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The Wizard of Oz by Showco Bedford

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The Wizard of Oz
Review by Sandra Samwell, NODA

This 1987 RSC adaptation of the perennial classic has become a favourite with youth groups up and down the country and it is easy to see why. The fairy tale plot and haunting score with its scope for colourful costumes and creative choreography make this a delight for the eyes and ears as well as providing ample opportunities for young actors of note.
Showco grasped the opportunity with both hands and made the show their own in a production which pleased at every level. Director, Rebecca Toms, and Musical Director, Chris Phelps, are to be congratulated on an assured and energetic show that made the most of the, largely, excellent facilities at ‘The Place.’
The picture book concept of the set, the live band and the large, but not over-large, cast of many ages from very young to late teenage delighted with their enthusiasm and their ability from the first Kansas moment to the last sighting of a rather splendid yellow brick road.
A cast headed by a most engaging Dorothy played by Alyanna Noakes guided us skillfully through the familiar songs, but also thrilled and frightened us when the need arose. Alyanna’s singing, as with all the other leads, was melodic and strong.
I particularly enjoyed Thomas Mullan’s portrayal of Scarecrow which combined adept physical acting with a personality that extended way beyond the ‘footlights.’ His was the stand-out performance of the show for me in something which boasted many very good performances.
For example,Ashley Miles as Tinman played the most thankless of ‘the three’ beautifully whilst Michael Cotter overcame a somewhat cumbersome costume and heavy make up to convey the humour and pathos of Lion most effectively. Felicity Spencer was a very sweet Toto.
I loved Cassie Dallaire’s ‘take’ on Glinda , one which gave us something of the 1939 film and the old style magic. Grace Craddock was a terrifying Wicked Witch. Emily Marchant,Jake Button, Jack Hartley- Booth, Theo Diedrick, Luke Marchant, Kia Diedrick and Ben Mullan all gave delightful performances of truth and conviction in their various and ,in some cases, multiple roles.
The well integrated and executed choreography allowed the action to develop without seeming like set pieces against a background of smooth set change and effortless continuity that marked out the professional standards of this company.
I have no particular criticisms except those relating to the piece itself where the libretto never stands up to close examination, some heavyweight costumes when ‘less would have been more’ in some cases (although the scarecrow might have benefited from a bit more stuffing!) and the setting of some action out of the audience sight line or in too much gloom with few faces visible. A few of the cast must curb their propensity to laugh or smile in the more serious scenes, but I put this down to the joy of being on stage and that is no bad trait!
Overall, this was a visually stunning, well played and well directed musical which would compare with the best of the youth productions seen nationally.
From a NODA point of view, I cannot fault the hospitality of the front of house team and the courtesy with which we were welcomed.
I loved this show and wish I was the regular NODA reviewer in Bedford! Well done, ShowCo.

Sandra Samwell
East District 1 NODA

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The Amazing LK…

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Marcia Carbonilla, is one of the professional pioneers of Philippine Baranggay Folk Dance Troupe from the Philippines, who has been training Lahing Kayumanggi Dance Company in London for so many years now. I have seen how these lovely people work so hard to promote our Philippine culture to the world, and it’s been an honour to have been part of the family since 2010, even as a singer (and sometimes dancer).  I admire how everyone devotes their Sundays to rehearse and do their best to master our Philippine Folk dances, and perform non-stop in the UK and all over Europe for the last 20 years. They have been seen on Paul O’Grady Show on TV, concerts, galas, charity shows, Philippine Embassy events, and have produced their big annual shows. They are performing in Manila this year to mark their 20th year anniversary. Lahing Kayumanggi, based on what I’ve seen and experienced, is the only ‘professional’ Filipino dance troupe in the UK that will warm every Filipino’s and British audience’s hearts with the graceful flick of their hands, the sensual sway of their hips, their warm smiles, colourful costumes and props, incredible music and chants, professional musicians from the Philippines, and the dedicated volunteers who work so hard every week to improve their dancing skills. Keep up the good work guys and always feel proud to promote our beautiful culture and heritage. The person behind LK is the Philippine Baranggay veteran himself, Ronnie Barrio, who dedicated his time in helping people and making LK a success!  To all the talented LKyans, well done!  So proud to have been part of this family! Happy 20th Anniversary! Mabuhay ang Pilipino! x

Their success is my success…

Two fantastic news cheered me up the last couple of weeks. First, my 13 year old student, Lauren Marler, passed the crucial auditions for MATILDA The musical in the West End, London. Yes, she is going to be in the show next year! Amazing! She’s a brilliant kid, very determined and focused. Her dance training at Sylvia Bebb School of Ballet and Performing Arts since she was little made her dreams come true. Sylvia and the rest of her team are all dedicated to their craft, professionals and passionate in teaching children to be great dancers. In the real world of performing, we need to dance, sing and act. Singing is where I come in and my husband handles the acting. We’ve done our best to help Lauren perform her singing, taught her techniques to bring out the best in her vocals and did her monologues realistically. We are so happy for Lauren. Congratulations once again my dear Lauren! I couldn’t be prouder! 🙂
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Another student of mine who just recently been successful is my 17 year old student, Elise De Wit. She made it to the FINALS of The Open Mic UK nationwide competition.  Hurrah! 🙂  Open Mic UK is a national music competition for singers and solo artists in the UK. Almost 9,000 hopefuls auditioned all over UK, and Elise made it to the final 8!
Once bullied at school, had a low self-esteem and didn’t know how good she was but the past 2 years of training with me, she blossomed into a happy young lady who is slowly gaining confidence to pursue her dreams.

I am so proud of her.  Looking forward to the Grand Finals!

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SAYAW

After our successful three shows in London last 30th and 31st August 2013,  SAYAW is going to be presented again in Milton Keynes this Sunday, 20th October, at The Venue MK, 7pm. This is a fundraising show for the victims of the recent 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, to help buy foods and water. Please support ‘DANCES OF PARADISE ISLANDS’ in Milton Keynes (SAYAW).  Salamat po!  x

 

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