NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD
GROUP KYDS Youth Drama Society
PRODUCTION DRACULA SPECTACULA by John Gardiner. Music by Andrew Parr
DIRECTOR Alexandra Berriman
MUSICAL DIRECTOR Tess Dunn
DATE OF ADJ’ June 5th 2015
ADJUDICATOR Kerry King accompanied by Martin Rayner
FRONT OF HOUSE AND PROGRAMME
FOH manager: Ann Morton
Poster/Programme design: Marcus Churchill
A friendly, helpful and efficient welcome was received by all patrons by FOH personnel where nothing was too much trouble and where there was welcome refreshments available.
The programme was of a high quality in presentation, design and provided a really good read with excellent photographs and information about the cast which is always interesting and very useful for adjudication.
Design and construction: Kev Morton; John Casey; Carl Jewell; Robert Greed.
Scenic art: Mike Russell
Stage management: John Casey
Stage crew: Kev Morton and David Morton
The stage settings were simple yet effective. The coffin and ‘brick’ flats either side, the ‘lounge’ with the fireplace, and walls with painted windows SL and SR complemented with a brightly covered sofa, all worked well. There was a nice touch with the walls and well-painted skeletons ‘hanging’ upon them for the ‘dungeon’ scene.
The ‘North Tower’ box was a great piece of stage furniture and very effective, opening up to various ‘magical’ items such as a skull and skeletal hands holding coloured drinking glasses. The way in which the interior was lit with green and red lighting added to its charm.
Scene changing was efficient and unobtrusive which ensured the pace was not hampered. The haze was well timed and added to the eerie atmospheres. Well done to all.
The technical resources at Thurstable as far as lighting is concerned are obviously limited so Tom did well to create the different atmospheres required. The red floods gave a good opening visually to the show and there was an appropriate subdued blue for the dungeon. If it had been possible, back lighting, particularly when there were solo spots would have given a heightened evocative feel especially to the slower vocals. At times some faces were in shadow, particularly down stage positions (although this could have been actors not ‘finding their light’). It might have been a good idea to make better use of one or two of the parcans (used for house lighting) to provide lighting on stage. Lighting operation was well timed (apart from a couple of slow cues at the beginning), with the candle blowing out and corresponding blackout perfectly timed. The lighting added positively to the visual images on stage and created nicely perceived ‘Dracula’ atmospheres.
There were some good sound F/X with excellent timing and volume. There was a frustrating fault in one of the speakers for the sound crew but it did not affect the acting or performances which reflected great discipline from everyone involved. There is often criticism when radio mikes are used as volume and clarity can be distorted and/or not heard clearly. Actors still need to be taught the essential skill of projecting their voice even when using a microphone.
Musical Director/Piano: Tess Dunn
Electric Guitar: Ryan Sharman
Bass guitar: Franky Garland
Drums/Percussion: Graham Brown
The musicians are to be congratulated for a tight and professional sound. Well done to Tess for not only providing the show with a musical director but also as an extremely well accomplished musician as were the rest of the ‘orchestra’. Volume was right most of the time although there were some moments when it would have been useful to lower the sound as the lyrics could not be clearly heard. This may have been because the actors could not hear the piano if it had been played with less volume so perhaps they could have sung just a little louder?
The costumes added to the visual pleasure with the ‘zombies’ dressed in bedraggled bloodstained costumes and suitable ‘day attire’ in other scenes. Dracula looked good in his white shirt and black and red cape completing the look with a red waistcoat. Father O’Stake wore a long black robe with a large cross and the Doctor, in contrast, was in a white suit. The black, red and white theme for the main characters worked well. Wraith (Dracula’s mother) looked wonderful in her black attire and I loved her hair which matched her zany character. Hans and Gretel’s costumes gave us a great feel of their Austrian background! Elvis in his white suit; Nadia in her day wear and then white wedding dress and veil; Genghis in his ‘butler’ attire; the air hostesses in their wonderful red outfits; the white dresses with a sparkly front and the pilot and all the characters and ensemble were all suitably attired. Well done everyone!
MAKE-UP AND HAIR
Hazel Cole, Jodie Cole, Emma Baldwin
Dracula’s make-up was absolutely perfect and really added to Ben’s portrayal of this character – well done!
The ensemble make-up for both girls and boys was appropriate although it would have been good to see a few more ‘pale’ faces and stronger eye make-up in the ‘Zombie’ scenes. I realise this was difficult as the actors then became everyday people for some scenes. A good effect could have been achieved with the use of half face masks. The character Elvis could have been made up a little more, perhaps darkening his eyes and eyebrows to match his black wig.
The hairstyles for the ensemble could also have been more accentuated to give a greater overall effect with perhaps spikey hair-dos; coloured hairspray and ‘off the wall’ hair designs. It would have been totally acceptable then for the actors to discard the masks and become ‘everyday people with everyday face makeup and wild hair’ as this would have added to the fun element of these scenes. All the main characters had hair and make-up to suit the character they were playing. Well done to the make-up and hair team for managing such a large number of cast.
Well done for ensuring all the props were right for purpose and where they were supposed to be.
Daisy gave a convincingly strong performance as Nadia. Her stage presence was excellent and reflected a mature approach with a convincing portrayal of this character. Her projection and intonation ensured that we heard every word and there was a consistent energy in how she moved and interacted with others. Well done Daisy.
Lucy was always focused in what she was doing which meant that her character was believable not only because of how she moved and her various facial expressions but in how she interacted with others. She had obviously given great thought to what Julie was like as a person and this came across. Well done Lucy.
Emily gave a vivacious performance as she was always energised and engaged with whatever was happening on stage. She is lovely to look at as her face is full of expression and this was conveyed in all sorts of ways as various events took place. An enjoyable performance. Well done Emily.
Matthew was suitably attired in the ‘Elvis’ costume complete with black wig so definitely looked the part! He got a good response from the audience with his ‘Know what I mean’ remarks so perhaps a few typical ‘Elvis’ poses and facial expressions would have added even more humour which I am sure he would have loved.
Hans and Gretel
Tom Nicholl and Becky Wright
This was a fun duo and Tom and Becky made full use of the comedy dialogue and routines. They both gave a confident performance with some good comic timing, singing and great accents, all adding to the humour. Their interactions with each other and other characters were excellent. An all- round, consistent and enjoyable performance from you both. Well done.
Dexter gave a solid performance as Dr Nick with good projection of both voice and character. Dexter just needs to interact with others in a more convincing way by engaging with them more (making eye contact for example). He tackled the song ‘Just the Way’ quite well as it is a difficult song to sing so well done.
Andrew was nicely ‘sedate and respectful’ as his religious character required and his stature and hand movements were ideal for this ‘father’ figure he was playing. His projection was good and he worked well with the other actors, so well done Andrew.
Morgan has a great sense of comedy and his comic timing was excellent. He has a good stage presence and projection both in voice and how he conveyed this character. I believe that this was Morgan’s debut on stage which is even more impressive! A very enjoyable performance from Morgan – well done.
This was an impressive performance from Ben. His accent was not only suitably ‘Dracula’ but consistent throughout his portrayal of this bloodsucking character. His voice projected well and his intonation was spot on. His facial expressions, interactions with others on stage, his bearing and interpretation of this character were a delight. This was an engaging and very enjoyable performance. Well done Ben.
A mature, confident performance from Alice who has great stage presence and not only looked great but also moved and danced very well enhancing her character even more. A very enjoyable, engaging and credible Wraith – well done.
Tom made a convincing pilot with an upper class voice which really fitted the part! He even managed to look as if he was controlling the plane. A nice sense of comedy. Well done Tom.
Grace Upton; Becky Craig; Ellie Russell (Clod); Ellie Macey (Looby); Maia Henderson-Roe (Scrub/Air hostess 1); Nieve Deighton (Riff); Emily Jowett (Scratch/Air hostess 2); Grace Robards (Raff); Tyler Mansfield (Bogie); Olly Smith (Boots); Harry Yelland (Dregs/Landau); Millie Sheldrick (Booze); Ella Nunn.
The ensemble seemed to work well together and as the show progressed they became more confident and energetic. There were some good individual cameos and it was good to see that each of the ensemble had a character to play which helped give them individuality. Their entrances and exits were efficient and they obviously enjoyed a couple of the numbers more than others as it showed in the energy they put out. It would obviously have been improved with extra rehearsals as at times it showed that there was uncertainty as to what moves or positions they were to make. Often, because of sheer concentration the chorus forget to smile so a few more smiles, when appropriate of course, would have added to the enjoyment. You all did well with bringing on props or furniture as you made sure that this was slick and pacey. The ensemble singing was good so well done everyone.
Dannii Carr and Nell Martin
Choreography was simple and as there were quite a few actors on stage and there was limited room, as well as having various abilities to consider, it was a good idea not to complicate matters by introducing complex routines. Some of the routines worked well although there were a few times when people were masked. I am sure that with a longer rehearsal period the routines would have been more proficient.
Alexandra Berriman and Tess Dunn
First, we would like to comment on how exciting we feel that you have such a group in Tiptree that encourages young people to take to the theatre not only for ‘treading the boards’ but with the technical and backstage crafts that are all so valuable and part of the holistic theatre world. You have great creative and innovative ideas of getting support for your group which we hope pays dividends. Congratulations and long may you continue to grow and develop.
Dracula Spectacular is a fun show and this was reflected in the way in which it was portrayed on stage. It was good to see young people in the audience and there was a great buzz of excitement in the auditorium, pre curtain-up. It was a good idea to have simple set designs and good use was made of the mid tab, both of which meant that there not protracted waits between scene changes. Music playing during scene changes is always a good idea and this was also used beneficially, which again helped the scene transitions. The songs were not easy to sing especially the solos and the actor’s young voices did not quite manage to do them justice but they can be congratulated at the discipline they showed when there was a sound problem with the mikes. Most of the ensemble vocals were good to listen to. Perhaps, as with the choreography, more rehearsals were needed which would have strengthened their confidence.
Good use was made of the auditorium entrances. The interior of the plane and cast seating and tableau was effective and a nice visual touch. The use of levels in ‘Lubby Glublick’ with a ‘tableau’ to finish also worked well. ‘Just the Way’ could have been improved with some movement and perhaps paced up a little? There was a nice touch blowing the candle out with the coinciding blackout. Good use was made of the haze and eerie music to open the second act.
It would have enhanced the zombie scenes more if they had more expressive faces and stronger ‘grotesque’ arm movements with ‘zombie’ like personalities to match. The ensemble could have worn half face masks and have funky hairstyles which would have also made these scenes more powerful and effective. In the ‘Rhesus Negative’ song for example, the ensemble should have been really scary so that Nadia could have had a typical frightened response. Dragging the ‘bodies’ off was a good idea adding a touch of realism and humour. ‘Starry Spheres’ did drag a little and the dancers either side were a little distracting especially as they were not really in unison. There was a nice comic twist at the end with Nadia cleverly managing to have fangs as she became Dracula’s bride.
What a shame that after all the hard work the group can only perform for two evenings. There were some good performances from the lead actors and ensemble and I am sure that you agree that this production could have been enhanced and tightened up with a few more rehearsals.
Thank-you all for a fun evening.
Kerry King MA. PGCE. AIIRM
accompanied by Martin Rayner