Anyone who knows me knows that dancing and musical theatre are integral parts of my DNA. I also love blogging, so I thought I might try to combine these interests a little; to carve out a little niche here to share the enjoyment of the shows I have the pleasure in attending. These will be honest and supportive reviews from me, with no mean-spirited utterances! The years may have made a picky attendee of me but I am also very easily entertained, and I always appreciate the massive efforts that Musical Societies put into their productions.
February to April/May is one of the amateur musical seasons here - and I use the term 'amateur' very loosely - so I'll hopefully be a little busy being entertained in the coming weeks! I particularly appreciate amateur groups who bring whole communities of like-minded people together, and I consider them equally as important as sporting groups for the team spirit and self-esteem virtues they promote.
A little late I know but here's what entertained me in February:
Performed by a young, vibrant and energetic university student cast. This group doesn't have the generational mix that some other musical societies have. Instead they have an infinitely self-renewing group of talented young people to perform on stage, backstage, in the orchestra AND to direct and choreograph!
Although I really enjoyed Conor O'Rourke's (Professor Callaghan) and Kevin Bates' (Emmett Forrest's) performances, over-all the female leads were stronger in this production. Ciara Lyons who played Elle Woods was perfect for the role. She was beautiful, clever, witty, ditzy and very pink; blonde and highly-pitched. In other words, everything Elle Woods should be! Perfection. Gill Lambert who played Paulette the hairdresser was also wonderful in her role and I loved her singing voice. And that 'Mr UPS Guy' absolutely deserves a special mention too ........ Swoon ;)
I very much loved the Greek chorus in this show and how they were directed. And I particularly adored the giggly, girly trio who were perfectly annoying in their 'TOTT' ('totally over the top') and very loud 'ohmiGOD'-ness!
The choreography was fresh and full of high energy hip-hop style moves. I loved it! And it would be the interval before I would learn that the son of a dancing friend was also on stage.... which definitely made it all the better!
I thought the singing was great but I have to say that some of this score seemed quite difficult, both to play and to sing I thought? However this was my first time to see this stage show and I do feel that in this regard this production did a good job.
Over-all the costumes were very good and suited this youthful cast.
Sets were really good and quite innovative and, apart from one noisy one, the transitions were very smooth.
Lighting was good but had it's 'off' moments on the night we attended.
The only problem I had with sound was that the band were far too loud. In fact the music drowned some soloists at times and at one stage a whole section of dialogue was lost, which was such a pity.
UCD MS hire in a very impressive stage for their productions. It always looks amazing. I do wonder though if the stage could be set a little higher? It was difficult to see the actors whenever they sat down. Or perhaps that was just lil 'ole me!
My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed this production and we came away smiling. Always a good sign!
Malahide Musical Society: 'HOT MIKADO'
This is very much a community based Musical Society, with a mixed-age cast that adds a different dimension, and was lovely to see. I was also very enthralled by the sense of community that permeated this local school hall, where this show was staged.
Stage-size and facilitating the orchestra are always a challenge when staging a show in school/parish halls. And in this regard I thought that Malahide MS managed this issue very capably. They made clever use of the full stage by incorporating the apron into their set; which consisted of nicely placed Japanese-style screen-dividers, a stepped-up dais centre-stage and no house curtain. The wonderful lighting made this all work beautifully, I thought.
There were very strong leads in this show and I particularly enjoyed Kirsten Smith as Yum Yum, Eoghan Fingleton as Nanki Poo, Paraic Kelly as the all-singing-and-dancing Mikado and Maggs Jacobs as Katisha. Oh my, what a voice that Katisha had! If I was being picky I would say that the age difference between Yum Yum and Katisha should have been more pronounced. But I won't, I enjoyed their performances too much!
The choreography was really good and very much suited the music. And it was an absolute delight for us dancing friends in attendance that night to see one of our own up there, tapping away!
Costumes were mostly good here too. I loved the guys colourful suits but thought at times the colours could have been separated more?
Over-all this was a thoroughly enjoyable show, warranting lots of whoops and hollers from us ole follies in the audience!
Take your well deserved bow and standing ovation too Malahide MS!
Teachers' Musical Society: 42nd STREET
Well, this show certainly grabbed us from the get-go! Wonderfully performed by this group of mostly - but not exclusively - teachers in the O'Reilly Hall, Belvedere College. A 'proper' theatre. By now our aforementioned 'follies' group had extended to a bubbly bevvy of show gals, all out for the night to watch a show that is very nostalgic to us all!
Personally speaking I was wowed from the moment the curtain half-raised, staying there a while to reveal a multitude of legs and their tap-'dancing fee-eet.....'. That put a smile on my face that remained in place right until the final curtain.
Oh, I truly loved this show! The sets, the lights, the band and the wonderful cast. It was practically a professional production and would do extraordinarily well in any professional theatre, anywhere.
The leads were all fantastic with special mention to Bronwyn Andrews who was wonderful as Peggy Sawyer. Perfect. Conor Kilduff as Julian Marsh and Maggie Jones as Kathy Kelly also get special mentions from me. I must also mention here two performers - son and daughter to two dancing friends of ours - who's performances were also fantastic: Stephen Ryan as Andy and Aishling O'Callaghan as Anytime Annie. Well done all!
Timing, delivery and direction were truly delightful. The Director of this production Pat McElwain - who is well known on the circuit and also happens to be a school principal in his 'spare time' - definitely deserves a mention here too!
The choreography was great, in sync and very much suited the era. The tap steps were of moderate difficulty I felt, and in that relative simplicity lay wonderful and powerful synchronicity from all dancers. We definitely thought the tap steps were do-able - in our heads we're still tap-dancers you see - and we proved this point (or tried to!) by 'time-stepping' and 'buffalo-winging' along in our seats! But I'm sure we may have found things a lot more difficult in reality!
There were also some fabulous 'staging' moments sprinkled throughout this production, adding extra layers of wow factor as the show progressed.
There was quite an array of costumes throughout this production with many people of shapes and sizes to be adorned. Not an easy task so well done Andrew Reddy! The colour and variety of costumes definitely added to this show.
The band, musical direction and singing deserve a special mention too.
We found this show to be hugely entertaining and it brought us on a happy trip down a dancing memory lane :)
So that's it, my delightful Musical Theatre Treats for February,
The fact that two of these shows had dancer friends' offspring on board did make me feel a little old.
But the one that had one of our very own up there tap-dancing away gave me much hope.
And many 'ideas' that I really shouldn't be having!!
I'll bring you more from March if I can, which has already been kick-started with one very special - to me anyway - production.
'Mwah' for now dahlings......