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The Little Mermaid

3 May 2024

Calendar Girls The Musical

14 Mar 2024

Beauty & The Beast

9 Feb 2024

Fiddler on the Roof

5 Mar 2024

The Little Mermaid

11 Feb 2024


Little Shop of Horrors as presented by Tullyvin Musical Society

Little Shop of Horrors as presented by Tullyvin Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Wednesday 18th October 2023 Sullivan...

Little Shop of Horrors as presented by  Tullyvin Musical Society Date of Adjudicated Performance: Wednesday 18th October 2023 Sullivan Section - Caroline Daly Jones Storm Babet raged across the country as I made my way to Cavan on Wednesday 18th October to see Little Shop of Horrors with Tullyvin Musical Society for their 2023  Production. Tullyvin Musical Society was formed in 2015 and it is obvious from the moment  I arrived that this Company is building a great team and a lovely humble Musical Society, which enveloped me the moment I arrived at this beautifully decorated, warm, and  welcoming venue in Cavan. As you entered the foyer you were immediately transported to  The Little Shop of Horrors. The plant's greenery and lighting were very evident from the  minute you entered. Well done on this touch. I loved it.  Thank you also to the fabulous FOH team – Natalia, Jackie, Pamela and Stephen who  looked after me and boy did, I need the sandwiches and delicious cakes at half time and the  lovely pot of tea.  A gentleman arrived with a flashlight from the back of the hall in a beige trench coat and a  black hat and not sure as to his role, he began to go through the fire exits and health and  safety in such a funny and effective way. It was different, and funny despite the seriousness  of what he was doing, which of course is of vital importance to the safety of the audience  and indeed the cast. This was the first laugh of the evening such was the way he  communicated with the audience as he was walking up and down the aisle. Well done Mr  Brian Feerick who may I mention also worked with the very effective team of Stage Crew  and Builders. A Lovely touch. This was very clever.  The show opens with the set that is Muchnik's Flower Shop lit in green, with the Theatre  also lit in green with dry ice subtly floating around the theatre creating atmosphere of fog  and poverty and immediately the audience were in the bubble of what appeared as a very  sad and lonely location that is Skid Row in New York.  The Director for this show was Mr Paul Norton. I liked Mr Norton's Direction. This show had  emotion, drama, sadness, comedy, magic (the plant!) and love, and Mr Norton’s direction  brought each one of these areas to life beautifully as the story evolved. Even as an  incredibly talented gentleman onstage himself he was also there for everyone else. Lovely  Direction Mr Norton in all areas.  Choreography by Julianne McNamara and Dance Captain Astra O’Leary was creative and  although not a huge dance show, there was barely a movement out of place. Well done. The live orchestra in front of the stage- 5 in all with Musical Director, Mr David McGauran as  Conductor from the second the Overture started worked beautifully together creating a  professional and very secure sound. This was a good team. Mr McGauran also had responsibility of playing Keyboard 1, Saxophone & Clarinet. No mean feat.  The Orchestra was solid, sounded very well and from Note 1 of the show when Mr McGauran picked up his baton this Orchestra was very good and set the scene of what was to come. The set worked extremely well. I loved that the set was on sliders. Each was wheeled off and on and given the very constricted space for this Company to work with Backstage this a very clever set. Credit to Stage Designer, Stephen Hannigan, stage builders Stephen McCormack and Jason Nulty and stage crew Brian Feerick, Seamus Clarke and Sean McKiernan. Mr Mushnik's Flower shop was so pretty and all the wallpaper with pink roses was highly effective. The attention to detail for example the NORTON PARKING SPACE –  All vehicles will be crushed was subtle (!) and the OXO and Marmite posters dotted around the stage, plus the old telephones on both sides of the set. This created humour, thought  and attention to detail and I like that. These little things to me are so important. It gives you an insight into the show “family”. Lovely touches from set artist, Olivia Canavan. The Opening of Act 2 the show opened with Audrey 11 the plant much larger and in all its glory  a spectacular vision on stage, it seemed to attach itself to the walls was a vision. It was like a painting. So very effective.  Costumes were overall very good. Skid row cast were dressed in clothing befitting their  social status and I particularly liked the Drunk costuming. Make up was well done throughout and especially for Audrey - her injuries from her abusive boyfriend were very good indeed. I also loved her blonde wig – a Marilyn Monroe resemblance, I’m sure. Other lovely touches with a nod to Tara Killilea on Costumes, were the pink dusters and the mops on their feet used in the song with “Tomorrow We Will Be Open Again” it got a laugh from the audience and again a small detail thought out, but so effective in creating a lightness in the less serious moments of the show.  When we are introduced to Seymour (Colm Shalvey) I was drawn to this character’s quiet  humble demeanour. He shows little confidence in himself and as the character's part  develops so does Mr Shalvey’s confidence and performance. Mr Shalvey’s acting in the  scenes where he was dancing on the counter, when in the Dentist's Chair with Dr Orin  (Liam Wallace), feeding Audrey 2 the plant, and keeping all his secrets intact with the  disappearances of Dr Orin & Mr Mushnik were simply super. In the scene with Dr Orin  played by Liam Wallace, Mr Shalvey really came into his own. Very well done.  Audrey played by Emily Smith was played simply, humbly and with great grace. From the  moment we met her she portrayed a very gentle, vulnerable young lady in love with the  wrong kind of guy in Orin the Dentist. Ms Smith had a lovely sweet lyrical singing voice.  This young lady had a beautiful innocence about her, gentle, kind, and just a lovely quiet  lovable presence. Her solo “Somewhere That’s Green” showed off her gentle melodic and  sweet voice, you could hear a pin drop. It was gorgeous. Ms Smith is most definitely a star  for the future. Mr Mushnik was played by Mr Paul Norton and what struck me immediately was his  wonderful stage presence, timing, and empathy with his fellow actors. No stranger to stage  Mr Norton moved fluidly and with ease around the stage and looked great. His dynamic  with Seymour and Audrey was super.  This was a lovely trio that worked well together. I particularly liked “Ya Never Know” with  Mushnik, Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette and “Closed for Renovations” with Seymour,  Rushnik and Audrey. A strong singing voice and assured acting. I’m sure that Mr Norton  relished the opportunity to reprise his Jewish accent and I loved the Tevye touch. Very well  played.  As mentioned, Dr Orin the Dentist was played by Liam Wallace. His comedic timing was  very good, and he brought the necessary attributes to the stage in his performance of the  slightly mad, brutal and drug addicted Dentist. His singing as Dr Orin was good and his duet in the dentist chair with Seymour was excellent. Mr Wallace (The Dentist) also played the Audrey 2 vocals, and this was done very well. The singing as Audrey 2 was strong and assertive. A very special mention to Mr Stephen Hannigan here who was the Puppeteer of Audrey 2. Now this is no mean feat when I see inside of Audrey 2 the plant after the show backstage. The timing of the plant movement in all scenes were impeccable however it was  during the songs it was most noted as the Plants timing of mouth opening, singing, shouting speaking, and swallowing the bodies had to be perfect, or it just would not have worked.  The opening of the show we met the three ladies, Alanna Pepper (Crystal), Emma McKenna  (Ronette), Scarlett McCormack (Chiffon). These three young ladies had nice voices, worked  well together, totally in sync with one another and looked great. They had lovely smiles  and opened the show with a bang - “Little Shop of Horrors” followed immediately by the  full Company singing “Downtown Skid Row”. A lively and lovely opening .  Other roles including, Drunk played by Jason Nulty - very well done looking drunk in the  beginning of the show to practically hammered and much worse for wear at the end was  very effective. Excellent costume. Mr Bernstein, played by Eoghan McCaul, was hard to  hear in parts. I missed some of these lines. I think it was that he was speaking across the  stage towards the wings –but other than that a lovely part. Mrs Luce played by Pamela  McCormack who is also Chairperson of this Society was great. Another little laugh when  she was trying to seduce Seymour, throwing her leg boldly around his waist! Great costume  with the fur coat and diamante jewellery and looking very distinguished indeed.  Skip Snip was played by Andrea Fitzpatrick, Patrick Martin (Customer) was played by Conor  Lynch, (Roses were beautiful) - nod to Costumes again – nice touch, and the Prologue Voice  very concise and very clear – Mr Jason Nulty. Also, there is no such thing as a small part – little things like there was a pit chorus of 5 ladies with the headdresses in Ivy also in green  and added to the overall sound but were also inclusive not separate. Nice touch.  The chorus produced a lovely sound onstage. Assured voices, great harmonies and in  ensemble scenes they were integral and highly effective. The Finale of the show “Don’t feed  The Plants” brought the whole Cast onstage, with mention to the men adorning the huge  red petal head dresses which were very effective, with the ladies dressed very decoratively  in what was a very eye-catching Finale to Act 2. One observation of my own, is that I really would like to have heard the full cast sing one  more big number to close, it occurred to me that maybe the Finale was left to the end and  the Society ran out of time to rehearse bows or do an Encore or maybe indeed this was the  absolute call of the Creative team, however just in my own opinion, an Encore of “Suddenly  Seymour” – a showstopper of this show or “Somewhere that’s Green “would have been  lovely to finish off a truly lovely evening and I just felt more could have been done with this  to end the show on a song rather than a cast bow and exit. There are some young members  in the chorus, and I hope that they all remain and develop as there is indeed a lot of talent  on display.  Keep singing, keep dancing and keep going. You are a wonderful group of very talented  people. There is a lovely sense of community and camaraderie in this lovely group. It was a  privilege to be in the audience tonight, thank you for making me feel so welcome. It has a  lovely, homely feel to it with the welcome from Pamela McCormack as Chairperson and her  team to match. I wish you all the very best for your future shows and build on what you  have achieved as a group, because it is worth it.  Well done and thank you again for the most gracious and warmest of welcomes to The  Tullyvin Community Centre, Congratulations.  Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator   Some photos kindly shared by the society to accompany the review: Photographer credit: Seamus Smith

Evita as presented by Ulster Operatic Company

EVITA as presented by Ulster Operatic Company Date of Performance Adjudicated: Friday 22nd September, 2023 My love of the Grand Opera...

EVITA  as presented by Ulster Operatic Company Date of Performance Adjudicated:  Friday 22nd September, 2023 My love of the Grand Opera House, Belfast goes back some 52 years to when I first saw my  father perform there in My Fair Lady as Col Pickering. A year later, I played Kurt on that stage in The Sound of Music, and for me, at that time, I know I must have felt as overwhelmed as many of the Ulster Operatic’s current young members felt taking to that  immense stage for the first time. It really is an awesome venue, and it demands a high standard of theatrical presentation. I’m delighted to report that is exactly what was provided by the very talented cast and production team of this year’s UOC show, Evita. This production had the tidiness, efficiency and discipline that one associates with Director,  Tony Finnegan, particularly the emphasis on staying in character, being visually well-turned out, and the natural and inclusive use of children in the crowd scenes.  Visually, the set for the show was a mix of well employed drapes and a triple balcony  structure that looked elegant, luxurious and aesthetically pleasing, even if it didn’t,  functionally, give much variety of location to the action. The main balcony was very well used throughout, while perhaps the side balconies needed to be slightly better lit. Magaldi’s  opening solo drifted in and out of shadow. The dressing of the stage was excellent, with very  good and well-sourced props and furniture, including a superb bed that may have come  straight from a palace. In keeping with the stage dressing, the costumes were always  appropriate and well-selected, from elegant day wear to military uniforms, and particularly,  given her passion for fashion, Eva Perón was always perfectly attired.  Under the very capable Musical Direction of Wilson Shields, the vocal quality of the show  was exceptionally good, with both chorus and principals thoroughly rehearsed and disciplined  in the execution of their music. There was also a most pleasing accompaniment throughout  from a finely tuned 8-piece orchestra. Tempi were always accurate and with the exception of  a few occasions when the musicians, particularly the keyboards, slightly overwhelmed some  solo voices, the quality of the music was excellent.  It was the balance between well-orchestrated crowd control and top-notch choreography that  impressed most about choreographer, Ann Marie Morgan’s contribution to the show. It was  just perfect. The right opportunities were taken to showcase the casts’ dancing abilities, but  we also saw them engaged in disciplined acting and movement at the appropriate times,  contributing to the ambiance of their scenes without overwhelming the action with their  presence. Buenos Aires and The Money Kept Rolling In were the terpsichorean high points of the night. The “fighting” sequence for Art of the Possible was unexpected, but it was original and very tidily executed. From their presence, pre-curtain, as cinema-goers, to their solemnity during the final scenes,  an excellent Chorus were the very backbone of this production, appropriate in their manner, and in executing their dance movements with accuracy and efficiency. They were disciplined,  enthusiastic, energetic, always in character and extremely vocally capable and secure. There were positives and negatives in Director Tony Finnegan’s decision to have Eva Duarte and Eva Peron played by different actresses. He was blessed to have two extremely accomplished actresses and singers to fill the roles, and what worked beautifully were the moments when the two appeared together in some cleverly designed cross-overs from one to the other. But if I’m honest, the doubling of the role diminished the depth of the character for me. It’s the journey from the young, striving Duarte to the manipulative diva of Peron that is the focus of the story, and it’s the capturing of that journey that makes Eva such a compelling and demanding role. Even with the creative and artistically appealing paralleling of the two actresses, I felt that the development of the individual character was weakened by being  shared. That being said, I have no question marks whatsoever about the talent and the  contribution made by the two performers.  Karen Hawthorn, as Eva Perón, played her role with unbridled self-assurance and a  deliciously “soy lo mas” narcissism. Very much capturing the true essence of Eva’s  personality, her self-righteousness went hand in hand with her forthright repudiation of high  society standards, creating a character who was engagingly likeable, yet somewhat  loathsome. As an audience, we saw her as Everyman saw her, flaws and all. This really was  an intense and well-measured performance, bolstered by a highly commendable vocal  performance. My only regret was that I wanted to see her play the role from start to finish,  and despite her claim in the programme that she couldn’t have done it alone, her  performance, and her abundant talent, suggested otherwise. Caroline McMichael, as Eva Duarte, gave a truly delightful performance of the coquettish,  impetuous younger Eva, establishing the character as driven and dedicated to her goal.  Caroline had strong vocal quality, and will, doubtless, relish taking on the full role in the  future. Buenos Aires was extremely well-delivered. She and Karen played their cross-over  scenes very well, transitioning from the younger to the older. In the role of Everyman, David McCrossan should have captured the quintessential paradox  of an Argentina that both loved and loathed Eva Peron, but perhaps his loathing of her  narcissism outweighed the love for her that was abundant from so many of the working  classes. He seemed to sneer a lot at her sincerity, and even in her demise, he showed little  affection. I’m not saying that his character was wrong, but his interpretation, for me, made  “Everyman” something of a misnomer. That said, he performed with conviction of character,  a rock solid and commanding stage presence and an astoundingly strong and secure vocal  interpretation.  Matthew Watson, as Juan Perón, cut a fine figure on the stage, if perhaps a little too willingly  upstaged by the strength of his seductress and eventual wife. This was a more-gentle  interpretation of his character than usual, but it made him rather likeable, and in terms of  vocal accomplishment, it was rock solid. I felt much sincerity in his cry of despair when Evita  eventually died. Very nicely played. Sean Harkin gave a sturdy and pleasing rendition of On This Night of A Thousand Stars in the role of Magaldi, and displayed righteous indignation at being so easily dismissed by Evita. Sean, more at home in comedic roles, kept good control of his character, never  allowing it to slip into caricature. He also showed skill in his movement. In the thankless role of the Mistress, a delightfully talented Sofia Delgado looked great, displayed suitable emotion and, most importantly, delivered Another Suitcase in Another Hall with a beautiful tone and quality. The young lady, uncredited in the programme, who sang the Santa Evita solo, did so with  assurance and a most pleasant tone. Well done, young lady. There was a plethora of smaller  roles, generals, the Duarte family, lovers, etc., all of whom were well-realized. Lighting throughout the show was atmospheric and made good use of back and side lights  and colours appropriate to each scene. The side balconies were slightly under-lit, but  generally, the standard of lighting contributed to the look and atmosphere of the show.  Principals, whether stationary or in motion, were consistently and effectively well highlighted. The sound quality was generally very good, with the exception of those few  moments when the band slightly overwhelmed individual vocalists. The sound effects and  the use of the cinema screen and footage were excellent. Scene changes, under the guidance of Stage Manager, Andy McKnight, were slick and efficient. Congratulations to the props, the wardrobe and hair and make-up teams for ensuring that the high standard of presentation  was consistent throughout the show. It delights me when I hear, as I so often do, members of the audience exclaim, “You wouldn’t  see better than that in the West End”, and then it annoys me in equal measure when they say,  “They aren’t even a professional company!” If only they knew how professional in talent,  attitude, dedication and commitment every member of the ‘amateur’ movement, from  production staff to performers and providers, actually are, they would be enlightened. And  with the Ulster Operatic Company’s Evita, my belief in AIMS and its dedicated membership  continues to flourish. Congratulations to all concerned on a wonderful evening of high quality entertainment. Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator. Some photos kindly shared by the society to accompany the review: Photos attributed to: Aaron Butler

RENT as presented by Fermanagh Musical Theatre

RENT as presented by Fermanagh Musical Theatre Date of Adjudicated Performance: 18th August, 2023. Sullivan Section - Caroline Daly Jones...

RENT  as presented by  Fermanagh Musical Theatre Date of Adjudicated Performance: 18th August, 2023. Sullivan Section - Caroline Daly Jones Despite Storm Betty creating havoc in the evening when I visited the stunning Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen, it certainly did not discourage the full house that attended on the Friday night for Fermanagh’s Musical Society production of RENT. RENT is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. It is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme. Rent tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side of New York under the shadow of HIV/AIDS The Director - Ryan Moohan brought the production together very well. Directing a show like Rent in certain areas on the island of Ireland can be daunting and indeed challenging but Mr Moohan succeeded very well. This production had some really good moments - e.g. Angel’s Coffin appearing from the pit was very cleverly done and it created a lovely and yet highly charged emotional scene for Angel’s funeral.  A really lovely touch utilising the movable pit area to perfection. This was teamwork at its best. It was beautiful and very emotional and it was obvious that every person on stage here owned their part and their love for Angel and that carried through to your audience. I did not want this scene to end such was the effect it had on me and the rest of the audience 
 The set was simple in design with a sofa, table, and a guitar indicating the apartment. The lit Christmas tree above the orchestra was a lovely touch and worked very well. There was an upper level to the set also, where some scenes were played. I would like to have seen maybe a few loft style New York City large windows as a backdrop to emphasise the location however this is a small observation. The fairy lights draped all over the stage including the orchestra worked extremely well. Very simply done, and most effective. I really liked this touch. 
 Lighting was in most part good and the full ensemble numbers were very well lit. From an audience point of view I will add that for the Chorus Ensembles when they sang in a group down stage left, it was difficult for some of the audience in the side wings of the auditorium to see all of what was going on stage when they were singing in the few ensemble numbers. However this is just a tiny glitch and did not affect the overall performances of anyone on stage. 
 Moya Sweeneys Musical Direction was superb. The band was small but made a gorgeous sound, It was surprising to see the band actually occupy part of the stage rather than being in the pit - it was very clever and effective in many scenes - the counter side of this decision is that a sizeable part of the stage then becomes occupied permanently and unusable for the actual production. However on other hand by having the band on stage it allowed Angels coffin to arrive up from the pit on levers for the funeral and with it the super musical direction of “Goodbye Love”.  The band in this particular scene were very emphatic of the performers, everyone was on cue and in sync and it was a beautiful moment and so very well executed by every single person involved. A moment in time. Beautiful. Ms Sweeney was also the Chorus Mistress, and the ensemble had a strong presence and sound in all the ensemble numbers. Great work for a relatively small cast. It definitely was a case of less is more. And it worked. Choreography by Shauneen Hamilton and Aine Leonard was effective. Well done ladies. As this is not a huge Choreography show what we did see was done very well. “Tango Maureen” was excellent. Dance routines were energetic as well as well as together in unison. 
 All of the above was well managed by Meaghan Flanagan and her team. It was lovely to be brought backstage to meet everyone and in particular to see how this set was managed and what were the elements involved in staging this show. This theatre does not have a lot of room backstage, and when I saw how everything was so professionally done I really do applaud the stage management team for their effortless and seamless fluid like production of this show from behind the scenes. This show had a strong front line and cast, all playing their parts really well in bringing us the story behind Rent. The lead role of Mark Cohen, was played by Odhran Sweeney, and from the outset I liked his portrayal of the part. It was a solid performance and unwavering in maintaining the links between all the characters. He was costumed very well befitting of the nerdy characteristic and poor student / post student look. He had a soft singing voice and his performance in ‘Tango Maureen’ was particularly good. Mr Sweeney had great chemistry with his roommate. Roger – was played by Harry Parkinson. Living in America was sung exceptionally well. Roger Davis, rarely if ever leaves the apartment, combatting recovery from drugs and battling the HIV Disease. Mr Parkinson's understated but effective portrayal reflected this very well throughout. A highlight of Mr Parkinson’s singing for me was’ Light my Candle’ and especially ‘ One Song Glory ', two powerfully sung pieces that set the tone for the rest of the evening.  Huge potential here with this actor and singer who will only get more assured with experience. Very well done. Mimi Marquez played by Niamh Carney was cast well as a blonde bombshell version of Mimi. Her addictions and her illness came across very well and very strongly. “Light My Candle” was sung beautifully. This young lady has a wonderful stage presence and I loved her love of life even when she was so visibly ill.  Ms Carney had a strong assured voice. Her make-up on her apparent “death bed” scene was particularly well done even to those like me in the audience further back, but it was very apparent by the make-up that she was very unwell. This was brilliantly portrayed. The very important and much loved part of Tom Collins was played by Nadia Stenson. This was a real surprise to me, because the part is a male leading role especially musically written for a baritone.  Ms Stenson tackled this role bravely and her singing and acting were well assured. Ms Stenson has a beautiful singing voice and her acting alongside Angel was good. ‘Sante Fe’ and' I'll cover you ' were performed and sung extremely well. The funeral of Angel was sung so beautifully you could hear a pin drop. I must say I did find it very difficult as a fan of Rent to adjust to a woman playing the part of Tom Collins but well done Ms Stenson on your performance. Collins' love interest of course is Angel Dumont Schunard. This part was played by Rhys Hopkins. Generally, throughout the show, Angel, presents feminine and goes by she, although she describes herself as a boy at one point in the show.  The other characters use a mix of he and she throughout the musical.  Rhys Hopkins played this part exceptionally well. He looked great in costume (turquoise leather jacket was fabulous), and he performed really well in dance routines both alone and with the ensemble. ‘Today 4 U’ , which is Angels proper introduction to the show, was met with huge cheers from the audience and this performance did not disappoint. I just love this character and always think that with the right actor it can be a showstopper. Mr Hopkins is certainly the actor that could achieve this level playing Angel. I loved this performance from Mr Hopkins. Well done. Niall Kerr played the role of Benjamin Coffin III who is Mimi’s ex. He is the much maligned landlord who is looking for the rent. Mr Kerr played the part well, a soft singing voice and subtle acting with principal parts. There was a lovely caring side to the way Mr Kerr played the part and I felt that the audience took to him very quickly. He sang ‘You’ll See’ melodically and his performance will only get even better and more assured with experience. The two final characters are in an on / off relationship throughout, namely Maureen and Joanne. Joanne was played by Aideen McNamara. Aideen has a beautiful tone to her voice and her duets with Maureen were particularly good. Especially “Take Me or Leave Me” and the duet with Mark - “Tango Maureen” was excellent. Ms McNamara played this part very well; her chemistry with Maureen (Clodagh Sweeney) was very obviously there and you can tell it was a part she really enjoyed playing. Well done Ms McNamara. A polished performance indeed. Maureen was played by Clodagh Sweeney. I have to say that from the moment we were introduced to Maureen late in Act 1, the show suddenly hit a new gear. Ms Sweeney was simply fantastic in this role. Her “Over the Moon” was a fabulous piece of theatre. She owned that stage and had the audience in the palm of her hand. A great Actor and singer I felt the whole show stepped up a number of levels once Ms Sweeney arrived on stage. Her costumes were great, sexy / sassy and you knew immediately that this was the “Diva” in motion. Ms Sweeney take a bow. Bravo. You were my highlight of the show. Other roles that were played very well by the ensemble cast were the parents and the telephone message scenes. I thought they sang / verbalised this superbly, and created great timing and humour. Well done. I have to mention those members of the ensemble who played the parents as there were some beautiful voices and great timing to some of these roles – not easy to do , but very well done. The Chorus/ensemble scenes were well done and their contribution in supporting the principal cast was so important. The chorus singing was very good and even though to my view, they couldn’t see the M.D , they were all in unison and sounded great in the theatre. As I’ve mentioned with some individual parts , costuming and make up was good . I would have changed Mimi’s costume a bit more in the second act but apart from this very well done. When I arrived at the theatre the foyer was buzzing with people eagerly anticipating this fabulous musical and I was greeted warmly by the two lovely ladies in the box office and brought to a table in the theatre bar. Within minutes I was introduced to the two Aine’s - Leonard (Choreographer) and Simpson (Stage Manager) and both of them made me feel so welcome despite both of them having responsibility for two very important cogs of the performance wheel which was starting very shortly. For any society to put on a show like Rent, is a brave move, and I am sure that all the cast, crew and production team are so glad they had full houses and huge positive audience reaction. I am sure the team with Ryan at the helm, are so glad that they took the plunge and made their dream a reality. A great production executed beautifully. 
 Caroline Daly Jones - Sullivan Adjudicator Some photos kindly shared by the society to accompany the review:

Kinky Boots as presented by Ballywillan Drama Group

Gilbert Section Kinky Boots as presented by Ballywillan Drama Group Date of Performance Adjudicated: Friday 2nd June, 2023 It is the...

Gilbert Section Kinky Boots  as presented by Ballywillan Drama Group Date of Performance Adjudicated:  Friday 2nd June, 2023 It is the many layers of Kinky Boots that make it such a compelling piece of musical theatre. On the aesthetic level, it has the glamour and glitz of a Ru Paul Drag Show and a comedic subtext to match La Cage Aux Folles, while at its heart is an emotional drama involving fraught parental relationships, searches for identity, and embracing individuality and diversity. Throw in a smattering of excellent musical numbers, opportunities for creative choreography and an array of colourful and varied characters, and the recipe adds up to a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking theatrical adventure. Director, Brian Logan, did a good job on realizing the dramatic content of the script, effectively depicting the childhoods of Simon and Charlie, and giving good expression to the ghosts of the past that haunted and stymied the growth of both characters in later life. His set for the show was a strong combination of a solid industrial frame, with appropriate props and furniture to enhance it, and good use of projections to embellish both the factory settings and the showbiz world of Lola and her Angels. Scene changes were well managed by David Wray and his team, augmented by the efficient use of cast members to place props.  There was good work in the lighting design to create atmosphere, and with the exception of a few late follow-spot cues, the show was visually well presented. There were some problems with the sound quality, balancing between the strength of the band and the vocalists, and on a few occasions, there were lines missed through late cueing of radio-mics, but it was not so bad as to make a very negative impact on the production. It was more of a niggling irritation. Comedy was very well-realized throughout the show. There was a heavy-handedness to the musical accompaniment to the show, albeit provided by a very talented band of musicians, under the direction of Andrew Robinson. With a tendency towards in-song crescendos, principals were, on occasion, required to shout to be heard, which slightly impaired the quality of the vocals. Regardless of that, there was strong evidence of very well-rehearsed harmonies and good diction, not just from the principals, but also from a well-disciplined and extremely effective chorus. Whether on-stage or singing in the wings, they made a very pleasing sound, but it was their acting and reacting to the action of the story that was particularly impressive. Choreographer, Laura Fisher, did a beautiful job on the energy filled full chorus numbers, with the Act One and the Act Two finales being very outstanding. By contrast, the numbers featuring Lola and her Angels were begging to be more ambitious and more flamboyant. Dancing in high heels is no walk in the park, but there was too much reliance on poses and hand gestures, some of which were not really that attractive. Nevertheless, in all their contributions, both the Angels and the chorus gave great energy and commitment to all they were asked to do. In the very demanding role of Lola/Simon, Alan McClarty was brimming with energy and expression, and also backed up his acting with very secure vocals. He was particularly good in relating his back-story as Simon, displaying good sincerity in his emotions. There were times when there was an awkwardness about his interpretation of Lola, stemming mostly from constrained movement, which didn’t always seem natural, but he was extremely likeable in the role and never lacked commitment to the character. Adam Goudy, similarly, displayed good sincerity in his acting, and delivered a believable conflict of emotions in the role of Charlie Price. There was a tendency for his singing to be a bit shouted, competing with the strength of the band, despite his good vocal ability, but this was a reliable and competently realized role.  Chloe Freeman-Wallace, as Lauren, gave the performance of the show. At all times, relaxed and confident in her character, her delivery of her lines and the physical and visual presentation of her comedy were hilarious and outstanding. Vocally secure in her music, this really was a top-drawer characterization. As Charlie’s girlfriend, Nicola, Lindsay Nelson was perfectly cast, and gave a delightful performance, being sincere in her affection yet stubborn enough to miss what really mattered to Charlie. She also displayed good vocal quality. Stevie Black made a very good impression as the homophobic misogynist, Don, while also convincingly showing his softer side and a willingness to be more accepting of diversity as the story progressed. He was a strong character with good attitude throughout. Jim Everett gave a wonderful, old-school performance of the dedicated factory manager, George, stoic in his dedication to the company, yet flexible enough to embrace change. A very nicely portrayed character. Úna Culkin, as Trish, was similarly stoic and loyal to the company, and rightly aggrieved by her rough treatment at the hands of Charlie, but warm in her forgiveness. A lovely performance. Equally secure and convincing performances were given by Vicky Hogg as Pat and Clare Campbell as Marge. Patrick Connor gave a good account of himself in the role of Harry, alongside Tom Waddell as the delivery man. Tom also made an impression as the decidedly unpleasant father of Simon. Harry Stinson was a believable and caring father figure as Mr. Price, while Steven Millar was a convincing and officious Richard Bailey. Lesley Reynolds gave an amusing cameo performance as the Milan Fashion Show Stage Manager. Grant O’Neill, Aaron Kennedy, Jack Graham, Sam Ingamells, Adam Campbell and Adam Mullan impressed greatly as Lola’s Angels, full of swagger and charisma. With good costumes and hairstyles and good attitude, each looked completely at home in their drag personas, and I only wished that they had been given more challenging and dynamic routines to highlight their abilities. It was a pleasure to meet and have a good laugh with them after the show. The children who played Young Charlie and Young Lola also made the most worthy and impressive contribution to the show. As well as a nicely painted set, incorporating well-created small framed stained glass, and good industrial girders and machinery, the look of the production was enhanced by good costumes, particularly, but not exclusively, on Lola and the Angels. The many pairs of boots for the finale were fabulous and well-worn. The factory workers looked just right in their overalls, and the principals were all suitably and effectively attired. The standard of the wigs and the make-up was very high, especially the fabulous work done on Lola and those Angels. The show was visually very appealing. This is not an easy show to get just right, but Ballywillan should be commended for taking on such a challenging show and presenting it to a standard that sent the audience home well satisfied. It was such a pleasure to get my new season as adjudicator off to such an enjoyable start, in the company of so much talent. Sincere thanks to all. Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator. Some additional photos shared by the society:
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