National Operatic & Dramatic Association                               London Region

Society                 :  St Peter Players
Production          :  Forbidden Broadway
Date                      :  13 July 2019
Venue   :  Chalfont St Peter Community Centre
Report by             :  Judith Watsham

Show Report

Thank you for inviting me to your summer production and for your warm welcome Ruth (not to mention the return of an award box – glad it turned up).

This show is more a revue than a musical of course with its witty new lyrics to well-known show tunes and involves a considerable amount of ingenuity by director and cast not to mention the make-up and wardrobe departments.  Everyone involved, both on and off stage, had thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the concept and the result was a fast-paced show which kept the audience entertained throughout.  A simple set enhanced every number well.  Some wicked interpretations of Hollywood stars like Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, Liza Minelli and Barbra Streisand, were very well performed.  The ladies concerned, Tina Barclay, Kirstin Stansfield, Leanne O’Reilly (I hope this is right – your surname appeared in the programme with and without the O’) and finally Tina again, all got the appearance, mannerisms and singing styles off to a tee!

As is my wont with shows of this type I will report on the technical side of the production first and then single out some of my personal highlights as it is not, of course, a show with principals who need to fit into the skins of a particular character but rather soloists who have to switch characters often with great rapidity! 

Graham Caesar-Gordon’s direction was sure and Richard Fairhead, the MD, worked everyone hard!  So many different styles of music are involved in Forbidden Broadway that it really needs talented ‘musos’ to perform it as well as this.  Lynne O’Reilly added some very good choreography which all worked very well.  Lovely iconic pose for ‘Liza’ incidentally.

The set with its NY skyline backdrop worked well, congratulations to Alan and Graham Caesar-Gordon and Tina Barclay for this.  The red platform worked well too, especially as an hilarious ‘revolve’ for the Les Mis numbers.  Talking of which, Jane Rawlinson, complete with kneepads, both knelt and sang well as ‘Corsette’.

Lighting, Les and India Brewer, was good – I liked the gobo on the curtain and the other down stage ‘bits’ like SUBWAY.

Sound was also very good, well done James Pearce and Beri Valentine for ensuring that the band never drowned the vocalists.

Costumes, Liz Peskin and Ruth Corner, were excellent, whether impersonating one of the above ‘stars’, dressing in the correct style for the particular show being satirised or just adding a relevant item – everything was just right.  Indeed, the effect of the black witch’s outfit being blown by a leaf blower will live in my mind every time I think of Wicked!

No credit for make up and wigs but there should have been as this aspect was very funny and added so much to everyone’s performance and the audience’s enjoyment.  Matilda Patterson’s doll make up, for example, was very well done in Both Reached for the Gun with Steve Element.  Incidentally Steve, I really liked your version of I Enjoy Being a Cat.

Jo Sutton’s informative programme was excellent with some good cast pics from Bob Simpson.

The entire programme was very well performed by everyone, but one or two highlights stick out in my memory, and always will every time I see or hear the musicals concerned.  My nearly 12 year old companion did not like Mamma Mia but that was not because it was badly staged – it was excellent – but because it is her favourite show of all time (at the moment anyway) and she did not like to see it made fun of!  However, I thought that Lucy Shirley, Sophie Webster and Imogen Bagley, not to mention the chorus, performed very well.

Lucy Shirley put over a version of the hit from Annie, Tomorrow, very well and your On My Phone was beautifully performed.

I really liked the performance of the tongue twister Into the Woods with Kirstin, Liz Peskin, Steve and Neil.

Leanne O’Reilly provided some of the best moments in the show – her Defying Subtlety was superb as was both Liza One Note, Razzle Dazzle and The Song They Stole From Us with the excellent Neil Goulder, whose take on Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Somewhat Overindulgent) was very well performed.

Director Graham took part in several numbers; Graham, I was told that you had problems with cast members dropping out which was one reason, I assume, that you featured – not easy directing and performing at the same time but you managed it!  I particularly loved your It’s Too High!

Ruth Corner and Alistair Meads completed the line up of a most an enjoyable, and suitable, entertainment for a summer evening.  Congratulations to you all.

Judith Watsham

NODA London Regional Representative Districts 11 and 11A