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22 December 2012


A Christmas Carol
Pica Productions
Writtle Village Hall
Saturday 22nd December 2012

Pica Productions bring Dicken's tale of the converted miser to life as a rehearsed reading this festive weekend, raising funds in the spirit of the season for Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

In an adaptation by Jim Crozier, a cast of seven voices narrate the famous Christmas story and portray the variety of well-known characters.  With Victorian costumes, tapestry style hangings from the script stands, Chrismassy candles, a cake stall and mulled wine with mince pies on offer, a particularly festive atmosphere was created in the already merrily decorated Village Hall. 

An entertaining, heart warming tale, told engagingly by an excellent cast, raising money for a wonderful cause - nothing could be more ideal to see in Christmas in theatrical style.

19 December 2012


The Odd Couple
Old Court Theatre, Chelmsford
Wednesday 19th December 2012
The Odd Couple explores the relationship between slobby layabout Oscar and his exacting, uptight roommate Felix.  Achieving notoriety in both a film and TV series, the characters in this play are sad and tragically recognisable, but through well developed caricature their mismatched personalities are explored in a fast-paced and witty comedy script. 
Set entirely in the flat shared by the two divorcees, the piece begins during Oscar's weekly poker night.  There were some hard-working attempts at the differentiation of the various characters round the card table, pulled off especially well by Barry Taylor as Speed, but the necessary pace of these scenes was too often missing and there were some laughs that were not as well exploited as they could have been, if not lost entirely.  This lack of pace or comic timing, though a shame, was not true of the entire piece, for as soon as the duologues began between Dave Hawkes and Kevin Stemp as Oscar and Felix respectively, all else was forgotten.  Slick, energetic and timed to perfection, this comedy partnership could not have been better executed.  The British Pigeon girls, played by Naomi Phillips and Vikki Pead, were well performed and created an ideal focus for the central pair to fail to seduce. 
A worthy production to end the year that although not complete in it's accomplishments, where it did succeed, it triumphed. 

16 December 2012


Peter Rabbit and his Friends
Brentwood Theatre
Sunday 16th December 2012

For this year's annual children's show, Brentwood Theatre have chosen the timeless tales of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit to charm and entertain audiences away from the hubbub of the larger scale pantomimes this festive period. 

And charm it does.  Ideal for smaller children, or perhaps those too timid for the loud, brash boos and hisses of panto, the intimate staging of this seductive piece of children's theatre is perfectly suited to the studio space at Brentwood.  The beautiful set is brightly decorated and achieves more depth and levels than could be imagined in the relatively small performance area, keeping the direction varied and full of interest throughout.  The endearing musical numbers are simple and well sung, incorporating some gentle audience participation.

Performances are delicately and charismatically achieved, with a cast of six playing each of the famous characters including; Benjamin Bunny, Mrs Tittlemouse, Mrs Tiggywinkle, Jeremy Fisher, Mr and Mrs McGregor, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and of course Peter himself.  A delightful touch to have additional puppets as various other animals, incorporated excellently.  Beatrix Potter is there too, played by Deborah Lueryinteracting with her friends the animals and displaying some of the beautiful original illustrations as part of the finale. 

The first production of this scale for Vivid Musical Theatre, and a wonderful accomplishment of a show for all involved. 


Dick Whittington
One From the Heart & Chelmsford City Council
Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Sunday 16th February 2012
The classic tale of Dick Whittington and his Cat is a much loved story told annually by Pantomimes all over the country, and with this year's production at Chelmsford it is easy to understand why.
Plenty of modern pop numbers as well as a nod or two to some current West End musicals (and even future ones - a lullaby line from the hugely inappropriate, not-for-children, Broadway smash The Book of Mormon, opening in the West End in early 2013), the songs were many but varied, and some particularly excellent choreography kept the young audience enrapt throughout.
Fast paced and well directed, there were some scenes in this traditional pantomime that particularly stood out.  Simple Simon's interruptions as the love scene's gooseberry, with Dick and Alice, were intricately directed and masterfully performed.  The usual soppy number as the lead couple fall in love at first sight inevitably loses the interest of many of the youngsters, but this year's hilarious scene set up the necessary central relationship while achieving one of the funniest sections of staging all afternoon.  Similarly original in it's approach, the slop scene was ingenious.  Sharply choreographed, the routine developed into a hilariously elaborate scene which, comically, would have been just as successful without the slop!
A particularly strong cast was needed to carry off this year's comedy and it was a delight to see - master of the Dame - Richard Earl back again, excellent as Sarah the Cook.  Sarah's son and sidekick Simple Simon was played with energy, enthusiasm and ease by the charming Lewis Barnshaw.  Dick and Alice were fresh-faced and charismatic, played by the gorgeous Craig Rhys Barlow and Abigail Rosser.  Tommy Jones, Dick's trusty cat played by Waylon Jacobs, had a smooth singing voice, feline dance moves, an engaging Caribbean accent... and his costume was an ideal distraction for the mums in the audience! 
Another excellent pantomime from One from the Heart and Chelmsford Council - the first, as we were reminded, since becoming a City - achieving an impressive level of family-friendly comedy that Dick Whittington lends itself towards.  A more sentimental approach, perhaps, for the most popular of all pantos next year - Cinderella.