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Another good show from SAOS, with strong principals and good technical aspects.

The set worked well, with the sliding banners which created the scenes, and I loved the backcloth with the skyline that showed through the windows of the Mission.  I particularly liked the ambience of the Sewer scene, the smoke and the lighting made it appear very subterranean and weird, which created a good backdrop for the action.  There was an overlong empty stage at the start of the scene, which took away a little from the impact, I would have liked to have seen the men drifting on sooner, it looked as if they were wandering on to go to the pub, not anticipating the excitement of an illicit crap game.

I liked the use of the overture to set the scene – it created interest whilst we were enjoying the musicality of the orchestra.

I didn’t like the blackouts at the beginning of the Havana scene when Sky and Sarah were on their whirlwind sight-seeing tour, it didn’t add anything to the scene, and there was delay between the end of their exchanges to the ensemble appearing, I know it is a fairly quick change, but it needed something happening to keep the interest going.  There also seemed to be a very long pause at the start of the scene before the couple dancing appeared.

I felt that Havana was a little lacking in excitement.  I think perhaps that fact that the cast had the run of a flat stage spread them out too much, and the lines didn’t give the action enough shape, so some of the dimension and enthusiasm was not there.

Choreography for the Hot Box Girls was good, but again no surprises.

The Crap Shooters scene was a little out of sync in places, which lost some of the impetus for the music, and whilst Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat had impact from a harmonic view, the movement seemed a little unexciting.

The duet between Sarah and Adelaide was super, one of my favourite songs from the show, and they did it so well, and really seemed to fire off each other to give the song new meaning.

Philip Joslin had got together a very good sounding orchestra, with some nice arrangements, and the harmonies were well-rounded, and very tuneful.  Obviously lots of attention to the detail in the music from the entire cast, which made for more interest and enjoyment from an audience’s point of view.

Linda Dyne had directed a stylish show, however I was a little disappointed that she hadn’t used many new or innovative ideas.  That said the cast performed well, and created some excellent relationships.

I must say that my favourite character was Emma Stratton’s Adelaide.  Such a wealth of talent and thought went into creating the best Adelaide I have seen to date.  She was saucy, sassy and depressed, but always there was this warmth and some subtle, but to me, excellent departures in interpretation, whilst always maintaining the musicality and depth to her portrayal, that made this a performance to remember.

Almost her match was Iain Doughty as Nathan Detroit, her erstwhile fiancé – you could feel his affection for Adelaide, his excitement for the crap game and his reticence about getting married, all carried through with a suavity that suited the part.  Musically strong too.  This was an excellent pairing if strength and fine performance skills.

Following on was another nice pairing, significantly different, altogether softer and more romantic in feel, between Sarah and Sky.

Adele Pope was an utterly charming Sarah Brown, showing her sorrow at not being able to convert all those sinners, and her bewilderment at her feelings for Sky.  Beautifully sung, creating a completely rounded character.

Pete Town was a sophisticated and elegant Sky, the antithesis of the rougher more down-to-earth Nathan – which gave a lovely element to his relationship with Sarah, but he showed the steel behind his character when getting the Crap Shooters to go to the Mission.  Pete has a slightly quizzical look which suited Sky, and there were some lovely musical moments in some quite difficult music.

I very much liked Tony Bradburn’s portrayal of Arvide, a part he sang beautifully – and again the caring relationship between him and Sarah really showed.

John Hebden was a super Nicely-Nicely Johnson – he carries these character parts off so well, without overdoing it.  He was supported well by Howard Salinger as Benny and Tom Handley as Rusty Charlie.  The Fugue for Tinhorns was very well-marked and musically sound, so it came over well, and not ragged as it can be sometimes.

I liked Shaun Phillips as Big Jule – it gave a different edge to the part, with his ‘minder’ Harry the Horse, played well by Will Prescott.

I really liked the Hot Box Girls, particularly in the ‘Mink’ number, they looked elegant and charming, and what they actually did they accomplished well, and looked as if they were enjoying themselves.

The Mission Band were good, particularly the lady with the tambourine – managing to be out of time on the beat was a definite accomplishment.

Costumes were good, and all were worn well and looked fresh.

So overall a good show, with excellent attention to musicality in accompaniment and harmonies, with good relationships, and a stand out performance from Emma, all of which made it a thoroughly enjoyable production and one which was up to SAOS’s usual standard.

I would like to thank the Society for its hospitality, and especially Mary, Eve and Pam for looking after us so well.

St. Albans Operatic Society


review date: 3rd May 2013 at Alban Arena, St Albans

Director & Choreographer: Linda Dyne

  MD: Philip Joslin

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