Footloose Review, November 2017 - Newbury Weekly News

BATS’ best feet forward: Full-throttle musical with breath-taking choreography

The stage spin-off of the 1984 teen movie Footloose demands an exuberant, high-energy performance from start to finish and BATS’ hugely talented cast certainly obliged on all fronts.  This was BATS full-throttle with bells on.  Strong principals and a rock-solid ensemble ensured we were in for a treat.

Luke Sayers delivered in every respect in the large role of Ren, the snake-hipped Chicago boy exiled to small-town Bomont where booze, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are banned.  All Bomont boogie-woogie had been illegal since four kids died in a car crash on their way back from a dance.

Rhiannon Mone excelled, depicting the feisty and rebellious Ariel, daughter of the Reverend Shaw Moore, where in this role, Stephen Westwood was in fine voice.

The three ‘commentators’ Rusy (Jade Hollingshead), Arleen (Lusannsa Goodman) and Wendy Jo (Holly Reedman) absolutely nailed it, with brilliant harmonies and dance, Hollingshead giving a particularly stand-out performance.

Liam Brelsforth was terrific in his character of Willard, bringing out the humour of the character and Craig Saunders delivered strongly as bad boy Chuck Cranston.  Sally Manning sang beautifully as Vi Moore, and her duet with Ren’s mother, played by Liz Scorey, was a delightful, poignant moment.

Director and choreographer Martyn Knight is to be truly congratulated on his direction and breath-taking choreography.  It was incredibly delivered with a slickness that must have taken much rehearsal.  I did not see a single foot put wrong, even on the first night.

Lighting was stunning and the band, under musical director, Julie Dance, offered tight and crisp accompaniment, if a little on the minimal side.  Sometimes the voices in the large musical numbers overpowered them.  Having said that, the production was full-throttle, there were a few numbers where I felt they could have taken their foot off the gas to provide a little variation and a sweeter sound – when you start so big you’ve nowhere to go.

But to capt it off, the Everybody Cut Loose closing montage was infectious, irresistible fun – a stellar, foot-stamping send-off to another superb BATS production.

Trevor Dobson

Footloose Review, November 2017 - What the Redhead Said

Last night a friend and I went to Haymarket in Basingstoke to see the Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society (BATS) production of Footloose. I love going to Haymarket to see shows. It’s nicely situated in Basingstoke town centre so easily accessible and great for making the show into a whole day or evening occasion with a meal or drinks beforehand.

I love the Footloose story and I am a huge fan of the original movie so I couldn’t wait to see how it translated to the stage. The show did have a couple of technical hitches early on – slight sound and mic issues – but the cast moved on from that swiftly and didn’t let it affect their performance. Also, we went to see the show on its opening night, which has a reduced ticket price, and where you typically expect slight hiccups.

The story is based in America and the cast all had to talk and sing with American accents. This seemed to take the some of the cast a couple of scenes to get into but by the end of the first half they all looked like they were really enjoying themselves and were so in character. The show followed the Footloose story perfectly and within a few scenes we had got to know the characters, really felt for them and were singing along with them too.

Footloose is, overall, such an uplifting and inspiring story with such friendship, team spirit and a real never give up vibe to it. The cast really brought that to life on stage and although it was put together and performed by the Basingstoke ‘Amateur’ Theatrical Society there really was nothing amateur about it. The acting and singing was spot on, the sets were simple but perfect, it was so well put together and we really enjoyed the show

By the end of Footloose the whole audience were dancing in their seats and singing along. There was an encore which was a medley of all the big songs from the show – so many I had forgotten were even in Footloose and it was a fantastic end to a really great show.

I have to give a special mention to Rhiannon Mone who played the leading lady, Ariel. She was fantastic – with a beautiful voice, an unfaltering American accent and played Ariel perfectly. There was nothing amateur about her at all and I’m sure she has a bright future on stage and screen ahead of her.

Footloose runs until 25th November at Haymarket with both evening and matinee performances. It’s a fantastic show and well worth the £23.50 ticket price. If you’re local, definitely go and see it.

Donna, originally published on her blog: what the Redhead said

Spamalot Review, May 2017 - The Southern Daily Echo

Director and choreographer Gary J Myers immaculate version of the musical-pythonesque Spamalot would not look out of place on the West End professional stage.

With an energetic and vibrant ensemble and perfect casting in both cameo and principal roles, this show was so full of detail in dialogue humour, costume, lighting, sound and scenery that "faultless" would almost be too bland a description to encompass all that could be said.

Richard Bond as Patsy

Richard Bond as Patsy

There were standout performances throughout, but special mention must be given to Colin Flaherty as Arthur, Richard Bond as Patsy, David Izzo as Sir Galahad and the diva to out diva all others, Kirsty Kingham as Lady of the Lake.

Neil Streeter conducted a note perfect band full of pizzazz and cast interaction. Highly recommended to Python and musical theatre lovers everywhere.

David Putley

David Izzo as Sir Galahad and Kirsty Kingham as Lady of the Lake

David Izzo as Sir Galahad and Kirsty Kingham as Lady of the Lake

Spamalot Review, May 2017 - Basingstoke Gazette

The perfect escape for the world-weary currently awaits local audiences in The Haymarket. BATS have staged the Monty Python musical Spamalot – the first local production of this smash-hit show - and their sublime slice of silliness is a genuinely laugh-out-loud treat.

First time director / choreographer Gary J Myers has bitten off a lot, but it’s certainly not more than he can chew. In fact, what he has served up is quite wonderful! He’s ably assisted by Neil Streeter as musical director.

Spamalot is the tale of King Arthur (a suitably regal Colin Flaherty) and his band of knights, and their quest to find the Grail / stage a musical in Basingstoke.

Along the way they encounter surly peasants, the French, the Knights of Ni, the irrepressible Black Knight, flying cows and the rest.

The show is a huge challenge for all departments – sound, props, wardrobe and lighting – but the society has multi-tasked to the max to achieve something quite special. 

Colin Flaherty as King Arthur (Centre), Richard Bond as Patsy (Centre Left) and some Knights

Colin Flaherty as King Arthur (Centre), Richard Bond as Patsy (Centre Left) and some Knights

BATS’ talented actors also showcase their adaptability by demonstrating serious comedic ability and timing. Some of their stalwart performers (Ian Moseley, David Izzo) are a revelation and supporting players also do wonderful work in smaller parts: Ed Branch (French taunter), Tracey Gonzato (head minstrel), Stuart Baker (Dead Fred) and Grant Foyle (Kevin) are all fantastic. 

Izzo, Nick Brannam and Pete Chandler are hysterically funny throughout the plotline about Prince Herbert whilst a brilliant Kirsty Kingham demonstrates divine comic delivery – and boasts terrific vocals - as the Lady of the Lake, hilariously snarling “Whatever happened to my part” during The Diva’s Lament.

Nick Brannam (Left) as Prince Herbert and Pete Chandler (Right) as Lancelot

Nick Brannam (Left) as Prince Herbert and Pete Chandler (Right) as Lancelot

Well done to the rest of the company, too, who whizz on and off in various outfits constantly, singing, dancing, nailing punchlines and doing whatever else the show demands.  

It goes without saying that Python fans will be in heaven but there’s lots of general fun to enjoy, including references to other famous musicals.  Other standout musical numbers include the Knights of the Round Table, You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz and His Name is Lancelot. 

Only the hardest heart could resist joining in with the final sing-along to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, so partake of Spamalot’s cheeky joy while you can. You’ll feel much better afterwards!

Joanne Mace

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