from. It was a pleasant evening and Morgan made my first recital an absolute joy.

Close to you

20th May 2017, Corn Exchange, Newbury

What a sophisticated evening. Set in the wonderful corn exchange theatre in the market square in the heart of Newbury. The stage set all dressed in black with a twinkly backdrop. When arriving into the auditorium expecting to see a tribute act singing to a backing track, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The evening standard was set by a 10 piece Orchestra playing the most special overture arrangement of many famous Frank Sinatra songs making way for the one and only Matt Ford. This mans voice had such a likeness to the great Sinatra itself, but enough of a uniqueness to hold his own. The Orchestra arrangements were like nothing I have ever heard, I take my hat off to Callum au for the arrangements that had been scaled down from a 38/40 piece orchestra down to a 10 piece and still get that full sound. Matt Skelton must get a special thanks for his production of this band and it’s outstanding quality. One thing that was a lovely to see was a harpist, you don’t see many about anymore. Matt Ford made the whole thing seem so intimate with the audience due to it being quite a large space, his warmth and presence made it feel like a small club feel which was lovely because it still was in a large open auditorium. This is definitely something I would watch again.

By Jaz Wilson

(It’s all an act Presenter)

My Fair Lady – (Newbury Musical Theatre society)

As an old fan of NMTS productions, their 2017 production of Lerner and Loewe’s 50’s musical ‘My Fair Lady’ (immortalized in Audrey Hepburn’s multi-award winning film of the same name) promised to be something a little different, and as I entered the building I had time to reflect on whether these changes would be for the better or not.  Firstly, the company had opted to move their spring production from its long-time home at The Corn Exchange, to the auditorium at Kennet School, a downward move from a professional venue to a school hall.  Secondly, a new director was taking the reins, albeit an old hand at NMTS, and one that had led in a minor production a few years ago.  And thirdly, and possibly one that offered to most intrigue, were the unusual castings apparent from the headshots in the foyer I mulled over while sipping my drink from the bar – most companies struggle to get any young men in an amatuer production, yet NMTS seemed to able to afford to cast young men in roles with a typical playing-age twice their own!

As I stepped into the auditorium, the stage, at floor level, opened out before me.  Simply set, a doorway on a red-brick wall, a few strewn crates, a brazier for chilled urchins to huddle around, all overshadowed by glorious columned arches representing the wealth of the city of London, all beautifully silhouetted at this time, by a well-lit cyc’ beyond. To the right, a small band waited, a well-stocked lighting rig above, and the auditorium with steeply raked seating for the audience – The venue, it seemed, was well equiped – not your average school hall!

The cast filled the stage, the band played, and before us we saw the stark class contrast in the turn of 20th century England, grubby lower class, mixing on the streets with well dressed upper class.  Well hidden at first, from the poor emerges Eliza (Paige Mackay), a young flower seller with a street accent, touting her wares to the bumbling Colonel Pickering (Paul Strickland).  Outed for spying on this exchange, we discover Henry Higgins (Tom Hazelden) is actually a master of linguistics, as is Pickering, and has been capturing the dialects of the exchange.  Higgins opens the musical numbers singing disapproval that the English aren’t taught to correctly pronounce their own mother tongue, and subsequently boasts that he is so good he could teach somebody as disgustingly low as Eliza to pass as royalty.  Tom, the first unusual casting choice, quickly took control of the scene and reassured that his casting as Higgins was not only good, it was inspired – his voice, body language and character brilliantly launched the tale from the chaos of the London streets.  While the blocking and costume made it tricky to see her expression, it was clear that Paige’s Eliza was brilliant, as rough as a lump of coal in voice and crooked posture to match, later expressing that “All [she] wants is a room somewhere”, seeding Eliza’s drive for the majority of the rest of the act.

A quick change in pace sees the story switch to the arrival of Eliza’s father, Alfie Doolittle (Jaz Wilson), a loveable rogue always flanked by his banterous wingmen (played by Martin Rogers, Jake Mawson).  He sings, with more character than melody, that, “With a little bit of luck” you can pretty much get away with anything.  A great ensemble number with good movement.

Returning to the main plot line, Eliza calls on Higgins and Pickering to ask for elocution lessons which transforms into a challenge, backed by a gentleman’s wager, for Higgins to pass Eliza as an upper class lady at a ball within six months.  Great comic moments from Paige in contrast to Tom’s bullish and unfeeling Higgins.

Back on the street Alfie hears, via a great cameo character by Cathy Black, that Eliza is living with a gent, and resolves that with a bit of luck he can profit from this situation.  He calls on Higgins, with the intention of squeezing him for a few pounds, a great scene followed with a real battle of morals, leaving Higgins a real fan of the dustman’s rhetoric.  Jaz, the second unusual casting, is again much younger in real life than Alfie in the story, a fact that is well hidden beneath beard and makeup.  He plays this character well, with an enjoyable realism in his character performance I had not seen in this role before.

Eliza’s comic suffering of Higgins’ tortuous lessons, which she plotted to return tenfold in the humorous “Just you wait”, continues leaving her (and possibly the audience) wondering whether she could ever blossom from this cockney guttersnipe into the lady we hope her to become,  Paige’s characterisation being far too comfortably rough, and up to this point her singing much more characterful than melodic.  However, at their lowest ebb (scenes wonderfully broken by a greek chorus led by Carol Joice), something clicks within Eliza, and she begins to enunciate her drills with an accent to be proud of, launching a joyous party between the three in “The rain in Spain” – which probably could have been staged with more euphoria – quickly followed by Eliza’s “I could have danced all night”, a first chance to hear Paige’s beautiful singing voice, and one that was well worth waiting for.

As Higgins had resolved to “try Eliza out” at the Ascot races to see if she could carry her new persona, the following scene opens with the company in their upper-crust finest, refined and statuesque, brilliantly juxtaposed against the excitable Eliza, failing to blend in, in nearly every way.  An excellent ensemble scene, including a notably comic exchange between Pickering and Mrs Higgins (Jacqui Trumper).

While Eliza failed to fool the toffs at the races, she did catch the attention of a love-interest, Freddie (Pete Warbis), who’s fine light tenor voice sang of the joy at being on “The street where [she lived]”.  An enjoyable performance to watch.

Months later, and to close the act, Higgins and Pickering having finally polished Eliza til she gleams, all attend the Royal Ball – again the company got to shine in their finest, and participate in an elegant waltz.  With the potential to spoil the party, rival linguist Zoltan Kapathy (Shaun Blake) vowed to work his magic on the enigmatic Eliza in her regal guise, and fails in every way to discover she was living in the gutter six months previous.

As the act closes, the seeming success of lab-rat Eliza’s transformation by the hand of unsympathetic Higgins shone through, and the audience are left to reflect on the great quality of the long first act, the effort put in by the company and two lead principals especially, along with the the numbing realisation that the main shortfall of the new venue is the comfort of the seating.

Act two opens with a bang – the jubilant Higgins and Pickering laughing at their success at the ball, in stark contrast to the solemn Eliza who has realised that with the end of this game, she is left without a future for the first time in her life.  After a fiery exchange with Higgins, she leaves the house in the small hours, into the hands of Freddie waiting outside.  While Freddie pours words of love, Eliza vents her frustration at him in “Show me”, where she longs for action, not words.  A great comic performance by Pete in this song was enjoyable to watch, and was a great hit with the audience, but for me didn’t fit with the mood of the piece.

Eliza, now a lady, returns to make a sentimental visit to her old stomping-ground and is treated with great respect by her old neighbours, who fail to recognise her in her new guise.  A beautiful moment, however directorially the blocking here felt lazy and underdone compared to the highs of act one.  This smudge carried on into the next scene where Alfie returns, now an unfortunate millionaire, under the promise of getting married to his long-suffering Mrs later that day.  Jaz leading the way, this scene quickly built into a full ensemble knees-up and, for me, the best worked and most enjoyable musical numbers of the night – great choreography Nikki Rogers, this was a huge success.

Back in Higgins’ study, having discovered the unfathomable truth of the disappearance of their protege, Pickering works to track her down while Higgins vents his frustration in the timeless “Hymn to him” of everything he doesn’t quite understand about the psychology of the fairer sex.  Brilliantly performed by Tom, I doubt this song will ever age, as it paints the differences between relationships in each of the sexes so comically.

Running off to his mother’s house for assistance , Higgins is flabbergasted to discover that Eliza is already there and firmly under his mother’s wing.  He attempts to order her to return to him but, now as a young confident lady, she refuses, expressing in song that she could do bloody well without him, with Freddie waiting for her (probably in a car outside).

Dejected, Higgins returns to his study with the realisation that, while she might be able to cope without him, he could not so easily cope without her.  With a feeling of great loss, he listens to recordings of her voice, alone, until, surprisingly, she returns to him. End of show.

The performance of Tom throughout the duration of this show was exceptionally good.  He was a  very good Higgins and carried the show throughout, with great characterisation.  His work in the many, wordy songs was largely without fault.  If looking to improve on the performance in the future, I would say that more clearly showing the transition in Higgins’ emotions in the many scenes could only be beneficial, and in the early stages of the play give a little more dominance and obstreperousness.

Paige’s Eliza was brilliant; the comedy and character she bought in her first-half characterisation, and the fine elocution and beautiful singing voice of the second half were a testament to her range as a performer – it’s no wonder she was able to scoop this much sought-after role.  Eiza’s body language changed in act two, slightly less refined than at the end of act 1, and I wasn’t sure if this was intentional (after the many changes Paige had presented, it is hard to tell); personally I would have liked Eliza to stay the perfect lady for the duration.

Paul Strickland’s Pickering, I felt, was largely faultless.  The perfect man to complete the crazy triangle and, after the unusual casting of such a young Higgins, played it perfectly to legitimise the relationships between the three: I wasn’t sure this relationship would work before the show, but on reflection I felt it did without changing the nature of the story.  Occasionally, on the night I watched, he fumbled a couple of his gags, but these were tiny specks in a great performance.

I felt, directorially, the combination of Alfie and Freddie posed problems – Alfie I see as the comic relief from the main plot line, and Freddie as the romantic interest.  In this production, the interpretation of Freddie was very camp and comical which, while well done and highly entertaining to watch, I don’t think helped the story along – why would Eliza’s seriously consider this Freddie as a romantic alternative?  The result of this distracted from the comic role of Alfie.  Jaz’s Alfie brought a dramatic realism to the character that was new and different but, compared to other Alfies I have seen, could be improved in the future by making himself even more of a charismatic rogue (Alfie is the centre of the universe, and knows it).

Jacqui’s Mrs Higgins is an interesting one as this wasn’t a text-book interpretation.  However, with such a young Henry Higgins, this wasn’t a text-book production, and I actually thought the relationship between the two worked perfectly.  Her delivery, and characterisation were good, whether despairing of or antagonising her wayward son.

The chorus were onstage frequently, both in full numbers and in smaller groups (the servants were called on often, with great effect), and they always well drilled and carried the story in their scenes well.

While, on the night I attended, there was the odd feedback blipp for the radio-mics, the sound, and especially the balance of this smaller band was good – a serendipitous advantage of scaling down for the new venue.

The set was simple, and clever – notably the changes where city’s columned arches effortlessly transformed into the library for Higgins’ study – and this worked well.  The last time the company performed this show (2001) I vividly remember the complexity of switching the large truck-set for Higgins’ study on and off stage, and the changes for the 2017 staging were significantly less intrusive.  Well done Set Designer (Paul Strickland).  The props were effective and fitting, however some of the major scenes were blocked very far upstage, where there seemed no reason for this in such a big space.  The lighting, also, was very effective in augmenting the tale, and the lighting in the ball scene especially was very beautiful.

Costume was generally fine, although there were a few random choices in there – however I think the two leading ladies drew the short straw at some points.  Makeup was fitting, but some fake beards however were horrific, meaning the beardy disguises just ended drawing more attention to the actors, rather than less!

In summary, this was a fine and enjoyable production, especially made so by the contribution of the leading pair.  The company utilised the new space perfectly, far from being a downgrade, I wouldn’t be disappointed to see them perform a future budget production in the same space again.  

Congratulations to Justine, Tony, Jon, Nikki and the team.  A job well done.

Ensemble – minor parts – lighting – choreography
Chris Rands

(Guest Reviewer for It’s all an act)

After the accident – Gabriel Foley & Adam Taylor (17th March 2017)

Before I get into details about the show itself I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this show. I’m usually weary of performances set in schools as I’m worried that it puts a damper on the shows professionalism. Luckily, this was not the case for ‘After The Accident’.

As we entered we were greeted outside by the shows co-director Gabriel who told us the actors were still warming up. At this point I was already impressed by the welcome we had received, we stood eagerly with a few audience members outside before being ushered inside. The Black box theatre was the perfect setting for this performance. As we entered I completely forgot that I was in a school, the space was reminiscent of a small fringe venue, the minimal set and lack of music created the perfect mood for the show. There were very few seats in the theatre, perhaps about thirty maybe less.  The intimacy of both the audience and venue created a very tense and slightly uneasy atmosphere which was just how you’d want an audience to feel for a show such as this one. There were three chairs spread evenly across the stage with the three actors (Jake Mavis, Henry Barker and Emily Beck) sat on each one. The actors were frozen in place and deep in thought, this reflected the mood really well as the audience felt as if they had to whisper whilst they waited for the show to begin.

The show revolved around two grieving parents and a guilt filled teenage boy. The play was set a few years after the three had been in a car accident and focused strongly on the themes of redemption and community conferencing. The boy had stolen a car with a friend and decided to go joy riding, whilst being pursued by the police he had an oncoming collision with a family car killing the both the friend and the family’s infant child. We were able to sympathise with both sides as the parents had sat the child on the passenger’s side without a car seat.  The script reflected the conflicting inner dialogue of the characters very well as the speech overlapped and constantly interrupted each other, this part of the show was particularly effective as the dialogue was often in contrast with each other. This did however get a little confusing at times but I think that’s more a critique of the writing than the show itself although I appreciate what they were trying to do here. The direction helped this somewhat confusing section as the set was shifted to show the importance of the stories being told, the chairs would be moved upstage or downstage depending on how much of an effect that part of the story had on the show (hats off to the directors for making that clear).

The show consisted mainly of monologues, one aspect of the direction that I really enjoyed was how they were addressed to the audience as if we were interviewing them, it made the show feel very intimate and personal. When the characters were not on stage, they were stood at the side in neutral which was very effective. They’d occasionally speak in as other characters in whatever story was being told at the time. This reminded the audience that they were just watching a play and emotionally detached them from the characters; fortunately this was very effective as the themes of the play were very real and were nothing too dissimilar from something you’d hear every day on the news. Towards the end of the show, the parents were forced to meet with the boy as a form of restorative justice. There was a fantastic scene where they first met, the chairs were set so that the parents were sat close to each other and the boy was sat opposite, this represented the isolation that the characters felt and gave the impression that they were close together at a time that they couldn’t feel further apart.

At this point I’d like to credit the actors for their fantastic performances, considering that two of them (Henry Barker and Emily Beck) were playing parents I was fully immersed in the show and completely forgot that they were being played by sixth form students. They bounced off of each other very well and you got an overwhelming sense of regret and grieving form both of them in very different ways, this was thanks to great directing. Jake Mavis who played the boy gave a very good performance, he had the slightly harder job having to perform mainly by himself, he gave a wide display of emotions from frustration to even being slightly smug at some points which gave a very sinister feel to his character. At the end of the show co-director Adam Taylor said thank you for coming a man stood up in the front row to say a few words, this man was the writer of the play. He said how incredibly proud he was and just how surprised he was by the quality of the show.

Overall, this was a great show and I have to agree with the play write. The quality and maturity of the show really surprised me, it showcased all the emotions and information that it needed to and I came away feeling like I’d learnt a few things about the darker side of restorative justice. The combination of the direction, writing and acting worked together extremely well and had clearly been thought about in detail, I’d love to see this production again in a few years in a professional venue. Fantastic job to all those involved, can’t wait to see what this directing duo come up with next!

 

Tom Hazelden

It’s All An Act Podcast Review

Showtime Bohème – NOMADs Musical Theatre (18th March 2017)

 

Arriving into the theatre auditorium with a full house for a sold out show is always very exciting, especially for a last night. There were some great atmospheric musical numbers playing while we were waiting for the show to begin to get you into the mood. You see the orchestra on the right getting prepared (which I was glad about as they were having live music) and dimmed lights on the stage with simple set, chairs and tables around the stage.

The show was about a group of people putting on a local Showcase with various stories within it. They used songs from different musicals and shows to go along with the storyline and carry it along. All the songs were chosen very well and thought they were used very appropriately throughout the show. Everyone had a part and got to have their song, dance or scene in the show which was very nice to watch and was pleased everyone had their moment, no principles or ‘just chorus’.

At the beginning, it opened with everyone coming onstage singing ‘La Vie Boheme, (Rent)’ The whole cast made a great sound together (with no mics used in the show at all), with big lights across the whole stage and the cast using the set, sitting on the chairs and setting the scene. It was a fab feel good opening number. You could tell instantly due to the vibrant and colourful costumes the variety of characters they had in the show, you had the Dancers (Beth Marsh, Kath Burns, Lily Screen, Collette Jones, Samuel Briggs and Shaun Blake), the Artists (George Stacey, Jon Lovell, Ange Wilson, Anthony Whitaker, Keri Parkin), the Writers (Andrew Spaak, Hannah Maskell, Keeley Blake, Michelle Godfrey, Nini Richardson, the Musicians (Chloe Anderson, Freddie Cook, James Pascall-Smith, Melissa Hughes, Jennifer Telling, Sarah Harrison, Steph Carter). Everyone was great but I particularly enjoyed the Dancers, with their songs ‘It Won’t Be Long Now, (In The Heights)’, ‘Practically Perfect, (Mary Poppins) and ‘Agony, (Into The Woods)’, they had great characterisation and comedic timing. They seemed to have worked well together and they had their individual characters making their songs highlights of the show.

Next we saw Bill (Chris Rands) who was the pub landlord in the show. I loved his drunk character onstage, usually when people play drunk they overdue it and then don’t look believable, but he got the physicality and characterisation perfect, with subtle slurring of words and slow reactions to everything. (I hope he wasn’t genuinely drunk). And of course what song wouldn’t be perfect for him to sing other than ‘Master of the House, (Les Miserables)’, I laughed throughout this song, with everyone reactions to his character and his great performance, it was thoroughly enjoyable. But where would a landlord be without his land lady? This was Patty (Grace Ryder), these two had a great relationship onstage, and their song ‘Outside of That, I Love You, (Top Hat)’ had some great choreographed comic movement, they were a great pairing and seem to bounce well off each other and it was all very genuine.

There were some strong leads in the show with Charlie (George Stacey) and Fran (Melissa Hughes), they had a cute and confusing romantic storyline through the show. A few of their highlights were George singing a 10 second long note at the top of his voice in ‘Self Indulgent Ballard, (Scott Garnham), and his funny whit he had to his character, for example when introduced ‘One Day More’ he had great comic timing with the cheesy script had to lead up to with the song, well done!! Melissa sang and performed beautifully ‘History of Wrong Guys, (Kinky Boots)’, which suited her character well.

A lot of the cast seemed to be very self aware of the script, they covered up things well if it went wrong. For example with Jo (Alison Holt) She mentioned about Charlie having a boyfriend instead of girlfriend, everyone laughed and loved the mess up, and instead of ignoring this, the actors caught on that the audience liked it and very cleverly kept referencing this up until the end of the last number. I thought this was brilliant and again very funny, very genuine and added that bit more to the show.

In the end to Act 1 we had (Together Wherever We Go, (Gypsy)’, again beautiful and loud chorus singing with everyone onstage but I thought it wasn’t as great as the opening number, it didn’t seem as strong and didn’t think it was a great choice to finish Act 1, but it picked up in Act 2 with ‘Rent, (Rent)’, it’s a very hard song to sing and everyone had got it word perfect and performed amazingly.

As we lead into Act 2 we see more of The Invisible Writer (Andrew Spaak), during Act 1, the audience loved his character, feeling sorry for him as he was unnoticed by everyone onstage and finally he got to sing ‘Mr Cellophane, (Chicago)’ again very appropriate to his character, with a nice surprising singing voice. He then meets Liz (Hannah Maskell), who was a great over the top and crazy character to contrast him, and they performed ‘Popular, (Wicked)’ this worked very well making it a highlight of the show.

As we see everyone come together at the end as they raise money for the showcase and Charlie sells his tiny stickman artwork, it finished on a high with ‘Raise You Up/ Just Be, (Kinky Boots)’ it was very engaging and exciting to watch. There was some great choreography and everyone onstage looked they were having fun at this point and that made us enjoy it too and feel good.

A massive well done and congratulations to Harriet Wilson, who directed and wrote Showtime Bohème. The script was very well written, fitting with the cast you had and great modern comedy. It must have been hard to alter and change constantly so I give hand to you.  Well done to the tech and production team, as it was shown clearly how much hard work you had put in to the show and it had paid off. Overall it was a great, fun and amazing show, bearing in mind this is NOMADs smaller show, you all put in 110% and put on fab show.

 

Anna Neary

Its All An Act Podcast Review

 

 

Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society (KATS) – Westend Showstoppers

Performance – 17th February 2017

 

As I entered the school reception full of people all conversing and sipping some pre-show beverages I instantly felt welcomed. Whilst glancing at the photos of the cast and some dress rehearsal pictures I could see that it was going to be an intriguing night ahead. Knowing as little as possible about the show makes it for a much more interesting watch, especially when watching something for the first time.

My Initial thought with a show being in a school was, is it going to be like a school production? I was waiting in anticipation to find out.

On entrance to the theatre, I was greeted with an all-black stage floor, black back drop with a very mysterious large double sided ramp spanning across the stage, very minimalist, yet, very mysterious. One thing that did catch my eye was what I could only describe as over grown potato peel trophies that had a downlight illuminating them to make them a feature, I was interested to know, were these going to be in the show or were they part of the school décor.

Whilst eagerly waiting for the lights to go down, the show to start and me to find out about the potato peels, I was left to enjoy an eclectic choice of music, and then it began. Full chorus spreading the stage and rostra all dressed in what looked like African ponchos, lots of pattern and colour, simple, yet effective, but very befitting as the song was the ‘Circle of Life’ from The Lion King. I feel that the dancers (Gemma Williams, Holly Unnuk, Lauren King and Emma Franklin) could have entered earlier in this song as seemed a bit static but added a lovely element to the song and danced beautifully.

The show went on through all sorts of genres and different shows that have all been in the west end at some point in time, from Avenue Q to Mamma Mia, but a few highlights for me personally were ‘I’ll never be performed’ (Shaun and Keeley Blake). I thought the characterisation was great and really had the feel of a married couple which, from the sounds of the audience, rang true to a lot of people. ‘Telly’ (Gemma Williams) was one of the wordiest songs I have ever heard and was well executed in diction, accent and character, we did not expect that after talking to her on our podcast, well done.

Throughout the show, the one person that shone in every role played (and there were lots) was Claire Bowden, from the sweet and innocent Kate monster in Avenue Q to the hard-core rocker in the ‘we will rock medley’, her versatility was amazing. The cup song from pitch perfect was phenomenal, everyone was in time, the choreography was genius and very well executed. To finish the evening off was the we will rock you medley, which I feel was a brilliant way to end a show, with the high energy and audience participation it made everyone smile even once the show had finished.

One thing which did surprise me whilst watching this performance were some of the scenes in-between the songs. That was unexpected, but a pleasant surprise, when expecting to be pounded with song after song, it was nice to take a break with a few scenes, a lovely element I felt.

I must say, hats off to John Hicks for his directing of all the scenes in-between the songs, Siouxsie Millard for the great vocals produced by the whole cast and Claire Bowden for the wonderful choreography. What with working behind the scenes to get this show to be the best it can be but, for also playing roles within the show, they really have done a fantastic job . *applaud*

I thought the casting for each of the songs was just right, the singing throughout was great, the movement was very well chosen to suit the different abilities within the cast, the timing for all the sound effects were spot on, I think that this show was well put together, I wish it had a story that it could have possibly followed but all in all a very funny, well rounded evening of entertainment.

A big well done to everyone involved in the show, on and off stage (Stage crew, a little mention for you), you should all be very proud of yourselves and I look forward to seeing another production in the future. (I never did find out what the potato peels were all about)

 

Jaz Wilson

It’s All An Act Podcast Review  – http://www.itsallanact.co.uk

KATS Website: http://www.kats.org.uk