Friday, April 27, 2012


WAOS at the Public Hall Witham

We begin with a Runyonesque street scene, the stage crammed with all human life, low life especially. Dolls, cops, gamblers, gawpers and the token drunk, Jeff Babbs a constant inebriated presence throughout the show.

The scene changes were difficult on this small stage, but we had a nice Hot Box [with audience profiles] as well as both sides of the Save-a-Soul Mission.

Many lovely performances: Corrina Wilson's coy, vulnerable but steel-willed Sarah, very impressive vocally. An old-fashioned "light opera" voice – a tradition under threat now that actors have taken over in musicals – an approach appropriately shared by her Arvide, Nicholas Clough, with a touchingly beautiful rendition of More I Cannot Wish You, and by her Masterson, Gareth Gwyn-Jones, their tones blending splendidly in duet. The MD for the show was Geoff Osborne.

Delicious comedy leavening from Deborah Anderson as Miss Adelaide, with her nasal tones and her huge box of Kleenex, and from Stewart Adkins as Nicely-Nicely – a little lithe, despite his addiction to Mindy's nosh, but lighting up the stage with his confident, larger-than-life presence.

Jacqui Tear's production was confident too, from that busy opening through to the spectacular title song finale. I loved the retro burlesque routines from the excellent Hot Box Girls [Lindsay Bonsor the choreographer], and the famous Rocking The Boat managed to be static and dynamic at the same time – very clever.

It's 90 years since WAOS first ventured onto the hallowed boards of the Public Hall, and this is their third production of this Broadway Classic. On this showing they can move towards their century safe in the knowledge that good old-fashioned entertainment, done with this kind of skill and style, will always find an appreciative audience.

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