Press Reviews - Page 2

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Anything Goes (2009)

I concur with other positive reviews. This was a professional show from the NAOC. The singing was superb, the dancing, costumes and set supreme, the humour well delivered and we loved being able to see the orchestra on view. I counted 40 performers on stage - what a production. Making this incredible value for money at £20 a seat - A West End trip for two would cost over £150 and you'd never be home by 11pm! We saw a similar Cole Porter production on Broadway, New York and this was its equal. I'm sorry for all the doubters of so called 'amateur' shows - they missed a treat - this was professional in all but name. We're looking forward to their next offering. I just hope the group made enough this week to cover their costs?
Phil Andrews of Wootton Fields

Oliver! (2008)

Old Favourite is a Success

Oliver, glorious Oliver! With one of the finest musical scores and some of the most colourful stage characters, Oliver is one of those musicals that I can’t help but enjoy.

The familiar story of the orphaned workhouse boy has been brought to the stage this week by the Northampton Amateur Operatic Company. And if the busy theatre was anything to go by it is still one of those musicals that people just want to see. Although most of us in the audience probably knew it, the story is told well by the Company. From the opening Food Glorious Food the story of Oliver comes to life and delivers great song after song that I could sing along to in my head.

Oliver, played on Tuesday night by eight year old Will Miles, was everything the character should be and really tugs at the heart strings. There are also some strong performances from Nancy (Lisa Simpson) and Bill Sikes (Roy Taylor). But the real star was Fagin, played by Richard Walker, who truly captured the miserly crook. The cast was also backed up by a great live orchestra which really added to the atmosphere. With the well-delivered songs, strong scenes and those big characters, I couldn't help but smile along to this old favourite.

Jodie Parsons

Smiles for Miles in Good Company
With economic doom and gloom raining down on ordinary families, seemingly without respite, it's apt that Oliver! has returned to Northampton's Derngate.
After all, Charles Dickens knew a thing or two about the trials and tribulations of the working class.
There's not much to smile about at the moment. At least until the curtain raises on the Northampton Amateur Operatic Company's joyous production of Lionel Bart's adaptation of Oliver Twist and you're treated to two and a half hours of wonderful escapism. My smile was a wide as the Thames.
I've long thought Bart's musical is three songs too long, but that takes nothing away from a joyous production by a local company we should all feel proud of.
Richard Walker's commanding portrayal of Fagin would be worth the walk to London to see it on a West End stage, while Lisa Simpson lights up the theatre as Nancy. For a boy of just eight, Will Miles is incredible in the lead role.
But this is a magnificent team effort by a company, now 110 years old, which we are fortunate to have in our midst. Everyone plays their part -and every one of them deserves a huge pat on the back. Bravo!
Steve Pitts

27 years ago, I made my big stage debut at the ABC Cinema, Northampton in a production of Oliver! by the NAOC (or Amateurs as they are affectionately known) as one of the boys - and looking down the cast list, there are at least couple of names from the 1981 production who are on stage again this week in this perennial family favourite.
The TV Casting show ‘I’d Do Anything’ has clearly raised the profile of Oliver! and I thought I would send along a 9 year old and his mum to see what they thought of this - knowing how much they have enjoyed seeing Jodie Prenger being cast as Nancy.
Other than a few technical glitches with microphones and lighting cues (problems which can affect professional companies just as easily as amateur ones), all the feedback has been positive. They felt that the scenery and costumes were spot on for the period, the choreography worked well (particularly for the big ensemble numbers like Who Will Buy? and Consider Yourself).
Inevitably their focus was on Oliver (played at this performance by Michael Kempster - sharing the role with Will Miles) and Nancy (Lisa Simpson). They were impressed by the way Oliver and Dodger built their relationship and found that the singing of Where is Love? and Oliver’s other big numbers was particularly sweet and affecting.
They thought that Lisa Simpson shared many of the qualities of Samantha Banks (from I’d Do Anything) - a touching portrayal of the role with a rich, round voice and a great rapport with the boys. Given that Sam from IDA was a favourite of the Smith household, I count that as great praise!
Overall, mother and son had a great night out at the theatre - supporting one of the longest standing amateur companies in the country. Groups such as NAOC are the cornerstone of our theatrical lives - many people first get a taste for performing or theatre-going because of the many dedicated non-professionals who give up their time to entertain us. Long may that tradition continue.
Christopher and Jenni Smith
(Article written by Simon Tavener)

Dear Team,
I've just arrived home from your performance of Oliver this evening (Wednesday 8th October). I felt compelled to congratulate you all on a wonderful performance.
I try to go to the theatre as often as I can, but with a fairly heavy work schedule, this normally equates to 10-15 times a year. This is the first performance that has seen me come home and e-mail those involved!
I genuinely had a tear in my eye as the cast took their bows at the end of the performance. The young lad who played Oliver was fabulous - what a future he has if he continues in musical theatre. Nancy, Fagin, Dodger & Bet all produced fantastic performances. The whole cast appeared as one great and united team - an absolute joy to watch.
Thank you for making my month.
Good luck for the rest of your performances,
All the best.
Leigh Elmore

Crazy For You (2006)

Standards are being set at the newly refurbished Royal & Derngate Theatres. 'Follies' has continued where previous in-house productions left off before the closure last year, maintaining a high standard of entertainment and now the first amateur show in Derngate has set the marker for future shows to follow.
Northampton Amateur Operatic Society's version of the musical 'Crazy For You' is quite simply magnificent. From the standard of singing and dancing to the set and costumes everything was of a high calibre. For those who don't know the musical, it follows a community in Nevada trying to save the Gaiety Theatre from closing.
Bobby Child arrives from New York and instead of following what his mother wants him to do, he falls for local girl Polly. Under the guise of theatre producer Bella Zangler, he tries to help put on a show to secure the theatre's future.
The show has some great musical numbers such as 'They Can't Take That Away From Me', to the foot stomping, 'I Got Rhythm'. Each of them was performed superbly, whether it was a lead character or the whole company performing. And a special mention has to be given to the set designer.
The set revolved and moving easily, changing from a western looking street in Nevada to the bright city lights of New York. Overall the group which performed the show maybe amateur in name but I think any professional company would be proud of a production like this.
Julie Fisher

"It's Crazily Good"
It's a big challenge, being the first amateur group to return to the Derngate stage and, for the most part, the Northampton Amateur Operatic Company rose to the occasion with their colourful production of Gershwin musical, 'Crazy For You'.
The feather light tale, of a New York Banking heir who dreams of dancing and falls in love with a Nevada theatre owner's daughter, is carried along by its superb music with classics such as 'I Got Rhythm', 'Someone to Watch Over Me', 'Embraceable You' and 'Nice Work if You Can Get It'.
David Russell, in the leading role of Bobby Child took to his first performance at The Royal & Derngate like a duck to water, carrying strong solos and comedy scenes with aplomb. He was ably supported by NAOC stalwarts John and Lisa Simpson, who carried off their respective roles of theatre impresario Bella Zanger and demanding fiancée Irene with style.
The best scenes were one involving Bobby and Bella in a drunken mirror image comedy sequence in the Salon, and the New York based opening, where Bobby sings around a car which disgorges a string of dazzling show girls. The revolving sets were ingenious but the stage crew needed to be more on the ball, as several scenes were spoilt by the sight of people walking around back-stage through gaping holes in the scenery or a backlog of people trying to get off the set.
Some members of the large cast also seemed to be concentrating so hard on their dance steps that some of the natural gaiety and enjoyment of the numbers was lost. But a few clumsy exits and sound difficulties can't detract from the fact that this is a two hour, all singing, all dancing show which every member of the cast put their hearts into. Once they relax into their parts I am sure the audience will be shouting "Who Could Ask For Anything More".
Jacquie Pryce

The Boyfriend (2005)

'This Boyfriend is Worth a Date'
A musical set in the 1920s Riviera should fizz and sparkle like the finest Champagne - and, for the most part, the Northampton Amateur Operatic Company's production of Sandy Wilson's "The Boyfriend" did just that. Launching almost immediately into the catchy title number, the show zipped along from one jaunty song to another, supporting the featherweight plot concerning poor little rich girl Polly and her friends and the Madame Dubonnet's Finishing School - and, of course, their quest for that most indispensable of things, a boyfriend.
Rachel Bond, in her first leading role as Polly, is an absolute delight with a lovely singing voice and her six "fwightfully posh" friends play their "jolly hockey-sticks" parts for all they are worth, even if does irritate a little by the end.
Worth special mention are Rachel Hilton, as the flirtatious Maisie, and Eleanor Cox as good egg Dulcie, who shine in their respective side plots.
Patricia Coleman and Lisa Simpson tackled their roles, as Madame Dubonnet and her canny maid Hortense respectively with aplomb, rising magnificently to the challenge of numerous songs with impeccable French accents.
Director Martyn Knight put together some neat choreography on numbers such as 'Won't You Charleston With Me', and 'The Riviera', and the ensemble pieces were terrific. You can't write a review of The Boyfriend without mentioning the man in question, and Alex Pritchett was clearly enjoying his first role with the company, playing delivery boy Tony with great likeability and charm. Two twenty minute intervals felt like purgatory in the hot theatre, and a couple of voices needed more power and fine tuning, but the costumes and sets were colourful and the matchmaking rushed to a conclusion with dizzying speed in the final scene, with the happy ending duly celebrated with rousing encores of the best tunes. The Boyfriend has an eminently hummable score, buckets of humour and excellent leads, which all adds up to a jolly good show.
Jacquie Pryce

42nd Street (2004)

"Broadway Show is Streets Ahead"
Come and meet those dancing feet...
There's something about a huge cast of tap dancers that is mesmerising. Whether it's the sheer rhythm of the steps, or the energy they create, you can't take your eyes off them. And when the company in question is the superb cast of 42nd Street at Derngate you'll be glued.
The Northampton Amateur Operatic Company have pulled off a triumph with this, their 21st production at the 21 year old theatre, putting on a show of such dazzling brilliance that it's tempting to strike the word "amateur" from their name.
From the opening "Back stage" audition number , through classics such as the sizzling title song, the joyous 'Lullaby of Broadway' or the foot stomping 'We're in the Money', the pace and poise of their performance never lets up, producing a show that crackles with energy and fun.
Lottie Minter is note-perfect as the naive chorus-line hopeful Peggy Sawyer who sees her Broadway dreams come true, although she has strong competition in the leading lady stakes from Lisa Simpson, playing fading star Dorothy Brock, Ms Simpson's powerful voice was beautifully employed on the sultry 'Shadow Waltz', and she brought true star quality to the wishful 'I Know Now'.
John Simpson also excelled as theatre impresario Julian Marsh, bringing a film star quality to his role as the jaded boss.
Jacquie Pryce

"Memories of Show Come Flooding Back"
It is the Derngate theatre's 21st birthday and the Northampton Amateur Operatic Company are currently performing their 21st show there. Their performance of 42nd Street opened Tuesday October 26, to a packed auditorium and is at the Derngate until Saturday October 30.
I went to see 42nd Street when I was younger and could vaguely remember some catchy songs and lots of dancing. The Northampton Amateur Operatic Company certainly delivered this and brought back some of my memories of the show.
Everyone had clearly been working hard to perfect their choreography and the songs were as catchy as ever. The music was definitely one of the strongest features. The quality of the singing combined with the fantastic orchestra allowed the cast to deliver excellent renditions of "Lullaby of Broadway", "About a Quarter to Nine" and "Shuffle off to Buffalo".
The many costumes helped to create the feel of the 1930s, and there were many wonderful designs, especially the sparkly outfits which embraced the glitz of Broadway. The use of space was also well thought out and allowed different locations to be created on stage.
The actor playing the impresario Julian Marsh really embraced his role and excelled in it, in both acting and singing. The audience seemed to agree if the great applause that he got at the end is anything to go by. The actress playing Peggy Sawyer captured the innocence of the character and her ambition to appear on stage. Her interaction with the character Dorothy Brock was successful and their final scene together effectively showed an older star passing on her wisdom to the young beginner.
One thing I noticed about The Northampton Amateur Operatic Company was how much the cast were enjoying it, which made a real difference when watching as you wanted to enjoy it with them. The whole company should be really proud of what they have achieved, and this show will be as successful as their many previous performances.
I have to admit that I went home humming "Lullaby of Broadway", and wondering if my old tap shoes would still fit.

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