THE lively bouncy overture under the guidance of the musical director David Cawdell heralded an evening of fun at the Public Hall last week when Witham Amateur Operatic Society presented performances of Die Fledermaus. The eponymous hero determines to get revenge for a practical joke. The plot revolves around his devious schemes to embarrass the philandering Gabriel Eisenstein.
The costumes in the opening number set the tone for what turned out to be a beautiful show. With a chorus of servants dressed in grey, black and white, the impact of the brightly dressed Judy Henderson as Ida was dramatic. Colour was a major feature, especially in the crowded scene at the ball thrown by Prince Orlofsky.
The Prince, played by Sue Siddalls, was a poised nobleman who had the opportunity to show her singing ability in Chacon a Son Gout. Her slim elegance was shown off to good effect by her massive major domo, played by Douglas Coleman.
Cynthia Stead's production was really effective and the many small additions, such as a few bars from the Pirates of Penzance, kept the audience in as happy and lively a state as those on the stage.
The movements of the large cast were always controlled and the pace never flagged.
There was a dramatic change of mood in Brother Mine, contrasting with the revelry and champagne quaffing that fuelled much of the action.
Rosalind Eisenstein was played by Valerie Ditchman. She was a good foil for her husband, played by Howard Brooks. They both sang well and their interaction in the first act was entertaining.
He revelled in the opportunity to play an increasingly tipsy flirt at the ball and was joined in inebriation by Richard Cowen, the prison governor in disguise. There was one hilarious scene when the latter returned to his job with a severe hangover, while Danny Mullane led a drunken posse of prison guards. Patrick O'Brien played Alfredo, an opera singer who flirts outrageously with Rosalie. His vivid costume added to a gloriously entertaining piece of overacting. Nicholas Clough, as usual, gave a fine characterisation to his part. As Dr Falke, the Bat, he always dominated the stage whether speaking or in song. Bonny Osborne was a charming servant who contrives to attend the ball. Her singing was a delight and she made her character convincing.
This is the second week in succession that a local show has made a trip to London unnecessary.