Excerpts from a review of Hello Dolly! by Chris Higgins of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association:
...... what hit me first was the scale of the production, right from the beginning, I could see the effort that Blackpool Operatic Players had put into the production by ensuring their scenery was top class......... and the costumes were absolutely spot on........ well done to Pam Youles and her team. The performances of this varied cast were great. The cast had a large age range and was nearly 50 strong - the choreography from Julie Segev was inspired at times and used every inch of the available space.........worth a note was the title song with the dancing waiters - lovely work.
The music started very tight under the baton of Chris Andrews and it remained tight throughout. The large band of 14 live musicians was clearly very capable and gelled very well as a unit under their musical director. Good use of dynamics throughout the show was mirrored in the vocals from the group in their larger numbers with delicacy and control in the solos. I was very impressed with the music overall.
There were some performances that are due some recognition and I have to say that the comic timing and entertaining performances of most of the main characters was brilliant. Claire Gaskell particularly had the audience laughing out loud on a number of occasions. Eden Kippax gave a confident performance with her vocals in the title role of Dolly Levi and she looked impeccable throughout with her range of costumes.....Steve Hook who delivered the role of Horace Vandergelder had a confident performance with some clearly thought out characteristics...... and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. The 4 “love birds” of Irene Malloy and Cornelius Hackl and Minnie Fay and Barnaby were a pleasure to watch together on stage, with some clear chemistry between them...... A mention has to be made of the unlikely hero, Richard Fullerton as Cornelius Hackl, i found him engaging and loveable as a character ......... Richard's character and timing were impeccable, as was the aforementioned Claire Gaskell as Minnie Fay. Natalie Duyman as Irene Malloy was a great fit for the role, I particularly enjoyed her rendition of Ribbons Down My Back, as did the audience around me. Richie Withers as Barnaby did a fantastic job of supporting Cornelius and, again, I thought the timing of some of his comic lines were spot on.
From a technical point of view, the sound and lighting for this show was flawless. With help from the very popular Stuart Shawcross the sound of the band and all the performers was very clear, and every word was heard. The direction of this piece by Neil Townsend, was very well thought out and really did exploit the cast to its fullest. Clever timing in some scenes and well drilled group numbers shows an accomplished eye from Neil and I will look forward to seeing more of his work.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the whole production and it just goes to show that sometimes the only difference between amateur theatre and professional productions is the pay cheque! Well done Blackpool Operatic Players.
Charity Registration No: 500663
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