‘Looking Back’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by December 7, 2015

‘Looking Back’ or ‘A Melville Musical Retrospective’ is the collaborative work of musical, stage schoolteachers Katherine and Justin Freind, and award winning directors Vanessa Jensen and Susan Lynch. The Melville Theatre Company has been producing dramas and musicals for 30 years now, so it was decided to have a special celebration of their many musical presentations.

The two-week season ran at The Melville Theatre on Stock Road until Saturday 5th December.

 

The scene is a storage and audition area of the Melville Theatre. To the right, on the stage apron, is the office. Central, in front of the stage at auditorium level, is Justin Freind on keyboard.

Jeff Hansen and Ben Cooke’s lighting setup is operated by Susan Lynch.

 

        The theatre’s most amazing thespian ever – in his eyes – Charlie (Alan Kennedy) is ignoring the committee’s desire, to have a musical representing their three decades of performances. Charlie wants the high drama of Shakespeare and Greek tragedy. Wisely, the committee have hired party co-ordinator, Fredrick (Sean Bullock alternating with Garry Davies) to make their celebrations swing. This led to wonderful light-hearted banter.

       The show started with first of the nine musicals that have appeared in the hallowed hall over the past three decades. So, with a rousing chorus from the cast of ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’ the show had a great start. Then Stan Schirmer and Trinity Ellis tunefully reminded us of ‘Scrooge’.

      The two next shows were presented by the soft voice of Ellie Hart in ‘A Chorus Line’, followed by the powerful, operatic voice of Katherine Freind in ‘The Dancing Years’. Her husband, Justin Freind, then joined Katherine as they jitterbugged and Charlestoned to the ‘The Boyfriend’.

       The laugh of the night went to Neroli Burton as she represented the ‘Old Time Music Hall’, gradually replacing the musical ‘bars’ with alcoholic ones.

       Amy Gunnell, Trinity Ellis, Amelie Broadbent, Amy McCann, Erin Whitehead gave an inspiring chorus of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ followed, it was outstanding with a rendition from Michael Trestrail, Julia Hern, Alyssa Billington, Blake and Cooper Jenkins.

      A sensitive and poignant version of ‘Marilyn Munroe’ from the musical ‘Blood Brothers’ was sung by Julia Hern and Darren Peterson; and as the tissues were put away, Ellie Hart joined in for the next song.

       ‘The Sound of Music’ was the winner of the Finley Award in 1984 – here it gave a rousing ending to this fun show. Katherine Freind and Children’s Chorus gave it their all. It rounded up with little Cadence Smyth giving a beautiful finale. Matilda Jenkins soft-shoed along with the lively final chorus.

 

The standard of singing and choreography was very high. Even the youngsters could belt out their pieces without losing tune or stumbling. Pleased I caught this show and look forward to the next celebration in 2045.