Tuesday, 26 July 2016

"Arsenic And Old Lace" by Tabs Productions.
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
You know when Summer is here with the arrival of Tabs Productions Classic Thriller Season at the Nottingham Theatre Royal, and they kick off with a corker.
Not strictly a thriller but a wonderful choice of black comedy in "Arsenic And Old Lace" by Joseph Kesselring. After all, we know who the killers are from the start, but it's a wonderfully comic piece of theatre with some brilliant characters, played by a great cast.
The two old dears, who make a fine brew of Elderberry Wine with a particular full bodied taste but with a bitter finish, are played sublimely by Susan Earnshaw (Abby Brewster) and Karen Henson (Martha Brewster).
The rest of the Brewster family are as nutty, and deadly as The Addams Family, complete with the loony Teddy Brewster (Michael Sherwin), who thinks that he is President Teddy Roosevelt. Mortimer Brewster (Richard Ede), who seems to be the only one slightly left outside and looking in, but is a theatre reviewer, so maybe he does have a bit of a wobbly screw!
And finally the black sheep of the Brewster family, Jonathan Brewster (Andrew Ryan), and he does look different, but then again, he is supposed to and you'll see why this is, if you come and see the play! Let's just say you would not want to meet Johnathan Brewster in a dark alley!
Jonathan's "companion" is a certain "Dr Einstein", no the other one, and is a brilliant character played wonderfully sinister by Andrew Fettes with some lovely comic touches.
Elaine Harper (Anna Mitcham) is the girl, almost next door, well just through the cemetery, and is to marry into the Brewster family when Mortimer proposes.
David Gilbrook (Rev Dr Harper/Mr Gibbs/Mr Witherspoon), Jeremy Lloyd Thomas (Officer Rooney) and Robert Durbin (Officer O'Hara) complete the cast.

Wonderfully tight direction from John Goodrum and a brilliant set design bySarah Wynne Kordas, so good I want to live there, I want to see the laboratory, it made you want to explore the house it was that believable.
Set in 1941 all props, furniture, design and costumes were spot on.
Tabs Productions are well known for their shows and the loyalty of the audiences is great, seeing several faces from the past years over show this. Their reputation for providing quality shows from all genres of thriller is well known, and you can guarantee that when you come and see any of their plays, you're in for a wonderful night's entertainment with a generous smattering of humour throughout. Plus, as always, there is a twist, and not of lemon!
"Arsenic And Old Lace" is the first of the four week run in the Thriller Season, and this play runs until Saturday 30 July 2016 with Francis Drawbridge's "House Guest" next week.

Photos courtesy of Simon Cooper.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Zak Scott & Friends "Ignited By A Dream"
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
Zak Scott you have got to stop doing this to me. I've reached a certain age when I'm now forgetting people's names (Sorry Jack), and even forgetting I've met people face to face before (Sorry Lewis), and again you had me welling up. First at your brilliant version, with some of your fellow male singers, of "Bring Him Home" and then at the end with your emotional speech.
I was pontificating on the bus home (and was not arrested for doing so in a public place) as to whether I would trade my bag o spanners looks to be good looking, or to have a slither of the talent I saw on Saturday night. Well, in a slight remix of one of the songs performed in the show, "Talent 10 Looks 3". I would love to be able to sing like these people on stage.
I was chatting to, and I hate to name drop here (well anyone who knows me will refute this), but I was chatting to the Mayor Of Beeston and we both agreed that if we could go back 40 years (in the Mayor's case, maybe a few less in mine), we would love to get a taste of what it would be like to have the talent on stage.
And there was a lot of talent at the Duchess on Saturday night. Zakrounded up a group of friends, mainly female (it was like Zak and his harem), but which red blooded male would not want to be surrounded by gorgeous company, and they presented an evening of wonderful musical entertainment and all in the name of the Lymphoma Association charity. This is Zak's third, and final, show raising money for great causes such as this. Yet again the theatre was packed.
Looking at the programme of songs, I, being a massive Jason Robert Brown and Scott Alan fan, was very happy to see both song writer's compositions featured. There were tracks from the musicals "A Chorus Line", "Neverland","Mamma Mia", "Book Of Mormon", The Last 5 Years", "Wicked", "Hamilton", "Shrek", "American Idiot", "Hairspray", "Chicago", "The Addams Family", "Parade", "Funny Girl", "Oliver", "Smash", "Footloose" and "Jersey Boys" with a few dance peices interspersed.
Compering the show was Erewash Sound's David Allen who also produced many chuckles with his jokes.
Zak was joined by Courtney Walker, Megan Rose, Megan Thomas,Chloe Brace, Natalie Austin, Lauren Austin, Ella Charlesworth, Georgie Bond,Tayla EvansEmily-Rose GentEmily Horner, Ellie Simmonds, Erin Hill, Cara Verney, Rosie Verney, Lewis HaycockOliver WheddonPaddy Stafford with the band led by Leon Wade with Sean Garavan, Chris Renshaw, Jeff Widdowson and Adam Baskill.
On the technical side the sound was by Sean Renshaw and lighting byDave Martin and stage managed by Roydon Charlesworth. Choreography by Cara Verney.
I liked the fact that Zak's confidence to perform a more uptempo set paid off and was great to see his perform "Mr Sellophane" from "Chicago" and the fun, but oh so tongue in cheek song "Baptise Me" from "Book Of Mormon" alongside slower numbers. I was also so chuffed that he included "Bring Him Home" sung in a Blake/Collabro style in a quartet, which brought some of the audience, me included, to a standing ovation (well it was an emotional piece).
Also loved Emily-Rose Gent's numbers from "Hamilton" , which is a wonderful soundtrack which includes "Burn" and "Don't Rain On My Parade" from "Funny Girl", sounding in places like a young Streisand.
Adored Emily Horner's soulful version of "I Know Where I'm From", from "Hairspray", and the sublime "Second Hand Baby Grand" from "Smash" sung by Erin Hill.
Ending the night on a fun medley of "Jersey Boys" songs with Chris Renshaw, Lewis Haycock and Oliver Wheddon and an ensemble working of "Ignited By A Dream".
Zak Scott, you are a selfless and talented young man who, along with all of your friends from the last three years have given your time and talent to help better the lives of others less fortunate and you all deserve the rewards you reap from what you give out.
A wonderful evening's entertainment and for a wonderful cause. More power to all of your elbows.

Monday, 18 July 2016

"Cause Celebre"
Lace Market Theatre.

This is one of the most enjoyable, non musical plays I've seen in a while, and my introduction to Terence Rattigan's works.

The courtroom drama about a woman, Alma Rattenbury, and her teenage lover, Percy George Wood and Rattenbury's murdered husband, Francis. Which of the two killed Francis, or was it a joint effort?

It's fascinating how Rattigan writes so powerfully for women, and in the second act shows a great knowledge of the court room and the male characters in this half are shown to be the stronger written characters.

Tamzin Grayson is absolutely brilliant in the role of the sex hungry cougar who, at first is the dominant seducer of Wood, a little like Mrs Robinson. She looks the part of a 1930's confident woman. but it's interesting to see how that confidence is wore down throughout the play.

Geoff Longbottom (Francis), again well cast as the older, wealthy, though tight husband who is the victim.

Alma's friend, who lives with the Rattenbury's is Irene, played by Carole Barton, Sticking with Alma through thick and thin but has a feeling that Wood, when he first applies for the job, may just be trouble. If only Alma had listened to Irene's gut feeling.

Aaron Connelly (Wood) makes his debut adult production and what a way to break his duck. A powerful performance which simmers to start but the confidence of Wood is played out to great affect here. A lovely arrogant character, which I'm sure Aaron enjoyed getting his teeth into.

Sarah Taylor (Edith Davenport) gives another wonderful character driven performance. Struggling with her inner self as the forewoman of the jury, but does she relent with her vote?

Edith's estranged husband, John, is played by David Dunford. only a minor part but gives an interesting background to Edith's home life with her son, Tony, which ties in nicely with her inner feelings towards Alma, and Alma's actions.

Son Tony, played by another very confident and natural actor, Sam Howitt, adds layers to the Davenport family with his own struggles between mother and father and him becoming a man and the issues that go along with that stage of his life.

There is a comical interaction with Tony's friend, Randolph, played by Sophie Owen, and Tony about his intended journey into becoming a man.

You'll find the theme of sex a constant thread throughout the play, and is one of the main reasons for the murder,a s well as a topic brought up by most of the main characters in some way or another.

I loved the posh totty character in Stella Morrison, best friend to Edith and played beautifully by Kay Haw. Some lovely period clothes for Stella, as well as Edith, to wear.

The legal side of the play was really well performed and at times you could be forgiven for forgetting that you weren't in Court but watching a play. Marcus Wakely (Judge), Piotr Wisniewski, who was responsible for writing the lovely music for the recent "A Midsummer Night's Dream" production at the Lace Market, played Alma's legal eagle, along with Nick Parvin as Montagu, who you just knew wanted to take Wood's place. Roger Newman and John Parker played the legal opposition Croom-Johnson and Casswell. Fraser Wanless plated the Clerk of the Court as well as the Coroner.

As a legal team they were all fascinating to watch because they made me believe. You can see these kind of scenes on TV but being just feet away from this sort of drama is intoxicating for an audience to watch the drama unfold.

I've said in the past that Liza Pybus is one of my favourites at the Lace Market and yet again I have reason to back this statement up. Liza plays Joan Webster, at first a hard-nosed warden who softens as she gets to know Alma. As I said, Rattigan writes so well for his female characters and, while not a major character, Liza makes this a lovable and important role.

Roger Watson plays the bobby on the scene of the murder and first to interview Alma, after the murder, and Chris Griffiths plays the Court porter. Hal Stevens plays Alma's six year old son Christopher, and Hal puts in a very mature performance in the role; this being his second for the Lace Market Theatre

You know me, i love looking for the little things that just make a production and there are many in this one. From the soundscape of the baying public when Alma is brought to court, constantly murmuring in the background, to the shouts of disapproval from behind us as the decision is revealed in Court.This being the design of Gareth Morris. The wonderful subtle sound effects and the realistic drinks in the decanters. So many little things that add that touch of realism.

Wonderful set, sectioned into three, worked really well and designed by Peter Hillier. Brilliantly directed by Gordon Parsons, assisted by Freda Burke and Geoff Longbottom. The props were apt for the 1930's period, and I love the old record player, and those costumes are just so classy and stylish. Highlighting the stage sections was a wonderful design for the lighting by Philip Hogarth,

You see there is so much to mention and with such a brilliant story, combined with some of the best acting, and actors around in Nottingham, this is one play you really don't want to miss, even if it's to find out who did murder Francis... oh and there is a twist at the end, so watch out for that.

"Cause Celebre" is at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 23 July 2016, and if Monday's almost full house is any indication to go by, you better get your ticket fast!

Friday, 15 July 2016

"Fame The Musical" by Spotlight Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre.

As the song goes..."remember my name" and there are several names you'll remember from this show. If you've seen the film "Fame", then forget it because the musical is so much better.

It's the story of a group of students from the New York School of Performing Arts in 1984. They study drama, music and dance but there is drama away from the school as well, mainly provided by Carmen Diaz, a talented but fame obsessed dancer who is hooked on drugs but comes to a sticky end.

The musical covers several gritty storylines and I was pleased that Spotlight did not do the abridged version of the musical because I've seen the abridged version and I just felt that there were obvious holes in the storyline. Not so here I am pleased to say.

It's a more complex musical than it seems with its varied musical styles and varied choreography. Taking in street, ballet, tap, ballroom and contemporary, the actors were put through their dance paces, Some appeared to take to them more naturally than others but the choreography was no walk in Central Park here. A brilliant job of choreography by Jessica Royce.

Matty Collins, as Nick Piazza, the young actor who had had a taste of fame through a TV commercial, (Nick that is not Matty) turned in another very confident performance. Having heard Matty sing before I know what a good voice he has so I think it may have been a touch of nerves at the start with "I Wanna Make Magic" but he absolutely nailed the rest of the show. His confidence as an actor and performer is contagious.

Poppy Cook (Serena Katz) has such a lovely voice and such control in such numbers as "Let's Play A Love Scene".

I was really pleased to see Joe Smith get a major role, and what a role in the wise-cracking over confident Joe Vegas. This really brought out the comedy styling in both Joes, and he looked like he was enjoying every second of playing his comedy persona.

Charleigh Hurst (Carmen Diaz) was just brilliant and you really felt for her when she sang "In L.A.". An emotional young actor who has so much more to give, and I can't wait to witness the giving.

In the musical the role played by Maya Thompson (Tyreece) can sometimes be a male version called Tyrone, but i absolutely loved the feisty female version of Tyrone. Tyreece has a bit of baggage stopping her from graduating but she battles through and comes out on top. And we all love a fighter don't we? You'll love Tyreece and you'll love Maya and her rap.

Grace Hodgett-Young gets to show off her amazing soulful vocals as Mabel in "Mabel's Prayer", as well as that beautiful smile she has.

Sophie Petruccio gets to play the shy dancer Iris and also shows us some lovely ballet moves also.

I've changed my mind about the part of Schlomo because he used to be a bit nerdy, a bit of a geek, but James Murray played down that image and presented the part as a caring, studious, as well as fun character. James is one of those actors who, seemingly, can do it all. he sings, dances any dance he is given and can portray various characters to great effect. I've said in the past that he was an all rounder and this role again confirms it.

Playing the rock chick in Schlomo's band is Ellie Monterosso and I reckon if she had a drum kit to go with those sticks, she'd be able to tear the place up.

Completing the music students, and the band, is Goodman "Goody" King, played by the "hands in the air shoulder-shimmying legend" Lucas Young. Always one to look out for because he just puts a smile on your face, and boy can Lucas dance! He, like James and several others in the cast, took every dance style in his stride with great fluidity and boundless energy.

The teachers were played by Khaled Thompson (Mr Scheindkopf), Sean Goodwin (Mr Myers), Catherine Cunningham (Ms Bell) and Alison Sheppard (Miss Sherman). There was some fristy moments from Ms Bell and Miss Sherman as the dance and English teachers respectively which resulted in two stand out scenes in "The Teacher's Argument" and the highlight for me "These Are My Children".

This song has always been my favourite from this musical and Alison just blew every other version I had heard out of the water.An amazing power ballad vocal dripping with passion and emotion.

A wonderfully energetic supporting cast/ensemble who i won't mention all by name as there were so many but please let me pick out two that just seemed to shout out to be mentioned.

Eva Sheppard once more for her sheer enjoyment of performing and versatility of dance, and someone who i also noticed at the Spotlight Showcase a couple of weeks back but didn't know his name, Ben Gregory is in many of the ensembles but the effort he puts into the choreography just draws you to him.

And so to the production team of Director Amanda Hall, Choreographer Jessica Royce and Musical Director Mitch "I just wave my stick and music happens" Gamble. What a trio of talent. The seven piece orchestra sounded just like the original soundtrack from 1980 and I loved it. Crisp, clear and tight. the choreography was the same.

Brilliant lighting designed by Tom Mowat and you only really notice the follow spot when it doesn't...follow that is, so a mention to Simon Carter and Peter Hodgkinson for doing a brilliant, and not easy job of highlighting the actors, as and when required.

A minimal set which complemented the musical and didn't detract form the dancing or acting, in fact i didn't even notice it that much, which is a compliment because it was naturalistic.

This musical will have you dancing on the sidewalks home and singing the title track as well as the very infectious, hands in the air, lighters out singalong "Bring On Tomorrow". It;s a wonderful story of hope and fight and underdogs who win as well as a load of great fun, laughs and dance.

"Fame the Musical" is on at The Nottingham Arts Theatre until Sunday 17 July 2016.

Friday, 8 July 2016

"Summer Holiday"
Erewash Musical Society Youth Group.
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.

After a couple of rather serious shows this week for this reviewer, i was looking, as a contrast, to seeing some out and out fun musical and "Summer Holiday" fitted that bill just right. I'd forgotten what a really fun musical this was but it didn't take this talented group to remind me of what a wonderful vehicle for fun this was.

Based on the film starring Cliff Richard about a group of bus mechanics who get a double decker bus to go on holiday with to France. Along the way they pick up a trio of lovelies on their way to a gig in Athens whose car has broken down. They also get a stowaway who isn't quite who they seem.

Our four leading men Hayden Fletcher (Don), Thomas Judson (Steve), Dylan Singfield (Cyril) and Ethan Lee (Edwin) are a brilliantly entertaining quartet and gel well. They are totally believable as a group of friends, which i imagine that they are away from the stage, and it's great fun to see them work together.

"Do Re Mi", the trio of girl singers who are rescued by our intrepid heroes are Lucy Judson (Alma), Lucy Ledger (Angie) and Chloe Hopcroft (Mimsie) are another group of well cast members , again great fun to watch and sound great together as well.

Barbara/Bobby, the runaway star is played by Sophie Robbins. i loved the way she played the Bobby side of her character with fake macho-ism.

Two actors who I thought were just brilliant were Charlie Pierson who played Barbara's agent, Jerry. A lovely natural comic flair and a really confident stage presence.

The other was Barbara's mother, Stella, played by Michelle Blair. Again a lovely comedy feel and great pompousness, and an accent that didn't waver once. As a comedy pairing they bounced off each other very well.

There were 30 other members of the cast and chorus who all did a brilliant job in their various roles, and I must single out Rebecca Groombridge as the wedding soloist for her wonderful voice. Only a minor part but she made an impression on me.

What i also must mention is the ever increasing tennis racket.guitar players who entertained us with the instrumental sections between the scenes. Great fun to see the younger members of the group having a real blast and letting rip with their imaginary guitar riffs and dance routines made famous by The Shadows.

Providing the music, and may I say they really captured the whole feel and sound of the Hank Marvin guitar sound and Brian Bennett drum sound, were the very tight band, musically directed by Martin Lewis. After performing on stage for many years, Martin debuts as MD and keeps the music swinging. Special mention to Chris Renshaw on guitar and Will Raybould on drums.

The set was great with the cinematic backdrops and the bus, Yes there was a bus on stage as well as a real scooter. The bus made a real impact because I was not expecting it.

As usual for The Duchess, the sound and lighting were of a high standard, thanks to Dave Martin, Ben Tennett and Dave Dallard.

A wonderful trip down memory lane with this fluffy, feel good musical which will have you singing and clapping along with all of the tunes you know and love. Brilliant cast, who looked like they were having a ball out there and some brilliant choreography, thanks to Carol Lawson. The pacy continuity and party atmosphere is thanks to the directing of Chris Renshaw.

You've still got a chance to catch this wonderful show on Saturday 9 July 2016 at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton, so hurry up, you wouldn't want to miss the bus now would you?

Thursday, 7 July 2016

"Les Miserables - School Edition"
Creatio Arts Youth
Derby Theatre.
I have a confession to make. I walked out of the auditorium at Derby Theatre an emotional mushy mess. I have never experienced the level of mass audience adoration and adulation than here with this show. And quite rightly so!
I've seen a few other performances of "Les Mis" and , taking nothing away from any other performance of the show, this is the best that I have seen. The whole staging of the show was just amazing and director Matt Powelland assistant director Oliver Wheddon should be incredibly proud of what they have produced here.
The innnovative revolving stage meant that scene changes were done with the greatest of ease and fluidity and the set with it's barricade was impressive along with the practicality of allowing the actors access to and from the stage in another direction apart from the wings.
One of the songs from the musical is "Stars" and this company has many stars that shine very bright.
Ryan Wiggins as Javert, the police officer hell bent on recapturing Jean Valjean was just one of the very talented vocalists, drawing a massive round of applause for "Stars". Fixated on Valjean he ended up taking his own life when he decided he was unable rto accept that it was either going to be Javert or Valjean. Wonderful characterization by Ryan.
Lizzy Ives (Fantine) produced a very mature performance as the beautiful Parisian grisette abandoned with a small child by her lover Félix Tholomyès. Valjean takes her in after she loses her job and is accused of assault, but sadly dies in Valjean's arms.Her version of "I Dreamed A Dream" was the ultimate version I've heard. Great power and emotion form one of such tender years. I was blown away.
The Thenardiers are a brilliant comedy pair. Masters of their house and as innkeepers, they abuse Cosette as a child and extract payment from Fantine for her support, until Valjean takes Cosette away. Alex Dickensonand Grace Orgill are wonderfully entertaining together and in their own right in character and I loved the attitude and sass from Grace. their song "Masters Of The House" was another great crowd pleaser and a welcome distraction to the seriousness of the storyline.
Marius falls in love with Cosette and fights on the barricades when he believes Valjean has taken her to London. Valjean saves him and Marius and Cosette marry and are both with Valjean when he dies, just after confessing to who he really was. Nic Gordon, in his second performance in Les Mis, shows a wonderful flair for the role and he also has one of those voices you could just listen to for ages.His version of "Empty Chairs" was breath taking.
Eponine, one of the Thenardier's daughters has a crush on Marius, which is unrequited. Georgie Bond, another classy vocalist, delivers a beautifully emotional performance and her death scene is done with just the right amount of passion. one of the most emotional scenes in the musical. Her version of "On My Own" was spine-tingling.
Cossette, the daughter of Fantine and ward of Valjean is played by Hope Redfern. When she hit those notes, she made the hair on your body electric.
Enjoleas, passionately committed to republican principles and the idea of progress.and leader of Les Amis de l'ABC (Friends of the ABC) in the Paris uprising is played by Paddy Stamford. It's quite hard to believe that this young man is only 17 years old as his acting and singing is mature beyond his 17 years.
Gavroche, one of the Thenardier's sons and lives on his own as a street urchin. He takes part in the barricades and is killed while collecting bullets. Gavroche is played by Bailey West and has a big future in musical theatre with his confident singing and totally believable acting skills.
I'm sure that no one who has seen this show will deny that the star of Creatio's incredible show is Zak Charlesworth (Jean Valjean). this is the third time that Zak has played this role and I have never seen Zak look so relaxed and comfortable in a role as in this one. i also have not heard Zak sing the way he did tonight. It was like listening to a born West End star. I've heard Zak sing and seen him perform many times but it was like seeing and hearing a new Zak tonight. His show stopping performance of "Bring Him Home" gave me goose bumps from that first line and the audience obviously agreed with me by giving him the longest round of applause after the song and in the final bows. Every artist is remembered for one signature song and I think this will be Zak's. His vocals in this show were nothing less that magical.
A talented ensemble completed the cast list and produced a wonderful wall of sound. talking of sound, the orchestra, under the guidance of Sam Griffiths were just wonderful. i've not heard an orchestra complement a vocal cast so beautifully balanced
Some wonderful costumes created just the right period feel for the show. Slickly stage managed by Lucy Young and Paul Wheddon and lighting designed by Tom Mowat. That man gets everywhere, but that explains why so many productions have excellent lighting!
i love this show, who doesn't, but this production has that edge to it. Whether it's the ridiculously talent laden cast, the amazing set or the wonderful music, i don't know, i just know that this musical just got me tonight. Let;s face it when you have such rousing pieces of music like "Can You Hear The People Sing", "One Day More" and "Red And Black" alongside songs like "I Dreamed A Dream", "Bring Him Home" and "Stars", you just can't help but feel some emotion. And that is what musical theatre is all about, evoking emotion.
Matt Powell and the rest of Creatio, you are all amazing people and deserve every accolade and every standing ovation because you all have that special talent of entertaining and making an old(ish) man moist around the eyes, and that does not happen very often.
"Les Miserables" is on at Derby Theatre until Friday 8 July 2016.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

"Brassed Off" by People's Theatre Company
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
"Brassed Off" is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit.and follows the lives of the Grimley miners and shows how their fight, and the closure of the mines impact on their personal lives and the continuation of the Brass Band which holds the community together.
Gloria Mullins has been sent to her home town of Grimley to determine the profitability of the pit for the management of British Coal. She also plays the flugelhorn, and is allowed to play with the local brass band after playing Concierto de Aranjuez with them. Her reason for the visit is kept a secret but comes out adter she re-ignites the flames of passion with her old flame Andy Barrow, who also plays in the band and is a miner.
The play's narrator is Shane Ormonroyd (Marcus Whybrow) from the perspective of the elder version of his eight and half year self. A lovely innocent child-like portayal of a boy and his loyalty to both parents when the closure forces the split between Phil (Jonathan Allen) and Sandra (Bushra Greaves).
Christopher Collins (Andy) and Amy Mondschein (Gloria) are the old flames and you can feel the tension and divided loyalty in Andy as he decides to choose between the miners he works alongside, and the love of his 25 year old life in Gloria. Mining and the band are all he knows and to lose both, as well as Gloria, is catastrophic to him.
Amy is back on stage after about 20 years and this is a personal role for her as she can actually play the flugelhorn and has done so since she was a young girl. Her father, Stanley also used to perform with the original Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Being able to act that convincingly and able to play an instrument of such emotion all in one body is a talent this production could not pass up on.
There are some wonderful characters in this play, not least Jim (Robert Suttle) and Harry (Gary Thorne), and their wives Vera (Marie Rogers) and Rita (Jenny Scott). Both couples providing much of the comedy in the play.
There's an awful lot of passion in the play and the leader of the band Danny (Graham Lambert) is one very passionate character. Passionate about the band and the people in his band, and Graham really draws this heartfelt passion out of the character. His speech at the end of the play when his band has played and won at the Royal Albert Hall is enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Molly Benner, Alex Williams, Jude Forsey, Molly Fitches, Barbara Benner,Mike NewboldLucy Wakefield, Tina Valambhia, Roy SmithVernon Lloydand Mark "Sev" Davies complete the cast list.
Making a gorgeous and highly emotive sound on stage are the Newstead Brass Band. There is just something about the sound of a brass band that gets the patriotic hairs standing to attention on the back of my neck and this band did just that. You can't help but well up when you hear them play "Danny Boy", "Jerusalem" and "Land Of Hope & Glory".
Directed by Chris Mercer,assisted by Mike Pearson, they just did everything right, Nothing could be bettered and they must be feeling like they are living on Cloud Nine this week., especially after the opening night's standing ovation, which was richly deserved by all actors and musicians involved.
I must also mention the set which was designed by Chris and constructed and painted by a very talented bunch of PTC regulars (you all know who you are). What seemed to be a simple sound lighting design was the responsibility of Rob Kettridge and Richard Zamorski. Simple, probably not, effective, most definitely.
There was no mention of a vocal coach for the accents but there was no wavering from the broad Yorkshire accent throughout.
Having seen the stage version of this only once before at Derby Theatre, I knew what a wonderful heart-warming, but heart wrenching story this was. This production, and at this political and economical unstable time, is well timed and makes the story even more relevant today because we can sympathise with the characters on stage and their plight.
And that's another thing, I know quite a few of the actors on stage but I didn't see the actor because they made me believe in the character they were playing. A testament to the talent which Nottingham's community theatres constantly show.
It was great to see this play so well attended and such an appreciative crowd for such a wonderful story.
"Brassed Off" is on at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 9 July 2016, but don't hang around because if you miss this one, you'll be well and truly brassed off your self.