The King & I

The Hound Of The Baskervilles

The Tamaritans, 24th – 27th October, The Red House Theatre

What better place to perform The Hound Of The Baskervilles than at a Plymouth Theatre? Set on Dartmoor, this spooky tale has been adapted for stage from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes story.

One of the most refreshing elements of The Tamaritans production was the authenticity of the South West accents. Often professional actors from other regions portray a more Bristolian sounding accent or over-do the rhythm of the sentence.

In particular Jade Callender as Perkins, the maid gave a hilarious and believable performance as a girl who had grown up in a village on the moor. The rhythm in her speech was perfect and added to the humour of her almost childlike way of talking about the terrifying hound.

Sherlock Holmes mysteries have been re-told time and time again so it is always interesting to see different portrayals of Holmes and Dr Watson. Steve Baker gave a curious aloofness to the personality of Sherlock but also showed a warmer, more forgiving side to the character. The deductions were fascinating but seeing Holmes’ personality come through helped bring the writing to life.

This play is set entirely in the sitting room at Baskerville Hall. The set designers did a wonderful job of creating a cosy space, which gave a stark contrast to the moor looming outside the door. The production team’s combination of sounds and lighting completely convinced me that the terrifying moorland lay beyond the door.

If you are looking for an evening of suspense, excitement and investigation then head to Baskerville Hall with The Tamaritans. This is a great introduction to Sherlock Holmes that I am sure will prove popular with all ages.

Legally Blonde Jr

DJR School Of Performing Arts, 19th – 20th October, Devonport Playhouse

DJR School Of Performing Arts present Legally Blonde Jr, a musical derived from the hit rom-com movie. For those who haven’t seen the film or musical stage version, the story is about Elle Woods, a blonde girl who wants to prove her worth in the name of love. Elle wants to be taken seriously and how much more serious can you get than studying at Harvard Law?

Expect plenty of pink, finger snapping and fashion from this show. Clearly the cast had fully embraced Elle’s world and were strutting their stuff on-stage.

Shannah Russell as Elle Woods had a huge role to play, with several musical numbers and plenty of dialogue. She handled the quick changes perfectly and also proved herself to be a pro when it came to working with animals. Elle’s dog, Bruiser played by Snoops looked extremely content cuddled up in her arms.

Paulette Bonafonte played by Sophie Bazeley helps Elle through difficult times. She works in a salon and reveals her dreams about marrying a man from Ireland. The subtle facial expressions she gave to the audience and other cast members were perfectly timed and very humorous. She had clearly studied the character and knew exactly how to react in every situation.

The staging and overall production transported us to the various settings, including Elle’s dorm room and a court room. Generally the costumes were perfect for the setting and allowed the actors to dance freely. Unfortunately in one of the numbers the costumes did hinder the performance so perhaps a few more rehearsals in full costume or a more tailored outfit would have solved this problem. In a truly professional manner, the performers didn’t let this affect their energy and singing.

DJR School Of Performing Arts seemed extremely excited to be performing this modern musical and I am sure their family and friends will enjoy the remaining performances. I am definitely not alone in leaving the theatre and humming ‘Omigod You Guys’ for the rest of the evening!

Broadway and Beyond

Sounds Musical Theatre Company, Devonport Playhouse, 13th October

Sounds Musical Theatre Company present Broadway and Beyond, a selection of musical numbers from composers such as Cole Porter and Cy Coleman.

Among songs from Cabaret, High Society and Anything Goes we were treated to a segment from Flanagan and Allen. Popular during WWII, this double act had many successes including ‘Run Rabbit’ and ‘Underneath The Arches’ which were enjoyed by all, particularly the older members of the audience who happily sang along when invited.

The second act launched on a high note with ‘The Rhythm Of Life’ from Sweet Charity which featured the ensemble dressed in their best hippie outfits. The energy of this number continued throughout many of the songs featured in the second act.

In places the performance lacked the appropriate tempo. Some of the numbers felt slower in pace than the composer intended and without a brass or wind section to back up the singers, this tended to make them fall a little flat.

Having said that, in the more dynamic choices of ensemble songs, the company showed their true strength. SMTC is certainly at its best when singing in harmony as an ensemble. In particular, the arrangement of ‘Big Spender’ from Sweet Charity was especially clever and enjoyable. While one section of performers sang the melody, the other section filled in with the parts which would have been played by an orchestra.

Another commendable aspect of the performance by Sounds Musical, as I have seen in many of their previous productions, is their ability to project their voices without the aid of personal microphones. This ensures the quality of the sound is not distorted and shows the musical capability of their members.

Sounds Musical Theatre Company treated us to a song from their next show, Funny Girl. The audience burst into applause after hearing the spellbinding song ‘People’, proving they should be on top form for their next production.

The Little Mermaid

City Of Plymouth Youth Theatre Company, Devonport Playhouse, 5th – 6th October

The City Of Plymouth Youth Theatre Company took us on a journey under the sea to explore the classic tale of Ariel - the mermaid who longs to live in the human world.

The audience was filled with young mermaids in their best sparkly outfits, ready to hear their favourite Disney story, re-told. One of the show’s most popular songs ‘Under The Sea’ brought together the cast and showed their full range of singing, dancing and acting talents.

However, my particular favourite was ‘Kiss The Girl’. The young actors and actresses struck up their imaginary instruments and created a wonderful background to Sebastian’s (Harriet Tyson) solo singing.

While the singing was clear and crisp, some of the spoken lines needed clearer diction in order to fully tell the story.

To truly transport us to another world under the surf, the production team had used all their imagination to invent amazing costumes featuring fish tails, tentacles and fins. Ursula’s (Olivia Parsons) costume was particularly clever. Her tentacles paired with hair accessories and a layered skirt completely brought the character to life, as did Olivia’s excellent acting. She had clearly been practicing her evil voice and sang a spooky rendition of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ with Flotsam (Mia Harper) and Jetsam (Henry Jenkins).

One of the challenges of producing The Little Mermaid on stage is creating the differentiation between the underwater world and the human world. The scene in which Ariel (Ava Jarram) rescues Eric (Ethan Higman) after he is plunged into the sea highlighted the quality of the production. The blue lighting and Eric’s excellent positioning truly convinced us that he was floating underwater.

This show has already proven popular with a young audience and I am sure it will continue to delight aspiring mermaids for the remainder of the performances.

Sounds Musical Theatre Company

Sounds Musical Theatre Company was founded in 1911 and is the second oldest amateur theatre musical company in Plymouth. Founded as The Glee Singers, they changed their name four times as the company evolved and embraced new styles of shows, they are now known as Sounds Musical Theatre (affectionately known as SMTC.)

SMTC are very proud to have celebrated their Centenary year in 2011 with a gala dinner and dance where they received the NODA 100 Year Certificate.

SMTC are a friendly group of people who love Musical Theatre and enjoy encouraging others to share that passion. They produce two shows a year, a full Musical Production in the Spring plus an October musical revue or composite presentation (an eclectic mixture of song and dance, appealing to all ages). The company performs at The Devonport Playhouse, Fore Street, Devonport. PL1 4DW

The company is well known throughout the Plymouth area for their high standard of work, and four part harmonies singing largely due to the talents of Musical Director, Jenny George, supported by rehearsal and concert pianist Claire Anderson.
Rehearsals:  Wednesday evenings 7.30pm- 9.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Oreston, Plymstock Road, PL9 7NX.  Plymouth.