Book by Neil Simon
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh
Well where to start on this show! Only one of our cast had ever taken part in a production of this madcap show and only one other had seen it done professionally; but why was it not done more often - we'll tell you why - it is difficult that is why! But it is worth every moment as this has to be one of the funniest, frenetic and fun shows that anyone can either go and see or perform in!
The great thing about this show is that it has so many parts; the downside is that the majority of them are for men. Don't forget that the original Broadway and West End productions had one man (Sid Cesar and Bruce Forsyth respectively) do seven parts. We decided to split the parts but that still meant that most principals had two parts and everybody had their stint in the "chorus". What was important from the start was who was going to be the hapless but buxom Belle and the lovable toff Nobel; it had to be Rhiannon and Paul who put in stonking performances. Rhiannon in particular had some very tricky changes and Paul also doubled up as the fabulously dim Fred Poitrine.
Jan as our director had a very definite image in her head about this show. The problem that had to be avoided was one of dropping the pace. This combined with the need to get everything in a van so we could tour the production meant that, somewhat characteristically, our set was minimal and rather that have an expansive and fussy wardrobe, we did everything in simple "blacks" which were accessorised, each scene and character having a predominant accent colour. Belle was always with red accessories, Nobel in blue and his mother in green. The effect was astounding. We even got a round of applause when we came on one night for the colourful "Rich Kids Rag" scene! But not having bulky scenery didn't stop us having a huge prop list and an inventive approach to some scenes; in particular we acted out the one armed bandits and the roulette table in the casino scene which got a gasp of approval every night not to mention the riotous SS Gigantic scene that also got a round of applause halfway through.
The show is a tad long but all the feedback we had was that nobody noticed the length of the performance as time sped by. That we have to thank Jan for. Not only did she turn in a faultless performance herself, her relentless drilling of the major scenes meant that this was an incredibly slick show. And one of the biggest developments of this show was getting the whole company to dance! This was solely down to the encouragement and wonderful choreography of Richard Thomas. Richard is a veteran of many shows (though he wears it very well) and has a great sense of fun and boy, can he put you through your paces! The choreography was commented on by everyone and "fair play" to the company, they were up for it!
Performances from the cast as a whole were consistent and full of energy. Special mention to Richard as the slightly deranged Val du Val the great French entertainer, Ciara as his long suffering sidekick Collette and the wonderful, tap dancing Boom-Boom Girls. Nigel was a wonderful Prince, Schnizie brought the house down, Lisa as Lady Eggleston was suitably severe (and word perfect), Ellie a petulant Daphne and the Buxgrave Brothers had loads of pizzazz! That is not forgetting the scene-stealing antics of the rest of the cast including a very funny Lorna as the hapless props girl, Tony as Pinchley and Cat as his secretary and Cheryl as the dottery old mother of Belle
So if you missed us, you missed a fantastic evening and thanks to all those who came and supported us. We were scared that no one would come and see a show that nobody new but how wrong we were, they came because of it and also knowing that a Concept production is never, ever, a boring one!