Tag Archive: BMTC


Is it worth the waiting for, if we live ‘til 84?

I’ve become a huge fan of Bournville Musical Theatre Company in recent years, so I particularly looked forward to their latest presentation – Oliver. And not only did I see the show, I made four separate trips. This meant I could evaluate the performances from both casts of children which had been separated for the run.

Now, anyone who has knowledge of musicals will recognise Food Glorious Food, Got to Pick a Pocket, I’d Do Anything, As Long as He Needs Me, and … the list goes on. And if you think you are not that well up on the show, you’d be surprised how many songs you actually do know: It’s a Fine Life, Boy for Sale, Where is Love, Be Back Soon, Reviewing the Situation and the title song – Oliver. In addition, to those made famous by the 1968 Carol Reed film, there are some great tunes missed out in that medium: That’s Your Funeral, My Name and I Shall Scream. All of these were delivered without exception by a fantastic cast throughout, be they principals or chorus who excelled during Consider Yourself, Who Will Buy and Oom-Pah-Pah.

In the lead roles we had James Whatmore and Billy Stait as Oliver with Hayden Stocker and Jack Smyth (Artful Dodger). As for the rest of the children which included Flynn McBride-Hogbin and Cameron Dews as Charlie, I could not separate which was the best as each were of a high standard. And the same can be said for the entire performances. All top quality. The only criticism I could have would be a lack of inclusion with the children restricted to only boys.

Of the adult roles, I must lay great praise for Sophie Wood as Nancy with the ovations saying it all. Excellent in every department. Now, it’s easy to copy Ron Moody in the role of Fagin but Phil Snowe made this role his own with strong characterisation. As Bill Sykes, Jimmy Van Hear was a truly menacing figure, making me genuinely frightened at times whereas there was good support in the Nancy/Fagin scenes from Rhian Heeley as Bet.

Oliver is a different show in a way due to some scenes being more akin to mini episodes, which, in fact, was how the original Oliver Twist was published beginning in 1837. Of these segments, we first see the workhouse where Kris Evans and Jill Hughes were brilliant as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney. Then we had my favourite part of the show, the undertakers. Jonathan Eastwood gave a sublime depiction of the drunken Mr Sowerberry and was well supported by Karen Lane (Mrs Sowerberry), Natalie Buzzard (Charlotte) and Stuart McDiarmid (Noah Claypole). Finally, there was the Brownlow household with great rapport between John Clay (Mr Brownlow), Colette Preece (Mrs Bedwin) and John Morrison (Dr Grimwig). Credit must also go to the street sellers: Claire Brough, Rachel Fox, Adam Heeley and Lily Moore.

At the helm in direction was Terry Wheddon whose hard work was evident with the results on stage. Also, the fabulous choreography of Chloe Turner. Not an easy task with such a large cast but top drawer on the nights I was there. Chris Corcoran had the job of bringing together the vocals, backing them with a great orchestra. The icing on the cake for a magnificent show.

Now I always like the random and bizarre, and there was no better example of this than one of the street signs on the London cloth. Have you seen the industrious fleas? Okay … And then the voice from the audience during the rendition of I Shall Scream when a child shouted out, “Scream then!” Oh, little things amuse me.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Always a good show from Bournville Musical Theatre Company (BMTC) and The Best of British was no exception.

The Best of British– Dovehouse Theatre, Solihull – 27 October 2018

Split into several sections in either act, we had a powerful opening with two James Bond numbers (Live and Let Die and The Writing’s on the Wall) led by Rob Wheeler and Claire Brough, respectively.

An early joy for me were two tunes from Me and My Girl, a show I am due to perform in May. Here, a jolly Leaning on a Lamp from Kris Evans (and dancers) followed by the lovely Once You Lose Your Heart (Michelle Orton). A magic moment, indeed. Then, a great offering of Sweeny Todd’s, Worst Pies in London from Natalie Buzzard who is surely one of the best character actresses on the amateur dramatics circuit.

Now, I didn’t know what to expect from A Poultry Tale as the version from Honk I am familiar with is a bit lame (if you forgive the duck pun). However, Bournville’s full company outing was full of life and humour.

BMTC is a wealth of talent and it was pleasing to see many previously not in the spotlight, given the chance to shine. Magic moments came from Lily Moore (All That Matters), Greg Boughton (If Ever I Would Leave You), Rachael Fox (Don’t Cry for Me Argentina), Chloe Turner (As Long as He Needs Me) and Teresa Fittro (The Mist). And then we had a wonderful nostalgic trip (literally) with Those Were the Days, sung with great feeling by Sarah Debono.

It wasn’t only solos though. Chloe Turner led the ladies well with Somebody to Love while Jimmy Van Hear did likewise with the lads in The Stars Look Down. Now I’m not a fan of the Lion King’s Circle of Life but fronted by Lisa Colvin-Grieve, this company number really stood out. Fun was had with a surreal Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Chris Britt, John Clay and Company) and The Song That Goes Like This (Phil Snowe and Siobhan Ganley). Finally, the show was rounded off with a full company presentation of Raise You Up.

In May, BMTC perform Oliver and we had three tunes to promote this in Who Will Buy, Oom Pah Pah, and the previously mentioned As Long as He Needs Me. I can guarantee from this evidence the audience will be in for a treat and you can get your tickets here.

The production and some choreography from The Best of British was in the hands of Kris Evans and Adam Slack with musical direction from Chris Corcoran. Additional choreography was split between Helen Gauntlett, Karen Lane, David Page and Chloe Turner.

The only downside on the night was the curse of Am Dram in the form of sound problems, but that was vastly overshadowed by the Best of British talent.

The Best of British– Dovehouse Theatre, Solihull – 27 October 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

A month ago I saw Legally Blonde at The Crescent Theatre, performed by the brilliant Bournville Musical Theatre Company. As I enjoyed that so much, I thought I’d take the opportunity of seeing the touring production at the New Alexander Theatre.

Legally Blonde – The New Alexander Theatre, Birmingham – 23 May 2018

Unlike last month, the opening was low-key, and the show took time to build the energy, perhaps needing some of that Red Bull Elle drinks in the show. I guess some of the atmosphere came from the fact this was a matinee with the auditorium barely a third full, which was a pity as it was a great show.

Legally Blonde is fast climbing the list of my top shows and this performance did nothing to harm that. In the role of Elle we had Rebecca Stenhouse, standing in due to the illness of Lucie Jones. Well, I never watch X-Factor or Eurovision, so had no knowledge of Lucie, and could therefore appreciate the characterisation with an open mind. And what a good portrayal she gave. Suited the role perfectly, giving a faultless showing with strong voice and acting.

Playing Paulette, the top billing went to former EastEnders actress. Rita Simons, who captured the role well, making Ireland one of the best numbers. I did think Paulette’s outfits weren’t oddball enough, but this did not detract from Rita’s performance. Also from the world of soaps we had Bill Ward, last seen plunging from a bridge in Emmerdale. He made the perfect Callaghan.

I have said the atmosphere grew throughout and the culmination of this was an energetic finale, complete with pink ticker-tape, much of which I found on me hours later. Best number of the day for me was Legally Blonde itself. However, Gay or European did not live up to my previous experiences. A slight downside also was that dialogue seemed a little rushed on occasions. Still, a show full of memorable numbers: Bend and Snap, What You Want, Positive, So Much Better and Take it Like a Man were all highlights of an enjoyable afternoon.

Also appearing were David Barrett (Emmett), Liam Doyle (Warner), Laura Harrison (Vivienne), Helen Petrova (Whitney/Brooke Wyndham), Ben Harlow (Kyle), Mark Peachey (Winthrop/Dewey), Alexandra Wright (Margot), Rachel Grundy (Serena), Delycia Belgrave (Pilar), Nancy Hill (Enid Hoops), Rosie Needham (Kate/Chutney), Michael Hamway (Aaron Shultz), Felipe Bejarano (Sundeep/Nikos), Lucyelle Cliffe (Judge/Pforzheiner/Store Manager), Sally Frith (Gaelen), Brett Shields (Grand Master Chad), Craig Tyler (Carlos) and Laura Mullowney (Swing).

Legally Blonde was directed and choreographed by Anthony Williams with co-choreography from Dean Street. The musical director was James McCullagh.

The second production of Legally Blonde I have experienced within a few weeks, and I would see a third if the chance came. A great show that I’d highly recommend if it comes your way.

Legally Blonde – The New Alexander Theatre, Birmingham – 23 May 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

A new one for me and yet again, a show I’ve not seen a film version of. However, I hadn’t gone unprepared and bought the CD a couple of weeks earlier, and so good is the soundtrack, I knew I was in for a treat. Equally so with the case of it being staged by the wonderful Bournville Musical Theatre Company (BMTC) whose 2017 Pajama Game was one of my theatre highlights of the year. You know what you’re getting with BMTC so add a show which is impossible not to enjoy and you have the recipe for a great night out.

Legally Blonde – The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – 26 April 2018 Bournville Musical Theatre Company BMTC

Legally Blonde tells the story of ditzy Elle Woods who goes to law school in search of love, and her ex-boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. However, things rarely go to plan and Elle shows we can find our way without having to change who we are.

A great show full of energy from the opening Omigod You Guys and beyond. It’s a great testament to Legally Blonde and the cast and crew of BMTC that I never checked the clock once and that time literally flew. Stunning acting, fabulous dance and great voices.

Other number to love include … well, there are so many. I particularly liked Ireland, What You Want, Whipped into Shape, Bend and Snap, Legally Blonde and Find My Way. Heck, I even loved the bows. However, my outright favourite (and best scene of the show) was There! Right There! (Gay or European?). It’s so wrong, it’s brilliant. Had me rolling all though the number.

Playing our Legally Blonde Elle we had Chloe Turner who was made for this role. Great voice, great moves and a wonderful presence that owned the stage. No mean feat when you consider the fantastic support. Can’t name everyone but I’m going to try a lot. It’s not often you come across a situation where every part seems to have been perfectly cast, but is was here. David Page as Emmett, Peter Holmes (Warner) and Phil Snowe (Callahan) were everything I’d imagined from my two weeks listening to the CD. Also giving fine performances were Lily Moore (Vivienne), Karen Lane (Enid Hoops), Claire Brough (Brooke Wyndham) and Adam Heeley (Kyle). Loved the walk, Kyle. Providing sporadic appearances were the girls of Delta Nu (Sophie Woods, Natalie Buzzard and Siobban Ganley). They shone throughout as Elle’s conscience and inner thoughts, a surreal idea I approve of totally. And then the rest of the cast – I can’t find fault with any. So much fun, so much professionalism, so much enjoyment. Finally, I always have a favourite character and this time it was Paulette, the oddball underdog, portrayed magnificently by Rhian Heeley. Very believable. Great comic timing.

At the directorial helm was John Morrison who has delivered a real hit. Supporting on the production side was Sadie Turner (Choreography) and Chris Corcoran (Musical Direction).

Next year, BMTC are performing Oliver and I already have my tickets sorted. I would say go and see Legally Blonde at The Crescent as it’s on until Saturday. However, it’s sold out, and justifiably so. One thing I’m sure of, audiences for the three remaining performances are in for the ride of their lives.

Legally Blonde – The Crescent Theatre, Birmingham – 26 April 2018 Bournville Musical Theatre Company BMTC

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I was recently privileged to witness a journey through the years, courtesy of Bournville Musical Theatre Company. And Through the Decades was just that. A showcase of not only several eras in pop, rock and musical theatre, but also an example of how music has evolved during those times.

Through the Decades – The Austin Social Club – 16 October 2016

This was my first experience of the Bournville company and I was not disappointed.

From the opening rock and roll of the 1950s, I found myself captivated, tapping away and singing along (and not always silent, I may add) to the numbers performed on stage.

Good use of a three-piece band: Keyboard, drums and bass, provided all the sound needed. Combine that with great singing, dance and characterisation, you had a fabulous show before you.

Each section was introduced by a video consisting of films representing the relevant decade before launching into their opening number.

Of the songs, themselves, I’d have too long a list if I named all I enjoyed. Therefore, I’ll have to rely on the first which spring to memory.

A mix together of You’re my World and All I See is You were exceptional as was the case with the harmonies of Mr Sandman. For the 70s we had a Grease set of which Hopelessly Devoted to You, shone. Act One ended with a company number of Bohemian Rhapsody, and it shows you’re good if you pull that one off.

Into Act Two and a song from one of my favourite musicals in One Day More (Les Miserables). It was then I found myself further surprised. You see, I consider myself more a rock person. However, I was completely drawn in by fabulous performances of Total Eclipse of the Heart, She’s the One and Torn (one of my favourites of the night). Then we had Bournville’s very own Spice Girls. Now come on, I’ve said I’m into rock, and I’ve never taken any notice of the Spice Girls. But I liked these ones.

Probably, for me, the most powerful number was a combination of the Adele songs, Turning Tables and Rolling in the Deep. And that’s where I come back to what I said at the start. Whereas my eras are more late 70s to early 80s, it’s interesting to see how much music has evolved since the 1950s. Despite not being my type of music, there seems to be greater depth and complexity about more recent offerings. I guess we’re always discovering techniques that it’s inevitable a new generation will improve. And that’s a good thing. I enjoy the past, but don’t want to live it again.

Rounding off the show were two numbers from School of Rock. Great. A bit of rock. I’d not heard these songs before but having done so courtesy of Bournville Musical Theatre Company, I went online and ordered the original cast recording CD the next day. And I’ll probably be making a trip to the West End, too.

So well done to all, especially Rachel Fox (Producer), Chris Corcoran (Musical Direction), and Kris Evans, Helen Gauntlett, Karen Lane, Chloe Turner, Sadie Turner (Choreography).

At the start of Act One, we had a preview of the companies next show, The Pajama Game. On this performance, it will be well worth going to see.

Through the Decades – The Austin Social Club – 16 October 2016

Cheers

Nick

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