ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING? Director: Ben Ireson Musical Director: Michael J Scott Knutsford Musical Theatre Company The pandemic brought the curtain down for the past year and a half when theatres went dark. Without the ability to hold physical rehearsals a new method of rehearsing was needed. Via Zoom and social media, the internet allowed the membership’s enthusiasm to be expressed and fulfilled. Weekly catchups, getting quiz and social sing-a-longs helped this company to get through the enforced shutdown. After what seemed to take forever theatres were allowed to open once more. How shall we celebrate? What sort of entertainment / production shall we present? Will an audience have the confidence to return? The creative team at Knutsford felt confident that live theatre will always find an audience. An evening was devised of music, coupled with images of the news items that had been top stories over the lockdown. The company told their story of living with Covid, and their return to the stage, It was, “A live concert to celebrate the return of theatrical arts”. Staging, designed by Thomas Firth, included two levels set against black legs and borders, with video screens, and two performance rostra in the auditorium. Once again Jonathan Hall, Ben Evans-Clarke and Tom Maurice Video FX took the production to a whole different level. Ian Wiper’s lighting was an equal partner with the projected imagery adding to the emotionally charged atmosphere. The sound design by Tom Maurice underpinned the music, whether a point or belt number, nothing was over mixed. The set lists were carefully chosen: the lyrics, and the thought behind the presentation, fitted the accompanying news stories. Narration was not needed as the visuals took the audience through the unfolding narrative. This was all part of the clever concept. The staging gave the performers freedom of expression whilst the numbers delivered from the auditorium drew the audience into the drama. Michael Scott’s band always accompanied the singers; there was never any competing or drowning out. There were considerable differences between the songs which all added to the quality of the evening. The company displayed much passion in their musical interpretations. The ensemble singing of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” encompassed this. Individually Hannah Young and Nickie Simms were among the talented soloists that fit the musical content together. On stage again and with an audience filling the seats, those initial questions were answered. Theatre is back, and rehearsals have begun for the company’s next presentation of the green musical, “Shrek”.