A Year To Remember

 

Surrey Advertiser

Theo Spring

 

A compilation of songs, dances and sketches often seems like an easy way to put on a show, but they are invariably more demanding than a play of musical.

In writing one, Rosemary Minchin used the months of the year as the bones fleshed up with pieces relevant either to the month itself, or the season.

With a warning of self-discipline ahead, Rosemary, Laurie and Beverley used rhyme to divulge their bulge - thanks to Christmas excesses, and that dealt nicely with January!

This 'Is Our Once A Year Day' introduced the whole cast in lively form followed by Calendar Girl and a costume for each month.

The songs selected reflected the months, like April Showers with its accompanying umbrella dance, or Tulips from Amsterdam to compliment the cast dressed in their soft greens and yellows to represent Spring. Singing In The Rain was well delivered by Rick Thompsett with the most appropriate tap dance from Gill Pattermore. More tap dance came in early summer from a great team of suns - their head dresses were spectacular and It's Too Darn Hot really blazed. Into autumn with its russet costumes and California Dreaming came over well as did the Halloween celebration with spooky masks, choreographed by Gill to Saint-Saens Dance Macabre. Omitting anything fro Bonfire night, it was straight into Christmas Cheer with an enticing version of Santa Baby from Celena Bain and the indefatigable Margaret Catton, undoubtedly the oldest person on stage, going strong with All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.

Sketches were short and funny - Speed Dating bore the results and the suspiciously-shaped Beefy Builders then introduced even more suspicion with the 'girls' in their Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikinis - wonderful costumes, including the hair ribbons, and well done on the men for being up for it.

As well as some impressive voices, both solo and ensemble, the team of young dances who worked incredible hard enhancing and illustrating much of the programme, were a joy to watch. To them fell the wonderful costumes, but the whole show was colourfully and artistically dressed.

A huge amount of work for director Ira Murray, woven together by compares Will Harris and Tony Wall with MD Rob Randall and his providing the music. It all added up to a delightfully happy evening.

 

 

NODA

Jeff Raggett

 

Having arrived back from Heathrow that afternoon we came to the revue from a very cold business trip in Europe - I'd had a week to remember, let alone a year! Crossing the car park we heard an enthusiastic buzz of people eager not just to get in from the cold but also in anticipation of an enjoyable evening ahead. Within minutes of your company I had completely forgotten the cold outside and the queues at terminal two. Your packed house was buzzing with atmosphere ready and waiting. 

Due to the nature of the revue it is going to be difficult to give a full review of all the individual solo lines and verses, unfortunately your program does not outline these, which I understand would be a nightmare to try and compile. I apologise in advance if I have not mentioned you individually.

Ira Murray had a well-directed and schooled revue. The cast have a very good performing style. The company produced impressive ensemble singing in the opening medley - clear vocal lines demonstrated some impressive musical direction from Rob Randall whose small band also was always sensitive to the singer and was well balanced. I was impressed that some of the cast sang with no mikes whil#st smaller voices used a hand mike. My only comment would be that some cast members need to be shown how to use a hand held and that by turning away or moving heads up and down can distort the sound for the audience.  Well done all.

Rosemary Minchin has written a delightful production. My partner and I were very taken with both the comedy and the sensitivity of the script. My partner is author of children's book 'Rags to Riches' (and can be hard to please when it comes to writing!). He was taken with what he considered some "very clever" writing.

Having worked as a Director/Choreographer for some 25 years I am always looking for style,   colour, movement and pictures.  Gill Pattemore's chorography was clean and neat, but I felt some of the early material was in parts a little repetitive and restrained. However, in part two Gill let rip with Danse Macabre, which was brilliant.

The lighting matched each passing season; however, I did see a number of black spots across peoples faces, particularly at the front. This may be due to the confines of the venue but would be very impeding in a fully staged musical. It may be that the cast need to be told not to go beyond a certain point on stage or they will be outside the lighting frame.

Good work from wardrobe that ensured that all the costumes matched the mood of the time and season.  

The performance

Blow the Diet. A very brave opening for the show as there was no song and dance content. Instead, Rosemary, Laurie and Beverley gave  a well-executed view of the post Christmas diet. The opening medley followed, giving lots of opportunity for members of your cast and ensemble to shine.

Calendar girl, a good number for Brian Minchin and to show some suburb costuming.

Finding love well written takes on speed dating.

All by myself was a vocal highlight, I was lost in Pam's intensity and passion of the song for a song I know so well being delivered in such a different way.

All I have to do is dream. Joe's time to shine. Great voice but Joe has a habit of moving through numbers which distracts. Let the voice and song do it.

Singing in the rain, good combination from Gill Pattermore and Rick Thompsett

Titanic (Far from a disaster!) This was the comedy highlight of the evening, with special mention to Lucy Harris for a well sung number unperturbed by the shenanigans going on around her.

Summer medley and Summertime never fails and Elizabeth Hopkins gave us a very emotional rendition. This was very moving especially as Elizabeth's mother's birthday was being acknowledged that evening.

Transatlantic Flight, unfortunately we lost some of the words. This led to the Summer holiday medley including good work with Somewhere Beyond the Sea - Brian Minchin and David Collier and (I am) Sailing - Joe Goodall. Anything Goes' Bon Voyage allowed the company vocal to shine again closing Part 1.

After supper your Beefy builders and Yellow Polka Dot bikini lovelys took us straight back to the mood and action. Good opening.

Too darn hot, was well danced and sung by Clare Allsop
The autumn medley  including  A Foggy Day in London Town - Valerie Brooham
Autumn Leaves - Elizabeth Hopkins, I've Got my Love to Keep me Warm - Lucy Harris and Rick Thompsett,  May to September - Pat Thompsett, all good, strong performances and more great ensemble singing. This took us through to, Happy ever after - or not?

The highlight of the second half was Danse Macabre, this was amazing and set the benchmark for all the choreography. It was well though out and moved with clear tight pictures. Well done to both Gill and your dance troop.

Grumpy old men and women allowed all to get their breath back, giving the audience a laugh before the Christmas finale.

A great set of numbers, routines and ideas for the Christmas Medley:
Santa Baby - Celena Bain. Celena held the stage and sang right through the number, a cabaret star in the making - one of the best vocals of the evening.
All I want for Christmas - Margaret Catton capture the audience's hearts. Dave Beavis -White Christmas brought Santa to bring us to the close of the year.  

Wallington Operatic and Dramatic Society took the audience through an old style revue which worked beautifully in today's context and with good material. This is a tribute to a secure production team enabling all elements to come together within the performance. Very well done.

My thanks for your hospitality and we both look forward to seeing Funny Girl in the spring.

If I can be of any assistance in the future please let me know.