NODA representative, Mark Allen, reviews the recent production of Dick Whittingon and his cat by The Nomads at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us).
The NOMADS – “Dick Whittington and his cat”
Nomad Theatre – 13th December, 2017
Author – Peter Denyer
Director – Andrew Hamel-Cooke
Choreography – Samantha Potten
Musical Director – Gareth Alber
Warmly welcomed by the front of house I was ushered into the bar and awaited meeting with Andrew, the director who extended his good wishes and requested we remain to meet the cast later. A refurbished and (purpose) rebuilt theatre, it was gratifying to see it almost full.
Greeted with a relatively simple set which worked very well, the changes as they were, were slick and without much fuss. Well lit and with good sound too, the diction was clear and could be heard well above the three-piece band offset stage left.
In true fashion the pantomime started and we were introduced to a motley cast of characters ably led by Sophie Johnstone as Dick, Daniel Shepherd, very boo worthy as
King Rat and the sweet and innocent Hayley Clines as [Fairy] Bow Bells, all three confident and audible.
Michael Ayres played the dame Sarah the Cook, and seemed to be enjoying the role too, as was fairly evident. I liked the enthusiasm, it rubs off well!
The cast and chorus were well drilled by Andrew Hamel-Cooke and the choreography (Samantha Potten) was well performed, and in the main all in time too! Again like Sarah the Cook, the chorus and associated cast (too many to mention) (Ed: see below for our comments!) were really enthusiastic and this came across well, helping the audience to a very good evenings entertainment.
Overall a really enjoyable evening, and well worth the drive to see it. Well done Andrew and well done Nomads.
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.
Unfortunately, the large cast meant that not everyone got a mention by name, but we wanted to add a few notes on their amazing performance!
Millie Jane Franks as Idle Jack was punchy, energetic and had fabulous stage presence!
Iain Watson (Alderman Fitzwarren) and Jeff Wightwick (Captain Cuttle) both embodied their characters with sincerity and humour.
As The Sultan of Morocco, Richard Peachey‘s accent work and nimble movement made for very lively scenes!
Sasha Plaché brought grace and wonderful singing to the part of Alice Fitzwarren.
King Neptune and his mermaid (Ricky Powell and Tilly Winford – not to be mixed up) were ethereal and deserving of the audience “oohs” and “aahs” under the sea.
Our not-very-dynamic duo of baddies, Gnashfang (Lisa Arnold) and Gnawbone (Johnny Diamond) were suitably nasty, horrible and comedic in equal measures.
Tommy The Cat played by Karolina Sepiak presented an amazing solo self-choreographed dance piece as well as plenty of laughs and cheers!
All the adults and children in the ensemble clearly worked very hard to present coordinated and energetic group songs and dances which the audience loved.
All of the production team should have a huge pat on the back too – costumes were fantastic as always,… make-up was striking and a great display of what Guildford College students can do,… props convincing and consistently well placed,… lighting enhanced the audience understanding of the story locations and sentiment,… sound kept the pace and humour of the scenes,… staging, flying and scene changes were slick,… and the chaperones kept all of us in check… not just the children!
Theatre reviewer, Polly, reviews Move Over Mrs Markham
“The very mention of the name Ray Cooney brings a smile to the face of anyone who has any experience of theatre. It was with such expectation that we took our seats at the Nomad Theatre on Thursday evening. We were not disappointed.
The opening musical theme prepared us for what was to come. The curtain rose on a wonderful set which evoked the period to a T. The ubiquitous Tretchikoff’s “Green Lady” the “Picasso” etc, sealed the moment in British fashion. The attention to detail in all Nomad sets is something to be
very proud of. It gives all the shows a feeling of professionalism and this set was “out there” with the best, It was detailed and beautifully observed.
The story of the very average couple whose flat becomes the focus of an hilarious tangle of events is laid out in the first act. The opening moments were, almost of necessity, a little slow and in no way prepared us for the absolute mayhem of what was to come in Act 2!!
We first met Mrs Markham (Nikky Kirkup) who was wearing a very snug fitting dress. She gave us a well drawn character of a very reasonable, supportive wife who was leading a very quiet,”normal” and blameless life. Her husband (Matt Weaver) was the very essence of the hard working, committed, slightly boring “grey man” or was it perhaps John Major making a surprise visit? Together they presented the face of an ordered married life. Fortunately for us, their employees, in the shape of the Interior Designer, the maid and their friends, were less ordered.
Nathan Farrell as Alistair Spenlow was excellent His presentation of a slightly camp but “up for it any time with any lady” was hilarious and very nicely balanced. His entry in a tangle of curtain fabric seemed like a metaphor for what was to come. I think this is the very best performance I have ever seen from Nathan. His interaction with the lovely Sylvie (Emily Tietz) was delightful.
Together they created some very funny moments and some moments of the nearest thing to true romance that we got in the play. She was particularly effective in Act 2, appearing as she did, in a very pretty lemon ‘shortie’ nightie. Just the kind of lady for an Interior Designer, attractive in every way.
Vykky Mash as Linda Lodge was a delight. Her frothy and giggly, ‘teetering on high heels’ sort of character was beautifully sustained. (I once knew a young student just like that.) She kept me giggling with every appearance. Her interplay with Mrs Markham was always excellently fluent,
well projected and fluent. They played well against one another. Always believable and clear.
Linda’s husband, Henry Lodge (Simon Openshaw) cut a very urbane figure in his elegant blazer. He presented the very epitome of the ‘English chappie’; who likes a ‘bit of fun’ and fun he had galore. His delighting in ‘entertaining’ ladies served as a wonderful foil to his more sober partner, Philip Markham. Simon sustained this role with absolute conviction and confidence throughout. An excellent portrait of one of the key characters.
We had to wait until Act two to meet the other three characters. Olive Harriet Smythe was wonderfully well portrayed by Judy Abbott. This was a sensitively thought out character, played with absolute confidence and commitment. It was fortunate that she was such a very talented actor because her character was the pivot on which everything in Act 2 relied. I think we have all read about characters such as this, but it was wonderful to “meet” the real thing. It is a pity that the script did not allow us a moment with any of her canine friends. What fun that would have been!
We learn in Act one that Linda was trying to wreak revenge on her straying husband by having a little ‘dalliance’ with Walter Pangbourne, (Iain MacFarlane). This sober, well at least for his first entry, gentleman, complete with bowler hat, rolled umbrella and bunch of flowers contributed wonderfully to the whole chaos of the second act. He seemed unphased by anything that was thrown at him even having to adjourn to the office below the flat for his bit of “slap and tickle “ with Linda. This was a smallish role, but he created a real, comic character with every entrance and utterance.
That leaves us with Miss Wilkinson (Samantha Potten). Her first entry wearing rather forbidding glasses gave no hint of the lithe and foxy lady she became once the glasses were off. Again this was almost nothing much more that a cameo role but she made a most wonderful job of it. Her discreet but suggestive Helen Mirren-like strip was beautifully and bravely handled. She added considerably to the comic progress of the piece and her clear diction and projection ensured that
her performance was well noted.
This was a wonderfully funny piece of excellent ensemble playing. There were some very glorious moments of comic “business”. The bra strap being entangled in Philip Markham’s wrist, for example as he tried to thread the black bra through the louvered bedroom door, and the scene where “goosing’” was explained, were side-splittigly funny. As with the whole piece, the timing was first rate and the music and the lighting did their bit in creating the whole performance. Farce is a
hugely difficult format, but here is was, flowing along with consummate ease.
This is a slightly dated piece in the sense that it deals in a rather non-PC way with the issue of homosexuality. Although is was very well done, it did make me feel a little uncomfortable and was a sad echo of the kind of view that was common when the play was written. I can only hope that
any gay members of the audience felt we were laughing with them rather than at them. That said, this was a really excellent evening’s entertainment and it was gratifying to find the house almost full of appreciative and enthusiastic audience members.
One slight criticism. I felt a second curtain call was called for. This was a great performance and the level of enthusiastic and appreciative applause really demanded a second appearance of the cast so that we could say ‘thank you’ properly. As a company, you give huge amounts of your time
to such productions and we, your audience, would love to show our warm appreciation.”
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.
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.
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.
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.