WITHAM Amateur Operatic Society presented Can-Can at the Public Hall recently, and a right French knees-up it was!
From the start, in the courtroom, the atmosphere of a rather decadent Paris, whether in the court, the cafes, or the Bal du Paradis, was well sustained and never lost the feel of the times.
The part of the wayward judge, Forestier, was well played by Stewart Adkins, who sustained his French accent well throughout, and man¬aged the transformation from pompous judge to almost frantic lover well.
The part of Boris, the talentless sculptor, gave Tom Whelan a fine chance to play an idiot, which he carried off nicely; and the duel scene with Jussac, played by Jonathan Baron, had some hilarious moments.
But top honours go to Victoria Adkins as Pistache -looking like a very young and pretty Sybil Fawlty - who carried off the part of the Madame in Montmartre with such style it was difficult to believe she is so young.
Where else have you seen a real life father and daughter playing a romantic scene so well? Her deep register and at times husky style were very good.
As this is intended to be a constructive report, I have one small criticism. It was a pity, when the two principals were singing and dancing in one of their romantic numbers, to have two cast members suddenly appear stage left and do a little dance. It distracted from the main action.
The choreography by Elizabeth Ladd, who also directed the show, was very effective, and audience loved the can-can scenes, where the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves, not just playing parts in a show.
Peter Goldsmith kept the orchestra rattling along in fine style, and the whole Company must be given credit for a very enjoyable evening.
The jollity and vitality of Paris a hundred years ago came to Witham when Cole Porter's Can Can was presented at the Public Hall last week.
Witham Amateur Operatic Society is fortunate to have such a lively collection of performers who managed to maintain their French accents and keep the show bubbling. It is not one of Porter's best musicals but Elisabeth Ladd, the director and choreographer, brought Montmartre to life.
The plot centres around the attempts of a newly appointed judge to close down the cafes which encourage lewd and licentious dancing. By day the girls are laundresses but at night they dance the well known Can Can under the guidance of La Mome Pistache at the Sal du Paradis.
Stewart Adkins was excellent as the judge, Aristide, who of course falls in love with Pistache, a manipulative coquette. Played by Victoria Adkins, her wiles were finely portrayed by this fine character. Aristide, a slave of duty, made a fine foil for Pistache, who eventually realises that she has fallen in love with him.
Claudine, played by Natalie Cudlip, sparkled whenever she was on stage. The leader of the Can Can dancers, her singing and dancing were a delight. It seemed a pity that she had so little to do in Act 2. She was involved with Boris, a sculpture of little skill, played by Tom Whelan who made the most of his caricature part to raise many laughs.
The first act ends with the highlight of the show, the Arts Ball ballet, entitled the Garden of Eden. Showing the freedom of that world before the snake of censorship was imposed, the ballet was beautifully costumed with imaginatively choreographed dancing and movement. Peter Goldsmith made his debut for Witham Operatic Society as Musical Director. The orchestra was pleasing and' the many songs were well delivered. With a cast of 23 playing 50 characters it is impossible to mention all but the leading players. One exception may be made; the stage presence of Nicholas Clough was, as usual, commanding.
We can look forward to next April when the society will be presenting Die Fledermaus.