National Operatic & Dramatic Association – London Region
Society : Aldermaston Players
Production : Lucky Stiff
Date : Friday 15th February 2019
Venue : Parish Hall – Aldermaston
Report by : Jeanette Maskell
This eccentric 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.
Catering 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.
It 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 Annabel “Nice”.
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 This”.
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 numbers!
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”.
He 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.
Chris Chapman/Douglas 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 snorkel.
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.
Chris Chapman/Douglas 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