Please find below links to the reviews for our recent production of 9 to 5:
Please find below links to the reviews for our recent production of Hi De Hi:
The Wizard of Oz is still being talked about very enthusiastically indeed and some of you may have seen the review in The Berwick Advertiser but for those who haven’t you can read it via the following link:
We were also reviewed by NODA, the following link will take to you to it –
There was no divine intervention required last week to make ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ a massive success for the cast and crew of Berwick Operatic Society.
After climbing a Disney shaped mountain in the spring with ‘Beauty & the Beast’, the local company took on the BBC comic colossus and claimed another victory, one which I’m sure Dawn French and co would happily applaud.
As far as TV characters go I’d say French’s Geraldine Granger was up there with David Jason’s Delboy or Ricky Tomlinson’s Jim Royle as one of the most iconic, so slipping into the dog collar was a brave move for Wendy Ward.
This was Wendy’s first amateur dramatic performance for a number of years but there were absolutely no signs of rustiness. With more warmth than a John Lewis Christmas advert and a knack for comic timing any comedienne would salute, she was the perfect choice for Geraldine.
And plenty more of the cast who took their TV aliases by the scruff of the neck too.
Simon Duke – The Berwickshire News – Source
Some directors would avoid imitating much-loved characters too closely for fear of setting themselves up for a fall, but Louise Wood did the opposite and it was to the show and the audience’s benefit.
Lisa Summers was right on the money as two sandwiches short of a parish picnic Alice Tinker. If you closed your eyes it was like you were taking in an episode of the hit show. Everything from her outfits to her voice and ditzy mannerisms were spot on, and Lisa upped the ante again for Alice’s scenes with fellow simpleton Hugo, played by Matthew Jenkins.
Like Lisa, Matthew got right to the heart of his character, from his nervous fidgeting to his eyecatching ties. The two worked well together, as did Lisa and Wendy when they shared their scenes as a double act. The on stage relationships between all of the cast were a joy to watch.
Jim Herbert’s loud, self assured, chest firmly pushed out David Horton was the perfect foil for the proudly pedantic Frank Pickles, brought to life in great fashion by Laurence Pearson.
And having been in the chorus for ‘Beauty & the Beast’, Jo Curtis stepped up to the plate as the culinary challenged Letitia Cropley, serving up a comedy treat.
More known for his fantastic playwriting of late than his acting, Robert Wilkinson made a triumphant return to Operatic duties as Owen Newitt. The deadpan way he went about his comedic task was lapped up by the audience and like Lisa.
Derek Butler too was an essential member of the congregation, getting the ‘no no no nos’ of Jim Trott down to a tee.
For me the second half outshone the first, which had a Dibley greatest hits feel to it with memorable moments from the TV series. But the second, with Alice and Hugo’s wedding looming, had a definite sense of direction helped along by some marvellous musical interludes.
My personal favourite was Jo and Derek’s interpretation of Spice Girls ‘2 Become 1’, backed by the four-strong Dibley choir which made scene changes more enjoyable throughout.
The cast’s youngsters – Colette Kaines-Lang, Bob Jeffrey, Corey Learmonth and Rachel Spain- were also a very welcome asset.
First time solo director Louise and her cast encapsulated the family feel of the TV series in their stage adaptation.
Accomplished performances from those normally on the fringes of the spotlight and some brilliant laugh-out-loud moments; a sermon I’d happily listen to again.
It takes a brave bunch toto tackle a Disney classic let alone do it justice. But whether it was the audience’s desire to have their cockles warmed, great performances from all the cast or the all important fairytale magic, Berwick Operatic Society ensured Walt would be looking down on them with a wide smile last week.
The enchanting, well-staged opening created the required air of mystery around the auditorium for what was to come. Granted, I expect most of those in attendance had seen the Disney animated version many a time, but with songs written specifically for the musical and a few unique tweaks there were plenty of surprises.
Some of the biggest were the transformations of the ensemble, with many of them quite unrecogniseable. Take leading lady Anna Emmins. Known locally for being songstress Electric Penelope, she lent her soulful vocals to a soundtrack that was well out of her comfort zone. But rather than cower in the presence of Disney she put a different twist on songs such as the rousing opening number ‘Belle’ which got the whole cast in on the act.
Having played meeker roles in the likes of ‘Rent and Sweet Charity’ it was a bit of a shock to see Ross Graham in such an arrogant role as Gaston. But play the part he did, puffed out chest and all. And like so many of his fellow principals, Ross’s singing voice was perfectly suited to his role.
In the week that PJ & Duncan hit the headlines with their unexpected chart success, Ross and Matthew Jenkins, as LeFou, gave Berwick another double act to talk about. Matthew was the perfect foolish foil to the cocksure Gaston and it is hard to believe the show was only his second with the society.
While I’m on the topic of pleasing pairings, I could wax lyrical about Gary Robson as candlestick Lumiere and Bill Shardlow as Cogsworth. From the word go the delectable duo brought a real finesse to proceedings. Their diction, personality and presence set them way above any preconceptions people may have had about this being an amateurish production. Gary was on fine form when leading the ensemble in the flamboyant ‘Be Our Guest’.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ saw Zoe Graham return to the stage after a long absence. Like Anna, she’s more used to fronting a band. But the way she commanded the role of Mrs Potts would have befitted any professional actress. Her sentimental yet assured version of the show’s title song would have melted the coldest corners of Berwick and she had the perfect co-star in Rachael Spain as Chip. Young actors often bring the ‘aww’ factor. As well as having that in abundance, Rachel more than held her own alongside her older counterparts.
An experienced member of the cast, I expected great things from Norman Millar as the Beast and he most certainly didn’t disappoint.
The way both he and Anna dealt with the ever-changing relationship between Belle and the Beast was genuinely touching. The danger was there for it to have been overly schmalzy , but it certainly wasn’t and Norman prompted many a goosebump with powerful solo ‘If I Can’t Love Her’ which brought the curtain on act one.
This was a show packed full of great performances; from Stuart Faed’s sinister Monsieur D’Arque; the Silly Girls; Derek Butler’s caring yet crazy Maurice; Tamsin Davidson’s flirtatious Babette and Sandra Storey’s operatic Madame de la Grande Bouche. The orchestra, under musical director Ron Creasey, was tremendous too.
As directorial debuts go Lisa Summers couldn’t have hoped for a better one.
I was very pleased to be asked by Gary Winn to review Berwick’s production of ‘Allo ‘Allo on his behalf. I was made very welcome, being greeted by one of this year’s Directors, Louise Wood. Although this was her debut as Director, her partnership with experienced Denise Clarke seemed to work very well with their dual input culminating in an overall successful production. I was impressed by (Steve Sadler) in the strong leading comic role of Rene. His comic timing and expressive portrayal of this ageing lothario worked perfectly throughout the show. His ever adoring and love hopeful wife Edith'(Sandra Storey) was larger than life, owning the stage during her ‘cabaret’ supported by Yvette (Laura Catterall) and Mimi (Amy Cowan) who were both perfectly cast. Herr Flick (Stuart Faed) and his submissive assistant Helga Geerhart (Andrea McIver) had a wonderful partnership. With her provocative strip and his hilarious antics as a cinema waitress they both adding greatly to the production.
Norma Miles’ interpretation of Resistance member, “I’ll say this only once” ‘Michelle’, encompassed sexual elegance and good diction. Her side-kick Officer Crabtree (Josh Brimson) was slightly more difficult to decipher, as the role requires, but for his first time on stage was a courageous undertaking. Simon Landels played a convincingly gay Lieut Gruber being a-party to some hilarious awkward situations. web mentions LeClerc (Bill Shardlow), Capt Bertorelli (Michael McLean), Col Von Strohm (Ray Howell) and Gen Von Schmelling (Derek Butler) all put their stamp on their role to draw every bit of comedy from this farcical piece of theatre. I’m so glad I had been able to take up Gary’s offer.
Well Done Everyone.
ALLO ALLO: BERWICK & DISTRICT AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY, THE MALTINGS
AT the risk of sounding older than my years, they really don’t make comedy like they used to and in ‘Allo Allo’, Berwick Operatic had one of the heavyweights on their hands.
But rather than crumble under the strain they put their stamp on the national comedic treasure and took audiences on a trip back to Saturday night in front of the TV.
And on a cold and murky Friday evening in Berwick, that was a journey I was more than happy to make.
Gorden Kaye’s René Artois is one of the iconic characters of British comedy of yesteryear, giving Berwick Operatic’s own René, Steve Sadler, a hard act to live up to, but like so many of his castmates from lights-up to curtain-down he was fantastic.
The French accent was as dodgy as required, the mannerisms were bang on and the on-stage camaraderie with his other half, Sandra Storey’s Edith, was as far past the honeymoon stage as it needed to be!
You couldn’t tell that this was the first time the pair had played opposite each other and their terrific double act was complemented by a fantastic ensemble who contributed to the chaos going on in their café.
Waitresses Yvette and Mimi, aka Laura Catterall and Amy Cowan, would certainly wangle a generous tip from the audience.
Bill Shardlow’s Le Clerc was a fond reminder of the late Jack Haig; and the two people bestowed with the most famous lines in ‘Allo Allo’ also did the long-running series proud.
I will say this only once: Norma Miles was a joy to behold as the woman of many disguises, Michelle, and there’s to be no ‘moaning’ from me about Josh Bimson’s Officer Crabtree – he had the famous Arthur Bostrom character down to a tee.
Now let’s consider the Germans. As leader of the Gestapo, Herr Flick, Stuart Faed cut a commanding figure but also displayed a cracking set of pins when disguised as a cinema usherette, while Andrea McIver as his beau Helga was the perfect foil to his eccentricities.
Speaking of eccentric, one of the characters who sent the laugh-o-meter into overdrive was Simon Landels’ Lieutenant Gruber.
With the slapstick campness of classic British sitcom, Simon was the cheese to the chalk of Colonel Von Strohm (Ray Howell) and General Von Schmelling (Derek Butler), while as Italian Captain Bertorelli, Michael McLean was like a finely churned mozzarella, proving a real favourite with the capacity audience.
Some revivals of classic TV series are better left at the ideas stage – ‘Crossroads’ anyone? But first-time director Louise Wood and her co-director Denise Clarke ensured the old ‘Allo Allo’ magic remained with an added dusting of Berwick Opera sparkle.
The Society are largely known for their big song and dance productions but on this evidence they should try plays more often.
There were a few stumbles over lines but the pace of the humour never slowed and the cast’s commitment to what must have been quite a tricky piece was unquestionable.