Archive for February, 2013

Review of The King’s Company’s production of ‘The MobilePhone Show’ by Jim Cartwright and ‘The Grandfathers’ by Rory Mullarkey in the Hayward Theatre on Thursday 21st February 2013

February 23, 2013

The King’s Company certainly knows how to put on a good piece of drama. Working from a script without any indications of stage directions, this band of talented performers created a highly entertaining and intriguing flow of varied scenes inspired by our relationship with the mobile phone. This must be the first time the opening announcements included asking the audience to keep their phones ON! The mobile phone users scaled the heights and depths of emotions that the instrument engenders. Passions ranged widely and grew readily from reverential worship, nerdy competitiveness, a texting shootout, a natter on an ingenious toilet, dallying with the supernatural, romance, poetic invention, reassurance, teenage troubles, adverts, competitions, when one loses the phone, a  rap or two, rioting youths, and the suffering caused when the phone’s battery and the phone eventually dies.

The scenes rolled smoothly from one into another and the delightful inventiveness of this company developed highly entertaining episodes. When a teenager despairs about losing her phone the antics of a highly credible fish surrounded by weeds in a so-called fishbowl had the audience in stitches, while the angst of the character was never lost. Dances and scenes explored the contrast of darkness and light very effectively. The familiar sounds of a mobile phone were ever-present: metallic music, beeps trills and unexpected calls from among the audience. The highly appropriate choice of background music to events also helped to make this a positively wonderful production. The texting ‘shoot out’ was particularly memorable.

The second play, ‘The Grandfathers’ ,was on the more serious side and the cast managed to bring home the dreadfulness of how the youth of society become mere pawns in horrific wars that our flawed society continues to make. The issue of loyalty in an environment that insists on these young recruits becoming killers, the problem of caring for the weak symbolized by the brief arrival of an injured bird into the barracks, and the hopes and fears of the soldiers as individuals were sympathetically explored. Again, the stage movements were inspired and smoothly executed; the thoughts and actions of the group seamlessly entwined as the scenes unfolded.  The Directors, Laura Day and Chris Thacker, and the Producer Adella Charlton, are to be congratulated for a wonderful evening of pure drama from a fine young troupe of players.

The Mobile Phone Show will be performed again in Norwich in April 2013

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Review of ‘Cabaret’ by the King’s School Ely at the Hayward Theatre on Saturday 23rd February 2013

February 23, 2013

The King’s School Ely certainly knows how to nurture musical talent and their ‘Cabaret’ featured a delightful array of talented singers. The evening opened with one of their finest performers, Will Oliver, singing ‘Why God why?”. Astrid Robertssen’s ‘Someone like you’ and Adrienne Schneider ‘s ‘Send in the Clowns’ preceded a  moving duet by Will and Naomi Meese-Grove ‘All I ask of you’. Emma Jones’ ‘The way we were’, Minjoo Kim’s ‘I could have danced all night’, Emma Tarshish ‘Old Devil Moon’ were followed by Matt Diss singing (in a noticeably in a luxuriously rich bass voice) ‘Old Man River’. Sammy William’s ‘I have confidence’, Will Oliver’s ‘Bring him Home’ and Naomi Meese-Grove’s ‘On my own’,  were followed by another duet by Will Oliver and Oona Gradwell singing a new and uplifting love song: ‘Lucky’. Next, was one of the major highlights before the interval: Georgia Schneider’s amusing song ‘The Physician’. All the singers sang with aplomb, their voices assured and well-placed. Although some were performing in public for the first time, there was not a singer who did not entertain.  Other delights included Will Oliver’s ‘Bring him home’, Naomi Meese-Grove’s beautiful performance of ‘All I ask of you’ and Adrienne Schneider ‘s ‘Send in the Clowns’. I have heard the latter song many times and have enjoyed the sound of it and its unusual words, but tonight, Adrienne sang with such clear diction and meaningful phrasing that the sentiments behind the words became clearer than they ever have before.

The singers were expertly accompanied on piano by Peter North (MC of the show and Director of the King’s Barbers), Melody Day and Jonathan Lilley.

After interval the King’s Barber’s rounded the evening off well with their highly accomplished a cappella numbers in readiness for the competition in Manchester they will be taking part in next week. Their agreeable and secure voices, cohesive close harmony and vibrant movements give grounds to believe that they should do very well!

review of ‘All the King’s Men’ in the Hayward Theatre on Saturday 2nd February 2013

February 3, 2013

The Hayward Theatre at the King’s School Ely was packed for the ‘All the King’s Men’ concert and it was easy to understand why. Under the directorship of Cameron Carr, this renowned group of male a cappella singers wowed the audience with potent voices, fantastic close harmony, stunning choreography and sophisticated arrangements. Musical director, Jonathan Stewart, and assistant Gus Nicholson, certainly know how to add excitement, colour and interest to their songs – many of them very well-known. An atmosphere of excellence, exuberance and rhythmical pizzazz was constantly tinged with an underlying feeling that we were all there to enjoy ourselves and enjoy ourselves we certainly did.

The programme included a wide variety of material ranging from old favourites such as ‘The Lion sleep tonight’ and the more recent  ‘Skyfall’ and items from the chorister/classical tradition (from which many of the singers came), to ‘on-the-edge’ mischievous numbers like ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’.

The King’s Barbers, the male a cappella group of students from The King’s School Ely, directed by renowned singer and teacher, Peter North, also took part in this momentous event. The King’s Barbers had enjoyed a workshop with ‘All the King’s Men’ and, resplendent in dazzling costumes, displayed their work several times within the concert. The King’s Barbers certainly have come a long way since they were first founded many years ago and they should do well in the choral competition in Manchester on 2-3rd March this year.

Perhaps most interesting of all was that Josh Darley, an ex- King’s School Ely pupil, was amongst the singers in ‘All the King’s Men’. The audience was delighted to see him again. The remaining singers in the group were: Peter Morrell (manager), Matt Slauson, Tom Hindmarch, Jeff Gary, Steffan Rizzi and Rufus Talks.

After a thoroughly enjoyable evening, the encore finally brought the curtain down with a highly entertaining, very saucy rendition of ‘Let’s get it on’. I noted that it was, by then, past ‘the watershed’!

If you get the chance to see these performers, book early for seats are understandably at a premium when they perform.

Review of Witchford Amateur Dramatic Society’s pantomime ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

February 2, 2013

Witchford Amateur Dramatic Society’s pantomime ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ at Witchford Village College was a sheer delight. A stage full of colour, a cast with genuine smiles on their faces and all the necessary ingredients of a good pantomime kept us wholly entertained for the entire evening.

As in all good pantos, there was a host of varied characters: The Good Fairy (Lucy Short) and the Big Bad Wolf (Steven Barker) were highly talented contrasts representing good and evil. Attractive and charming Red Riding Hood (played by Maisie Peckham) and Billy (Claire Mead), a ‘handsome’ young wood cutter, made an ideal lead couple that went through many trials and tribulations until they finally lived happily ever after and the wonderful Dame Robyn Hood (Neil Pilling) filled the stage with hilarious over-the-top antics and amazing changes of costume. Jack (Keith Gallois) and Jill (Helen Williamson) were marvellously child-friendly, with Helen’s facial expressions and their gestures enhancing even further the highly amusing characters they had created. They were the ones who certainly raised audience participation several notches. Three piggy stooges added much to the humour. Slow-witted Sonny (Lee Coney) with his fellow ‘builders’ Al (Chris Grant) and Rich (Rob Parker) were great characters with highly effective piggy squeals. Andy Watkins made a fine Woodcutter while Teresa Dixon was an excellent globe- trotting Granny in search of a Yeti (yet another interesting addition to the amusing plot).

The whole cast exuded warmth and enjoyment. The singing, dancing, choreography, scenery, costumes and drama were good quality stuff and we were soon led into a world of nursery rhyme and evil deeds that developed and were eventually vanquished. The band (Jonathan Carter, Trevor Carter, Naomi D’Cunha and John Rodford) was phenomenal, leading and supporting great music. 

The stage was frequently filled with large groups of delightful actors and dancers who brought the place alive: namely: those in ‘Upside Down’, the 80’s girls, the Wolverines and the Fairies in training.

Particular highlights for me included Aaron, Dyland and Sophie and troupes’ ‘That’s what Makes you Beautiful’, Lucy and company’s ‘Upside Down’ and Steve Aaron Dylan and company’s ‘Boys are Back’.

Director and choreographer Lisa Barker, Producer Paul Mead, Musical Director Jonathan Carter and musical coordinator Naomi D’Cunha and their teams are to be congratulated for such a wonderful show!