Epsom Light Opera Company

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2014 Die Fledermaus

Johann Strauss II

at the Epsom Playhouse
Spring 2014

Director - Christopher Moon-Little
Music Director - Dennis Clark-Hooker
Choreographer - Amy Hamlen

Cast List

Rosalinde - Callie Swarbrick
Adele - Corinne Hart
Orlofsky - Sarah Denbee
Ida (Adele's Sister) - Kate Winterhalter
Alfred - Bo Wang
Eisenstein - Dominick Felix
Falke (a Notary) - James Schouten
Frank (Prison Governor) - Chris Evans
Blind (a Lawyer) - Paul Featherstone
Frosche (a jailer) - Len Martin
Ivan (Prince's Valet) - Emily Evans and Daniel Crego-Bustelo

Chorus Members

Anthony Black, Paul Chitnis, Emily Evans, Penny Hanham, Chris Haslett, John Hayman-Joyce, Charlie Hoddell, Jill Howlett, Louise Laithwaite, Terry Marsh, Julie Parker, Dil Patel, Linda Sutch, Rick Thompsett, Harry Wilkinson and Sandra Zeffman.

Biographies

Chris Moon Little  Christopher Moon-Little, Director
Christopher is an opera director, translator and librettist. He originally trained as an opera singer, attending the Junior Royal Academy of Music and then studying musicology and philosophy at Royal Holloway University of London. At university he set up Opera Holloway, a company designed to give young singers performance opportunities. He has also worked with Brent Opera, Artwork Opera and Opera de Bauge and assisted at the Royal Academy of Music. He has directed: 'The Marriage of Figaro', 'Hansel and Gretel', 'Cinderella' (Massenet), 'The Bear' (Walton), 'A Hand of Bridge' (Barber), 'The Telephone' (Menotti), 'Rigoletto', 'The Magic Flute' and 'The Turn of The Screw'. Future plans include: 'The Mikado' for both Brent Opera and WILOS, assisting at Opera de Bauge in the Loire and writing an opera on the Holocaust for early 2015. He has genuinely enjoyed working with ELOC, Dennis and Amy and is delighted with everyone's willingness to do very daft things indeed!
Dennis Hooker Dennis Hooker, Musical Director
It is a great privilege for me to return to ELOC for their production of Die Fledermaus. Our Director has provided us with an exciting new translation, and the staging has been brought forward a century. The music complements the story in that it is a romp from start to finish. Beautiful tunes abound, along with luscious Viennese waltzes, polkas and marches, and all in the celebratory style that Strauss excelled in. In particular, Die Fledermaus gives us a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some splendid vocal fireworks, as demonstrated by our excellent cast. All involved in the production, whether on stage or behind the scenes, have worked extremely hard to ensure you have an evening to remember. So please sit back and enjoy this truly great operetta.
Amy Hamlen Amy Hamlen, Choreographer
Amy is originally from Bristol, where she began ballet at the age of 3. She then moved on to train at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, where she graduated in 2009 with a  rinity Diploma in Musical Theatre. Since then she has performed in many styles of theatre, from opera to Shakespeare, including 'Gay's The Word', 'A Little Night Music', 'Follies', 'Hamlet', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Sweeney Todd', and 'La Boheme'. Amy has taught and choreographed for many different performing Arts schools, including Guildford School of Acting and PPA. She currently teaches for Discover, a group for disabled adults, and First Dance Studios. Amy is the Associate Director of Apollo Theatre Company, a professional theatre company based in Guildford. Amy wrote and stars in ATC's original production, 'Keep the Home Fires Burning'. She is currently working on their next production 'Carrie's War', which is to open at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, in May.
Dominick Felix 'Eisenstein', played by Dominick Felix
Dominick is a postgraduate student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His opera roles include Apollo/John Styx in 'Orpheus in the Underworld' for Unexpected  pera; Nerone in 'L'incoronazione di Poppea' for Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Billy in 'A Soldier and a Maker' for Barbican Pit, Cheltenham Festival and Western Union Boy in 'Paul Bunyan' for British Youth Opera. His upcoming Opera engagements include covering Faust (Faust) for Clonter Opera and 'The Little Green Swallow' (Brighella) for British Youth Opera. He has recently performed scenes from 'La Boheme', 'Don Giovanni' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', and is preparing scenes from 'Les Contes d'Hoffmann', 'La Fille Du Regiment', 'Faust', 'Rigoletto' and 'Sir John in Love', all with GSMD. Dominick is a keen recitalist. Recent highlights include Handel's 'Messiah', Brahms' 'Liebeslieder Walzer', Schubert's 'Mass in G', Puccini's 'Messa di Gloria' and Mendelssohn's 'Elijah'. Dominick is supported by the Guildhall School scholarship fund.
Callie Swarbrick 'Rosalinde', played by Callie Swarbrick
Soprano Callie Swarbrick is currently studying with Theresa Goble at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, having received a First Class Honours degree in Music and Drama at Royal Holloway. She is a principal artist with Opera Holloway and most recently she performed Gretel from 'Hansel and Gretel' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013. Previous Opera Holloway tours include Lucy from 'The Telephone' and Geraldine in 'A Hand of Bridge'. Callie is a member of the Core Company for Opera Erratica, a physical theatre opera company, and will be performing in their new composition 'Triptych' at the Print Rooms in May 2014. This summer she will be performing Rita in Rita by Donizetti at the Epsom and Shipley Festivals, and 'Die Fledermaus' is certainly giving her lots of practice with fast coloratura! She is generously supported by the Headley Trust, Opera Prelude, and The Seary Trust. www.callie-swarbrick.co.uk
James Schouten 'Falke', played by James Schouten
James is currently completing a MMus in Performance and Related Studies at Goldsmiths' College, studying voice under Nan Christie. Since the beginning of his studies in London in 2010, he has sung a variety of operatic roles in English, Italian, German and Russian. Future roles this summer include Angelotti (Tosca, Surrey Opera, 2014), Harlequin (Ariadne auf Naxos, Queen's Opera, 2014) and Papageno (Die Zauberflote, Opera Gold, 2014). Also a keen composer and orchestrator, his current projects aim to re-imagine late-romantic orchestral sound-worlds for a 21st century audience through modern instrumentation and performance practice. He debuts at the South Bank Centre this May as part of Goldsmiths' PureGold festival launch. James is very excited to make his debut with ELOC in Die Fledermaus as Falke and hopes you enjoy the show!
Chris Evans 'Frank', played by Chris Evans
Chris is a founder member of ELOC and has enjoyed seeing the company flourish over the years. He has been involved in amateur theatre for most of his life and has played many major parts during his 'thespian' career. Favourite roles include King Arthur in 'Camelot', Billy Bigelow in 'Carousel', Pluto in 'Orpheus in the Underworld' and for something completely different, the Pantomime Dame in 'Cinderella'. In 2008, he switched roles and was Musical Director for a production of 'Honk!' at the Courtyard Theatre, Chipstead, working with his daughter Emily as the Director. He has twice played the part of Eisenstein (many years ago) and is now looking forward to portraying the slightly different character, Frank - "A Chief Executive Prison Director of Incarcerations and Internments" in this modern version of the classic Strauss operetta. In his spare time, Chris likes to play golf (badly) and tennis (even worse!).
Corinne Hart 'Adele', played by Corinne Hart
Corinne trained for 4 years at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, graduating in 2005, and studied for her Post Graduate at the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating in 2007. During her studies she sang principal roles in numerous Handel Operas performed around Wales, including 'Acis and Galatea', 'Hercules' and 'Semele' and was highly commended in the Flora Nielson prize at the Royal Academy. Corinne was a Choral scholar with BBC National Chorus of Wales and has sung on many recordings for the Chandos label under Sir Richard Hickox and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Operatic roles have included Mimi in 'La Boheme' (Opera Foundry) Adina in 'L'Elisir D'Amore' (RAM) 'Lakme' (APS) Zerlina in 'Don Giovanni' (Harrow Opera) and Yum Yum in 'The Mikado' (HHTC). Corinne is delighted to be singing Adele for ELOC.
Bo Wang 'Alfred', played by Bo Wang
Bo gained his first Masters in Musicology in Beijing in 2008. He gained a distinction in solo performance in his second Masters in 2011 from the Royal Northern College of Music where he was supported with a full scholarship from the ABRSM. He was also awarded The John Cameron Prize for Lieder. Bo is currently studying with Ryland Davies. Opera experience includes Nencio in 'L'infedelta delusa (RNCM), Achilles in 'La Belle Hélène' (RNCM), Thyrsis in 'Euridice' (British Youth Opera),Don Basilio in 'Le Nozze di Figaro' (British Youth Opera), Jenik in 'The Bartered Bride' (Manchester City Opera), Phoebus/Autumn/Chinese Man in 'The Fairy Queen' (Benslow Opera), Normanno in 'Lucia di Lamermoor' (Opera Seria), Hermann in 'The Queen of Spades' (Park Opera) and Lynceus in 'Les Danaides' (University of Leeds). Bo has also taken part in RNCM opera scenes as Jephtha, Nemorino, Tamino, Titus, Eisenstein and Fenton. www.bowangtenor.com
Sarah Denbee 'Orlofsky', played by Sarah Denbee
Having gained a Masters with Distinction from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Sarah now works as a freelance singer. She was awarded the Wilfred Greenhouse Allt Prize for Oratorio & Cantata, she won the Roy Pleasance Competition, and was the Vocal Department's representative at the Gold Medal at Kings Place and was a Director's Prizewinner. Sarah sings regularly with Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir as well as other professional ensembles. She has been a soloist at prestigious concert venues including the Cadogan Hall, Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, and was a member of a mentor scheme with the Royal Opera House Chorus. She is an extra chorus member for Scottish Opera, and other upcoming performances include alto soloist in Vivaldi's 'Gloria', Handel's 'Messiah' and Rossini's 'Petite Messe Solennelle', and roles of Maurya (Riders to the Sea) and cover of Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito). www.sarahdenbee.co.uk
Paul Featherstone 'Blind', played by Paul Featherstone
This will be Paul's 14th show with ELOC and he is very excited about playing Dr Blind in this show. Although he only sings one song as this character, it has been fun learning the fast paced and tongue twisting lyrics Christopher the director translated! Paul says: "Rehearsals for this show, as with all our shows, have been great fun, we really have been spoilt with such a great production team." Some of Paul's favourite shows with ELOC have been 'Slice of Saturday Night', 'Orpheus in the Underworld', 'Titanic the Musical' and 'The Witches of Eastwick' to name a few. When Paul is not fulfilling his ELOC committee duties, which do take up a lot of any member's spare time, he is an ex primary school teacher now working for the London Borough of Sutton supporting, advising and training schools in many aspects of IT administration.
Kate Winterhalter 'Ida', played by Kate Winterhalter
Kate has been training in musical theatre and dance since 2009 and finally gained a diploma in musical theatre in 2012 with the London College of Music. She has been singing classically since the age of thirteen when she discovered her passion for classical music. Kate has been a part of many musical theatre productions such as 'Peter Pan', 'The Summer Garden' and most recently the UK premiere of 'The Addams Family Musical' at the Secombe theatre in Sutton. This will be Kate's first participation and role in an opera, and she is thrilled to that her first experience within the classical genre embarks upon the work of Strauss in this colourful opera. Kate was delighted to be given the role of the aspirational dancer Ida – as the youngest member of the principals, she feels she can relate to Ida's character. It is Kate's first time as a member of ELOC, and she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience.
Len Martin Grolsch', played by Len Martin
Having been a drummer and singer in bands dating back to the 70's, Len is no stranger to the stage. However he was only introduced to musical theatre two years ago, having being persuaded by a fellow drummer and ELOC member to attend a company rehearsal. After performing in the chorus of 'Half a Sixpence' and 'The Mikado', he was given his first acting role, as gangster Harry The Horse in 'Guys & Dolls'. He insists that in this latest role, as a drunken jailer, he has not been type cast! Although his character does not appear until act three, he's not to be found propping up the bar during the preceding acts. He forms part of the chorus, heavily disguised as himself, 40 years ago. Len runs his own company in the engineering sector. His leisure time is spent playing golf, or helping his wife maintain their large garden in Chipstead.

Photos from the show - click here

"Excellent singing at tonight's performance of "Die Fledermaus" Loved the prologue on screen! Lots of exuberance - a delight for the ears and eyes. Well done everyone"
Vicky from Wednesday Evening
"Saw this show last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great production, awesome principals and best of all a chorus with a very good sound who got stuck in and were having a whale of a time. Well done to all involved."
Jeremy from Tuesday Evening
"Just so say how wonderfull the show was. Best thing the company has done that I have seen. You have put the Opera into ELOC at last!"
Colin from Thursday Evening
Promotional Video
Party Video
Pranking of Falke Video
 

NODA Review by Jon Fox

DIE FLEDERMAUS Epsom Light Opera Company - 9th April 2014

Die Fledermaus set in the present is an interesting and challenging concept for any company to take on. This modern version with altered libretto by director Christopher Moon-Little was certainly different from the traditional one. So, did it work? Well yes, in some respects but there were several things not to like.

The singing, acting and characterisations of all the principals was of a very high order indeed. With three exceptions (Dr Blind, Franck and Grolsch) all were newly trained (or training) professionals.

Eisenstein: Dominick Felix ..... Beautiful tenor voice, great stage presence.
Rosalinde: Callie Swarbrick ..... Soaring Soprano, delightful acting.
Adele: Corinne Hart ..... Soaring soprano, superb acting.
Falke: James Schouten ..... Rich sonorous Baritone, good stage presence.
Alfred: Bo Wang ..... Superb Tenor, highly charismatic actor.
Count Orlofsky: Sarah Denbee ..... Lovely voice, played the difficult cross dressing part with verve and confidence.
Ida: Kate Winterhalter ..... Fine voice, skilled dancer and did well in the role

The "Amateurs" were:-

Frank: Chris Evans ..... Big stage presence and accomplished actor.
Dr Blind: Paul Featherstone ..... Played the bumbling fool with great comic timing and managed the tricky song with skill.
Grolsch: Len Martin ..... A comical drunken jailer landed with a "disobedient" blow-up female doll which he handled with dexterity.

This tuneful operetta opened with a giant computer screen showing a video of the prank Eisenstein played on his drunken and sleeping friend Falke. I thought this idea, though clever, was rather laboured, however it certainly ensured the audience that the production was set in the present time. I noted a couple of topical references during the show. The opening set and scene in Eisenstein's apartment was kept sensibly minimal which focused the attention on the various deceptions going on amongst the actors.

For my money, the highlight of this act was the appearance of Rosalinde's lover, Alfred and his attempt to seduce her. His superman shorts would have made Edwardian ladies faint! He was the most charismatic actor on stage with a stunning voice. Not far behind, however, was Adele - her famous laughter song in Act 2 was spine tingling.

The famous ballroom scene, now a nightclub bar room, was in many ways let down by the modern setting. A simple bar at a party and an eclectic mix of party goers including Ali G lookalike did not do justice to the masked ball traditionally used. I suppose that is the penalty paid for updating the show.

There was some interesting choreography in this act which was rather well set and carried out by the company under choreographer Amy Hamlen. It did however lack elegance when compared to this scene in the original setting. Energy is not a good substitute for grace. Adele's laughing song was beautifully performed and Rosalinde's charade as a Hungarian Countess were for me the highlight of this act, along with the glorious singing generally.

Act 3 set in the prison governor's office was in some ways lacking in the natural comedic business, bordering on farce, that the original plot demands with the various comings and goings as the complicated plot is finally resolved. It was perhaps over simplified. The comedy involving a lengthy scene where Grolsch becomes convincingly drunk eventually became rather laboured. The blow-up doll made me laugh initially, but a lighter touch with comedy is essential. Unfortunately the "reluctant" doll turned the scene into slapstick. Falke's appearance with the company from the party was handled with aplomb and the finale was also worthy of praise.

The orchestra under the sure command of musical director Dennis Hooker underpinned and supported the gorgeous singing in this show most effectively, whilst never drowning the soloists. Lighting designer Simon Banks and operators David Titman and Kevin Ward were to be commended.

Costumes by Kris Benjafield (the programme misspelled her surname) and Caron Ireland were appropriate for the modern setting.

Overall this was an enjoyable show and for a famous operetta such as this, it was prudent to use professional soloists in the main parts. However the modern setting could not quite match the atmosphere and some of the humour of the original by Johann Strauss II.


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