Real first-class act

By John Hannam

Friday, November 30, 2012

 

Real first-class act

From left, Anthony Beaumont, Maggie Murthwaite, George King, Ross Forde and Parry Kirby. Picture by Jennifer Burton.

STAGE REVIEW THE First Act company regularly produces some of the most emotional and inspirational shows seen at Shanklin Theatre.

A Christmas Carol was their most ambitious to date and this group of adults with learning difficulties were stretched further than ever before — and both the cast and audience loved every minute.

They have always been entertaining and their early shows often produced many moments of fun; some were expected and others down to things that didn’t quite go alright on the night.

Now, with more confidence and experience, plus some excellent new members, First Act thrives on a challenge.

To include all the key elements of A Christmas Carol in a production of just over an hour was another fine achievement.

The cast were inspired by several outstanding performances, particularly Ross Forde, as Scrooge, and the ever dependable Anthony Beaumont, as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Their major scene together was one of the outstanding moments of the show.

Both have great confidence, the ability to project and can create such a rapport with the audience.

There were cheers of appreciation when Theresa Rose, as Belle, sang On My Own. The party in Mr Fezziwig’s house was a sheer delight and Colin Heber, as ever, brought a few special moments to his role of Fezziwig.

Katie Hemmings, as Mrs Cratchett, in her biggest part to date, made quite an impression and the company’s long-term wandering minstrel, Andrew Skinner, sang Spread a Little Happiness and he certainly did. Other key roles were by Parry Kirby, Maggie Murthwaite and Tony Fellows.

The finale number, Thank You Very Much, was a gem with the whole company in full voice and action.

Carol Laidler, the creator of First Act 2011, and her production helpers, Vivien Russell, Alana Bird, Simon Wheeler, Traci Stockman and David Redston, deserve high praise for a memorable evening.

First Act 2011 return to Shanklin Theatre on Tuesday, December 11, to present Let It Snow.

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