Jack The Ripper

NODA Review

Director Kerry King
Musical Director James Tovey
Choreographer Kerry King
Performed at the Witham Public Hall 3rd May 2014

This is a show that has been doing the rounds in District 11 but one which I still enjoy, with every production giving some new twists here and there from different directors’ work.
A fairly quiet start just for a few moments with Witham AOS which then suddenly came to life with the whole ensemble’s entrance with “Saturday Night”.
I was very impressed with the balance of voices and orchestra here with some very intricate harmonies really coming through in the lively chorus numbers.
Despite having a rather sombre sounding title this show has some great music hall style numbers sung with gusto, very lively and fun to listen to and perform.

Some good characters from the Chairman played by David Slater, Montague Druitt played by Stewart Adkins and many other gentlemen playing a whole variety of roles very well.
Keiley Hall as Marie Kelly had great stage presence and feel for her character and her singing was excellent and absolutely in the period. Lovely costumes so in character here.
Emma Loring as Lizzie Stride/Queen Victoria moved from character to character with ease and was delightful in both. She had a real sense of fun and a lovely singing voice. I really enjoyed her interpretation of both roles.

There were so many other characters all adding to the story line with each character giving great support and the feeling of a ”together” company show.
I did find that one of two of the main characters’ dialogue was difficult to hear and there were a few issues with the sound which “boomed” here and there.
I assumed that all the soloists had head mikes and it was from the gentlemen this seemed to occur occasionally.
Great scenery and costumes which were so good.

Reviewer Ann Platten
District 11

Michael Gray's Blogspot


WAOS at the Public Hall, Witham

Jack the Ripper a musical ? Why not, when grand opera, and Sweeney Todd happily spin tunes around the most horrific atrocities. And Oliver, that most family-friendly of shows, has its share of true crime and 'orrible murder. In fact Denis de Marne and Ron Pember's piece from the 1970s has many points of similarity with Bart's greatest hit, not least, in Witham's production, the backdrop of St Paul's, not normally visible from Whitechapel.

But the ingenious concept, which works really well here, alternates those mean streets with the escapist warmth of the Steam Packet. A Music Hall, complete with singalongs, melodramas and Master of Ceremonies, though, alas, without his gavel.
The swift transition between the two is one of the strong points of Kerry King's production – dustbins become tables, a violent confrontation morphs into melodrama.

A large cast fills the stage, singing the choruses very impressively. And there are plenty of talented principals to carry the drama and the catchy numbers of Pember's score. David Slater is our Chairman, a strong personality commanding the stage with a fine singing voice. Marie Kelly – a real character, like most of those portrayed here – is beautifully interpreted by Keiley Hall [another fine vocalist], bringing bravado and pathos to the role of the streetwalker and soubrette. Emma Loring confidently takes on the unlikely combination of Queen Victoria and Lizzie. Montague Druitt, a fascinating if enigmatic figure, is strongly done by Stuart Adkins, and amongst the many colourful characters on display I was especially taken with Tom Whelan's Bluenose, doubled with the Duke of Clarence, one of the many names associated with the Ripper over the years.

Various suspects appear briefly in a kind of Gang Show number [I was disappointed that they didn't reprise their ditties in ensemble], one of many delightful touches, the rainy funeral and the graveside monologue another. The coppers in drag – though loved by the audience – could have done with some more ambitious choreography, true of many of the numbers. We longed for a few Consider Yourself moments from the chorus, for example. And not all of the dialogue was as lively and colourful as the music.
But the pastiche score is well served by this enthusiasticcompany, and by MD James Tovey and his evocative little pit band. This unusual treatment of a popular penny dreadful is very entertainingly revived forty years after its première.

BWT Review

Jack the Ripper
Witham Amateur Operatic Society
Witham Public Hall
April 28-May 3

Story of the 1880s is a bit of bawdy fun

JACK the Ripper is more music hall than musical.
The story, such as it is, is incidental. The aim is to get big blousy songs full frontal blasting at the audience.
It is a frolic through the East End of London in 1888, the year the Ripper was active, with a series of big production numbers that allow the large cast to give their all.
There are some solos and duets, principally from Keiley Hall, David Slater, Emma Loring and Stewart Adkins, who attack everything with gusto. And there are chances for others such as Elisabeth Batt, Phil Thompson, Simon Rothman, Tom Whelan and Richard Herring to step up to the plate.
David Bowles, Ron Howe and Matthew Wildie offer a Pythonesque I Love Dressing in Women's Clothes number, while Hilary Watling, Janet Hawkes. Donna Goddard and Sean Griffrths also have their moments on centre stage. It is that sort of evening, full of bounce and bawd, lashings of adult humour, much intentional over-acting and grand gesturing and a helping of Gor Blimeys thrown in.
The Sound of Music it isn't. That comes next. This was a bit of fun and froth, carried off with the company's usual aplomb under the first-time direction of Kerry King and musical director James Tovey.

Ron Fosker

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