Wellington Operatic Society’s latest cabaret, ‘More Movie Magic’features nearly 40 of the cinema’s greatest hits. Director Christina Green has put together a programme that is diverse and well-balanced between small group, solos and ensemble pieces – and the ensemble consists of 30 adults and 18 youngsters, sharing performances in two groups.
But the strength of the performance as a whole comes not just from these powerful voices (and there’s LOTS of power!) but from choreography, lighting, costumes and some slick continuity that allows the show to roll seemingly effortlessly. This is just good entertainment, delivered smoothly and skilfully by a group uninhibited by a limited stage and finite technical resources. And with day jobs too.
‘Night Fever’ opens the show; ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’ closes it – two great ensemble numbers that leave no stops unpulled, particularly the latter with its insistent drum beat and surge of vocal power. In between, the kids have a chance to show their skills, almost all of them having learned stagecraft in shows such as ‘Oliver’ and performances with Genesis.
To see these confident, talented (and well-directed) youngsters sharing the stage with seasoned adults says much about what Op Soc means. It’s no accident that some go on from Wellington to join the ranks in professional theatre. They are certainly trained well in the discipline, standards and skills needed as performers here.
To highlight any of the programme’s individual pieces might seem unjust to others but ‘Wannabe’ from ‘Spice World: The Movie’ and ‘Proud Mary’ from ‘Miss Congeniality 2’ which features the awesome voice of Susan Green set very high standards in Act 1.
Act 2 opens with a ‘Voulez-Vous’ from ‘Mama Mia’, where Christina Green’s choreography sets a tempo that interprets the piece rather than just delivering it. To follow it with ‘A Little Priest’ from ‘Sweeney Todd’ is just clever – and allows Mary Lewis and John Skittrell full dramatic as well as vocal range and in its simple staging is dramatically effective. ‘Skid Row’ (which sounds more difficult than the chorus made it seem), ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘Grease Megamix’ and Phil Taylor’s lush, rich delivery of ‘She’ from ‘Notting Hill’ all lead the audience through to the apt and fitting conclusion – one solo from the talented director whose clear diction and fine delivery has shown others how it can be done and two huge ensemble numbers from ‘Les Miserables’. Members of the audience were stirred to give the cast a standing ovation at the end – and those who didn’t must surely have felt they should have.
Throughout the show, even when notes were not entirely nailed perfectly (and there were few of those) there was a sense of a fine group of performers handling vocal and dance routines with confidence and verve and, backstage, a team making sure that the show looked good and ran smoothly.
Fans who booked early for ‘More Movie Magic’, this week are those fully-tuned in to the strength of arts in the town right now. And with almost no tickets left for the 6 performances, there are obviously quite a few of them.
Review & Photos: Gill Paltridge