Media Comments

A selection of critics’ comments about some of our recent productions…

 

As the autumn leaves begin to fall, and the nights draw in there are few plans better than spending an evening enveloped within the warm glow of the theatre. Halloween is just around the corner, and with that in mind something spine tingingly sinister is on the menu. Enter Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust (BOST) with their presentation of Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Written in 1886, Stevenson’s macabre novella is a classic tale of mans eternal struggle between good and evil. Thought by many to be one of the greatest gothic tales ever written, late October is the perfect time to indulge in some delectable horror.

The dual roles of Jekyll and Hyde are confidently portrayed by Chris Simmons. Expertly tackling such vocally demanding performances takes real skill, and Simmons is a delight to watch. His voice holds so much power that it feels as though he could scarcely play a more perfect role. As Dr Jekyll he elicits our complete sympathy as he is consumed by the evil of Mr Hyde. His time on stage is always captivating, none more so than during the moments when he wrestles against the inner demon that ultimately claims him. With such a role it would be forgivable to steal every scene, yet thankfully there is much more on offer throughout BOST’s production.

Linzi Stefanov is flawless in her role as Lucy, a poor tavern girl who fate delivers into the path of Jekyll, and then later Hyde. Stefanov gave a blistering performance of every single song she delivers, and was more than deserving of the applause her moments on stage received. There is a fragility to her portrayal that is as heart breaking, as it is commanding. Her duet with Hyde is particularly memorable.

Director Elsie Kelly has embarked on an ambitious project in bringing the world of Jekyll and Hyde to life. The production boasts fantastic costume and set design, and effortlessly transports us into another time and space. There is competent work from the chorus, who shine especially bright in the second acts performance of Murder Murder.

With such a rich multi layered story there are bound to be a few teething problems, and they make themselves known with minor sound and lighting issues. There are also moments when it feels as though the story could be sped along a little, but on the whole this is a wonderful production from a company that shows real passion and heart.

 

The Reviews Hub Score :   4 STARS

Spine chilling

Jekyll And Hyde ~ The Musical

Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust are one of the area’s most outstanding local arts companies. Amateurs and professional actors and actresses merge together seamlessly.   (NOTE from BOST:  No one on stage in this production is a professional actor/actress)

They love their work and it shows. One part of their long term ambitious aim and legacy is is they are not afraid to take risks.

It is a huge company comprising very enthusiastic, versatile and dedicated performers.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde about a man possessed by the need to find a cure for personality disorders is not the easiest piece of work to bring to life.

But that doesn’t stop BOST.

Director Elsie Kelly and musical director Tricia Gaskell – along with choreographer Charlotte Elverstone – have tackled a tough piece of drama in two very busy acts.

It is a split storyline: love and hate.

Passion and violence.

The sinister elements have to sit happily with the sentimentality.

Based on Stevenson’s classic and set to the score by Frank Wldhorn with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, Jekyll and Hyde has long been a mainstay of theatres both in the UK and Broadway.

So it comes with theatrical baggage.

BOST employ their excellent chorus to maximum effect and Chris Simmons as both Dr Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde was dominating from opening scenes’ to his tragic finale (double applause here).

Tony Prince was first class as his concerned pal John Utterson.

He has the right balance of love for his dear Harley Street friend -aware that dark forces were on hand.

Act one has 17 musical numbers, with the powerful This is the Moment being the highlight.

Act two with 11 songs see Linzi Stefanov shine as gutsy Lucy on her thunder ballad A New Life.

Other highlights in this two-and-a-half hour production include a wonderful dance sequence in the Red Rat London pub.

It fizzed with Burlesque-styled energy.

Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical is a bold venture to undertake.

BOST continue to enhance their reputation as one of Wirral’s most innovative and accomplished companies.

And an encore round of applause for the costume team who never fail to astonish me and audiences with their eye for period detail.

Passionate performance: 4 Stars.

Jekyll And Hyde ~ The Musical

Guys And Dolls is one of the great Broadway shows, rarely out of production since its opening on Broadway in 1950.

This latest production by the Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust captures much of its energy with its busy cast, comic New York dialogue and wonderful music score.

Like all BOST shows, there is a strong professional element involved from long-serving director Elsie Kelly, choreographer Charlotte Elverstone and the hired-in sets and many of the costumes.

The principals are also established stars with BOST, from Jessica Walters’s likeable Sarah and Linzi Stefanov’sMarilyn Monroe-styled Miss Adelaide to Tony Prince’s snappily dessed Sky Masterson and Chris Simmins’s bellowing Nathan Detroit.

As usual, a large company has been assembled, notably in the opening number Fugue For Tinhorns, in which the stage is filled with Runyonesque characters striding on and off, as they fill the street set.

Tricia Gaskell conducts an orchestra successfully tackling the tricky score and given the show’s title, there are some smashing dances from the Hot Box “dolls”.

LIVERPOOL ECHO, 16th May 2014

Guys And Dolls

Guys And Dolls is summed up by the title – the accent being on all American characters with street-wise sensibilities, interacting, intersinging with a lot of gusto and sensitivity in equal measure.  Another hit from director Elsie Kelly, musical director Tricia Gaskell and choreographer Charlotte Elverstone.

Nathan Detroit, played by Chris Simmons, is a good bet from start to finishwith his on-stage chemistry with the wonderfully whimsical Miss Adelaide thanks to Linzi Stefanov.  They have been engaged for 14 years and this scenario provides some fine, on-going comic moments.  Their balance of fun and games is a joy throughout.  When she said ‘goils’ for girls you would believe she is from the Bronx.

Called a Fable of Broadway with its colourful language and charactera to match… it is a modern day musical classic.  Moody Sky Masterson (Tony Prince) soon learns the error of his ways by first trapping then falling for sergeant Sarah Brown – a good soul in the very capable hands of Jessica Walters.Their trip to Havana and the cocktail sketch is sparkling.

The theme of redemption is a popular one in musicals, whether romantic, financial or spiritual.  Here it forms the basis of the plot while seven strong dancers, the Hot Box Girls, provide fabulous song and dance routines in the nightclub of the same name.  A large cast tick all the boxes, individually and collectively.

Guys And Dolls, of course, is awash with great, catchy songs including; Luck Be A Lady Tonight; I’ve Never Been In Love Before and Sit Down – You’re Rocking The Boat.  There is real zeal in each scene of the two acts.

The versatility of the company shines through, especially on the comedy scene in the mission hall and the fun finale.

Well worth a visit, ya all, to this “off Broadway” BOST outing.

LEISURE, 16th May 2014

 

Guys And Dolls

THIS is a show that the Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust should boast about – it sums up their amazing legacy of producing shows that can take on anything in the West End. This pre-Christmas production is sparkling with a cast who relish every minute they are on the stage. It has everything for the family; a delightful Cinderella (Melanie Isaac) and a dignified Prince Edward played by Tony Prince – how apt. It is an ensemble piece so there isn’t time nor space to pick out other individuals.

BOST really do deliver when they take on a project and the costumes and stage sets are first class with a great transformation scene. The choreography and whimsical songs, such as Once I Was Loved and Protocoligorically Correct are relayed with real finesse and typical vibrant enthusiasm.

You have choruses of ministers, courtiers, servants guards and villagers, mice dancers French children, page boys, ballet troupe.

There is something very charming and innocent and … beautiful about people who wear their heart on their sleeves and perform to such dazzling standards.

Something to sing about, BOST – a truly WONDERFUL Wirral success story.

WIRRAL GLOBE, 20th November 2013

The Slipper And The Rose

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