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Letchworth Arcadians is one of the premiere amateur operatic societies in the East of England.
22nd February 2020

Official NODA report is in

Richard Fitt stood in for our local NODA rep and came to see The Sound of Movies II.

We are very grateful to him for the folowing review:

My second guest review of Letchworth Arcadians, a very different venue and very different genre. And who doesn’t like a celebration of the movies and the great music that comes from it. A great evening was promised and I was not to be disappointed.

Set in a hall, laid out in cabaret style, i.e round tables and chairs with a large stage to accommodate a sizable cast we were treated to a selection of diverse musical numbers from some old classics such as ‘Nothing Like a Dame’ from South Pacific, ‘Big Spender’ from Sweet Charity, ‘About a Quarter to Nine’ from 42nd Street and ‘Money’ from Cabaret through to  modern films such as ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman and  ‘I can Hear the Bells’ from Hairspray as well as numbers from non-musicals such as ‘Eye of The Tiger’ from Rocky III, ‘She’ from Notting Hill and ‘Come Fly with Me’ from Catch Me if You Can. Not to forget a wonderful medley from Mamma Mia. A cleverly thought through selection of numbers across many different film genres.

Positioned on the back wall of the stage a large video screen showing very cleverly resourced film clips to accompany almost every song. Ben Austin deserves a medal for sourcing them, they were absolutely spot on, poignant, humourous, zany, and some quite left field, but all totally appropriate to the songs. Loved it!

The small but very tight band under the direction of Matt Hallas on Keyboards were also outstanding and very much at the top of their game. Good to see some youngsters showing the way for the next generation. Well done to Matt Ankers (Bass Guitar), Jasper Eaglesfield (Keyboard and some lovely effects on Trumpet) and Andy Summerfield on Drums. Great job!

Director David Walker and his assistant Sophie Walker really went to town on the stage settings. The initial entrance was spectacular with the whole cast entering from the rear of the hall singing to the audience as they passed by to form a superb tableau for the opening number of ‘Let’s Go To The Movies’ (Annie). That engaged with the audience perfectly from the opening notes giving us not only a musical treat but very well thought out visual display as well. Although mainly self-sourced by the cast themselves the choice of evening wear especially by the ladies all added a wonderful array of colour and sparkle to the whole show.  Each number that followed was also a similar mixture of musical and visual delight, attention to detail was first class, the confidence of the performers was most impressive and the whole show extremely slick and well-rehearsed.

The company numbers of ‘Skyfall’, ‘How Deep is Your Love’ (Saturday Night Fever) punctuated the rest of the first half culminating in a medley from ‘Mamma Mia’, in which of course the audience absolutely revelled. Personally, I think it should have ended the show as it was an ‘Ok follow that if you can’ number, but it certainly had everybody buzzing at the interval.  Second half company numbers included ‘Eye of The Tiger’, a clever choice from Rocky III, ‘Everything I Do’ (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) ending with ‘This is Me’ from the Greatest Showman.

Solo numbers, duets, songs by the ladies, ones by the men provided the eclectic mix that made up the rest of the evening and keeping us all totally spellbound. In the first half we were treated to ‘There is Nothing Like a Dame’ from the men in that classic beach pose from the film, one of my old favourites ‘Mr Cellophane’ from Chicago sung by Karl Toombs, ‘Freddy My Love’ from Grease sung by Heather Kynnersley with an super backing group of Rachel Bloomfield, Paula Shairp and Emily Woodhouse, The Ladies raised the roof with ‘Big Spender’ from Sweet Charity followed by a very poignant version of ‘Alfie’ from Stephanie Seal, ‘A Wink and Smile’ (Sleepless in Seattle) from Kier Home which delighted my wife, a very slick version of ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ from Buck Privates sung by Claire Bunyan, Elizabeth Shaw and Sophie Walker. A special mention to Mary and Robert Driver who gave us an absolutely top draw version of ‘Money’ from Cabaret.

The second half opened with ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ from Gypsy sung by Elizabeth Shaw, Gilly Mackilligan and Mary Driver with some wonderful additional comedy provided by a trumpet a wonderful costume of angel wings and some saucily lit up hearts.  Followed by ‘The Way We Were’,  expertly sung by Rachael Chalkey and then the men again with ‘Come Fly With Me’. Stephanie Seal and Sophie Walker sublimely tacked ‘About a Quatre to Nine’ from 42nd Street. Adele Walker (what a voice) ‘You Light Up My Life’, followed by ‘I can Hear The Bells’ from Hairspray sung by the excellent Gilly Mackillgan again. ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from Funny Girl sung by Lucy Walker. One I’d never heard before, ‘A Thousand Years’ from The Twilight Saga and Sophie Walker and Alex Hunt and ‘She’ from that classic comedy Notting Hill sung by Kier Home to a background culminating in that wonderful scene of Rhys Ifans on the doorstep in his underpants – brilliant. And then the final company number of ‘This Is Me’ from the Greatest Showman.

So well done to the entire ensemble, and especially to the men and other cast members I haven’t individually named: Gina Abbatt, Francis Aylin, Samantha Brown, Diana Davis, Margaret Dinmore, Jonathan Fletcher, Steve Gee-Finch, Jan Milton, Dennis Rusted and John Walden.

This was a very slick show indeed and judged well for length (so many of these I have seen have tried to cram in far too many numbers), but Arcadians took note of the wise old cliché, always leave them wanting more. Thank you Letchworth I really do look forward to Sound of Movies III in 202..?

  • There is nothing like a dame!

  • Dames

  • Mr Cellophane

  • Freddy my Love!

  • Big Spender

  • Alfie!

  • Money makes the world go round!

  • Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy!

  • Never Enough!

  • Thank you for the Music!

  • Mamma Mia

  • Gotta Get a Gimmick!

  • The Way we Were

  • Come Fly with Me!

  • A Quarter to 9

  • The Eye of the Tiger!

  • I Can Hear the Bells!

  • Don't Rain on my Parade!

  • Everything I Do ...

  • This is me!

  • You Light up my Life!

  • A Thousand Years

  • This is Me!

  • She

  • Let's Go to the Movies!