Baroque Music Comes To Ely

Image: Kate Hearne

The recorder is a much maligned instrument. In the hands of a highly accomplished musician the tremendous versatility and skill required to play this instrument well soon become clear. This was certainly the case with the performance on February 23rd by Kate Hearne in the Recital Hall at the Hayward Theatre in Ely. In her hands, the virtuosic embellishments, dramatic declarations and sustained beauty of the instruments were mesmerising. With unerring ease, Kate switched from alto (treble) recorder, to voice flute (tenor) or soprano (descant) recorders to suit the different tonal requirements of the pieces.

Joseph McHardy accompanied her with a firm harmonic foundation from the harpsichord. His secure articulation, expressive melodic development and rhythmic dynamism complemented the recorders exactly.
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Music At King’s: Blithe Spirit

Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” was an excellent choice for the King’s School Ely to display the emerging talent amongst senior students. Under the expert directorship of Adella Charlton, the cast brought to life the golden era of Noel Coward’s sophisticated wit and humour, presenting the foibles of characters beyond the years of their portrayers in a series of credible smoothly developed scenes. The cohesive team work and skilled acting drew the audience into the dramatic events delightfully. There were some wonderful escalating arguments among the couples.

Ruth (Becky Hill) was every bit the poised fussy wife whose nerves slowly and visibly unravelled. Charles (Tom Brown), her much troubled husband, was presented with particularly accomplished timing and expressive responses to events.

Edith (Martha Morris) portrayed a credibly nervous maid and unwitting pivotal influence on events. Madame Arcati (Hannah Todd) exuded excessive enthusiasm, her fascination with the departed very much apparent. Bizzie Wood played a delightfully selfish coquettish Elvira, the ghost of Charles’s first wife. Make up, lighting and costume helped to create a very realistic effect as she disported herself about the stage. Dr. Bradman (Kit Chambers) and Mrs. Bradman (Alison Hallinan) complemented the cast as typical dinner companions. Dr Bradman: the intellectual, Mrs. Bradman: naïve and chatty, her comments not always the most tactful.

It was clear why the packed audience loved the show and many a Noel Coward fan went home well entertained.

The next production will be “Superheroes” on the 6-8 March, 7.30 at the Hayward Theatre contact (01353) 653931.

Stretham’s Pantomime: Cinderella

The Ely area has been blessed with a number of pantomimes to ease the gloom of our fading winter days. Stretham’s version of “Cinderella”, written by Tina Barsby and produced by Angela Fordham, positively glowed with the warmth and fun of a community ready for a good laugh. Hilarious quips bounced between actors and members of the audience, outrageous caricatures of well-known figures strutted the stage and tongue-in-cheek we were all given a jolly good night of laughter.

The gob-smacked look on the youngster’s face in my row made the evening for me. Eyes wide, he stared incredulously when the first dame in full drag regalia (ballooning bosoms flowing beneath leopard skin), flounced his way down the aisle. The young lad had never seen anything like it before!

The gob-smacked look on the youngster’s face in my row made the evening for me.

All the characters revelled in their roles: genial Big Brother Buttons (Chris Adams), beautiful nightingale Cindy Dee (Rosie Wheat), Prince Willie (Claire Saltmarsh) a hero suffering much from over-zealous dames, Cee Dee (Matt Creak) and Dee Dee (David Pope), Dandini (Angela Fordham) thwarted in love, all-American Mom (Donna Bright) one of the many oblivious to the needs of baby Bee Dee (Toby Hutter) and Prince Charming Charlie (Caroline Breeden) wonderfully equipped with enlarged ears, red nose and very posh accent. The antics of Mindy (Emma Bowd), Bindy (Eloise Bright), policemen Snot (Claire Pople) and Grot (Juliette Potten), ASBO seeker Timmy (Chris Grant), grouchy Blue Tooth Fairy (Jessica Fordham), sparkling Fairy Godmother (Caroline Gentry), cool Kick the Cat (Jasmine Radford) and the beautiful Fairies all also helped to make the evening an unforgettable romp. The riotous actions on stage were matched perfectly by Neil Griffin’s musical talent and the delightful scenery, costumes, lighting and sound. Roll on Stretham’s next production – this village definitely has what it takes to provide a jolly good night of unadulterated fun.

WADS production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

What a wonderful show it was! Witchford Amateur Dramatic Society under the directorship of Gaz Brown has certainly developed into a robust and highly successful company of talented entertainers.
In the recent production of the musical “The Wizard of Oz”, the charming tale is told of Kansas-born Dorothy thrown into an imaginative world of witches, Munchkins, the Wizard of Oz and the like. Acting, music and choreography were of a very high standard making this one of the most enthralling shows this company has produced. The characters lived and breathed their parts, their singing was tunefully effective and the full-bodied band was particularly sensitive to the needs of the singers and dramatic developments. Stage movements were exceptionally effective and slickly manoeuvred.

Katharine Hardman played a sweet and innocent Dorothy and was well supported by a lovable Scarecrow (Adrian Peberdy), an appealing, sorrowful Tin Woodman (Ian Peckham) and a colourful Cowardly Lion with hilarious affectations (Steve Barker).

The strong cast moved swiftly through fascinating scenes that brought the drama to life. The resolute private (Maisie Peckham), the confident Mayor of the Munchkins (Sam Robbins), the fantastic Wizard of Oz (Ivan Green) and polished performances by hosts of Munchkins, Jitterbugs, Generals and Snowflakes were memorable highlights. The enchanting Lullaby League and Lollypop Guild and the secure harmonies of the Adult Chorus were additional high spots.

Evil witches (Sarah Boor, Helen Walker and Lisa Barker) gave us delicious terror-provoking moments and were contrasted well by the charming good witch (Claire Mead).

Other notables were Lord Growlie (Jason Oddi) with his posh accent, Tibia (Caroline Heppell), Aunt Em (Karin Peberdy), Farmhand Joe (Joe Robbins) and Uncle Henry (Neil Pilling). Invaluable contributions were also made by Scott Haddow, Pamela Brown, Carol Robbins and Harriet Maddox.

There was no doubt that a great deal of work went into this production and producers David Hardman, Lisa Barker and Adam Bonner and their team should be well pleased with the results.

Splendid scenery, costumes and lighting combined with the huge cast of all ages also helped to make this production one of the finest I have seen.