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NOVA HORLEY’S REVIEW OF THE YEAR  2019 for The Luton News


This year John and I have seen some super shows, our thanks to all the Societies who have made us so welcome, and whilst it takes a while to go through 12 months of reviews to see who and what really impressed me, it invokes many good memories.


Youth productions are always a joyful occasion, and one hopes that the youngsters we see will go on to perform as adults in the local Societies.  Parkfields School’s production of “The Little Mermaid” gave us charm and some excellent performances, which makes them my winner of the Youth Production Award this year – followed very closely by TADS Teens “What Comes Around” and Stage 1 for “Dick Whittington”. A special mention in the Youth category goes to Vita Artes, a free performing arts school, Katie Ross continues to go from strength to strength with her young people, giving us memorable productions.


Musical of the Year must go to Dunstable Musical Theatre Company for their production of  “Cats”.  Lucy O’Hare and Ashley Mead combined to make this an excellent piece of theatre.  My runners up are “Swing, Swing, Swing” from St Andrew’s Players, a musical memory of the Andrews Sisters written by Richard Cowling, and “Iolanthe” from Putteridge Bury G&S Society, colourful and well-crafted productions both musically and visually.


My Pantomime of the Year goes to Alice in Wonderland from Griffins, as always a traditional family panto, which was well-written – with runner up being TADS Adult Panto, “For Puck’s Sake: It’s a Fairytale!”, very funny and a good panto in its own right!


The Award for Play of the Year goes to Dunstable Rep for “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found”, technically excellent with a good cast, this stood out for me.  Also worthy of a mention was “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, again from the Rep – well-acted and technically good.


The Comedy Production Award goes to TADS for “Inspector Drake and the Time Machine” – a little whacky, but this series of plays is always good value and very funny, with Joe Butcher returning as the Inspector.  My runner up is “Stop! The Play”, from Griffin Players, good technically with an experienced cast.


My Young Performer of the Year is a difficult one – so many young people under the age of 18 who perform to a high standard.  Freya Spratley and Amy Farrar shone in Griffins production of “High School Musical”, as did Klara O’Brien and Jay Winn in Parkfields “The Little Mermaid”.  Charlotte Lovelock deserves a special mention in her role as Idle Jack in Stage 1’s “Dick Whittington”, she upped her game significantly and showed good comedy timing, and worked the audience well.


Best Actress in a Play is Angela Goss for Florence Foster-Jenkins in the Rep’s “Glorious” – her performance was just that.....Glorious! Runners up for the same production are Susan Young for Maria and Barbara Morton for Dorothy, both ladies gave spot-on performances.


Best Actor in a Play is Adam Butcher for Charlie in “How to Disappear.....” from Dunstable Rep, he was able to display such a range of characterisation, closely followed by Ollie Hope as Dorian Grey in “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, again for the Rep.  Two superlative performances in a very hotly contested group!


Best Finale goes to Dunstable Rep for Miss Julie – the finale kept the feel of the piece extremely well.


Best Performance in a Musical is shared between Justin Jefferys as Rum Tum Tugger and Alex Wheeler a Munkustrap in DMTC’s “Cats” – both excellent performances that really stood out within an excellent production.


For Choreography – my Award goes Kyra Spratley for her work on “High School Musical” for Griffins, also worthy of a mention is Ashley Mead, along with Lucy O’Hare for “Cats” from DMTC.


Best Ensemble in a Play or Musical goes to St Andrew’s Players for “Swing, Swing, Swing”, a lovely piece where everyone pulled their weight, followed by “Cats” from DMTC and “The Grand Duke” from PBGS. Very diverse productions, but ones that I felt created a real feel of what was intended by the writers.


Best New Musical is an Award that must go to Richard Cowling for “Swing, Swing, Swing” – a lovely musical, well put together with great music.  TADS also scored highly with their production of “What If....?” written by Emma Lidford and Lea Pryer, as did Square Drama with their production of “The Legend of Troy”, written by Christopher Burrett.  It’s been a good year for new musicals, all of which were well-written and performed.


Best Comedy Performance in a Musical goes to the duo of Andy Poulton and Terry Mills as Abbott and Costello in their First Base sketch in “Swing, Swing Swing” – very well accomplished.


Best Musical Director must be Graham Thomson in the little known G&S “The Grand Duke” from PBGS, very good musically, first class dynamics and ensemble participation.  A worthy runner up is Charlotte Tabert for Griffins “High School Musical”,  good musicality and harmony from the cast.


Best Director goes to Lucy O’Hare and Ashley Mead for DMTC’s production of “Cats” – not easy to stage but everything was well-thought out and worked well for the cast and visually.  Runners up are Chris Young for “Glorious”, which was just that, and Alistair Brown for “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, a very compelling production, both for Dunstable Rep.


Dunstable Rep featured highly in the Technical category, and my Award this year is shared between “How to Disappear......” – a feat of accomplishment from Christine and Fred Rayment, with special mention to Craig Fisher for projections, along with “The Picture of Dorian Grey” using a revolve, lighting and music to create a wonderful ambience - very well done.  


The time, thought and hard work that goes into a production is always appreciated, the technical aspects are always good but getting better too, sometimes outstanding, which enhances a production.


I hope all of you who read our show reviews and support our local Societies will continue to do so – they all work so hard to entertain us with productions often worthy of a professional company - amateur theatre continues to be a thrilling and exciting hobby to participate in or watch.










Review of the year 2019

Luton News

By Nova Horley

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