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HATTON OPERATIC SOCIETY
Your programme includes a comprehensive introduction to the background of the musical, and the added information about life in the U.K at that time and other tit-bits make it a most interesting read. There is nothing more I can add about this well-known and popular show except to say that your production of it was excellent.
Under the baton of Simon Payne the orchestra played the overture beautifully and when required kept the level down so that the vocals could be heard. There were just one or two places where the underscored dialogue was less easy to hear, and strangely Warbucks ‘Why Should I Change a Thing’ was slightly overpowered. I think on that occasion it could have been down to the sound department, which wasn’t always consistent.
Ashley Jarvest showed great skill in his directing debut and is to be congratulated on working with 26 children, adults over twice his age and a dog! Any one of those is a challenge but all three is quite an achievement for one so young!
Choreography was also very good with some notable numbers such as ‘Hard Luck Life’ and the orphans ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed’. H.O.S. is always well rehearsed but I thought this production was exceptionally ‘together’ in the dance moves by Annelly James.
Some of the characters are such OTT personalities and Annie has to be able to make her mark amongst them, but Sian Gething was able to do that and apparently effortlessly. Her acting was natural, and her singing voice clear and true. It was a pleasure to see one so young, whom I understand has not played a major role before, perform with such poise.
Miss Hannigan is a great role needing someone who has no inhibitions when performing and there is no doubt that Aileen fitted the bill. She was loud, absolutely hateful towards the girls, vulgar, seedy, everything that Miss Hannigan should be. She was able to put over the raunchy ‘East Street’ and venomous ‘Little Girls’ most convincingly but obviously this particular part didn’t show off her singing voice.
Playing Grace, who has to be a complete contrast to the other two brash female leads, Paula Gething’s singing was good but I felt she was a little too gentle in the role. She was after all the P.A to an extremely powerful man and would have had the authority that comes with the position, which would have added a degree of firmness to her own more reserved personality.
As Oliver Warbucks the wealthy and influential tycoon, Wally Walters gave a distinguished performance and apart from the number with Annie, which was slightly shaky in parts, he sang very well.
James Palmer is an accomplished performer but because of the long standing trouble with his ankle his dancing was a little restricted, the two ladies however were able to give their all and ‘Easy Street’ came across impressively. James’ singing and acting were as always very good.
His partner in crime, Lily St. Regis was played enthusiastically by Jo Conlon who mostly managed to maintain the high pitched Bronx accent but because her wig aged her a little, and James looks young on stage, even with a beard, they didn’t quite match as a couple. Never-the-less they worked well together and brought out the comedy nicely as the dreadful Mudges.
Ian Thomas made the most of the small cameo role of Bert Healey, admirably backed by Roy Selfe (Ickes) who is so good in comic parts, and the Boylan Sisters played by Sarah, Connie and Amanda were classic. That particular scene was a really good one and the audience enjoyed participating in it.
Mike gave a solid performance as the English butler Drake, and looked very comfortable in the part. His demeanour was perfect.
In the role of President Roosevelt Clive Walker was commanding, even from the wheelchair, and his diction was commendable. The scene in the Whitehouse when they all succumbed to his encouragement to join Annie in ‘Tomorrow’ was especially well done.
Sandy was brilliant! As a dog lover I was thrilled to see how well trained he was. Being in that large box must have been a bit scary for him to start with, but I read he’s had a lot of on stage experience so I don’t suppose much fazes him!
The named orphans all played their parts confidently and the small one who I think was Molly was played most delightfully by Lilly Poore.
It’s wonderful that you have such a dedicated company who are able to design and paint scenery. The orphanage was suitably frugal and I liked the girls being two to a bed, which they certainly would have been. Their fight in the opening scene was realistic.
Furniture and properties were apt and the backstage crew dealt competently with the many scene changes, but they would have been less obvious in long sleeved black shirts.
The use of the gauze and the frozen poses worked really well, and of course the Warbucks Mansion with the green costumes was very attractive.
Chorus singing was first rate and it says a great deal for HOS that people who are able to get principal roles will take a back seat and support others, rather than seek personal glory elsewhere. Family involvement is apparent too amongst your members and is such a positive thing within a group. You certainly all worked together to make this a super production and one that my guest and I thoroughly enjoyed.
The programme is set out for ease of reading and I like the shape of it. I’m sure you will be entering it in the programme/poster competition.
Thank you for inviting me to see ‘Annie’ and for Elizabeth’s hospitality on the evening.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy and successful 2013.
NODA South East Regional Representative – District 12