Media Comments

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

 

Having seen quite a number of productions of Oliver over the years – with casts of a literal thousand stars, sometimes – few have been as comparably well executed to this wonderful box of delights that BOST have on offer at The Liverpool Royal Court Theatre right now.

Are there any other musicals that can offer so many showstoppers as Oliver? Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, Who Will Buy?, Oom-Pah-Pah … the list goes on, thanks to Lionel Bart’s genius.

Yet without a company capable enough to do these golden musical nuggets justice, then they would simply be ‘tunes’. No fear on that score here though.

What direction by Elsie Kelly!

What a set by Phil Colebourne!

What choreography by Sarah Walker!

What dazzlingly delightful costumes delivered by Sandra Preston and her team!

What magnificent live orchestration arranged by Tricia Gaskell!

In all, what a show to honour these wonderful, magical numbers and all of which are performed magnificently by this superlative cast.

In the title role, young Cole Boon is an absolute gem. His vocal range is shown beautifully with the solo Where Is Love, whereas his sheer dynamism throughout is awe inspiring. His is a performance so riddled with a confidence that belies his age, surely only big things await.

The same, too, can be said of Brian Comer. If ever there was a young man born to play The Artful Dodger – with a cheerful mischievousness up front and centre and a singing voice to match – then this up-and-comer is he. Jack Wilde may have made the role famous in the movie version but, boy, does this lad run him close.

Of course there is no Oliver without a Fagin. A kindly benefactor on the outside, a malevolent, selfish heart beating within, this is no easy role to execute, particularly for the amount of stage time it demands. BOST, however, could not have found a better exponent of this much maligned character than they have in Tony Prince.

With all the presence of Andrew Schofield at his very, very best and, during Reviewing the Situation, showing he owns a quite sensational singing voice into the bargain, Prince makes the stage – the theatre – his own, whilst and at the same time proves capable of embodying the spirit of the character fully and never letting it slip for a moment.

Yet despite these fine performances, and those of the chorus complete, it is that of Jennifer Swanepoel as the poor, misguided and ultimately doomed Nancy that steals the show. Her rendition of As Long As He Needs Me soars to the very highest of rafters without once losing its power or subtle but distinctive Cockney twang. This gives the song a delightful credence and thereby adds immeasurably to its heartfelt sincerity.

It’s not only Jennifer’s singing voice which stands out either. Here is a lady that can act and do so with such obvious joy in every thing she delivers, it quite warms the cockles of the chilliest of hearts.

With Wesley Wharton’s nastiness A’s Bill Sykes being counteracted by the blathering busyness of Jonathan Francis’ Mr Bumble and Rebecca Nielsen’s preposterously enamoured Widow Corny, the performances are about as perfect as any full time, professional ensemble could manage, and with just that little bit more zip to their zest than many could hope to wish for.

As a result BOST should be rightly proud of what they have produced, the cast should take their bows and their plaudits and deservedly embrace them, and their audience should feel honoured to have witnessed something very special indeed.

Bravo, BOST! Bravo!

RATING: *****

chrishighreviews.com

Oliver! (2017)

Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust have been at their exuberant best with a three-night run at the Floral Pavilion.

BOST Musicals are consistently good value-for-money with their striking stage sets, costumes and spectacular song and dance routines.

Anything Goes by Cole Porter was tailor-made for such a company.

He wrote the music and lyrics while PG Woodhouse and Guy Bolton wrote the original book.

It was later revised by Lindsay and Crouse.

And that is what so many audiences see and hear to this day from amateur to professional groups.

The SS America is sailing from New York to London and on board there are a variety of characters who are all at sea in more ways than one.

There’s love-sick Billy Crocker and sea-sick Lord Eveyln Oakleigh. They are both love interests of the sweet Hope Harcourt.

Also on board is Reno Sweeney a born again nightclub singer and America’s nearly ‘most wanted’ criminal Moonface Martin.

He is number 13 on the FBI’s list.

A lot happens in the two and half-hour plus show directed by Karen Partington and with musical director Tricia Gaskell and choreographer Charlotte Elverstone from the solo numbers to uptempo songs and the comic interludes.

Cole Porter’s greatest hits (there are many) take up much of act one.

There’s I Get A Kick Out of You; You’re The Top; It’s De-lovely and the title track sailing us into the interval.

Act 2 has the feel good Blow Gabriel Blow and a bull-fighting themed The Gypsy in Me.

Linzi Stefanov as Reeney and Tony Prince as Moonface deserve a place at the captain’s table for their fine performances.

Andrew Heath makes his debut with BOST as a camp purser clearly influenced by the great Kenny Everett.

And there’s Squiggle who plays Cheeky the cute canine. A true pro – take a bow (wow wow).

The sheer energy and dedication of BOST Musicals from principals to chorus and dancers always shines through and I always look forward to their productions where everyone gives 100 per cent from behind-the-scenes to front of stage.

Ship-shape!

**** FOUR Stars

Wirral Globe

Anything Goes (2016)

Family Go Live visited the theatre to watch Bost’s Anything Goes production – what a spectacle!

BOST’s production at New Brighton’s, Floral Pavillion has everything you could want in a big Broadway-style musical: a talented cast, witty dialogue, imaginative direction and fantastic choreography. The cast is simply phenomenal, a collection of 1930s characters lead by Linzi Stefanov, playing the protagonist, Reno, who’s performance is particularly show-stopping.

Old-time slapstick essence infused with tap-dancing sailors & high-energy chorus girls is extremely entertaining – topped with superb singing & artistic excellence, makes way for an outstanding performance – Anything Goes simply, has it all!

A fantastic evening out with the family, this is an absolute must-see – you won’t be disappointed!

Family Go Live

Anything Goes (2016)

After the show, my 8-year-old daughter, Bobbi, read the programme from back to front and back again, commenting on all the characters. And she woke up the day after the show dancing around the bedroom, singing ‘Hard knock life’, and pre-acting the Annie parts.

At the show, of her own accord, she gave a standing ovation, wolf whistles and all. So I suppose if she loved it other kids would have also.

‘Miss Hannigan was much nastier in this musical than in the film,’ said Bobbi.

Annie (played by Annabel Welsh and Isabelle Cross) is the story of a ginger -haired orphan, living with dozens of other girl orphans, under the control of alcoholic tyrant Miss Hannigan (Pat Davies). Set during the Great Depression, Annie is desperate to find her parents, so hides in a laundry basket in order to get out of the orphanage and look for them.

That’s were the story begins. She encounters, the homeless, living in Hoovervilles, and adopts a dog on the way, before she is returned to the clammy hands of Miss Hangman. The rest I will let you discover.

Annie was performed by Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust (NODA), which is a combination of amateur operatic and dramatic societies. But considering the musical was described, in its own publicity, as an amateur performance, they could have fooled me (and my daughter). I could not fault any of the major performers

The entire performance was great, the songs had the kids singing along, and the sets and the music were spot on.

My daughter’s one criticism was the fact that we were given seats near the top of the circle, where my daughter “couldn’t see the faces of the performers.”

Nerve Reviews (Catalyst Media)

Annie (2014)

THE award-winning Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust Musicals recruited two of Merseyside’s leading choreographers for their outstanding musical version of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

it was superby choreographed by Nazene Langfield and Graeme Henderson, who have both appeared on London’s West End stage.

There’s snow busness like show business … indeed.

The society, now in its 90th year, is in sparkling form.

The sheer scale of their musicals conjure up the word ‘spectacular’ and I have said it before anything the West End can do they can match them for production values.

White Christmas is all about super troupers and BOST has plenty of them in front and behind the curtains.

With director Elsie Kelly and musical director Tricia Gaskell at the helm you know they will pull out all the stops.

Sets and costumes, yet again, are first class.

This is a show that has some cracking numbers including Blue Skies, Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep and the title song.

I Love a Piano also hit all the right notes with the sell-out audience.

BOST Musicals display their considerable talents from individuals and entire ensemle.

The storyline remains a timeless one.

Two soldiers help out an ailing hotel in Vermont.

Loyalty, friendship , dreams and ambitions are key themes along with, of course, love.

Stalwart Tony Prince played Bob Wallace, the role made famous by Bing Crosby in the 1954 Paramount movie.

Bob is an all-round good guy and not only talented in the trenches of 1944 but on the stage alongside his de-mobbed double-act partner Phil Davis (that name sounds familiar) ten years later.

The characater is played with great enthusiasm by Chris Simmons. Danny Kaye was Phil in the classic, feel-good film.

Gina Phillips as Betty Haynes (sung and danced by Rosemary Clooney in the movie) joined Linzi Stefanov as younger sibling Judy.

Their rendition of the evergreen Sisters a highlight Medals, too, for old soldier Frank Nance as eager-to-serve again General Waverley with a commanding performance.

And full marks to Millie Kiss one of two talented young stars who alternated as savvy Susan the other being Sofia Lawton.

There’s also plenty of humour something BOST excel at.

There’s star-struck house-keeper, Martha Watson played by Pat Davies. Les Hampson’s Ralph Sheldrake – a TV executive for The Ed Sullivan Show and two bubbly chorus girls courtesy of Jessica Walter (Rita) and Elizabeth Beattie as Rhoda.

Carl Loughlin’s frantic stage manager Mike was consistently funny -shrieking the panic buttons for most of the show within a show theme.

And waiting in the wings for a snow-covered festive finale was aerial acrobat, high-flyer Kellie Giddman who made me feel giddy watching her her high-wire performance.

Thanks to a stellar cast and crew this White Christmas got everyone in the mood and it was only November.

Rating: Five Huge Snowflakes (STARS)

Wirral Globe

White Christmas (2016)

Latest News

Dancers auditions for A Christmas Carol

Published: May 5th, 2019

In November this year, we will be performing Alan Menken’s ‘A Christmas Carol – The Musical’. Dancers auditions will be held on Wednesday 5th June, from 8pm to 10pm, at BOST’s HQ (24A Clifton Road, Birkenhead, CH41 2SG). Dancers must be aged 14+. Please bring ...

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Open auditions for A Christmas Carol

Published: May 5th, 2019

In November this year, we will be performing Alan Menken’s ‘A Christmas Carol – The Musical’. Principal and Children’s auditions for this show will be held on Sunday 2nd June at BOST’s HQ (24A Clifton Road, Birkenhead, CH41 2SG). Provisional timings for these open auditions are as follows: ...

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Elsie Kelly to retire after 46 years

Published: May 3rd, 2019

Our wonderful Director, Elsie Kelly, is due to step down next month, following an amazing 46-year career with our society. Having Directed her first show (‘Oliver!’) for BOST in 1974, our award-winning Director has gone on to direct over 90 shows and concerts with our ...

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© 2019 Birkenhead Operatic Society.
Alexander Hall, 24A Clifton Road, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 2SG
Charity No/259 306.

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