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St Pauls are always looking for new members. If you are interested in joining us, either as a playing member for the shows and concerts, or in a non-playing capacity - assisting with the various behind-the-scenes tasks, backstage or front of house, then pop down to our Tuesday rehearsals at Serpentine Road Family Church, Wallasey or email Claire our secretary [email protected]
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The problem is will the theatre audience make comparisons with the original professional players? Can an amateur group manufacture the same effects which TV can produce so easily with its ability to stop/start the action the answer is YES!
Victoria Wood’s scripts are always funny and right from the opening the audience found themselves laughing not only at the lines but at the clever way Production Director Ann Warr used the characters and the action to complement those lines and the entire cast did her proud in this regard. Miss Babs (Maxine Hughes), Miss Berta (Joanna Barker), caught the mood right from the start and the scene with Mimi (Rose Kenny) and Hugh (Kevin Martin) set the tone for the rest of the show. Were Rose’s suspenders painted on? Mr Clifford (Lee Griffiths) was absolutely right and the moments he shared with Miss Berta were excellent. Miss Bonnie (Jenna Watkins) was the villain of the piece at least to start with, and caught the essence of the character from her first entrance. I loved the bit where she went to leave the shop but kept coming back with the rest of the cast going and coming back with her, very funny. Tony (Matt Harvey) was so laid back I thought he might fall over, just the way he stood was enough to make the audience laugh, this was a stellar performance. Richard Orr (Derek) and Bob Chapman (Mr. Watkins) championed the Gay Brigade beautifully and Jean Sanchez, Francesca Anyon, Sue Rannard, Paula Hunter, Kathy Jordan, Marc Smith and Maximillian Chase maintained the high standard which we saw throughout.
NODA Regional Representative
Acorn Antiques! The Musical – NODA Review, June 2012
You have to admire any Amateur Society which takes on the task of bringing the stage version of a show which enjoyed great success on the small screen. Few people I would suggest are unaware of the characters in Acorn Antiques featured by Victoria Wood on so many of her shows and now brought to life, as it were, in a Musical version.
Due to an injury Janet had to hand over the reins of directing to Evelyn for a few weeks prior to opening night insisting that Evelyn be designated co-director.
The production demands a strong leading man and St Pauls had one in the shape of Mike Hetherington who was excellent in the role of Bill Snibson. The love of his life was provided by Paula Hunter who maintained her role as the cockney girl soon to be plummeted into unwanted aristocracy very well. Carol Gould and Bruce Harry captured their roles wonderfully as one would only expect from two such seasoned performers. Danielle Vernon certainly caught the flavour of the scheming Lady Carstone aiming to snare “Bill” from his girlfriend and marry him and his inheritance, the Honourable Gerald Bollingbroke (Richard Orr) convincing as her hopefully prospective spouse, eventually put a stop to that after some advice from Bill on the way to handle women. The off stage screams could have been real. Bob Chapman played Parchester the family solicitor with legal splendour, loved the little dance. Jim Morris looked completely in place as Charles the butler; Hudson to a Tee. The main protagonists were well supported by an ark of aristocratic family members and friends who all looked like they rightfully belonged in a stately home. The Household staff and cockneys maintained the high standard seen throughout and the singing from both principles and cast was very good no doubt due to the hard work of Musical Director Andrew Peckham.
St Pauls obviously have a strong “behind the scenes team” and their contribution and commitment cannot be overemphasised. I’m sure many of the audience went home humming “The Lambeth Walk” and the “Sun has got his hat on: why not after such a splendid evening. Budge Grounsell, NODA Regional Representative.
Me & My Girl – NODA Review October 2013
I haven’t seen this show since I appeared in it over 50 years ago playing Charles the Butler but despite having been re-vamped by Stephen Fry it still maintains its charm. Janet Bird brought out the best in a strong cast with the help of Evelyn Clowes as co-director and choreographer.
On Broadway – NODA Review May 2013
Let me confess I am not a lover of “Songs from the Shows” type productions, however I very much enjoyed this offering as St Pauls did not fall into the all too familiar trap of repeating the standard fare often seen in concerts of this nature.
Producer-Director Janet Bird who is very experienced in this role made the most of the piece and was ably assisted by Musical Director Sian James and Choreographer Claire Tomkinson.
The opening number “Racing with Clock” is an excellent opening for a musical although it was done slightly slower than I have seen it previously introduced “Hines” (Neil Alveston) the time and motion study man and set the tone for the resultant union problems and the high profile grievance committee led by leading lady “Babe” (Paula Hunter). Plant Superintendent Sid Sorokin (Matt Harvey) and Babe are soon the love element and came over well in their respective roles Although Matt who is more of an “actor” found the songs a little above his natural range, in general he managed to put them across.
Bringing their individual talents to the show were Tony Lacey (Prez), Lee Griffiths (Hasler), Joanna Barker (Gladys), Jean Sanchez (Mabel), Sue Rannard (Mae), Judi Jones (Brenda), David Bradley (Pop) and Francesca Anyon (Poopsie). The dance number “Steam Heat” was excellently performed by Joanna Barker, Francesca Anyon and Molly Adamson.
The principle cast was well supported by the “Factory Workers”, Dancers and all the backstage workers without whom no show would ever reach the stage. Well done to all. Budge Grounsell, NODA Regional Representative.
The Pyjama Game
The Pyjama Game is one of those shows which features some excellent music but is not nearly so strong in the dialogue department. Having seen it several times I find it over heavy on script which tends to slow the pace of the action. The Pajama Game is a musical based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell and opened in 1954 on Broadway. The subject, labour difficulties, was of course a hot topic at the time.
I often find there is a tendency for concerts of this genre to lose pace but this was not the case here and Director Mike Ellis and Musical Director Sian James showed skill and ingenuity in keeping the action moving.
The cast were excellent, ensemble and soloists combining to bring out the best of this eclectic programme which often surprised in its style. A fine example of this was using a waltz time change in “Anything Goes” something which I had never heard before. I have not picked out individuals; this was a team effort with everyone giving their best.
St Pauls next production is the Addams Family and a song from that show was featured towards the end of this performance. On the strength of this production alone I would make a note to see them at the Gladstone theatre in October. I doubt you will be disappointed. Budge Grounsell, NODA Regional Representative.
Budge Grounsell, NODA Regional Representative
Music! Music! Music! – Noda Review May 2016
How do you pick a selection from a 110-year history of bringing music in very many forms to the populace? A daunting task certainly; but a successful one epitomised by the Society's latest offering Music Music Music. Songs featured in every decade from the early years to virtually the present day were all in evidence giving the audience a chance to hum or sing along with a fine cast of performers.
Director Ann Warr did a fine job in getting her principles in character and the action with the exception the “dinner scene” which was too long moved at a good pace. Musical Director Sian James brought out some quality singing and the songs much in keeping with the context of the show were a highlight and Claire Tomkinson’s and Lynne O’Connor’s choreography was well in keeping with the needs of the plot.
Stuart Raphel as Gomez the titular head of the family coped well with the dilemma of satisfying Wife and Daughter. Plenty of light and shade in this interpretation and he once again proved he can sing. Helen Rex looked and played the femme fatale in her role as Morticia although her "crisis of confidence about getting old" is a very uneasy narrative twist and perhaps too far out of character from the Morticia we have grown to know and love. Having said that she did very well.
Alison Bentley-Jones looked exactly as Addams family fans might have imagined Wednesday when grown up even down to the striped tights delivered the part excellently whilst brother Pugsley was himself the grown up obnoxious child from the Television show. The “Torture” scene between the latter two was one of the highlights of the show. Uncle Fester (Joanna Barker) looked like a fugitive from Area 51 but more than got away with it, the shuffling walk, certainly helped. Grandma was beautifully played by Janet Bird a seasoned performer and demonstrated this each time she appeared. Completing the Addams Family group was of course Lurch (Tom Lee) and Jean Sanchez as the “moon”
The Director scored again with the differentiation introduced between the two families. Sue Rannard outstanding as the a typical American wife and was a delight; Husband Mal (Graham Turner) complete with gaudy shirt shorts and straw trilby exemplified the mid-American Male, Jason Lockley their son was again what we imagine young American Males to be like,baseball cap and all. They might have been a real family.
Backup and integral to much of the action were the ancestral ghosts straight from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Great wigs or clever hairdressing?
Unfortunately, there was a slight problem with the sound in the second act and the scenery although simple was fit for purpose. As always Societies are fortunate to have strong backstage teams and St Pauls are no exception… Well done everybody.
Budge Grounsell, NODA Regional Representative