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Welwyn Thalians
Musical and Dramatic Society

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Pirates of Penzance - Review by Ian Colpitts

I don’t mind admitting that Gilbert & Sullivan have never been on my playlist, nor had I ever seen any of their operettas. I was familiar with several of their compositions however, songs such as “I am the very model of a modern Major General” and “When a fellon’s not engaged in his employment” (a.k.a. A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One). So I was unsure quite what to expect when I took my seat for the final performance of The Thalians latest offering “The Pirates Of Penzance”at the Thalian’s Hall in Bridge Road East, WGC on Saturday last.


I need not have worried as the entire show was a visual and musical delight from beginning to end. I do not exaggerate when I say it had everything from comedy, pathos, virtuoso singing (more of that later in my review), rousing ensemble singing, glamour, and did I mention comedy? Added to this was a first-class musical accompaniment by musicians, though few in number (only 3 plus Musical Director), who produced a full sound worthy of a much larger music section.


With a cast list of 24, fairly evenly split between ladies and gentlemen, many taking dual roles, it would not be practical to name everyone. However, I must single out some of the principal performers for special mention. Adam Beckman is not a newcomer to Thalians and was cast as The Pirate King, in stature and vocal performance I feel sure he would not be out of place of the stage of many professional opera companies, his commanding on-stage presence was mesmerising and his characterisation and vocal range a highlight of the show. Melanie Plowman-Cobb is new to Thalians, though clearly not new to singing. She was cast as Mabel, one of the Major General’s daughters, and it was as though she was born for the part. Her strong and assured singing was beautiful, and a perfect match for Alex Ryde who played Frederick, her love interest. Alex returns to Thalians after a break of several years and one wonders what he has been doing in the intervening period, performing I hope as his performance was first-class. Louise Bateman, a Thalians stalwart, was a joy to watch, first as the dowdy, down-trodden Ruth, Frederick’s nanny, and in the second half as a voluptuous lady pirate in black leather bustier (okay PVC but still!), breeches and thigh length boots (I needed to lie down for a while). Her singing and comic performance were spot on. Clive Dancey took the part of Major General and certainly did it justice, he was funny and energetic and carried off his iconic song extremely well. His other ‘daughters’ were played by Justine House as Edith, Mariama Barrie as Kate, both of whom sang solos, and Tammy Wall, Lauren Hill, Rachel Betts and MJ Scott, who were hilarious as modern day, slightly chavvy teenagers with all the usual poses and selfie taking. Peter Sayers was a very funny Samuel, the Pirate King’s right-hand-man, and Alison Downes played a very convincing Police Sergeant.


The Policewomen, the Concubines and the Pirates completed the cast and were lively, enthusiastic and rarely off stage. The costumes, choreography and simple stage set complemented the whole production and were much appreciated by the capacity audience who gave a seated but rousing ovation for a truly great evenings entertainment.


Congratulations to all involved, particularly Peter Farrell, the Musical Director, Tammy Wall and Alison Downes for choreography and Amanda Sayers, the Director who was also responsible for choreography. I await Thalians next production with anticipation.

Ian Colpitts


Previous Shows

Chicago - January 2020 show

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Review by Vicki Avery

Taking on a show that few people know anything about can be a risky business as many a Society can testify. However, Welwyn Thalians took the gamble to perform the musical adapted from the 1988 film which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin as two conmen working on the French Riviera and should really have paid dividends. The show was very funny and definitely should have pulled more people into the theatre. Principally the show is a five-hander, plus a cameo performance from one of the society’s up-and-coming performers, Kat Foxworthy as Jolene. A good character actress but take care not to push the vocals too hard as there were moments when breath control was not secure. Otherwise I enjoyed your interpretation. Much depended on the quality of the leading quintet however, and director, Amanda Sayers must have been proud of what they have achieved. The two conmen, played by Peter Sayers as Lawrence Jameson and Alex Ryde as Freddy Benson were very convincing, sparking off each other throughout. Both seemed perfectly comfortable whether on script, or indeed off it, as several topical lines  produced titters from the audience. Vocals were confidently sung and duets well balanced. Tamsin Goodwin-Connelly provided the perfect foil as Christine Colgate, the butter wouldn't melt in the mouth 'little innocent' American heiress, who becomes the target for the conniving duo. This was Tamsin's return to the Company after a break of some 16 years, and hopefully she will stay a while. Diction and accent were both well sustained and vocals were secure. Andre Thibault, Lawrence's 'secretary' and arranger, was played convincingly by Adam Beckman, who along with the competent Alison Downes as Muriel lent much to the success of this production with another two fine performances. There wasn't a great deal of work for chorus, but along with some thoughtful choreography they added some colour and support to the show. There are no well-known numbers in the show, but the music is catchy enough and well sung by both the principals and chorus. I particularly enjoyed “Guys Like Us”. The orchestra created a really good sound but at times overwhelmed the cast especially where it was spoken word over the music.The scenes were creative and well planned. The props complemented the scenery and gave an uncluttered appearance.  The lighting was well done and the split stage covered extremely well.  The costumes worked well but some of the hem lines were a little on the short side and I did not quite understand the mix of evening and day wear in the same scene. The production was very well crafted and the integration of the principals and chorus was evident with each member of the chorus creating their own persona.Well done on bringing together the many complicated scenes thus creating a story with style and panache. Thank you once again for your generous hospitality and I look forward to your next production.

Vicki Avery Rep District 9


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