WITHAM A O S
Directed by Nikki Mundell- Poole
Musical Director Geoff Osborne
Choreographer Gemma Gray
Performed at Witham Public Hall 29th October 2016
This hilarious production was full on, with an enthusiastic cast who sang, danced and acted their socks off. From start to finish it just bounced along with so many scenes and characters it would be impossible to comment on it all. However, led by David Slater as King Arthur, who had a terrific impact throughout with some fabulous dialogue and songs, through to his four knights of the realm, it was a delight.
Sir Lancelot, Sir Robin, Sir Galahad and Sir Bedevere, not forgetting Patsy the King’s personal horse/confidante, all gave such good interpretations.
Sir Lancelot, played by Kris Tyler swashbuckled his way through a rather different Lancelot to the one we usually expect him to be; Sir Robin, played by Michael Mundell-Poole, complete with luxurious red wig and his eye on “Broadway”; Sir Galahad, played by Craig Tyler - rather a poser - but with a great sense of comedy; and Sir Bedevere with Phillip Spurgeon quite “posh” but very manly, all gave really polished performances.
Trevor Marks as the long suffering Patsy did very well in this role, totally on cue every time, and the horse galloping effect spot on. Well done Trevor.
Constance Lawton as the Lady of the Lake, the diva of the ladies, was superb, sang beautifully and made the most of some demanding singing. I liked Nik Graham as French Taunter No 1 and Knight of Ni, with a great interpretation of the quasi-French dialogue and really funny in both characters. Edward Groombridge as Prince Herbert/Mrs Galahad was a hoot in both parts. Edward has a good sense of timing and anticipation in every part I have seen him play; a real talent with a variety of characters all given thought and attention to. Super! So many other characters, totally absorbed in the show, made this such a super production. All the singing was very good and accompanied by a tuneful orchestra. Under the baton of Geoff Osborne it all came together very well, with some unexpected, fun sounds from the pit accompanying the chorus/solos in various songs. This was such a fun packed production I could have happily seen it again. With so much going on all the time on stage it certainly kept the audience’s attention.
Well done to Nikki, Geoff and Gemma for a thoroughly entertaining production.
2017 looks like an interesting programme from both WAOS and WOW which I look forward to.
Thanks as always for a warm welcome from FOH, and the kind hospitality.
Reviewer – Ann Platten
Regional Representative – District 11
WAOS at the Public Hall Witham
A sprightly Spamalot from WAOS, with a great chorus and some very amusing animations.
So alongside the colourful live action, there's a crashing chandelier for the pastiche number, useful glosses for the Chosen People song, a Wikipedia entry for The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, a wheel of fortune for Camelot, and much more. The back-drops, too, are digital.
No shortage of proper Pythonesque performances either. Amongst the knights in woolly tights, Kris Tyler's bold Sir Lancelot and Michael Mundell-Poole's spineless Sir Robin – both sounding more Essex Yeomanry than upper crust - and Phillip Spurgeon's Melchett-moustached Sir Bedevere. Craig Tyler – a convincingly radical Dennis – is the dashing Sir Galahad.
His old mum is played, a la Mother Riley, by Edward Groombridge, who's also a French taunter and a priceless Prince Herbert [another hundred people just contracted the plague...]. This kind of imaginative doubling is crucial to this show: Nik Graham is the other taunter, Tim, and the Knight of Ni, Harry Tunningley an irrepressible Not Dead Fred and Lancelot's trusty Concorde. Even Richard Cowen, an amusingly Starkey-ish Historian, is the tedious Brother Maynard in Act Two.
Camelot's first couple are Constance Lawton's diva Lady of the Lake, and David Slater's impressively sung Arthur – a genial, formidable presence. His hang-dog Patsy, a brolly in his knapsack, is Trevor Marks.
Similar umbrellas for the big production number, with tap-dancing playing cards. The chorus is brilliantly used, from the campest copacabana for the out-of-the-closet Lancelot to the athletic cheerleaders. Good to see Marcel Marceau with the onion seller amongst the French People.
The audience on opening night were enthusiastically appreciative – whistling, singing along and laughing immoderately at the excellent guard panto routine, the snippet of vintage Python, the Brexit joke.
An impressive production of a cult classic, directed by Nikki Mundell-Poole, assisted by Gemma Gray, with Geoff Osborne in charge of the music. A good omen for another off-the-wall show next spring – Bob Carlton's Return to the Forbidden Planet, Shakespeare's forgotten rock'n'roll masterpiece.
Amateur Operatic Society,
Witham Public Hall.
Unlike his fellow Pythons, who wrote in pairs, Eric Idle mostly wrote on his own, and it was his inspiration to come up with this first Python-based musical, "lovingly ripped off", as the tagline says, from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Idle produced both the book and the song lyrics of Spamalot and it is easy to see why it has been garlanded with awards. WAOS deserve to be similarly honoured after extracting every ounce of fun from the wonderfully witty and wacky script.
David Slater is his usual ebullient self in the lead role, and he is surrounded by excellent performances all round, notably from society newcomers Kris and Craig Tyler as Lancelot and Galahad, together with Michael Mundell-Poole as Sir Robin and Trevor Marks as Patsy: Edward Groombridge nearly steals the show as the lovelorn Prince Herbert, but it is Constance Lawton who deserves the highest praise for her outstanding performance as Guinevere. She combines a beautiful singing voice with clever vocal gymnastics and pinpoint comic delivery; notably in the clever songs about songs and jokes about jokes. The in-jokes are part of the fun - there are knowing references to dead parrots and lumberjacks, not to mention a hard Brexit, Olly Murs and Priti Patel - and fun is what it most definitely is.