26th – 28th October 2017
Directors – Marian Savill & Ellie Savill
Musical Director – Ellie Savill
Stage Manager – Marian Savill
Bert & Betty Bunn (Owners of Bunns Bakery) – Ian Crabtree & Joan Alexander
Dr Alistair Crank (Dentist) – Alex McAdam
Julie Dean (Primary school teacher) – Claire Lilley
Alison Dewey (Librarian) – Rebecca Toogood
Rev. Garth Dillinger-James (Vicar) – Francis Pepper
Kitty Flowerdew (Florist) – Remke van der Velden
Duncan & Cynthia Fortescue-Stanley (Retired) – Derek Wisbey & Olga Mitcham
Jock Fowler (Owner of Fowler’s Family Butchers) – Dave Yates
Amanda & Miranda Merriweather (Owners of Ye Olde Tea Shoppe) – Louise Smart & Marian Savill
Morag McTavish (French teacher) – Barbara Pepper
Joseph Penn (Post Office assistant) – Michael McEvoy
Patricia Penn (Post lady) – Carol McEvoy
Demi Pointer (Owner of The Demi Pointer School of Dance) – Jo Rix
Martha Potts (Retired) – Enid Dickinson
Robert Potts (Paper boy) – Jack Barton
Melody Sharpe (Music teacher & choir mistress) – Ellie Savill
Read the NODA review for Community Spirit under ‘read more’ below!
The truth of the matter is, it was nothing at all like I was expecting. Marian Savill was in the directorial hot seat (as well as being stage manager) and Ellie Savill was Musical Director which, with the music on backing tracks probably made her more of a vocal coach. Miss Savill (E) is the Musical Director for the touring group and I have to admit I was completely and utterly stunned as song after song contained complicated harmonies and the sort of arrangement I was just not used to. One thing that was consistent with previous offerings was that the many musical numbers were woven around a unifying story. On this occasion we found ourselves at “The Village Show” with each performer taking the part of a village inhabitant, with the Rev. Garth Dillinger-James (Francis Pepper) presiding (one of the many in-jokes … and one of the few I understood!) It gave a nice back-story to what was essentially a high quality choral production.
The set (Michael Savill and Clive Alexander with embellishment by Marian Savill) gave the suggestion of a Village Hall stage with lighting and sound (Purple Box Audio and Visual) that was also of a high standard. I should add that this included the biggest pyro I have seen for some time, and it succeeded in filling the hall with smoke that only added to the brilliant lighting as if by design! Costumes (Barbara Pepper) were excellent and complementary hair and makeup (Val Grieg and Margo van der Gaag) were every bit as good.
To be honest, I liked just about every number in this production. The quality was very high, and the sound was superb. First half highlights were many and various and I was completely blown away by ‘The Rose’, presented immaculately by Jo Rix, Remke van der Velden and Carol McEvoy. The song gave me my first clue as to what this show was all about. With just the right amount of reverb, I absolutely loved Barbara Pepper and her stunning rendition of ‘Je Ne Regrette Rien’. It is worth noting that this was the song I ended up humming all the way home! Bizarrely, for a man who likes his comedy, my favourite part of the first half were the three offerings from the “Choir”. Pretty much the full ensemble presented ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ and ‘Oh Happy Day’… which left me feeling that a couple more of those would not have been out of place. Beautiful singing with the arrangement perfectly suiting the performers.
The second half was also littered with gems and Eleanor Rigby from Ellie Savill and Claire Lilley, backed by Carol McEvoy on cello, sent shivers up my spine. A wonderful sound for a wonderful song. There was a slightly stronger showing for the comedy in Act Two, starting with the walking wounded performing the ‘Can Can’ … inspirational! I loved ‘Parliamo Glasgow’ from Dave Yates and Barbara Pepper with interpretations from Derek Wisbey, and I laughed out loud to Louise Smart and Jo Rix revisiting the Darcey Bussell and Dawn French classic, ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’. The best bit of comedy however was brilliant Clare Lilley recreating Joyce Grenfell and the ‘Free Activity Period’. Musical accolades go to Ian Crabtree for a lovely ‘Hushabye Mountain’, to the Village Ladies for ‘Feed the Birds’, and to everyone for a great 1940’s medley bringing things to a close.
Penultimate paragraph honours were only ever going one way, and that is in the direction of the Musical Director, Ellie Savill. I have long been aware that MADAOS have a fair selection of quality singers, but to get the solo’s this good and the ensemble pieces so sweet must have taken hours/days/weeks/months of work. It was of a standard that I have not heard at this venue before, and has eased the pain of not having a pantomime to look forward to.
My profound congratulations to everyone concerned for giving me a cracking night’s entertainment. My advice to anyone in the March (and District) area is, that next time the touring company turn up nearby, grab a ticket! Like me, you will not be disappointed.
Stephen P.E. Hayter (Regional Representative N.O.D.A. Eastern Region Area 4 North)