Association of Community Theatre
Show Reviews - May 2017
Bollington Light Opera Group
Directors Matthew Gratton & Diane McIntyre
Musical Director Ian Jones
Dance Directors Diane McIntyre & Matthew Gratton
This show definitely has the “feel good factor.” It is imbued with nostalgia for the older members of the audience, and the shocking reality of the racial divide for the younger members.
As the cast were all white the audience was asked to “use the timeless theatrical concept of “suspension of disbelief” and allow yourself to witness the story and not the racial background (or gender) of the actors”. Did it work, I’m not sure. The jury is still out on this one.
Based on the American 'Buddy Dean Show' this 1960s-style dance and music show has such an array of colourful characters. They were all brought together on a very inventive set designed and painted by Gareth Roberts and Norma Roberts. The lighting and sound added to the entertaining kaleidoscope of colour with period costumes completing the very satisfying visual image.
The playing area has it challenges. Stage management, Tracey Whitney and Julie Gilder, together with their crew, made sure the running of the show was uninterrupted. The paging of the gauze by the costumed stage hand was a nice touch.
The creative team captured the 1960s with its distinct look and choreography. The score was very well interpreted by the small band.
Tracy Turnblad is a typical teenager and is a fan of “The Corny Collins Show”. This musical is her story of how she ends up on the TV programme. Rebecca Hart brought alive the fun loving plus-size Tracy. Tracy’s father, Wilbur, was as off-the-wall as he could be. In this role, Richard Comish had fun as the joke shop owner with a big heart.
His heart is given to Edna Turnblad. Craig Harris donned the fat suit and slipped on the sling backs as the Baltimore mum. All the comedy was extracted and the Turnblad family proved, what is normal!
Emma Sheldon as Penny, Tracy’s friend, and her boyfriend, Seaweed, played by Andy Venables, were convincing as the new-age boy and girlfriend - they could "hear the bells."
Tracy’s ring-a-ding-ding love interest is Link Larkin. Michael Scott played Tracy’s heart’s desire and was the all-American boy. He is the Teen show’s vocalist alongside Corny Collins. Paul Yandell was every inch the crooning, Corny.
The TV show’s producer, Velma (Stephanie Evans) and her daughter Amber (Emily Bancroft) were very entertaining as the hiss and boo characters of the plot.
"The Nicest Kids”, Motormouth Maybelle (Helen Valentine) belted out “Big, Blonde and Beautiful”, "The Record Shop Gang", and the ensemble all supported the principals well. “The Dynamites!”, the musicals girl band, was very “Shooby-doo- wop-sha-bop” in its vocals. The whole company proved “You Can’t Stop the Beat”.