Tag Archive: West Midlands


Okay, the most popular musical in the world comes to town. Now, I’ve experienced Les Misérables in the West End so therefore couldn’t pass an opportunity to see the tour. However, the fact it is so popular means tickets are like gold and despite great efforts, my party was still in Row W of the Birmingham Hippodrome (Three from the rear of the stalls).

Now my only major gripe is with the theatre itself. Don’t charge over £50 for seats with what is essentially a restricted view. In Row W, you’re under the Circle and viewing the stage is somewhat akin to watching through a letterbox. Then, the sound. You’re in this claustrophobic area and the full audio experience doesn’t reach. Think ditching a surround sound system to use a transistor radio instead. There we have the big niggles, so on with the show.

From start to finish Les Misérables is everything you’d expect. Good staging and excellent performances in both acting and voice. Okay, the set is nowhere near as good as at The Queen’s Theatre, London and the revolving stage is sorely missed. But not every theatre is equipped for this, therefore I’ll give the tour the benefit of doubt.

I must first pay great praise to Killian Donnelly (Jean Valjean) and Nic Greenshields (Javert). Both are at the top of their game and could not have been better in the respective solos of Who Am I? Bring Him Home, Stars and Javert’s Suicide. Other great numbers on the night (Not that any were poor) included Master of the House, In My Life, A Heart Full of Love and A Little Fall of Rain. My favourite number, though, is always One Day More, having performed the Javert lines on several occasions.

The character of Marius was Harry Apps who gave a good rendition of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. However, the appearances Marius’ dead friends were not as haunting as I’ve previously seen them. Cosette was portrayed by Bronwen Hanson and for once, it was lovely to see this character less of a Mary-Sue and more realistic as the young woman she would have been, given her upbringing. And a beautiful voice.

The unfortunate Fantine was Katie Hall who delivered I Dreamed a Dream the best I’ve heard. Then there were the Thénardiers (Martin Ball and Sophie-Louise Dann). These roles always add comic relief, surprising for characters so vile, and this occasion did not disappoint. Eponine has always been my favourite, though, so I was delighted with the excellent vocals from Tegan Bannister while Will Richardson was also in good form as Enjolras.

A couple of downsides with the show itself: I did wonder why Eponine changed ethnicity during puberty and it would also have been nice to know which child performers were in the roles on the night. Plus, the consequences of the barricade battle were a let-down without the revolving stage to reveal a tableau of broken bodies on the other side.

The touring production of Les Misérables was directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell while musical supervision and direction was in the hands of Stephen Brooker, Graham Hurman and Ben Atkinson.

So, which is better, the version in the West End or this one? If, I’m honest, I’d opt for the former, but this was still a fantastic show which I highly recommend.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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My second helping of Sister Act in just over a year, primarily as a research trip as I may be doing it in 2020. However, Sister Act is also a fabulous show and I looked forward to seeing Willenhall Musical Theatre Company’s production.

Sister Act – The Dormiston Sports and Arts Centre – 11 April 2019 Photo © Antony N Britt

Sister Act is the story of Deloris Van Cartier, on the run from her crime boss boyfriend after she witnesses a murder. Having to give evidence against him, Deloris seeks sanctuary in a convent, disguised as a nun with Mother Superior the only member of the order who knows her identity. With music from Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, plus book courtesy of Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, this is a fast-paced comedy which ticks the right boxes in terms of music, laughs and all-round entertainment.

In the lead role of Deloris was Laura Autumn Rai who gave the perfect performance in this iconic role. With powerful voice and great timing, she owned this part. Then we had Juliet O’Brien, again giving all you’d expect and more as Mother Superior. Playing Mary Robert was Abbie Rai whose character grows in confidence during the show. Nothing confidence-growing about Abbie’s performance though as hers was stand-out all through the night. In the part of Eddie, we had Daniel Haddon. Daniel, as on two previous occasions I have seen him on stage, showed what a fantastic character actor he is. All three have been so diverse you only have the credits to tell you it was the same person. Also getting their characters spot-on were Rachel Chadwick (Sister Mary Patrick) and Nikki Rai (Sister Mary Lazarus). The talent runs deep at Willenhall.

Now, memory had the part of Monsignor O’Hara as being rather dull. However, Roger Stokes brought it to life, raising the comic aspect and thus making Monsignor a great deal more fun to watch. Adrian Smith was excellent as Curtis Jackson. Good voice and marvellous stage presence. And then the henchmen: Will Phipps (Joey), James Totney (TJ) and Dom Napier (Pablo). These three had my number of the night with Lady in the Long Black Dress.

Supporting well among a talented and enthusiastic cast we also saw Abbie Sellick (Tina), Megan Rai (Michelle), Jennie Rullan (Mary Theresa), Simon Williams (Ernie), Alex Jeffreys (Copper) and Carol Ann Burgess (Sister Mary Martin).

Further songs I enjoyed were Take Me to Heaven, When I Find My Baby, I Could Be That Guy, The Life I Never Led, Sister Act, Spread the Love Around and Raise Your Voice. And then there was It’s Good to Be a Nun. I’ll never understand why How I Got the Calling was dropped in favour of Good to Be a Nun, but Nun does the same thing and is still fun.

Directing Sister Act for Willenhall was Alf Rai who can be proud of his cast. Equally, Gladstone Wilson brought forth a wonderful wall of sound in terms of vocals and band. Finally, choreography was at the top of the league in the hands of Lindsey Grant.

At the end of the performance, a packed audience (not bad for a Thursday) rose to their feet for an ovation, which was good, because Willenhall Musical Theatre Company had earned it.

Sister Act – The Dormiston Sports and Arts Centre – 11 April 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I have a confession to make. I had never seen Phantom of the Opera until this experience. Sure, I’m familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber music, having played the soundtrack for years and have also seen the 2004 film version. However, I always thought the first time I saw Phantom it should be at its traditional home of Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End. That was until I discovered it being performed local to me by Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA).

Now, I’m no stranger to BOA, having seen and reviewed two of their Year 13 productions in The Witches of Eastwick (2016) and Sister Act (2018). Both were of the highest quality, talent surpassing the years of those on stage. Therefore, when I searched out this years’ offering, I had no hesitation in breaking my promise of waiting for London. I knew I’d be in for a treat with BOA and boy, I was not disappointed.

As before, the academy provides four performances with the cast split into A and B (Two each). The fact they can produce this with two entirely different casts of the same calibre makes it more amazing. I won’t go over the plot as really, if you’re reading this, you should know it. What I want to do is laud as much praise as I can on the remarkable BOA students.

In the role of The Phantom on the night we had Llewellyn Graham who captured the role with mystery, character and great voice. Then, speaking of voice, we had our Christine Daaé. OMG! Colleen Curran was amazing. I have witnessed leading ladies in professional shows who were not as good. An outstanding performance. I was on the edge of my seat during Think of Me with goosebumps on my arms, it was so magical. See you in the West End one day, Colleen. Equally, Rhiannon Street as Carlotta owned the stage with her presence. A fabulous voice and acting which totally exploited the character the way it needed. Then, playing Raoul was Sam Astbury who complimented his love interest in great fashion. Much good chemistry between the two.

An interesting take on the original tale saw André and Firmin played by in Kitty Hosty and Libby Clifford respectively. I know these are generally male roles, but these two worked so well, providing much comedy in a wonderful double act. Rounding off the principals were Niamh Slater (Madame Giry), Katherine Lester (Meg) and Leo Carl Abad (Piangi). Each once more than attained the high standards of others on stage. And that went for the rest of the cast too, which was massive. Wonderful ballet routines added to great sound from the chorus during musical numbers with lots of interaction and characterisation.

Then we had the effects. Yes, the chandelier came down (and made everybody jump, even though I suspect half the audience knew it was coming). Also, there was good use of the set for the signature number where The Phantom takes Miss Daeé into the catacombs. A successful use of doubles also made this appear like the long journey down into the depths it’s meant to be. Mood and magic were consistent throughout until that final scene where The Phantom disappears into his chair, leaving Meg Giry alone on stage with the mask. Both chilling and beautiful.

Of the musical numbers, there are many highlights: Phantom of the Opera, Music of the Night, All I Ask of You, Masquerade, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, The Point of No Return … Hell, I could list the lot.

In charge of production was Dan Branch with musical direction of a good band by Daniel Summers. Choreography was from Lee Crowley, assisted by Lucy Jennings and Georgie Meller.

I began by saying this was my first experience of the show. My partner, who accompanied me, has seen it both in the West End and on tour. Her verdict was that this surpassed both. These student productions are not just for parents to watch and credits towards an education, they are welcome inclusions in any theatre schedule. I thoroughly recommend them to be checked out. I know I’ll certainly continue to do so.

Phantom of the Opera – The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – 22 March 2019

* Post to this review being published, I’m informed all production and tech were completed by students too, making the entire process more amazing. Full details kindly supplied by Heather in the comments section below. Thank you.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Many thanks to BOA for providing cast names for this article.

The sun has got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!

This May, the NODA nominated Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) return to The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock with a classic musical in Me and My Girl.

Set in the 1930s, Me and My Girl tells the story of the noble residents of Hareford Hall and their search for a new heir. That lucky person is common cockney, Bill Snibson, however, the Duchess of Dene, who has the task of imposing tradition onto Bill, does not approve of Bill’s girl, Sally Smith. He must learn to live within the rules or retire back to Lambeth with an annuity.

With a musical score by Noel Gay, plus book from L.Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, the show enjoyed colossal success in the 80s and 90s following script revisions by Stephen Fry. Me and My Girl is still funny today with instantly recognisable songs: The Lambeth Walk, The Sun Has Got His Hat On, Love Makes the World Go Round, Leaning on a Lamppost and Once You Lose Your Heart. These are but to name but a few. Adding to that, great dance routines which audiences will love.

Now in their 52nd year, AMCS are known for delivering quality and professional shows which go beyond the remit of amateur dramatics. At the directorial helm this time is long-serving member, Julie Lamb. She is supported in production in excellent fashion by the trusted team of Sarah Beckett (Choreography) and Mark Bayliss (Musical Direction).

Tickets are on sale now and you can get them by calling 07588 141841 or direct from the box office (01543 578762). Alternatively, they can be purchased online at this link.

Me and My Girl is on 16 to 18 May 2019 (1930 start) with an additional Saturday 18 May Matinee (1430 start). Prices for evening shows are £15/Adult, £12/Concession and £10/under 16s. Matinee prices are £12/Adult, £10/Concession and £10/under 16s.

Next time that you’re Cannock way, any evening, any day, you’ll find us all, doing the Lambeth Walk. Oi!

Me and My Girl Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 16 to 18 May 2019 AMCS

Don’t miss out.

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt.

I first saw Avenue Q years ago, therefore when I heard of a touring production coming to my area, I had no hesitation taking a second helping.

Avenue Q – New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – 16 February 2019

Avenue Q is Sesame Street grown up – and totally corrupted. Simple, but it works, and there are numerous messages in the show which we may not wish to admit to – but are oh so true. With a book by Jeff Whitty, plus music and lyrics from Robert Lopez and Jeff Mark, Avenue Q has been entertaining audiences for years, and this packed New Alexander Theatre experience was no exception.

For those not acquainted, Avenue Q features puppet characters alongside three humans, interacting with each other. The puppets are animated and voiced by actors, who although unconcealed onstage, are completely ignored by both human and puppet characters. All puppeteers wear black to minimise distraction as opposed to the colourful clothing of the humans. This works and you soon focus on the puppets as though they were real.

The script to Avenue Q is funny, well-written and backed by an excellent selection of songs. These include Sucks to Be Me, If You Were Gay, There is Life Outside Your Apartment, I Wish I Could Go Back to College and For Now. But I also have special favourites. Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist totally speaks the truth while There’s a Fine, Fine Line would be at home in any musical. Also, The Internet is For Porn, which will bring the house down every time. “Me up all night honking me horn to porn, porn, porn.” Oh yes!

Then we come to the scenes. No matter how many times I see it, I will never be ambivalent towards puppet sex. And the dream sequence … “I know, put my earmuffs on the cookie.” But we also have the closet gay (Rod) singing My Girlfriend in Canada who “Comes from Vancouver and sucks like a Hoover.” The song then finishes with the words, “And I can’t wait to eat her pussy again.” I do have to admit, I’ve played around and used that line on many a musical theatre song at the end, just to hear how it sounds.

A great night with a brilliant cast led by the puppeteers: Lawrence Smith (Princetown/Rod), Cecily Redman (Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut), Tom Steedon (Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear), Megan Armstrong (Mrs Thistletwat/Bad Idea Bear/Second Arm), And then the humans: Saori Oda was brilliant as Christmas Eve as were Oliver Stanley (Brian) and Nicholas McClean (Gary Coleman). Yes … this is meant to be Gary Coleman from TV’s Different Strokes. Ensemble were: Jasmine Bell, Ellis Dackombe, Chloe Gentles and Robbie Noonan.

Directing and choreographing Avenue Q was Cressida Carre with musical direction from Dean McDermott.

If ever you get the chance, I would certainly recommend a trip down to Avenue Q. I guarantee you’ll enjoy being in the neighbourhood.


Avenue Q – New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – 16 February 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

It’s always a privilege to witness youth productions so I was delighted to attend this showcase from Walsall College’s Supported Learning Performing Arts Students.

A Showcase of Performance Work – Walsall College – !4 February 2019

With my background in autism, I’m all for inclusion, and my recent 2018 Sleeping Beauty Pantomime highlighted this with two of the cast members taking part. Performing Arts is for everyone, and a way people can express themselves.

On the night we were treated to music, dance, sketches and monologues, plus other spoken word. And what a joy it was to see the diversity of talent.

Kicking the evening off were the Level 1 Diploma Group dancing to Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop the Beat. A nostalgic trip for me, having danced this in panto (In full Captain Hook costume) a couple of years back. Further dances came with Stray Cat Strut although my favourite was a medley of Smooth Criminal, Don’t Stop Me Now and Mr Blue Sky. Come on, you can’t beat a bit of Elo and Queen. Also by the Diploma Group was a poignant tribute to fallen heroes with music and spoken word. This included The Sounds of War written and delivered by Mikail Ali. As both a writer and performer, I know first-hand how much harder it is with your own work as opposed to someone else’s. And we also had Alisha Clarke, reading from her novel, The Black Rose. Talent indeed.

The second of three learning groups were the Level 1 Certificate Group whose Latino Jazz Vibes was clever and entertaining. This group also rounded off the wonderful evening with When I Kissed the Teacher (No better way to end the show than Abba). However, they were also responsible for many monologues and sketches, the highlight of which for me was a wonderfully delivered piece by Imogen Williams titled, Sorry I’m Late.

The longest section of the show was an adapted version of The Wizard of Oz from the Entry Group 3 students. A delight from start to finish made more so by the wonderful performance of Abdul Raheem as the warlock whose wicked laugh had the audience in stitches. Following this the group then entertained with a mime to the vocals of Gemma Wyke with Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Credit goes to all students, though. Namely: Tom Andrews, Ayrshire Grant-Cable, Chris Cribb, Kane Hedley, Adil Hussain, Leighton Lewis, Sean Rogan, Devonite Smith, Olivia Tolley, Shantae Watson, Imogen Williams, Mikail Ali, Alishia Clarke, Symone Cunningham, Simranjit Dhillon, Dean Fields, Stuart Foster, Katie Henworth, Eleanor Peat, Brandon Pope, Jessica Matthews, Lauren Robbins, Matthew Britt, Ainsley Edwards, Stephen Miller, Abdul Raheem, Kirsty Startup, Jordan Titley, Ben Twells and Gemma Wyke.

The show was directed and choreographed by Thomas Armstrong, Katie Fieldhouse, Tanya Lewis and Emma Speake.

It’s all very well learning, but this must be fun, and there was evidence in abundance these gifted students were having just that – a great time. In fact, these young people are more than capable of progressing and would be welcome additions to many a dance and theatre company.


A Showcase of Performance Work – Walsall College – !4 February 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I’m always excited to encounter new talent and in Cinderella, Coleshill Operatic Society certainly delivered the goods.

Cinderella – Coleshill Town Hall – February 1 2019

This pantomime had all the ingredients one would expect and more. From the obligatory “It’s behind you,” to doses of “Oh no it isn’t,” we also saw tricycle riding dames and even a pantomime horse (Something I’ve not seen for a few years). I did laugh, though, during the bows when one child shouted out “Where’s the horse?” Come on, give the cast their moment.

The show had a bright opening with a number from Hairspray, renamed Good Morning Balti-More. This set the tone for an evening of high entertainment which didn’t disappoint. The only downside I found was the script, and I know it’s the script because I’ve experienced this version before and made similar comments in my review back then. Some scenes were over wordy with not enough jokes. This meant the cast carrying the show through talent and character which I am glad to say they did in abundance.

Two stand-out roles for me were our romantic leads in Lucia Owen-Small (Cinderella) and Molly Bennett (Prince Charming). Both portrayed their parts in superb fashion and excelled in the duet, Love at First Sight. Supporting well, though, was Jack Deakin playing a wonderfully camp Dandini and Joyce Eyre as our Fairy Godmother. Then, holding everything together, we had the reliable and lovestruck Buttons (Tom Willson). Now, I always feel sorry for Buttons as everyone really wants him to win Cinderella’s hand, but we know he never will. This is something that needs addressing (laughs wickedly) one day by a brave writer. You see, I always find it weird that Charming states Cinders is the most beautiful girl in the world, yet he can’t recall what she looks like without trying on a shoe.

Comic relief came from two sides. First, we had our Ugly Sisters in Chardonnay (Kelvin McArdle) and Shiraz (Lloyd Cast). Now, personally, I am not a fan of the traditional masculine dame, feeling the role has had its day, however, these two did what it said on the tin and thoroughly entertained the audience throughout. And we had a second helping of pantomime stooges in Mr Snitch (Pete Slater) and Mr Snatch (Jeff Martin), both going about their characters’ incompetence in a very Chuckle Brothers’ style. Rounding off our principals was a dastardly evil Lady Devilla (Natalie Broacher), the weak-willed Baron Hard-Up (John Kerr) and Major Domo (Robert Dutton). Oh, and I can’t forget the two halves of Bright Eyes in Clare Willson and Rachel Evans.

So many more good tunes during the show, among them: I’m a Believer, You’ve Got a Friend in Me and How Can I Live Without Your Love. One delight for me, though (and a complete shock), was the inclusion of What Do I Do Now? from A Slice of Saturday Night. Reason for this, it was the most obscure number used in my own Sleeping Beauty pantomime last year and I’m amazed anybody else had heard of it (Nobody in my company had). Brought tears to my eyes hearing it. And preceding the bows, a little audience participation with the jolly (but terribly irritating) I Like the Flowers, a song guaranteed to stay in your head for days. Well … it’s for the kids, isn’t it.

Direction for Cinderella came courtesy of Tim Willson with choreography by Rachel Evans. Then, leading a good three-piece band on top of musical direction was Tim Harding.

Coleshill seems a friendly society and everyone on stage looked to have enjoyed performing the show as much as those in the audience did watching it. My first opportunity to witness this society but not my last.

Cinderella – Coleshill Town Hall – February 1 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

This was my fourth time seeing Frank Turner and first in an arena venue. And as with previous experiences, one thing you can guarantee from Frank is entertainment. So much energy, the guy and the band keep going at a breath-taking pace, much like Frank’s work schedule.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Birmingham Arena – 22 January 2019 © Antony N Britt 2019

We are informed this is show 2299. Now, even if you divide that by his adult years, it still averages out at well over one hundred shows a year. Then you consider the seven studio albums since 2007 and you appreciate the tag of The Busiest Guy in Rock. However, there is a downside. With a huge catalogue of songs, it does mean many of my favourites are left out of a two-hour set. Dammit, I’ve still never heard Father’s Day live!

Still, with each new studio album comes a host of material and 2018s Be More Kind is no exception in quality: 1933, Blackout and Little Changes are but to mention three of these. Mix with the back catalogue and you have a show that delights the fan and hopefully pleases recent converts.

Always great to hear Photosynthesis, Recovery, The Road, Don’t Try This at Home and I Still Believe. Also, my atheist anthem, Glory Hallelujah. Heck, my evening was complete. Well, complete bar Father’s Day, Frank. It was also pleasing to hear Love, Ire and Song, not played for a few years, apparently.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Birmingham Arena – 22 January 2019 © Antony N Britt 2019

We had music, crowd surfing, plus a little dance with audience members for the final number, Four Simple Words. I was exhausted merely watching. Good humour and banter along with crowd participation. And an apology for missing Birmingham out last time around. In fact, this was my first reunion with the man in five years as previous local shows have coincided with productions of my own. I hope the next isn’t too far away, probably at this rate, with a new album. And let’s not forget the Sleeping Souls: Ben Lloyd, Tarrant Anderson, Matt Nasir and Nigel Powell, always a magnificent contribution to the show.

The only thing I would note as a minor negative is nothing to do with Frank Turner, it’s just the crowd were not as lively as my previous encounters. This could be to do with a larger arena venue and maybe the energy is less likely to be infectious due to the greater number of people to share it with. I didn’t care. It was a great show by a great showman.


Frank Turner - Be More Kind Signed

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

My only other experience of a Birmingham Rep festive production was three years ago with a very lacklustre (and far too arty) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. So, how did The Wizard of Oz compare?

The Wizard of Oz – Birmingham Repertory Theatre – 13 January 2019

In his programme notes, director Liam Steel states he didn’t want the production to be a carbon copy of the 1939 MGM musical (No problem there) while saying something about the world today. Now, I am a big advocate of updating films, TV, or stage shows into modern versions, but this wasn’t achieved here. With no clear vision, what we had was a mismatch of old and new which couldn’t decide what it wanted to be.

Yes, the cast were talented, and visual effects, despite being ambitious, paid off, especially the phantoms in the forest. But that’s where greatness ended. This was the end of the run and you would expect the cast to want to bow out with a bang. What you got, though, was a feeling of those on stage going through the motions.

One of the main problems is the original template which the team had to work with. The script is dull, my God, and I don’t mean mildly, either. Clunky dialogue was delivered too fast at times and I was thankful for the subtitles. And perhaps the memory cheats but I can’t remember the film being this boring. There are no sub-plots with scenes overly drawn out, making this a very long trip to the Emerald City. Into Act Two, with surreal moments meeting the Jitterbugs and Winkies (Yes … I know), this wasn’t enough to stop one of my party falling asleep.

Performances were okay but I had little or no empathy with the characters. When watching a stage performance I like to be drawn into that world, something which should come easy with The Wizard of Oz. But I had none of that.

I expected the show to be colourful and fast-paced. Instead it was drab and tedious. Costumes appeared to have come from a charity shop and whether this was an intentional concept, all it succeeded was to give the impression of cheap. And why was the Lion dressed to look like an Oompa Loompa?

One other point, we had a lovely little dog playing Toto in Kansas, however, when transported to Oz, the live dog was replaced by a puppet. Nice idea but the puppet did nothing bar hang around in the background looking neither funny or clever.

Something of interest to also note: We are told at the end Miss Gulch has broken her arm (or leg. By now I didn’t care). Well, if that’s the case, she still has the court order and is free to come and kill Toto when she recovers.

Musical direction was by George Dyer. However, I felt the orchestra was subdued at times and lost underneath the vocals. Also, there seemed little choreography. Very disappointing.

Playing Dorothy (whose Kansas accent disappeared after twenty minutes) was Chrisara Ago. Other cast members included Kelly Agbowu (Lion), Ed Wade (Scarecrow), Dillion Scott-Lewis (Tin Man), Lorna Laidlaw (Wizard), Jos Vantyler (Wicked Witch of the West), Thomas Vernal (Oz Guard) and Shanay Holmes (Aunty Em).

So, a second chance at the Rep for a festive show and a second dud. Don’t think I’ll try again.

The Wizard of Oz – Birmingham Repertory Theatre – 13 January 2019

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

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