From Wednesday, May 7, to Saturday, May 10, UBenDS performed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s Evita, in East Hoathly Church, to rave reviews.
One of the reviews came from John Barnes, the next President of The National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA).
His full review is as follows: “Sitting in a church pew in an ancient church on opening night, seemed appropriate for the way in which Act 1 opened, not with the usual cinema scene, but with The Rector of East Hoathly (Phil Hodgins) mounting the stage to announce the death of Eva Peron.
“This was followed by a flag draped coffin borne up the aisle to be placed on a catafalque on a bare stage, apart from a large portrait of Eva Peron.
“The coffin was followed by Che, Peron and the mourners (the Ensemble) opening with a fine delivery of Requiem for Evita.
“Che (Kevin Stokes) was perfect for this character and set the scene with his rendition of ‘O What a Circus’; with good clear diction and strong singing he took us through the life of Eva.
“The transition of each of the scenes was smoothly carried out and we were transported effortlessly from location to location.
“Without the distraction of scenery and with the minimum of props, the characters came to life with their costume and clear dialogue and fine singing. Congratulations must also go to the costumes/wardrobe team.
“Michelle Titherly (Eva Duarte Peron), Dave Dyke (Magaldi) and Emily Burrough (The Mistress), with Joe Phippard (Peron) looking every part the Colonel and subsequently the President, all gave very genuine and believable characterisations with their fine voices and clarity of speech, and well supported by the Ensemble.
“The orchestra sitting in the chancel behind the stage, and under the baton of Martin Forward, never overpowered the singing of either the principals or the Ensemble.
“Colette Goodwin had devised some excellent choreography for the small space available and the cast executed the moves well.
“David and Sue Burrough with Jane Baigent certainly transported the audience to Argentina and are to be congratulated for making it work on a limited stage.”
Guy Baigent, Chairman of UBenDS, said: “Congratulations to everybody involved in the show.”
The evening performances were played to full houses and the cast and back stage have been overwhelmed by the praise received from members of the audience.
Very few non school/youth groups are presently allowed to perform Evita and, for this, we thank The Really Useful Group and Bill Kenwright Limited for giving us permission to put on such fantastic show.
Over the next few weeks the UBenDS committee will be meeting to decide on what next year’s show will be.
Evita will be a hard act to follow!
But that was what we said after our previous show, Jesus Christ Superstar. With such a talented team I am sure we will all rise to whatever is chosen.
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UBenDS (United Benefices Dramatics Society) was formed in 1998 to bring the two parishes of East Hoathly and Chiddingly closer together.
We specialise in musicals and our productions, prior to Evita, have included Jesus Christ Superstar, Crazy for You, Anything Goes, 42nd Street, Oklahoma, Godspell, Joseph, Oliver, Farndale Mikado and The Sound of Music.
All have received very good, if not excellent, reviews from our NODA representative.
The church in East Hoathly is used as the venue with a stage being erected at the base of the chancel steps with the orchestra sitting in the area of the choir stalls and altar.