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Tuesday 14 March 2017

Chess 2017 NODA Report

This vibrant Rock Opera was performed by a talented cast and ensemble that had many highlights and was an accomplished production.

The mood was established right from the start by the simple, but clever set design, including side screen projections and height variations in the staging, which added a new dimension along with positional lighting on a stage wide cyclorama.

The task of handling the intricate music to ensure tempos and continuity were kept was in the very capable hands of Musical Director John Tripp and his excellent Orchestra. There were on occasion, however, moments when I perceived the inclusion of additional musical harmonies that I was unfamiliar with and this made me question if an updated version had been developed of which I was unaware.

The story line itself was a little thin, covering the political aspect between USA and Russia and the love life of the protagonists both in love with the same lady. The passion and emotion of the music and the tension of the International World Chess Final presented a very sophisticated show and for this the strength of the show relied upon the quality and talents of the seven Principals, and, because of the complexities of the musical numbers, there could be no weaknesses.

The first act slowly engages the audience and closes with the well-known evocative ‘Anthem’, superbly sung by Mick Wilson (Anatoly) and ensemble. The second act is much stronger and the principals reveled in the opportunity to sing such superb songs. Tracy Gwynne (Florence) was simply wonderful having a very strong stage presence and powerful soprano voice. Chris Lucas (Freddie) the American chess master was well cast and showed great acting potential however, top notes, at times, were rather strained and he needs to develop the art of restraint remembering that on stage, less power often gives the audience more.

His Russian opponent Mick Wilson (Anatoly) was superb in the role and presented us with a master class in musical theatre.

Sarah Lodge (Svetlana) gave a very controlled performance on stage and her solo ‘Someone Else’s Story’ and duet with Florence ‘I Know Him So Well’ was beautifully sung and performed.

Phillip Cable (Walter) gave us a scheming and at times somewhat humorous performance, which was slowly picked up by the audience.

Molokov (Stephen Cooper) gave a fine, mature, understated portrayal, sang well and maintained his Russian accent throughout.

Joanna Tripp( Arbiter) hit the high notes with ease and power and it was interesting to see a woman in this role. Well done.

Ensemble singing was excellent and the orchestral sound was perfect. However the one weak spot was the choreography. Dance combinations often seemed muddled and a number of the ensemble were out of time in the faster paced sections. The use of pom-poms did not work at all.

The quality of the sound was good and I loved the overhead camera, perfectly positioned every time.

Costumes and hair for the principals were in keeping with the time period but the ensemble were a mismatch of styles and designs and the general appearance of some of the younger members of the chorus was rather untidy. In particular, hair- styles needed more attention.

The finale ‘Anthem’ by the whole Company was totally thrilling. The audience loved it and so did I.  

This was a memorable production for Ware Operatic and well suited to their strengths as accomplished singers. Congratulations.

Thank you for your hospitality and I hope to see you again soon.

Report by Vicki Avery, NODA District 9


Tuesday 22 March 2016

Pirates of Penzance Review

Review by Angie Frost

The Pirates of Penzance is set during the reign of Queen Victoria and is a comic opera in two acts with music by Arthur Sullivan and Libretto by W S Gilbert.

The Broadway production opened at the Uris Theatre in New York on January 8th 1981 and ran for 787 performances.

The evening started off with a tuneful overture with an excellent orchestra of musicians under the direction of John Tripp.  As the curtain rose we were delighted to a large male chorus of pirates and an excellent vocal sound of “Pour, Oh Pour the Pirate Sherry”.

The main characters Pirate King (Phillip Cable), Ruth (Joanna Tripp), Mabel, (Hannah-Marie Webb), Frederic (Matthew Juggins) and Major-General (Mick Wilson) were all believable in their roles and acted and sang to a high standard.

Supporting Roles Sergeant of Police (Stephen Cooper), Samuel (Chris Lucas), Kate (Kimberley Brough), Isabel (Jane Johnson) and  Edith (Rachel Mayes) were perfectly cast and contributed their individual characterisation to this production.

Ruth (Joanna Tripp) gave a strong performance with good characterisation, clear dialogue and singing.  I particularly liked her duet with Frederic “Oh False One You Have deceived Me” and the audience reaction as she crawled on her knees was a joy.

Frederic (Matthew Juggins).  It was so lovely to see a Frederic that was natural, as sometimes this part can be played as a bit of a lad.  Matthew was a delight to watch and a pleasure to listen to.  I enjoyed his trios with Ruth and Pirate King in act two.

Pirate king (Phillip Cable) performed well with good singing and was very believable as the head of the pirates.

Mabel ( Hannah-Marie Webb) was a delight with beautiful singing voice, coping very well with those difficult songs.  Her duet with Frederic “No I’ll Be Brave” was emotionally put across.

Major-General (Mick Wilson) was a joy to watch from the moment he appeared with his brilliant wordy song “Modern Major-General” and energetic moves with great diction and comic timing,  FABULOUS.

The chorus of Pirates, Police and Major-General daughters all sang well showing  lots of individual characters. 

Director (John Hebden) had worked very hard on this production with some great added touches.  My favourite moments were “With Cat Liked Tread” with great movement and added touch of light sabres in the reprise and The Pirate kings Selfie Stick photo of the pirates at the end of the song.

Lighting Design by (John Castle) and Sound by (Phil Stannard) were excellent and costumes were in keeping with the period.

Thank you very much for a most enjoyable evening and I look forward to seeing future productions, well done Ware Operatic.


Saturday 21 March 2015

Oliver! Review

NODA's Vicki Avery has reviewed our production of Oliver!

"The opening scene set in the workhouse introduced us to Oliver, his fellow orphans and Mr. Bumble and Widow Corney, caretakers of the orphanage. Joseph Alfieri brought out both the innocent and yet determined sides of Oliver’s character and his singing was delightful.

The orphans were a lively bunch of children who sang, acted and danced their way through their many stage appearances with great enthusiasm and confidence.

Reece Debnam has natural stage presence and was splendid as the Artful Dodger.

Tim Sawers and Joanna Tripp as Mr. Bumble and Widow Corney made a great double act and performed their duet ‘I Shall Scream’ with gusto.

Whenever I think of ‘Oliver’ my first thoughts are always of Fagin, Nancy and Bill Sykes as the real characters in the story and these are three very difficult roles to play.

Jeff Hammond, as Fagin, delivered a fine portrayal of this unsavoury, yet somewhat ‘fatherly’ man. His superb make-up totally transformed him into a man older that he himself is. His rendition of ‘Reviewing The Situation’ was magnificently constructed and perfectly executed.

Nicola Thomas as Nancy, gave a thoughtful and emotional performance and her impassioned portrayal combined with a stunning singing voice was just superb.

I felt that Steve Berman’s characterization of Bill Sykes was slightly lacking in intimidation although he did look and sound quite menacing. It is a shame no dog was found to play his faithful dog “Bullseye”.

Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry, (Matthew Huggins and Hannah-Marie Webb) the undertakers, required more depth to their characters and although confidently acted with clear diction, the over all presentation of the characters did not develop and left me wanting more.  Daniel Stride as Noah Claypole and Sarah Budd as Charlotte were cast well together and completed the Sowerberry element of the story.

The set was well used and the different levels added to the all over visual effect.

Lighting effects were imaginative and choreography though simple, suited the company well.

A terrific orchestra together with superb principals and an enthusiastic supporting cast, lead to a great performance all round."


Tuesday 19 August 2014

Ware Operatic in two very successful concerts

A night  Out in the West End

Friday and Saturday 11 ,12 July
Ware Drill Hall

The Summer Concert with was another great success with near capacity of 600 attending over the two nights

Vicki Avery from NODA attended the concert and commented

"This was an evening of music reflecting some well known and some lesser-known songs from musicals that have appeared in London’s West End. The concert opened with a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber and then moved on to such delights as 'Bui Doi' from Miss Saigon sung expertly by Mick Wilson and 'Loosing My Mind' from Follies, sung with superb musicality by Melanie Tilbury. The first half ended with a compendium of ABBA songs from Mamma Mia.

The second half commenced with the company entering from the auditorium singing a piece from The Lion King arranged by Ed Bussey. I really enjoyed this arrangement. There were some beautifully sung pieces in this half, both serious and tongue in cheek. Joanna Tripp’s rendition of 'Feed the Birds' from Mary Poppins was hauntingly reflective and 'Popular' from Wicked sung by Philippa Christer, Sarah Lodge and Zoe Briggs was great fun and Beth Wischhusen gave a stunning performance of 'Glitter and Be Gay' from Candide. The evening came to a close with Ed Lojeski’s arrangement from Les Miserables.

This was an enjoyable concert and one that I know the audience appreciated. Congratulations to all involved "

Keep the Home Fires Burning 100th Anniversary of WW1

Saturday 2nd August
Ware Drill

Ware Operatic with support from some members of Ware Choral had the pleasure in being part of this sell out concert . which  also featured the Opus One Swing Band,  and Ware Brass  as part of a cast of over 80 musicians and actors.

We featured in the première of two chorale pieces composed by an American Peter Mitchell from Chicago. The two pieces “In Flanders Field” and “On the Beaches of Normandy” had only ever been performed before by the resident choir in Fox Valley near Chicago USA. Despite suffering a stroke 8 weeks before the concert, the composer Peter Mitchell together with eight of his family still managed to make the trip from the USA, although he was not well enough to conduct his work.

The event coordinator and leader of Opus One, Ted Higgins was delighted with the audience response. He said “ I could have sold the show twice over, such was the overwhelming demand for tickets.