For years, Southampton Operatic Society has successfully been producing shows of a high quality, incorporating the works of Gilbert & Sullivan and other operatic pieces. However, it is quite easy to forget that they are an amateur group after all. As the group approaches their 100th year, it is evident that they are at the top of their game. Personally, I have never been to an SOS production so I was keen to see if they lived up to their reputation – and they certainly did.
Around the World in 20 Shows takes into account a variety of different musicals that represent different parts of the world; for example, Les Misérables represented France and Miss Saigon for Vietnam. Cleverly, Marina Voak (Director) incorporated 20 different shows into one evening and it is evident how much time, passion and energy she has put into this production. It is a pilgrimage for any musical theatre lover!
Once again, Nigel Finch (Musical Director) has collaborated an excellent 5-piece band to accompany the group. It was noted that Nigel also wrote the parts himself for the musicians, so I take my hat off to him. He certainly is such an asset, not only just for this group, but to many groups here in the South. Who needs Andrew Lloyd Webber when you’ve got Nigel!
Opening nights nerves were apparent and, although there were a few stumbled lyrics in a few songs, certain individuals of the group certainly stood out. Lisa Axworthy, with a voice of an angel, performed with such elegance and worthy of any West-End stage. Tina Adams was a joy to listen to and delivered a magical performance of ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’. Abi Jeffrey is born to be on the stage and was clearly enjoying herself the entire evening. Mike Pavitt performed brilliantly and had a fantastic voice – one to watch out for in the future. However, my favourite moments were the group numbers which involved the entire cast. Collectively, the group sounded fantastic and better than some professional choirs. The harmonies were strong and blended together well, the diction was clear and, more than anything, everyone wanted to be on the stage and were clearly enjoying themselves. There seems to be a real sense of community in this group and if I lived closer, I would join!
If there was one small area of constructive critique that I could offer, it would be to finish the whole performance on ‘One Day More’, as this was a spectacular number performed by the entire cast and worthy of a standing ovation!
Around the World in 20 Shows runs at Bitterne Park Sixth Form Theatre until Friday 28 June 2019. If you miss it, you’ll miss out!