In the limelight - ACT review

In The Limelight - a review by John Flay, ACT rep

12th May 2019

IN THE LIMELIGHT
Alderley and Wilmslow Musical Theatre Company
Director: Heidi Cook
Musical Director: Alex Williams
Choreographer: Kevin Clarke

For a number of years this group has been presenting an annual revue. From challenging beginnings this company must be applauded for the entertainment it now presents. The song selection for this revue captivated the audience. Each individual section was linked and instead of using backing tracks, we were treated to a live band.

The staging for this revue needed nothing more than the festooned backcloth, with appropriate lighting to give atmosphere, and good sound quality. Everyone on stage was well dressed with the merest suggestion of character. Having live music made all the difference. The M.D., and his band accompanied, they didn’t become soloists in their own right. There was excellent playing which lifted the musical presentation.

It is so important that an audience is not ignored; it wants to be included and be part of the event. As the M.C., Phillip Mason informed with the minimum of information necessary as he linked each section. Maybe a little more eye contact with the audience would have added to his presentation.

As is often the case, these revues are used as a springboard to promote new talent, and this was achieved by putting them in the limelight. Among those taking their first steps was Johnathan Cresswell and Olivia Hall. Another first- timer was Grace Stubbs. Grace possessed the “triple threat”, she could sing, dance and act out the song character.

These developing actors can learn a lot from seasoned performers. Steve Mills held the audience with his meaningful rendition of “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables and David Lambert gave a Musical Hall interpretation of “POSH” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They knew how to please an audience.

Comedy is so important in revue, and the hardest theatrical element to pull off. Victoria Wood’s whimsical piece “Pam” was effortlessly delivered by Sophie Williams. Sophie took the audience through the story of Pam’s adventures, with amusing results. The so called adult pantomime, Spamalot, was equally well treated. Tina Spiers rendition of “Find the Grail”, Russel Caulfield and Heidi Cook’s “The Song That Goes Like This” and the company’s delivery of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Live” were crowd pleasers.

There was so much to enjoy from the best of Broadway and the West End: from Little Shop Of Horrors to Beauty and the Beast. It was entertainment all the way with numbers from Shrek, notably “The Ballard of Farquaad”, delivered by Michael Sheek. Phee Wild’s moving delivery of “On My Own” from Les Misérables was much enjoyed. There were strong performances from Helen Lawrence, Ivor Farley and Katy Thomason–Stewart.

This musical feast was just that, achieved by pure enthusiasm by a determined, energised company.