A 100 years of anything is pretty impressive, but 100 years of delivering musicals and plays deserves a huge round of applause. Poole & Parkstone have now entered their 100th year and have pulled together a huge colorful mix of songs that they have performed over the years as a celebration of their achievements.
In true Poole & Parkstone style, the concert is starting at the Regent Centre for two evenings and will then be moving to the Lighthouse in Poole later in the month. The Regent Centre evenings are charity preview nights for Diverse Abilities and Guide Dogs for the Blind, and representatives from both charities gave a speech at the end of the evening which was very moving.
There were a huge number of people in the cast, with varying abilities and of varying ages and that was very lovely to see. It’s clear that the show has been designed to fit the Lighthouse stage rather than the Regent stage as there were some faces that got lost in the bigger chorus numbers. That also affected some of the movement; however, by the time the cast have a larger space to work with these issues will be undoubtably be ironed out.
The Society has a very interesting history, including a stint providing backing vocals to a very famous American singer, and this was brought to life by the Compere, Chris Burdon. He led the show very well, giving the audience a number of amusing little anecdotes from over the years and some very touching tributes to past members.
As outlined by Chris, one of the Society’s core strengths lies in their “stand and sing” numbers, and this became very clear when the Full Company was onstage for ‘The Colors of My Life’ (Barnum) and ‘Once We Were Kings’ (Billy Elliot). Both songs were beautifully sung, with all harmonies clear and excellent diction (especially the accents in ‘Once We Were Kings’!).
Brilliant energy was brought to the stage in numbers such as ‘The Farmer and the Cowman’ (Oklahoma!) and ‘Step in Time’ (Mary Poppins). The choreography in both of these numbers was slick and delightful to watch. The atmosphere in these songs was electrifying and you could tell that the cast were having the best time.
The Finale of Act One was by far my favorite part of the show, which was a number of songs from Les Misérable. All soloists were brilliant, but a shout out to Dani Warner who acted beautifully in ‘On My Own’ and Simon Dade who brought raw emotion, along with lovely vocals, to ‘Bring Him Home’. Also, a mention must go to Rosie Spragg who sang ‘Castle on a Cloud’ very confidently and who had a perfect voice for the song.
Some stand out solo performances were Jeanette Hancock, who did a lovely rendition of ‘Feed the Birds’, Marie Coltman, who did a very amusing version of ‘Honey Bun’ accompanied by some of the male members of the society (I shall say no more!), and Nick Marsden in ‘Both Reached for the Gun’; a mention also must go to Ella Jenkinson who made a brilliant puppet. All eyes were on her the entire time.
Finally, there were some lovely children’s numbers but the biggest stand out number was ‘Food, Glorious Food’. A mention also to the very talented drummers, led by Felicity Mullins, who helped to bring the Finale to life.