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“34th Annual Gang Show”

A very lively overture from Eleanor Petch with, once again, a good band configuration, who gave us excellent musical sounds, whilst accompanying the cast well, with some delightful and fresh sounding arrangements.  A good balance was maintained between the band and the cast – so well done to the sound team, as it is difficult with so many performers and the Alban Arena to get the sound exactly right.  

The opening number was super, very effective with good lighting, and costumes simple, with the two different coloured trousers working well with the black tops.  Anna Solomon, Sarah Coop and Becca Bainbridge took the solo lines with confidence, and the overall effect of the whole opening set was one of welcome to the audience, and immediately engaging them so that we could all settle back and enjoy the show.

The Two Ronnies sketch which followed the opening, was really well done by Owen Tyley and Matthew Lee – they interacted well with each other and the audience, and I feel that judging by this and other observations during the show, that Matthew particularly is going to be a ‘one to watch’.  He has a very lively face that he uses to the utmost when he is on stage.

The Juke Box number was very funny and well thought out.  We had to keep our wits about us to keep up with the speed of delivery, but Shaquille Trotman, Sophie Bryan, Joe Giddings and Lorna Mistry coped well with it, and made it interesting as well as amusing, and very up to the minute in its concept.

Ella Molloy and Charlotte Coop gave us good solo moments in the opening of the Music People set, with Toby Charles showing us a very confident delivery.  Good choreography and very meaningful costumes meant that everyone participated fully and made the items good to look at and good to hear.

The Jeremy Kyle sketch was excellent, I believe Luke Collins played the JK part, and did it extremely well, with the other participants all giving their different interpretations of the various people to make it again a very amusing sketch.

I loved the Roald Dahl set – the house that dismantled into the side screens and a back flat was very well-thought out, as were the roller blinds on the side screens that were used to create different references.  James Lockwood narrated well, with authority and understanding, with all the main principal characters being played with feeling and understanding.  Again, there was some excellent choreography, and the setting with the horn with the bubbles coming out etc were all super, and added to the slightly fantasy-like feel to the set.  Song 3 was very edgy and I thought the choreography was very on song.  The soloist in song 4 had a very unusual voice, which I thought sat well with that particular number.  

Funky Dance was well-performed, and I liked the contemporary feel to the movement.  The costumes were simple but I liked the effect of the coloured sleeves.  The exit was very good – and very different.

The Super Singing set had great impact with the all white costumes and blue lighting for the first song, and turning to red light for the second number.  Excellent harmonies made this set a joy to listen to, and ended Act 1 on a high.

The opening to Act 2 was a very modern and edgy set, with Niketa Dinnal shining in her solo, in an interesting setting, with lots going on.  The transition to the next number was nicely achieved, with Bethany Nicholson giving us a confident and tuneful solo, whilst the use of umbrellas, scarves etc to create a car, and the simple but effective dance making this a delightful number and a good contrast to the other numbers in the set.   The construction of the set with the 12 building blocks having different vehicles on different faces was really good, and the building of each separate vehicle was done quickly and efficiently, which obviously took a lot of practice!!

Clever Singing looked and sounded good – the effect of the red and black costumes, but each one being individual to the girls was a good concept, and created interest along with nice harmonies.

Small was a good set for all concerned, I loved the swing, and the set enhanced the music.  I particularly liked Shaun, he gave us lots of expression, and I had already noticed him in the dance numbers. I liked the chorus, they were cohesive and really gave us the feel of the number, finishing with a very upbeat end to the set.

Spice Rack was very funny – the girls put it over really well, and I thought 5 Spice delivered her lines with good timing and expression.

Toby Charles and Rosie Goymer gave us an excellent rendition of their song, which is quite difficult to do, but which they coped with well, whilst getting the humour out of it.

Colour Tribes was another contrasting set, starting very edgy and full-on, following with good story telling.  I liked the two solo dancers, and the lighting with the different coloured spots was very imaginative.

Emma Smillie, Anna Solomon, Louisa Kataria and Charley Dowsell performed Be Prepared with assurance, I really liked it.

So to the finale – opened quietly but tunefully by Toby Charles, Kimberley Chowdhary and Ellie Garner, creating a thoughtful and charming introduction to the tremendous swell of sound when the entire cast started singing – always a lovely effect.  Again the lighting was superb for the entire finale, creating interest and just enhancing the wonderful music the cast and band were making.

So, I think this year we saw an improvement musically within the cast, there were some very well sung and interpreted pieces, with different types of music within the sets, all of which gave the young people the chance to try different themes and ways of doing things, to give them a more rounded experience.

As always, we loved it – and the enthusiasm of the audience is also good to see and hear, and must have an effect on the cast, to know they are so appreciated.  

Congratulations to everyone involved, another super production, that had us leaving the Arena on a high.  Always a good evening’s entertainment from an excellent cast of young people, supported so well by the production and technical teams – a superb all round effort from everyone concerned.

Nova Horley

St. Albans & District Scouts & Guides


review date: 16TH Feb 2013 at Alban Arena, St Albans

Producer/Director: Hermione Clulow

MD: Eleanor Petch

Choreographer: Claire Keates & team

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