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The Bradford Players  Guys and Dolls @ The Bradford Playhouse, Friday 29th June 2018
 by Judith Smith NODA

Director  Giles Atkinson
Musical Director  Deborah Lee Moore
Choreographer Amy Roche

I think this is probably the best sung show I have seen The Bradford Players perform for quite some time.  The harmonies in the opening numbers from the men’s chorus and principals were very well balanced and a delight to hear.  The prior training from Deborah and her assistant Debbie Cross was well remembered and under the guest baton of Ian Sapiro that first impression was not allowed to slip throughout the show.
The opening scene over the overture was well designed and implemented, being a street scene of New York, leading up to the meetings of the guys planning to hold a crap game under the very nose of the eagle eyed Lt Brannigan of the New York Police Department (Richard Barran).  The Salvationists are trying so hard to reform people but without success and so the story unfolds.
The leading ladies Sarah Brown (Helen Galagher) and Adelaide (Ysanne Morrill) played their parts beautifully, particularly Adelaide who really made the most of her cold and the lack of commitment from her beloved Nathan Detroit (Jonnie Taylor).  Part of one of the bets was that Sky Masterson (Paul Matthews) would take Sarah to Cuba, but falling in love with her, welched on the bet and denied that it had ever happened.  Big Jule (Craig Deacon) arrived and insisted on a crap game, under his own rules.  Nathan manages to turn the plot around and Big Jule, having lost the bet, means that all the guys have to go to the Salvation Mission meeting that night.  Here we have the two most well remembered of the songs from this show ‘Luck be a Lady’ sung by Paul Matthews, notes, diction and meaning so well expressed and ‘Sit down you’re rocking the boat’ by Nicely Nicely (Mickey May).  What a fantastic performance that was with the chorus backing in full harmony and some very tricky choreography thrown in.
The song I remember most however was the very sincere and gentle, ‘More I cannot wish you’ sung by Arvide Abernathy (Roger Butterfield) to his granddaughter Sarah.  Well sung, perfect diction and with so much sincerity that I am sure there were quite a few tears among the ladies in the audience.  The show cleverly finished, with all the guys having won their correct doll, with practically the same street scene that had started the evening.
The Dolls, congratulations to the dancers on the strip scene dance in Act II, all the seams on their fishnet tights were immaculately straight and in fact all the costumes looked attractive and well fitting with no slip shod moments from anyone.
The scenery was good but perhaps some of the scene changes could have been a little slicker but I am being very picky!
This was a super show, well performed and well appreciated by the audience.
The Bradford Players Calamity Jane NODA Review
The Bradford Playhouse
Thursday 8 June 2017
Judith Smith
Producer Giles Atkinson
Choreographer Amy Roche
Musical Director Adam Boniface
Calamity Jane has such memorable, attractive music and with a simple, uncomplicated story is the true recipe for a ‘feel good’ enjoyable evening’s entertainment which, with this production, The Bradford Players completely provided their audience.
This show is one which relies heavily on its leading lady and Poppy Jo Lumley provided the coarse bumptiousness which the tomboy role of Calamity required. Her facial expressions, as she reacted to the various situations throughout the story, were hilarious. She was perfectly matched by the very ladylike Jo Haynes (Katie Brown). The love interest was admirably provided by Richard Armstrong (Wild Bill Hickock) and Paul Matthews (Lt Danny Gilmartin). The comedy part of Francis Fryer was immaculately played by Chris Sheard whose looks, timing, singing and dancing completely fitted the role of the professional entertainer. All were held in check by Richard Barran as Henry Miller the owner of the Golden Garter Saloon.
A rip-roaring Can-Can from the dancing team with excellent support from the Chorus and the smaller part players, a good set, costumes, sound and lighting completed a very good production.

Excerpt from The Bradford Review of our Pantomime Dick Whittington at the Bradford playhouse 23rd to 27th November 2016

"The production was surprisingly opulent for a local amateur production. In terms of staging the designs of the theatrical title card, backgrounds and props were great and well painted, truly adding to a strong sense of location whether it was the streets of London or the tropical paradise of Pandemonium, and it’s a credit to the set designers for making it look as good as any pantomime I’ve previously seen.
Credit should also go to the lighting which shone, if you pardon the pun, on moments such as the King Rat who was regularly bathed in an evil green light, that flicked on and off in time when evil and the good took centre stage. The costumes were also on point, whether it was for the ensemble or the increasingly wacky designs of the pantomime dame, which even at one point included lights within the costume.
Onto the cast and it was a strong showing from those involved........."

If you want to read the full report go to the link below

Review: The Bradford Players Present Dick Whittington @bradfordplayers…/ 

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood Pantomime 21st to 25th January 2015 at the Bradford Playhouse
Director Kazia Gamble, MD Danny Gamble, Choreographer Kathryn Ford
Review by Judith Smith NODA

~~This was a very cleverly scripted Pantomime by Alan Frayn, quality was present in every line and The Bradford Players did their utmost to make their performance worthy of the script.  Most of the jokes were easily understood, and laughed at, by children, Mums and Dads and Grandparents alike.

The two ‘funny men’ Snivel & Grovel (Charlie Vincent and Katrina McEachran) kept a very tight balance in their performance making people laugh by being silly but not overly stupid, which can sometimes turn an audience off. Robin Hood & Maid Marion (Tammie Butterworth and Debbie Cross) delighted us with their presentation and singing, The Sheriff of Nottingham (Richard Hunt) received his well deserved ‘boos’ but also huge applause when he delivered a long speech (which must have been difficult to learn!!) every word beginning with the letter ‘D’ – he then had to repeat it much faster and that was followed by King Richard (very Royally played by Roger Butterfield) repeating most of it again.  Literally the audience was in stitches laughing and very much appreciated their efforts.  I must mention Friar Tuck very capably played by Jono Gadsby who had taken over the part with less than a weeks’ notice, who together with Will Scarlett (Jo Haynes) and Little John (Christopher Stewart), together with the help of the audience, ably completed the merry band of men.  Of the other characters, Wendy Robinson was a very beautifully dressed Good Fairy; Nurse Nellie Nickerlastic (Carl Murray) was totally believable, again because this part was not overacted, and was quite gorgeous in her high heels and many costumes and wigs but the stars, if we can have any in a Pantomime, were the King’s Nephew and Niece Sam and Ella (say it quickly and you will get the joke!!). If it didn’t spoil the plot these children should have been called ‘Super and Dooper’ because first class performances were given by Reece Garra-Jennings and Charlotte Lindley.  I do hope they will have the opportunity to show off their acting, singing and dancing talents in the future.

Costumes throughout the show were very good for Principals and Chorus alike, there were some very good backcloths and an excellent ivy covered Castle in which to imprison Maid Marion.  Balance between the backing tracks and stage was very good, as was the lighting, sound and the special effects. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.

Bedroom Farce 4th to 7th June 2014 at The Bradford Playhouse

Director Kazia Gamble
Review by Judith Smith NODA
This was the first venture of a play, performed by the Bradford Players, following their union with Heaton AODS.  The play was a typical Alan Ayckbourn play, full of twists and turns, almost Gilbertian in its concept.
For the size of the stage the set designers (Carl Murray & Jono Gatsby) had worked wonders, fitting three completely differently styled and decorated bedrooms into such a small area.  The characters too, worked exceptionally well together and were totally believable as couples, although somehow, I would have liked a little more movement from some of the players and I think this could have been accomplished in the space allowed. 
Craig Deacon & Alyson Sykes (Ernest & Delia) were the more mature couple, Richard Barran & Debbie Cross (Malcolm & Kate) were ‘loves young dream’ , Andy McDonald & Katrina McEachran (Nick & Jan),the more comedy couple.  I am not sure how many times Andy fell out of bed in different ways purportedly suffering from a bad back!!.The ‘odd’ couple completed the cast, Richard Hall (Trevor) and Louise Blackburn (Suzannah) and the play revolved around their relationship and how that affected the others.  Richard had everyone laughing at his attempts at ‘Do it Yourself’ while his wife Debbie was certainly very pretty eye candy for the men in the audience
For their first attempt at a straight play, it was a difficult one to produce but the Players gave it their all and a very enjoyable evening was enjoyed by the audience.

Cinderella Pantomime 27th Nov 2013 to 1st Dec 2013 at The New Bradford Playhouse
reviewed by Judith Smith NODA
Director - Giles Atkinson
Musical Director - Kevin James
Choreographer - Kathryn Ford
~~What a wonderful start to the Christmas season, a practically full house of expectant parents and equally expectant and excited children, with their illuminated ‘princess’ head-dresses etc, looking forward to a wonderful afternoon.

Minimal scenery, with well designed costumes (Megan Murray), made this whole show a pleasure to watch and, together with the talented cast and excellent musical direction, one was soon transported away to Fairyland by Katie Redpath as a rather hip and trendy ‘mod’ Fairy Godmother.  Charlie Vincent was an admirable Buttons, goodness knows how many miles he ran to and fro across the stage.  Natalie Kershaw was a delightful Cinderella very well accompanied by the ever talented Jennette White as Prince Charming. The two Ugly Sisters were excellently played by Drew Howorth and Carl Murray and further slapstick comedy provided by Ashley Veres and Craig Deacon as Leggett and Bodget.  As always, the small children’s chorus practically stole the show.

This was a very ‘professionally’ produced pantomime with an excellent script (Alan P Frayn) very well portrayed by a talented cast.

SHOUT -THE MOD MUSICAL 19th June to 22nd June 2013 at The New Bradford Playhouse
Reviewed by Judith Smith NODA on 20th June 2013
Director- Giles Atkinson
Musical Director- Neil Balfour
Choreographer- Amy Horton-Atkinson
Shout! What a wow of an evening!  What a wow of a show when so expertly performed by this talented group.  A fantastic trip back down memory lane  to the sixties with the music, fashions, dance crazes all performed with such exacting  precision, verve, pep, and enthusiasm it was a wonder anyone had any breath left to sing – but sing they did very tunefully and a great deal of it in multi part harmony.

This show is a medley of favourites from the best of the swinging 60's music, loosely woven together by telling the story of five young girls, all with different backgrounds and morals, as they grow from teens into womanhood.  Using a magazine format their stories develop with true confessions, adverts, quizzes and, of course, their letters to a rather frumpy problem page advice columnist whose uncaring replies don’t necessarily bear any relationship to the problem in question yet, to modern day thinking and hindsight, are hilariously funny.

This show was a joy to watch and listen to from beginning to end.  The set, a very simple rostra of steps with banner hangings depicting the front pages of the magazine (Congratulations to the set painters) but with a wealth of various coloured lighting, backlighting and clever use of special spots, made the necessary mood changes of the show and very much enhanced the very effective silhouette shapes and grouped freezes of the chorus and dancers.  The sound was very well balanced between the stage and band of keyboards and percussion and was necessarily loud enough for pop music but not over amped and deafening!!  It was difficult to tell which was ‘production’ and which was ‘choreography’ the two blended so well from the very talented team of Giles and Amy and there was no distinction between singing chorus, dancers and principals – everyone sang and everyone danced and all to the same brilliant standard.  Performed almost entirely by ladies – the evening sped by.  Well done to the two brave men of the cast.

It is impossible to select anyone for special mention as there were no weak links in this company whatsoever, everyone on stage was of the same professional standard. Cleverly cast and beautifully costumed with period hairstyles, make-up and accessories, everyone acted well, making their particular character totally believable throughout the evening bringing out all the humour and heartbreak of those supposedly ’swinging’ times.