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This is my first time attending a summer show by Ringwood Musical and Dramatic Society and I must confess to being a little bit confused when I arrived. I thought I was reviewing a play called Bookshelf, and was therefore both pleased and baffled when I realised that wasn’t the case. For those unfamiliar with the format, the summer show is a collection of short, original musicals, all lasting about 45 minutes each. In doing so, RMDS have created a way for all individuals, regardless of experience, to have a moment in the spotlight – and that is to be commended.

We started the evening with An Examination Of Plays By Shakespeare. Set in a school, the children are sitting an examination about Shakespeare. One of the students, who is less enthusiastic about the prospect of a two-hour exam, is transported through some of the most iconic plays by the Bard himself, treating the audience to a number of well-known musical numbers along the way.

This was crafted and directed at the hands of Tamsin Fawn, and it was really very clever. ‘Masquerade’ was a highlight from the show, with lovely costumes and choreography. A mention also to the witch’s song, which was well characterised, and ‘Take A Chance On Me’, which was very amusing and delivered with a huge amount of enthusiasm.

One challenge I did notice was the loudness of stage when the actors were walking around. Quite what the answer is to this I’m not sure, but it did take some of the attention away from the performers. In all, however, this was a good solid performance which was well enjoyed by the audience.

After a little break and some nibbles (which were great by the way), the next performance was Cookery Book. I really liked the set in this one, it was really realistic and felt like we were about to watch a live episode of Saturday Kitchen. It opened strongly with ‘Be Our Guest’, which is always a crowd pleaser. There was a slight situation towards the beginning of the show which led to an individual landing on the floor. I must praise the professionalism here, because this was covered and dealt with very well.

This particular show didn’t appear to have as strong a storyline as the first one, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless and it was clear that the cast were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Many of the songs were tweaked to go alongside the storyline, and that wielded some amusing results. Highlights were ‘A Cover Is Not A Book’ and ‘She Used To Be Mine’.

Both of these concert-esque performances had small amounts of libretto in it which helped to build a story; something that the majority of concerts do not do, and it was well received. In addition, all shows had live music which was great. The MDs have clearly worked extremely hard to deliver.

Finally, there was Fairytales. This show, in a word, was beautiful. The hall was decorated to perfection which really helped to build the right atmosphere in the beginning. The vocalists, dancing and costumes were also superb. There were some seriously challenging songs in their repertoire and all vocalists matched them well.

All in all, a great night. Thank you to RMDS for your hospitality and for a great show. It is a testament to RMDS that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s performances are now sold out. However, there are tickets available for Saturday, so all is not lost. Good luck to all with the remaining shows!