Monday, 16 December 2013

THE FIREBIRD
Lace Market Theatre,Nottingham

THE Firebird, by Neil Duffield, is not so much a pantomime as a classic fairy story in the style of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm.Although there are moments throughout the play where typical pantomime audience interaction is required, the play itself is a magical story - a true family Christmas experience.

The play is a fantastical tale set in Russia, of handsome Prince Ivan (Martin Pikett) shunned by his father, the Tsar (Richard Fife) because of his sister's evil deceitfulness (Michelle Smith). The bird has been stealing golden apples from his father's tree! After catching The Firebird, (Hannah Lily) but then releasing it, after the Firebird gave up one of it's feathers in return for it's freedom, the young prince is eventually banished from the Tsar's Kingdom.

The prince roams the woods looking for the magical Firebird - the only way he can regain his father's love and respect. On his travels he meets an evil sorcerer (Richard Fife), a friendly wolf (Damian Frendo), a cannibal witch (Lorna McCullough) and the beautiful Princess Vasilisa ( Francesca Lawson).

The show is interwoven with marvellous songs and incidental music. composed by Piotr Wisniewski, which give the play a real atmosphere and are a delight to young and old. The Firebird has all the elements of a traditional Christmas show for all the family - laughter, romance, baddies and goodies, friendship, jealousy, some audience participation and last, but definitely not least, a happy ending.

The whole cast throw themselves into the play with great gusto, great lighting effects and a well utilised stage make for a very enjoyable piece of Christmas fare.

The Firebird is roosting at The Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 21 December 2013

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

"WE WILL ROCK YOU"
Bilborough College until 13th December 2013

The students of Bilborough Sixth Form College follow up last year's Madness fest "Our House - The Musical" with the Queen musical, written by Ben Elton, "We Will Rock You" and the large cast did just that. A packed auditorium clapped, stomped and applauded 21 of Queen's best known hits weaved into a futuristic image of life 300 years into the future where music and musical instruments have been banned.

But there's hope in the guise of Galileo, Brit (short for Britney Spears), Scaramouche and the Bohemians in their battle against the Killer Queen and Commander Khashoggi to bring back live rock music to the planet.

Bilborough College have an impressive record of producing talented music and theatrical students like recent Les Mis star, Andy Coxon, who recently returned to the college to give a Masterclass in musical theatre.

Well, there's more talent of the future here in WWRU. Sam Gosrani (Galileo) has a really strong voice and looked to really enjoying playing the saviour of 2313's rock music scene, along with his "chick" Scaramouche (Emily Newsome). To start with I didn't realise (because I'd never seen this musical before), that Galileo had a stutter and it wasn't Sam with the stutter. A tribute to Sam's acting.

Brit (Gomolemo "Hummer" Nyakale), is another one with a really strong, soulful voice with a natural acting ability. When I met him earlier this week, he came across as quite a quiet kind of guy but he really comes alive on stage.

Loved the arrogant Khoshoggi, played by Tom Boyden and Khoshoggi's boss The Killer Queen, very reminiscent of The Acid Queen in "Tommy" , played with great attitude and swagger by Natalia Brown. And this wasn't the only strong female role in WWRU, the aforementioned Scaramouche and Meat (Brit's love interest) portrayed by Hannah Lewis.

Must also mention the role of "Pop" ( Ben Rose - another really strong vocal on "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" ), who was the key to Galileo and Scaramouche saving the day by locating the Hairy One's axe.

A more than able chorus and dancers backed the main roles, with a few recognisable faces, (Hi Curtis), and a live band completes this very enjoyable evening of future talent. A hit for directors Ben and Tadek and a great showcase for choreographer Beth Ross-Wadell. A great script as well which is packed with miscellaneous lyrics and name checks of some of the greats in music...and the Teletubbies!

I started the review by saying that the place was sold out tonight, so I suggest you get those tickets fast, while you still have the chance!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

SLEEPING BEAUTY
Nottingham Arts Theatre until Sunday 22 December 2013

Why does Christmas seem just a little closer with the People's Theatre Company pantomime at the Nottingham Arts Theatre I wonder? There are some wonderful performances in Nottingham this Christmas, so strong and all the theatres seem to have upped their game this year. If you want sparkle and glitter then the Playhouse is the place to go. If you want big names then drop in at the Theatre Royal, but if you want fun and endless chuckles then you need to go to the Arts Theatre.

Amanda Hall has written one of the best pantos yet. OK so the scenery is fairly basic but you know what, after the first five minutes you don't even notice because you're swept along with some wonderfully entertaining, and talented actors who give their all for their art. Now, they make it look so effortless, but having just a bit of an insight into these things, I know that, from the lovely and welcoming front of house staff to the actors on stage and the back stage helpers who get no recognition, it's damn hard work!

It's traditional with a slight twist at the end, which I won't reveal, but gorgeous as he may be, it's not the Prince who awakens Sleeping Beauty from her 100 year sleep!

The cast are well known to the regulars of the People's Theatre Company productions and many of the chorus, such as Roy Smith, Glenn Murphy and James Murray have all taken a back seat from featured roles throughout 2013.

So many highlights that I'll give a quick mention to some of my favourites. I loved Gavin Alston as Nanny Nettie Nettle, a "Dame" in the traditional sense of the word, who nailed not only the role but walking and dancing in incredibly high heels. Either a lot of practice and rehearsing has gone into those heels or he's worn killer heels before!

Marie Rogers gave some wonderful facial expressions as Queen Augustine and reminded me a bit of Una Stubbs, and I love Una Stubbs!

King Augustus was played by PTC regular Mike Newbold, and a comical foil for his Queen.

Katie Inglis was no shrinking violet either and definitely not weedy in voice or character, as the gardener, Dandelion, who caught the eye of our Princess "Rose"/Aurora.

It's always lovely to see Hannah Rogers-Gee in any part and was cast as the lead role this year (If I'd have known I'd have auditioned for the Prince).

Talking of which, newcomer Adam Tomas-Monk made his debut as Prince Gorgeous. The Prince with a twist (and we're not talking Chubby Checker here) who has something in common with our Queen, both carry lipgloss and a vanity mirror in their bags! I look forward to seeing Adam in  more productions in the New Year as I feel he has more strings to his bow, but what a way to make a debut.

Mike Pearson (Chester The Jester) was the glue in the panto and kept it all rolling along nicely and along with Liam Hall (Heap) and Laura Thurman (Bogweed) formed a brilliant comedy threesome, especially in their rendition of "The 12 days Of Christmas". I'd seen this done a couple of years ago at the Theatre Royal by The Grumbleweeds but Mike, Liam and Laura matched that version easily. Also keep your eye on Heap and Bogweed in the dance routine for "I Only Want To Be With You", as they are very funny.

And in all good pantos there are the "goody" and the "baddie", Fairy Lilac and Fairy Black (Sophie Petruccie and Maggie Andrew). Yes that's right, award winning director Maggie Andrew as a baddie! And boy does she go for it. Itr was great to see Maggie spreading her acting wings again and, in my opinion, something she ought to do more often as she was amazingly boo worthy as the evil Fairy Black.

The jokes were corny but funny, there was loads of audience participation, a lovely variety in music, ranging from musical numbers such as "On A Wonderful Day Like Today", "The Timewarp" and "Timeless To Me" from "Hairspray" to singalong pop like "Knowing Me Knowing You" and McFly's "Love Is Easy" to the ballad "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith, culminating in a Christmas singalong of "All I Want For Christmas Is You"

Amanda Hall has smashed it again and has surrounded herself with equally talented people like Ray McLeod (musical director), Josh Kemp (Assistant Musical Director), Jessica Royce (Choreography) and a talented group of costume designers with thanks to The Burton Joyce Players and the amazing seamstress extrordinaire, Yvonne Wright  who were responsible for Nanny Nettle's costumes.

If you've never been to the Arts Theatre before, then go and see "Sleeping Beauty" as an introduction to the excellent work they produce, and support your local actors and theatre. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Lakeside Djanogly Theatre

Directed by Martin Berry

As you walk into the Djanogly Theatre auditorium at Lakeside, there's one thing that strikes you even before the play starts. What a brilliant set! It's the sort of front room you'd want to live in yourself and has so much atmosphere, especially with the French Windows with the view of the snow covered garden. But that set holds magic, which I'm not going to reveal.

Between the Designer, Helen Fownes-Davies and the Digital Designer, Barret Hodgson, they create a lovely warm and magical feel to the atmosphere before any one of the three actors enter into our midst.

The play is written by Toby Hulse and based on the classic Christmas story, A Christmas Carol, but Toby drags Dickens kicking and screaming right up to date for a wonderful hour of entertainment for all the family, apart from the really little ones who may be a little scared of the odd ghostly apparition. And yes, it was just an hour. Just long enough for the little ones not to be bored, which I don't think there will be any fear of that as all three actors, Alec Fellowes-Bennett, Josephine Rattigan and Matthew Bloxham all play to the childlike in us all, whatever our age!

Theatre now has to offer more to keep up with the special effects that today's movies offer, and Lakeside, I feel, have done just that with the digital imagery, special effects and the wonderful experience and wizadry of Martin Berry and his incredibly talented crew. From the lighting design to the puppetry and the classic festive music choices, this is one Christmas production you don't want to miss out on this year.

So different from the pantos that are on this year, this is an alternative to the staple Christmas entertainment, keeping in with traditional but using the technology of today to keep the story fresh and interesting.

"A Christmas Carol" is on until Sunday 29 December 2013.

http://www.lakesidearts.org.uk/Children/ViewEvent.html?e=2443&c=1&d=2779

Saturday, 7 December 2013

PETER PAN
Theatre Royal
Starring David Hasselhoff, Su Pollard and Barney Harwood

The story of the "boy that never grew up" and casting Barney Harwood as Peter Pan was a stroke of genius as he still only looks like a teenager. He has the energy of a teenager, the looks and the child like qualities that go to make an ideal Peter, oh yes and he has a rather good singing voice as well. being an ex Blue Peter presenter and daredevil, he was well placed to take on the flying roles as well.

Nottingham's very own Queen of the stage, Su Pollard, no stranger to the Theatre Royal, played to her local strengths and Hi De Hi past as she made her entrance as Mimi the Magic Mermaid, complete with lots of fishy jokes and a costume to rival Lady Gaga.

But the undoubted star of this year's panto was indeed David Hasselhoff as Hoff the Hook. In the past, some of the panto villains have taken their character just a little too far, but The Hoff got it spot on with Hook, and he was an absolute joy to watch him take the mickey out of some of his past roles from "Baywatch" to "Knight Rider" and his stint on "Britain's Got Talent", and it seemed as if his singing wasn't taken as seriously as some may have expected, and all of these really endeared him to the audience, to the point that many of them forgot to boo and hiss. This obviously shows the love Nottingham has for David.

I had mixed opinions on Ben Nickless, who played Smee, and I really started to enjoy his act when he was being more like the comedian that he is, instead of the script which seemed to have been written for Billy Pearce a decade ago, and it's just a shame that more of Ben's own comedic style couldn't have materialised, but the kids thought the script funny.

There are some really good original songs, well I think they were original; I'd not heard them before, which wouldn't have sounded out of place in any new West End musical, as well as a few modern tracks like Lady Gaga'a "Applause" and the odd oldie, "Hooked On A Feeling" and a rock n roll medley for the finale. All of which really blended well.

Topical jokes about Tom Daley and Ed Milliband were slipped in nicely and kept the humour bubbling along. The dancers provided a solid backing for the dance routines and the sound was very good... most of the time.

If I was to be very picky, I'd say that it could do with being a little tighter in parts, but this was only the second performance and it's usually the case that as the run gets going and the actors start settling in, that this normally eradicates the odd second delay, and believe me, that's all it is, the odd second that needed tightening up on.

The couple of little hiccups were professionally recovered, especially by Barney when his flight was delayed, so to speak, but I can't see this happening again, the delay not the recovery!

It's a very enjoyable evening for the whole family with comedy that,as expected, worked on all levels, just as panto should do. Well worth your hard earned luka this Christmas.

Peter Pan is on until Sunday 12 January 2014

Saturday, 30 November 2013

JACK & THE BEANSTALK
Nottingham Playhouse

This is Kenneth Alan Taylor's 30th panto in the Nottingham Playhouse's 50th year and I expected a great night of slapstick entertainment, of classic jokes and topical funnies, some favourite modern songs and a few oldies thrown in for good measure. I expected all these things and I got them all. It's like being a child at Christmas whose written his list out for Santa and when he wakes up finds that all of his wish list had been granted and a few extra presents thrown in.

It's very difficult to keep pushing that entertainment bar every year, but every year Kenneth, and his very talented cast, do just that. With Kenneth using a regular core group including John Elkington, Anthony Hoggard, Rebecca Little and Daniel Hoffman Gill, as well as relative new cast family members in Tim Frater, Kelly Edwards and Hannah Whittington, the audiences feel at home and comfortable with the cast, and if there happens to be any slight errors and line fluffs, the cast know each other so well that the adlibs and recoveries are just as funny and smooth as if they had been written in by Kenneth. That is the mark of a consummate professional in whom Kenneth places his faith in unwaveringly.

I'm not going to give anything away about the panto because everyone knows the story of "Jack & The Beanstalk", but I will say that the ending is not the traditional ending and still ends happily, for everyone!

You'll be blown away by the set design by Tim Meacock, I was. There's even more glitter and sparkle than ever before and is on a par with anything that you would see in the West End, The scenery uses every inch of that stage and in the end looks like some wonderful Hollywood set from the 1940's.

Everything you've come to expect with Kenneth's pantos is there, the wonderful sound quality, the live orchestra led by John Morton, now into his 24th panto at the Playhouse, the clever lighting, classy choreography by Adele Parry. What more could you want? Dancing bunnies? Yep they're in there as well. Christmas can now start because Kenneth Alan Taylor has given it permission to.

Jack & The Beanstalk is on at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 18 January 2014

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

THE REGINA MONOLOGUES Nottingham Lace Market Theatre

THE REGINA MONOLOGUES
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 30 November

Set in the intimate setting of the upstairs section of the Lace Market Theatre you'll find a very different play this week, The Regina Monologues, not to be mistaken for the similar sounding play by Eve Ensler, although there are similarities.

Written by  Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer and directed by Dan Maddison this is one thought provoking, funny, sad, emotive play that packs an awful lot in just 75 minutes.

Six wives recount their feelings and what they are going through being married to Henry using the comparison to their Tudor counterpart. Mix in modern situations such as arranged marriages, online dating, adultery, step children, miscarriages, gender reassignment, underage sex, possible suicide among other things, you'd expect this to a bit of a depressing affair but far from it as, even though there are parts that will make you angry and sad inside, there's a great deal of comedy as well. The same successful recipe used in Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues".

There's the poignancy of the unforgivable situation that the teenage schoolgirl character is placed in and there's the great comedy monologues of the gender reassigned online dating woman who's not picky about her partners to the gold digger and the woman who's wronged by her man when he looks for a younger model.

I love theatre that entertains me and I can sit back and not think too deeply and I also like the other end of the theatrical market which really gives you something to think about and occasionally shocks, and this week both ends of the scale have been covered nicely. Needless to say this play is suitable for the over 14s due to some of the ripe language, which is part and parcel of the subject matter related by the six ladies in this all female play.

Only one word of warning though, if your ginger of hair and easily offended by "gingist" comments, think twice because there seems to be a theme with the six woman not being in favour of red heads. I wonder if Henry VIII was a redhead?

www.lacemarkettheatre.co.uk

Monday, 25 November 2013

DREAMBOATS AND PETTICOATS.

Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 30th November

Cast your mind back to being 16 years old, being in love for the first time, the heartache of rejection, the longing, the lusting, the awkwardness, the music. "Dreamboats" taps into the emotions that we've all experienced at that age so we can all instantly associate with what is happening on stage.

The music is a big part of any teenager's life, whether it be One Direction, Kylie Minogue, Blondie or the wonderful 60s classics that are recreated live on stage and shape the soundtrack to our lives. The thetare now aks more from the actors of late, not only do they have to sing, dance and act but more and more we now see the cast providing the music as well and this show creates a part concert, part theatrical show atmosphere which had the whole theatre clapping and singing along, resulting in a standing ovation at the end, and richly deserved.

In a nutshell it's the story of Bobby (Stephen Rolley) who wants to be a star and is head over heels in lust with Sue (Louise Olley) who fancies the black drainpipes of arrogant teddy boy Norman (Matthew Colthart) who is keeping his options open. Bobby is the idol of Ray (Will Finlason)'s sister, Laura ( Hannah Boyce) who is a talented music student who finally gets to be Bobby's Girl at her 16th Birthday party.

The only known name in the cast is 60's heart throb Mark Wynter who plays older Bobby who proves that he can still deliver a tune and dance without getting out of breath. Mark also sings three of his big hits in the finale, "Venus In Blue Jeans", "It's Almost Tomorrow" and "Go Away Little Girl".

The entire show is so vibrant with a cast of really good vocalists, especially Stephen Rolley who has a really good huskiness to his voice and manages to hit the high notes with his rendition of Roy Orbison's "Only The Lonely". With 45 songs in the musical, and you'll know every one of them, you're in for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

As you'd expect from the era there's some great choreography and some very adept accapella work on "Poetry In Motion" and "Donna" from Will Finlason. It's bright, colourful, it will have you empathising with the unrequited love plights of Sue and Laura and cheering when they both get their "Dream Lovers" in the end.

Roll back the years and enjoy this brilliant show, but get your tickets fast.

Monday, 11 November 2013

ANNE BOLEYN at The Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham
by Howard Brenton
Director: Gordon Parsons.

Oh if only I'd had paid more attention in my history lessons at school! Did they really behave like that?

It's like Carry On Vs Yes Minister with it's very saucy language and "nudge nudge wink wink" raised eyebrowed style of acting, mixed in with a generous dollop of political skullduggery, but oh what an enjoyable slice of history twas laid before a packed theatre tonight!

We start off with King James 1, played by Gordon Cullen, who cornered the market tonight for the "nudge nudge" naughty schoolboy, ever so slightly rude King who enjoyed dressing up in Anne's dresses (this received a wolf whistle from the audience), who also managed to talk to the ghost of Anne which drew us back in time to the story of Anne Boleyn.

Anne was played by Kareena Sims, very saucy and what a tramp! A woman who knew how to play her man and to get what she wanted, when she wanted it, even teasing the audience at the start by.... well you'll have to see how!

Chris Ireson did a wonderful job as King Henry 8th, really bringing the King down to a "common level" if you like, someone we could relate to as a person.

These three main characters, albeit having great comic sides, also were revealed to have a more sensitive side which all three actors managed to produce well. Not that easy to turn an audience's feelings around from laughing at a character to feel sorry for them and their fate.

There's always a baddie in any play and Jason Wrighton gets to exercise his nastiness playing Thomas Cromwell, a real nasty piece of work.

It's a fairly large cast which all fit in well with each other's characters and interact well with the various roles. There's a great camaraderie comes through which makes this serious historic era more human.

The costumes for the period were wonderful and a special mention for Barry Holland who I know has spent almost every waking hour sewing and creating the marvellous costumes on that stage.

There are probably loads more I could say about Anne Boleyn, like the live period music which really set the tone and the atmosphere for the play, the dramatic opening with guillotine-esque sound effect and blackout but to get the full Boleyn experience pop down to the Lace Market Theatre and see what I'm talking about.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

OKLAHOMA Nottingham Theatre Royal

OKLAHOMA
Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 9 November.
Nottingham Operatic Society

Oklahoma! is the first musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in Oklahoma Territory outside the town of Claremore in 1906, it tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A secondary romance concerns cowboy Will Parker and his flirtatious fiancée, Ado Annie.

The musical has everything including a dark, ominous stalker in Jud Fry who meets his demise at the hands of our hero, Curly McLain on the night of Curly and Laurey's wedding.

There's bags full of comedy provided by many of the main and secondary characters, in complete contrast to the darker stalker undercurrent, and of course a great soundtrack which includes "People Will Say We're In Love", "Surrey With The Fringe On Top", "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", "I Cain't Say No" as well as the rousing title track.

The Nottingham Operatic Society have taken a few risks with this musical by casting the main characters with newbies but you know what, the risks paid off big time.

Our hero of the hour Curly, is played by Junior Harding, a curly haired, good looking lad with a belter of a voice, and his first time with the NOS. It must be daunting to be landed with such a great musical main character, but he smiled all the way through.

Laurey was played by another NOS newbie, Lauren Gill, and what a voice. Close your eyes and it could've been Shirley Jones from the 1955 film soundtrack. You can see why Curly would sell his saddle, gun and horse for her picnic basket!!

I loved the total air of menace that Meng Khan oozed with Jud, and again a top quality voice as well.

Oklahoma has some great comic characters and Ado Annie (Grace Gallagher) and Will Parker (Rob Harrison) really looked like they had fun on that stage.

Quickly becoming one of my favourite Nottingham actors is Simon Theobald who played the travelling salesman from Persia, Ali Hakim. Another wonderful comic character played by a genuinely nice, and knowledgeable man. I've seen Simon play several roles over the year and every time seems to have been a perfect casting.

Another stalwart of Nottingham stages is Alison Hope who was wonderful as Aunt Eller. Alison completely eradicated the memory of Marti Webb's portrayal of Eller from a few years back at the Theatre Royal from my mind.

With a large cast including seasoned Nottingham actors Callum and Liam Hall, Andrew Coe, Nigel Newton and Kate Williams in tow, this is another cracking show from The Nottingham Operatic Society.

Musical Director Steve Williams conducted a beautiful sounding orchestra which worked so well with the cast that every single word of the songs were heard crystal clear, but provided the perfect musical backdrop for the magical musical masterpieces of Rodgers and Hammerstein

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

SLAVA'S SNOW SHOW

SLAVA'S SNOW SHOW
NOTTINGHAM ROYAL CONCERT HALL until Sunday November 10th

Imagine the warm, safe and cosy feeling you feel sitting on a sofa with your loved one on a Sunday afternoon, wrapped in a quilt with a cup of hot chocolate and watching your favourite Christmas movie. Well now you're close to the feeling that you'll get watching Slava's Snow Show.

It's also like looking at a giant aquarium of colourful, graceful tropical fish, gently cutting through the bright water when watching Slava and his cast of amazing performers on stage.

The gracefulness and simplicity of the humour is very infantile, but at any age you sit there open mouthed at the magic they weave on stage and you are completely consumed by the strange, unconnected story they play out.

Most of the humour is visual with very limited speech, but you have no need for any vocal comedy because these very clever clowns are experts in their comedic field. And with anything this simple, you can bet that an incredible amount of talent and hard work went into it.

Slava's show has been touring for many many years, all over the world and in his native Russia, and even though the show hasn't changed since the last time I saw it, it's lost none of it's magic.

The comedy timing and sound synchronicity are spot on. The sound quality is perfect in the Royal Concert Hall which all adds to the enjoyment of the show. A show that is just so different to any other show that you'll want to see it again and again and again.

With it's audience participation with giant spider webs, incredible snow storm and the many giant inflatable coloured balls to bounce around the Royal Concert Hall, this is an ideal aperitif for the impending Christmas celebrations for theatre goers of any age, and I dare you not to come out of the venue without a warm contented feeling in your heart.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

CHIN CHIN Nottingham Theatre Royal until Friday 1 November 2013

CHIN CHIN
Nottingham Theatre Royal until Friday 1 November 2013

Starring Felicity Kendall and Simon Callow, this is a lovely gentle comedy, with just a few profanities thrown in, but only in the second act (I didn't realise they swore in the 50's where this comedy was set).

Pamela and Cesareo (Kendall and Callow respectively), are thrown together due to the infidelity of their partners, and initially meet at an outdoor Parisian cafe where they try and work out what they need to do to get their husband and wife back. With the help of sumptuous amounts of alcohol consumed initially by Cesareo, and then Pamela, they decide that this plan wasn't worth it and would move in together, along with Pamela's son, Bobby, who winds up being our two main character's meal ticket back to Cesareo's homeland of Italy.

There's lots of laughs along the way and, although there were other actors on stage to link the different scenes together, Felicity and Simon showed why they are actors at the top of their league, Simon even smoothly dealing with one of those prop doors that just wouldn't stay shut with true professionalism.

The scenery was changed and moved around seamlessly (bar the troublesome door section), and apart from some backstage noise occasionally, the acoustic element of the comedy was spot on and you could hear every word which always helps when a gag line is delivered.

Coming in at just under two hours, including the intermission, it's nicely timed so that you don't get bored with the minimalist storyline.

If you were wondering where the title of the comedy came from, as I was, it's from the many salutations made by the two characters before taking a drink or several.

Well worth a view even if it's just to see two seasoned professionals in their native environment, and don't they both look good on their combined 131 years of age, and the elder of the pair looked very sexy in her trenchcoat!!

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE by The Beeston Musical Theatre Group

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE by The Beeston Musical Theatre Group

The Chatsworth Arts Theatre until Saturday 2 November 2013

Written by Gilbert & Sullivan, this is probably the most popular of their comedy operettas and the BMTG draw out every laugh from the script. Now if you think Gilbert & Sullivan are a tad old fashioned, well how wrong you are because there have been a few subtle updates to the classic musical comedy, but not at the risk of detracting from it.

The two lead roles Mabel (Beth Yearsley) and Frederic (Sam Barson) are perfectly cast with two of the strongest voices I've heard in amateur theatre. I've heard Sam sing before but his voice has really expanded to singing opera and Beth's got a lovely clear quality to her voice with great control,and let's face it with the role of Mabel, she needed it for the vocal acrobatics required.

There are no weak links in the rest of the cast either and perform as a theatre group should do, as a group of one. No chinks in this armour!

A special mention should also be given to Martin Holtom who played Major General Stanley and had the tongue twister of a song "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General" off word perfect.

It was nice to see a live musical troupe providing the music, under the musical direction of Morris Fisher. And they didn't drown out the vocals either, so a pat on the back for getting the sound mix spot on.

A simple but effective set with cinematic screen as the backdrop transported you from pirate ship to Major General's Chapel completed the very enjoyable musical comedy operetta, ably directed and choreographed by Craig Butterworth.

Another big success for The Beeston Musical Theatre Group.