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HATTON OPERATIC SOCIETY
‘KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING’ – APRIL 2014
In this the centenary of the First World War, a number of societies have chosen to stage a production which reflects the mood of the time, and in using the theme for your compilation show you created an entertainment that did just that.
It must have been a real blow for James after directing the show not to be able to see the fruits of his work, and of course not to be on stage, also for John not to be able to take part in the show. I do hope that they are both feeling better now. In the event Clive Walker and Robert Gardiner stepped into the breach and did a sterling job.
Music Hall is always good value and it seems that whatever age we are the songs are somehow familiar to us. The opening, set in this period, was lovely. The Army uniforms were good, also the ladies costumes, and James made full use of the rostra to set the stage attractively throughout the show. Company groupings were artistically formed and the movement around the stage was well considered. ‘I’ll Be Your Sweetheart’ was delightfully set and the choreography in ‘And Then He’d Row Row Row’ was very effective.
I especially enjoyed the following two sections, the parodies, and Robert, Clive and Mike led the company strongly in their songs. The Church selection was beautifully sung and very funny, and dividing the company into choir and congregation made it that much more realistic.
From my point of view the Blackadder sketch was out of place. The pace wasn’t slick enough and I didn’t find it at all amusing. I appreciate that some people would feel differently but I would have preferred to hear more musical numbers and a rousing end to the first act.
The ‘Jolly War Songs’ started off Act Two strongly, some of them were new to me, and again the company numbers were securely choreographed and sung.
‘Private Peaceful’ was really well done by the young people and what a lot of lines they had to remember! This was so much more appropriate than the Blackadder sketch and I was impressed and moved by it. It certainly captured the audience’s attention and brought home the horrors and inevitability of loss of life during wartime.
‘A Paradise for Two’ was beautifully sung by Clive and Aileen and the comic ‘Husbands and Wives’ (which I didn’t know) was well acted and sung by Mike and Maggie.
The singing was of your usual high standard, confidently performed by the whole company, and from the orchestra pit Fiona expertly conducted the trio, ensuring that the musical numbers flowed apparently effortlessly. I particularly liked the harmony in ‘They Didn’t Believe Me’.
Posters and old film footage helped to create the ambience of the time and the costumes were suitable. Robert’s army jacket was too tight and short and it’s hard to imagine who it might fit as he’s so slim!
Sound was good as were the sound effects and the poem reading could mostly be heard.
Lighting added a great deal to the production and the scene with the crosses, lit in red, was superb, also incredibly poignant.
Your programme cover is imaginative and the contents very interesting to read. I enjoyed the sing-a-long but as the house lights were down those people less familiar with the songs weren’t able to read them in the programme.
Thank you for inviting me to see the production which, in the space of around two hours, managed to convey the extremes of wartime. From the light hearted and uplifting comic songs which kept up the morale of the people, to the stark horrors faced by the men on the front and their camaraderie in the face of such terrifying events.
It was certainly a thought provoking evening and I enjoyed it very much.
Thanks also to Elizabeth for looking after us in the interval, and I wish you good luck with ‘Into the Woods’, which I shall look forward to seeing in the autumn.
N.O.D.A. South East Regional Representative – District 12