Reviews buckley-theatre-group-closeup

Buckley Theatre Club are coming to the end of a two-weekend run of their latest production, Showtime 2012. Billed as ‘An acting, song and dance spectacular’ it certainly delivered with nearly forty pieces performed in a running time of over two and a half hours.

The acting was perhaps the strongest part of the evening for me when I saw the show on Thursday 20th September – Peter Watkin and David Burke stole the show in the first half with excellent performances of Marriott Edgar’s comic monologues The Magna Charter and The Battle of Hastings. while the first of these wasn’t particularly familiar to me, the second – with its memorable “On ‘is ‘orse with ‘is ‘awk in ‘is ‘and” refrain is an old favourite of mine and David Burke’s delivery was superb. The pair teamed up in the second act for a slightly updated version of the Two Ronnies’ Mastermind sketch, which was also wonderful.

The club were joined by nearly twenty dancers from the Elsber School of Dance, who performed several numbers in various combinations, with the stand-out one being ‘The Farewell’, a moving and exceptionally well-choreographed and performed piece showing a group of schoolgirls saying farewell to a Jewish girl wearing a Star of David. That was one of many war-themed songs and dances in the first half, with even the audience getting to sing along to a medley of well-known tunes including ‘It’s A Long Way To Tipperary’, ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’, ‘There’ll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover’ and ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

There were also plenty of other songs during the night, with some performed to backing tracks while the talented Andrew Burke played guitar for several others – including his own strong rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. The song choices really showed the diversity of the evening, going from current pop hits (Chloe Burke’s version of Valerie standing out), to songs from musicals like director Sue Morton’s heartfelt ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables, to lesser known ones. I particularly enjoyed Emily Miller and Holly Belcher duetting on Homeward Bound – not Simon and Garfunkel’s famous hit, but a more obscure number by Marta Keen Thompson which I’d never heard before but thought was wonderful – I’ll definitely be tracking down the original as soon as I can.

Perhaps the very strongest point of the evening, though, was the Blood Brothers tribute early in act two. Ben Williams and Dan Nelder showed great comic timing performing two scenes from the title characters’ lives growing up, then a real flair for the dramatic in a much more serious scene from near the end of the musical. These were bookended by strong performances by Ruth Catherall and Lydia Whaley of two of the West End hit’s most famous songs, ‘My Child’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’.

If there’s a complaint to be made, I felt that there were perhaps a few too many items – cutting it down to a running time of two hours or so might have made things more to my tastes. That said, producer/director Sue Morton has ensured that there’s certainly something for everyone in the production and it’s also great to see the next generation of theatrical talent being given a real chance to shine, with youngsters taking on several solos as well as dancing.

I left the show with a big grin on my face, as did the friend I’d taken to see it, and we’ll both look forward to seeing more of Buckley Theatre Club in the future.

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