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Once again Harpenden pulled it out of the bag – I liked the use of projection before the show, which gave an insight into what goes into getting a show like this on stage, and all credit to the cast of some 150 young people and Ewan and his technical crew for making this a bright and lively production, which showcased some very able and talented performers and allowed those less able to join in at their own level.

A bright start, where I understand Emma Risley was the last minute replacement, so particularly brave -  she launched into a very well-sung and played number.  Very well done.

The opening number itself pulled the whole cast onto the stage, and I was particularly impressed with the 16 older performers downstage left and right, who were all very animated, The choreography was simple but effective.

The scenery was good throughout – very colourful, and well-suited to the music sets they accompanied.  The lighting was good, but there were some opportunities missed to create something stunning and out of the ordinary.  I liked the UV scene, very cleverly done, and sound was mostly good, however a couple of slow mic uptakes which is always a shame for the performer, and a couple of times when the band were slightly too loud for the performers were noticeable, but mostly the sound balance was good.

I really liked The Rivals sketch – very well-performed, particularly Sam Lewis who has good stage presence and comic timing – but  Alexandra Sach and George Stubbs also stepped up to the plate, making this a very amusing interlude, with excellent diction.

The ‘Hairy Poppins’ set was charming, I liked the way the front door was used, it created the feel of outside and inside, but was instantly moveable  Bearing in mind this was performed by the younger members (Mini Gang) it was very accomplished, and again words were very clear.  

‘Last Day of Camp’ was particularly colourful and lively, again with good choreography, and some funny interludes.  The girl trio in yellow downstage left - Tabi Noble, Becca Harbord and Caitlin Donnelly - created a really good sound with super harmonies.  The Junior Gang showed their skills well in their number.

I loved the ‘Origin of Irish Dancing’ – very well done by the lads, a scream, but they were very disciplined and in time, making it a good all round number.

The final set of Act 1 was visually stunning, and the 7 choristers sang well, I also particularly liked the three young ladies when they went upstage left, their faces in the ‘surprise’ section were very good, during Kirstie Bentley’s song which she sang with lots of expression.   I liked the way the groom Edd Ingram kept his character going the whole way through.  He created a strong character, showing good voice range as well.   Georgie Eagles was a charming bride.  She is very capable and her vocal skills are developing well, she just needs a little more confidence in herself.  The slightly different timing for With this Ring was well-accomplished, and the introduction from the Vicar was good.

‘Market Day’ was a great start to Act 2 – plenty going on.  The opening number is difficult, but it was sung well, I thought the voices blended really well.  I liked the use of the old cockney-style songs, which the cast seemed to really enjoy, and again the Junior Gang enjoyed their cockney revellery. Then into a very nice rendition by Lucy Elledge, however the girls who did the dance number needed to pay a little more attention to their spacing, which was a little ragged at times.  The boys tap routine was really good, nice to see them tackle something not all of them were familiar with, and to make a good fist of it.  I liked the Farmer’s Market number the 3 boys and 1 girl did well, and the boys downstage right had very good facial expressions.

‘The Judge is Right’ was amusing and nicely accomplished by the cast.  Again good diction from Fieldie Harrison, Sam Todd and Robert Hanson.

‘Wonderland’ was another charming set – started off very well by Andrew Harkness as the White Rabbit, who gained in confidence over the duration of his song.  He had an unusual voice which fitted the part well.  I loved the tableaux behind the gauze, always interesting, and gave the song meaning.  I thought Gemma Haines as Alice was very good, a nice earthy voice.  This was the set with the UV scene – which was lovely, not too overdone, so classy in its portrayal.

I really liked ‘Imaginary Friends’ – another instance of good diction and projection, making this very understandable and funny.  The cast Beattie Hartley, Charlie Hartley, Maddie Harkness, Howie Atton and Callum Heyes, all interacted really well.

Another good number visually featured lovely red dresses and again good choreography, with everyone getting really involved.

‘Think’ gave us the projection showing in school – which was thought-provoking and fun – nicely accomplished.

Then we came to the finale – Emma Risley and Callum Haward, the featured singers who began the song were very good, and I loved the swell of sound as everyone joined in.  We were all able to join in with a rousing chorus of ‘Riding Along on the Crest of a Wave’, which no Gang Show would be complete without.  The final number with soloist Annemarie Playle was a good number to finish on – everyone looking happy and excited.

Costumes were all very good, and I particularly liked the overall look of the wedding sequence, where everyone looked very smart, and the Wonderland sequence, so again well done.  A great achievement to costume that many young people, and keep it fresh and relevant.

Musically good, with some nice harmonies, and the band accompanied well, always keeping that essential sound balance between them and the stage, with a good sound and stepping up where needed.

Once again, I really enjoyed the Gang Show, thought everyone worked their socks off and gave the audience a super evening’s entertainment.  Lots of humour, and some serious moments to make it a well-rounded production, hats off to the committee who put their thoughts into this, as it’s not easy to keep turning round such a large but good production every year.

Nova Horley

Harpenden & Wheathampstead District Scouts

2014 GANG SHOW” 8th January 2014

Harpenden Public Halls

Producer & MD: Ewan Murray

Sketch Director: Mike Layzell

Choreographer: Cathy Washbrooke


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