Paul Johnson | 09 Sep 2011 16:41pm
It is rare to go to an amateur production in a village hall where you know before you get there that it is going to be good. Not only do ‘Compton Little Theatre’ have a fantastic reputation for being of a high standard, their recent production of HONK! was directed by Alison Hough, who also has a reputation as someone whose productions are always considered much more than amateur. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling”, “Honk!” tells the story of an odd looking baby duck, Ugly, and his quest to find his mother. Soon after Ugly is born, he is seduced away by a wily Cat who wants to eat Ugly for dinner. Eventually, Ugly manages to escape but has no idea how to return home. Along his way, he encounters a beautiful swan, Penny, tangled in a fishing line. After saving her, the two birds fall in love. However, she must return to her flock and fly south for the winter. Eventually, Ugly’s mother finds him frozen in snow. Luckily, her warm tears manage to thaw him out and he comes back to life – as a handsome swan! Soon, Ugly is reunited with Penny and the two swans decide to live the rest of their days in the same pond as Ugly’s loyal mother. The thing which sets Compton apart from other local amateur groups who only have a village hall to use as a “Theatre” is their ability to make the best of what they have. The professional raked seating enables them to have as much capacity for audience as possible and the sets they produce always accommodate the stage nicely. The members of the group who help out on front of house, backstage and the bar as like a well-oiled machine and always make you feel welcome. I must make particular mention of the lighting and sound of this production. It was flawless and every cue was on time, which is pleasing as normally with amdram you end up seeing stage crew entering as the lights go down a fraction too late. Bravo to them! The opening of the show was possibly my favourite moment when almost all of the cast are introduced to the audience by Drake (Ugly’s Father) played by Tim Morley. He played the part particularly well with good comedy timing and a friendly voice which was shown off in the opening number. His wife, Ida, was played by Sue Bailey who was perfect as the overworked Mum. She portrayed her role as mother very well and her scenes with Ugly were particularly moving. The part of Ugly was expertly portrayed by Jack Sunderland, a young actor with much promise. His naÃ¯ve. juvenile character was complimented by his beautiful singing voice, he certainly was “different” from most other young leads and undertook the role with gusto. His voice blended nicely with Bailey’s, which meant their songs sounded genuine with plenty of emotion. The “baddy” role was well performed by Chris Knights who never fails to grab the audience’s attention. The difficulty with this role is to not make it look too pantomime, rather make him slightly larger than life and he managed this perfectly. His dancing and singing were of a high standard and he stood out as a particularly strong member of the cast. Other smaller roles (but no less poignant) were Queenie the Female Cat played by Emma Hough. This young girl shows much promise as a leading actress. Queenie only has one main scene in which to shine and she managed this with vim and vigour. Her voice was beautiful and her facial expressions coupled with the clever make up really made you feel like she was a Cat. Her scene with Lowbut, played by Fionnuala Hills, was my particular favourite. They had a real chemistry and both girls had clearly been well directed in this scene. Their friendship was obvious but the distinction between Queenie’s lust for Fantasy and Lowbutt’s grasp on reality made for comedy gold. Mike Hough sang the part of The Bullfrog brilliantly accompanied by his troop of froglets who gave the scene a great dynamic. They were very sweet and you could hear the audience “Ahhhh” as they sang. Tony Scales and Julia Grant were wonderful as Greylag and Dot, geese who were trying to help Ugly get back to the Duck Pond. Tony’s military manner gave the part a certain something which really struck a chord with the audience. The whole production was a nice alternative to your usual January pantomime and I can honestly say there was no weak link in this production. They had obviously worked very hard to put on the performances they gave and the audience were certainly appreciative with their loud cheers at the finale. HONK! gave you the opportunity to forget about reality for a couple of hours and kept everyone fully entertained. Alison Hough should be very proud of her ultra talented cast and I look forward to seeing what they have to offer in their next production.
- : user
- : 15/01/2011