Sunday, March 01, 2015


Set at the outbreak of the Second World War, this is the funny, moving story of the "invasion" of a Somerset village by the Vackees, child evacuees from London, and their scrapes and adventures with the (at first) hostile native children. The musical centres around a young London lad, Kip, and follows his first experiences of love and war. With a memorable, tuneful score by TV and film composer Carl Davis, this evocative musical, with big production numbers, is on stage at the Cramphorn from March 17 to 21.

tickets here:



The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden


You can never have enough Romantic Russian ballets, and this example, choreographed by John Cranko for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1965, is a splendid example.
Maybe Pushkin's original is not well served, maybe Tchaikowsky's offcuts make you long for the opera's wondrous score. But we have a ballet, with its two-dimensional scenery, and classic “AO” gauze front-cloth, which gives marvellous opportunities for the soloists, and for the corps-de-ballet, generously employed here  as party guests, peasants and the St Petersburg gentry. A lovely grand galop at the close of Act I,  amongst many delights.
Impassioned choreography and emotional intensity are the watch-word here.
Laura Morera makes a gentle and vulnerable Tatiana, fatally attracted to the black-clad romantic dream that is Federico Bonelli's rather stiff Onegin. The The Act 1 pas de deux, when he steps through her bedroom mirror and sweeps her into his arms is boldly staged, with supple embraces. The moment is echoed at the very end of the ballet, when she dismisses him forever through the door placed precisely where the mirror once stood …
The poet Lensky, whom Onegin kills in a duel, was danced with some style by Donald Thom,  a noted Mad Hatter in the Alice revival; his Olga Yhui Choe.
Ballet Master Gary Avis gave his Prince Gremin, modest and chivalrous, and the Nurse was danced by Jacqueline Clark.

Nostalgic pleasure in this retro revival, even if Stolze's bloated arrangements are quickly effaced in the memory by the great themes of Eugene Onegin as Tchaikowsky imagined him.


Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber died three centuries ago, in 1704. He was born in a town in Bohemia in 1644, and like Mozart much later, he became closely associated with musical life in Salzburg through appointments for that city's archbishop. His Requiem in F minor is one of the Baroque Treasures unearthed by the Waltham Singers, with King Edward VI School standing in for Salzburg Cathedral, and the Singers supported by the renowned Meridian Sinfonia.
There's Vivaldi, too, and a Mass by the lesser known Zelanka, an 18th century Czech composer at the court of Dresden.

7.30 on March 14 – tickets from Dace's – more details on

Heinrich Biber, from a study by Preman Sotomayor


lunchtime concert at Chelmsford Cathedral

Saxology have been championing the sax repertoire for decades now, arrangements, commissions, classics.

This springtime showcase featured pieces from across the range, from JS Bach's Art of Fugue to Benny Goodman's Flying Home.
The French repertoire was well represented: Clérisse's Sérénade Mélancolique, and, to finish Pierné's wonderful Introduction et Variations.
Homegrown work, too, with the world première, no less of Joy Ellis's Sailing in to Shanghai, and Jeffrey Wilson's charming Megan and Cei, written to celebrate the birth of two Saxology offspring, and introduced in the Cathedral by Megan herself, back home briefly from music college.
The playing throughout was impeccably styled, and sounded marvellous in the sunny acoustic.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Writtle Cards at Writtle Village Hall

Three Jewish widows keep a regular rendez-vous at the cemetery. They support each other; they bring gossip and grand-children’s photos.
The Golden Girls theme – by that nice Jewish boy Andrew Gold, now in an L.A. cemetery himself – sets the sit-com tone. The “pals and confidantes” here are wise-cracking Ida, [beautifully done by Liz Curley] man-hungry Lucille in her thrift-shop mink [a bold and brassy performance from Steph Edwards] and devoted widow Doris [touchingly characterized by Sharon Goodwin].
Most of the “action” takes place in Ida's sitting room, nicely realised for this production with a set that is both stylish and lived-in. But we see the Forest Hills “Perpetual Care” plots, too, on a little apron in front of the stage.
Paulette Harris's production wisely lets Menchell's dialogue speak for itself, but there are many telling moments of truth – Ida looking longingly at the mink in the mirror, envying Lucille's way with men, the sozzled home-coming after what must have been a great Jewish wedding, the show-down when Ida learns of her friends' duplicity, Lucille's phonecall to Sam [Daniel Curley], the timid kosher butcher “playboy” reluctantly caught up in the widows' net. Dee Irons plays Mildred, his temporary fancy-woman defence.
It's a sweet comedy, with flashes of insight and plenty of laughs. A good choice for the Cards, whose next is Enchanted April – but you'll have to wait till June for that ...