Soho Cinders – Springers Amateur Operatic Society, Chelmsford
We all know the story of Cinderella and this was a very interesting choice for this group with this alternative version set in Soho’s Old Compton Street.
The set was great and left us in no doubt where the action takes place and I particularly liked the use of just the one truck and lots of props to tell us where we were. This allows for quick and easy set changes to keep the action flowing.
I loved all the different characters in the opening and everyone stayed in character throughout, However, I did feel the opening number lacked some pace and punch. I was surprised with so many people on stage that the volume of the vocals was so quiet and consequently I felt throughout the show, the company singing needed more attack.
The story revolves around Robbie, who has fallen for Mayoral candidate, James Prince and who is bullied by his step-sisters – Clodagh and Dana but chivvied along by his best mate Velcro.
Kieran Young as Robbie was delightful and endearing. His show of emotions from happy to dismay was good and you couldn’t help but feel for him. His singing in some places was a little shaky but as the show progresses and he hits his stride I am sure this will settle.
Alongside him, as Robbie best friend Velcro was Mae Pettigrew – this was an honest, down to earth characterisation and she delivered some great vocal moments – particularly in her duet with Marilyn in ‘Let Him Go”. This was a highlight for me, as both Mae and Amy Serin (as James Prince’s finance, Marilyn), gave such a strong and emotive performances in this number. Amy was consistent throughout and had great stage presence with her calm and composed exterior. Her Duet with Ben Miller as James Prince was also extremely enjoyable.
Ben Miller gave an assured performance as the mayoral candidate who is struggling between the conventional outer and his true inner self. However, the highlights of the show were Sophie Lines and Becky Watts and the stepsisters Clodagh and Dana. These over the top portrayals gave great comedy moments and were so much fun to watch. Top vocals of the night must go to Catherine Gregory who was the only one I felt sang with true commitment when she sang as her character Sidesaddle, the rickshaw rider.
In general, the sound levels did not seem well balanced and there were lots of issues with the mics being on or off or pushed up too loud or not on at all which was a shame as we missed lots of the vocals as a result. The dialogue was not on microphones which meant many characters need to work harder on their diction and in particular their projection. Sadly, Gareth Locke as William George was one who suffered in this aspect. Much of his dialogue as garbled or delivered upstage meaning we missed a lot of what he had to say and I think if we had heard it we would have seen a good strong performance from him.
Jason Norton gave a steady and assured delivery as Lord Bellingham and Rachel Willcox worked hard to portray the harassed Sasha. I felt a little more conviction in the character would have just added a touch more believability in the part but this may come during the run.
Another point to note, on occasions there was a lot of over gesticulation from many principal characters, standing still and controlling your movements is one of the hardest things to do on stage but one of the most powerful. I do feel in some numbers less would have been far more.
However, having said all that, I did enjoy the show tremendously, the music is great and the band under the control of Ian Myers was excellent. I would compel other societies to come and see it, as it is one that is not regularly done and deserves better recognition. I commend Springers on tackling this, especially in today’s politically charged environment and with all the media hype and I am sure that all the audiences who see the show will thoroughly enjoy it as tonight’s audience did. Congratulations to all involved.