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NOVA HORLEY’S REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2014 for The Luton News
I wasn’t as blown away in 2014 by the general standard of shows – it was very good overall, but hadn’t built as much as 2013 over 2012. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of productions, and saw some super portrayals from experienced and also emerging actors.
Musical of the Year goes to DAOS for Fiddler on the Roof, a beautiful production
of a traditional musical, a delightful and emotive show, with some very strong character
portrayals. The music is always a joy. A close second was Eurobeat from St Andrews
Best Youth Production Award must go to Stage 1, I was thrilled to have been a part
of the audience for this accomplished and charming pantomime, which had all the traditional
elements, and allowed the cast to create characters and interact with each other
and the audience. However, I was also impressed with Parkfields School in a school’s
version of Oklahoma, which the whole class got involved in to deliver a slick, well-
Henry V from TADS has to be my dramatic Play of the Year – for both technical and acting excellence – an enthralling evening – proving that Shakespeare is just as relevant today. Close seconds were Sleep No More from Dunstable Rep – and On Golden Pond from TADS – both plays excelling in technical accomplishment and acting ability.
My Comedy Play of the Year was The Ladykillers from Griffins – well-
My Best Young Performer in a Musical is shared between Allanah Rogers and Rachel Ridout, for sheer feeling and putting a song over, I loved them both. Completely diverse songs, Allanah put real meaning and emotion into her song, whilst Rachel let rip with a deep jazzy/bluesy feel to her number.
Best Young Performer in a Play is shared between Harrison Watson who brought excellent understanding to his part as Billy Ray Junior, and his relationship with his grandfather was very touching. Harrison’s commitment to a role grows with each performance he gives; and Josh Kendall as PI Puss in TADS Teens Nursery Crimes bringing out the humour and reasoning powers of his part, whilst engaging the audience in his deductions. Good comic timing.
MD of the Year is Chris Young for Fiddler and also Avenue Q both with DAOS, whilst Ashley Mead shone in the choreographic field for Fiddler. I also liked Lynette Driver’s work for Avenue Q, along with hers and Kate Johnson’s work for Eurobeat.
Best Actress goes to Rona Cracknell, as Eleanor in Lion in Winter – a flawless performance,
the whimsical quality of an imprisoned Queen, who would stoop to all sorts of scheming
to secure her freedom and succession for the right son, followed very closely by
an equally striking performance from Lea Pryer in Henry V showing what a versatile
actress she is. The emotion from Hostess Quickly, then Catherine, and her superb
handling of the French words. Stephanie Overington also shone in the Lion in Winter
Best Actor in a Play must be shared between Peter Carter-
Best Actor in a Comedy goes to Joe Butcher as Richard Willey in Out of Order, adviser
to the Prime Minister, an archetypal minister, charming, faithless, manipulative,
telling lies to extricate himself from situations – Joe always gives us a well-
Best Performance in a Musical must be shared, as there were two very different performances
of note. Alan Clarke as Tevye in Fiddler encompassed the whole ethos of the man,
bringing all his experience and understanding to the role, which I loved – an insightful
and gripping performance, along with David Crew as Pooh-
Best Group in a Musical must go to the Russian entry in Eurobeat – Dave Corbett,
Jonny Mills, Richard Cowling and John O’Leary, who created different characters,
enhanced by good vocals. Well sung, and choreographed! I was also very impressed
by Paula Fraser as Yum-
I loved Griffins adult panto – it gave me pleasure on so many levels – irreverent and rude but not coarse – and as a complete production was excellent.
I was also impressed with the improvement in Alex Brewer’s performances, he has turned in some increasingly good work for the Rep.
My Director of the Year is Sue Sachon for Henry V with TADS, which was enthralling
Best Set – the Rep for Lion in Winter, and TADS for Henry V and On Golden Pond –
both excellent and well-
Best Costume Award must be Stage 1 for Jack and the Beanstalk – the youngsters are always so well turned out, with good hair, fresh and bright costumes with good extras, a super look.
Technically Paul Horsler is creating some beautiful lighting plots and effects, mainly for TADS, which enhance a production so much.
I really appreciate the insight and effort everyone gives to a production, the cast, technical teams and crews work their socks off to give us slick, effective and interesting performance, which never fail to please – my thanks to you all for keeping my love and interest for amateur theatre alive and very well – with some productions veering towards professional rather than amateur status.
Review of the year 2014
By Nova Horley