Tag Archive: Quarry Banks Musical Theatre Company


***Apologies for the lateness of this review. Covid came calling.***

Some films don’t transfer well to stage, and Shrek is one of them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an okay, enjoyable romp, but not one of the best scripts with a mediocre score. And that was such a pity because Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Company are one of the best I have seen on my travels. But you can only work with what material you have and fortunately, QBMTC did pull off a storm of a show, bringing alive characters far beyond what the script expects to deliver. 

Shrek—Brierley Hill Civic Hall—June 7 2022

Based on the 2001 film of the same name, Shrek the Musical follows the plot closely, with some added extras, most notably expanding on Lord Farquaad’s plot, excellently portrayed by Tom Robinson. But he wasn’t the only one to shine. Carl Cook in the lead role was as good as Mike Myers and likewise, Sarah Coussens excelled too as Princess Fiona. Completing the trio of heroes, one actor had the unenviable task of being an Eddie Murphey. Fortunately, Luey Pearce made Donkey his own and had me forgetting the Hollywood stars’ performance completely. Other principals were Natalie Baggott (Dragon), Gillian Homer (Gingerbread Man/Sugar Plum Fairy) and Isabella Cook (Pinocchio). 

It is a credit to Quarry Bank and amateur theatre that the performances were that good, it put the West End in the shade. Sometimes with professionals, you get the feel of going through the motions yet here, professionalism came from the heart of those who do it for the love of theatre. And didn’t it show. Wonderful. 

Shrek—Brierley Hill Civic Hall—June 7 2022

Shrek has a few excellent numbers: Morning Person, Build a Wall, Freak Flag and Story of My Life. Additionally, I loved What’s Up Duloc with the wonderful Duloc Performers. But my favourite number of the night was I Know It’s Today, where three Princess Fiona’s at different ages, tell of their wish to be rescued. Credit to Connie Davies and Katie Tranter who joined Sarah Coussens in this wonderful offering. However, there were a few songs which were fillers, not adding to the plot or moving it forward. Again, a fault of the original template. 

And I hate to keep going back to the script, but it amazes me how fast things date. Only 20 years since the original film debuted, I now feel uncomfortable at the ridiculing of a person’s size with Lord Farquaad’s being used as a plot device for cheap laughs.  

The team behind Shrek, making this an enjoyable night for all, was Zoe Russell with dual duties of Directing and Choreography, while Chris Handley was Musical Director. 

Brierley Hill Civic Hall isn’t the best venue for Musical Theatre, echoing like a cavern at times but Quarry Bank raised the roof with exuberance and quality throughout. A wonderful showing from an excellent musical theatre company. 

Shrek—Brierley Hill Civic Hall—June 7 2022

Cheers.

Antony N Britt 

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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