Archive for October, 2017


Recently I performed Nothing Like a Dame during a concert and never having watched South Pacific, my interest was piqued.

The pleasant Kidderminster Rose was the venue for Carpet Trades Musical Theatre Company’s presentation of this show. Rehearsing Tuesday’s from late spring to October, they are on the lookout for new members to join. Founded in 1944 as an activity for employers of the carpet company of the same name, CTMTC are now open to all with a major production each year.

South Pacific – The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster – 21 October 2017

The show by Rodgers and Hammerstein is set during World War II on a Pacific Island and was made into a Hollywood movie in 1958.

The first thing to note was the use of the movie structure as opposed to the stage version. I’m in two minds about this. The writer in me hates tampering and I like how the stage show comes full circle with Dites Moi. However, I can see swapping the order to begin with Bloody Mary and There is Nothing Like a Dame makes it more dynamic.

There are many well-known songs in South Pacific and highlights for me were Honey Bun, Happy Talk and I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy. I did feel, though, the cast were not helped by only having a three-piece band. The vocalists needed support and didn’t get it while there could also have been better use of harmonies. These are all things to learn from. In addition, the dialogue at times needed speeding up. There was some choreography but not enough and while many of the cast could obviously dance, particularly Ruth Campbell as Liat, they were underused. Nice to see smiles during the dances, though.

Stand out vocals for me were provided by Sarah Richards as Nellie Forbush who excelled throughout. Also in principle roles were Zoe Darks (Bloody Mary), Nigel Preece (Emile), Alex Thompson (Cable), Chris Paine (Bilis), Stephen Day (Cpt Bracket) and Brian Potter (Harbison). South Pacific was directed by Darren Richards with musical direction from Chris Yates and choreography, Lucy Crane.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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Another show off my tick list this week as Hairspray was in town. Always a fan of the story as far back as the John Waters film starring Ricki Lake, I recently also saw the musical movie plus the Hairspray TV Live last year. And the soundtrack gets played a fair bit too.

Hairspray – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 October 2017

Hairspray is a story of the fight for racial integration in the early 1960s. It seems abhorrent now, the views of that time, but that’s how life was.

So how was the show? From the opening beats of Good Morning Baltimore, goosebumps rose and I knew I was in for a treat as one great number followed another. Nicest Kids in Town, Mama I’m a Big Girl Now and I Can Hear the Bells.

In the lead role was Rebecca Mendoza, giving a great acting performance while excelling in both song and dance. The perfect Tracy Turnblad. There were also good comic moments, (and some of them I’m not sure scripted) between Matt Rixon as Edna and Norman Pace (Wilbur). One that also shone for me was Annalise Liard-Bailey, blossoming from wallflower to summer rose in the role of Penny. Showing vibrant energy we had Layton Williams playing Seaweed. Also onstage were Brenda Edwards (Motormouth Maybelle), Gina Murray (Velma Von Tussle), Jon Tsouras (Corney Collins), Edward Chitticks (Link Larkin), Aimee Moore (Amber). Monifa James (Little Inez), Graham McDuff (Male Authority), Tracey Penn (Female Authority) and a full ensemble.

Hairspray boasts music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman with additional lyrics from Scott Whittman. The book is by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Production credits for the show include Paul Kerryson (Director), Drew McOnie (Choreography) with musical direction from Ben Atkinson.

I don’t know how long it actually was, but Act Two rattled by. A good testament to the production in not giving the audience chance to catch breath. More good numbers including, You’re Timeless to Me, Without Love and The Big Dollhouse. Of course, the number I had waited for came at the end with You Can’t Stop the Beat and I was taken back twelve months when I performed that myself as part of a pantomime. Great fun. Great show.

Hairspray – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 October 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s been a year since I first heard the soundtrack to this and my annual West End weekend was never going to involve any other show.

School of Rock the Musical – New London Theatre – Saturday 7 October 2017

School of Rock the Musical is a stage version of the 2003 Jack Black film of the same name. The plot follows closely to the original so fans of the film will not be disappointed. However, what makes the musical special is a fantastic soundtrack and performances by a cast playing their own instruments.

There is a decent opening with the No Vacancy number, I’m Too Hot for You. However, the show kicks into top gear when Dewey Finn takes centre stage with When I Climb to the Top of Mount Rock. Playing the hapless Finn on this occasion was Stephen Leask. Billed as Alternate Dewey, Leask takes some shows each week and I was glad I caught one of these because his performance was out of this world.

There is so much to love about School of Rock. The struggles of life as a child while growing up, excellently portrayed during, If Only You Would Listen. It’s a great story and throw in a kick ass soundtrack and you have the hit this show has become.

Top numbers for me in addition to those already mentioned include: You’re in the Band, Time to Play, Teacher’s Pet and Where Did the Rock Go? However, my favourite is always going to be Stick it to the Man.

The cast were amazing. Leask as Dewey Finn, I’ve mentioned already, but then we had Florence Andrews (Miss Mullins), Oliver Jackson (Ned Schneebly) and Michelle Francis (Patti). And there were the kids. Oh my God! They were fantastic. Such talent, not only in song and dance, but those who played the band instruments blew the audience away. I really hope I’ve got the names right in this review but if I haven’t, feel free to correct me.

In the role of the bossy Summer was Stella Hayden whose lead in Time to Play kicked off Act Two perfectly. As for the band, Santiago Cerchione played guitarist, Zack with Milano Preston (Lawrence on Keys), Jacob Swan (Freddy on Drums) and Eliza Cowdrey (Katie on the Bass). And Katie … loved the hard face to the audience. Finally, giving great vocals, we had Nerys Obeng as Tomika.

Music for School of Rock was by the legend that it Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics from Glenn Slater and the book provided by Julian Fellows. Directing was Laurence Conner with choreography from Joann M Hunter and musical direction, Matt Smith. Special mention for the grown-up band who helped make the entire experience … rock.

It would have been nice to put cast names to characters and Dewey did introduce them in an energetic finale, but do you think I’m going to waste time writing them down when there was so much energy on stage.

School of Rock the Musical – New London Theatre – Saturday 7 October 2017

Yes, I said at the start, I’d waited a while to see this, and was not disappointed. The only downside now is that School of Rock is reportedly remaining in London until early 2019 at the very least. Damn … I was hoping for a tour. Looks like I’ll have to make another trip to the capital then.

School of Rock the Musical – New London Theatre – Saturday 7 October 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Do you fancy a night of rock and roll?

This November, not only are Aldridge Musical Theatre Company (AMCS) back, they’re on home ground. Smokey Joe’s Café is being staged at the Aldridge Youth Theatre, Wednesday 8 to Saturday 11 November (1930 Start).

Smokey Joe’s Café – Aldridge Youth Theatre – 8 to 11 November 2017

After the success of their anniversary show, Fabulous at 50, AMCS are embarking on a different type of review show showcasing the works of legendary duo, Lieber and Stoller. Famous for hits by artists including, Elvis, The Coasters, The Drifters and Ben E King, Lieber and Stoller’s music epitomise all that is fifties.

In the Neighbourhood, Poison Ivy, On Broadway, Saved, Baby This is Rock and Roll, Yakety Yak, Hound Dog, Kansas City, I Who Have Nothing and Stand By Me. These are just a handful of tunes to expect in a vibrant show with great voices and dance.

Direction for Smokey Joe’s is in the safe hands of Julie Lamb with choreography by Sarah Hemming and musical direction from Mark Bayliss.

AMCS currently has a core of 30 members and are always on the lookout for more of all ages. Rehearsing in Aldridge every Wednesday, the society, in addition to two shows a year, also perform for charity functions and care homes.

Smokey Joe’s Café – Aldridge Youth Theatre – 8 to 11 November 2017

Tickets available from AMCS on 01543 480626.

Adults £12. Concession £10 and Under 16s £8.

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt.