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June 29, 2017

Review: The Totally Awesome 80s

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Here's the great NODA review of our 2017 summer show!

Thank you, Kath, for welcoming me and also for giving me the opportunity to present Jacob with his well-deserved NODA London Best Actor trophy and certificate in front of your very appreciative audience, who obviously agreed with the NODA Judges!  Jacob, Lane End will miss you when you take off in a couple of months’ time – safe travelling and a speedy return!

The mixture of music, real video clips, staged sketches and spoof videos using LEP members was brilliant

Thank you too to Director, Tom Everitt who had taken note of my criticism when I reported on your similar production featuring the 1970s – your list of who was in what was much appreciated and very helpful.  Worth running off a few more to put on the tables for any of the audience who might like to know perhaps?

The mixture of music, real video clips, staged sketches and spoof videos using LEP members was brilliant – and far more interesting than a musical whip through the decade too.

Compilation shows are never very easy to ‘crit’ – there is always the danger that someone who performed very well is left out; all I can realistically do is single out a few of my personal highlights.  Before doing so, however, I would just like to say that this was a very slick, well devised and directed and very well-presented production.  Nice to see so many youngsters enthusiastically performing numbers which were hits long before they were born.  There are no NODA awards for a show of this type but this was a welcome change from the usual ‘Best of ….’ Or ’75 years of A.N.Onymous Theatre Group’ style shows.

The small, on-stage band under MD Dave Bowden, who also performed a couple of very good solos, complemented the rest of the cast very well.

The set was simple and the addition of period film posters worked well.  The small, on-stage band under MD Dave Bowden, who also performed a couple of very good solos, complemented the rest of the cast very well.  I liked your version of Prince’s Purple Rain, Dave.

Sound, Peter Sims and Libby Beck, and lighting, Stewart Mason and Tom Sims, were all well balanced.  Lighting in particular was good in a couple of numbers – read on!

Not a lot for SM Paul Brown and assistant Darren Haynes to do.  What there was, setting a few props, etc., was carried out smoothly and efficiently.

Costumes, by the cast, were very mixed.  Very few were actually really ‘80s style but somehow it didn’t really matter in this context.  The makeup wasn’t quite period either but again this didn’t matter.

The ensemble’s dance styles were also mixed – probably about right for an ‘80’s disco of course!  I must single out one member of the ensemble, Lisa Harnett, whose sheer verve and enthusiasm were outstanding.  I think you videoed the show?  Please, please if you get a DVD to watch, look at Lisa!  Lisa, you have also mastered the art of smiling happily whilst singing and dancing – some of you looked so serious and even in a few cases, very worried!  This should have been a fun show for you and the audience needed to see that you were all enjoying yourselves.  

The ongoing take-off of Treasure Hunt worked very well – your Annika Rice (Alison Hartnett) with the unseen voice directing her was excellent.

The spoof video clips were also well filmed and edited by James Wood; Dallas was very funny and all the cast maintained good accents.  Adverts was also excellent but the best has to be Blockbuster Movies, on a Lane End Budget.  The actors in all these clips performed very well, and deadpan too!  Well done to everyone involved with these, I think that it was just about all of the cast, wasn’t it?

On-stage sketches of note included Mastermind with James Wood and Tom Everitt; Hi de Hi (Catherine Everitt, Pia Obank, Tom Everitt, David Harnett, James Wood, Lisa Harnett and Kate Tysoe); Rowan Atkinson’s Teacher Sketch (James Wood) and the Victoria Wood Sketch (Pia Obank and Catherine Everitt, a very good take-off of the much-missed Victoria Wood).  Back to the Future with James and Jacob was, however, well in my opinion, the tops!

the Michael Jackson Medley, especially Thriller, which was excellent, as were the solos by Jacob Everitt and Kate Tysoe

Musically, I enjoyed Eternal Flame (solos taken by Leah Brown, Lexy Jackman and Valentine Ford) and Fame, Jenna Moran – lighting was especially good in this number.  Also, the Michael Jackson Medley, especially Thriller, which was excellent, as were the solos by Jacob Everitt and Kate Tysoe.  Tom Everitt’s take on Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name was very well performed and all the soloists in We are the World sang well; full marks here again for lighting effects and for the slick way the soloists moved to let others have a turn at the mics.

Finally, thank you again for a very entertaining evening.  Maybe the show was a tad long and could have been cut down, perhaps by eliminating a couple of the band numbers or taking out a verse or two here and there, but nevertheless this production showcased just how talented so many members of LEP are.  Congratulations to you all and I am looking forward to your October production.

Judith Watsham
Regional Rep NODA London 11 and 11A

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