Review

Oliver! Review, May 2019 - NODA

Oliver! with music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart and based on the novel by Charles Dickens, was a successful film in the 60s and this stage production is stuffed full of all the well-known songs and characters that made the film such a success. From the opening ‘Food, Glorious Food’ to the great finale, the entire evening was full of memorable performances from this fine, talented ensemble.

The stage design which was dual level giving the impression of a bridge, combined with the lighting design helped to create the appearance of various settings: the orphanage, street scenes, the undertaker’s Parlour - was well conceived and of high quality. There was minimal disruption during the scene changes, sometimes during songs.

The costumes were in keeping with the period. There was great attention to detail and the costumes were well balanced. The lighting was effective and well controlled throughout. The sound was excellent with voices clear and blended well with the live music.

Kirsty Kingham as Nancy and Company performing Oom Pah, Pah

Kirsty Kingham as Nancy and Company performing Oom Pah, Pah

Director Liz Ilett is to be congratulated on directorial debut with this production. The cast were all on top form with some memorable performances, notably David Izzo as Fagin and Kirsty Kingham was a dynamite Nancy. This was an evening of classic songs, imaginative choreography and stellar performances, convincing accents and terrific singing which ended with a big round of applause from the appreciative audience. This was musical theatre at its best and lived up to the previous high quality shows we expect from BATS.

Chris Horton
National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) South East Region, District 14 Representative

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review, November 2018 - Newbury Weekly News

I love this show, it’s the ultimate feel-good musical which sends the audience home happy and uplifted. BATS super production was a slick crowd-pleaser and got a well deserved standing ovation on opening night.

The story is simple yet moving; two Sydney drag artists (Tick and Adam) and a retired Les Girl (transsexual Bernadette)trek across the outback in their battered bus to perform at Alice Springs casino - the ultimate purpose of the trip is for Tick to meet his son.

The terrific ensemble worked their socks off and the well executed dance hall favourites slipped effortlessly (and sometimes humorously) into the action and they just kept on coming. Overseeing the entire action were the three sparkling divas (in every sense of the word!), Anneka Wass, Kirsty Bennett and Jade Hollingshead who excelled both vocally and visually. The three male leads had good chemistry and the banter between them excellent, with classic one-liners from the film popping up in the action. Bryn Hughes (Tick) delivered a great character, the role needing to show both glitzy and sensitive sides. Doug Cairns as Adam pulled the stops out to provide a high camp, high energy performance getting a good deal of the laughs. Bernadette is a tricky role as, although played by a man, it is not drag and needs to be played carefully, but still bring out high comedic elements - no problem for Ian Moseley who absolutely delivered on all fronts. Richard Bond as Bob created a most likeable character and young Edward Walton was delightful as Tick’s son Benji (alternating with Ben Hastings).

Fantastic cameo roles were given by Kathy May-Miller (as the slob Shirley), Luannsa Goodman (the very naughty Cynthia Queen of ping pong balls!), and Ben Shallow (Miss Understanding/Young Bernadette).

The large ‘Priscilla’ bus was impressive and the costumes fantastic and glitzy with some breathtakingly quick changes. Julie Dance and her excellent band kept the show swinging along with tight vocals and director and choreographer Martyn Knight must be delighted with his end result. If I have any criticism at all, whilst the lighting was as always, very creative, faces and bodies were often very dark especially at the front of the stage.

Priscilla is all about promoting and celebrating tolerance and acceptance with one big, lavish kitsch spectacle – and it was all done in fabulous style by BATS.

Trevor Dobson

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review, November 2018 - NODA

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the musical is an everlastingly popular show full of vibrant, memorable characters and high energy numbers as well as a couple of very emotional ballads It is an observation on love and life as we follow three Drag Queens as they travel across the Australian desert in ‘Priscilla’, their pimped up tour bus. It’s a rich visual display, fast paced, mostly light hearted but we are aware of the darker subject matter beneath.

The production: Director and choreographer, Martyn Knight demonstrated his experience and talent as he drew great performances from the entire cast with his direction and imaginative and impressive choreography. The show was of high energy, especially in the group numbers. There was plenty of vulgar and bitchy exchanges, cheeky one-liners, comic banter and double-entendres between Bryn Hughes (Tick), Ian Moseley (Bernadette) and Doug Cairns (Felicia) – the drag queens. From the explosive opening of Its Raining Men to the finale the evening was packed with absolute show-stoppers. It was fast paced, vibrant and hugely enjoyable. There was non-stop energy, talent and drive from the entire cast.

Costumes: The endless arrays of costumes were glamorous, eye-popping, dazzling and some defying gravity and I cannot imagine how they were stored! They were of the highest quality.

Lighting and sound: The lighting was excellent and imaginatively used. The sound was excellent with voices clear and blended well with the live music. There were some outstandingly strong vocals, particularly from the Divas: Kirsty Bennett, Jade Hollingshead and Anneka Wass.

Scenery: The sets were amazing and were effectively created and of high quality and cleverly designed. Priscilla, the tour bus was well designed and rotated to reveal the insides. There was minimal disruption during the scene changes which were done efficiently, sometimes behind action in front of the curtain.

Chris Horton
National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) South East Region, District 14 Representative

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review, Nov 2018 - Basingstoke Gazette

In a time when political views have become more divided than ever, it seems that drag queens are leading the way as culture’s moral compass.

For Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society (BATS) to choose Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as its next production couldn’t be more timely.

The story follows Tick (Bryn Hughes), Bernadette (Ian Moseley) and Adam (Doug Cairns) as they travel from Sydney to Alice Springs in the Australian outback, in their trusty bus Priscilla.

BATS have transformed the Haymarket into a place of fabulous colour, exuberant dance, extravagant costumes and hit after hit when it comes to musical choice.

irected by Martyn Knight, the musical is very much of the time, when the original Priscilla Queen of the Desert was released in 1994, but this adds to the over-the-top nature of some of the costume designs, which along with the chorography, are real star performers in the show.

Something that BATS don’t shy away from, which in this reviewer’s opinion is important, is the treatment of queer, trans and people of the LGBTQ community in the 90s.

Whether it be Adam getting into a bar fight for dressing as a woman, to having the words “f**k off f****ts” spray-painted on the side of Priscilla, it is a jarring reminder of how far we have come as a society, but also how much more we can do.

With wonderful renditions of hits such as It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun peppered out the performance, all three leads had their chance to shine, with Hughes showing a great pair of lungs, Moseley demonstrating lip syncing skills which would make RuPaul proud and Cairns going through so many outfit changes, I lost count.

One thing is for certain the language and subject matter is not for everyone, but the comedy timing – from Cairns in particular – makes up for some of the smut sprinkled throughout the show.

BATS have stuck true to the story that was made famous in the West End and do a great version of it.

Tim Birkbeck

Singin' in the Rain Review, May 2018 - Newbury Today

To celebrate their 60th year BATS chose the ever popular Singin’ in the Rain, the story of the arrival of the talkies in Hollywood.  It was told with great wit and humour and provided a great framework for BATS to showcase their considerable talents in a production packed with a host of sparkling musical numbers and gorgeous costumes.

Make no mistake – this is a very difficult musical to stage, calling on the old style musical theatre skills and staging challenges.  BATS did not disappoint – and the cast danced and sang their socks off and the title number was performed on a wet set complete with rain and gushing drain pipes - incredible.

As the silent movie idol Don Lockwood, Bryn Hughes was splendid, with his winning smile and cheeky confidence and his sidekick Cosmo Brown was uber-energetically portrayed by newcomer William Keel-Stocker, in an impressive debut to the society.  Also making her BATS debut was the fabulously voiced Anneka Wass (Kathy Selden).  The three worked well together especially in their challenging routines and Kirsty Bennett as Lina Lamont absolutely nailed the character with her nails-on-blackboard voice and brought great humour to the role.

An excellent ensemble backed the principals and there were many truly memorable moments: Beautiful Girl, Good Mornin’, Singin’ in the Rain and Broadway Melody to name a few. The demands of the principal dancing meant some of the routines were not quite as slick as I would have expected – but still excellent and impressive.

The silent movie style projections were fantastic and director Ray Jeffery and musical director Trevor Defferd got the utmost from the cast, and choreographers Julie Morris and Karen McCloy created some sumptuous, sizzling and well rehearsed routines.  Costumes were amazing in their style (and number of changes) and the lighting and special effects (wind, rain, dry ice – you name it!) were terrific.  All in all this provided a great spectacle to delight the audience and good old fashioned entertainment.  

Trevor Dobson

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out