G&S With a Difference
Paul Johnson | 03 Dec 2015 19:35pm
This show consisted of a first act comprising of songs by Gershwin and Sondheim, then after the interval, a performance of “Trial by Jury”. A lively rendition of Comedy Tonight from “Forum” gave the evening a good beginning. There were too many songs to mention them all. Highlights for my money were Send in the Clowns (“A little Night Music”), sung with real emotion by Sally Collings; Broadway Baby (Follies”) with Annie Genower, Diane Slater, Joan Cannell and Norma Davis; Summertime (“Porgy and Bess”), gorgeous singing from Bee Cassidy; Everything’s coming up Roses (“Gypsy”) sung by Annie Genower and Diane Slater; The Boy from ….. (“The Mad Show”) brought in Lynda Barrett-Mercer, the director, for a highly enjoyable comedy spot; Tonight (” West Side Story”) beautifully acted and sung by Bee Cassidy and Rob Richmond; A superb rendition of Embraceable You (“Girl Crazy”) beautifully enacted by Bee Cassidy, Gloria Smith, David Strike and Sid Dolbear; The Man I love (“Lady be Good”) with Norma Davis and Sally Collings; I got Rhythm (“Girl Crazy”) and Fascinating Rhythm (“Lady, be Good”) were with the whole company as was Strike up the Band (from the show of the same name) which was a rousing and tuneful finale.
“Trial by Jury”
This highly innovative and thoroughly amusing portrayal of Gilbert and Sullivan’s second collaboration (they wrote “Thespis” in 1871) is generally regarded as their very first collaboration, due to the score of “Thespis” being mainly lost.
The opening chorus was illustrated by holding up vocal speech cards held by each member of the company. This had been meticulously practised and set the tone for the joyous romp concerning a breach of promise of marriage trial. With a beautiful, tearful yet highly charismatic Bee Cassidy as the plaintiff Angelina, who sang beautifully, it was no surprise that the gentlemen jurors made their intense hatred of the defendant – “ruffian, bully and sot” – so obvious even before the verdict. There were some splendid performances by the principals and wonderful touches, for example, a Mrs Overall type tea lady played comically by Sue Letheren. The back projection shots of the plaintiff and defendant illustrating the downhill progress of their engagement were particularly charming.
Gloria Smith as Counsel for the Plaintiff was stern and scholarly, pitching this usually male character just right. Darryl Tullett as the Usher, complete with low Eflat, tried valiantly, but failed to keep the courtroom under control. Sid Dolbear as a lecherous and comic Foreman of the Jury came over really well with his delightful range of facial expresssions.
Rob Richmond as the bullying defendant Edwin acted and sang with bravura. His final “denouement” as his trousers fell down was priceless. His voluptuous “Associate” was played by Sally Collings.
Paul Cox as the Learned Judge has a powerful voice which was a little too operatic for this patter role. He unfortunately missed a vocal entrance, which was rather noticeable. However, he does possess a natural stage presence and would be vocally well cast in the “heavier” G&S roles. He made his entrance dressed in judge’s gown and wig, then transformed into an Elvis “look-alike” complete with wig and gold jacket.
The four bridesmaids Annie Genower, Diane Slater, Joan Cannell and Norma Davis were prettily attired in blue. The avid men jurors all brought real energy and vocal power to their characters, with the four ladies in the public gallery all adding to the fun – an eclectic mix including a couple of St John’s ambulance members!
This Trial had humour, life and colour; pleasingly the difficult “Nice dilemma” chorus was accurately sung. Elizabeth Cooper must be congratulated on her work with the company and control of her four piece band, which always splendidly supported and never overwhelmed the singing. Lynda Barrett-Mercer as the innovative and imaginative director and choreographer is herself an accomplished performer. Both she and Elizabeth should be well pleased with the results of their endeavours.
The programme was nicely put together and contained an interesting theatre quiz and useful glossary of the various Trial terms and phrases. It was also pleasing to see the NODA crest and its aims, which will make it a contender for the NODA programme award.
All in all Sue and I were treated to a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment by this friendly, welcoming and talented company.
- : admin
- : 08/11/2014