WITHAM AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY
RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET
Directed by Claire Carr
Musical Director James Tovey
Dance Captain Constance Lawson
Performed at Witham Public Hall 26th April 2017 (matinee)
What an amazingly spirited show with all the songs of the 50/60s at full volume and with great energy throughout. This show was a terrific production from WAOS. Under the direction of Claire Carr in her first with this company, the show moved well, with verve and real pace from all on stage.
Stewart Adkins as Doctor Prospero was excellent, his lower range of voice suited his songs and the dialogue, which in this production had really to be listened to intently, was delivered with great meaning.
Matched in performance was David Everest-Ring as Captain Tempest. He was on stage virtually all through the show, and very well cast in this flamboyant character with another super voice. Harry Tunningley as Cookie has a remarkable feel for timing and with a very strong singing voice gave us a super interpretation.
Tim Clarke as Ariel the Robot (on roller skates) had the audience enthralled with all his great songs and it was another first class performance with terrific make up and costume.
All the ladies, from Emma Loring as Bosun, Diana Easton as Gloria, Claire Rowe as Miranda and Rhianna Howard as Navigation Officer, sang so well with some very demanding vocals, especially from Gloria who stormed the part. Dancers were super, both ladies and guys and they all smiled!!! Terrific! What joy!
The lighting and set design all through excelled and gave such a lift to the production. This show just kept on giving with interesting happenings all the time.
The costumes I must mention at this point; vivid and colourful, totally in the theme of the show, with make-up and hair and on-stage commitment from the entire cast in this production.
I must commend James Tovey as Musical Director, with his talented band who kept a solid backup to the cast with some really great sounds from all the musicians. Super guitar solo and drums, with just a super sound to accompany the songs. First Class!!
I honestly could have watched this show again it was so good. People who missed this show missed a treat as the standard was so high.
Thank you so much for a terrific evening’s entertainment from FOH right through to everyone whether on or off stage. We appreciated it all very much.
RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET
WAOS at the Public Hall, Witham
Shakespeare's forgotten rock and roll masterpiece takes to the Witham stage in a production packed with energy and attack.
On an impressively high-tech set – flashing lights and giant plasma screen - the company throw themselves whole-heartedly into this irreverent mash-up of the Complete Works and high-camp hits of the 50s and 60s.
Claire Carr's production is assured in every department. Technically, the lighting is superb, with striking Close Encounters silhouettes; the monster and the air-lock [smoke and fan] are both highly effective. Video and animation are beautifully done. Musically the familiar songs are given barnstorming performances, with spectacular choreography: Who's Sorry Now – with the Swinging Space Cats – and Mr Spaceman – with silver lamé cowboy hats – among the many memorable production numbers. The pit band, conducted from the keyboard by James Tovey, provide very authentic instrumental support; special mention for the powerhouse drumming of Paul Codling.
And the acting matches the camp, OTT style of the music. Captain Tempest – the heart-throb hero – is David Everest-Ring, striking poses and selling the songs. His Navigation Officer, on this equal opportunities spaceship, is an excellent Rhianna Howard. Diana Easton makes a wonderful Gloria, with commanding stage presence and a great way with her numbers – Go Now, especially. Cookie – the simple, homespun lovesick lad - is the seriously talented Harry Tunningley: dancing, singing and verse-speaking all very accomplished. His duets with the Bosun [Emma Loring] are tremendous fun. He does however have a body double from the band to accompany his air guitar, since this is a company of dancers rather than actor-musicians. The inhabitants of the isle of D'Illyria are Stewart Adkins' mad scientist Prospero, making the most of Lear's storm, Claire Rowe's delightful Miranda, and, as the rolling Coke can Ariel, Tim Clarke, resplendent in his costume and skilled on his roller skates. A nice cameo in the Patrick Moore video role of Newsreader from Richard Cowen, who's also a member of the polished ensemble.
Hugely enjoyable from the opening Wipeout to the Great Balls of Fire finale, this is a laudably virtuosic production of a demanding musical theatre classic.
Witham Amateur Operatic Society came into being nearly 100 years ago. What the founding fathers would have made of this addition to their repertoire is anyone’s guess. For this is about as far removed from opera as it’s likely to get. It’s basically a celebration of the sixties, a brash, raucous show fizzing with energy.
The songs are woven into a script that is borrowed, real or imagined, from Shakespeare with excruciating puns – "To beep or not to beep", "Beware the ids that march" – alongside more genuine dialogue, some from The Tempest, which loosely provides the show’s source material.
Thus we have Captain Tempest – the ebullient David Everest-Ring, who holds everything together – Dr Prospero – Stewart Adkins in effervescent form – Miranda, the Bosun and Ariel the robot. Claire Rowe comes to the fore in the Belmonts’ Teenager In Love and Connie Francis’s Robot Man, Diana Easton belts out the Moody Blues’ Go Now while Tim Clarke, bravely taking to the stage in roller skates, laments his lot via the Brook Brothers’ Warpaint.
Above all there is the non-Shakespearean role of Cookie, a marvellously mature performance from 14-year-old Harry Tunningley, who attacks rock ‘n’ roll standards Shake Rattle and Roll and Great Balls of Fire to the manner born.