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Welwyn Thalians
Musical and Dramatic Society

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NODA Review - Welwyn Thalians Sleeping Beauty


What a lovely warm welcome greeted me when I arrived at Thalian Hall, the Welwyn Thalian’s headquarters. A modest sized hall with a wide stage at one end. I immediately noticed the surround on the proscenium arch covered with beautifully painted roses and thorns and a crown in the center.


The opening number was well sung and immediately put everyone in panto’ mood.


Billy (Tim Spinks) was well cast, with a good rapport and a cheeky smile. It is essential that whoever plays this role understands that they are the main link between the storyline and the audience and this was achieved perfectly.


King Norbert (Peter Farrell) played the frustrated yet lovable foil to Queen Dorothy, ably portrayed by Peter Sayers. This was a good pairing with the experience to verbally bounce off each other.


Kitty (Jodie Mardlin) was soft and gentle and would be loved by every little girl in the audience. I would have liked a few more cat like movements and hands cupped into paw shapes but on the whole a pleasing performance.


Fairy Peaceful (Gillian Shaw) was very well cast. Good clear diction and excellent use of pause and awareness of audience. I liked this portrayal very much, well done.


The three Fairy Godmothers (Stephanie Dunn, Louise Bateman and Vicki Collins) worked well as a team and supported Fairy Peaceful appropriately.


Carabosse (Amanda Sayers) or should I call her Cara Bossy, did an excellent job as the evil Fairy. This experienced actress knew just how to work her audience to the maximum. Vocal range was good and facial expression perfect for the character.


Spindleshanks (Tammy Wall) gave us a new and alternative slant to the evil fairy’s sidekick. Good interaction with the audience and I enjoyed the modern interpretation on cat movements. However, her costume seemed somewhat lacking for such a bad cat. Ripped coloured fishnets covering the arms, legs and chest overlaid on the black might have added another dimension and made her character visually more interesting.


Princess Aurora was played by a young Lauren Hill. Playing Principal Girl is a good way to learn your craft but you need to wok on projection and breath control. Vocals were good but do not be afraid to own the stage, especially when you sing. This was a nice performance that will develop with experience. A leading lady in the making I think.


Prince Orlando (Alison Downes) although a relatively minor character in this version of the story, did well to portray the typical Principle Boy. Body stance was perfect, with thighs pulled up tight and shoulders back. The duet with Princess Aurora was enjoyable but lacked power but perhaps this was due to the choice of song.


The ensemble worked hard, singing, dancing and smiling throughout. The rat dance was great fun but the highlight for me was the Dream Land Ballet. This had a beautiful fluidity about it and I enjoyed it very much



Lighting was well positioned and costumes appropriate although I would have liked to see Princess Aurora with her hair taken off her face and her makeup a shade darker. This is panto’ time so bring on the false lashes and bright lipstick! For me the fairies needed more sparkle on their eyes and cheeks and again hairstyles needed addressing. Makeup for the OTT characters was good but for mere mortals faces were very pale and the stage lighting drained the skin of colour.


Choreography was simple yet adequate for the size of stage and the various abilities of the cast. No one looked out of place or awkward.


This production was performed well considering the weakness of the script and I was pleased that some current jokes were interjected to bring the dialogue up to date.


Well done to you all.


Thank you for your hospitality  - Vicki Avery District 9

Audition Pieces Hall Bookings

Our Next Show in May 2020

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


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

Previous Shows

Chicago - Review by Vicki Avery     

This was Clive Dancey’s first venture into  directing adults and if you are going to cut your teeth on anything then why not go for a “Biggy!” The challenge of Chicago needed a well drilled cast who were used to working in a somewhat confined space, but with careful creative execution this is exactly what he got. The stark black setting, off set with cell block bars gave a minimalistic feel and the clean and classic letters of Chicago in red lights created a very dramatic effect. If the setting and props are stripped back to the minimum then one has to rely on effective lighting. This was well designed and took our eye exactly to the action. Musical Director Daniel Ephgrave and his small orchestra integrated into the show well although there were a few times when those members of the cast who did not project their voices quite so well were overtaken and could not be heard. Choreography was slick, and as Fosse-esque as you would expect. The Cell Block Tango was on pointe. Exactly what I would expect from Tammy Wall. Velma Kelly was expertly played and danced by Sara Dinmore - I certainly believed that she would shoot both her sister and husband if they crossed her. Strong casting here. She had a great rapport with Roxy and Mama Morton, played by Katherine Foxworthy. ‘Class’ was fantastic and their voices really blended beautifully. Katherine Foxworthy looked to be enjoying every moment playing  Matron Mama Morton and I loved the comedy she achieved with the part and the nuances, however, I did feel that she needed to be aged somewhat as this fresh faced young actress looked too young to have experienced a life of manipulation and depravity in a late 1920’s jail. Roxie played by the very talented Tammy Wall simply blew me away. The song “I Know a Girl” was just amazing. The famous “Both Reached for the Gun” with Billy Flynn and the chorus was so strong and slick. Tammy’s characterization was simply beautiful and delicately done throughout, worthy of the West End. Billy Flynn played by Carl Robinson again strong casting as the sleazy buck-making lawyer, holding on that long note while checking his bow tie and cuff links - brilliant. Amos Hart played by Chris White was perfect for this role. A seasoned actor, he gave us a masterclass in insignificance, a very spectacular moment and one that had a very different feel from the rest of the show, gaining the audience’s sympathy. He played this role exactly as I imagined and I loved it. Congratulations. Mary Sunshine played by Amanda Sayers, the tabloid reporter who always presumed that there was a little bit of good in everyone, including cold blooded killers, had the right impact on all her entrances. Normally played by a man in drag, you could tell Amanda really enjoyed playing the part. Adam Beckman as the announcer gave a competent performance, with a twinkle in his eye that made us want to know more about what was coming next. Understated yet oh so necessary. Well done. The cast were strong and there was not a weak link in the minor characters or ensemble. The women prisoners in ‘Cell Block Tango’ were all sexy, strong in character/pose and looked very striking in their various black outfits, all bringing out their personalities from protesting their innocence. Shout out to Hunyak played by Jade Marriott. Jade`s accent was flawless - not a clue what she was saying (without googling it), but who cares? I could listen to her talk like that forever! Well done Jade. Costumes throughout looked good and stylised. I have seen this musical a few times and I enjoyed this exciting, energised and astute production just as much as when it first became available to amateurs.  Congratulations to you all.
Vicki Avery Noda Rep’ District 9





 
      Due to recent events, Postponed until further notice