Paul Johnson | 13 May 2017 14:45pm
Performed by The Woodfield Entertainers, Heroes! is a review type show honouring those celebrities who died during 2016. This unique show is devised by director, George Margetts, although it becomes evident during the show that a great many of the cast provide ideas and input for sketches and musical numbers to create the show.
Performed at the very comfortable Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall, the show is in two acts with around eight short scenes in each. During the interval, a light meal is served to the audience; this is well organised and adds to the already informal, social atmosphere in the hall – although maybe the addition of a free glass of wine helps!
(As no cast member names are assigned to roles in the programme, comments below are made about roles/characters rather than performers.)
A narrator, present throughout, is seated in an oversized armchair on the apron front of the stage. This is a good choice of presentation style, characteristic of the late Ronnie Corbett. With a good, clear voice, the narrator engages with the audience suitably and gives a good, detailed introduction to each scene which is helpful.
The set is minimal, which works well, and there is good use of furniture items and props in some scenes.
Backing tracks, thanks to music editor Joseph Brammall, are used and, to the credit of Sara Brammall, musical director, most of the cast appear comfortable and well-rehearsed accompanying these. In the main, there is good balance of backing and vocals although a poor sound system lets the group down at times. This is particularly noticeable during dialogue scenes. Justin Cobb on sound does a sterling job, particularly with the timing of linking music between scenes, but must be frustrated with the kit!
The costumes are in keeping with the period being portrayed and Mel Schmidt, costume coordinator, and cast members provide a colourful display.
Most scene changes were slick thanks to stage manager Tracey Gullard, assisted by Laura Purdue and Simon Gadd.
Highlights in the first act:
Victoria Wood tribute Let’s Do It. An effective comic scene, particularly enjoyed is the chemistry and comedy timing from Barry and Freda.
The Paul Daniel’s tribute. Mimed ‘magic’ by a dead pan actor who has a natural talent to entertain and engage with the audience. This act was enjoyed hugely (although the magic was deliberately terrible!) and the audience showed their appreciation after each ‘trick’.
The Beatles tribute, a medley of songs from their first album, uses simple but effective choreography so congratulations to Mel Schmidt, Amalee Gamache and George Margetts, the choreography team. The lighting was particularly effective in the ‘freeze’ sections, praise for Dominic Lawrence, who times this well. Praise too for ensemble members who managed to remain static during these sections. Also in this scene was some tight harmony work in the musical number ‘Chains’.
Roy, in the Caroline Ahern tribute, displays some wonderful and fitting facial expressions.
The prop guitars in the David Bowie tribute number were effective and good use is made of these by all four Bowie actors. Well done ladies, some good confident performances and you manage well to ignore the faulty sound system.
The Fawlty Towers scene, paying homage to Andrew Sachs, is well done with some good characterisation work.
Highlights in the second act, which in my opinion is the best act – displaying more energy, enthusiasm and confidence among the performers:
Good Morning singing tribute to Debbie Reynolds A fantastic performance by all three ladies, good singing, clear diction and perfectly executed choreography. As far as I am concerned this is the best number in the whole show.
Good characterisation in the Denise Robertson tribute sketch – a well put together piece.
Do-re-me, tribute to Charmain Carr. The lead singer has a lovely natural voice and is to be congratulated. Good audience participation opportunity too in this number – which is enjoyed by all.
The Glenn Frey tribute singer has a very relaxed singing style and this number is enjoyable both in terms of vocals and visually with the dancers as the choreography works well in this scene.
The Mohammed Ali tribute sketch is well written, pushes the boundaries a little – which seems to be enjoyed by the audience – and the dialogue is put across well, particularly by the female ‘boxer’, who has natural stage presence.
The finale – a medley, tribute to Prince, Maurice White and George Michael, is clearly enjoyed by the performers and audience alike. The soloist vocalist in ‘Purple Rain’ does a great job – well done for pushing the vocals though and ignoring the failing mic.
A very enjoyable evening’s entertainment in a great atmosphere.
Woodies (which the group refers to themselves as) – you live up to the strapline on your website ‘Entertaining Ashtead since 1990!’
- : admin
- : 12/05/2017