Past Productions & Reviews

Guys and Dolls

Director

Vicky Dilworth

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

Choreographer

Jean Carter

Report

Author: Joe Clarke

This week Newton Amateur Dramatic Operatic Society produced their 2019 production of Guys and Dolls at Byrchall High School.  Guys and Dolls is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a high rolling gambler (Sky Masterson) who falls in love with a missionary (Sarah Brown).  This toe tapping musical has an abundance of hit songs and tonight’s performance left us singing them all in the car on the way home. 

This version of Guys and Dolls opened to an excellent crowd scene that filled the stage and was ever moving.  It was a great impact to the overall piece and the crowd scenes throughout were brilliantly directed.  The director for this production was Vicky Dilworth.  A couple of things that really stood out in this production were the storytelling and the characterisations.  Each actor had their own individual character and the way that they carried themselves physically and vocally was really apparent.  The storytelling was also good, as was the pace of the piece.  Guys and Dolls is a really long musical, particularly the first half, but I felt that the pace was good throughout.  There were some minor technical elements that needed to be worked on such as some of the levels of the mics but visually and vocally this production was great.  I also felt that Nathan’s newsstand could’ve been established more in the opening scene/act.  I loved watching the live band throughout and having a live band really enhanced the overall piece.  I also loved the use of freeze frames during some of the musical numbers, this gave it a nice throwback to the original era.  Overall, the direction was very strong, and the audience enjoyed this musical very much.

Musical Director (Barry Dilworth) was great.  The harmonies of the males were very strong and the mixture of rhythms within the songs was very well rehearsed and reflected beautifully in the singing (and choreography).  Conducted by Beth Dilworth, the band were a delight.  It was so pleasing to hear them play live and it enhanced the whole performance to a higher level.  The brass section was particularly delightful!

Choreography by Jean Carter was limited.  I fear this was due to the small space and the large cast.  All choreography was apt and reflected the era and the style of each song.  I just felt that some of it could’ve been a little more inventive or a little more daring in pushing the boundaries, particularly during ‘Havana’.  This is just my opinion however; the choreography was very apt and the dancers well-rehearsed.

Whilst the set looked a little amateur, it was used well throughout and aided both the pace and location setting.  Some of the scene changes were a little noisy (ladies’ heels) but I doubt that many of the audience would’ve heard this.  I liked the use of the cloths that were pulled across, but someone kept pulling it during scenes which was a little distracting.  The black skyline backdrop was a lovely touch.  The costumes were great.  I liked the different colours used for each of the crap shooters; their colour matching ribbons on their hats was a nice touch. 

The lighting design was good.  I particularly loved the lighting design for the crap game in the sewer ‘Luck Be A Lady’ – this was brilliant!  I did notice that some of the follow spot cues were a little late and the lighting cues were a little harshly made – that could’ve been faded a little softer – again, I’m being very picky here!

There were various issues with the levels of some of the mics for me.  Because the cast's head mics were placed in different areas of the face I felt that the person on mics could’ve adjusted the levels of some of the mics during the performance to aid the overall piece.  There was a problem with Nathan’s mic during act 1 when it kept popping throughout.  This was rectified for act 2 though.  The mix between band, cast and audience was very good.

Sky Masterson, played by Andrew Marsh, was a little too laid back for me.  It felt like Sky was depressed and a bit of a wet lettuce instead of the suave, charming impresario who gets the girl.  Whilst Andrew has a stunning singing voice and acted well throughout song, I felt that Sky was very underplayed and a little lack lustre.

Sarah Brown, played by Jenny Downden, was a little pitchy at times.  During the high notes, Jenny sounded beautiful.  I also felt that there was very little connection between Sarah and Sky – neither of them smiled or flirted during their opening scene together in the Mission.  Sarah acted the part well and had a nice rapport with Arvide.

Jean Carter played the role of Adelaide.  It’s fair to say that Jean played this part like her life depended on it.  Her characterisations were excellent.  The way she used her voice throughout her acting scenes and her songs was also brilliant.  Every time she came on stage she lifted the energy and she had a brilliant rapport with Nathan!  Well done Jean!

Jon Kennedy played the role of Adelaide’s fiancé Nathan Detroit.  I felt that Jon gave a brilliant performance of Nathan.  He really captured the role well as the cheeky crap shooter as well as the humble and bumbling idiot side to the role in his scenes with Adelaide.  Jon’s energy and commitment to character was great and he was a joy to watch! 

General Cartwright (Wendy Cox) has a nice air of authority, although she dipped between English and American accents.  Arvide Abernathy (John Naughton) gave a sweet performance and had a lovely aura about him.

Nicely Nicely Johnson was well played by Barry Dilworth.  Although Barry devoiced a little too much at times which made it hard to hear, he gave a lovely performance.  His vocals and harmonies were stunning!  I also loved the characterisations that he brought and the eating something new in every scene was a touch of genius!

Benny Southstreet was played by Jordan Billings.  Jordan was very naturalistic in this role and had a great sense of calm about him.  He was also very watchable and gave a great acting and singing performance – one to watch for the future!

Big Jule was played by Gary Williams.  Gary gave a great performance in this role and was convincing as Big Jule.  Harry the Horse, (Matthew Swann) was a little overacted for me.  He stood out as the one who was ‘different’ from the others.  Saying that, I felt that Matthew committed to the role brilliantly and used his cigar and voice to aid his characterisation. Lt Brannigan (Danny Murray) was very authoritative – at times a little too much.  I felt that being physical with some of the characters was at the detriment to the character and the overall piece.  I was hoping for a little more light and shade to his voice too.

Overall, I enjoyed this performance.  The crowd scenes were very strong and there was a lot of storytelling going on.  The ensemble did brilliantly to carry themselves ‘within the style’ of the era and they were very entertaining to watch.  It was clear that a lot of work has gone into characterisation and storytelling and this was apparent in this performance.  Overall, there was still a few minor technical elements that could’ve enhanced this performance even more, but the audience and I enjoyed Guys and Dolls.  I thank NADOS for their very kind hospitality and I wish them all the very best for their next Panto production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’!

Dick Whittington & His Cat

Date

21st February 2019

Director

Dave Cox

Musical Director

Dave Semans

Choreographer

Sarah Hutchinson

Report

Author: Joe Clarke

Newtown Amateur Dramatic Operatic Society have opened their 2019 season with a brilliant production of Dick Whittington.  Set traditionally within the time period, this version of Dick Whittington has a clever script (by Ben Crocker) to keep the action flowing and the storytelling at the forefront during the slapstick and farcical elements.  With a brilliant cast and outstanding costumes, it’s fair to say that this production was a huge success.

Directed by Dave Cox, this production had some clever ideas.  Whilst in keeping with the traditions of panto, it was brought up to date with the visuals and up-tempo songs.  All of the direction was in keeping with the panto style and entrances and exits were used well throughout.  There was a brilliant use of audience participation and great fun was had by all.

The choreography was relatively basic, but it didn’t need more.  It gave each of the young group of dancers a good showcase to show off their ability – even if it was a little obvious.

The costumes were outstanding.  By far the best pantomime costumes I’ve seen.  A special mention has to go to the Dame costumes which were a visual treat!

The set was also brilliant.  Cleverly using curtains that slide across, it gave the opportunity for different locations, which scene changes were going on behind.  I loved the set design for the boat scene and one of the highlights was the underwater scene too.

Lighting was a little hit and miss.  The lights that worked were brilliant.  An excellent use of movers, gobos and laser effects, however, some of the lights didn’t work on the night which meant that some characters were unlit on stage.  This didn’t impact on the action and I doubt that many of the audience even noticed.  A few of the lighting cues were a little slow too, but I suspect this was down to the lights not working correctly.

The sound quality of the mics was generally good.  There were a few slight issues with the levels of Dick and Alice but overall, I liked the blend between the band and the cast.  Some of the sound cues were a little slow too.

The musical director for this production was Dave Semans.  Whilst some of the intros were a little long and some of the timing was off from the cast, the band did very well to cope with this.  I particularly loved the bass guitar which really suited this production.

The main cast were strong, and each did well with their own story.  I really enjoyed the characterisations of the individual characters and they thoroughly entertained the audience throughout.

The protagonist, Dick Whittington, was played by Olivia Trapnell.  Olivia did well as Dick and was a good storyteller.  Olivia also had very good diction and projection.  I would’ve preferred a little more knee slapping and guts to the role, but I was entertained never-the-less.

Sarah The Cook was brilliantly played by Andrew Marsh.  Andrew was outstanding in this role and one of the best Dame’s I’ve ever seen.  Andrew had the right amount of wit, humour and audience participation.  His quick thinking and add-libbing really made him stand out as an outstanding Dame.  I was picked on many times throughout this production, normally I’m not a fan of being picked on but I thoroughly enjoyed it during this performance.  Well done Andrew!

Idle Jack was brilliantly played by Louise Morris.  Louise brought excellent character traits to her character and built an outstanding rapport with the audience.  Louise was very funny and very believable in this role and was brilliantly cast!

Alice Fitzwarren was played by Alisha Morris.  Alisha did well in a part that is relatively two dimensional.  She was a little too sickly sweet for my taste but was well cast in this role.  There were some nice touches to Alisha’s performance, especially with Olivia (Dick).

Jon Kennedy played the roles of Alderman Fitzwarren, Captain Horatio and Emperor of Morocco.  Jon did well to try and create a different character for each role.  There were times when he used the wrong characteristic (limping as Fitzwarren instead of Horatio) but he was very entertaining to watch.  Jon had a great rapport with Andrew (the Dame) and did well in each role.  His accents were great also.

Emily Madden played the role of Tommy the Cat.  Whilst a small role that doesn’t speak, Emily did well to try to convey sass and humour throughout. 

King Rat was brilliantly played by Danny Murray.  Danny had brilliant characterisations and was very well cast in this role.  I loved some of the character choices that Danny made, especially with his physicality and vocality.  I felt that some of the story was lost slightly due to the accent and the fact that the script was a bit too ‘rhymey’, but Danny was very entertaining to watch – a strong performer!

King Rat’s sidekick (Ratty) was played by Alisha Greening.  Whilst Alisha brought some nice characterisations to the part, I lost some of the dialogue.  At times I was straining to hear due to the lack of diction and projection.  Alisha had a brilliant singing voice, but I felt she was singing as Alisha, not as the character of Ratty.

Fairy Bow Bells was played by Barbara Whittaker.  Barbara’s accent was brilliant, and she looked very confident on stage.  Barbara told the story well and the audience loved her performance.

Overall, this was a very long but enjoyable pantomime.  I’m not a massive fan of the more traditional pantomimes as I find they are quite limited in action, I prefer the more up-to-date (Disney) pantos.  Saying that, this version of Dick Whittington was very strong.  Visually, it was excellent.  The set, lights, costumes, props etc made the whole thing sparkle.  The audience were kept very entertained throughout and the was the right amount of storytelling and audience participation.  At the end of the night my cheekbones hurt from smiling and laughing – always a good sign!  I sincerely thank NADOS for their very kind hospitality

Sister Act! 

Date

24th August 2018

Director

Andrew Marsh

Musical Director

David Wall

Choreographer

Lisa Griffiths

Author: Joe Clarke

Tonight, I had the pleasure of visiting NADOS again for their production of Sister Act.  It’s hard to believe that this production went ahead, as a few weeks ago, NADOS lost their venue due to unforeseen circumstances.  After a frantic few weeks, they found a new venue and they have produced a sell out show. 

Like the movie, Sister Act tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier who, after witnessing her boyfriend killing someone, goes into witness protection until the trial.  Where better to hide and be inconspicuous than a convent for nuns?  Unfortunately, Deloris becomes head of the choir of nuns and quickly finds herself on television for her efforts – where she is seen by her gangster boyfriend.  Sister Act the musical is different from the film as it has its own soundtrack.  Most of the numbers are quite catchy and the audience tonight were tapping along to the songs throughout. 

Sister Act was directed by Andrew Marsh.  I liked Andrew’s vision for the show.  He had some great ideas for the look of the show, which was visually brilliant.  I personally would’ve preferred a little more light and shade - with the more serious moments being played with realness and integrity.  This would’ve been a nice contrast to the campery that we were treated to in the ensemble scenes.  This is only my personal preference and in no way distracted from the fun that the audience were treated to.

David Wall was in charge of Musical Direction.  The band were situated at the back of the audience.  I thought that this might negatively impact on the sound quality, but this was a great idea and they sounded very well throughout.  Considering they were behind the audience, the band did well to keep tempo and the cast were able to see the MD from the back.

Choreography for this show was by Lisa Griffiths.  I enjoyed the choreography very much.  It was used throughout the show to convey comedy and this was appreciated not only by me, but the audience too.  I appreciate that it must be difficult to choreograph for such a large cast in such as small space, but it worked. 

The set and costumes for this production were excellent.  They made the show to be a visual treat.  The set was constructed by Jonathan Barnham.  I believe that the director, Andrew Marsh, had a vision and Jonathan Barnham made is possible.  The set design was very clever as the space was very limited.  The cast and crew were able to manipulate the set-in various ways in order to convey different locations.  The costumes were equally brilliant.  A special mention has to go to the costumes for the nuns.  Well done to the costume team and The Boyz (Costume Makers).

For me, the lighting was great overall.  The was the odd follow spot that was slightly late, but I doubt members of the audience even noticed.  I loved the colours that were used throughout – they were apt and added another dimension to the scenes.  The sound was generally good.  I felt that some of the cast’s mics should’ve been altered, particularly when they were shouting.  Overall, there was a good blend between cast, band and the audience.

Deloris Van Cartier was played by Mica Sefia.  Mica did very well to play the sassy Deloris and commanded the stage.  Personally, I preferred the more vulnerable side to Deloris (Sister Mary Clarence).  It showed off Mica’s voice and acting more and drew the audience in.  It’s clear that Mica is a good singer.  If I was to be really picky, I would’ve preferred to hear Mica use her chest voice/belt a little more than she did but nevertheless, she played her role very well.  One of the highlights for me was the song ‘Sister Act’ – sang beautifully by Mica.

Mother Superior was excellently played by Lisa Griffiths.  I liked the portrayal of this character and enjoyed the way that Lisa was a good contrast to the other nuns; playing her role with truth.  Lisa has a great singing voice and I enjoyed her rendition of ‘Here Within These Walls’ very much.

Sister Mary Patrick was played by Emma Benson.  Emma was one of the highlights for me.  I loved her commitment to character and Emma had the audience in the palm of her hand with both her acting and wonderful soprano voice. 

Sister Mary Robert was played by Neeve Dilworth.  Neeve did very well vocally and has a great voice.  I enjoyed her version of this character and she had a great rapport with Deloris and the other nuns.

There are far too many other nuns to mention in this review, but I have to mention the brilliant Wendy Cox who played Sister Mary Lazarus.  She played the role with truth and tenacity and because of that, it made her character so much more believable and funny!  I was thoroughly entertained by the nuns throughout and it was clear that the audience were also. 

Andrew Marsh played the role of Eddie Souther – the cop schoolfriend of Deloris who has the ingenious idea of hiding her in a convent.  I liked Andrew’s version of this character.  He played it as a slightly geeky, love interest and it worked.  Andrew had the right amount of comedy and sincerity for this role and showed that he has a great singing voice also.

Curtis Jackson and Monsignor O’ Hara were played by Chris Roberts and Garry Williams respectively.  Whilst these roles are quite 2d on paper, there is a lot of scope for playing them with truth and sincerity.  I felt that these versions were played more like a caricature rather than rounded characters.  This is my personal preference – the audience certainly enjoyed these performances and laughed in all of the right places.

I enjoyed the roles of TJ. Joey and Pablo (played by Alex Hayden, Jon Kennedy and Deni Griffiths).  They were suitably camp, suitably funny and suitably great movers and singers.  They brought a good stage presence and the audience loved them a lot!

Overall, I enjoyed this production.  I appreciate that the venue was a last-minute change which affected the show.  I know that The Boyz (the costumes) and Music Theatre International (the scripts and scores) were very accommodating, which allowed this piece of theatre to go ahead.  The set and costumes were brilliant and used very well throughout.  I loved the choreography and the singing (particularly the soporano’s) and it was a fun filled evening.  Well done to all involved in making this show a success.  I wish NADOS well in finding a venue for their youth production of Little Shop of Horrors and I look forward to being invited back for Panto!!    

Jack & The Beanstalk

Type of Production

Pantomime 2017

Producer / Director

Emma Fairhurst

Musical Director

Joe Martin

Choreographer

Lisa Griffiths

Review

Author: Sharon Drummond

The sets looked good and worked well making changes of scenes quick and effective. The props worked well and the costumes were gorgeous .The sound and lighting complimented the atmosphere of each scene.

I loved the script which was very funny for all characters. The show was well directed by Emma Fairhurst in her first outing as Director. The dances looked good and the nippers were fabulous, all smiling and performing beautifully. The songs chosen were mainly modern pop songs but fitted the scenes and characters well. The MD and band sounded great and never overpowered the actors.

The chorus members including the nippers all looked to be having a good time and the audience responded well to them. There were some nice harmonies and lovely dancers who had wonderful stage presence.

Barbara Whitaker was great as Vegetable Fairy and I loved her costumes and make up. Her diction was clear and well projected. Her helpers, Rachel Lyon as Honey Dew and Kate Murphy as Swede put in nice performances to compliment those scenes. Alisha Greening and Maddie Dean as Buttercup the cow were great and I loved the dance scenes.

Lisa Griffiths choreographed the show but also put in a fabulous performance as Mrs Blunderbore the giants wife. Her delivery was great playing it almost as Mrs Lovitt from Sweeney Todd and she relished the boo’s thrown at her. Her songs were well delivered and her dance moves looked super. Her sidekick Fleshcreep was beautifully portrayed by Brandon Stokes who portrayed the sneaky baddie on his knees with great humour which flowed naturally.

Neeve Dilworth was a lovely Jill Crumble and had a beautiful singing voice on her numbers. She did well in the freeze scenes especially having foam pies thrown at her. Alex Hayden played Jack and the two of them looked and performed really well together appearing more mature than their years. Alex had a fabulous stage presence and his vocals were stunning.

Emma Benson performed with expertise as Simple Simon with excellent comic delivery of funny lines and vocals which sounded great. Her ease in ad libbing and interaction with the audience seemed really natural and enjoyable.

The important casting of the Dame and the final piece in the pantomime jigsaw was played brilliantly by Andrew Marsh as Dame Tilly Trott. Andrew looks far too comfortable in those dresses but his comic timing especially with the audience is wonderful to watch. A very funny and infectious performance.

The show was very well put together by Emma, Joe and Lisa and clearly everyone had a great time on stage and no doubt in rehearsals too. The nippers are a credit to the society and always looked professional and fun filled. Well done to all involved with this show which the audience and I thoroughly enjoyed.

Gypsy

Type of Production

Musical 2016

Producer / Director

Andrew Marsh

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

Choreographer

Lisa Griffiths

Review

Author: Eddie Regan

 

 

This was my first visit to this company and I was very impressed. I remembered the film very well and as I have not seen a stage version I was intrigued to see how it would compare. I was not disappointed.

The cast ranged from young children to more mature adults and Director, Andrew Marsh has ensured that there were no weak links.

This Musical Fable based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee with music by Jules Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim was a challenging task for this popular society.

The story of Madam Rose and her daughters was a fast paced and exhilarating production which kept the audience captivated.

There were some excellent performances from these talented actors, none more so than Vicky Dilworth as the domineering, obsessive and manipulative stage mother. She burst onto the stage with a dynamic intensity which set the atmosphere of the piece. She has obviously researched the character and was completely immersed in the role. She gave an emotionally charged, powerful performance with very strong vocals. I would have preferred a little more light and shade however but overall this was a ‘real tour de force’.

I was impressed by the accomplished performances from Baby June, Scarlet Livesey and Baby Louise, Sophie Butterworth, two girls who showed great promise and indeed I thought all younger members were a delight. Neeve Dilworth held the stage with her great interpretation of the role of Dainty June.

Andrew Marsh, Herbie, gave a sympathetic and empathetic performance, whilst Emma Benson as Louise was outstanding in her transformation into the adult Gypsy Rose Lee. The three Strippers, Andrea Martin Skeech, Lisa Griffiths and Aileen Wiswell were hilarious. Never offensive and certainly one of the highlights of the evening. Lisa Griffiths choreographed the production and showed her obvious experience. I particularly enjoyed the transition scene from children to teenagers.  

Archie the dog who played the role of Chowsie gave a laid back performance seeming to enjoy all the activity around him.

The Orchestra, under the baton of Musical Director Barry  Dilworth was excellent. He had gathered together some first class musicians who were the perfect foil for those on stage.

Staging and props, lighting and sound together with great work by the Costume Department, played an integral part in the overall success of the evening, as together they recreated the 1920’s and 1930’s era..

The Company is to be congratulated on a memorable production.

Thank you for your very warm welcome to my wife and myself.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Type of Production

Pantomime 2016

Producer / Director

Vicky Dilworth

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

Choreographer

Jean Carter & Neeve Dilworth

Review

Author: Sharon Drummond

The small 4 piece band opened the show, sounded great and set the tempo for the evening which was full of great performances, song choices and staging.

The sets worked well in this production with the Magic Mirror to stage left and in the second half a fantastic dwarfs cottage complete with little beds upstairs. The sets and props were lovely and the costumes were absolutely stunning. I loved Black Wings wings which looked so effective. The sound and lighting were absolutely spot on for every scene and character with no lapses whatsoever.

The script worked well, was funny, well directed and drilled in both diction and dance moves. The dances looked effective and allowed varied abilities to all look good.   The songs chosen were a good mix of genres and suited the scenes and personalities of the cast.

And so to the cast. The chorus all played their parts well and contributed to the overall effect of the pantomime.                                                                                                     

Emma Fairhurst was wonderful as Fairy Goodheart delivering her lines in rhyme and an Essex accent- very funny. Professor Wonderwings, her boss was played with grace and humour by Marie Lloyd. The pair worked well together.

Vicky Dilworth apart from directing the show also played Queen Caligula. Her delivery was fantastic and she welcomed every boo thrown at her. Her songs had great vocals and delivery with fabulous diction. Her sidekick Black Wing was really well played by Danny Murray who portrayed the sneaky baddie with great humour. Ruby Quinn was a lovely Speak True (Magic Mirror) and delivered her lines well.

Snow White was beautifully played by Emma Benson who looked the part and interacted with the dwarfs really sweetly. Emma played well opposite Rachel Lyon who performed very well as Prince Frederick. Their songs were well chosen and performed.

 

The children playing the dwarfs were absolutely brilliant. Ruby O’Neil was brilliant as TD and had a cheeky smile the whole way through. Ruby Bailey as Grouchy was so funny with her gruff little voice and cross little face keeping in character throughout. Scarlett Harrison and Harry Thompson were fabulous as Snoozy and Sniffly both adopting their namesakes as characteristics through every scene. Ruby Haynes as Cheerful was very funny and Rachel Hogg as Dozy was fabulous. Finally Disney played beautifully by Amy Louise Whitfield kept her character which was mute throughout which must have been difficult. Every one of them had lovely singing voices and put in great dance moves. Well done to each of you for keeping me entertained throughout the show.

Bogwort and Stinkwort were the idiot comedy duo played by Aileen Wiswell and Erin Hogg. This pair were very funny and bounced well off each other and their comic timing was great.

 

Danny Dumpling was brilliantly played by Louise Morris who lit up the stage every time she was on it. Again great comic timing and nice vocals to add to her skills. Every kid in the room was on her side and she connected with the audience brilliantly.

 

The final piece of the casting was in Dolly Dumpling and this was played fantabulously by Andrew Marsh who again reacted brilliantly with the audience especially on the Community Song kids chosen to go on stage. Andrew’s costumes looked amazing and his delivery of comic lines (some of which were written with adults in mind) was great. A very enjoyable performance.

 

The whole show was very well put together and the cast and production team had clearly had a ball in rehearsals and show week but had drilled the show meticulously. Well done to everyone involved on a great show.

HONK!

ype of Production

Musical

 

Producer / Director

Andrew Marsh

 

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

 

Choreographer

Jean Carter

 

Review

Author: Anne Cunningham

Having not seen Honk before I was very interested to see how Nados would tackle this musical based on the story of the Ugly Duckling.

I was very impressed from the outset with the set and the staging which carried throughout the show, well done to the set and stage designers. Despite some excellent performances I must admit to being a little confused with the identities of the various animals maybe the costumes could have defined the animals a little better. Mother duck (Vicky Dilworth) gave an emotional performance that convinced the audience that she loved her son and was distraught when he went missing, lovingly played well done. Ugly (Andrew Marsh) gave an outstanding performance as usual he brought tears to my eyes when he was bullied and played the part with passion and emotion excellent work Andrew. Cat (Jean Carter) did a wonderful slick routine with excellent choreography throughout the show especially with the water scene done in the isle well done. Joey Wiswell was very convincing in all his roles and clearly a popular favourite with the audience. The flying formation scene was particularly outstanding, Dot/Henrietta (Emma Benson) giving a good performance certainly one to watch. The ensemble clearly enjoyed the experience, and the singing and harmonies were of a very high standard, as was the music under the direction of Barry Dilworth. 

Sleeping Beauty

Newton Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society

Date

21 February 2015

Venue

Byrchall High School

Type of Production

Pantomime

Producer / Director

Vicky Dilworth

Musical Director

Matt Pallant

Choreographer

Lisa Griffiths, Jean Carter, Sarah Hutchinson

Review

Author: Peter Johnson

This was an entertainingly funny pantomime, with some larger than life characterisations going on not to mention the accents.  I was fully aware of all the constraints with which you had to work nevertheless the audience appreciation made it all worthwhile. This show started with an excellent orchestration which carried through to the end with some really modern songs flowing through which is what’s needed these days well done. The Kink !!  (Joey Wiswell) the funniest of characters with an accent to match, I rather fancy you were making it as you went along which made it even funnier I hope the others have recovered trying to keep up with you. Queen Dorothy (Gary Williams) a true pantomime dame a wonderful performance you carried this part off majestically. Carabosse (Vicky Dilworth) very menacing not to be met on a dark night very good acting indeed. Princess Aurora (Becky Barham) and Prince Orlando ( Rachel Lyon) suited each other perfectly both with acting and the songs quite charming. Billy the Royal Buttler ( Tracey Barham) now you had your work cut trying to keep the pace going but keep it you did, your audience participation was excellent good clean fun. The two cats Kitty (Erin Hogg) and Spindleshanks (Olivia Trapnell) good expressive roles well done. Town Crier (David Trapnell) very tongue in cheek with your wise cracks and trying not to corpse it was very funny. The four fairy’s were suited to their parts and came across very endearing (Lucy Fullman, Neeve Dilworth, Ruby Quinn, and Jackie O’Leary). Now then if you want youngster’s in a show go no further than the nippers who were outstanding in this show especially with dancing and singing so much discipline and hard work culminating in a truly magnificent performance all round well done to all.

Overall a wonderful show much appreciated by an enthusiastic audience.  Many thanks for the hospitality on the evening of my visit. And well done to all concerned.

 

Hello Dolly

Date

29 August 2014

Venue

Byrchall High School

Type of Production

Musical

Producer / Director

Michael Jones McCaw

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

Choreographer

Lucy Fulman

Review

Author: Peter Johnson

As openings go this was pretty poor, I personally feel if you’re going to work the overture or prologue it’s got to be slick and captivating to start a show, this one teetered on boring to say the least and far too long, That said the show then kicked into another gear much to our relief. This company could show a few larger societies how to produce a show on a small and very limited stage area albeit they did have access to the catwalk around the orchestra which was used to its fullest advantage, especially the dance routines which were very slick and well-rehearsed, the waiters gallop was sensational full of life and energy oh and very scary at times on that catwalk but brilliant. Horace Vandergelder (Joey Wiswell) aged himself well and gave a good rendition in this role, enter the shop assistant’s Cornelius Hackl (Andrew Marsh) a wonderful performance fully understanding of the role and comedy with the most exquisite voice, giving strength to his accomplice Barnaby Tucker (Jake Hankey) who bounced of the energy of Cornelius giving the perfect comedy duo well done. Mrs Malloy (Jean Carter) wow what a voice, blues, jazz charisma the voice just landed on the ear perfectly and you acted out the part with Cornellius wonderfully, excellent characterisations. If you ever want to see truly professionalism in the making look no further than Minne Fay(Emma Fairhurst) cameo roles come and go but you played this role with just the right amount of class without trying to upstage anyone a beautiful performance. Ermengarde (Elle Edwards) and Ambrose Kemper (Josh Hankey) looked every inch their parts and completed a fabulous principal line up. I couldn’t not mention a stronger performance than that of the judge (Mervyn Whiticker) so funny well done.

Now saving the best until last, when most of us go to shows we inevitably relate to the film version and expect some super star to appear, well she did and Dolly Levi (Vicky Dilworth) you were magnificent in this role the speed in which you delivered your lines with the most amazing diction, singing, movement oh and not forgetting the meal in between was an absolute joy to behold you looked sensational with just enough Jewish cotia in the accent, fabulous role.
Overall a wonderful show thoroughly enjoyed by everyone well done

My sincere thanks for the hospitality shown to me during my visit

 

Cinderella

Date

February 2014

Venue

Byrchall High School

Type of Production

Pantomime

Producer / Director

Vicky Dilworth

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

Choreographer

Jean Carter

Review

Author: Michael McCaw-Jones 

 

It’s always encouraging to walk into a full house - it seems a reputation of producing sell out productions is getting around! As to be expected, the sets were bright and colourful and worked a treat throughout – it does help when you choose a show with few scene changes, it makes the production flow with ease keeping the attention of the young audience. The music choices were very clever ensuring there was something for everyone yet ensuring each number was relevant to the character and plot. In the title role, Emma Fairhurst was a delightful Cinderella. It was refreshing to see her played so differently to your usual Principal Girls and yet still manage to portray the Disney Princess-esque that is required. Emma sang and acted her way into the hearts of every child in the audience. Jake Hankey was a perfect Buttons and ensured his relationship with the audience was solid from the word go. This cheeky chappy offered heaps of energy and confidence, which is essential for this character. No Pantomime is complete without your classic Dame – obviously with this production you get two for the price of one and we weren’t disappointed with Potterina and Lavertrina played by Andrew Marsh and Joe Wiswell. These guys were a great double act. Prince Charming was played by Josh Hankey – another refreshing twist; Principal Boy being played by a BOY, bringing Panto into the modern and more importantly, grabbing the kids attention for the right reasons. Josh was dashing and dependable with bags of charisma and some great vocals. Lisa Griffiths is no stranger to the stage or character acting and was the perfect choice for Zelda making her entrance down a fireman’s pole (and has the bruises to prove it) You know you’re doing your job as the baddie when the audience boo and hiss before you open your mouth. Congratulations Lisa on a fabulous performance. Zelda’s side-kicks Trick and Treat, were ably played by mother and daughter duo Tracey and Becky Barham. Both brought lots of energy and confidence to their characters with some great comical moments. Marie Lloyd was a delightful Wanda – bringing lots of magic to the stage; whilst Pongo the Pig, was down with kids, busting some fierce moves. Deni Griffiths should be very proud of his debut performance as a principal character! The company, young and not so young, were well drilled and executed both the musical numbers and the choreography very well. The costumes were stunning adding to the overall visual effect. The lights were brilliantly effective and well plotted despite one or two mishaps at the beginning of scenes. The transformation scene was simply stunning and so creative bringing a definite wow factor to the production. Overall, a brilliantly effective production which was clearly enjoyed by everyone. If anything I think it was just a tad too long and could have been shortened slightly. Congratulations to everyone involved and thank you for your wonderful hospitality as always.

 

Sweet Charity

 

7 September 2013

Venue

Byrchall High School

Type of Production

Musical

Producer / Director

Lisa Griffiths

Musical Director

Barry Dilworth

Choreographer

Lisa Griffiths

Review

Author: Michael Jones-McCaw

Fun, Laughs and a good times were had by all at Brychall High School for NADOS’s latest production of Sweet Charity.

Charity Hope Valentine’s problems aren’t unique—a dead end job, a string of dates with flawed feller’s and a knack for making all the wrong choices. She knows, in her heart of hearts, that there's gotta be something better than this. Jean Carter exuded confidence and style and took real ownership of the role giving a portrayal with the exact amount of Hope, Faith and Charity and the all-important vulnerability.  Her vocals were strong backed with tons of feeling and her dancing was flawless. I loved the fact that she came out soaked after being pushed into the lake – I have seen so many productions where this attention to detail is lacking.

Vicky Dilworth as Nicky gave a confident performance making the most of every opportunity to shine with great ability in her singing, acting and dancing.

Aileen Wiswell as Helene was great however I would have liked to see her relax into the character with more confidence at times.

Andrew Marsh played Charity’s squeaky clean accountant boyfriend, Oscar Lindquist. Andrew gave an outstanding portrayal with perfect comic timing and a great on stage relationship with Charity. Your glasses at times some presented a glare against the lights and hid some of your facial expressions, which could have been prevented if the lenses had been taken out. The ‘lift’ scene was a particular highlight with some really funny moments.

We understood the complexity behind Oscars personality and even though he is very much ‘the comedy part’. Andrew didn’t play him for the laughs. It was an unforced and very natural performance that made him so much more likeable.

 

Joe Wiswell played Vittorio Vidal. Vittorio needs to charming and sophisticated and ooze sex appeal.  Altough Joe didn’t convince me that he was the famous Italian movie star he played the role with confidence and tackled a difficult song well.

Ursula March was a great cameo role for Dawn Wright as she threw her diva strops left, right and centre stage.

The Fan-Dango Ballroom dancers were excellent – a real mix of shapes and sizes to cater for all tastes!!!! The characterisations were bang on, each giving a thoroughly consistent performance throughout.  Emma Fairhurst as Rosie really stood out for me capturing the innocence of her character beautifully.

 

Jake Hankey needs to be congratulated for his outstanding portrayal of Daddy Brubeck. ‘Rhythm of Life’ was one of the best numbers in the show and ably led by this 15-year-old star of the future.

 

Further congratulations must be offered to Josh Hankey for so ably stepping up to the mark and taking on various cameo roles at very short notice – I am sure the production team and cast were impressed with your efforts as much as I was.

The company really stepped up and performed in way I’ve never seen. They executed every dance number with an impressive amount of energy and precision and in characters which were consistent throughout the whole show.  Considering the mix of abilities of this particular company, they should all be commended for their hard work and determination to execute moves with such flair and great fosse style.

 

Lisa Griffiths, Director and Choreographer really took the production to pieces and put it back together with a fabulous cast and company. The scenes were beautifully directed with real attention detail and the choreography was excellent whilst being true to the style of Fosse throughout. It was quite something. The “Frug’ was outstanding and probably matched the flair and sophistication I saw on the West End a few years back.

 

Barry Dilworth was not only the Musical Director for this production but he also turned around as the character Herman which I thought was a very clever and creative idea.

Barry ably led the band who sounded just great and kept the show going with plenty of pace and energy.

 

Overall, another superb and thoroughly enjoyable production by NADOS.

 

Trivial Pursuits

20 May 2013

Venue

Byrchall High School

Type of Production

Play

Producer / Director

Tracey Barham

Review

Author: Michael Jones-McCaw

Anyone who has ever been involved in Amateur Dramatics will know there is never any kind of hidden agenda, or any bitchy back biting and never any hint of an attempt to influence the selection of productions or god forbid any angling for roles….ahem.

A summer evening's barbecue is the setting for a meeting of the local Am Dram Society. Next season's musical offering is being announced but Nick, the Society's resident director has promised a different show and the lead roles to four different people.

As always the set looked great and was complimented by workable props. I think perhaps it might have been better to restage the setting of the garden furniture as there was the odd issue with masking and other one on one conversations which really needed to be moved away from other characters. Just minor observations.

Devious director Nick played by Andrew Marsh, taking his role very seriously, delivered a first class performance and his confident on stage wife Roz was played by the talented Jean Carter.

Marie Lloyd played the Mona, society Diva with plenty of style delivering some fantastically funny one liners which had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

Carla Hayden was great as the society treasurer Pearl, not quite our Joyce but brought some very real conversations about show budgets, which made me quietly chuckle.

Depressive Derek was expertly played by Joe Wiswell and his on stage long suffering ex wife Deidre was played by the very diverse Lisa Griffiths.

A lovely cameo role came from Josh Hankey as Eddie, the slightly aspergers, television obsessed bore.

The gorgeous Emma Benson played Jessica and was perfectly cast (and with a knockout smile!)

A great performance came from Vicky Dilworth as Joyce, the society’s once leading lady. Her drunk scenes were probably the most realistic I’ve ever seen. Brilliant.

Without a doubt, the performance of the night for me came from Barry Dilworth, the larger than life Teddy, outrageously gay and as camp as row of tents.

This hilarious play by Frank Vickery was such a great choice for such a well-established and talented Theatre Company. It was so well cast and each performer really took ownership of their characters and their scenes – or at least until Barry came along and stole the limelight.

 

40 Years & Beyond

Venue

Lowton Civic Hall

 

Type of Production

Musical Revue

 

Review

 

This production was devised using material that depicted some of the best musical numbers produced by the society over the last 40 years. And moreover, the cast of those productions were invited back and gathered to produce this wonderful celebratory performance.

The Cats section was a great opening and gave us a taste of what was to come - It was so slick and together - well done to all the dancers but particularly Belinda Culverwell who put her heart and sole into being a cat which I know has been an ambition of hers. The lighting needed adjusting slightly to get a better glimpse of the work that had gone into the incredible make up of the cats.
The Hello Dolly section brought back wonderful memories and two young stars in the making who I know we’ll be seeing plenty of in the future are Josh and Jake Hankey. Eleanor Roberts stepped up to the mark as Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd whilst Joe Wiswell tried really hard as Todd.
Barry Dilworth made his presence known in the Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat number and brought the house down. Welcome back Barry!
The NADOS Nippers provided us with excerpts from Oliver and Annie and what an talented bunch they are - you really set a wonderful example and did NADOS very, very proud. I really wish you’d have ended Act 1 instead of ‘Jack the Ripper’
Don’t Cry for me Argentina by Annmarie Anderson was a definite highlight for me and again Barry Dilworth with his renidition of ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ was quite excellent. I loved ‘On My Own’ which sounded absolutely beautiful and Lottie quick gave a stunning performance as Audrey singing ‘Somewhere that’s Green’. Overall this production was great - It had just about the right amount of light and shade which is difficult to balance with any Musical review. The Choreography by Lisa Griffiths was slick, energetic, imaginative - everything it needed to be.
With some of the best lighting effects I have seen on an amateur stage you really showcased what talent Newton Le Willows has - Many congratulations to all involved - you have raised your game and I can’t wait to see your next production.

 

 

 

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