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

Singin' in the Rain Review, May 2018 - NODA

Congratulations to Director, Ray Jeffery who drew polished performances from the hugely talented cast and first-class choreography from Julie Morris and Karen McCloy. BATS should be proud to add this production of Singin’ In The Rain to their list of successes. This was two and a half hours of all singing and dancing entertainment with the aid of a massively skilled cast and crew.

The Production: Bryn Hughes as Don Lockwood was hardly ever off the stage and sang and danced with great emotion and gusto. The duo's Fit as a Fiddle, Make ‘Em Laugh and Moses Supposes was hugely popular and were hilarious. There were many memorable performances, including the smooth singing of Beautiful Girl by Ian Moseley and Kathy’s (Anneka Wass) You are My Lucky Star was gorgeous and Lina’s What’s Wrong With Me was as out of tune as it should have been! Making his debut with BATS, William Keel-Stocker simply oozed charm and charisma as well as talent as Don’s sidekick Cosmo. This was a musical with heart and chemistry and so much to love; so many favourite moments for me, not least Good Mornin’ and Would You?

L to R: Don (Bryn Hughes), Kathy (Anneka Wass) and Cosmo (Will Keel-Stocker)

L to R: Don (Bryn Hughes), Kathy (Anneka Wass) and Cosmo (Will Keel-Stocker)

Ian Moseley performs "Beautiful Girls"

Ian Moseley performs "Beautiful Girls"

Kirsty Bennett as Lina Lamont, performing 'What's Wrong With me?"

Kirsty Bennett as Lina Lamont, performing 'What's Wrong With me?"

Costumes: The costumes were fantastic; colourful, vibrant and of the highest quality with numerous (and quick!) changes. There was great attention to detail ranging from Lena’s gowns, the massive headdresses of the ensemble, Don and Cosmo’s matching suits for Fit as a Fiddle as well as the black and white theme for the after party scene.

Sound: The music, under the direction of Trevor Defferd proved a great asset to the show and kept the lively music going. The voices blended well with the music. The sound team were kept busy handling effects needed for the arrival of the talkies and Lina’s inability to speak into her microphone! This was well executed.

Technical: The spectacular staging of the title song with fully working rain set deserves enormous praise as does the use of multi-media showing the black and white films ranging from the silent films to the transition to talkies. These provided joyful complement to the live action.

Chris Horton
NODA South East Region, District 14 Representative

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