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Showtime at First Baptist
The concept of the play was a look at life in Ivy Gap Tennessee during the Vietnam War, and the effect that, and the havoc wreaked on the Baptist Church during a storm, had on the members of the church.
At first glance this could have been a fairly run of the mill play, but the relationships forged by the six women were very real and believable, although I found the accents a little difficult to attune my ear to at first.
This was a high standard ensemble piece, and I felt that all the ladies concerned gave good performances, no weak links here.
The set was adequate, but I was a little perturbed over the pulling of the tabs after every scene, as despite the lovely and very appropriate music, it broke the feel of continuity to the action. Lighting was good throughout, and I liked the thunder and lightning effects.
The ladies were all suitably attired, with the characters deferred to in the dress worn, I particularly liked Olene’s dresses, they really suited the character, as did Vera’s, with the inevitable array of hats. The silver costumes at the end caught the blue lighting very nicely, giving them depth.
I thought Viv Fairley played Edith very sympathetically, I found her a little difficult to hear at the start, but this could have been because I was unaccustomed to the accent. Viv gave us a good range of expressions and moods.
I really liked Sue Parker as Vera, very up front and not afraid to say what she felt about men in general – a good characterisation, I loved her ‘Broadway’ song, it showed another lighter facet to Vera.
Barbara Suggitt played the rather plain spinster Mae Ellen, obsessed with her Wurlitzer organ, that was damaged irreparably during the storm. Barbara projected extremely well, and gave her portrayal both pathos and edge. I liked the fact she showed her thoughts on her face even when she wasn’t the centre of attention, particularly in Scene 2 when she was sat stage right and the main conversation was between the ladies stage left.
Irene Morris created a very strong Lucille, determined that her way was right, and spouting bible references at every turn – a dominant character and a good contrast to the other ladies. Excellent projection.
Jan Westgarth portrayed the flamboyant Olene very well – lots of nice touches, and very expressive. A good foil to the other rather traditional ladies.
Abi Longland played Annie, Lucille’s daughter-
The Showtime chorus from Olene and Annie suffered a bit from possibly not being able to hear the music terrible well, but that said they carried it off well, and it was nice to have a chorus for the audience to join in with during the bows.
Wheathampstead Dramatic Society
“SHOWTIME AT FIRST BAPTIST”
Review date: 14th OCT 2017
Memorial Hall, Wheathampstead
Director: Sheila Scull