Theatre Reviews Archive 2018

Theatre during the Great War
Theatre Royal

Tuesday 23rd October 2018

This was another in the series of heritage lunchtime events. An extremely interesting talk by Helen Brooks from the University of Kent who has been researching the entertainment provided during WW1.
She has discovered that it wasn’t all lighthearted variety type put on to boost morale. The majority of plays written at the start of hostilities were about spies and reflected the public mood, stirred up by newspaper articles. Themes then evolved into describing the arena of war and actors were used to appeal directly to young males and encourage them to enlist. To this end, stooges were often placed in the audience and would pretend to volunteer. There was usually an army officer in the auditorium afterwards, ready to sign up recruits. This practice was ended in 1916 when conscription was introduced. As the war continued, plays were written about conscientious objectors and one of these was so popular that it was still touring the theatres in the 1920’s.
At the end of the talk, it was announced that the theatre’s digital archive was now ‘live’ and available to view.

Thoroughly Modern Millie
Duchess Theatre,Long Eaton on
Thursday 25th October

Sadly only 5 people from the theatre group went see this production. I say sadly because everybody else missed a fantastic production.
It was amateur dramatics with a professional performance. There was music all the way through by a live orchestra of seven. The character acting was excellent as was their singing and dancing. I was too engrossed to count the cast but I think there was probably 30 or so and their costumes were perfect for the era it was set in.

Wednesday  30th May
Top Hat
Theatre Royal

Originally a smash hit starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Top Hat is a spectacular dance musical featuring Irving Berlin’s classics such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘Let’s Face the Music & Dance’ and ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’.   It’s not an easy show for amateurs, but Carlton Operatic Society gave it their all. The dancing may not have been up to Astaire and Rogers standard, but the show as a whole was quite enjoyable.

Tuesday  24th April
On Stage and Back Stage
Theatre Royal

This event was one of the heritage lunchtime talks by a panel of current & retired members of the theatre staff. They provided an enthralling and often amusing insight into what goes on behind the scenes in order to ensure the smooth running of the shows.

We heard how the changes in I.T. over the last twenty years had impacted on the work of the Press and PR department and their role in ensuring that performers were in the right place at the right time. The Stage Door Keepers had a wealth of anecdotes about the ‘stars’ they had met and their various special memories. All the staff were unanimous in feeling that they were honoured to work in such a friendly and prestigious theatre.

The next lunchtime talk is on Tuesday 23rd October when the subject will be ‘Theatre During the Wars’.

Monday  12th March
Our Country’s Good
Nottingham Playhouse

12th March a group went to see ‘Our Country’s Good’ at Nottingham Playhouse.
The play was about convicts being transported and arriving in Australia. The convicts were disciplined by a Governor in Chief, several lieutenants and captains from the United Kingdom.
The play was about being imprisoned – not just literally in prison – but constrained by the social order, the way we think about other people and ourselves.
A lieutenant explained putting on a play was very much about escaping from those prisons. Putting on a play gave each cast member an opportunity to use the theatre as a tool to show who they are rather than people judging them on how they look.
The play was about transformation and redemption where we are saved from stereotypes and damaging ways of thinking.
There was even an Aboriginal Australian who had freedom but lost it when the English arrived and he died by catching smallpox from them.
The production was put on by Ramps On The Moon and the performance was spoken and signed using BSL (British Sign Language) There was also a written description including explaining the music playing during scene changes on each side of the stage.
It was an excellent production that showed anybody, deaf or disabled can be on stage and included in an audience.

 Wednesday  7th March
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella
Theatre Royal

Once again, Matthew Bourne has produced an amazing ballet. Set in 1940, in London amid the bombing, the story was extremely well told. Cinderella’s family included not only the obligatory two step-sisters and step-mother, but also an invalided father and step-brothers, all with strong characters; the young boy with the toy aeroplane providing quite a comic element. For me though, the character of the Angel was the most outstanding with superb dancing, fitting costuming and  ethereal choreography. We may not have had the best seats but it was a very enjoyable evening.

Monday  12th February
Nottingham Playhouse

We went to the Playhouse on Monday Feb 12th. The play was called Wonderland which documented the struggle centred around the Welbeck miners strike. This caused stress and poverty as they were not receiving any wages for such a long time. The play was brilliant and the actors were superb, they captured the humour of the miners, their close friendship, the heat and the dirt of the mine and  the fear of the new recruits going done the mine for very the first time at a very young age. The months went on and on as they tried reach a settlement. The split between the friends and families when some desperate miners went back to work were labelled as scabs lasts to this day.

I really enjoyed it and highly recommend the play.

Friday  23rd February
Ali Baba
Kimberley School

It was my first time attending a NOMADS production. People I knew who had seen the group before had said they were extremely good. The company certainly lived up to this praise

The show began with a large number of the cast singing and dancing in beautiful, colourful costumes. These and other costumes were to dazzle the eyes of the audience throughout the show.

Each member of the cast, from the senior to the very young, gave their all without fault. The audience thoroughly enjoyed all the laughter and merriment put across to them.

The cast of Ali Baba certainly gave a piece of treasure from Baghdad to the audience. What a great way to round off the pantomime season.

All credit to the performers, producer and director Tom Bailey, to the musicians and all the crew that put so much into this show.

 Wednesday  31st January
Son of a Preacher Man
Theatre Royal

On Wednesday the 31st January 20 members of the Theatre Group went to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham to see ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. This story was written around the music of Dusty Springfield and was directed and produced by Craig Revel Horwood.

I didn’t know what to expect of the show but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was great and the story was okay. It wasn’t the best show I have seen but it didn’t stop me having a great time. The day ended with a group of us going for a meal at The Corinthian restaurant where we had a wonderful meal and lots of laughter.

Thursday 18th January 2018

This was 80 year old Kenneth Alan Taylor’s 34th panto at Nottingham and looking on line at the 2012 Cinderella it looks as though much of this year’s Cinderella was a rehash of the Cinderella from then. That was the year he did away with Baron Hardup the traditional father of Cinderella and her two stepsisters, and introduced the Dowager Duchess Devilla (was she based on Cruella de Vill from 1001 Dalmatians – she was certainly a similar character), and whilst the woodland animals (hedgehogs, squirrels, foxes and rabbits) did wonderful dance routines and had impressive costumes they would have been more at home in Babes in the Wood than Cinderella.

The first half of the performance seemed to be lacking the usual panto magic, but this was made up for in the second half, with the many Brownies in the audience adding to the enjoyment of the evening – they certainly got involved and caused a laugh when one shouted up “I’m watching you” to one of the Ugly Sisters.

Kelly Agredo as Cinderella and James Nicholson as Prince Charming made creditable debut performances, able assisted by Tim Frater as Buttons and Adam Pettigrew as Dandini.

The level of singing was of a high standard but this was occasionally drowned out by the orchestral music being too loud.

All in all we had a good evening, the scenery and costumes were excellent, audience participation as expected for a pantomime but the general feeling was that somehow it wasn’t as good as last years panto (Aladdin) but perhaps the cast were feeling a bit jaded so close to the end with only two more days before the final curtain.