We are extremely pleased to share this glittering review from NODA: The National Operatic and Dramatic Association.
The New Wolsey Theatre
Friday 16th June 2017
Director: Sally Scurrell
Musical Director: Mike Wren
Choreographer: Kimberley Moses
There were plenty of Front of House representation at the Wolsey who were easily identified, gave us a warm welcome and were a credit to Front of House Manager Norman Rutterford. Everybody in the foyer and bar were buzzing with excitement, including my wife and myself, at the prospect of seeing this stage musical adaptation of the very successful film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. The open stage displayed a basic but well constructed set on two levels consisting of a working door, a spiral staircase leading to the second level balcony as well as two additional balconies front left and right, the right balcony was above a curtained exit and was representative of a hotel room terrace. This set was functional and extremely well designed by Sally Scurrel, Duncan Broatch and Richard Rumbellow. Duncan Broatch, Craig Evans and Richard Rumbellow did a great job of constructing and painting this solid and workable set that was managed efficiently by Duncan Broatch and his stage crew. The Properties were appropriate and well constructed. The Properties team are to be congratulated on the quality and usability of all of the property items. Dan Scarett’s beautiful lighting design was efficiently operated by Technician Jon Terry. Shaun Emmerson and James Cook’s Sound design was clear and well balanced and the operators never missed a cue, quite rare these days for some reason. Congratulations and appreciation goes to Wardrobe Manager Lesley Rawlinson and her team for the excellent costumes and attention to detail. The block colours used for the chorus were subtle but beautifully put together. Charlotte Sampson also did a very good job with hairdressing and complemented the wardrobe in great style.
Martin Leigh and Tom Mayhew taking on the mantle’s of Michael Caine and Steve Martin as Lawrence and Freddy were undaunted and delivered some hilariously superb performances. Both actors seemed made for the parts and made them their own. Laura Lucock was very convincing as the boys love interest who ultimately proves to be a greater confidence trickster than either of them. Stephanie Brown as Muriel and Paul Stone as Andre were terrific in their own characters but excelled as a pairing. Both actors have a lot of energy and when they were in a scene together the electricity was tangible. Ellie Downes as Jolene is a natural comedienne who can also sing, dance and is easy on the eye culminating in a proper all round full package performer whom the audience enjoyed immensely. The Chorus were enthusiastic, slick and full of energy. I don’t usually single out members of chorus but feel that I need to mention Owen Berry and Emily Gatt who were both totally in the moment and proved that there are no small parts just small actors, these two were a couple of the biggest on stage amongst a constellation of stars in the chorus.
Any great show can be made mediocre by it’s lack of imagination and artistry in the choreography, luckily in this production the very talented Kimberley Moses took the reigns and did a marvellous job. Mike Wren’s Musical Direction was so beautifully understated and perfect that even though the wonderful orchestra were right before our very eyes upstage of the action at all times, we forgot that they were there.
Sally Scurrell’s Direction was brilliant. She allowed the whole piece to flow at a good rhythm with no dead spots and avoided lengthy scene changes by utilising the cast and chorus as much as she could, thus making what is quite a long show not appear to be so. Sally appreciates that even in a musical the story needs to be told in the dialogue, and so her actors , I am sure, were encouraged to embrace the dialogue and not just use it as an intro to the next song.
This was a superb production worthy of any west end stage, my congratulations and appreciation go to all concerned.
Councillor Don McKay, NODA East