Posts Tagged ‘The King’s School Ely’

Review of ‘Electra’ and ‘The Electra Project’ by the King’s School Ely on Wednesday 9th March 2016 in the Hayward Theatre

March 21, 2016

The King’s School Ely has a reputation for producing plays that are well worth seeing and ‘Electra’ and ‘The Electra Project’ were no exception. Presenting two different plays with this connecting theme was an ingenious idea and it worked perfectly. The contrast between the two items was very effective and each presentation was of a considerably high standard.

‘Electra’ by Sophocles, an ancient Greek born 496 BC, contained all the emotional twists of motivation and family tension relevant today, although in this play it is extended, in the ancient Greek tradition, to include rather gory matricide.  This version by Frank McGuinness included many statements of wisdom such as ‘the dead do not mourn’ and the young students that spoke the lines clearly and emotively, transfixed the audience with the heightened  drama that made us think of the nature of forgiveness, revenge, and justice. The cast was particularly strong including the credible commenting chorus. Especially strong and dominant were the main characters: Electra (played by Paige Collier), Orestes (Freddy Flack), Clytemnestra (Roseanna Mackenzie), Aegisthus (Chris Robe) and servant (Jacob Gamble). The music was as effective as it was eclectic – that is, excellent and entirely in keeping.

After interval we left the tension of Electra to be highly entertained by the efforts of a supposed group of A level students trying to stage an updated version of this play with dire consequences that kept the audience laughing – even the Headmistress of the school was seen to be laughing at the Headmaster on stage suffering from humiliation by these unruly students. The script by Dave Jackson, written after two drama teachers were sacked for allowing their students to present play based on a father’s abuse of his daughter, was highly engaging and it explored current problems of adolescents coping with the tensions created by their varied personalities and talents as they came to terms with their lives and with the looming examination. This clever script also explored the flaws of our education system, the difficulties schools have with eccentric staff and the stringent constraints of the school and the curriculum and with the disastrous effects of interfering, pushy mothers. This cast was also strong and believable. Supported by a credible ‘chorus’, the characters included ‘director’ Alfie (Alex Layfield), Ellie (Eloise George), Malachi (JP Gilbey), Martin (Maark Spofforth), Elaine (Rosie Johnson), Ms Pew (Theo Taylor), Mark (Laurence Carolan) and Kane (Ethan Morley).

Laura Dixon, Nick Huntingdon, Peter North and the large crew are to be congratulated for such an impressive and entertaining evening.

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 All the King’s Men

November 29, 2015

When I learned that All the King’s Men were coming to Ely, I knew we were onto a good thing and indeed we were. This impressive group of a capella (without accompaniment) singers produced sophisticated arrangements of popular and original songs while moving about the stage in fascinating tableaux, positively mesmerizing the audience as they did so.

As expected, last Saturday night they were amazing – they reached all expectations. Not only that, this time they explored the beauty of their voices more, singing some of the clearest and softest sounds I’ve heard, while as the evening progressed, they also maintained their customary exquisite  harmonic blends and complicated, often juxtaposed, rhythms.

The highlight of the evening was the glimpse they gave of the workshops they do and they invited the King’s School Barbers to join them in an impromptu performance of ’In The Jungle’. It is a testament to teacher Peter North and the King’s School Barbers that they could be treated as equals in this way and the performance was splendid. During the concert, the King’s School Barbers also sang a couple of songs from their repertoire and it was very pleasing to notice how this group has increased and developed under Peter North’s direction.

The next event at the King’s School Ely to enjoy is ‘Into the Woods’ by Stephen Sondheim on the 10th, 11th and 12th of December. 01353653931 or email for tickets.KSE All the Kings Men Nov 15


Review: Darren Jeffery (bass-baritone) with Anthony Seddon (piano) in the Hayward Theatre on Friday 7th March 2014.

March 14, 2014

Darren Jeffery is undoubtedly ‘one of the finest Bass-baritones of his generation’. Since many of us knew him as a young lad at the King’s School who had a good singing voice, he has managed to maintain his very pleasant personality, while establishing himself with a highly successful career as a singer. He has sung at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera and Glyndebourne and is obviously very much in demand. We were fortunate indeed to have him visit us here in Ely.

Darren filled the theatre with his rich well-rounded tone. His amazing breath control, his sense of phrasing and his wonderful sense of humour and engrossment in the roles he portrayed made his performance spellbinding. He sang an array of songs by a variety of composers that included Handel, Ireland, Massenet, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Puccini, Martini, Keel, De Curtis, Jennings/Horner and Claude-Michel Schönberg. 

His generosity included offering students from the King’s School Ely a spot in the programme and Emily James, Lucy Pearce, Matt Diss, Emma Jones and the King’s Barbers certainly acquitted themselves splendidly.

Darren was accompanied by Anthony Seddon who unerringly reflected the spirit of the songs perfectly. 

Highlights for me were Schubert’s ‘Ständchen’, Mozart’s ‘The Catalogue Aria’ from ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘My Heart will go on’ by Jennings and Horner. Darren’s warm tone, smooth lines and powerful support brought these songs alive. If he could be persuaded to make CDs of popular music I am sure he would soon be sold out. His two encores for the concert were justly deserved and demonstrated Darren’s delightful wit and wonderful talent again, ending this glorious evening in a most fitting way. .

For further information:

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 Anthony Brown (saxophone) and Leo Nicholson (piano) presenting a concert at the Hayward Theatre Ely on Friday 29th November 2013

November 30, 2013

It is impossible to get 100% in a music exam. After all it is so subjective. However, after tonight’s performance by these two amazing musicians, I had to agree that it is indeed feasible. All credit must go to Anthony Brown who demonstrated a phenomenal technique and highly musical approach to the saxophone, a much maligned instrument. He was accompanied by an equally talented pianist, Leo Nicholson and between them, they produced music that transfixed the listeners – it was so good. The synchronism they achieved was out of this world – no matter how tricky the run or the rests, they were always spot on.

The varied programme was action-packed and included works by Singelee, Piazzolla, Richard Rodney Bennett, Ibert, Maurice, Gershwin Debussy, Heath and Dubois. When the first saxophone flourish sounded we knew we were going to experience a wonderful concert. These two knew how to master the trickiest passages, the exacting articulation and the most sonorous  of passages. Highlights for me were Piazzolla’s ‘Histoire du Tango’: ‘Bordel 1900’ and ‘Cafe 1930’, Paule Maurice’s ‘Song for my Love’ and the ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ and ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ by Dubois.

‘Bordel 1900’ was the first of many pieces that exuded magical rhythms brilliantly synchronised by these two highly talented performers. The tonal beauty of the saxophone was fully explored in ‘Cafe 1930’. We were soon transported into the dreamy, relaxed coffee haze of a well frequented cafe.

The tonal beauty of the saxophone was again brought to the fore in ‘Song for my Love’ while the frenetic buzz of a very busy bumble bee in ‘The Flight of the Bumble Bee’ was noticeable as these amazing performers whizzed through the demanding passages.

Dubois’ clever composing in ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ was enhanced further by these musicians’ intense musical understanding. The languorous Tortoise, confident with his victory was well contrasted with the frantic energy of the fickle hare.

This was a wonderful concert and the encore was well deserved.

These two may be heard again in the Purcell room in London on the 9th January 2014. For more information contact

The next King’s School Ely Concert Society event will feature Tom Coulson (trumpet) and Christopher Baxter (piano) in the Recital Hall on Friday 17th January at 730 pm contact Lisa Bushell (01353 653931) email:

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 Choral Concert by the King’s School Ely in Ely Cathedral on Friday 15th March 2013

March 23, 2013

With Paul Trepte, Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, wielding the baton, and with The King’s School Chapel Choir and Ely Cathedral Choir performing, I knew we were in for a treat and the concert was indeed, as delightful as expected.

A charming programme included an early work by Britten: ‘The Company of Heaven’ and Purcell’s ‘Come ye Sons of Art’. Britten can be a little difficult to listen to at times, with his frequent use of discords, but this early work was very pleasantly tuneful and enhanced with a commendable choir and orchestra and some highly accomplished soloists: Tara Bungard (soprano) and Ben Alden (tenor).

Britten’s work opened with atmospheric sounds from the orchestra creating a sense of impending magnitude. The Reverend Canon David Pritchard and his wife Tricia took it in turns to read the text that held the work together. Their clear diction and expression gave a splendid introduction to the music that followed. Highlights of the work included the drama of the opening ‘Chaos’, the beautiful soft tones of the soprano even when rising high above the choir in ‘Heaven is Here’, the images created in ‘Funeral March for a Boy’ and the final, very moving hymn:’ Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones’.

Purcell’s ‘Come Ye Songs of Art’ balanced Britten’s work well for the orchestration was lighter and was well supported by a splendid continuo (harpsichord and cello and/or double bass). The well-known counter-tenor duet, ‘Sound the Trumpet’ was given a more gentle approach than I am accustomed to hearing, but this performance by Ashley Harries and Karl Read was charming. It sounded authentic and very much in keeping with Purcell’s era especially with the excellent accompaniment by two recorders played by Philip Mizen and Adam Dopadlik. Another highlight of this composition was the soprano’s aria: ‘Bid the virtues, Bid the Graces’ with a worthy oboe accompaniment.  James Robinson (bass) also made a fine contribution in ‘These are the Sacred Charms’.

This was indeed a very pleasant evening’s entertainment.    

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 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!