Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Batterham’

My first show in LIFT 2016 is a short piece based on the true story of nineteenth century cross dresser Ernest Boulton. He was apparently adventurous, indeed reckless, visiting the West End as a raging queen (in the 1860’s!), sometimes assuming the persona of a prostitute. As the more refined Stella he took female roles in touring shows. He even had an aristocratic Tory MP as a lover.

It’s told in two interwoven monologues by a 21-year-old Stella and an older Ernest. Both are waiting – the younger for his lover and the older for admission to hospital. The younger is boasting of his unorthodox and exciting lifestyle. The older is sadly contemplating its end. A mute attendant is sometimes present. It’s a bit static for someone like me, known for not liking monologues, but it does convey both ends of an extraordinary life well, and played in a 19th century music hall, the venue could not be better.

It’s beautifully performed by Richard Cant as Old Stella, virtually motionless, welling up with sadness, and Oscar Batterham as Young Stella, cheeky, playful and full of life. It’s simply staged with a couple of chairs, the venue itself anchoring the piece in its time. I wasn’t sure what to make of the occasional use of dramatic light and sound, particularly at the outset.

Neil Bartlett writes and directs this 70-minute piece and it’s good to have him back in the theatre after what seems like an age. Well worth trying to be cool in Hoxton!

Read Full Post »

I never tire of this show. One of my top ten musicals (maybe top five, maybe 1st – ranking is impossible! ) but definitely the best musical comedy of them all. So my favourite drama school’s end of term production was an absolute must, but it’s a hell if a challenge for students, however good they are.

This show has everything. Set in a quintessential period in New York City as if time came to a standstill in the 50’s, from the moment you meet Rusty Charlie, Benny Southstreet and Nicely-Nicely Johnson (what names!) you’re swept up into Damon Runyon’s world. It has a wonderfully funny book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows with gamblers, missionaries, two love stories and a trip to Havana. Everyone’s lovable, even the rogues. Frank Loesser’s score is chock-a-block with wonderful tunes with brilliant lyrics (I’ll Know, If I Were A Bell, I’ve Never Been In Love Before, Luck Be Lady, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat…..). The guy gets his girl and the girl gets her guy and the mission is saved. Bliss.

The highlights of this particular production are the superb sound of a proper 23-piece orchestra under Michael Haslam, the luxury of extra Hot Box girls, great period costumes and an overture and entr’acte retro curtain light show! Bill Deamer’s choreography for Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat is sensational and Adelaide and Sarah’s duet, Marry The Man Today, has never been better. Luke Dale had great presence as Sky and Oscar Batterham’s characterisation of Nathan was spot on. Alexander Knox sang Sit Down beautifully (while coping with the energetic choreography) and Edward Sayer was a particularly fine Arvide.

Director Martin Connor has done many great shows here at GSMD and this was amongst his most ambitious. It wasn’t faultless, but it was huge fun and it shone when it mattered. For me, the superb encore could have gone on and on because by then I was in musical theatre heaven.

Read Full Post »