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Folk and Blues
It's Only Make Believe
by John Plews and Chris Burgess
The Mitre Theatre, Croydon & Shaftesbury Theatre, Dawlish
July & August 2007
Director:  Dave Price
Choreograper: Paul Cohen
Musical Directors: James Beal and Colin Warnock

Mitre Players are a talented lot, and this type of music suited them perfectly.

 

Devised by John Plews from the book by Chris Burgess, it had the ridiculous premise that an ancient cinema could bring back to life, by means of old film canisters, forgotten 'B' film actors. The title said it all, and in addition we had hit songs from the past 60 years, which were cleverly chosen because they fitted neatly with the plot.

 

Congratulations to Jill Wilson for the superb set and incredible overhead beams parting with descending shower of detritus.

Director Dave Price kept the pace, choreographer Paul Cohen made simple moves look spectacular, and James Beal and Colin Warnock provided rhythmic and raucous accompaniment.

 

The time period was the 70s, so we had flares, platform soles and long hair - and that was just the men. The ladies seemed to be dressed in a more orthodox manner. Kelly Beard, as Carol, who was going to marry dull fair-isle-pullovered Kevin (Jolyon Roberts), who despite his dullness and baldness, could belt out a song as well as his intended. He did change in the second half into wig and flares and competed with Carol's former lover Andy, lecherously played by Paul Bowles. The latter is a multi-talented performer who, in addition, gave us a brilliant cameo as an adenoidal bank manager seduced into granting an overdraft by the Marilyn Monroe lookalike Lorraine Price as former star Donna Deecup. Emily Grogan, as Lola Del Monte, was a Carmenised Iberian of a flamenco dancer, and Sam Cook was Brad Maguire the cowboy from way out west.


Colin Warnock played gangster Frankie de Chino with enough five o'clock shadow for a quarter past seven, and wheelchair-ridden Gran (Julia Ascott), recovered miraculously whenever a song was heard.

 

Among the many tunes played was, Mack the Knife, As Time Goes By, All Shook Up and Never Can Say Goodbye, and we finished with Rockin' All Over the World.


It was great fun.

Peter Steptoe       Croydon Advertiser.   4 Stars