From musical back to the basic play - The Full Monty in the West End, and now Blood Brothers at the Old Court.
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop are producing Blood Brothers the Play by Willy Russell May 14th - 17th and 21st to 24th at 19.45 with a charity night being given to Farleigh Hospice on Tuesday 20th.
A Liverpudlian West Side Story – written by Willy Russell back in 1981 as a play, the legendary Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving tale of twins who, separated at birth, grow up on opposite sides of the tracks, only to meet again with fateful consequences. CTW is taking it back to its roots for a two week run. Book your tickets early for this production as it will be very popular!
Tickets for this show are from The Civic Theatre Chelmsford 01245 606505 and for the charity night from The Farleigh Hospice and are £9 Cons £8 except Fri and Sat.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 09, 2014
Billericay Operatic Society at Brentwood Theatre
Ethnic tensions, trial by media, a true story. Jason Robert Brown's first Broadway musical is richly, if unmemorably scored, with a compelling book by Alfred [Driving Miss Daisy] Uhry.
Wayne Carpenter directed a powerful production for Billericay, as well as giving a nuanced performance as Leo Franks, a Jew out of his element in the Deep South of a hundred years ago.
Using a multi-level setting, and a large cast, the story was tautly told, though there was still some tension lost in silent darkness.
Excellent work from the principal players. No mean feat to make the score – a patchwork of folk, anthem, vaudeville and more – sound better than it is. Under the Musical Direction of Ian Southgate, Nik Graham did, as the drunken janitor and star witness, and Bob Southgate as the smooth-talking prosecutor. Impressive work too from Peter Brown as the “Georgian” hack, Fiona Whittaker as Frank's wife, mousy at first, feisty in his defence, and Gail Carpenter as the Governor's Lady and Minnie, the family cook.
So encouraging to see so many talented young performers on stage; notably Nicole Clements as the young victim – she was the right age, and had a lovely pure voice, – and Simon Johnson as the young Confederate soldier who has to start the whole show with a demanding solo – The Old Red Hills of Home.
The staging set big production pieces – the mob, Memorial Day, broadsheets brilliantly used - against lonely protagonists – the fantasy picnic, Frank's soliloquies – nowhere more successfully than the ending, with Leo poignantly isolated in his office.
Had this been fiction, Franks would have been reprieved at the last moment, and the real murderer exposed - maybe rabid bigot Watson [Mark Clements]. But, tragically, real life is not so tidy, and although Franks was eventually pardoned, by that time he'd been dead 70 years, hanged by a lynch mob back in Marietta.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
Peter Souter's play – somewhere between romcom and 21st century comedy of manners – centres on a couple thrown together by destiny and an estate agent.
They have little in common; they sometimes don't seem to speak the same language.
The script is challenging; not quite naturalistic, often very funny. This production – the first non-professional staging of this piece – by Mike and Sara Nower manages to bring out the honesty as well as the humour, and the ending is genuinely moving [and refreshingly happy, too].
Despite the vital contributions of Paul Bonnici as a bemused boyfriend and Rebecca Segeth as a smart auctioneer, this is really a two-hander.
And the two actors carry their characters wonderfully well.
Vikki Pead is the “shouty woman with slightly disastrous hair”, “vile”, “prickly” who turns out to be desperate to raise a family. A lovely, thoughtful performance, using a turn of the shoulder, a look askance to convey much that is unspoken.
Ian Willingham is the nerdy Rain Man completist, collector of “crap in frames” who offers her a bed in the box room and, ten years later, an island idyll. A totally convincing portrayal of a complex character, tender, introverted, funny and vulnerable.
Both actors timed their laugh lines brilliantly, though words were occasionally lost.
If Souter's charming, intriguing play has a weakness, it's that the symbolism and the subtext, and much else, is too heavily underlined. Alex's “Cheating is wrong...” says autistic spectrum. We can see that the intertwined candlesticks are a symbol, like the tandem. And the eggbound chicken.
This stage version was originally a radio play called That's Mine, This is Yours. And in Act Two divorce entails a division of “shared stuff”, unveiled as if for a poignant version of Kim's Game: the bedstead, the bowl of pebbles, the Damien Hurst …
The setting, and the props, are meticulously done. And there's a free roll of love hearts with every programme.
A fine production of an enjoyable new play.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Talking Scarlet at the Civic Theatre
Brighton-based Talking Scarlet have been touring this frenetic farce for a year or more, and hope to extend its life into 2015 …
There's certainly plenty of AirMiles left in the old Caravelle, and Patric Kearns' stylish production reminds us of what a success it's had, from its opening in 1962 to a star-studded revival of 2007.
The set is sophisticated 70s Parisian, though the performances are less subtle generally, with lots of supercharged shouting and meticulous slapstick.
The three mini-skirted cyphers who make up Bernard's “international harem” are played with a shameless sense of fun by Ciara Janson [Air France], Zoie Kennedy [Lufthansa] and Kim Tiddy [TWA].
Their fiancé is “Parisian bachelor” Ben Roddy, his ordered timetable trashed by turbulence and new technology. But the evening really belongs to Philip Stewart, as his unpolished provincial friend – a fine, manic physical performance – and Anita Graham as his seen-it-all cynical housekeeper, a welcome oasis of subtlety in a stormy night.
Sunday, March 02, 2014
ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC
M&G Concert at the Civic Theatre
One of the best baroque bands around, the AAM brought their new programme to the Civic for this very enjoyable evening's music-making.
It's based around the Dresden Court of Augustus the Strong. Vivaldi's Venetian style was very popular there, apparently, especially when brass and wind were added to the mix. So the concert began and ended with concertos featuring lavish wind parts as well as virtuoso writing for the violin – the two horns, in particular, vied with Rodolfo Richter's fiddle [whose history goes back further than the music he played] to spectacular effect.
William Carter, whose lute is a mere ten years old, was the soloist in Fasch's Concerto, with its sensuous slow movement.
In a generous programme, we also heard a colourful Overture by Veracini, and two works by JS Bach, a lively Third Brandenburg, and the Concerto for Three Violins, with its scintillating finale.
The last Civic Concert for this season, at the end of the month, will feature the Orchestra of the Swan in Mozart and Britten.