Posts Tagged ‘King’s Company’

A review of King’s Company’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’ in the Hayward Theatre on Saturday 12th December

December 13, 2015


I knew this production was going to be good – but this time, King’s Company excelled themselves. Stephen Sondheim’s musicals are known for complexity, examining the human psyche, exploring relationships and emotions and all of life and its many different levels.

‘Into the Wood’s was no exception and it had all those constituents but added a wonderful touch by manipulating many of the fairy tales we knew as children. Not only were the characters readily recognizable, they behaved with outlandish twists in Roald Dahl- style so that we were glued to our seats wondering what on earth would happen next and almost invariably we were delightfully and sometimes wickedly surprised. I mean, a Prince Charming who says ‘I’m only supposed to be charming, not sincere’ after he has been caught philandering? I never envisaged Little Red Riding Hood wielding a knife with relish, revelling in skinning the wolf, an evil misshapen witch who reverts to a beautiful but possessive mother, or a Narrator who is suddenly dispensed with mid-story, but they were all included.

Needless to say, the cast were magnificent.  Their acting, singing, and dancing were superb. This fantastic production had spectacular scenery, costumes, lighting and special effects which included a wonderful giant and an amazingly agile stage cow. The excellent sound helped clarify the slick, witty script that the cast delivered with unerring clarity and as a consequence this production had the sophistication of a professional show. This was no ordinary school event and was not even abridged as most school productions are.  We were treated to a show worthy of the West End.

Congratulations must go to all the participants and the Director/Producer Nick Huntingdon, the Musical Director Jonathan Kingston and the Movement Director Natasha Hobbs and their teams for such a wonderful evening.

Future King’s School Ely productions to enjoy in the Hayward Theatre include ‘Electrica’ on the 9th of March 2016 (contact (01353) 653931 ) and ‘Oliver’ on 18th and 19th of March 2016 (contact (01353) 660730 Co Dec 15 Into the Woods Y

Review of the King School Ely’s production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ on Wednesday 4th December in the Hayward Theatre Ely

December 4, 2013

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is a school production that has certainly stood the test of time since its arrival in the ‘60s. This production by King’s Company played never missing an opportunity to exploit its kaleidoscopic possibilities.  From the ups and downs of Joseph, the shenanigans of the brothers and huge cultural variety ranging from Elvis (complete with that familiar curled lip and pulsating leg), hip-swaying calypso (complete with grass skirt and sudden arrive of a palm tree), luxuriating moments of melancholic French/Jewish nostalgia and a touch of the can-can  to American country and western, this highly colourful and entertaining show had all that it takes to captivate the audience while telling the story of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat effectively. It was packed with wonderful characterization, smooth flowing tableaux of a phenomenal number of participants and no end of hilarious episodes that revelled in ‘taking the mick’ .

The music, songs and orchestra, was first-rate. Under the Directorship of Peter North, the singing was clear, expressive and moved gracefully and effectively into wonderful part-singing. The accompaniments were particularly well orchestrated and added considerable colour and comedy. Stage movements, choreography and timing were noticeably well designed and effective.

The performers were outstanding: Joseph (played by Elric Dowell), the three narrators (Fiona Campbell, Georgia Schneider and Anna Willis), Pharaoh (Matt Ley), Potiphar (Philip Hicks), Mrs. Potiphar (Emma Jones), Jacob and the brothers, the dancers, the chorus, and the Children’s Choir. They filled the stage with sheer joyous entertainment. It was no wonder nights were ‘sold out’!

Congratulations must go to Director Nick Huntingdon for such a successful effort from a joint senior and junior joint production.

After such a marvellous evening, we look forward to the events in March next year which include two separate intriguing productions: ‘Heritage’ and ‘Honk’.

Review of King’s Company’s production of ‘Black Comedy’ in the Hayward Theatre on November the 6th 2013

November 6, 2013

King’s Company’s production of ‘Black Comedy’, a farce by Peter Shaffer, was highly entertaining on the first of three nights’ performances in the Hayward Theatre. Under the Directorship of Adella Charlton and Nicholas Limm, these talented performers never missed a trick. The carefully choreographed actions had the audience in stitches as Brinsley Miller, a poor sculptor, suffered every imaginable mishap while he and his fiancée waited for the very wealthy Georgia Bamberger to rescue him from his poverty and buy his work.

The whole play pivoted on a reversal of situation, character and plot. It was a little disconcerting when the actors began the first scene in complete darkness. We realized, eventually, that this in itself was a reversal so that when stage lights were on – the actors acted as though they were in complete darkness. Some of the antics were absolutely hilarious as the characters interacted without knowing for certain who they were interacting with.

Charlie O’Connor as Brinsley Miller was excellent. The sense of panic he conveyed as his world collapsed around him was phenomenal. Fiona Campbell developed the nervous, tea-totaller Miss Furnival into a highly amusing, over intoxicated neighbour that finally disported herself around the stage in magnificent abandonment. Danny Hayes as Harrold Gorringe was one of the most colourful characters, his camp exuberance and amazing gestures and facial expressions were positively delightful. Emily Braybrooke as Clea, was a wonderful addition to the events in the dark; she stirred up the plot deliciously and her mischievous playfulness from above was deliciously comical. Lucy Bromwich, as Brinsley’s fiancée Carol Melkett and her Dad Colonel Melkett, played by Matt Ley,  developed a credible father-daughter relationship and Alice Crofts as Shuppanzigh from the London Electricity Board  and Amy Rosenberg as Georgia Bamberger took advantage of their similar accents  to highlight the contrast of their representation of the opposite ends of the social spectrum. The lowly electrician brought light into the characters’ lives, the wealthy art lover ended unceremoniously disappearing into the depths of the cellar as the characters realized where there true hearts lay.

This was an excellent choice of play and a wonderful production making it a highly entertaining evening.

The next production to look forward to is ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ in the Hayward Theatre from the 4th to 7th December 2013. Contact:, tel: 01353 653931

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

Review Bassett by The King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre Ely Wednesday 9th March 2011

March 16, 2011

Two very appropriate plays were chosen for this fine company of young players to perform in the Hayward Theatre recently:

Bassett is a play by James Graham set in the now Royal village of Wootton Bassett, known for its support of our fallen heroes from the Afghanistan war and For We Are Many which was also about war in the form of an adaptation of the ancient Greek tale of the fate of women in the Fall of Troy.

The actors gave confident and often spirited performances that were credible and entertaining.

In Bassett a group of teenagers locked in a classroom over the dinner break create and develop their own tensions and battles. The funeral procession of a fallen hero from Afghanistan in town and his connections with the youngsters brings home to them the realism of war, its provocation and its effects.

Leo (played by Rob Archer) was an impressive lead character who finally flipped as the classroom tensions finally came to a head. Graeme (Tony Lesmeister) stuttered magnificently, his awkward movements and tentative suggestions creating an unmistakable classroom nerd who changed from a nonentity to a hero when he used his laptop and the class DVD projector to display the all-important funeral procession. Another fine portrayal was Alec Prieto’s ‘Spencer’ whose sense of justice and the right thing to do gave him courage to stand up to the bullying Leop and become a hero himself. The backchat of the girls and the awkwardness of the adolescent boys brought alive a host of other excellent characterizations: Dean (Zach Binge), Shanti Sally Cheng), Kelly (Bryony Ding), Joanne (Megan Gilligan), Aimee (Johanna Going), Russell (Toby Hill), Lucy (Tegan Howlett), Jonathan (Matthew Levy), Zoe (Tori McIrvine) Rachel (Yaya McIrvine) and Amid (Dean Tarrant Raja).

In For We Are Many cohesive choruses underpinned moments of dramatic and sometimes gruesome reality that occurred after an ignominious defeat in war. The plight of women and children in wars was brought home with some vigour and sincerity by the performers. The main characters were: Hecuba (played by Emma Jones), Andromache (Bea White), Cassandra (Darcie Casey), Chorus leaders Ruth Scott and Natalie Yeung, Athene (Jack Spoor), Poseidon (Rowland Daniel), Tal (Rory McCorquodale) and their performances were enhanced by vital contributions from the chorus and soldiers.

Bassett was part of the National Theatre’s New Connections Festival which encourages the involvement of young people in theatre, on and off stage. The King’s Company will be taking Bassett to the Norwich Playhouse on Wednesday 4th May as part of the Regional Connections Festival. Mr. Luke Kernaghan, the National Theatre’s Connections director for this region, attended the first night of the King’s Company performances and gave the cast feedback afterwards.

A forthcoming event well worth attending will be a visit by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the King’s School Ely on Tuesday 24th May.

Contact: 01353 653939

Review: ‘Brontë’ by Polly Teale presented by King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre, Ely, 10th -12th November 2010

November 21, 2010

It is extraordinary how the lives of three sisters, a wayward brother and an elderly father have captured the imaginations of a fascinated people for over a century and a half. The Brontës have become household names since the world has been caught up in the passionate literary creations of the sisters which contrast significantly with their seemingly ordinary, mundane lives in the parsonage at Haworth on the Yorkshire moors.

Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre (1847), the tale of a young girl’s suffering, devotion and much thwarted love and Emily’s Wuthering Heights (1847), a tale centred on the wild, passionate bond between Cathy and Heathcliff have become an integral part of our culture.

King’s Company encapsulated perfectly the suffering and pain of the girls as they battled to thrive in a cold world filled with death, prejudice and the frailty of the human mind and body. Charlotte (Lexi Hill), Emily (Tori McIrvine) and Anne (Ruth Scott) sparked each other off with sisterly rivalry, compassion and youthful desire. Charlotte ruled the roost as far as her spirited family would allow, Emily was the wild uncompromising one, while young Anne tried in vain to equal her strong sisters. Branwell (Toby Hill) their wayward brother, like a ship lost as sea struggled unsuccessfully for identity and status and their father Patrick (Rowland Daniel) cocooned himself in his own world of caring for his parish and dealing with the frequent hardships and early deaths of his people.

Director Adella Charlton created a credible relationship between the family’s daily lives and the spirited imaginations of the individuals as their characters and phantoms from their books interwove between the crises within the family.

The imaginative Rochester and the real curate who married Charlotte, Arthur Bell-Nicholls, were effectively portrayed by Rory McCorquodale, Sally Cheng was the unforgettable spirit of Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights and Rob Archer left us with a strong impression of her dark and passionate kindred soul Heathcliff. Bertha from Jane Eyre and her crazed love for Rochester was powerfully portrayed by Annalie Taylor and Heger (Francesco Angrisani) and Arthur Huntingdon (Tony Lesmeister) were also given definitive and effective roles.

This production was challenging for students at a busy school but these fine, talented actors rose to the occasion magnificently. 

For more information about King’s Company contact (01353) 653939

Review of Jekyll and Hyde produced by King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre at the King’s School Ely

March 22, 2010

This review has been commissioned by “Local Secrets” who are willing to allow you to post it on your website, provided you provide a link to “Local Secrets” –

 (Local Secrets is an online guide to eating out, going out and shopping based in Cambridge. It covers Cambridgeshire and Bury St Edmunds. My reviews will go on their website and in their Monday magazine email which they email to 25k readers each week.)

Jekyll and Hyde produced by King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre Ely was no ordinary production. With sophisticated awareness, these fine performers captured exactly the spirit and the age of Dr Jekyll and his obsession with the good and evil of man. Director Nick Huntington inspired this company to present a show that was worthy of considerable acclaim and was a testament to the talent and dedication of its youthful cast.

Jekyll and Hyde (Sam Graham) metamorphosed from a dedicated doctor to the epitome of evil with realism, his acting and singing prowess in no doubt. One of his most unforgettable moments was when he was alone on stage, his two personalities in battle. Sudden changes in timing, stance, gesture, voice, breathing and tone emphasized the contrast of the good doctor and the evil monster within that his experiments with chemicals and his hypocrisy had revealed. The lighting effects here were particularly impressive.

Emma (Lydia Crussell) was a beautiful much troubled fiancée, Lucy (Lexi Hill) a delectable lady of the night and John Utterson (Dan Simmons) a credibly concerned ally. There were a host of other splendid characters that helped to highlight the endemic hypocrisy of their society: Sir Danvers Carew (Lawrence Perkins), Simon Stride (Jack Riordan), Sir Archibald Proops QC (Will Oliver), Lord Savage (Ollie Hill), General Lord Glossop/Spider (Rob Atkinson), Lady Beaconsfield (Isobel Leventhorpe) and The Bishop of Basingstoke (Harry Ixer). Poole (Sally Cheng), Jekyll’s father (Eddy Kronberg), young men (Andrew Payne and Will Chandler),  Bissett the Apothecary (Kirill Rybkin) , Newsboy (Sophie Emms) and Nellie (Sarah Foss), the showgirls and chorus were additional performers that moved the plot along splendidly, their fine clear voices and lithe actions adding spice to dramatic events.   

The music was first rate. The singing was particularly tuneful and moving, the orchestra (directed by Graham Griggs) of professional standing even when out of sight backstage. Some of the most moving numbers included Lost in the darkness, Letting Go, This is the moment, Someone Like You, Once upon a Dream, A New Life and Confrontation.

 Amazing, versatile sets, seamless stage managing, excellent lighting, sound and effects, admirable costumes and moments of captivating choreography all helped to make this mammoth production well worth attending.

Future King’s School events to enjoy include:

Summer Term Showcase Monday 26th Aprilk 2010, 7.30p.m. and Thursday 13th May, 7. p.m. (free)

Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors in the Priory Gardens 5th and 6th July 2010 at 7 p.m.  (free)

Contact: for more information about King’s Company, contact the Director of Performing Studies, Adella Charlton,

About other King’s School Ely events: tel: (01353)653939