Media Comments

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

 

BOST present the creme-de-la-creme of local talent in their latest production.  Stepping back to the ’30s, the large ensemble impressively combines song, drama and eclectic styles of dance, to capture the essence of the era.  Accents and facial expressions are extremely believable, especially those of Gareth Casey Morris (Bella Zangler), whose grasp of declamatory techniques is strong.  Linzi Stefanov (Polly Baker) never fails in making you smile, her beautiful tone of voice in the songs “Someone To Watch Over Me” and “But Not For Me”  being an absolute joy to listen to.  The rapport between Simmons and Morris in “What Causes That” is thoroughly entertaining, the direction of Elsie Kelly working wonders in this scene.  Bouncing off each other’s behaviour so humorously would not be out of place in a professional show.  BOST promises a night of stunning live music, plenty of feel good moments, beautiful costumes and scenery – really, who could ask for anything more!

Crazy For You (2010) – What’s On Stage

Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust’s choice of musical to put on at the Empire this year couldn’t be more apt, set as it is in the Great Depression of 1933. Harnessed to a pretty divine score … and an orchestra from the Royal Northern College of Music, the singing was the great joy of this production… even the most minor members of the cast excelled in scenes like the first in Act 2, where the cast arrive in Philadelphia. Graeme Henderson, a seasoned choreographer, created some mesmerising routines evoking all the leg-kicking dazzle of the30s… as in the final scenes of Pretty Lady, the fictional show. Gareth Casey-Morris as Julian Marsh stole the show with a performance that would credit any professional outfit… The cast and technicians of BOST had, incredibly, only two full rehearsals on the Empire stage before curtains went up, but the first night passed with barely a hitch. BOST put on a night of top notch entertainment that did exactly what a good musical should. For two hours it spirited the audience away from shrinking budgets, taxes, politicians and expense scandals – to an altogether sunnier side of the street. 9/10 Has Legs Liverpool Echo 14/05/09 Its the musical about performers’ love for theatre, music and dance. So its apt that Birkenhead Operatic Society members, all busy rehearsing in their spare time, chose 42nd Street as their Empire performance. Harnessed to a pretty divine score… you were reminded of the company’s operatic pedigree time and time again – even minor members of the cast excelled. Choreographer Graeme Henderson created some mesmerising routines… Jay Hardy’s bravura tap routine as Andy Lee in Go Into Your Dance was an obvious highlight… as were scenes of Pretty Lady… Gareth Casey-Morris as Julian Marsh stole the show… Versatile Amanda Lane,18, as Peggy Sawyer, will be a talent to watch in years to come…. It was a loud production… but the voices were so good, it wasn’t a problem. BOST put on top notch entertainment, thanks to their passion for performance, visible in every scene. It would hold its own next to many professional productions.

42nd Street (2009) – Liverpool Daily Post

Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust, with a budget of thousands and great ingenuity, performed The Scarlet Pimpernel in the Empire Theatre. Elsie Kelly (Director) and Meryl Langford (Chairman) saw [the show], … and decided they could stage it without the Broadway millions and THEY HAVE! Oh the glamour! … What a first appearance [Marguerite] has, … in a dress to die for, needing quadruple doors to get through, not knowing that her foppish (pretence) husband is really a James Bond character, rescuing the French nobility from the guillotine. (Yes, its there against a blood red sky, really chopping off heads, which fall into the basket!) Oh the wonder of the opening of the second half in a mirrored ballroom (they couldn’t move St. George’s Hall) with swags and pillars and chandeliers, golden costumes and MASKS. Oh the splendid diction and perfect upper class vowels of “They seek him here, they seek him there”… Oh the swashbuckling fights, and the disguises, and the badness of Chauvelin (could be Les Mis) and the business with the cart and the boat, and a glorious company of men. Was that really Mark Gairrusso in disguises turning a small part into a great cameo role? Such glamorous maids, and knicker-showing tarts, and grande grande dames (pronounced the French way) and the quiet pathos of the prison, with the victims leaving when their names were called. Oh, lots and lots of singing…, and misunderstandings and spy rings are all part of it and the (paid) fly men in the fly tower fly in instant altars or ship’s sails, and (unpaid) stage managers carry stone balustrades and statuary into the rose garden, and leather sofas into the library. Amateur members of the company rehearse and rehearse, and learn to act, sing, speak, dance, fight, and have the discipline of the professional. Few professional companies could possibly afford so much talent on and back-stage. Such delights:- a full orchestra, with musical director, boy trumpeters, Jim Langford doubling as a boat builder, French armies, winsome ladies and of course ROMANCE. What an evening! … As FOPS you’re the TOPS! Whatever it COST dearest BOST, you’re the BEST!

The Scarlet Pimpernel (2009) – Wirral Champion

David Niven, Anthony Andrews and even – sink me – Sid James have masqueraded as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But none got to sing and swordfight at the same time. Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust has pulled on the boots and pulled out all the stops to produce this lavish musical version of Baroness Orczy’s French Revolution classic for Capital of Culture year. The production is ambitious: a cast of 60, a slew of scenery changes, and hundreds of costumes which have kept the wardrobe department busy for several months… Pimpernel is really a boys’ own adventure, which means Julia Caroll has little to do as leading lady Marguerite but sing prettily and recoil from the advances of the murderous Chauvelin (a strong-voiced Jason Weightman). It’s left to real-life husband Mike Caroll, as cod-buffoon/wily saviour Sir Percy Blakeney, to lead his merry band of “Bounders” through the evening’s big numbers. The part-time fops cavort at court in frills and furbelows then don disguises to dash off to France and rescue dukes and duchesses from Madame la Guillotine. Their rousing numbers – Into the Fire, The Creation of Man – are crowd-pleasing highlights with some good ensemble harmonies. Director / choreographer Elsie Kelly runs a tight ship, and the staging and props, including a ship’s prow and a working guillotine, are smoothly professional. The two massive chorus set pieces, on each side of the interval, are also visually and vocally impressive… The evening ends with the French trounced and BOST and the Brits triumphant. Rating: 8/10. Swashbuckling.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (2009) – Liverpool Echo

BOST really are a cut above the rest – and I don’t just mean that because they have a guillotine on stage. They have pulled out all the financial stops to stage “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, a Broadway musical based on the book by Baroness Orczy. This is Capital of Culture year and so this company…decided to be ambitious. After last year’s faultless “Oliver!” they decided to tackle a show that ran for 700 performances on Broadway. And it’s something of a gamble as the songs are not the familiar ones that audiences might be used to. Paris in 1794 was a dark and sinister place and…this is a tale of intrigue, double identities and with some fine comic moments amid all Le Mayhem. Musical Director Tricia Gaskell weaves in plenty of ballads as the scenery crew and the costume team do their usual superlative job in the visual department. Mike Carroll as Sir Percy Blakeney (Ssh, he’s the Pimpernel) and Marguerite St Juste (Julia Carroll) have real chemistry. In real life, she is his wife and leading lady. Sacre bleu! No wonder when they kiss its so convincing. Jason Weightman deserves a round of special applause for his nasty black-coated bad guy, Chauvelin. There are some great comic scenes with fops galore and the song The Creation of Man. A sword-fighting scene is also an added highlight. It is a lavish production that’s full of adventure and spirit, just like BOST. This French connection is magnifique.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (2009) – Daily Post

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Published: January 25th, 2020

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Alexander Hall, 24A Clifton Road, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 2SG
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