ACT in Action Issue 17
the use of yellow to brighten what could have been a very austere set if grey had been used) stone walls that were hinged, created different shaped spaces for action to take place in the different scenes. The cast members are to be complimented on their inclusion to aid the swift changes. It looked very practised and everyone knew exactly what, and where, things had to be. The lighting plot, created by Chris Burnett and David Burns, established the mood for each scene and the costumes ensured the character’s status in society was noted, but maybe I was looking for some to be more opulent The pace of this play has to be good and with seven strong actors at the helm that is just what it was. It was a pleasure to watch Ian Wilkinson at work as Henry II. He was totally at ease in the role and delivered the dialogue with such authority. There was super rise, fall, light and shade in his tone and delivery which captivated the audience. Yet, even with this strong macho character there were times when he showed a more tender side to the character. Sue Handle’s portrayal of the imprisoned Queen Eleanor was a much more measured and aloof performance in contrast to the passion of Ian, but one could detect the underlying scheming that was inhabiting the character. The false affection and sarcasm exhibited was very poignant. The “Greedy Trinity”, in other words the three siblings, were all used as pawns in their parents’ ongoing feud and plots, and all gave fabulous performances which had the audience enthralled.
Mathew King, Henry’s eldest son, “the Lionheart”, was serious, stern and imposing as the future king. Though there was also the suggestion that there was a bond and almost love between him and The King of France, played by Chris Billington. For all the serious, stern and passionate delivery, here was a man who yearned for affection. A thoroughly engaging characterisation. Similarly, the brooding resentment of Geoffrey was superbly brought to life by Dan Pothecary. The simmering resentment was evident for all to see. This actor said so much through small movements and looks to establish the malevolence of character: he was a pleasure to watch. The naïve youngest son, who did become King John later in life, was successfully portrayed by Sam Hindmarch. He was that petulant younger sibling who wanted everything and was prepared to be manipulated to get it. Each brother had given their characterisations a lot of thought and consideration and they worked beautifully as a balance. All they wanted was their parents affection, for who they were, and not what they could offer, and that became quite central to the plot throughout. Sarah Howsam and Chris Billington gave confident performances as Alais, King Henry’s mistress, and Philip of France. David Ward and Lottie Shepherd must, and should, be very pleased with the presented play. The discipline of all actors during their quiet moments on stage were excellent, never letting their characterisation or concentration drop for one second. A period production is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it was certainly mine! workable and with projection facilities. The projected images dramatized the song narratives and was complemented with effective lighting. The sound enhanced the vocal delivery. The company was dressed effectively creating that feel-good factor. The creative team, assisted by Dawn Leigh, took songs from fifteen of the best of Broadway and the West End musicals. All the staging, movement and choreography were well managed while the musical content was of a high standard especially in the company numbers. For any concert or revue keeping the audience informed is most important. This job was in the very capable hands of Zac McIntyre and Terry Banham. Their script was silly and entertaining but they bounced off each other like any good double act. Opening with a huge Hello from The Book of Mormon the audience soon became engaged and they were kept engrossed throughout. Of the shows selected there were many highlights, from the company’s recent successful production of Rent to the hottest ticket in town, Hamilton. Leading the company Joanna Astley brought experience to her rendition of Lady and the Tramp. Hannah Collins and company pulled out the soulful depths of Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers, whilst Eilidh Stanfield and Charlotte Crossley were both Wicked. To close the first section a medley of songs from Les Misérables proved why the show has such appeal. The mask of the Phantom opened the second half and then Angela Mayall and Rebecca Tonge gave a gritty delivery of I Know Him So Well from Chess. The girls visited Cook County women’s prison for a spicy Cell block tango from Chicago. Making their mark, Zac McIntyre, Chris Addington, Terry Banham and Darren Johnson were the Jersey Boys. All good things must come to an end and this evening from the barricade and beyond came to a crescendo with all that is Abba, a Mamma Mia Medley. The audience was left on a high with the company firmly establishing itself in their new home.
SHOWCASE Rochdale Musical Theatre Company Directed by Dan Killeen & Cesca Astley
Musical Director: Chris Addington Music supplied by backing tracks. Choreographer: Cesca Astley
To celebrate moving to their new venue, and working partnership with Matthew Moss High School, a musical extravaganza was presented by the company. The revue format of entertainment is a perfect vehicle for giving new talent valuable experience. The performance space was in a studio theatre style, very
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