A – Z Of Musicals & Comedy Sketches

Ferndown Phoenix Musical Theatre    The Barrington Centre, Ferndown Renée Claude

 16 March 2024


I had never heard of Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society before so was unsure of what to expect from this show, however I was pleasantly surprised to leave the Barrington Centre feeling thoroughly entertained and inspired by the talented and diverse range of performers. Packed full of fan favourite musical numbers and sketches, this production has something for all to enjoy.

From the energetic renditions of ‘Song of the King’ from Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (sung by David Cooper) and ‘Land Of Lola’ from Kinky Boots (by Duncan Sayers), to the more emotional ballads like ‘Your Song’ from Moulin Rouge (sung by Rob Reynolds and featuring Alice Weller’s beautiful dancing), this entire showcase takes its audience through a rollercoaster of emotions and genres.

Phil Redgrave gave his first noteworthy performance during the Cowboy Section of the show; with a medley of music from Carousel, Calamity Jane and Oklahoma!, his voice boomed over the breath-taking harmonies from the company, and I couldn’t wait to hear more from him. Redgrave had two solo songs in Act 2; ‘This Is The Moment’ from Jekyll & Hyde in which he commanded the stage terrifically well, prompting goosebumps on the arms of everyone in that theatre; and ‘They Call The Wind Mariah’ from Paint Your Wagon, where we hear the most smooth yet powerful voice in local theatre.

Throughout the show there are so many outstanding solos, and I truly cannot commend the cast and crew enough for putting on this wonderfully passionate production. Laura Ruff’s strong and heart-wrenching ‘Back To Before’ from Ragtime, Marie Coltman’s effortlessly acted ‘Losing My Mind’ from Follies, and David Cooper and Rob Reynolds’ ‘Agony’ from the famously difficult Into The Woods were particularly phenomenal performances. All three songs were done justice by their respective performers and the viewer was left in awe as they brought the characters and stage to life.

Although there were some audio issues regarding mic levels being too quiet at times, and the backing tracks being too quiet at others, it was an incredibly enjoyable evening. The sketches were a welcome break from what would otherwise be two and a half hours straight of singing (with an interval and a raffle too, mind you), and the audience found Rob Reynolds and David Cooper’s ‘Four Candles Sketch’ to be the funniest moment in the whole show, and had us all in stitches.

The group numbers were at times quite lacklustre, and it seemed that not everyone knew all the lyrics and choreography, but it is admirable seeing such a wide range of people on stage having fun – you could tell they were enjoying themselves, occasionally even laughing mid song! But with Laura Ruff taking the lead in Oh What A Night from Jersey Boys as well as in the Sister Act mix, it’s hard to deny there is some real talent in this theatre group.

It is also worth noting the magnificent performances from the young stars Joe Campbell-Marsh and Lexi James. Campbell-Marsh took the lead in ‘Bare Necessities’ from Jungle Book with charisma and a glowing smile. Lexi James performed a solo of ‘I See The Light from Disney’s Tangled and has a sweet Disney voice.

Despite some issues regarding diction and pitch, Ferndown’s A-Z of Musicals & Comedy Sketches is a superb showcase of talent and passion from members both young and old.

It’s such a shame there were only two performances as this was such a wonderful showcase of talent that more people need to see. I encourage you to take note of this fabulous society and attend their next production of Annie this autumn.