ACT in Action Issue 17
CONCERT The Three Towns Musical Director: David Kay At the piano - Nicola Dagnall
ALICE IN WONDERLAND BYTES Director: Regina Arkwright Choreography: Janice Purslow Music supplied by backing tracks
This annual musical miscellany is looked forward to by its loyal audience. The House Full sign was up and the auditorium was full of atmosphere. This evening was a perfect showcase for the company to entertain with their award-winning singing. The staging was in a traditional format and the company presentation was in black and white. There were rostra set stage right for solos and duets, etc. Any amplification was at a minimum in order to cover any dead spots in the auditorium. All members had their music in society folders. If I can just draw attention to that theatrical adage, eyes and teeth, although I know it is hard to maintain, at times there were a few deadpan faces. I wouldn’t normally mention this, but the standard is always so high, and a smiling face is so welcoming to an audience. After the group’s long standing M.D. retired society stalwart, David Kay took the baton and prepared a very enjoyable programme. There was such a diverse selection of music, from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, Tell me on a Sunday to Haydn’s, The Heavens Are Telling. Most of the musical content had special arrangements highlighting the vocal sections. Maybe, at times, the tempo was a tad slow but this did not detract from the enjoyment of this musical event. One of the choral highlights was the ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’ from Nabucco. All the numbers and medleys were once again introduced by David Hill who is always informative and with just the right amount of humour. Not forgetting the excellent and skilful accompaniment supplied by Nicola Dagnall. It is so important that new talent is given a platform on which to gain experience. Jennie Heywood, although just a little nervous at the opening, presented a delightful rendition of ‘Memory’ from Cats. Over the run, different soloists were used. At the performance I attended, Tony Meehan entertained with a thoughtful ‘Bright Eyes’ by Mike Batt. In all these types of musical evenings a little light relief is needed; a comic or whimsical number to lift the mood. Richard Stilgoe’s ‘Joyce the Librarian’ was an excellent choice. Maybe next year we can have ‘The Vicar and I’. Alan Christey-Casson delivered every nuance of Joyce’s encounters raising quite a laugh from the audience. In a different tone, but equally entertaining, Victoria Goulden told how ‘Art Is Calling for Me’. To advertise their next production a selection from the White Horse Inn, featuring Jean Forrester, was presented and well received. The evening ended with the title number from the Cole Porter’s Anything Goes bringing this musical pageant to a rousing closure.
Following the success of last year’s A Christmas Carol , this ACT in Training group staged another classic, Lewis Carroll’s mad-cap adventures of Alice in Wonderland . Over the years, the story has been dramatized, had music and lyrics added, and been filmed many times. The imaginative, surreal world at the bottom of the rabbit hole makes anything Jabberwocky look meaningful. “Curiouser and Curiouser” This adaptation is a lively journey to the unusual land inhabited by unusual people as well as talking creatures. Although the essence of the story has been captured, I felt the script might have been a little wordy for some young performers, and to hold the attention of the younger members of the audience. Once again the use of projected images created all the necessary locations and. coupled with stage settings and props, completed the overall visual effect. All the costumes were a credit to the wardrobe department. Hair and make-up complemented the character presentations. The training through their sessions and rehearsals was noticeable in their stage work, and above all the teamwork. The seventeen strong cast fleshed out the extraordinary characters with conviction and dedication. All the members were bursting with enthusiasm and, with varying abilities, they all contributed to the success of the production. Every musical number came across very well and they were delivered in character, for example, the Queen singing a very received pronunciation “Off with Their Heads”. The other training area of movement and choreography taught the students coordination. This was achieved in all of their energised dancing. The character development was, as always, a privilege to observe. Many of the roles were doubled up which is challenging for seasoned players. Alice held her own with each new wonderland inhabitant she meets. From Tweedledee and Tweedledum to the Caterpillar they were all imaginatively recreated. The antics of the Mad Hatter’s tea party including Dormouse and March Hare were nicely conveyed. Performances of note came from Charlotte Ferris as, the Duchess, and Cerys Pearson as the Queen. BYTES is a hardworking ACT in Training group which is giving young people an opportunity to develop in stage craft. This production displayed the dedication of its leaders, and the support from the Bacup Royal Court Theatre technical team.
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