Sunday, August 28, 2016



at the Public Hall, Witham


Twenty years ago, as a spin-off from WAOS's Oliver, the Witham Operatic Workshop was born. Their first show, in 1996, was Joseph; their latest, last February, Half A Sixpence.
And in a memorable occasion in the Public Hall, alumni, newbies, fans and families, and the many adult creatives and organizers who have encouraged the youngsters over the years, came together to celebrate their [almost] coming of age in an emotional anniversary concert produced by Graham Green.
Director Rhianna Howard gave us a very varied selection box – remarkably slick, given the circumstances – of musicals both popular and obscure. She joined Faith Rogers for Smash!, from the Marilyn Monroe musical Bombshell. There was an impressive dance number by the Chicago girls, immediately followed by the Bad Guys from Bugsy … “with all the talent we had ...”
Among the stand-out solos: Rosie Goddard singing and acting Andrew Lippa, Elizabetb Johnson giving us Lerner and Loewe. A great tap routine to I Got Rhythm, and as an appetiser for Ben Elton's juke-box We Will Rock You, a crowd-pleasing in-joke by the Backstage Crew [the Gang Show collides with Queen]. Shrek, Avenue Q, Jekyll and Hyde, and of course the timeless classics, Can't Stop the Beat [on these boards in 2012] and One Day More [2009].
The Musical Director was Thomas Duchan; his pit band treated us to wonderfully wide-ranging medleys of musical-theatre melodies, ingeniously arranged by Phil Toms, for the Overture and the Entr'acte - Summer Nights [2014] segue into Our House [2015].

Good to hear Broadway flop Bonnie and Clyde revived; next February another new-ish musical, created in 2009 for Youth Music Theatre UK, James Bourne's Son of Dork show Loserville.

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