Musical hits the high notes

A GALAXY of talent covering many age groups burst on the scene when Carlinghow Theatre Company presented the ambitious musical Follies at Batley Town Hall last week, writes Malcolm Haigh.

The show traces the reactions of actors and actresses as they return to a soon-to-be-demolished theatre and recall how their hopes, dreams and ambitions have suffered since they last appeared on its stage 30 years earlier.

With the production demanding two players to portray each character – a past and present – and reflect the differing eras the outcome could have been undeniably complicated and chaotic.

But thanks to the skills of debut director Nigel Dixon and choreographer Amanda Eyre plus the singing, dancing and acting abilities of the 36-strong cast it was anything but.

The numbers were imaginatively and often sensationally staged. The differing personalities rippled throughout the auditorium and it was no surprise when thunderous applause soon began to greet the end of each stunning musical number.

All the actors added spice and drama to the overall impression but the impeccable singing and acting performances of Sheelagh Wood and Jane Griffin, mirrored by Helen Wrigglesworth and Melanie Harrison, set a tremendously high standard.

It was re-inforced by convincing performances from Chris Hall and Gareth Jones as the puzzled and puzzling husbands while, in turn, their ‘shadows’ – the young Andrew Holdsworth and Chris Slater – indicated lots more star performances in the future.

The principals were supported by a huge and varied cast of multi-talented singers and dancers who, in turn, received sensitive backing from a highly skilled orchestra conducted by musical director Joanne Rochell.