Review Variety Show Cheriton
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Review A Very International Variety Show, Cheriton Players
Back in April 2015 (was it really four years ago?!) I came to see the Great Cheriton Variety Show, and was amazed by the riot of colour, humour and bonkers moments. In fact, I remember writing “… and ever so slightly bonkers…” in my review, which has now become a tag line in itself.
Well, you can now add to that slick, polished, fun and full on.
Right from the opening moment – a song dedicated to Cheriton itself – there was total energy with faultless words and scripts that lasted right through Act 1. We were seated in ‘round table’ cabaret format, and the people sitting near me had already excitedly gone through the programme: “They’re doing a can-can…?”
Much praise for the professionalism is down to the co-directors Tracey Anderson and Claire Smith – who also seem to be on stage the entire time! I had already noticed in rehearsals though how meticulous they had been.
So often you create performances where you have to spend the first half ‘warming up’ the audience and hoping they’ll have a few drinks in the interval so that Act 2 will be a belter. Not so in this case. The audience was totally onside from the first note. Laughing, clapping, singing along.
We moved through music from Les Mis, Hot Mikado, Carmen (Alison Carter – WHAT a Voice!) and Chicago. Interspersed were comedy moments like ‘Language Lessons’ which saw John Weston seemingly master all languages across Europe.
Then, another vital moment… the first time that children have had any meaningful involvement in a Cheriton Players production for around 15 years.
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang medley was totally stolen by Emily and Charlotte Carter… especially when they were sitting in the front seat and doing actions of the car moving. Of course, most of the shows staged here in the Village Hall are adult themed. But as others have pointed out to me, children are the future; they need to learn the craft so that they can be in future productions.
I hope that other opportunities can be found for children in the future, yet I’m well aware of the chaperone difficulties that the cast encountered – even for their own children when the parents were in the show! I’m sure I didn’t go through all that nonsense when I was a young actor in the Gang Show or Oliver! back in the 70s.
On to the second half, which picked up largely as the first had ended.
There was a great jive which featured more young actors and dancers – James Seale, Jess Lacey, Tracey, Claire and Leanne Lacy all joined together for a stirring Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
More fun followed – and a tour-de-force from Paul Hellard (below) who brought ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ to life as only he can. It was wonderful.
This time round, music was provided by Peter Theobald on the piano and Bernard Sully on saxophone. This was an extremely good move. They made a welcome addition and complimented each other beautifully.
Well done also to the lighting and sound crews. There are apparently 98 lighting cues as opposed to the usual 20 or so in a play. I really liked the overhead projections (you’ll see!) – and congratulations to the genius who thought of including the Open University theme tune as well as the references. Memories!
I’m very proud that Winchester Today even managed to supply a prop… a Russian newspaper. Small, yet vital.
Congratulations to everyone involved.
Images: Craig Robertson