MANOR MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN HALL APRIL 2017
IT was icy cold with snow and rain falling as the opening night audience arrived for this classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, but they went home feeling a warm glow after a hugely entertaining show. The heat of the South Pacific World War II story is reflected in some red hot scenes featuring a fine cast whose enthusiasm is impressive as they belt out the big numbers – and there are plenty of them. This long established company - their first show was way back in 1953 – is fortunate to have such fine soloists and a powerful chorus, while for this musical a new production team is in place and clearly making an impact. Premiered on Broadway in 1949 where it ran for 1,921 performances, South Pacific became a hit film in 1958, and it loses none of its magic on the amateur stage.
From the moment leading man Barry Styles sings the heart-warming Some Enchanted Evening, you know you are n for a treat, and the skill in which the somewhat tight stage at the town hall becomes a war zone is a considerable achievement. Styles is superb as the wealthy French planter, Emile de Becque, who, because of a serious personal problem in his native land, has settled on a South Pacific island, and when he falls in love with US Navy nurse, Ensign Nelly Forbush another snag arises.
Beth Hooper sparkles in the role of the attractive young nurse, at first charmed by de Becque then backing off after discovering that he has three children by his late wife, a Polynesian woman. Nellie's upbringing in Little Rock, Arkansas reveals Deep South prejudices which threaten to scupper the budding romance, but the Frenchman becomes a heroic figure after helping the Americans in a crucial engagement with the Japanese.
Despite the background of war, the story is bursting with humor as well as good music, and there is a memorable performance from Susan Bushby as Bloody Mary, the local woman who enjoys doing business with the troops and fancies a match between her daughter, Liat (Lucy Burbridge), and the brave officer, Lt Joe Cable (Andy Hooper)).
There is fine comedy from Paul Wozniak, playing the crafty Luther Billis, while Lynne Ridge and Richard Parry are convincing as the senior officers Captain Brackett and Commander Harbison
Rip-roaring songs like Bloody Mary, There is Nothing Like a Dame and I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair provide an entertaining contrast with the romantic numbers I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy , Happy Talk and Younger Than Springtime.
I had a slight doubt concerning the orchestra during the noisy overture, but they settled down to make a significant contribution to what is, as the song says….. some enchanted evening.
South Pacific is produced and directed by Pam and James Garrngton, with Peter Bushby’s musical direction and Janine Henderson’s choreography. To 29.04.17 Paul Marston ****Revue for Behind the Arras website
~MANOR MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY~ SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN HALL APRIL 2016
THIS is the company’s first production under their new name, replacing ‘operatic society’ in the title to keep up to date with current trends. What hasn't changed is the high quality on stage, and the audience reaction to early performances of this famous Western musical will be a huge boost after last year’s show had to be cancelled. The story of gun-toting Calamity Jane, who drives the Deadwood Stage, dresses like a man and is well-meaning but prone to exaggeration, is impressively told by a cast oozing talent and enthusiasm. It helps if you have outstanding leads, and Barbara Hayward and Barry Styles certainly excel as ‘Calam’ and Wild Bill Hickock who, despite their occasional upsets, eventually find true love. Barbara, playing the girl who is careless with the truth, delivers just the right blend of toughness and vulnerability to the role, while Styles is well cast as Hickock, his rich voice perfect for ‘Higher Than a Hawk’, in the second act. Beth Willis and Andy Hooper – who met in the production of Oklahoma in 2014 – impress as saloon singer Katie Brown and cavalry officer Lt Danny Gilmartin, the other love interest in the show which is packed with good music, bright colour and humour. One of several high spots comes when the ensemble sing the moving Black Hills of Dakota. Calamity Jane is produced by Susan Bushby and Barbara Hayward, with Maggie Moriarty’s choreography and Ian Hayward’s musical direction.
VERDICT: ***** PAUL MARSTON
*PRESS REVIEW* OPENING NIGHT TUESDAY 29TH APRIL 2014
SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN HALL
BEFORE this rousing Rodgers & Hammerstein musical hit the stage the company had to send out an urgent appeal for cowboy boots, but they are certainly putting their heart and soul into a sparkling show. If any of the footwear was borrowed it must be a good fit judging by the confidence displayed by the cast as they dance and sing their way through a string of memorable songs. In this tale of rivalry between cowboys and farmers, love stories, humour and a touch of menace, Barry Styles and Barbara Hayward are the perfect match in the lead roles of Curly and Laurey who are smitten with each other but too stubborn to admit it.
In the big numbers like People Will Say We’re in Love and The Surrey with the Fringe on top, the pair are excellent, and the whole company deliver a powerful finale with Oklahoma! Styles also impresses in his clashes with the smouldering hired hand Jud Fry, convincingly played by Paul Roberts, and there are lovely performances from Andy Hooper as Will Parker, Beth Willis (Ado Annie, the girl who can’t say no) and neatly timed humour from Lynne Ridge (Ali Hakim, the peddler with a roaming eye). Good contributions, too, from Susan Bushby (Aunt Eller) and Eric Jones (Ike) in a show produced and directed by Nick Hardy with Ian Hayward’s excellent musical direction and Maggie Moriarty’s choreography.
PRESS RELEASE (2013)
SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN HALL
EVERY now and again an amateur company manages to breathe new life into one of the Gilbert & Sullivan classics, and the MOS have done just that. It's the fourth time they have staged The Mikado in their 60-year history, and it proved a triumph for attention to detail plus the ability to add a few neat twists of their own here and there.
The leads were outstanding, the chorus work excellent and colorful costumes helped create the perfect atmosphere for the story of life, love and the possible threat of execution in old Japan.
Assistant producer Barbara Hayward sang superbly in the role of Yum-Yum, desperate to avoid a marriage to newly promoted Lord High executioner, Ko-Ko, and formed the ideal partnership with show producer Nick Hardy, playing wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo (really the Mikado's son in disguise). Brian Trott sparkled as the reluctant executioner, delivering his little list of people who never would be missed, in some style, while Beth Willis was a delight as Pitti-Sing, and other inspired contributions came from Susan Bushby (Katisha), Peter Bushby (Pooh-Bah) and Paul Wozniak (The Mikado).
And how the audience loved the scene with a cheeky pink puppet bird when Ko-Ko sang 'Tit-Willow'.
Adding considerably to a fine show was the performance of the orchestra, directed by Ian Hayward.
VERDICT: * * * *
Manor's 2013 production of ''The Mikado'' nomination certificate was presented at the NODA awards ceremony in a packed Sutton Town Hall on Sunday 6 th April. Representing the Society were Roger and Paula Norris Chairman and Wardrobe Mistress respectively, Ian Hayward MD, Christine Parkes Secretary and Eric Jones Publicity.
We unfortunately lost out to another society with their Oklahoma!, ironically we are performing ourselves this year so fingers crossed for the 2015 awards.
SAMPLE OF ARTWORK FOR SHOW PROGRAMMES ALL DESIGNS BY MANOR MEMBER SUSAN BUSHBY ALSO SHOW PHOTOS