Barking Music and Drama
Date: 5th June 2013
Venue: Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford
Report by : Jacquie Stedman
I was very pleased to cover for Jackie Mitchell and attend your latest
production of this very popular show. This is the first musical
that used the songs to move the story along and contains some of the
most well known songs in musical theatre.
This was a splendid production, full of enthusiasm by a well drawn
cast. Their enthusiasm and joy of performing the show was
transmitted to the audience who really appreciated everyone’s efforts.
It moved at a good pace, lines were secure and all the
characterisations were maintained throughout the performance.
There are some lovely comic lines in this production and I was pleased
to note that everyone waited for the laughter to die down before they
continued with the dialogue. It is very easy for the audience to
feel inhibited if the dialogue goes straight on over the laughter.
The set worked well and the lighting plot had some lovely
moments. In Act ll ‘Let People Say We’re in Love’ the stage was
engulfed in a rosy glow and there were stars on the back syc which
created a lovely effect. The costumes had been well thought out
and were suitable for the era. I was pleased to see that you used
a gun with a very realistic sound when it fired. The notices
informing the audience of the loud bangs during the performance were
not well displayed and it might have been a good idea to put this
information on a slip of paper in the programme too.
The opening, which is always a bit low-key, introduced us to Aunt Eller
(Adriana Casali) who had a good
accent which she maintained throughout. She possesses excellent
stage presence and moved comfortably around the stage interacting well
with all the other members of the cast. She was very personable and
easy with Curly during their initial dialogue. I have often seen
this role played by someone much bigger built than Adriana, but her
strength of character and no nonsense approach to life belied her
stature. She had all the grit and endurance of the early pioneers
and was the solid rock upon which Laurey relied. It is always her
character which holds the production together, and she did this really
Curly (Philip Cable) gave an
effective performance of a cowboy in love with Laurey, which he
performed very well, acting very effectively through his singing.
He clearly revelled in this role and shared his enjoyment with everyone
with whom he interacted in the cast. He looked very natural
on the stage and moved with an easy assurance.
Laurey (Joanne Tydeman) was
Aunt Eller’s head strong, independent young niece. I think this is
quite a difficult role because, although she is frightened of Jud Fry
she is also fascinated by him and totally unaware of the effect she has
on him. He is, after all, one of the few men she would encounter
on the farm, miles from anywhere. Consequently she had the right
amount of naivety to inadvertently lead him on but we also felt the
confusion of her feelings for Curly. This is further illustrated
by the dream sequence. Joanne managed to achieve this in a quiet,
subtle way. She had a sweet singing voice although she did appear
to struggle with some of the higher register and could have projected
her dialogue more in the quieter moments.
Jud (Daryl Kane) is a
misunderstood man, and although appearing dangerous (as indeed he
proves at the end of the show) the audience has to feel a sympathy for
him. He is a loner, harbouring unpleasant thoughts about women,
but really wanting someone of his own, but not knowing the niceties of
attracting anyone – a very complex role. The character of Jud
needs someone who is comfortable to play the role as a strange, lone
and dangerous man, and Daryl did this very well. He had a good
mix of menace and pathos which came across so well when he sang ‘Lonely
Room’. He did not have the sophistication to see the immaturity
in Laurey and so mis-read all the signs. The whole character was
very well observed.
Will Parker (Peter Kisbee) was
a lovable character, very much in love with Ado Annie, but truly a
one-woman guy. His dancing was good and his reactions to Ado
Annie’s antics were those of a man who has a tiger by the tail.
The character is very straightforward and Peter managed this
well. I felt he could have been a bit more exasperated generally
with the situation and perhaps more masterful at the end, making it
clear he was not going to stand for any nonsense. He didn’t look
altogether comfortable in his suit on his return from Kansas City and I
did wonder why he wore that instead of his ‘cowboy’ outfit.
Ado Annie (Bernice Gill) is one
of my favourite characters in this musical and Bernice played the part
remarkably well. She kept the audience’s attention throughout the
production as a gullible young lady and was very engaging to
watch. She was very animated and totally sure of herself and her
character. She had some lovely comic lines which were well
delivered. She had a very strong accent so do be careful that the
accent doesn’t distort the words.
Ali Hakim (Rob Brown) was a
very believable character, full of chat and charm. He was a
delight to watch and maintained the character voice of Ali, both
speaking and singing which is not something many performers do
well. He got excellent support from the men during his
song. He was an obvious rogue but got his come uppance when he
married Gertie Cummins (Marie Clarke)
and that ghastly laugh, which was well delivered with gusto, that one
cannot help having a certain sympathy with his situation. His
comic lines were delivered faultlessly.
Andrew Carnes (Tony Lucas) is a
small but important character to the plot and it was performed
admirably well. Eager to get Ado Annie married off, he used his
prop shotgun and played the lines with real comic timing. He was able
to showcase his talents as singer at the box social in Act Two, which
was a real pleasure to listen to. He conducted the ‘trial’ well,
trying hard to resist the urgency with which Aunt Eller wanted it
Every society interprets the dream sequence differently and your
dancers Dream Curly (Luke Stimson),
Dream Laurey (Jessica Kane) and
Dream Jud (Stephen Docherty)
worked extremely well together to create this. It was more
athletic than I have seen before but this added to the menace of the
situation and further emphasises Laurey’s confusion.
Good use was made of the supporting cast, their interaction between the
leads was good and during the production numbers their harmonies
were excellent. There is plenty for the chorus to do in
this musical and I was delighted to see that you had created a real
community with the inclusion of the children, who stole the show.
They were totally engaged whenever they were on stage and showed lots
of maturity in not being phased by the audience and were absolutely
delightful to watch. Every member of the chorus played their
chosen character throughout and was totally involved in all the action,
even if they were only observing. The dancing throughout and
especially at the box social was energetic and well drilled enabling
all the cast to participate with enthusiasm.
Many thanks to Jackie Mitchell for being unable to attend on this
occasion and also to the members who looked after us before and after
I wish you luck for your next production in November.