by Lionel Bart
Director Tessa Davis
Musical Director Sue Edwards
Choreographer Karen Baker
"The ‘Ahh’ factor came from the superbly drilled group of youngsters whose rendition of ‘Mums and Dads’ was a delight." NODA
BEST POSTER award, 2012
I was invited as regional rep 4S to review Tessa Davies’s production of “Blitz!.” A show that apart from a couple of musical numbers was unknown to me.
This was my first visit to Dunmow and I was impressed by the standard of hospitality from the moment that I stepped into the Foakes Hall. The audience were greeted by Front of House staff dressed in costumes of the 1940’s which immediately set the tone for the entire evening. Added to this we were exposed to a very high standard of salesmanship from the staff persuading their patrons to purchase not only raffle tickets but also the all-important programmes, many societies still believe these will sell themselves and fail to realise the potential of this extra income.
Once we were seated and the lights went down the magic continued to impress as we were immediately transported into the London Underground Station at Bank. This standard of scenery was to continue throughout the entire production. The cleverly designed sets were all based on a series of trucks which were either moved or revolved to create the numerous venues to help carry the story along. Well done to the design team and crew that were needed to make the transitions as smoothly as possible.
The talented orchestra under ‘Sue Edwards’ baton proved to be an essential part of this production thus accompanying the confident cast in some occasional difficult numbers. Well done, however it was not always possible to maintain the right balance of vocals with the accompaniment despite the added advantage of radio mics, where would we be without them? Gone are the days when we oldies had to rely purely on projection!
There were so many outstanding performances, but a special accolade must go to Victoria Carey as Mrs. Blitztein, who maintained her Jewish accent faultlessly throughout both vocals and dialogue, her supporting family from Mollie Blake and Ed Parker as Carol and Harry aided by Rachel, Cissy and Elsie completed a totally believable family unit, not always the case in a cast of this size. Similarly a particularly outstanding performance came from Joe Baker as Georgie Locke, this young man’s voice is a force to be reckoned with.
As always in a story of this serious nature an element of humour is important and Adrian Bailey as Alfred Locke and Nick Sandford as Ernie Nearmiss proved to be an excellent foil for each other providing some hilarious comic one liners.
The other important ‘Slice of the Cake’ is always the ‘Ahh’ factor and this came from the superbly drilled group of youngsters whose rendition of ‘Mums and Dads’ was a delight.
Well done to this great production team who managed to accommodate this large cast on such a small performing area, however I think more use of the back gantry could have been made although it may have been a difficult area to light.
Finally one minor criticism, despite a well costumed period piece I do think Mrs. Blitztein would have benefitted from a change of costume and turban, and Georgie’s short sleeve shirt did not seem appropriate, Now I’m being “picky”!
Having said this what a great evening we experienced from this lesser known atmospheric Lionel Bart script.
Congratulations to everyone.