RIP-ROARING TALENT FEST
Radio Times, The Watermill Theatre, Theatre Royal Winchester, 26 Nov - 1 Dec 2012
In terms of how much talent you can fit onto a stage, radio times just about takes the biscuit. Gary Wilmot is in his element, essentially playing himself as an old boy of the entertainment circuit while the utter brilliance amongst his supporting cast is never ending.
The plot... well it focuses on the live broadcast of Variety Bandwagon, a BBC light entertainment programmes aired from The Criterion Theatre, London, circa 1940 amidst the blitz. There's a love triangle in there somewhere but to be honest, the storylines get in the way of the succession of truly brilliant ‘on-air’ performances of Noel Gay songs.
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SUPERSTAR NOT CUT OUT FOR THE BIG STAGE
Jesus Christ Superstar, O2 Arena, 22 September 2012
An arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar… wow that’s bound to be an incredible spectacle of visually stunning effects, dance and music tailored for the biggest performances spaces in the country. What’s that? They’ve just stuck the stage production into the O2 and put a big screen behind it? Oh…. Well at least we get to see and hear some huge stars at their very best. Well… that’s partly true… you’ll certainly get to hear them… unfortunately if you’re in the top tier seats, there is a rather large speaker system perfectly positioned in front the screen. But hey, you’ll be thankful of that when bumbling oaf Chris Moyles wanks onto the stage.
ONE FOR THE AMATEURS AND THE AFFECTIONADOS
The Mikado, Eastleigh Operatic and Musical Society, The Point, 8 - 12 May
A production for the Gilbert and Sullivan traditionalists with enough lyrical adaptations to entertain a crowd as young as its leading performers - the familiar combination of EOMS, 19th Century operetta and the cavernous Point are back.
While I confess to not having seen the full quartet of the society's renditions of The Mikado over its 75-year history, this one must surely be the best.
IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU SMILE DARN YA, SMILE
Annie, Footlights Youth Theatre, The Nuffield Theatre, 29 Feb - 3 Mar
Combine the Great Depression, a sickeningly sweet title character and a conceited Republican hero, inter-mingle them with whining insomniac orphans and a drunk or two and you’ve pretty much got the thrust of Annie. Despite its less than appealing attributes, this production, as is often the case with the stage version, was considerably more enjoyable than I anticipated.
Right from the off the orphans set the bar pretty high, kicked started by eight-year-old Cerys Burnside as Molly who is clearly a star in the making. To the orphans’ enormous credit the reprise of You’re Never Fully Dressed in act two really stuck out as the exceptional centrepiece to the show.
A SORDID GRECIAN AFFAIR
Orpheus in the Underworld, Southampton Operatic Society, The Nuffield Theatre, 21 - 25 Feb
Re-invented for the modern day, the show’s revised libretto, to its credit, frequently trod the line of acceptable crudeness in its humour.
As I pored over the show at an earlier-than-expected post-show curry, I faced the insurmountable challenge of getting the Infernal Galop and those unforgetable cancan girls, out of my head. Unfortunately I could not.
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NEVER A BUM MOMENT WITH MADAME DERRIERE
Beauty and the Beast, Gordan Craig Theatre, 24 Nov - 22 Jan 2011/12
Unlike any other form of theatre, the great British pantomime thrives on its predictability - a tried and tested set of ingredients that festive theatre goers would be amiss without. Imagine therefore the sheer brilliance of a pantomime where every element is a faultless example of how to do it best.
The fast-paced, pun-filled, self-mocking script told the familiar story while perfectly balancing bright-eyed slapstick for the kids with mischievous innuendo for the adults. Throw away lines that flew under the radar of innocent ears were met with raucous hysterics from the more mature audience members.
FUN MESSING ABOUT ON THE RIVER
The Wind in the Willows, The Watermill Theatre, 24 Nov - 7 Jan 2011/12
It wasn’t until after booking the tickets that I read the billing ‘something for all the family’, which I rightly took to mean: a kids show with a one-liner smuggled in half-way through to wake up all the older folk. And WITW was exactly that. My companion and I constituted 100% of the audience not from Great Bedwyn Junior School which was probably reflective of the adult to child content within the show.
But not in any way disheartened, the juvenile Disney and Muppets fan within me sat back to enjoy a fun and buoyant afternoon.
ALL THE CLASS WITHOUT THE FLARE
Guys & Dolls - Plaza Theatre, RAODS, October 2011
A familiar cast in the theatre where everyone knows everyone and a performance good enough to keep the loyal Plaza audience coming back for more when the next RAODS musical comes along.
That’s not to say it wasn’t good. It was. And well worth the ticket money. But on paper, it had the potential to be so much more - strong male and female choruses, experienced principals, slick chorography and a script and score up there with the best of them. What was missing? It was hard to put a finger on it. Almost like all the bits of brilliance, of which there were many, needed stringing together in order to pull off what could have been a truly fantastic show.