Back to the 80s (Kidderminster Operatic & Dramatic Society Youth Section)

It's probably worth a bit of context on this one as it may not be a musical that is well known to readers although it is a popular school production across the English speaking world and is originally from the stable of Neil Gooding a leading theatre producer/director in Australia. Back to the 80s is fundamentally a story encompassing the Final High School Year for a group of students at the fictitious William Ocean High School and all the joy and angst they experience. It's packed to the brim with Hits from the 1980s and there is testament to the enduring quality of the music from that decade when one takes a step back and realises that there isn't a single member of the KODS Youth Section who were alive to experience that period directly. Narrated throughout by one of the adult performers, Reece Jones as the adult Corey Palmer, we commence the story with the vote for Senior School President, there are three candidates ..... - the teen Corey Palmer (played  confidently by

Legally Blonde (Norbury Players)

Things are looking decidedly 'pink' at the Norbury Theatre in Droitwich at the moment and there is some distinct legal jargon in the air, you might want to look-up the phrase 'malum prohibitum' or on the other hand you could just ask Miss Elle Woods who despite only a 4.0 average in fashion merchandising and against all the odds has managed to qualify for a course at Harvard Law, this is of course Legally Blonde ! Hot foot from her success as Snow White in pantomime, Molly Hill creates another piece of stunning characterisation as Miss Woods with a crystal clear vocal to match. I'm sure nobody is quite sure why she feels the need to chase ex boyfriend Warner Huntington III (a gloriously self-centred performance from Jake Jones) all the way from Malibu to Massachusetts but, it's amazing what one will do for 'love'. If you are travelling that far you're going to need some support from your friends whether in person or as the obligatory Greek Chorus com

Shrek the Musical (Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Society)

Like many societies it has been three years since Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Society have managed to bring a production to the stage, you might ask has it been worth the wait ? Well read on as this is a powerhouse production requiring a deep dive into a thesaurus for superlatives, these might be my words but, as the song goes, this is their story. Not often do you get to play a demanding (bordering I imagine on exhausting) lead role that even your closest friends might not recognise as you but, Carl Cook under a weight of costume and make-up brings a performance of epic proportions to the role of everybody's favourite ogre, Shrek, outstanding vocals (not to mention some pretty impressive farting and belching). Every self-respecting ogre needs a sidekick (or maybe even a 'noble steed') and that comes in an energetic and audience pleasing performance from Luey Pearce as Donkey, with a soulful vocal and milking the comedy element for every conceivable drop. Now the ogre has h

Made in Dagenham (Star-Struck Theatre Company)

It is probably a sad indictment of the country that equality in its wider sense is still not quite where we would like it to be, despite all the hard work and pain suffered by the women at Ford Dagenham in 1968. However there is nothing sad about this production of Made in Dagenham by Star-Struck Theatre Company but, there is a deep vein of emotion, some powerful musical numbers and a story that I would challenge anybody not to be enthralled by. The root of the story is the fight (and I use the word unreservedly as it is a 'fight' in so many ways) by the women of the Ford Dagenham Plant to achieve equal pay with the men. You might think that should have been a given but, not in 1968 when females were still expected to run the house, bring up the kids, manage the finances and only take on a job as a last resort ! That isn't something that Rita O'Grady (played with passion by Vicky Bull) and her colleagues are happy with, I'm not sure that Rita expects to lead the off

Sister Act (Kinver Light Operatic Society)

There is a little piece of the Philadelphia Underworld that has currently taken-up occupancy at the Kinver High School Theatre and the local convent has been dragged into this seedy world after a murder is witnessed and a singer needs to be hidden prior to the trial. Made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 Movie, Kinver Light Operatic Society finally manage to bring their much delayed version of Sister Act to the stage and its absolutely worth the wait. Attiye Passey's vivaciously flamboyant performance as Deloris Van Cartier is just the tip of a musical iceberg that smashes its way into a responsive audience, a voice that could blow the roof off any venue and eyes that draw you into the story, suggests perfect casting. Said story is all about the relationships built between Deloris and the rest of the nuns at the convent in which she now finds herself (much initially to her chagrin it must be said) isn't it ? And there is a rich array of characters and voices in this partic

The Sound of Music (Manor Musical Theatre Company)

In a world that is dominated by the 'modern musical', it is always nice to be able to witness one of the classics and they don't come any more loved than The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein who could probably be defined as the inventors of the musical as we know it. Manor Musical Theatre Company have created a production that adheres to all that we remember and cherish about the story of the Von Trapp Family and the challenges of existing in Nazi occupied Austria during World War II. Pressure of performance for leading characters is nothing new but, there is so much riding on the portrayal of Maria Rainer that it needs an actor of some considerable capability and capacity which is exactly what Paula O'Hare brings to the performance, bags of enthusiasm and a voice of incredible quality. Richard Parry provides an equally formidable performance as Captain Von Trapp, the strong and initially foreboding type who runs his house like his ship (with a wh

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - The Musical (Willenhall Musical Theatre Company)

'Everything I touch is turning to gold' is a lyric from the Petula Clark classic 'Colour My World' which has become a bit of an anthem for this musical, the story of three drag queens crossing the Australian Outback in a coach (they christen Priscilla, hence the title). I suspect that the production team from Willenhall Musical Theatre Company, Alf Rai (Director), Lindsey Vickers (Choreographer) and Rob Murray (Musical Director) can now apply that phrase to themselves after an outstanding opening night at the Mill Theatre in Sedgley. Much of the success factor comes from some majestic casting and incredible on-stage presence in every scene, let's be serious for many of the performers it is hard enough to maintain a convincing Australian accent throughout the production without having to stay balanced on high heels for much of the time as well. James Totney opening the show as Miss Understanding also had to overcome a slightly belligerent curtain that for one moment