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Salad Days has one of the most vacuous storylines for a musical – however, that said it is a cheerful, amusing vehicle for some nice tunes.

PBGS put loads of energy and fun into the show and speaking for myself, I came out feeling happy and upbeat, there were some obvious times when pace could have been picked up, for example blackouts, but on the whole the cast delivered their lines well, and the music was taken at a cracking pace, which uplifted everyone.

I liked the backcloth for the park – and Minnie, the piano, was lovely, so nice to have a ‘real’ one.  The train windows across the back of the station scene were good, lighting on the whole was good, and the effects round the Flying Saucer were great fun.

Generally the props were good, and there was a nice selection of colourful costumes.  The flouncy petticoats under full skirts worked really well, and added a bit of glamour.  There were some really nice wigs and hairdos, which all helped to create a good overall picture.

Paula Fraser played the part of Jane – who has just graduated from college, and decides along with her friend Timothy, played by Tim Sell, that it might be a good idea to get married, and along the way they might just happen to fall in love!  Both sang their parts well, but I thought Paula gave us a more down to earth and believable character – Tim was sometimes a little too OTT in his characterisation, and whilst it probably was an almost unbelievable situation, it was nice to get the feeling of it being real in some respects.

Jane has some nice songs, which Paula put over well, and I particularly enjoyed Oh Look At Me, which incorporated a lively dance number from Jane and Timothy, which they accomplished extremely well.

I thought there were some opportunities for highlighting a funny line that were missed, but we did in the main get plenty of humour from all the cast.  The beauty salon scene could have had a little more emphasis from Lady Raeburn and Heloise – again some missed comic opportunities, but also some very funny moments – and Louise as the manicurist showed some lovely facial expressions.

I liked Sue Kennedy’s portrayal of Rowena and her rather flirty relationship with PC Boot (Barny Shergold) – they reacted well off each other.  Barny also showed loads of energy in his meeting with the Inspector, played by Andrew Hodges, which was funny scene, with them capering about the stage, and dancing together – nicely done.

I understand Peter Sayers as Ambrose was drafted in only two weeks ago – so well done to him – once again Sue Kennedy showed her comic flair in this scene.

Louise Thonger as Fiona acted and sang the part with great vivacity – she looked good too – I was impressed with the way she handled the part and got a lot of meaning into the very innocent and rather vague character.  

Sue Wookey as Tim’s mother and Margaret Snape as Lady Raeburn, Jane’s mother, both acted their parts really well, and I love their song “We Don’t Understand Our Children” it is a very telling song, which they did justice to.

Shayn Dickens played a very bouncy Nigel – I liked what he did with the part. Shayn showed good all round performance skills.

There were a number of other characters, which were taken on by the ensemble – of which I particularly liked Nicole Santelmann as the Nightclub Singer – her Cleopatra song was full of vigour and nuances, and made me laugh, as did Alison Gibbs as Asphynxia – again her song was very funny.  

Clive Wheeler gave us a full-on club owner, and also played Uncle Zed, who flew his space craft in the hunt for Minnie – both good characterisations.

I thought Dianna Moylan as Troppo did a very good job – she has an extremely expressive face which lent itself well to the non-speaking part, and Aidan Dwyer created a good Tramp, one of Timothy’s other uncles.  

Musically the piece was sound, held in check by Sue Trost as MD for performance replacing Tim Sell when he took on the role of Timothy.  The quartet created some nice sounds that made the chorus numbers pleasing on the ear, and enhanced the solo numbers and duets.

So, in the main a nice show, which could have been tightened up a bit by fewer blackouts and quicker, quieter scene changes, but a fun show, that the cast obviously enjoyed, which always communicates itself to an audience, and enhances their enjoyment – good to see a full house too.

Putteridge Bury Gilbert & Sullivan Society

SALAD DAYS” Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin

Director:  Robin Hinton MD:  Tim Sell

Performance MD: Sue Trost

Assistant Director & Choreographer@ Graham Breeze


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