(2003) A Back Stage Pass

 

Great chance for all to work together

A Class Act Performing Arts Theatre Company: A Back Stage Pass - New Greenham Arts, 22nd to 24th May 2003

How do you stage a variety show that also gives the performers a chance to act, and includes all ages from eight upwards? A Class Act's answer was to incorporate the variety turns as auditioning acts in a play about a theatre's history since the Second World War. The result was a bit contrived, but you could say the same about any musical.

The singing was good, the standard of the acting varied, but what came across strongly was the enthusiasm and discipline of the cast. The show got off to a tremendous start with a rousing rendition of Queen's We Will Rock You. The opening number is so important to get right, and this one almost blew us out of our seats.

Two children, Aimee Slade and Tori Nunn, were disturbed by the theatre's ghost during an air raid. They guided us through the rest of the action, with most of the first act taken up with the auditions. These included songs from Sue Gower, Carollann Farrel, Wendy Orpwood and Melanie Stevens, with opportunities for the rest of the cast to join in, and a magic act from Willie Rex.

The plot had two main strands: the attempts of the randy director (Tony Cook) to seduce the auditioning hopefuls, and the fraudulent actions of the office staff in keeping back some of the stage hands' pay.

The set was a convincing back stage area, with lots of props to give it interest, although it looked as though it was a bit of a squeeze to get through the openings.

A Class Act is Newbury's newest amateur group and this was their first production. It was written and directed by David Slade, with choreography from Melanie Stevens, who gave a good acting performance as well as singing and dancing. The production was well rehearsed and the pace and timing were good throughout.

David Slade's aim was to include the children as an integral part of the show with the adults. There are a lot of children's groups and adult groups in the area, but A Class Act have succeeded in generating an inclusive environment where they can all work together, in this happy show.

PAUL SHAVE