Reviews

Review: Play in a Week 2016 – Strictly Come Shakespeare

Review author – Elaine Burns

The familiar opening music of Strictly Come Dancing has been resounding through the theatre this week as the participants in Play in a Week have been rehearsing their Shakespearean version.  It opened with a married couple settling in front of the TV to watch, (David Hatton and Patsy O’Brien) with the husband repeatedly asking to watch the football instead.  Then the whole cast appeared in Elizabethan costume doing the jive.

Review Play In A Week

The four judges were gloriously over the top and very funny.  Jamie Bensted as Len Goodman danced a few steps and made sure he gave someone ‘seven!’..Oliver Forsyth as Craig Revel-Horwood, was spot on with his tone of voice ‘a-ma-zing’.  Naomi Brown as Darcy Bussell looked the part and was elegantly emotional at every opportunity.  Andrew Marber dressed as a jester and going way over the top was born to play Bruno, leaping out of his seat and loving everything especially the fairies.  Daniel Galliford as Brucie used all his catchphrases in a suitably creepy manner; everyone was his favourite.

Review - Play In A Week_The judges table

The judges table

The script by Rachel Barnett was very clever at merging Shakespeare with ‘Strictly’, my favourite was when Henry V’s insults to Falstaff were taken personally by Craig.  The TV show is ripe for being sent up and it certainly was, with the audience joining in by chanting all the catchphrases.

 

 

 

 

 

Review Play In A Week_Zena and Yves

Romeo and Juliet (Yves Roudaut and Zena Rose)

Memorable couples included Romeo and Juliet (Yves Roudaut and Zena Rose) slowly dancing to ‘Kissing You’ from Baz Luhrmnn’s film, beautifully sung by Luke Tye.  As the dance ended they died, of course along with all the other couples.

Richard Watson as Henry V danced solo to Mars from the Planet Suite while on video the cast spoke a line each from Henry’s Agincourt speech.

The Mechanicals from Midsummer Night’s Dream plus some very badly behaved fairies, partly on film for the special effects, were hilarious.  The dance routine had it all, a wall, the lovers, a distraught Thisbe, a roaring lion and an ass.  Mathew James sang a spirited version of ‘where the bee sucks’ as accompaniment.

Shakespeare himself (Giles Walker) and his Dark Lady danced while Luke Tye sang Rufus Wainwright’s ‘Sonnet 29’.  A very difficult song but handled well by Luke.  Meanwhile Annie Brennand Roper was a feisty and stroppy Dark Lady.

A final very moving moment came when Puck’s speech ‘if we shadows hath offended’ was presented with great intensity as single lines on a flip chart.  The audience were asked to hold up their tea lights while the glitter ball was lit to send light spinning around the auditorium.  Magical.

Congratulations to everyone from the director Brandon to the ladies making tea.  There was so much in this show that I haven’t been able to mention everything or even every person on the stage.  What came across so strongly was the sheer joy and energy of everyone involved in any way.

Elaine

review Play In A Week Finale

Click to see a video of the rehearsal!

Review: Arabian Nights – Nomes Youth Theatre

Review author – Elaine Burns 

This year’s summer show by the Nomes Youth Theatre was based on the stories told by Sheherazade to keep herself alive. Every age group was involved from 4 year olds to 18 years. Impressively all the scenes were devised by the Nomes in rehearsal.

The set was simple; several rostrum plus arches painted in vibrant colours. A lamp and jars at the side of the stage and a magic carpet. The costumes were harem pants and black T-shirts.

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For the introduction everyone was involved, were well-drilled and mostly easily heard. The juniors performed the Ali Baba scene and their ‘Bad Boys’ routine was delightful.

During Aladdin the minis had their Magic Carpet scene, assisted by three of the Young Company. Each of these 4/5 year olds had a line and enchanted the audience with their energy and innocence. I did enjoy the use of physical theatre as Nomes formed the cave entrance.

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Act 2 opened behind the gauze with the full cast minus the minis who were too young to be on stage any further. The staging was very effective as the Seniors acted out the story of The Little Beggar. This was well-executed, very funny as each person in turn thinks they have killed the beggar, and all were heard clearly.

The adventures of Sinbad the Sailor were performed by the Juniors and Seniors and their extra confidence and experience showed, beginning with some excellent solo singing. They then told the stories of the Whale. the Giant at the Gate and the Cannibals.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable show and it was a joy to see how the Nomes are well on their way to learning about and acquiring stagecraft.

Elaine

Nomes Youth Theatre Classes

Registers are now open for a September start!

All of our classes have an emphasis on confidence building, teamwork and developing theatre arts skills in an inclusive environment.

Nomes Youth Theatre

 

NODA review: The Pajama Game

NODA representative, Jon Fox, reviews the recent production of the 1950’s musical “The Pajama Game” by The Nomads in association with Bookham Light Operatic Society, at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us).

Bookham Light Operatic Society – “The Pajama Game” – 12th May 2016 by Jon Fox

This tuneful and popular musical premiered on Broadway in 1954 and is a regular on the amateur circuit.   Set in a Pajama factory in the American Mid-West, the central plot is of the new factory superintendent Sid Sorokin falling out with the grievance committee leader Babe Williams over a pay increase demand whilst simultaneously falling in love with each other.

A mid-west American accent (or any American accent) is not easy for most British people and, in this production we had good and average among the various players.     A very strong principal cast backed by a highly enthusiastic and energetic chorus made for a very high performance standard.

Noda review - The Pajama Game

Vernon Hines inspects the workshop at the Sleep Tite pajama factory

The show opened with a most impressive factory scene with a row of real sewing machines being used, together with several ironing boards.   The company were all busily going about their business, be it sewing, ironing, portering, supervising etc.    A round of applause from the audience!    In a show where time and motion study was a recurring theme, not even Vernon Hines the T&M study man could have criticised the pace of events as the story unfolded.

The two leading players were Helen Dixon as Babe Williams  and  Michael Ayres as Sid Sorokin.    The love interest scenes were played with convincing chemistry and both played these forceful characters with passion, bringing stage presence and good singing – none better than the duet “There once was a Man”.

Simon Openshaw was a comical Vernon Hines.   Though the butt of humour especially when told to remove his “pants” (trousers) in order to dress in pajamas, he played this jealous character with great truth and retained a likeability.   Simon gave a most impressive performance, his two songs being put over really well.   His duet “I’ll never be jealous again” with Mabel – played with vivacity by Dreen Legg  was a show high spot’.

David Foord-Divers gave us a bombastic Old Man Hasler the pajama factory owner conspiring to cheat the workers out of their pay rise demand. He glowered and raged to good effect and was highly charismatic. Sophie Johnstone also shone with fine singing and strong acting as Gladys Hotchkiss (Mr Hasler’s Secretary)

Dreen Legg was Mabel – Sid’s secretary – and gave a very fine performance.    Chris Poplett as Prez was a handsome, womanising union man and gave a very watchable performance despite being landed with the show’s least melodic song in “Her is”.   To his great credit, he performed it skilfully, firstly with Gladys and then the reprise with  Mae, played by Tracey Gillard, a grievance committee activist who clearly enjoyed herself in the role – as did I watching.

Noda review - The Pajama Game

Once A Year Day – The Pajama Game, May 2016

Laura Thomson was a flirty and larger than life Poopsie, one of the factory workers,  and really caught the eye, being clearly the best dancer on stage.

Nicole Perrier-Doe also did well as Brenda another grievance committee member.   The shamming, work shy factory hand Gus “hurt” by Sid, who pushed him to get moving, was given a chip on the shoulder persona by Mark Leddin, who made much of this smaller role.   Colin Barnard was a suitably angry salesman, Max,  annoyed at the deliberately badly stitched pajamas.

Peter Hart made the amiable, stamp collecting, Pop (Babe’s father), really come to life.   Clearly a highly experienced actor, he gave a polished performance of professional standard.

Among the ensemble were several names I have seen play lead and major roles in other productions and their well drilled acting, singing and dancing fully reflected this standard.

Noda review - The Pajama Game

I’m Not At All In Love – The Pajama Game, May 2016

Musical Director James Marr achieved a good balance in the company singing and managed his three piece band with aplomb.

Choreographer Christina Harris, as top choreographers do had worked tirelessly with some innovative routines.    I especially liked “Steam Heat” with the three elegant black suited and white gloved dancers, “Seven and a Half Cents”, the stonking “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “The Pajama Game” reprise in the Finale.

Andrew Hamel-Cooke, the experienced director, had his stamp all over this energetic, yet emotionally vulnerable show.   The characters were all well cast and scenes ran seamlessly with clever use of lighting by Dee and Tony Bowdery and sound by Clive Vinall and Justin Cobb.   Jenny Hasted’s costumes were spot on for the fifties era, as too were the hairstyles.

The “Once a Year Day” company outing with the extremely well enacted knife throwing act was a very special scene.    In fact, a lady sitting next to Sue and myself would not believe the knives were not actually thrown!

This was a high energy show, but with well directed contrasts of emotion, pathos and all the characters, apart from the “Villain” Hasler retained a likeability.    In my opinion this is an underrated show;   catchy tunes abound, it has a strong story and much opportunity for dancing.    BLOS made a wise choice to stage this show and did full justice to the show’s writers, and more importantly, to themselves.

Noda review - The Pajama Game

Finale – The Pajama Game, May 2016

The Nomads are members of NODA, which has a membership of 2500 amateur theatre groups and 3000 individual enthusiasts throughout the UK, staging musicals, operas, plays, concerts and pantomimes in a wide variety of performing venues, ranging from the country’s leading professional theatres to tiny village halls.

NODA review – “Hayfever” 22nd March 2016

Review author – Jon Fox, Noda

In true showbiz style Nomads brilliantly overcame, at least in performance, the dreadful blow of losing their inspirational and much loved director, Alan Wiseman, rather suddenly and barely a month before the performance. Jeff Wightwick, himself an experienced director stepped in under these awful circumstances and, as this review will reveal, both directors served up a special fare for the audience.

Aided by Elaine Burns, Alan’s partner, as production manager with a dedicated team backing them, Nomads did full justice to one of Coward’s most sparkling plays. Having, shamefully, seen this play only once before and that over 40 years ago, I was as excited as a child at Christmas upon arrival at this special and charming theatre.

The setting is the Bliss family’s country house at a summer weekend, where all four family members, separately, and unknown to the others, each invite a guest for the weekend. As the plot unravels each guest comes to regret accepting their own invitation and eventually conspire to escape, as discretely as they can, leaving the family on their own to comment “how very rude” some guests are.

Judith Bliss, a retired actress, is married to David, a novelist, and mother to two children Simon and Sorel. Judith is a peach of a role for an accomplished actress and Philippa Galloway gave this most theatrical of characters full reign to show her fine range of theatrical emotions. It was a classy performance, though somewhat marred by a number of prompts. However, to be fair, it was on the first night when I attended. I particularly liked her ludicrous over-reaction to her young admirer’s chaste kiss. Coward was a wonderful observer and chronicler of the foibles of others.

Nathan Farrell as that young admirer, besotted by Judith, endowed Sandy Tyrell with a deliciously stiff, oh so English, gaucheness. The bewilderment and passion behind the stiff facade though, came through beautifully.

As bickering sister and brother Sorel and Simon, Sarah Mullins and Daniel Shepherd were pure middle class delight. So right on and sophisticated! Each more so than the other, or so they think. This sibling relationship was as real as real could possibly be in the Bliss madhouse. Admirably acted!

Carol McGlone as Clara, a world weary housekeeper and former dresser to Judith gave a highly amusing cameo. Her half opening only of the front door and hurried disappearance to leave the befuddled guests, unwelcomed and left behind was a comic joy. This world weariness was an excellent foil to the theatricality of the family members.

Paul Asher, cast as David Bliss, the husband and father, seemed at first almost normal whilst deeply intent on finishing his latest novel. Bit by bit we became aware that he, too, was in his own way playing games and using his young guest, a most discomfitted young flapper, Jackie Coryton, played skilfully by Ellie Sayer with near hysteria upon being forced to play charades with the family and other guests. Both Paul and Ellie in their very different ways “suffered” wonderfully well and just when I thought Jackie was in distinct danger of being relatively normal, but happily, not so!

Moyra Brookes as the vampish older woman guest of Simon, Myra Arundel and caught kissing David by Judith, gave an assured performance of this marvellous character. She had some of the best lines and was well cast in this role, playing the vamp for all she was worth.

Richard Greatham, played by Graham Botterill was a diplomat invited by Sorel. Graham played the dumbfounded Richard who, upon kissing Judith, finds himself the victim of Judith’s acting game. I really felt sorry for poor old Richard, so cruelly used by the – shall we say unconventional – Judith.

There was a great deal to like in all the acting and though several cast members dried a time or two, the essential pace of the bizarre play and the truth of the characters shone through.

The set was a realistic portrayal of a comfortably furnished and well heeled family home belonging to theatrical folk. Coward’s marvellous words are of course a great advantage for any actor or actors worth their salt to speak. The cast took full advantage and made the play the great success it undoubtably was.

Jenny Hasted’s costumes were detailed, well fitted and most appropriate. Lighting by Tony and Dee Bowdery was handled with their usual skill.

Despite the unfortunate and difficult circumstances of Alan’s untimely passing, the company did him and Jeff proud. No wonder Nomads have such a good reputation in Mid-Surrey.

Jon Fox – Noda

The Nomads are members of NODA, which has a membership of 2500 amateur theatre groups and 3000 individual enthusiasts throughout the UK, staging musicals, operas, plays, concerts and pantomimes in a wide variety of performing venues, ranging from the country’s leading professional theatres to tiny village halls.

Review – Just So, Lost For Words Theatre Company – October 2015

Review author – Ben

The writers of ‘Just So’, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, have created a unique niche in British Theatre for a series of successful and entertaining musicals appealing to a mainly young cast and audiences with a string of successful award winning productions ’Honk’, ‘Mary Poppins’ , ‘Moll Flanders’ behind them. Lost For Words, an amateur Company established for only six years, have quickly established an excellent reputation (I was greatly impressed by their production of ‘Avenue Queue’ last year); once again, an enthusiastic audience was not disappointed. This adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s famous ‘Just So’ story of the Elephant Child and his ultimate triumph over the mischief creating Crab, Pau Amma, is a natural source for a kaleidoscopic presentation with a predominantly young cast of skilled and well trained performers. While few of the songs are ever likely to become classic ‘show tunes’, the piece provided many opportunities for the performers to display their acting, singing and dancing talents, the result providing a colourful, stimulating if not exactly enthralling panoply.

LFWTC Just So Review

Hannah Simpson as the Kalokola Bird

The cast of over 20, nearly all on the stage for most of the show, were quite superb either singing or dancing, solo or ensemble, with particular commendations to the experienced Tim Morley as the Eldest Magician, a true “Prospero”, master of all he surveyed, with special mention for the excellent voices of Hannah Simpson as the Kalokola Bird (complete with well manipulated puppet) and a newcomer to the Group, Adam Claydon in the pivotal role of the Elephant Child, and co-founder of the Group, Sean Lytle, with a cameo presentation as Parsee. Really, Lost for Words are brimming with talent. A special mention must be made of the impeccable, faultless band led by Harriet Oughton, well integrated choreography by Carla Fox and an ingenious collection of papier-mache props.

Director (and Co- Founder of ‘Lost for Words’), Katharine Williams, must be well satisfied with her production. If I have a criticism it was an excessive reliance on radio microphones which should not be needed in the compact but acoustically sound Nomad Theatre and some indistinct diction during spoken passages, not unnaturally when the Elephant Boy received his trunk. Nomads themselves played their parts in organisation of Front of House, Bar, Sound (Tim Williams and Clive Vinall) which, this time, was not allowed to overload us with a wall of sound, with Tony and Dee Bowdery’s impeccable lighting and the splendid costumes.

The programme, which could usefully have supplied a synopsis of the plot, stated “we hope you enjoy the ride”. We did! Come back again to the Nomad Theatre, Lost For Words—you will be welcome.

LFWTC Just So Review

LFWTC Just So

NODA review: Cinderella, December 2015

NODA representative, Jon Fox, reviews the December 2015 production of Cinderella by The Nomads at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us).

The NOMADS pantomime – “Cinderella” by Peter Denyer

Nomad Theatre – December, 2015

“A company with several young principals has pros and cons from a director’s point of view. Young people bring enthusiasm, generally remember their lines, but many lack experience on stage. However, director Andrew Hamel-Cooke cast his company extremely well and the five teenage principals all showed talent.
Millie Franks excelled as Dandini and, though only 18, has dandini millie reviewbeen with Nomads since age 7 and seems born to be on stage, cockney accent and all! Her performance was a comic delight and she dominated every scene she was in – a star player indeed.
uglies reviewElla Kay as Mona and Lisa Arnold as Grizelda, the two uglies, were a wonderful team as the evil stepsisters. Despite being females of course they were truly awful to poor Cinderella and readily won boos. I much liked their comic touches and their costumes were way over the top and therefore most effective, though I felt Ella was a little too “pretty” for my taste – a wart or spots would have added ugliness!
Young Sheree Paton at only 16 was a good all rounder as Cinderella. She sang, moved and acted with talent and presence well beyond her tender years. She was goodness personified in real contrast to her evil stepsisters.cinderella review
New to the Nomads, 18 year old Robb Green was a most likeable, even endearing Buttons. His stage “vulnerability” effectively deflected his leading man looks, not a quality Buttons ever needs. Definite talent here. His efforts to fill in time while Cinders changed costumes will prove to be a valuable experience.group cinders review
Matthew Scanlan was most effective as Baron Hardup despite looking young. His wife Baroness Hardup was given a dominant and evil persona in a beautifully crafted performance by Vykki Mash, with quite marvellous diction and timing. She also looked too pretty though for this important role.
Sarah Wilson as Prince Charming did well too, though she was a little “girly” and I would have preferred more attack in the part.
A budding star is 13 year old Charlotte Cawley as the Fairy Godmother. She opened the Panto and her diction and timing were excellent.
Colin Barnard did well as the Chamberlain as did Hazel Eve as Swing.
The chorus sang and danced with enthusiasm and the very young “babes” were pretty with the “ahh” factor. Choreographer Alannah Winn-Taylor got the most from them and devised clever dance routines.
Musical director Charles Garland on keyboards with Katie Godsmark on drums gave all the necessary support and the music and singing generally were good.
The stage sets were most effectively designed, constructed and scene changes were swiftly handled by the in-house crew. The transformation scene as Cinderella was magically sent to the ball was especially effective. Lighting by Tony and Dee Bowdery worked splendidly.
cinders fairies review
I must commend the costumes and wigs which were a splendid array of bright panto colours with a gorgeous frock for Cinders at the ball and some outrageously OTT ones for Mona and Grizelda. Buttons, Fairy Godmother, Baroness, Prince Charming and Dandini too all looked really good. Jennie Hamel-Cooke, Elizabeth Cross, Kirsten Wiggins and Jay Forsyth – I salute you all!
In the highly experienced control of Andrew Hamel-Cooke as Director, many of the young performers will have learned much about pantomime. There is no substitute for being thrown into the deep end, as it were and I am pleased to report that all proved to be strong swimmers. Andrew’s traditional production with all the usual “business” contained all the vital necessary ingredients. The false leg is a well worn trick but was skilfully handled and the ghost scene, done most traditionally is always funny, if well timed, as here. The team spirit on stage, backstage and front of house was very evident. Panto is my favourite stage genre and this most enjoyable evening once again confirmed my own love of this uniquely British art form.”
John Fox

NODA District 19

The Nomads are members of NODA, which has a membership of 2500 amateur theatre groups and 3000 individual enthusiasts throughout the UK, staging musicals, operas, plays, concerts and pantomimes in a wide variety of performing venues, ranging from the country’s leading professional theatres to tiny village halls.