NORTH WEST ESSEX THEATRE GUILD

 

LITTLE WALTHAM DRAMA GROUP

 

SATURDAY 22 JULY 2006

 

HIGH HOPES

 

Please note that this adjudication was carried out by Ian Cusp on behalf of

 

Janet Cass, who was unavailable.

 

GENERAL

 

I have to say at the outset that had I been told that he evening was to be a tribute to the song writing of Jimmy Van Heusen~ ‘may not have considered that This was the best way to spend ml extremely hot evening. I had never heard of the man and probably wouldn’t have cared if I had. You certainly made a brave move to put on such a show and it is a tribute to Jim Bell and allof you that you pulled it off. I not only learnt a lot about someone of whom I had never heard, but I enjoyed myself into the bargain.

 

 

FRONT OF HOUSE

The nice thing about coming to Little Waltham is that, once in the hall, one is made to feel at home and part of the village, You not only have a very nice group of members, but also the audience. Your Front Of House arrangements can only be described as “minimal”, but who cares? With such a tiny auditorium~ and everyone knowing everyone else, what more do you want? As previously, June Newman gave me her undivided attention Many thanks

Could I also include your programme in Front Of House. It is always a good read and the cast photos were great. There must be a reason for using capitals throughout (a defective computer, perhaps?), but I do find it a bit difficult to read.

 

 

SET, PROPS AND STAGE MANAGEMENT

A static set and absolute minimal props must have made this show a SM’s delight! I have rarely seen a more minimalist set, but it did not need anything more elaborate. The effect of the star curtain combined with the lit handrail and illuminated proscenium panels were most effective when the remainder of the stage lighting was low. I did not detect any hitches so I assume there were none.

 

 

LIGHTING AND SOUND

 

Lighting. I realise that your resources are limited and~ as I have said before~ I think you do wonders -with what you have. If I wanted to be critical, I would like to see more effective use of your onstage lighting; that is, to try some side lighting rather than just flat frontal floods This would be much more effective and produce interesting effects. You may, however, be limited in how you can mount onstage lights in which case I entirely understand

Sound. Although voice amplification is hardly necessary in such a small hall, particularly bearing in mind that you have very good and strong singers, nevertheless the sound system worked very well and sympathetically I thought the cast use of the radio mics was excellent and the overall balance with the band was good and maintained throughout Well done.

 

      COSTUME                                                                           -.

I note that you heeded my comment last year arid got the cast into different costumes for the second half. It made all the difference!

In the first half, although lam sure that a lot of thought went into dressing the ladies, it did seem to me (a mere man) that each lady had just turned up with her own choice of dress and some of the cohesive elements Man ensemble group were lost lain not suggesting that you should go for identical dresses (although in a concert type show such as this, that would be perfectly acceptable) rather to consider whether a slightly more uniform, style and colour co-ordination would be better

I liked the black dresses, and coloured shirts for the men, in the second half although, here again there was a ~de variety of styles between the ladies,

 

 

MUSICAL DIRECTION AND ORCHESTRA

 

No credit for Musical Direction given in the programme, but the band were excellent. With Jessie Threadgold playing three instruments, it seemed like a seven-piece rather than a four-piece group. In general, the accompaniment was very sympathetic to the singers and I could find no fault at all.

 

 

DIRECTION AM) CHOREOGRAPHY

 

Direction

 

During the Interval June admitted to me that she is a “bit of an ogre” when it comes to directing. Well, that may explain the haunts look on some of the cast’s faces as they struggled to remember where to put their left foot next, but is also explains why the show was of a very high quality which was sustained throughout

I could detect great attention to detail in the diction of the singers, the excellent strong entries to songs and the overall pace and precision of the show. Whilst waiting for the show to start, I read the script provided and had some apprehension that what appeared to be large chunks of dialogue may slow up the show and be boring. It didn’t, and wasn’t

 

Choreography

 

Once again you sensibly limited yourself to very simple choreography which worked well with your limited space and also ensured that your cast were not too distracted from their singing by worrying about moves. Once or twice I felt that the ensemble wore moved around for no good reason but on the whole it worked very well.

 

CAST

It is always difficult to comment too specifically in a show like this, and I will cover this below. I would say, however, that’ did pot detect a weak link and that is

something to be proud of. I thought all the soloists were excellent and the ensemble singing (barring comments letow) was of a high quality.

 

 

FIRST HALF

 

Swinging On A Star

Nice to see some good smiles! Good movements and ensemble singing It’s Always You

Nice harmonies from Paul and Jackie but, although they made all the right moves! I felt that there was not a lot of feeling between them- Paul particularly was wooden

and self-conscious. This is a very romantic song and could have had a lot more done with it. Rather disappointing flat lighting.

Aren’t You Glad You’re You

A nice presentation and moves, spoilt only by Bill having to watch the others to see where to put his feet.

Straight Down The Middle

A good stong start, bat not such good ensemble singing. Perhaps the props put. them oft? The cast obviously enjoyed themselves.

Love And Marriage

Not the best start, but improved. Final verdict   Good. It Could Happen To You

September Of My Years

Second Tune Around

A very nice set of three songs. Good use of solo spots. I liked the night scene- very

effective and could have been used more. Pete has the best Sinatra voice I have heard. An excellent group of songs.

Deep In A Dream

A slightly ragged offering, this. Where were the harmonies to make it interesting? There was also a very awkward pause between verses. Needed some business.

Pocket Fall Of Miracles

Polka Dots And Moonbeams

I have grouped these as they were probably the two most ragged items. The ensemble singing was poor.

All My Tomorrows

Another excellent rendition from Pete.

Tender Trap

A lot of obvious counting and watching the band in this one! The song came to life after the girls’ entry.

Star

Very good

Come Dance With Me

Mike as a lovely voice, but tends to lose clarity of diction in the faster passages. Thoroughly Modern Millie

The cast enjoyed this. Excellent work by the dancers. Very good direction to successfully organize all the east on stage, who worked well together.

 

 

 

-2-


SECOND HALF?

 

Call Me Irresponsible

A rather lame start to a half.

All The Way

Excellent. A lovely rendition by Val I liked the darkened stage as she went upstage,

but I would have liked to have kept the darkness with just a touch of light on her to

complete the song.

Nancy With, The Laughing Face

A wonderful rendition of this great song. More, please!

High Hopes

Very good. Nice smiles.

Lets Not Be Sensible

The only non-vocal item; a tap number performed by the dancers. Very good.

But Beautiful

Excellent

Busy Doing Nothing

(Did he write this as well!)

Very nice diction and moves

Moonlight Becomes You

A nice effort~ but Bill didn’t have to stoop to get near the mic! A good bit of

background dancing

Isn’t it Romantic

Mike had the same problem as before~ Keeping to the strict tempo, rather than being

flexible and more croony’ means that he seems rushed and loses some words.

To Love And Be Loved

Excellent Nice and relaxed. Sung with expression

Heaven Can Wait

Very good. Jin’s expression and interpretation overcame the lack of vocal ability.

Here’s That Rainy Day

A bit of a weak start Which was overcome by the band. This was due to the cast ~for

the opening being set too far upstage and away from the mics. A very difficult song

It’s Nice To Go Travelling

Excellent

Come Fly With Me

Very good ensemble singing. Accuxate timing.

My Kind Of Town

Excellent Good dancing in the limited space. Good use of the sticks. Nice to see them

all together!

Reprise - High Hopes.

A great ending to the show, I do like to see a short sharp ending without numerous

curtain calls.

 

 

Ian Crisp

July 2006