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GSMD Drama Department

Cinderella 29 November 2005


Habituées of the London Colleges' Opera Departments productions will need no reminders that they provide some of the most interesting opera to be seen in the Capital, often far better than those to be seen in the main houses. Having been stunned by Guildhall School Drama Department's musical Bye By, Birdie, Musical Pointers has added their productions to our 'must see' list, alongside those of the Opera Department.


This "traditional pantomime" is sheer delight, shorn of all the topical accretions from the media usual in commercial pantomime, and performed by a most talented team of young actor/singers; we were stunned by the attention to detail and team work by all departments.


Taking the music first, Michael Haslam directs his seven piece orchestra with aplomb and the cast sing with a will and mostly with very adequate voices, even though singing is not their chief study. The score has a plethora of familiar quotes which can be hard to identify as they sweep by out of context. Diction is excellent and Steve Mayo's discreet sound enhancement unobtrusive - a model of how that should be done. The acting by final year BA (Hons) Degree students is impressive and the work of the Technical Theatre Department gives Guildhall the edge over the other London colleges. The fully illustrated programme book places this version within the history of the British Christmas pantomime.


Rather than a long critique, a few pictures to show the splendid costumes and staging, and this quick note to urge everyone within range of The City to catch this in its short run (St Paul's or Moorgate Stations; matinees and evenings until 3 December).


A great pantomime which will be enjoyed equally by children and adults of all ages.


More information from www.gsmd.ac.uk; book via Barbican Box Office 020 7638 8891.


SF adds: Mention should be made of the imaginative succession of storey-book sets in cheerful Clarice Cliff colours, and the quite superb costumes and wigs.  In the confines of a relatively small theatre the rapport with the audience (of very mixed ages) was total: the magic effects were spectacularly successful, the comedy was delightfully underplayed, and the maxim that good will always win in the end thoroughly vindicated.  





Other productions by GSMD Drama Department in 2006

The Misanthrope
Molière in a version by Martin Crimp

Of the several GSMD Drama productions we have been invited to see, The Misanthrope at Bridewell Theatre in Crimp's updated version was outstanding. The demise of the Bridewell's own company, which had made it a a London home for musicals, was a sad day, but the theatre has been available for hire and proved a wonderful venue for this simple but hugely imaginative production on a long narrow stage erected with the audience on either side.

Virtually no scenery, except for using the spaces of this former swimming pool, but it was carried by a witty translation in rhyming verse and by some surprising props. John (Paul Woodson) and Alceste debated their irreconcilable positions from end to end of the long stage, and the other characters, especially Timothy Allsop as the writer/critic Covington, all made telling appearances.

The two pictures are of James Hogg as Alceste, and Kerry Grace Morgan as Célimène/Jennifer, both fully professional performances which make theirs names to look out for in the future.












Oh What a Lovely War July 2006

This was given a sound revival, demonstrating that many GSMD students are well ready to enter the popular musicals branch of the profession.

It was interesting to see it again, but it has its longeurs and needed a new slant to make its mark in our own belligerent times; the same old jokes and caricatures of the generals, backed by casualty figures on screen, didn't quite work.

The Christmas truce in No Man's Land was affecting, as that familiar episode always is, knowing that mutual slaughter would be so soon resumed.

Good staging and impeccable musical values, with congratulations for the band and for the sound picture managed with increasingly rare discretion these days by sound designer John Owens (c.p. Totally Acoustic).






© Peter Grahame Woolf