Once Upon A Musical

 

Surrey Advertiser

Theo Spring

****

A really eclectic compilation of songs from diverse musicals made up the programme for this well-presented show. And the numbers chosen were not necessarily the major hits from the shows, but nevertheless, easily recognised.

Director Matt Beavis achieved a slick production, with music interspersed with some wonderfully brief comic sketches which gained their laughs and were gone. The most audacious but to my mind the funniest was the discussion between Margaret Catton as Grandmother and Anna Chidgey as Granddaughter, over the demise of Grandfather, due to making love to the rhythm of church bells on a Sunday morning. It has a great punch line. Trickled through the show these laughter breaks gave the show a light touch and also valuable time for others in the cast to change into one of the many beautiful costumes for which WODS are justifiable renown.

Barbara Windsor, Yvonne Mound and Jane Martin amassed these, colour-themed as usual, but their sea-greens for the underwater scene were just lovely.

Quick knock-knock-type jokes added more comedy and there was a clever school sketch too.

WODS build out an apron from the stage for these productions which offers space for more movement and opportunities for some more intimate dialogues.

The show was pinned together by Will Harris - master of the understated who, in curmudgeonly mood berated the chosen numbers as being not to his taste but was slowly brought round as the show progressed.

Choreography played a strong role in the production, with a group of young dancers supplemented by older ones, performing the creations of Vivienne Vassay.  Three small dancers brought grace to With A Smile And A Song and everyone who could hoof it joined in the tap for Zippidee Doo Dah and made a splendid sound.

Many of the numbers had a soloist with the company joining in. The Second Star To The Right from Anna Chidgey was sung with tenderness, Be Our Guest from Ricky Thompsett was sincere and developed into a fun number with the company dressed as maids, cooks, butlers, waiters etc as we, the audience, were invited to our fish and chip supper.

Part Of Your World was an emotional plea from  mermaid Jacky Davis to have feet and experience walking down the street and Helen Teasdale and Joe Goodall got the voices, actions and harmonies just right with Doll On A Music Box and Truly Scrumptious.

The snake song from Jungle Book - Trust In Me - was given another meaning altogether by the seductive and richly-voiced Jane Martin and Dorothy and her Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion reminded us what they needed from The Wizard Of Oz.

A well rehearsed happy show of perfect length - and supper too - an excellent evening.

 

 

 

 

NODA

 Theo Spring

 

What a really thoughtfully put together show this was. The title leads once to suspect it might be the well known numbers from popular musicals which compile the programme but no, here we had the expected alongside the unexpected, all glued competently together by the slightly grouchy Will Harris who was won over to the joy of music from the musicals, in the end.

The comedy was short, pithy and very funny. I enjoyed the short interludes from Laurie and Yvonne and the quick-fire rounds of 'knock-knock'  or 'ello ello' type jokes which were there, laughed at and gone, to be followed swiftly by the next one. It was To The Sound of Church Bells, presented with such straight faces by Margaret and Anna which really tickled, and I shall think of ice-cream vans in an entirely different light in future, - whatever tune they constantly ring out!

WODS is fortunate in its range of ages and the talent of all. Concerted numbers sound all of a piece and then out steps a soloist from that crowd with a really good voice. Director Matt Beavis and MD Brian D Steel had obviously spent a good deal of time working out who was going to sing what as the chosen numbers were very well suited to each voice. In particular Jacky Davis (where did she find the time to do this, and star in Croydon Stagers' Half a Sixpence?) and the wonderfully throaty voice of Trust In Me which Jane turned into such a sexy number that I completely forgot it was originally a snake's song - or perhaps the two were more closely related after all?

Costumes for this show were well up to WOD's own high standards. I particularly applaud the underwater scene - for its inventive costumes, its beautiful colouring and lighting and its collection of numbers. Other costume drama was achieved by those wonderful witches with their impressively large pointed hats and dresses in such an abundance of colours - and all matching too.

The quartet following the Yellow Brick Road had certainly had some care lavished on their costumes - I thought the Tin Man particularly splendid.

Vivienne Vassay's dance numbers blended in well with a highlight being the tap number to Zippidee Doo Dah bringing in anyone in the cast who could do as little as a shuffle ball change!

The school scene with teacher Helen's patience being tried at every turn was slick and fun and I loved that outrageously rebellious wig with its punk overtones.

Highlights from the show, for me, were Ricky's Hush-A-Bye Mountain, Helen and Joe's Doll On A Music Box and Truly Scrumptious, Celena and Joe's Something Good, Anna and Shane's Sixteen Going On Seventeen, the whole concept, execution and timing of Be Our Guest, so cleverly inviting us, the audience, to tuck in to our welcome fish and chips and the very well executed Consider Yourself from Stephen, Katie, Samantha and Sophie.

Having taken eons to get the tune of It's A Small World out of my head where it seemed to take up residence, you have very kindly re-introduced it. I am hoping it will depart again soon!

Well done WODS for presenting a most enjoyable evening which was an excellent length, slick, entertaining and serving as a good reminder of all the songs from the musicals we have heard but which have not remained at the forefront of productions such as this. It was good to hear them again.

Thank you for inviting me, once again, and for my delicious supper for which you sang!