The Infamous Ringwood Soirée

As is my usual practice, as soon as I arrived home from the Soirée, I switched on my computer and settled down to check Facebook – and immediately felt so guilty that I clicked off the page. Thanks, Soirée team: I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that your ‘Social Media Story’ had the desired effect!

That particular section, sung to a medley of tunes from West Side Story, was just one of the many highlights of this evening of pure pleasure, clearly put together with love, care and a lot of laughter. For many years now, the Soirée has been the society’s main fund-raiser and long may it continue to swell the coffers, not least because of its support for what will eventually be a much-needed new Arts Centre in Ringwood that will be available for hire by the many societies in this area.

The format of the evening is mainly sketches, some including singing, most not, with music from MD Jonathan Spratt plus Peter Mundy and Barney Lawrence on drums and guitar. It’s fast-paced with costume changes galore, and if the eleven-strong cast spend much of the time in fits of giggles, it doesn’t in any way detract from their sheer professionalism.

As a rather famous musical nun once sang, let’s start at the very beginning – where the mood was set as we were invited by the cast to ‘Be our guests’ in an hotel that made Fawlty Towers seem like the Ritz. And talking of nuns, I just adored their version of ‘Hallelujah’, although the late Leonard Cohen might have found most of the words just a little unfamiliar.

With 29 separate sections I can’t possibly go through each one, but if I just mention references to Gene Pitney, bricks, a wedding photo, the job centre and, of course, that regular item, the farm gate, you’ll get an idea of the wide variety of subject matter. Top marks for cleverness must go to the excellent and brilliantly performed ‘Correction’, which I can’t explain for fear of giving the game away, while top of the Laughometer (if there isn’t such a word there should be) is definitely, in my book, the wonderful ‘Yorkshire Drama’.

It takes skill and a lot of hard work to make all this mayhem look easy, so congratulations to the whole team for giving us all such a great time.

Future performances: 23-26 November and 1-3 December, all at 8.00. If you’re planning to go along, don’t forget to take a picnic for the interval, but please buy your drinks at the bar.