Happy Returns


Surrey Advertiser

Peter Steptoe

Wallington Operatic & Dramatic Society once again produced their popular revue complemented by a fish and chip supper so replete that one's senses might have been dulled for the second half. They called it 'a trip down memory lane over the years' and nostalgia soon set in.

No item was too long and among the memorable were the Gershwin Medley with Rhapsody in Blue showing off George's musical genius and the singers emphasising that Ira's lyrics were not far behind.

Swan Lake had me giggling at the male tutus worn with distinction by Shane Wolfe and Brian Minchin.

How to Report on a Village Fete was a superb example of dead-pan clerical demeanour and comic timing by Will Harris and the company, who sang feelingly those elegant numbers Change Partners and The Way You Look Tonight.

I do wonder, however, whether the patter between items might have tended to interrupt the flow of the show.

Director Barbara Windsor is obviously experienced in musical comedy and Robert Randall good with the keyboard.



Theo Spring

Barbara Windsor and her team of many had obviously worked very hard indeed to put this collection of songs, sketches and comic turns together and, as usual, the wardrobe team come out with glowing colours because the costumes were absolutely fabulous, especially in the scenes where the colours were co-ordinated.

The selection of songs had a wide range and there must have been something for everyone in the audience.

It was very good to see the youngsters taking their turn in the show and I particularly liked Sophie's Grandma rhyme - very up-to-date! The dancing trio of younger ones added interest and elegance to some of the solo songs too - particularly in the beautiful rainbow costumes to accompany Anna in Chasing Rainbows, sung with such sentimentality. Their clowns were noteworthy too.

The dancers in the show have a mixed ability but Valerie Brooham's choreography took that into account and kept things relatively simple although there were exceptions, like the tap in Let Yourself Go and the Glen Miller section where their red leotards and black skirts with the white spots really helped things to go with a swing.

I cannot offer you an alternative suggestion for linking sections together, particularly when there is a little bit of company history to impart as well as introducing the number, but I found the compere' s a little repetitive and the running gag about the over-imbibing wore a little thin after a while. Having said this, the introductions were clearly given and it was good that they were both integrated into a variety of numbers as well as being MCs.

A show of this kind gives many members of the Society an opportunity to take the lime light.. Soloists too had a range of abilities, but absolutely everyone not only gave their utmost in performance but were very well rehearsed. A notable thing about Barbara's shows is that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to see the joins when the musical numbers are in full swing. Only rehearsing and rehearsing achieves this.

The small comic vignettes were well scattered through the show. Memorable for being both short, sweet and rather pithy was Dave's comment on his wedding video and how playing it backwards made him feel a free man again! Longer, but in the same vein was Rosemary and Alice's Sarah Finkle joke Room 302. Longer still and requiring more staging were the Tennis Four, extolling their playing prowess to much amusement.  Shane and Brian did sterling work as Cygnets in the Swan Lake sketch too.

Amongst the songs there were, for me, some definite highlights. The whole of the Gershwin Medley was notable, and using the Rhapsody in Blue to open and close it was clever work.

Honeybun was a honey of a piece - Sarah doing well with some help from grass skirts and strategically-placed coconuts. Joe's How to Handle a Woman was really lovely - voice, tempo and delivery, all in tune. Send in the Clowns is one of my favourite songs and was very well delivered here by Jacky with help from Valerie and Sarah.

Shane, who had been bobbing on and off the stage (to the delight of the table next to me who were obviously there to support him) came up trumps with The Producers, giving wardrobe a wonderful opportunity to show off with those superb silver and mauve feather head dresses.

Concerted numbers throughout the show again bore the hallmark of good rehearsal and none more than the finale in white, silver and gold, for One.

So congratulations go to everyone involved in this demanding show and, once again, well done to Barbara for taking up the director's baton once again.

The final word goes to Robert Randall - the MD with so many cues his head must have been bursting, but the music was beautifully delivered, on time and at a very pleasant volume.

Thank you for inviting me, once again.