News from 2013
'Footloose' success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Our cast are back from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and what a week they had…
Sell out shows, performing on the Royal Mile as well as going to see a mix of theatre, dance, music and comedy. VIVA would like to say a massive thank you for having such a great cast who made the week so enjoyable and a further thank you to everyone who came along and supported them. Now – on to the next one!
Please follow the link below to see our 4/5 start review from the Three Weeks Edinburgh…
'Grease the Musical' - Go gooo Grease Lightening!
Our Youth Theatre Company danced away in the summer of 2013 to the music of Grease!
With four performances plus a bunch of fundraising events including the Soham Carnival the cast and crew were certainly kept busy but they had a lot of fun while doing it.
Review of Viva Youth Theatre’s production of ‘Grease’ at the Performing Arts Centre, Soham Village College on Friday 12th July 2013
On a gorgeous summer evening in July, there is nothing finer than attending an excellent theatrical production and Viva Youth Theatre’s ‘Grease’ was no disappointment. The energy, enthusiasm, fantastic choreography and very high standing of music brought the stage alive.
There seemed a massive cast, but the multi-levelled staging was no problem for these talented performers. The leading members of the company, Danny (Charlie O’Connor) and Sandy (Madison Eddy) were ideal, their characters, singing and actions recreating that memorable love story perfectly. Other notable characters were the sparky, spiteful, Betty Rizzo (Laura Day), the goody-goody Patty Simcox (Olivia Fahy), Kenickie (Aaron Lord) and his amazing ‘greased lightning’ car, beauty fanatic Frenchy (Emily Palmer) and Eugene Florczyck (Breannain Jakes). I also thoroughly enjoyed the portrayal of the lively Cha Cha DiGregorio (Mariana Carvalho), Sonny (Dan Lane), the straight-laced Miss Lynch (Cassie Rouse), Marty (Rebecca Storey), Vince Fontaine (Dylan Cardwell), Jan (Zara Minns), Doody (Matthew Buzer). Congratulations must be given to Artistic Director, Michael Kowalczyk, for stepping into the breach and filling the role of Roger after the original actor broke his arm!
Supported by a lively rock band, the singing and dancing rocked, twisted and jived magnificently. Authentic haircuts, colourful costumes and youthful banter and antics made the day. Producers Dan Schumann and Lynn Quelch, Directors Michael Kowalczyk and Jenny Surridge (Music) and Choreographers Ellie Bovingdon and Louise Plummer and their team are to be congratulated for such a wonderful evening’s entertainment.
NODA award winning
'The Sound of Music'
In March 2013 to celebrate our 15th anniversary we took to the stage at Ely Cathedral in the Lady Chapel. With this beautiful back drop we performed to over 250 people per evening. Yes it was cold but the cast and crew had a blast. Not only that but we were awarded ‘Best musical’ and ‘Best overall production’ in the annual National Operatic and Dramatic Association awards.
Viva Theatre Company chose this famous musical for their fifteenth birthday production. Based on a true story of the Von Trapp family I am sure there cannot be many people who are unaware of the story of Maria the feisty young novice nun, who has been sent by the Mother Abbess on a temporary transfer to look after the seven Von Trapp children and ends up married to their widowed father.
I am going to struggle to find enough superlatives to write this review. From the first note to the last the audience was spellbound. The Lady Chapel in Ely Cathedral was a wonderful (if cold) setting for this production. The staging provided two levels which was used to its fullest extent. It depicted a mountain which the nuns and others ‘climbed’ at various points and which opened up in sections, under cover of darkness, to allow the swift and efficient stage crew to make the scene changes. There were some lovely lighting effects too which enhanced it all.
The choreography by Louise Plummer was impressive: nothing was held back and no quarter given to the small area available, it was vibrant and interesting. I must compliment Ellie Bovingdon and Duncan Earlham who were marvellous with 16 going on 17 . The musicians under MD Stephen Kenna were first-rate complimenting the singers well. The costumes were amazing and how the dressers managed some of the fast changes had to be seen to be believed. They must have had a conveyor belt system back stage. It is a long time since I have seen such a huge cast but everyone did their bit.
Shellie Baigent produced an electrifying performance as Maria. I’ve rarely heard singing so good in an amateur show. It was superb and worthy of a West End performance. Equally Anthea Kenna played the Mother Abbess with authority,
confidence and genuine emotion, her powerful rendition of Climb Every Mountain brought the first act to a stirring and emotive close.
Special mention must be made of the Von Trapp children: Ellie Bovingdon (Liesl), Zara Minns (Marta) Tarryn Richardson (Brigitta), Holly Marsden (Louisa), Ben Howard (Frederick), Lawrence Whitworth (Kurt) and (always last!) Lola Macdonald (Gretl). They were without exception excellent. All had good singing voices and all produced good, believable, confident performances. Jenny Surridge played the elegant Baroness Elsa with genuine warmth towards
Captain Von Trapp with none of the overlay of wicked stepmother but with the right condescending ‘don’t touch me’ approach towards the children. Jon Bridgeman played the unbending Captain Von Trapp well but I would like to
have seen just a little more empathy with Maria, it did come out more towards the end but this musical doesn’t give the Captain and Maria much time to build on romance so the attraction needs to be shown as early on as possible. David
Tickner imbued his character of Max with much humour. An actor who knows how to use facial expressions and delivery to the fullest extent.
There was excellent support too from Ben Clark (Franz), Charlie Ellerton (Herr Zeller), Hetti Wood (Sister Margaretta) Duncan Earlham (Rolf), Naomi Porter (Schmidt), Lesley Wood (Sister Berthe) and Emily Palmer (Sister Sophia).
The show was “topped and tailed” with beautiful singing by the nuns: musically the piece was of a very high quality all round.
I am so glad I saw this fabulous production. It was a wonderful evening.
Regional Representative NODA East (4S)
'The Ghost Train' a spooky Halloween special by the Theatre Company
In October 2013 our Theatre Company took on the spooky play 'The Ghost Train'. The audience were swept along a path of ghosts and ghouls and the show was a great success.
Guaranteed to put ‘bums on seats’ this famous play has been around since 1925, and been performed by hundreds of amateur companies down the years as well as being made into a film. Nowadays it has a ‘classic’ status but—does it stand the test of time? The play has obvious weaknesses and it is therefore important to capture the period and
atmosphere of its time and setting. A steam train, ghosts, a lonely isolated station, a cold night, dead bodies and a group of disparate characters provide the basis for intrigue. The language is ‘quaint’ even in anger which, unfortunately, at times brought laughter in inappropriate places.
Making his debut as a director David Moat took on a play which is difficult to pull off as, at times, the script comes over as contrived and often appears to be a comedy rather than a thriller. I thought the idea of “topping and tailing” the play with a black and white silent film was excellent giving the audience a brief introduction to the characters as they travelled and eventually ended up at Fal Vale station.
All members of the cast did well. A commanding performance by Rowan Maulder as Teddy Deakin—the idiot who, of course, turns out to be the hero detective—caught the style well and drew every ounce of humour from his character, keeping things moving along nicely. Scott Robertson and Radha Cardwell as Richard and Elsie Winthrop
worked well together but I would like to have heard more variety of tone from Miss Cardwell. Making his stage debut as Charles Murdock was David Blythe and a fine job he did of it too. Playing opposite Hannah Burns as Peggy Murdock must have given him much confidence as this actress put in an excellent performance.
All other parts were also well played: One was in no danger of missing a word with Vaughan Moll as Saul Hodgkin the station master, retelling the supposed ghost story with great relish. Helen Hawes as Miss Bourne was obviously not as old as her character description required but she came across well. Kerry Hibbert as Henrietta Price was great, an actress with obvious potential. Kirsten Martin as the apparently slightly deranged Julia Price also did a good job but I felt her Chicago type accent was, for me, very hard to understand.The ever-reliable David Tickner as Dr Sterling was excellent as he aided and abetted the Price sisters in their nefarious activities. Jack Wright as Jackson got the role of the actor who comes on for the last two pages. Always a difficult thing to do but he managed it just fine.
The period costumes were good and the sound effects excellent. The stage at The Brook has limited facilities and, as it is obviously a venue which is well-used, time to erect a set is possibly fairly limited. An attempt had been made to create a believable station waiting room and the two large windows looked good but effort should have been made to stabilise them as every time anyone went near them they swayed from side to side which added to the humour but broke the tense atmosphere the cast had endeavoured to create. So, did this company make the play work? I think they pulled it off well, in the main, providing their audience with a lively evening’s entertainment.
Regional Representative NODA East (District 4S)