1980 Orpheus in the Underworld

BWT Report

These ‘Olympics’ will long be remembered

Arts Festival gets off to a flying start

BURLESQUE reigns supreme at Witham's Public Hall this week. With a fine disregard for the unities of drama, the operatic society plunge into a screamingly funny version of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld.

The musical score is delightful and is tenderly handled by Ken Ferris and his orchestra. The singers, too, know their job but the script-writer must have had an off-day for most of the dialogue is excruciatingly corny.
However, director Derek Collins has treated the matter homoeopathically with a major injection of some even older jokes and up-to-the-minute allusions. And success, for old jokes are all the funnier when allied with shapely maidens in revealing draperies and gentlemen in short-tunics - Broadway would gladly buy this.

The ladies are amazingly versatile. I plotted the course of one of my favourites from being a Grecian girl, to a squawking St. Trinian-like pupil with torn stockings and then a stately goddess. Then I thought I'd lost her, only to spot her doing a vigorous can-can in the third act.
This is a show without a chorus. In the excellently contrived and amusing programme they've all got names and all deserve principal status so space decrees that much enthusiastic work must perforce remain unrecorded.

However, Patsy Doy as Eurydice, performs her ablutions in public with much grace and is a tuneful leading lady to boot. Malcolm Lowe neatly indicates that Orpheus is no hero and Rita Page makes a triumphant study of the sophisticated Calliope.
The tried and trusted team of Derek Collins (Jupiter), Nicholas Clough (Pluto) and Janet Collins (Juno) display their quality in the fascinating trio, Nothing We Can Do, which is so precisely and pleasantly done.

Lara Barker (Diana), Catherine Moore (Cupid) and Helene Jones (Venus) certainly catch the eye with Ewart Cornfield (Styx) providing a solo spot of much merit. Then there is fleet-footed Alan Bywaters (Mercury), belligerent Edward Maltby (Mars) and Brian - almost a ballet dancer - Henderson (Bacchus) together with many others.

Smiling Cynthia Stead not only choreographed the lively dances but takes an active part herself and Derek Collins' direction is as inventive and inspired as ever.
These ‘Olympic Games’ will long be remembered in Witham.

Gilbert Sutcliffe