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Dated 27th April 2013 

By Simon Parker, NODA NW

NODA Review - Fame

It is always a pleasure to go and watch any production at Todmorden Hippodrome and if this show was as good as last year’s offering of Sweet Charity (which excelled in every department) I knew that I would be in for a good night’s entertainment: I was not disappointed.

The young vibrant cast brought an energy and passion that was right for this show, I was exhausted watching it after the opening number! The opening number ‘Hard Work’ introduced the characters one by one and with such a diverse mix of ages and obvious talent, I knew that we would all be in for a superb night’s entertainment. With so many outstanding performances, it is difficult to pinpoint one or two characters. However, the zealousness of James Bonner on stage was a standout moment for me. With his wide range and confident power house performance, he brought his character, Nick Piazza to life as did Jade Hardman, who is always a pleasure to watch on stage. Jade always has the ability to take the audience on the character’s journey and believe in everything she is singing and saying. Superb and perfectly cast. Chris Stott brought much humour to his character of Joe Vegas and coupled with his good movement and singing, it was a perfect combination. Catherine Rice played the part of the tragic Carmen, and another superb performance both vocally and with her acting. A slight gasp from the audience when she jumped in front of the subway illustrated that the audience was with her all the way. It was great to see Dawn- Marie Nicholls on stage. Dawn-Marie has gravitas. Her rich timbre and confident delivery in her solo number ‘These are my Children’ brought a welcomed calmness and emotiveness to proceedings. With a performance that was Bassey-esq, Dawn-Marie chewed the song up and spit it out with such emotion that, in my opinion, stopped the show- absolutely fabulous!

With such a vibrant show, the choreography has to be spot on and again here Todmorden did not disappoint. With Alexandra Townend’s superbly planned moves and well drilled cast, the dancing was simply exhilarating! Alexandra played the part of Iris Kelly too, which is never an easy task to be in a show and be on the production team, and this was carried off to Alexandra’s usually high standard and her dancing partner for the show was Rhys Roberts. Rhys is no stranger to the stage and his part of Jack Zakowski was executed superbly well.

With Helen Clarkson as musical director, the band were well drilled and sympathetic to the cast. A superb sound came from the orchestra pit and provided the perfect combination for such a vibrant show. Fabulous.

Putting one’s vision across to the cast and stage crew, is no easy task for a director, but here once again Justine Sutcliffe did a superb job. Justine brought the best out of each actor and made the characters come alive. The final scene was a real wow factor too! Just where did you get a Yellow Cab from?! Well done Justine.

It is very easy to forget that whilst we see the polished and finished performance on stage, that show business magic, a lot of hard work has gone on to create such a superb show. The set was excellent. The stage was used to its full potential and items moved quickly and effectively. The lighting created the right atmosphere and did what it was supposed to do: make the set look even better, light the cast so the audience can see them, and create the right kind of atmosphere. Again, team work at its best.

Staging a musical, in the days of great austerity is no easy task and owning your own Theatre makes the decision of what show to stage even harder as one is always thinking of turnover and profit margins ( or is that just me!) but here Todmorden once again excelled. They offered a superb show, which was excellent value for money and judging from the audience’s reaction at the end of each number, everyone, including myself, went home entertained and happy. Going to the Theatre is like entering a world of make believe: once the band strike up and the lights go on, it’s show time and the magic begins. We were all sprinkled with that magic. Thank you Todmorden for such a superb show and such good hospitality