A very special event took place on 28th March at Eaton Bray village hall. Eighteen young people aged....
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Theatre Review - Old Time Music Hall

Posted on May 4, 2008

This article was published in May 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

A very special event took place on 28th March at Eaton Bray village hall. Eighteen young people aged from 10-18 presented a full-scale traditional Old Time Music Hall to a sold-out audience to raise money for the Friends of St Mary's.

There was a buzz of expectation as a packed hall greeted the appearance on stage of James Lake who introduced the evening in the guise of the traditional music hall Chairman. Dressed in top hat and tails he introduced each act with witty quips, jokes, alliteration and a bang of the gavel (who remembers Leonard Sachs on The Good Old Days?!). He introduced the 'orchestra' for the evening - Ros Yalden on the piano - with traditional jibes about the quality of her playing but it was all in good humour and she accompanied the performers beautifully all evening.

The opening choruses were sung by the entire company and we could tell straight away that we were in for a good evening as the cast danced and sang with great strength and quality - they were all clearly enjoying the experience. They all looked authentic, with period costumes and props supplied by Wendy Ashman, whose husband, Peter, directed the show and provided much of the script.

The workload for the evening was fairly shared across the entire company with each performer having at least one solo performance in each of the two acts - that was a wise decision as everyone in the cast was clearly a highly competent performer - there were no weak links.

The first half consisted of fourteen separate acts starting with one of the all time greats - Daisy Bell - beautifully sung by Sophie Yalden. Other highlights in Act One included: a cheeky performance of a little known song called What's that For Eh? by Alice O'Neill who had the audience in the palm of her hand; a hilarious comic rendition of the poem The Green Eye of the Yellow God by Heather Mullett whose arm movements were provided by Emily Ann Varley; the Stanley Holloway monologue Runcorn Ferry by Sebastian Calloway (how did he learn all those lines?); Don't Dilly Dally and Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow sung by the highly talented Heather and Holly Potten; Cockles and Mussels sung with great conviction by Alex Mustoe; a touching performance of Won't You Buy My Pretty Flowers by Molly Blumsom: and a melodrama which had Freddie Marshall being henpecked by a convincing Melissa Wade before getting his revenge by selling her to the local squire wonderfully played by a joke-cracking William Sanders (who went on to give us a classical guitar solo in Act Two).

After such a slick and fast-paced first Act, the audience were ready for their lovely ploughman's supper provided by Val Trantum and her vastly capable team.

In Act Two the audience were treated to delights such as I Was A Good Little Girl sung by Olivia Calloway who made several gentlemen's nights by flirting with them from the stage whilst her talented sister Sabrina Calloway attracted whistles from the audience as a scantily clad artist's model in It's Alright in the Summertime. Emily Lake gave a beautiful rendition of the little-heard Shine On Harvest Moon and the half climaxed with a performance of the melodrama The Old Red Barn which had strong comic acting from Erin O'Neill as the wronged Maria Martin and Joe Ashman as the wicked William Corder who ends up killing her - but not before he milked the boos and hisses from the audience.

The evening concluded with the Chairman inviting the audience to join in the final choruses in traditional style ("chiefly yourselves") and the entire cast sung and danced such numbers as Any Old Iron and Beside the Seaside with great energy, enthusiasm and quality.

The audience went home happy after two and a half hours - nearly a thousand pounds was raised for Friends of St Mary's and they had been entertained by a group of highly-talented young people. There were no 'stars' in this show - every performer was exceptionally strong - they looked good, were well-rehearsed and clearly enjoyed entertaining their audience. When are we going to get an encore?!

Source: Focus, May 2008

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