THERE were, apparently, 85 episodes – or about forty two and a half hours’ worth - of this comedy shown on TV during the 1980s, but you’ll be relieved to hear that this stage version is condensed considerably and runs for just slightly over two hours, including an interval.
THE Regent Centre in Christchurch was built in 1931 so is currently celebrating its 80th Anniversary, and this concert was just one of the events in the ‘anniversary calendar’. The groups taking part were Christchurch Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Highcliffe Charity Players, Poole and Parkstone and Theatre 2000, not forgetting the host of ever-present volunteers who make the Regent Centre one of the cornerstones of the community.
‘An Inspector Calls’ is an excellent play and this is – for the most part – an excellent production. The work is quoted as Priestley’s clearest expression of his Socialist beliefs, but its interesting subsidiary themes of the generation gap and family dynamics are often neglected and to modern ears its message is more humanitarian than Socialist, which says something about how society has changed in the seventy years since the play was written.
SOME productions need updating and the 1946 version of Annie Get Your Gun, with its politically incorrect references to “Red Indians” and outdated approach to women, is without doubt one of them. Fortunately, Peter Stone’s 1999 Broadway revival revised the script and Theatre 2000 used this for their Regent Centre Show. Based loosely on a hit and miss romance between real life sharpshooters Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, Annie Get Your Gun has a host of familiar and much-loved songs from Irving Berlin - a gift for Musical Director Lee Marchant.
I’VE long been a fan of Tom Lehrer’s wonderfully satirical songs but only came upon Bob Newhart’s comedic monologues a couple of years ago, when a friend played me one of his LPs. Since both Americans are now in their 80s I doubt that many in this country have ever seen them performing live, learning to love them instead from their recordings, from shows like Tomfoolery or perhaps from a tribute-type evening such as this.
I’M sitting here at my computer silently singing some of the incredibly catchy songs from this show and pondering how to explain that some of the cast are humans, some puppets without it sounding – well, odd. Because it isn’t odd at all, and in fact after a few minutes it seems perfectly normal.
With a combination of graphics, backing tracks, a complicated set to negotiate and the manipulation of those puppets, this is not an easy show for amateurs to perform but Theatre 2000’s cast do an absolutely stunning job that deserves full houses for every performance. I saw the show in the West End a number of years ago and in all truth I loved what I saw tonight just as much.
Blue Remembered Hills is set in World War II, following the lives of the war-time children who must find ways to entertain themselves. This play sets out to build childhood memories and events and, in the director’s own words, show “an analysis of human interactions.”
CABARET is always a dark musical, showing human relationships being played out in an increasingly fraught manner as the spectre of Nazism begins to rear its ugly head in pre World War II Berlin - although it does, nonetheless, have its brighter moments.
SHORT of hopping on a plane and travelling halfway round the world, the only chance most of us will have had to see this stunning production, performed on a floating stage in Sydney harbour, will have been through this Encore Satellite Broadcast. And I have a feeling that it was us, sitting in the comfort of the Regent Centre, who may have had the better deal.
THEATRE 2000 continue their excellent re-visiting of Rodgers & Hammerstein classics with Carousel, in a production directed by Albert Brown. The moment Lee Marchant's fantastic orchestra struck the opening notes, I knew we were in for a treat and the evening did not disappoint on any level.
THE dictionary definition of ‘spectacular’ is striking, amazing or lavish, and this show, the first of what the Regent hopes will become an annual event, most certainly lives up to its name.
A beautifully decorated foyer gives every indication of what is to come, and I don’t think I have ever seen such an incredible set or such wonderful lighting effects on the Regent’s stage – nor in many other places, come to think of it.
Since The Glad Rag Production Company is part of Sue Simmerling’s Carry On Costumes, which has been providing costumes for P&O Cruise ships and land-based theatres for many years, it goes without saying that the performers are dressed to dazzle, with a myriad of changes and each set of costumes simply – well, spectacular.
WHAT is a pantomime? I was once asked this by an international student staying with us, and to be honest I struggled to really give a good answer. “It’s a...um…musical for kids and - er - adults. With dancing and singing and guys dressed as girls, and girls dressed as guys and custard pies...”
IT’S a brave company that takes on the stage version of a TV series, particularly when it’s one as well-known and loved as Dad’s Army. You will understand then that I approached my visit to this particular show with some trepidation, not least because I was accompanied by my husband, who is something of a Dad’s Army buff and knows the episodes inside-out.
LIKE almost all local theatre groups, BBLOC is struggling financially. Bitesize was born to raise the profile of the main company as well as to help raise much-needed funds, and if last night’s sell-out concert was anything to go by they’ll succeed admirably on both counts.
HALF A Sixpence is a rags-to-riches tale based on the novel Kipps by H G Wells. The story, mainly set in the early twentieth century, follows chirpy Arthur Kipps, an orphan, takem away from his childhood sweetheart, Ann. Before being sent to live with Mr Shalford in the seaside town of Folkestone, Kipps gives Ann one half of a sixpence as a token of his love. Kipps' life is turned upside-down some years later when he inherits a small fortune. However, he soon finds that money and upper-class living cannot buy you true love or happiness.
JEZ Butterworth’s play is about a man living in a battered caravan in woods on the edge of the fictional Wiltshire town of Flintock, the exact location adjacent to a new housing estate. Set on St George’s Day, it becomes a vehicle for what shorthand sometimes dubs a “state of the nation” play, one man’s character, values, circumstances and relationships carrying a significance beyond the personal or local.
THE combination of a well-known show, the enthusiasm of youth and a very large helping of talent, mixed together by a small team whose love of musical theatre shines through, is often unbeatable. This is one of those occasions, and a more polished, fun and better performed production would be hard to find.
BOUBLIL and Schoenberg’s Miss Saigon, which is of course based on Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, is a powerful, deeply moving story of war, love and loss that should leave its audience emotionally drained. This outstanding production, directed by Albert Brown with choreography by Angie Broomfield, does exactly that.