Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Just So The Musical Review The Rattonians Youth Group Eastbourne Devonshire Park Theatre

15th-18th APRIL 2009
Performance seen
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Just So The Musical by The Rattonians Youth GroupJust So is a musical by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and is based on Rudyard Kipling's "Just So" stories for children.
The story essentially follows the Elephant Child (Jonathan Stevens) and the Kolokolo Bird (Meggie Dennis) as they travel through the jungle, discovering other species of animals along the way, to their eventual destination the Limpopo River.

Mark and Melanie Adams on this occasion have produced a colourful song and dance spectacular with superb costumes. Their Son Alex took up the narrator role (The Eldest Magician) whilst daughter Alicia was part of the main ensemble.

The Rattonians are always wonderful and I don't normally single anybody out but I'm going to make an exception this time round.

Catherine Anderson (Zebra) and Laura Sivers (Giraffe) are among the more senior of the Rattonians and are always completely professional. But what a particularly excellent comedy duo this combination made in this production. I think it gave these two a chance to show off more in terms of their super acting ability in addition to the flawless vocal performances they always deliver in the more traditional musicals. The rapport between these two worked so well perhaps they should consider becoming a female comedy double act?

Sticking with the seniors Ryan Funnell made a hilarious Parsee Man whilst Lucy Anderson got to ably demonstrate an impressive Aussie accent and performance as the Kangaroo.

But with a cast of over 90 everybody really deserves a mention for an excellent show but again I can't resist singling out 2 of the younger members this time.

Young Meggie Dennis was a revelation as the Kolokolo Bird. This is one of the most important roles in the show and for such a young member to put in such an outstanding performance is incredible. With an incredible voice and a faultless delivery of her script with great facial expressions I can see many a lead role for her in the future.

And whilst on great facial expressions I have to mention Mia Longman as Dingo Dog. Whilst Mia doesn't get to appear until the second part of the show she makes up for lost time playing an amazingly funny Dingo. Nice job Mia!

As I said though there are over 90 in the Rattonians Youth Group and whilst I have mentioned but a few they were all excellent!

I have to also praise Mark and Melanie Adams for their clever use of the "posh people boxes" at the sides of the stage. They made a good use of these both for ensemble dancing and an additional area for the narrator role.

So as usual everything with the Rattonians was perfect right?

Well no actually.

The cast was perfect............ The orchestra was perfect.

At least they were in their own right.

But put the combination of the two together and we had an orchestra who on many occasions were completely obliterating the singing of the talented cast on stage.

Now I have to admit we've previously only seen The Rattonians at the much larger Congress Theatre. In that theatre the orchestra are in a much larger pit. They are sunk further down from the stage and are more spread out.

In that theatre you can hear every lyric The Rattonians singing can be heard without problem, but this wasn't the case at The Devonshire Park Theatre.

The Devonshire also has an orchestra pit but it is so much smaller and the impressive orchestra did appear very crammed in. Sadly this immense musical power right in front of and so close to the cast meant that you were watching the on-stage actions but missing many a lyric and probably a lot of the comedy which this show depends on.

Granted we were directly in front of the orchestra and therefore closest to the stage. But hearing the singing has never been an issue before whether in the front row or elsewhere.

I got the general impression that if we were having this problem so close to the stage it could only be the same, or worse, further back.

However, it was first night, and perhaps other audience members noticed this sound issue? It may be that some sound adjustment was possible for the rest of the run?

Whilst this sound issue did take something away from the pleasure that would have been gained from this production I must stress that this was a technical issue and that this should take nothing away from the fine performance from The Rattonians Youth Group.3 out of 5 for Just So performed by The Rattonians Youth Group

Next stop for The Rattonians is The Mel Brooks Comedy Musical The Producers in the summer at the Congress Theatre. We are already booked and I make no apology for nicking the following poster from The Rattonians website (I'm sure they'll forgive me)and adding the Congress Theatre's phone number so you can book up early to see these talented young people.
The Rattonians summer 2009 production the Mel Brooks hilarious musical The Producers Print This Entry

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