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The following items are press releases about shows we have attended. Written by our Publicity Officer Jenny Arnold, you may have seen some in the Gazette.
  
 Jenny would appreciate some input from members who have attended a show and have a comment on it, favourable or otherwise! It will help her to give a broader picture in these reports. Please email: jennyarnold368@gmail.com promptly.

Date           Press Report
21/06/16

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Men’s minds are a mystery. (My opinion.) SHTCC has recently been to see “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in The Theatre Royal, Plymouth, and we can all remember the great film from days gone by. Can you guess what was the main topic of anticipation with my husband and our revered Chairman? Pixie Lott! Pixie Lott was starring as Holly Golightly in this revived production and I have to say she made a jolly good job of it, too, but the rest of the cast scarcely featured in those two men’s minds.

It was a great evening out and the production, including the rest of the cast, in case you were wondering, was first class. The only jarring thing for me was the rather confusing set, with items whizzing back and forth with gay abandon, but that was a minor matter.

You really need to contact Nick Alen ( 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk; further information can also be found on the club web site www.shtcc.uk) if you want to join and receive a copy of the latest newsletter, listing the events the Club will attend in the months to come. You, too, could have seen Pixie Lott.

01/06/16

Guys and Dolls

Years ago, back in the day, my husband was in an amateur production of “Guys and Dolls”, so we were delighted when the current touring production appeared in SHTCC’s newsletter and we signed up to go and see it in Plymouth. As with many of these shows, the story is ridiculous but fun and we enjoyed hearing Frank Loesser’s toe tapping songs again, such as “Luck Be A Lady Tonight”, “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”. It was well cast and had lots of energy but somehow it wasn’t until the second half, after “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat” (remember that?), that things really got going – got into the swing, you might say.



Nevertheless, we all enjoyed the show and there was definitely some quiet humming on our drive back to Kingsbridge in our comfy Tally Ho coach.

Our second newsletter of 2016 is almost ready for distribution to members, so you really need to contact Nick Alen ( 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk; further information can also be found on the club web site www.shtcc.uk) if you want to join and receive a copy of the delights to come.


14/04/16

Romeo and Juliet

Do you like ballet? Do you like Shakespeare? Hm, I can hear some of you saying ‘No!’. Would you have been prepared to keep an open mind and give it a try? Oh, I haven’t told you what you are contemplating. SHTCC has just been to a production of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet” and it was considered a  “ superlatively exciting and accomplished performance”. If you love music, colour, energy, all these can be found in a ballet and couple it with Shakespeare’s classic romance and you have a spectacle.


The current trend, which I am not keen on in the least, is to stage Shakespeare in modern costume and I guess theatre companies are vying for that different approach to attract audiences. This, however, displayed wonderful costumes of Shakespeare’s era, there was fantastic choreography, miming, dancing of course, and sword fight scenes which had us gasping.

Driver Eddie looked after us well, as ever. To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.  Further information can also be found on the club web site www.shtcc.uk

05/04/16

The Barber of Seville

Well, what a crazy mixed up, and thoroughly enjoyable, performance of “The Barber of Seville”. This was staged by The Welsh National Opera and is the first production of The Barber for nearly 30 years. From the start, the audience was roaring with laughter and this continued without let up through the entire show. It was witty, pacy and, that dreadful phrase, ‘feel good’. It was sung in English with a new translation by Kelley Rourke. It is acknowledged as Rossini’s sunniest creation but this production took it to a whole new level.

The set worked well but the costumes provided much hilarity, with disguises and a bizarre mix of traditional and modern.



As you might expect, the singing was superb, with Nicholas Lester as Figaro, Claire Booth as Rosina, Nico Darmanin as Count Almaviva, and many more worthy of note. The music is so well recognised, even by those who are not, perhaps, opera enthusiasts.

So what did you think of it? Goodness me, you didn’t go? To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.  Further information can also be found on the club web site www.shtcc.uk


24/11/15

That'll be the Day
Hm, another dilemma. Some people absolutely loved the show, others hated it. I loved some bits but felt that the show would have been much improved without others. O sorry – “That’ll be the Day” at The Theatre Royal. It is a group of talented singers and dancers who recreate rock and roll songs from way back when; in this case, Christmas songs from the 1950s onwards. Gary Anderson, with the aid of a wig and costume, became Elvis and Roy Orbison (but not at the same time, obviously) and Trevor Payne had Cliff’s mannerisms off pat. The packed audience was encouraged to clap and sing along, which we did with much enthusiasm and a certain lack of finesse. All that was fine and most enjoyable.


However (you saw that coming, didn’t you?) at times it sank into the farcical ridiculous and verged on embarrassing, in my opinion. They performed a scene from Steptoe & Son, which was crude; they put on a “pantomime” which was frankly very silly (although the idea of Mick Jagger as Mayor of London was intriguing).

So what did you think? O goodness, you’re not a member? Join immediately and then you can form opinions on the success or otherwise of the many and varied shows we attend. Ring Pat Barlow on 01548 853827, email her at barlowpatj@aol.com or look on the club web site www.shtcc.uk

28/10/15


Swan Lake
When an audience collectively gasps, “Wow” twice in a performance, I feel that it a pretty clear indication of approval at the highest level. And approve we did. O, sorry, you want to know what I’m talking about? 'Swan Lake' by The Birmingham Royal Ballet. You probably know the story – handsome prince doesn’t wish to be tied down in marriage, evil baron transforms a princess and her friends into swans for all but a midnight to dawn slot, prince and princess (in her human form, naturally) fall in love, evil baron deceives prince into declaring love to his (the baron’s) daughter, swans doomed to swim for eternity, princess and prince drown themselves. All in all, a credible and jolly story.

Why the wows? Aforesaid princess performs a series of pirouettes (I think that is the term) around the entire stage (no, I didn’t count how many that was); curtain goes up and the stage is covered in about 2’ of dry ice, out of which 16 pairs of hands slowly spiral – magic moment. It was a stunning show.

I know I go on about it but the theatre club is a wonderful way to organise theatre trips to shows in a wide variety of genres, which we may not have bothered attending if it meant booking, driving, parking ourselves.

To join ring Pat Barlow on 01548 853827 or email her at barlowpatj@aol.com

20/10/15

Absent Friends

I expect you have been in a similar situation; being with a number of people who are having difficulty conversing - the awkward pauses, sideways glances, appealing stares for rescue. This was the situation in the performance of “Absent Friends”, Alan Ayckbourn’s 1974 play. It makes for uncomfortable viewing, you squirm in your seat and develop an overwhelming urge to leap up and say something in the conversational gaps.

This cannot have been an easy play to perform and the various parts were played to perfection. It was a terrible shame that the auditorium was far from full; the actors deserved a full house.


The set was a typical 1970’s house, complete with large patterned wallpaper. Friends had invited Colin, who had recently lost his fiancée to drowning, to tea in order to support him in his loss. Things did not go according to plan though, and Colin’s loss of potential lifelong happiness only served to highlight the shortcomings in the personal relationships of his friends.

If you are still not a member (I despair!) ring Pat Barlow on 01548 853827 or email her at barlowpatj@aol.com


13/10/15

Mack & Mabel
Don’t tell my husband but I think I’m in love with Michael Ball. It’s the sparkly eyes and the dimples, with the added bonus of that liquid voice – you ladies out there know exactly what I mean, don’t you?

O come now, surely you know what prompted this comment; “Mack and Mabel” at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth? I cannot believe you didn’t come with us! This musical is based on the true romance between legendary film maker Mack Sennett and his protegee Mabel Normand, set in the days of silent movies, The Keystone Cops and bathing beauties. You have probably seen those films where girls were tied to railway tracks and everyone got a pie in the face.


Michael Ball played Mack superbly and his co-star was Rebecca LaChance, who also played her part exceptionally well. The choreography was wonderful, although the music, in my opinion, was not particularly noteworthy. It was a lively, energetic and colourful performance, thoroughly enjoyable, with a standing ovation at the close and a very enthusiastic audience.

I simply do not understand why you haven’t joined us; what more can I do to persuade you? Give it a serious ponder. Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.

09/09/15
Annie

Have you ever seen the show “Annie”? I hadn’t, despite hearing about it on and off for years. Well I have now put that right because SHTCC attended the show at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth recently.

No doubt you’ve heard the saying, “Never work with children and animals”? Well this show had both. The children, all girls aged around 8 yrs – 12 yrs, were lively and expressive and the animal was a dog, a real softy called Amber but playing the part of a New York stray called Sandy. The story is based on the attempts by Annie to escape the life of misery in Miss Hannigan’s orphanage and find her parents and includes such well known songs as “Tomorrow” and “A Hard Knock Life”.



The spiteful Miss Hannigan was played admirably by Craig Revel Horwood, a far cry from “Strictly”!

For me, the most noteworthy aspect of this show was the choreography, not something I go out of my way to notice. It was imaginative, original and slick – very impressive.

 You really should join us, you know. Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.


09/09/15


The Jersey Boys
If, like me, you were a wild child of the 60s, you may well have been a fan of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Remember "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Walk Like A Man“?

SHTCC recently saw “The Jersey Boys”, a show with 55 major awards to its credit, at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth and this show is the story of the remarkable group that conquered the world, from their slightly dodgy early lives in New Jersey to their international success. Life was not easy when you came from ’the wrong side of the tracks’, despite their numerous hit recordings (13 top ten hits; 175 million records sold worldwide) and associated income, and personal relationships suffered severely.


The theatre was full and the audience enthusiastic in the extreme. The singing was remarkably convincing, with Matt Corner giving the falsetto performance of Frankie Valli and the whole show was energised. Everyone was singing along with gusto.

 You really should join us, you know. Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.


29/07/15

Cheltenham Trip, October 2015

Hey, we are off on a trip! Our revered Chairman (yes, he of the ‘jokes’) has booked us into

Cheltenham Thistle Hotel, with transport there and back courtesy of Tally Ho. What are we going to see, I hear you cry? 'Before the Party', directed by and starring Tom Conti, I reply. This is Rodney Ackland's bitingly funny adaptation of a short story by Somerset Maugham.

 

What is it about? The war is over and the Skinner family is trying to return to normal. If only the blasted Government wasn't such a nuisance about the rations and Cook could get some more of those delicious delicacies. With daughter Laura returned from Africa, widowed but not alone, they prepare for the latest social gathering. Among the never-ending whirl of hats and dresses and below stairs skirmishes, Laura reveals a shocking secret that threatens to ruin more than one party on the climb to social success.




We leave Kingsbridge Quay on October 5th at 9 am, dinner, bed and breakfast in Cheltenham, see the play, depart 2 pm Tuesday 6th after a free morning. The price for our Club Trip to Cheltenham is £127.50 per person for 2 people sharing a twin or double room. A single supplement of only £25 per person applies.

 

Want to come? You need to book very quickly so contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.  


29/07/15

Mrs Warren's Profession
If you see a play entitled, “Mrs Warren’s Profession”, what comes to mind? Yes, exactly, and you’d not be wrong. SHTCC members travelled to the Northcott Theatre, on the campus of Exeter University, to see this George Bernard Shaw wonder and it was very good indeed. Starring as Mrs Warren herself was Sue Holderness, probably best known from “Only Fools and Horses”, and she was dressed beautifully and took her part so well. The part of Sir George Crofts was taken by Christopher Timothy, Britain’s best loved vet in “All Creatures Great and Small” but outstanding was Emily Woodward as Vivie, Mrs Warren’s daughter, oblivious to her mother’s ‘career’.

This play was written in 1893 but was banned by the Lord Chancellor for its frank acknowledgement of prostitution and was not performed until 1902 at the private New Lyric Club.




In 1905, at a public performance in New York, police raided the theatre and arrested the cast and crew.

The story revolves around the mother-daughter relationship, with the ghost of the question of paternity hovering in the background. Vivie is horrified when she is made aware of the source of the funding which enabled her to gain a Cambridge degree but is mollified when her mother’s circumstances when young are made clear. It all disintegrates, however, when Vivie discovers that her mother continues to run her ‘business’.

The costumes were exceedingly good, although I found the set a little confusing and distracting. A very enjoyable and thought-provoking play.

29/07/15

Backstage Tour of the Theatre Royal

Have you been behind the scenes in a theatre – done amateur dramatics, visited a famous friend? Well SHTCC did. We arrived at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, and were met by our guide and her trusty sidekick and before we set off on our tour, they warned us that we may have to take the odd diversion en route because there was a production on currently and the company frequently arranged impromptu rehearsals.

You would not believe how many miles of corridor lurk behind those curtains!

 
We saw the enormous bay where the stage sets, scenery and props are unloaded from the huge lorries, dressing rooms, stage door, wardrobe room (with more sewing machines, irons, ironing boards and washing machines than your worst nightmare), then the highlight – backstage and on stage. Wow. (We made a mental note to be more aware – far more of the audience can clearly be seen than you would imagine. No grimacing, no nodding off.)

Included in the price of our ticket was lunch and we had a delicious main course and dessert, seated in the newly vamped restaurant and watching the passers-by.

01/06/15

The History Boys

Do you like Alan Bennett? No, not him personally; his plays. SHTCC went to The Northcott Theatre on the Exeter campus to see The History Boys and it proved to be hilariously funny and extremely thought provoking.

A group of 6th form lads, apart from being sex obsessed, are embroiled in the conflict between the Headmaster’s overwhelming concern for league tables, a young supply teacher’s endeavours to lead them down the path of winning exam answers and their maverick English teacher who considers education to be more than just curriculum based facts.


Richard Hope as the life loving Hector had the audience roaring with laughter and two very impressive young men, Kedar Williams-Stirling and Steven Roberts, as two of the students, are the talented actors to look out for in the future.

This certainly had us pondering on what education is really all about and had you taken my advice by now and become a member, you could have been one of our party.

To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk. 

21/04/15

To Kill a Mockingbird

Everybody’s heard of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee but hands up if you’ve read it, seen it performed or can tell the story? SHTCC attended the modern production at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal and it proved as sensitive and thought provoking as when I studied it for “O level”. Atticus Finch is what would now be called a human rights lawyer in the USA’s deep south.  Black Tom Robinson is accused of rape and it becomes clear that few lawyers, apart from Finch, would choose to defend an accused coloured man who is assumed guilty, the trial being simply a ‘going through the motions’.


Atticus’s daughter, Scout, is puzzled and subsequently horrified at what she sees in court and the repercussions for her father.

The quality of acting was second to none, Finch and the three young children in particular being confident and convincing. The set was minimalist, with a corrugated iron fence, a tree from which hung a swing, tables, chairs and a picket fence being deployed when appropriate.

The range of performances that the Club attends is huge; not just plays but musicals, opera, ballet, modern dance and concerts. You really should join, you know.
24/03/15

Peter Pan Goes Wrong
If you wanted a good laugh, I hope you were one of the folk who went to see “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. This parody of an AmDram production had the audience laughing out loud throughout the entire play, as everything that could go wrong, went wrong:  Peter Pan falls from a great height; the set collapses regularly; the lights explode; the sound system has a mind of its own, playing unsuitable recordings; the Narrator arrives and departs on a moving chair with its own agenda; an ample builder’s bum made its presence felt – in short, if it had the potential for disaster, disaster is what ensued.

As for the cast, the Crocodile was much loved by the sympathetic audience and Captain Hook, played by Laurence Pears, was a cross between comedic John Cleese and swoonworthy Johnny Depp.



 Leonie Hill hammed up Wendy brilliantly, over acting and staccato in a major way. Annie Twillot faced a challenge as she tackled the parts of Mary Darling, Tinkerbell and Cecco and you’ll not be surprised by now to hear that all her costume changes were not exactly smooth running.

The costumes were wonderfully colourful and the set suitably imaginative.

We loved it and now we all firmly believe in fairies.

You’re not telling me you missed all the fun yet again? For information on membership, contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.

07/03/15


Rebecca
Hm, I have something of a dilemma. We recently saw “Rebecca” at The Theatre Royal in Plymouth and the general concensus was that it was “Brilliant”. I, however, thought that in places it bordered on farce, almost pantomime, which spoiled it for me.

I’m sure you know the story – young girl, works as a companion for an old lady, meets good looking rich man, they get married, honeymoon lavishly then drive to his rather grand and imposing house, Mandaley. Sadly, the new bride is rather shy and insecure and is instantly haunted by the late wife, Rebecca, and is bullied by the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who was Rebecca’s maid. A sombre story, overshadowed by Rebecca’s drowning (a sort of “did she jump or was she pushed?” scenario). I was therefore, taken aback when a young  lad, with exaggerated Welsh accent, playing the part of a servant, behaved as if the whole thing was a pantomime. Yes, it was very funny but hardly appropriate, in my ‘umble opinion, for “Rebecca”. A puppet dog raced around and again it jarred with me.



The set was also – I’m searching for the right word - awkward. Part beach, complete with boat, and part mansion. Planks were laid or removed, depending on where the scene was taking place but again I felt it was very distracting.

The main players were superb though and the whole play was enjoyable but you now have to decide whether it was “brilliant” or something of a disappointment.

Of course, had you come with us, you could have voiced your opinion on the comfy Tally Ho coach. For information on membership, contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.


16/02/15


Wicked
I wouldn’t mind betting that if I say “Follow the yellow brick road”, you have a pretty good idea of the film from which it comes. Yes, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, made in 1939, and based on the book of the same title by L Frank Baum, published in 1900. It starred Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale who followed the road with her companions.  In 1995, Gregory Maguire wrote a sort of sequel called, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” and it was to the musical stage show of this sequel that SHTCC went last week.

This tale is also set in Oz and its Emerald City and, unusually, has two leading ladies; the effervescent Glinda, subsequently known as Glinda The Good, and Elphaba, a misunderstood green girl with a huge voice, who becomes The Wicked Witch of the West. Having met as sorcery students, their paths diverge but their eventual adventures in Oz lead them to fulfil their destinies.



The set was magical, with its flying monkeys, a dragon and witche, the Emerald City scene being particularly spectacular. The requisite handsome prince was there, the Tin Man, Straw Man and cowardly Lion made brief appearances, as did a bit of the yellow brick road.

With a company of more than 20 on stage, soaring romantic duets, the comedy, the energy, the dancing and the excitement, the audience was transported to a magical world. It was, as one member said, dazzling and well deserved its standing ovation.

O come on – don’t tell me you missed it? By now you should know better. To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.

05/01/15

Strauss Gala
Here we are with another Concert report. (Who said we only go to plays?) What better way to kick start 2015 than with “The New Year Johann Strauss Gala” on January 2nd, courtesy of The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and The Great Hall, Exeter? Just a small group of 12 members enjoyed this marvellous evening of Viennese music, incorporating Johann Struass ii, Josef Strauss, Franz Von Suppe and Franz Lehar.

Thomas Rosner, Viennese born, proved to be an energetic and enthusiastic conductor, who conducted his first orchestrated concerts at the age of 14! At the end of the concert he led us in a lively clap-along to the Radetzky March, composed by Johann Strauss Sr, a march more celebratory than martial.

The evening’s outstanding soprano was Elizabeth Watts, winner of numerous awards and who impressed us all.



The BSO serves principally the South and South West of England but with worldwide tours, has a national and international reputation and we are privileged to have access to such wonderful music and performers.

As people left the (Tally Ho) coach in Kingsbridge, everybody said what a great evening it had been and we were united in looking forward to February 6th, when the BSO presents “Fantastic Dances”, featuring music by Sibelius, Grieg and Rachmaninov – surely an evening not to be missed.

To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.


09/12/14

Two Concerts
You may have noticed that the Club title refers to Concerts. You may also have noticed that I have only, so far, mentioned plays, musicals and ballet. Hah, ye of little faith – all is about to change.

Two concerts, of a very different nature, have been attended recently, whisked there by Tally Ho.

The first, in Exeter, was a Birmingham Symphony Orchestra programme entitled “Sea Pictures” and featured music mainly by Mendelssohn, including his Piano Concerto No 1 and Fingal’s Cave. Ronald Brautigam played the piano concerto and the sight of his fingers flying up and down the keys was spellbinding. The beautiful Steinway concert piano had been hired from Steinway and Sons, in London, by the B S O especially for this performance. In 1929, Mendelssohn spent some time travelling through Scotland and it was his impression of the remote Hebridean seascape which inspired him to write Fingal’s cave, considered to be one of his finest achievements, and which was our relaxing treat after the interval.



La Mer (Three Symphonic Sketches) by Claude Debussy, reflecting the various moods of the sea from dawn to dusk, drew our evening of great music to a close.

Three days later we were off to The Princess Theatre, Torquay, to be entertained royally by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (“… 350 years of unbroken service, of protecting the Nation’s security. 350 years of timeless distinction.”) and what a great evening that was. To start your evening with The National Anthem was such a treat and, in my opinion, is a much missed feature in theatres generally. The music included pieces by Artie Shaw, John Williams and J P Sousa, as well as some well known and popular Christmas melodies which we were encouraged to sing along to – with gusto, I may add. The four bandsmen who formed the Corps of Drums gave, as usual, a great and enthusiastic performance. Silent Night and Heart of Oak drew the evening to a close.

To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.

28/11/14

La Traviata

So what do you think of opera then? I’m told it’s a Marmite thing - you either love it or hate it. Certainly those of us who saw La Traviata at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth, absolutely loved it. It is the story of Violetta who, racked with ‘consumption’ (now known as TB), determines to live life to the full. She was magically played by Irina Dubrovskaya, a 33 year old Russian, who brought Verdi’s wonderful music to heights previously unheard. “Most of us fell for Irina – she was amazing.” “… we were entranced.” Violetta falls helplessly in love with the gauche and lanky Alfredo, brilliantly played by Zachary Borichevsky, an American.

This was a Glyndebourne production, so it was to be expected that it would be 5*, as someone described it.



We felt honoured that such an illustrious company should come to Plymouth and the cast was mostly foreign and so very young. The choreography was skilfully arranged to cope with a cast of almost 50, the setting was minimalist (including poor Violetta’s bed, which never left the stage – well, she was very ill), costumes superb and orchestra “brilliant”.

To quote one of our members, “It took us out of this world”. What more could you ask?

Um, do you feel you’re missing out? Well have you taken my advice and joined SHTCC? No? In that case, you only have yourself to blame. To see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.  

22/11/14

The Full Monty

Do you remember me telling you about the Club AGM in last week’s Gazette and the Chairman’s witticism? Well, at that same meeting, a lady, who shall remain anonymous, declared that there are only so many times when you want to see male strippers strutting their stuff. (That wasn’t quite what she said but you get the gist.)

OK, you’re now wondering what on earth prompted her to make such a rash statement. It was a reference to the production at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, of “The Full Monty”! I can reassure you that after a split second’s stunned silence, she was shouted down by all the other women present (and all the men looked smug). Well, the due date arrived and on the night of this well anticipated event, I have never heard such a hum and a buzz amongst the audience before the curtain rises. As the lights dimmed, there were cat calls, whistles and applause – and all this before we even got a glimpse of anyone on stage, with or without clothes. As the story unfolded, this proved to be one of the funniest and best performed plays we have seen. The cast took their parts (no pun intended) so well.


Outstanding, for me, were Gary Lucy as Gaz, Martin Miller as Dave and 12 year old Cameron Stenhouse who played Gaz’s son. Yes, this is a very funny and entertaining tale, with a slick and witty script, but there is an underlying, serious theme exploring the effect of poverty on family relationships, with, in this case, the lengths to which people will go to improve things in any way they can.

I can hear your comment – cut the waffle; did they? Yes, they did – do the full monty, that is. However, you’ll not believe this; just as those hats were raised and flung away, a backstage hand must have accidentally flicked the wrong switch and a bank of spotlights erupted into life behind the brave showmen, rendering them as simply silhouettes!

I bet you wish you’d been there. Well, you know what I’m going to say next:- If you wish to attend a jolly AGM and also see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.  Further information can also be found on the club web site www.shtcc.uk

17/11/14

AGM 2014

It is not often that an AGM makes you laugh but then not every club has Nick Alen as Chairman. But more of that in a minute.

The AGM was held at The Crabshell, Kingsbridge, and was well attended, most people probably lured by the coffee and yummy biscuits on offer. The Chairman assured us that the membership numbers are steady and that members are expressing their delight with the shows selected. He listed the oh so varied mix of shows booked over the past year and it was here that he slipped in his ‘witty quip’; he referred to Edward Scissorhands as ‘cutting edge’! Pretty well everyone present groaned, which at least showed they were paying attention.

Minutes were accepted and signed, accounts were declared OK, thanks were expressed to the Committee for their hard work, Nick closed the meeting and a few then moved downstairs for a delicious lunch (not included, sadly).

If you wish to attend a jolly AGM and also see some amazing shows via a comfy Tally Ho coach, why not join us? Contact Nick Alen on 852916 or nick@shtcc.uk.  Further information can also be found on the club web site www.shtcc.uk

03/11/14

Beauty and the Beast
Did your mother make you go to ballet lessons as a child? (Mine did but I was kicked out after hitting someone with my watering can!) (It was a very small watering can.) Despite this somewhat violent start, I am rediscovering ballet in my dotage, courtesy of Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, and loving it. We have seen some truly beautiful performances in the last few years and their latest offering, “Beauty and The Beast”, is up there with the best. The dancing was superb, costumes amazing – the woodland creatures wore masks, feathery or furry body wear and, where appropriate, wiggly tails. By rotating a couple of large pillars, the set changed from courtly palace to woodland glade and the whole performance had a colour scheme of silver, gold, grey and peach; truly a magical splendour
.


And to be honest, there is something satisfying about hearing the faint thud over the music as the dancers land after a balletic leap! This you only get at a live performance.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, we went with SHTCC in a Tally Ho comfy coach. On this particular occasion, we attended a matinee and were transported early so that there was ample time to shop or treat yourself to a slap up lunch – we did the latter. Would we have made the effort to go on our own? No, almost certainly not and we would have missed a great treat.

19/09/14

1984
Did you study “1984” at school? Did you enjoy it? I suspect ‘enjoy’ is not the best word to use when speaking about George Orwell’s powerful story; ‘admire’ maybe. It is a dystopian (opposite of utopian – important to bear this in mind) novel set in a futuristic world of perpetual war where individualism is persecuted and independent thinking is a ‘thoughtcrime’. It is the origin of the much bandied about Big Brother and Room 101. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, 


 

works for the Ministry ofTruth, eliminating unacceptable records and newspaper articles in order to validate the current Party line but secretly he hates the Party, his job, the entire civil set up.

This Headlong production evokes strong reactions in its audience, with powerful acting, explosive sound effects and blinding flashing lights, all leading to you doubt your own reality, even if only temporarily. Comments on the bus on the way home included, “Tense”, “Depressing”, “Frightening”, “Stunning”, “Brilliant” and “Blimey!”

12/09/14

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Let’s face it – Shakespeare is not for the faint hearted. Much as I love his works, each does require a certain amount of concentrated effort to follow the plot. However (you could see that coming, couldn’t you?), not so for the Stratford production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, attended by SHTCC. Skilful acting left us in no doubt as to what was unfolding before us.
We had a great couple of days away, brilliantly transported by Tally Ho Coaches. Leaving the Quay at 8.30am, we zoomed up to Stow on the Wold where we stopped for lunch (and what is politely known as “a comfort break”) and a ramble around this beautiful Cotswold town. On to Stratford where we checked in to our historic hotel, another ramble around town, then early dinner and off to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the purpose of the whole trip.  “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” is thought to be one of his first comedies, probably written between 1590 and 1594.



It is essentially a story of youthful love – Valentine leaves Verona for the bright lights of Milan; Proteus, his best friend, follows reluctantly, being madly in love with Julia in Verona; Valentine, meanwhile, has fallen for Silvia in Milan and, when introduced, so does Proteus. Poor
Julia! Naturally, it all gets sorted in the end, after all sorts of adventures which challenge credibility but which are highly entertaining.

What really made this production so very captivating and amusing was the cast. Each of them played it for all it was worth, instilling an energy and vibrancy which carried you along in a torrent of enthusiasm and delight. It was performed in modern dress, in a Parisian style café, a balconied mansion and an extremely leafy wood. Star of the show, though, was Mossup who played Crab. O, sorry – Mossup is a lurcher and Crab is an essential member of the cast. Completing this box of delights were the musicians, who added that certain something that only live music can give.

Sincere thanks must go to Nick Alen for organising this and Tally Ho for a painless journey.

08/08/14

Rhythm of the Dance and West Side Story
Isn’t it good when you set off to see something you feel might not be great and it surpasses your wildest dreams? That’s what happened with Rhythm of the Dance, a celebration of Irish dancing, music and song at the Princess Theatre, Torquay. At the back of my mind lingered “Riverdance” and the superb Michael Flatley; could this show match that? I need not have worried - it was spectacular. Nicola Kennedy, who took the female dance lead, is a star on the rise – look out for her, with her faster-than-light feet and her extremely expressive face. She can do disdain with the best of them.



Uilleann pipes, violin, bodhran and cipin (that’s an Irish drum and stick to you and me), 3 male singers with beautiful voices, all featured and more besides.

Not only did we get to see that show this week but also West Side Story, at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth. Remember all those wonderful songs from the 60s – “Maria”, “Tonight”, “Somewhere”, “America” and “I feel pretty”? The roles of Tony and Maria were played by Louis Maskell and Katie Hall, whose voices blended so perfectly, it was like coffee and cream. The dancing was electric and the story ageless, with more than one person using their hanky to wipe an eye at the end.

28/07/14

Cats

Did you pay attention in English Lit classes at school? Do you know who Macavity is? What about Mr Mistoffellees? Or the Jellicles? If I’ve lost you – they’re cats from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T S Eliot, metamorphosed into the musical “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yes, you’ve guessed it – SHTCC saw this magnificent show at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth.

Imagine lithe young dancers and singers dressed as sleek cats, purring their way around a scaled up set depicting wasteland, which includes the rear end of an old car. Can you hear faint echoes of those songs you know so well, like “Memory”, immortalised by Elaine Page?


 Haunting melodies alternated with wildly energetic songs and dancing. In fact the word “energy” sums up the entire experience, truly. Cats wound their way around the auditorium, miaowing at the audience, leaped down the stairs and up onto the stage, nimbly nipped from stage to old car to rubbish pile. We, the audience, left feeling uplifted and totally worn out at the mere thought of all that exercise.

What could be nicer than being driven in a Tally Ho coach, watching a live show, and returning home having been inspired?

26/06/14

Sister Act
Wow! Any SHTCC members who didn’t sign up to go and see “Sister Act” at The Princess Theatre, Torquay, seriously missed out. This spectacular, high energy musical, with its glitzy costumes and comic, singing gangsters, received a standing ovation with its fantastic finale. Have you ever seen nuns rocking in the aisles? This was a TOADS production, the amateur company in Torquay, but there was nothing amateur about this production, with its great scenery and sets.


Excuse me? You’re not a member of SHTCC? Why on Earth not?

 

What’s that? You want to know what is coming up? Well, there’s “Cats”, “1984”, Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee”, “Othello”, Glyndbourne’s “La Traviata”, “The Full Monty”, “Shrek”, “Beauty and the Beast” (ballet) and so much more. Go on; make that call.


20/06/14

Pygmalion
The rain in Spain did not stay mainly on the plain at The Theatre Royal recently, almost certainly because SHTCC went to see Pygmalion, not My Fair Lady. Same story though, where Eliza Doolittle becomes a “lidy”. Alistair McGowan proved to be a splendid Professor Higgins, with his ultra expressive face and well timed comic delivery, while Rula Lenska, as Mrs Higgins, attempted to rein in her unorthodox son. With such a well known and loved film version behind it, there is always the temptation to compare but Jamie Foreman was a fantastic Alfred Doolittle, leaving no sense of missing the wonderful Stanley Holloway.


I feel we are exceedingly lucky to have access to such prestigious and professional performances, whether plays, musicals, opera, dance, ballet or concerts, at great theatres like The Theatre Royal in Plymouth, The Princess Theatre in Torquay, The Barnfield and Northcott theatres in Exeter, The Palace Theatre in Paignton. With SHTCC to transport you there and back by Tally Ho coach, with no drink driving or parking worries, we are even luckier. Coming up soon we have such treasures as: “Cats”, “1984”, Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee”, “Othello”, “Beauty and the Beast” (ballet), “Edward Scissorhands” (dance), Glyndebourne’s “La Traviata”. How can you resist?

01/06/14

Under Milk Wood
In my humble opinion, I have just seen one of the finest and best performed plays for years. Courtesy of SHTCC, we saw “Under Milk Wood” at The Theatre Royal in Plymouth. The set was simple but wonderfully effective and the chemistry between the cast members was stunning. Dylan Thomas’s mellifluous poetry rolled around the auditorium like silk, perfectly voiced by truly talented actors. Rib tickling humour was cheek by jowl with tender pathos.  An amazingly moving evening.

Yes, this is where I tell you that, if you missed it, you should not have done.


What else are you running the risk of missing?

o   “Pygmalion”

o   “Sister Act”

o   Dance

o   Ballet

o   Opera

o   Musicals

Something that is fast becoming an annual event is our two day trip, this time to Stratford upon Avon to see ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’, to be transported by Tally Ho.

01/06/14

Evita
Don’t cry for me, Argentina – sorry, South Hams – because I did get to see “Evita” at The Theatre Royal in Plymouth.  Wonderful music, singing, costumes, scenery; everything you would expect from a great Lloyd Webber musical. You should have been there.

I know I keep on about ‘you really should join’ but it’s true. What is better than to climb aboard a Tally Ho coach (really comfy, the new ones), let the cheery driver worry about the traffic, the narrow lanes and their bendy bits, wander into the theatre and have a teensy drink (without worrying about being breathalysed), enjoy a wonderful professional performance and be driven home again afterwards? Answer – not a lot.


Pardon?  What’s coming up soon?

o   “Pygmalion”

o   “Sister Act”

o   “Cats”

o   “Rhythm of the Dance”

o   “West Side Story”

Something that is fast becoming an annual event is our two day trip, this time to Stratford upon Avon to see ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’, again to be transported by Tally Ho.

I really cannot see what is stopping you joining.

12/02/14

The Lion King

Picture this: you are seated in the centre stalls of the Theatre Royal in Plymouth and the African patterned curtain before you slowly rises. African harmony swells and a full sized elephant strolls down the aisle to your left. As if this wasn’t stunning enough, to your right paces a full sized rhino.

Yes, ok, they were puppets but visually stunning puppets, nevertheless. We had the collie in “Goodnight Mr Tom”, the baby in the “Sleeping Beauty” ballet, the superb horses in “Warhorse” and now an amazing selection of animals from the African plains in “The Lion King”, and these puppets seem to get better the more you see. The giraffes were wonderful, along with gazelle, wildebeest, hyenas  and so many more. To the accompaniment of the uplifting music, this was a feast for eyes and ears.

You missed it? Do you mean to say you are not a member of South Hams Theatre and Concert Club?


That can, and should, be swiftly rectified.
For membership details, contact Nick Alen on 852916

SHTCC attends many and varied shows, plays, concerts etc, all transport provided by Tally Ho coaches, so you have no parking or drink driving worries.

The next event on the SHTCC calendar is a BSO concert, “Beethoven’s Fifth”, at the Great Hall, Exeter, on Thursday February 27thth.

Coming soon: ballet, “Prince of the Pagodas”; musical, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”; dance, “Lord of the Flies”; Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”. Go on – contact Nick Alen. You know you want to.

15/11/13

People
Picture the scene – beautiful mansion crumbling around your ears; your career as a beautiful model now lies many years in your past. You have run out of money and your cleric sister insists on the family seat being sold before it collapses. You cast around for another solution to this overwhelming dilemma, calling in an auctioneer to value, and possibly sell, the valuable ‘tat’ in the attic, while your determined sibling shows round a National Trust agent.
Out of the blue appears a face from the past – your past, as a model – who, it transpires, now makes films and is looking for a location. What’s more, he will pay. (As it turns out, the films are of a certain “artistic” genre, involving a four poster bed and not much in the way of period costume, but that only becomes clear later.)


What would you do?

I am not going to tell you the answer to this tantalising conundrum facing Sian Phillips in Alan Bennett’s new play, “People”. Had you become a member of SHTCC and visited the Theatre Royal last evening, in company with two large coach loads, you would know.

SHTCC attends many and varied shows, plays, concerts etc, all transport provided by Tally Ho coaches, so you have no parking or drink driving worries.

The next event on the SHTCC calendar is a BSO concert, “Worlds Old and New”, at the Great Hall, Exeter, on Thursday November 28th.

08/11/13

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Do you love a comedy?

Do you love the atmosphere of an entire theatre full of people laughing uproariously?

Have you seen the role of Puck performed in a tutu?

Have you seen a woodland glade depicted by white netting walls with a row of white painted chairs affixed halfway up?

Have you seen Shakespeare performed by an all-male cast, as in days of yore?

I won’t go on because by now you are wondering what you have missed.


Members of SHTCC were driven by coach to the newly refurbished Theatre Royal in Plymouth to see, and love, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, enthusiastically performed by The Propeller Company. This all-male cast never fails to present with the most enormous energy and evident enjoyment and, as an audience, you get sucked in to the farcical caperings. Forget those staid and plodding plays of your schooldays – ‘staid’ and ‘plodding’ have no place here. It was lively, all-embracing and thoroughly entertaining.

SHTCC attends many and varied shows, plays, concerts etc, all transport provided by Tally Ho coaches, so you have no parking or drink driving worries.

The next show on the calendar is Alan Bennett's new play 'People' on Thursday 14th November.