National Operatic & Dramatic Association – London Region
Society : Aldermaston Players
Friday 15th February 2019
Venue : Parish Hall – Aldermaston
Report by : Jeanette Maskell
musical murder mystery was a first for me and I have to say I enjoyed every
farcical minute. It had a well written witty script which kept you guessing
till the final scene and was littered with some catchy tunes. There were great
diverse characters including a dead body; all of which were well portrayed by
this talented cast.
This was their
annual dinner/theatre evening which always sells out and I am not surprised as
the dinner is always an outright winner.
for this occasion was overseen by Executive Chef – Jean Chapman with main course supplied by Suzie & Jane catering
assisted by kitchen staff Lucy Paxford
and waiting staff Louis Antell/Hazel
Farmer/Olivia Marshall/Jane Starnes/Jenny Simpson.
was mouth-wateringly scrummy and the audience thoroughly enjoyed every
mouthful. So a huge thank you to Jean and her team for such a splendid meal!
Nigel Antell – (Harry Witherspoon) – As the amiable
insecure shoe salesman; who has to take his dead uncle on a grand tour of Monte
Carlo in order to inherit six million dollars this actor was ideal. He was
nervy and twitchy with animated visuals and expressive dialogue. I really liked his scene in the boarding
house where we find out he has nosy neighbours and a great dislike of dogs! I
also noted that although he pressed play on the tape recorder he never stopped it; but still pressed play for
the next message. He built a good rapport with Annabel and interacted
brilliantly with the other cast members. He has a fine singing voice and I
enjoyed all his numbers especially “A Woman in my Bathroom” and his duet with
Kim Antell – (Annabel Glick) – Directing yourself in
a leading role taking care you adapt to the rest of the cast can be
challenging. However this actress coped magnificently. As the serious do gooder
with most of her on stage time being spent with Harry she made the perfect
sparring partner before the inevitable and they became an item. Although I
would have liked more expressive visuals her dialogue was well intonated and
her songs delivered with passion. I particularly enjoyed her solo “Times like
Lesley Vaught – (Rita La Porta/Commuter) – This actress
gave a knockout performance! Her accent was delightful and intensified her
dialogue no end. Her strong vivacious
character could not be faulted and I liked the way her actions and movement
complemented the role. A lot of the
comedy came from this character due to her short sightedness and she made the
most of every comic line with impeccable timing. She had a great rapport with
Vinnie and their duet “Rita’s Confession” was superb. However her solo “Fancy
meeting you Here” was one of the highlights of the evening.
Chris Faulkner – (Vincent ‘Vinnie’ Di Ruzzio/Commuter) –
As the staid and nervous brother of Rita this actor gave an impressive portrayal.
He is a great comedy actor and he used all his expertise insight and
observations to create the perfect foil to Rita. He had energetic dialogue animated
visuals and easy movement. He ensured all the comedy came over and this was
most apparent in “The Phone Call”. All other numbers he was involved in were
well sung and put over in character.
Chris Boott – (Luigi Gaudi/Commuter/Arab/Tony Hendon
(voice)) – As the over the top Italian popping up all over the place offering
help to Harry this actor was super. His character was bubbly effervescent and
enthusiastic and his dialogue lively and striking. I had not guessed until the
very last moment that he was indeed the real Uncle Anthony.
Gordon Wyard – (Uncle Anthony/Commuter) – Poor Uncle
Anthony! Having to spend the whole performance sat in a wheel chair cannot have
been much fun; although he did miraculously get up and join in a couple of
Karen Dignan – (Spinster/Miss Loomis/Commuter/Dancing
Roulette Wheel/Croupier/Drunk) – I was most impressed with this young lady. Her
characterisations were diverse and fun. Dialogue was well delivered and her
dancing roulette wheel quite brilliant; well the audience certainly thought so.
Chris Goodchild – (Solicitor/Boarder/Prosperous man on
train/Hat Salesman/French Emcee/Texan) – This actor’s dialogue was excellent
for all his characters articulate comprehensible and meaningful; complemented
by good accents. I so enjoyed his “Monte Carlo” sung as the Emcee.
Tricia Goodchild – (Dominique Du Monaco/Land Lady/French
Airline (voice)) – If you want a great foreign accent this is the actress to
call upon. Her character as Dominique was sizzling and sultry which enhanced
her rendition of “Speaking French” famously. As the land lady her common down
to earth persona was superb and her brusque terse dialogue delivery was perfect
for the character.
Paula Stenson – (Drunken Maid/Commuter/Miss Thorsby/Nurse/Southern
Lady/Dancing Portrait) – This young lady is a brilliant character actress and
she shone in all her roles but none more than the drunken maid and the nurse. Her
dialogue was striking and her movement effortless. She was involved in a couple
of numbers singing well and helping to increasing the dramatic effect.
Kerry Thomas – (Spinster/Southern Lady/Dancing
Portrait/Nun) – Here we had four varied characters which this actress portrayed
admirably. What a shame that on the evening of my visit she went wrong during
the dancing portraits; however she smiled her way through it and all was
forgiven. As the nun her character was spot on and her dialogue articulate and
colourful. Her part in “Mr Witherspoon’s Friday Night” and “Good to be alive”
was well sung and added to the overall effect of the numbers.
Nigel Wilson – (Bellhop/Boarder/French Waiter on
Train/Station Master (voice)/French Waiter in Club/Dapper Gambler) – This actor
was so versatile; all these characters! He was on and off changing costume and
character at the drop of a hat. He succeeded in making each character different
with varied personalities accents and deportment.
Kim Antell – (Director) – Kim had designed a fast
paced original piece of theatre that contained some excellent touches
throughout; especially A Day about Town” which was extremely funny. Comedy was
paramount to the performance and Kim ensured this was brought to the fore at
every opportunity. She had definite ideas on how the characters should appear
and had given the cast clear direction to this end. Her staging was superb and
she made certain the cast’s entrances were timed to perfection as in every good
farce. This was an enjoyable and entertaining performance which the audience revelled
in from start to finish.
David Wilcox – (Musical Director) – This MD had done a
brilliant job ensuring the cast were confident with entries timing and lyrics.
He had instilled in them the need for good diction and this did indeed aid all
the numbers. The dynamics he put into the songs were excellent and this was
particularly noticeable during the opening number “Something Funny’s Going On”.
accompanied sympathetically on the piano which was situated at the side of the
stage giving him a clear view of the actors.
Chris Boott – (Producer) – Having taken on the task of
producing this production Chris clearly aimed to ensure its smooth running. I
can assure him he succeeded on all levels.
Sandra Faulkner – (Stage Manager) – This SM had her work
cut out to ensure the plot flowed seamlessly. The changes that happed behind
tabs in act one was quickly and efficiently carried out. However I am not sure
what happened in act two as they appeared to take twice as long as they did in
act one thereby slowing the action. Was this SM also responsible for props? If
so they were all appropriate for their use and ably set and struck.
Falkner – (Lighting/Sound)
– These technicians cued sound and lighting to perfection. I liked the use of
split stage lighting which worked extremely well and the effect used for “A Day
around Town” dance. Sound effects were excellent especially the hotel room door
closing and the tape recorded messages.
Ange Boott – (Wardrobe) – Costumes had been expertly
assembled and were ideal for the roles they had to represent. The nun maids
bellhop and roulette skirt were of particular note; as was the flippers and
Louise Marshall – (Make-up/Wigs) – Make-up had been
applied according to the character. Dominque for instance had super heavy eyes
and features perfect for the character; Annabel light natural day make-up and
Uncle Anthony the bluish tinge of a corpse! All other characters had make-up that
suited their personalities. The wigs used were of a good quality and suited the
persona of the character.
Faulkner/Sandra Faulkner/Dave Hard/Bill Macdonald/Adrian Thomas – (Set Construction) – This simplistic
set had been built to be multi representational and worked brilliantly. It
cleverly revolved from scene to scene and I liked the fact that the cast were
able to manoeuvre the pieces of set around as they entered or exited rather
than the crew having to make an appearance.
Cynthia Newman – (Front of House) – assisted by Cathy Jones/Val Hall/Vicki Robertshaw/Gill
Tomlins – I would like to thank this front of house team who are always
friendly and make a real effort to ensure every member of the audience is
catered for. The evening of my visit was no different and they made sure I had
everything I needed and made time for a chat as well.
Jeanette Maskell – NODA Representative – London
Region – Area 13