This is the time of year when many musical theatre societies stage one-off concerts, presumably to keep their talents – both vocal and social – tuned up before starting rehearsals for the main show that they will put on in the spring or early summer. It is also a chance to experiment and to try something a bit different which takes both individuals and the company out of their comfort zone. More important still, such concerts provide excellent entertainment for their audiences, too.
This was certainly the case with Wimborne Musical Society’s Regeneration, the story of a couple packing up to move out of the house where they had lived for fifty years, helped by their daughter and son-in-law, grandchildren and friends. This home-grown plot was unashamedly thin, but it was only an excuse to reminisce, which in turn led to musical numbers spanning those fifty years: from rock ’n’ roll through to the Spice Girls and Elton John.
It is ironic that although such concerts are regarded as of less importance than a Society’s main show, they involve learning just as much unfamiliar music and new moves, so full credit to the cast of Regeneration for their polish and confidence. It was very much an ensemble piece, so it would be invidious to single anyone out by name, but highlights of the first half included the harmonies of ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, the energy of ‘Rock Around The Clock’, the spirited solo, good movement and effective costumes in ‘Proud Mary’ and the humour (mostly intentional) of ‘YMCA’.
The stand-out number was ‘That’s Entertainment’, where the quality and experience of the two soloists shone through.
The best part of the second half was the double number by the ladies: ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’, closely followed by their Abba medley, and the show ended seasonally with ‘White Christmas’ and the whole company enthusiastically belting out ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.
Lee Redwood and Gemma Davis put the show together, directed it and did the choreography; the last was fairly uncomplicated, but there was an awful lot of it to learn, including some nifty tap-dancing in ‘Singin’ In The Rain’. Throughout, not just in ‘Proud Mary’, the costumes were relaxed and effective. No musical director was credited because the singing was to backing tapes.
I referred to such concerts as one-offs, but actually this was a two-off, the Society giving a matinée and an evening performance on the same day. Even so, it was a lot of work to put into such a short run, but the cast could take satisfaction from the Tivoli audience’s loudly expressed and well-deserved appreciation of their efforts.