IF YOU are aboard the SS American you would have been entertained by a very capable and dedicated crew both on and back stage. Ably captained by Director Lyn Bedford and Musical Director Stuart Kidd, all was expertly steered through the choppy waters of large scale production and the results were far from “anything goes”!
The 1930’s musical of this name is one of the rare combinations of a witty, well-structured script and fabulous music by Cole Porter. The wide range of choreography and tap routines master-minded by Jill Harris added much to the pace and 1930’s feel of the production. Chris Prince’s adaptable set gave the impression of a chic and spacious liner despite the limitations of the stage and wing space. Colourful and imaginative lighting and sound effects completed the picture.
The large company of youngsters dazzled not only in the huge array of sophisticated costumes provided by Sue Kitson, but also in their disciplined, energetic and enthusiastic performances. Every member of the cast kept in character and holiday mood. However, the leading lads did much show stealing and stopping. Stowaway Billy (Edward Berry) was thoroughly professional in both his acting and singing. Indeed he had the sort of wonderful ease, charm and timing found in the best American musicals. The challenging part of the lovable villain, Moon Face Martin (Cameron Hall) was played with real flair and consistency, whilst the comic upper-class Englishman abroad was superbly played by Calum Dawkins. All these travellers and their efficient steward (Daniel Hallam) had voices which made their musical numbers a real delight.
The four leading ladies did not disappoint. All maintained clarity and accents as well as character. Natasha Skinner was a most winning and amusing Bonny. Heather Saunders made a most convincing, over-bearing Mama, and Charlotte Webb really captured the sweet strength and humour of heroine Hope. Real credit should go to Jenny Collins who sustained the very demanding role of saucy Reno Sweeny with absolute confidence with her attractive bluesy, blousy voice.
Backed up by the sensitive accompaniment of the band (some magical moments from the wood wind in particular) this young company treated the audience to an excellent piece of musical theatre that many an adult amateur group would find hard to better.