Epsom Light Opera Company

award winning theatre at the Epsom Playhouse

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2008 Autumn The Witches of Eastwick

Music by Dana P. Rowse
Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey

At the Epsom Playhouse
Autumn 2008

Director - James Fortune
Music Director - Debbie Warren
Choreographer - Dawn

Cast List

Darryl Van Horn - Lee Power
Alexandra Spofford - Lisa Scott
Jane Smart - Kristen Callaway
Sukie Rougemont - Caron Ireland
Felicia Gabriel - Sarah Trotman
Jennifer Gabriel - Helen Bartlett
Michael Spofford - Peter Calver
Clyde Gabriel - Chris Evans
Luna (Tue, Fri and Sat matinee) - Millie Arkhurst
Luna (Wed, Thurs and Sat evening) - Polly Cox
Gina Marino - Charlie Hoddell
Greta Neff - Monica Wallis
Brenda Parsley - Kate Palmer
Franny Lovecraft - Julie Parker
Eudora Bryce - Sandra Zeffman
Marge Perly - Gerry Birch
Mabel Ogden - Linda Sutch
The Reverend Ed Parsley - Dil Patel
Mavis Jessup - Wendy Halls
Marcy Wills - Jenny Hughes
Rebecca - Kate Rendall

Dancers

Catherine Ash, Helen Ash, Melissa Cox, Charlotte Elston, Emily Evans Jenny Hughes, Kirstie Murray, Helen Parker, Kate Rendall, Krysza Szafranski

Chorus

Helen Clark, Heather Congdon, Steve Cox, David Don, Paul Featherstone, Wendy Halls, Chris Haslett, John Hayman-Joyce, Janet Holah, Matty Patel, Chris Rumbold, Diana Springate, Gareth Thomas, Chris Watkins, Louise Watkins, Emma Williams, Les Woodcock

Show photos - click here

Review by Tony Flook - Surrey Mirror

The devil, in the shapeof Darryl van Horne, sets up home in the cosy New England town of Eastwick. He soon befriend, seduces and libertes Alexandra, Jane and Sukie, three repressed women who don't fit in to Eastwick's smug mould and alienates Felicia Gabriel the town's self-appointed leading lady.

The Witches of Eastwick is a pacy tuneful musical full of witty dialogue and a story which starts on a light note but which takes a sinister turn after the interval.

Lee Power as Darryl held attention from his first, sudden entrance when he disrupted the town carnival, through to his even more dramatic exit as he slid away, defeated, under the alter at what should have been his wedding ceremony, demolshing the chapel, en-route. Initially charming and light on his feet, he became a darker, more ponderous character in Act II as his dominance was challenged. His singing voice was always commanding, notably when he declared I Love a Little Town and, later, proclaimed The Glory of Me.

The actors playing his three conquests were notable, not only for their outstanding individual performances but also for their natural-sounding interaction as best friends and the way their singing voices blended. Kristen Callaway (Jane), Caron Ireland (Sukie) and Lisa Scott (Alexandra) all showcased as soloists and came together for trios such as the heartfelt Make Him Mine. Bravely, they showed no concern when the technical team had a slight problem co-ordinating tham as they flew above the stage.

Sarah Trotman's Felicia was scary enough to frighten the audience, let alone her downtrodden husband Clyde, played by Chris Evans.

Helen Bartlett and Peter Calver gave supprt as two young lovers, whose romance was strewn with obstacles.

Polly Cox, 12, (alternating with Millie Arkhurst) made a confident stage debut as a mysterious child who holds the key to breaking Darryl's power.

Ensemble singing was always impressive and the dancers generally interpreted Dawn's choreography with flair, although a few members of the team seemed slightly uncertain of their steps in some sequences.

Director James FOrtune, a member of the Inner Magic Circle, introduced an extra dimension, with several intriguing tricks including a mystifying walking skeleton.

These were well worth seeing but some were, perhaps, missed unless attention was diverted from the main action.

Musical director Debbie Warren and her orchestra played a vital part in giving thos powerful production the punch it demanded.

Review by David Stewart - NODA

What a huge challenge of a show. It doesn't get much bigger than The Witches Of Eastwick – a show that was filling the considerable expanse of the stage (and auditorium) at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane not all that long ago and one that presents a huge challenge, artistically, financially and logistically for any amateur group – and probably for those reasons not many productions have been attempted. With the current UK regional tour now in progress you were one of the last amateur productions in the country for the time being at least.

I'm delighted to say at the outset you pulled it off – in style. This was a hugely impressive show that set exceptionally high standards and is without doubt the best show I have seen your group perform.

The sleepy, fictional town of Eastwick was quickly brought to live by a lively energetic rendition of Eastwick Knows which immediately set the standard for the show. Good pace, energetic ensemble, good choreography, well lit, bright and effective costumes and a minimalist but impactful set that looked very effective and professional throughout the show. There were a few opening night blips and gremlins manoeuvring the set but I am sure these were ironed out as the week went on.

The role of Darryl Van Horn is pivotal to the success of the production and I very much enjoyed the performance of Lee Power who combined the right measures of being suave, sophisticated, slimy and sheer eccentricity. Lee demonstrated excellent acting, singing, movement and stage presence in a huge role – well done.

Equally well cast were the three witches, Caron Ireland as Sukie Rougemont, Kiristen Callaway as Jane Smart and Lisa Scott as Alexandra Spofford. All three ladies excelled in their individual work at the start of act 1 but made strongest appeal when working together as a trio – as they all demonstrated quite separate characters but at all times interacted well with each other and their relationships were most believable.

There were equally strong performances from Sarah Trotman as the officious Felicia Gabriel and Chris Evans as her long-suffering other half. Sarah's acting and singing were strong as was her stage presence. The pair worked really well together bringing lots of comedy moments with good timing throughout the show. The tennis balls, necklace, feathers scene was well performed by Sarah together with the song Evil and Chris was seen to good effect in the kitchen scene with the electric hair cut !

The younger romantic interest came from Helen Bartlett as Jennifer Gabriel and Peter Calver as Michael Spofford. Who worked, and sang well together – Something was well performed by the couple.

Jumping to the finale – The Wedding was stunningly staged – and better than the professional equivalent which I saw subsequently in Woking. The lighting, fire effect, and trembling combined brilliantly for a lovely piece of theatre.

Having a resident magician as resident director certainly brought the required pizzazz – and the magical touches mentored by James Fortune were all incredibly effective and just as importantly not overdone. I've no idea how the paper trick was done and even more galling was how you pulled off the skeleton butler Fidel – I was truly spellbound !

The end of act 1 'flying' was well handled – although the safety wires are always a give- away - there's not really an alternative though – I Wish I May was a very strong ending to the act.

Sound was generally well handled throughout – there was one sound effect of rain during Act 1 which I thought could have been better as it gave a passable impersonation of interference as well.

Make Him Mine was beautifully performed and there was plenty of ensemble energy on display in both Dirty Laundry in Act 1 and in particular Dance With The Devil in Act 2. Some really effective and intelligent choreography here – well done to your choreographer Dawn.

As mentioned I thought the set was hugely effective, Darryl's house complete with statues and XXXXXXL sized bed – together with the tennis court scene all looked particularly splendid.

The music under the direction of Debbie Warren was very professionally handled and faultless. There was a perfect sound balance between performers and orchestra. Lighting at all times was very effective and well done apart from a minor blip during the final Look At Me.

The principal cast were well supported by a strong ensemble performance, and judged by the programme credits a veritable army of back stage helpers.

In all, a truly memorable production and many congratulations to you all and especially to James for all his hard work in directing the production. It was obvious that so much hard work had gone into the show and the only problem for you doing a show as good as this is that it sets the bar even higher for your future productions !!!

The programme was worthy of special mention – well done to programme co-ordinator Chris Haslett for assembling a high quality 24 page programme with detailed biogs, synopsis and plenty of other information. As always, your decision to list other local society shows is one to be commended and I shall mention this at the next NODA regional meeting in the hope that other local societies can reciprocate.

Thank you for the kind hospitality shown on the evening and I hope rehearsals are progressing well for your next productions of A Slice Of Saturday Night and Carmen which I look forward to seeing in April.

Finally, many apologies for the delay in getting this review to you.

What the Audience Said

'What a fantastic show. Congratulations to you all! A superb production with some splendid effects, great choreography, excellent principals and polished chorus numbers. Altogether a wonderful entertainment, throughly enjoyed by a lovely full house.' - Marilyn Hill Smith (Patron)

'I thought it was brilliant, you did a really, really good job. It's not an easy peice, it's very episodic and originally you didn't care about the characters. In your version, you made us care, we bought into them emotionally and that's vital for good theatre,' - Ashley Herman (West End Producer)

'Congratulation are certainly due to James Fortune for putting on a splendid evening's entertainment at The Epsom Playhouse last night. I missed 'The Witches of Eastwick' in the West End by a week, so was really looking forward to seeing this production and I was not disappointed. The singing (especially the harmonies) was great, and the whole production, including some very nice touches of magic from Magical Consultant Scott Penrose, left a packed audience delighted at the end and the applause was prolonged.' - Peter and June Pinner


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