Archive for June, 2019


I see many amateur productions throughout the year and decided it was time to experience BMOS Musical Theatre Company in action. Therefore, following reading about last years’ award-winning Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I had no hesitation going. Of course, musical societies differ in terms of profile, budget, size and location, so the smaller can never compete with one who can hire the New Alexander Theatre. Therefore, BMOS must deliver and I’m pleased to say they did just that. What a marvellous, professional company. Amateur in name but nothing of the sort in terms of evidence on stage.

Half a Sixpence is the tale of Arthur Kipps, a shop assistant who comes into an inheritance which leads him to a choice of love for Ann, or the more socially acceptable, Helen. To be honest, I found the plot rather pedestrian with some superficial characters who are redundant at times, and the occasional song lacking that extra something. But then I remembered this was not the more recent Cameron Mackintosh revival, but the 2008 Warner Brown version. It didn’t matter. BMOS managed to drag the mediocre up to the higher echelons of musical theatre with quality of cast and production throughout.

In the lead role of Kipps was Daniel Parker, and what a pro. Magnificent from start to finish, particularly in numbers such as My Heart’s Out There and Half a Sixpence. Equally supporting with excellence was Annabel Pilcher as Ann who was outstanding with I Know What I Am.

There was also a fantastic performance from Jake Genders in the part of Harry Chitterlow, a strange character who seems to serve no purpose other than being the solution to Kipps’ problems at the end. Could do with a deserving subplot, especially in this production as Genders was amazing.

Rounding off the principals were great displays from Carys Wilson (Helen), Jo Smith (Mrs Walsingham) and Lee Navin (Walsingham). Supporting these in marvelous fashion we had the shop staff in Alex Nicholls (Pearce), Neil Ward (Sid), Andrew Treacy (Buggins), Morgan Bebbington (Kate), Rosie Harvey (Flo), Charlotte Boyer (Victoria) and Patrick Pryce (Shalford). Other named parts included: Lucy Homer (Laura), Adam Wheeler (Deckchair Attendant & Mayor), Keir Poutney (Photographer & Dog Model Maker), Sian Patterson (Gwendoline), Aaron Hollyoak (Young Kipps) and Sophia Patel (Young Ann). The two younger versions were also played by Harry George and Olivia Brookes for half of the run.

At the helm in production was Stephen Duckham (Director), David Easto (Musical Director) and Suzi Budd (Choreographer).

Half a Sixpence is a great show for the chorus and there was plenty on view, full of energy which travelled through to the audience, especially in Flash, Bang Wallop! BMOS return to the Alexander Theatre in November with A Christmas Carol and on the evidence of Half a Sixpence, it will be well worth a visit.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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I’ve had five previous encounters with Singin’ in the Rain, making it one of my most watched musicals. However, I’d not seen Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Company before but had read about their high pedigree. It was also a nice surprise to see a number in the cast from the nearby and excellent, Third From the Right Productions, therefore, expectations for me were high.

A slight negative (not with the company, I add) is that Brierley Hill Civic Hall has an atmosphere not best suited for musical theatre, however Quarry Bank more than made up for this with an excellent show. Filled with easily recognisable tunes, Singin’ in the Rain portrays the advent of talking pictures through its central characters.

For Don Lockwood on stage we had Richard Cope who played the part to perfection. Magnificent vocals with equally good dance to complement as shown in the title number. In the role of Kathy Seldon was Francesca Handley who matched her partner in love on stage with a stand-out and flawless performance, including a terrific rendition of Would You? Then we had Louise Griffin as Lina Lamont. It’s one thing to get vocals and diction right, but when these are meant to be awful for the character, this involves some skill and Louise pulled it off, especially in What’s Wrong With Me?

Now, I hate to pick out favourites but occasionally can’t help it. Danny Teitge as Cosmo Brown made the stage come alive every time he appeared. Always some mannerism or change in tone of voice to give us a marvellous character performance. And brilliant in Make ’em Laugh.

Other good numbers included All I Do is Dream of You, Beautiful Girls, Moses Supposes, You Are My Lucky Star and the familiar, Good Morning. Then we have the dance spectacular in Act Two with Broadway Melody.

Supporting well on the night among a fantastic chorus were Lee Connelly (Sid/Rod), Sarah Coussens (Zelda), Keshie Herbert (Dora Bailey), Mike James (R F Simpson), Jo Tranter (Miss Dinsmore) and Jake Winwood (Roscoe Dexter). A sign of a good society is how much energy and enjoyment projects from the stage into the auditorium, or in this case – hall, and there was plenty of that on offer by Quarry Bank.

The direction for Singin’ in the Rain was in the hands of Steve Ganner with musical direction by Richard Ganner and choreography from Donna Jones. Job well done by all.

Singin’ in the Rain has some great moments, and Quarry Bank gave us real rain on top of these. I always like the studio scene with the microphone in the bush and the pre-recorded films had great comic moments. However, I do find the opening backstory from Don a bit tedious that early in the show, but I guess you can’t have everything.

So, sixth time seeing Singin’ in the Rain and was it a good experience? 6 out of 6 as far as I’m concerned in terms of top performances.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

 

© Antony N Britt 2018

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