Saturday, March 28, 2009

photograph Sawood Pearce
King Edward VI School Chelmsford

Jim Hutchon [Chelmsford Weekly News] was at the first night:

Cole Porter’s evergreen Anything Goes was given a new lease of life by producer/ choreographer Maria French leading an energetic and disciplined cast for KEGS Spring production. Within minutes it was easy to forget this was a school production because of the professionalism and commitment of the cast and band.
Key star in the production was the lead girl, Reno (Hannah Phillips), who belted out all the traditional standards – I get a kick out of you, You’re the top and Friendship etc. - with a great voice and personality like the professional chanteuse she was playing. Helping her was her hapless boyfriend, Billy (Matthew Lecznar) who has impeccable timing and also a fine voice which he used to good effect in a series of complicated plot turnabouts.
Excellent character playing came from Tom Childs and Katie Gormley as stowaway gangster and moll on the good ship SS American, backed by Alice Macfarlane and Hayley Camis as the mother and daughter hoping to marry into the aristocracy via Bart Lambert, who played the slightly unhinged English aristocrat with great aplomb.
The massive cast created spectacular chorus numbers – especially for the closing of the first act when the more than 50 cast were on the impressive set. In the midst of this they staged a truly awesome tap dance routine which brought the house down.
And from the smallest to the tallest, they all played their part in making this challenging production something special. Especial plaudits go to Tom Crowe, as a ‘camper than camp’ purser with some outrageous pouting and flouting, and magnetic stage presence, and to the lively and musically secure band led by Musical Director Tim Worrall.

JR was at the last night ...

A most enjoyable evening. Good cast with Reno and Billy particularly
outstanding .. Evangeline took my eye too. The band was EXCELLENT !

I was impressed with the lad's [Jamie Dent's] tap dancing, and in fact it would have been good to see him included in the middle of the girls' line-up at the end of Act One .. he was equally impressive in his later solo, if a little serious.
The purser [Tom Crowe] played with enthusiasm .. his face when he looked through the porthole was perfect .. and the moment where he pecked the Captain on the cheek priceless from both !
With his cut glass accent (eksent ?) Bart Lambert was the epitome of the silly twit and could have escaped from one of the Ben Travers farces - an impeccable portrayal.

The KEGS Newsletter review
by 'Richard Broadway'

How to follow “Oliver!” ? How do you top “Joseph” ?

Maria French and her team went back to musical comedy roots for “Anything Goes”, Cole Porter's feelgood show born in the recession, and still one of the most popular school productions in the US.

The result was a colourful, tuneful extravaganza, featuring some of the best performances you could hope to see on a school stage. James Russell, the Stage Director, was very much thrown in at the deep end, but proved an inspirational force for these enthusiastic actors.

Hannah Phillips was a diminutive, dynamite Reno Sweeney, selling all her numbers and lighting up the stage, ably partnered by Matthew Lecznar as Billy Crocker, relaxed, with an easy presence and real star quality. His last show with KEGS, alas; other swan songs from Robin Carroll, Maxwell Spence as the myopic buffoon Eli Whitney, Sam Booth as a strong Captain, Alex Duval as the real man of the cloth, and Tom Childs a great comedic discovery as Public Enemy #13. Alice McFarlane made a sweet Hope Harcourt, her Goodbye Little Dream moving in its simplicity, while Hayley Camis made a great character of her frantic mother. Bonnie Letour was another smouldering performance from the inimitable Katie Gormley. Chris Malton, an indefatigable techie, also signs off with this show.

We hope to see more of Bart Lambert, an upper-crust Lord Evelyn, and Thomas Crowe, the effete Purser. Not to mention the accomplished Sailor Quartet, and some very promising younger cameos.

Tim Worrall, MD, and the 16-piece band made the most of the familiar show-stoppers. But this was really all about the hoofers. Not just the polished principals, or the augmented Angels [Dance Captain Sian Cripps], but every one of the forty students, from year 7 to year 13, who pounded the decks of the SS American, tapping and stomping through the title number at the close of each act.

Congratulations to everyone involved on a five-star production. As Wodehouse wrote for the 1935 West End première: You're the grace of a Brontosaurus, you're the pace of a Cochran chorus, you're the green and gold and the mauve of the old school tie, you're the top !

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