RAISING THE ROOF
Kennington Amateur Dramatic Society (KADS)
Kennington Village Centre, Kennington Road, Kennington, Oxford, OX1 5PG
7-10 June 2018
Raising the Roof was an evening of well-known show songs designed to delight and entertain the audience.
In the first half, the cast brought us musical numbers staged in full costume, which drew heavily on KADS' past catalogue of productions. Among the shows included were Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz and Cats.
The staging was well executed, and although scenery was necessarily kept to a minimum, Dan Ebberson's lush lighting maintained the feeling that we were being given a treat. Staying with lighting, the use of follow spot (Scott Powles) for the entrance of musical director Alan Cobb was a nice bit of tongue-in-cheek showbiz glitz for a man who usually keeps his profile low. The follow spot was used again, and effectively, for Hannah Peel's entrance, through the audience, as Cosette (Les Miserables) before she gave a very accomplished rendition of Castle on a Cloud (with excellent duet partner Leigh-Anne El Barhdadi).
It seems slightly unfair to single out individuals for praise when there were so many strong ensemble performances, but it's my blog, so here are my favourites. Andrew Phelan's performance of This is the Moment (as the Beast in Beauty and the Beast) came near the top of the show and set the standard for others to follow. This was a number that, more than any other in the production, was acted as well as being interpreted as a song. Hannah Peel's solo has been mentioned already but impressed me from such a young performer. And Leah Long gave us that innocent wonder that we expect from Dorothy in Over the Rainbow.
In the second half, the costumes and sets were abandoned. The cast donned black and we had a straightforward concert of chorus, ensemble and solo numbers. This contrast worked rather well, I thought. If the first half was a celebration dinner, we now had the coffee and after-dinner mints.
Choreographer Jess Ebberson deserves mention, so let's talk about the number that tickled me most. Black and White Dance performed by Eve Cullimore, Gemma Helm, Grace Dodgson, Livvy Dyer, Molly Barron, Sophie Chatterton and Sophie Smith. To the strains of Mambo No. 5, the girls stood in a close chorus line performing a complicated series of high kicks. What gave it that little twist was the black and white costumes they wore. Each dancer had one white leg and one black leg, but not all on the same side. The effect was of two multi-legged creatures, one black, one white, performing simultaneous dances. Brilliant.
Other stand-out moments were brother and sister Lewis and Paige Morley's performance of Always/Goodnight, and David Buckmaster's, our jolly MC for the evening, and Hannah Quinn's working of Anything You Can Do. I also enjoyed Leah Long's and Sarah Duke's beautiful duet of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah. Finally, I couldn't not mention Pat Giles' superb versions of two Cilla Black hits Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World.
There weren't many things to quibble about, but the sound was one of them. The system suffered from feedback a little too often. It didn't spoil the show, but was an irritant and it's the sort of thing that should have been spotted and fixed. The radio mics also failed to come on for performers a couple of times.
This was an evening of lollipops which were licked with relish by the Kennington audience. Louise Cobb, director and member of the company to boot, pulled together some impressive singing talent from all age groups and presented us with an enjoyable highlights reel of a show.
About the Author
Mike Lord has been involved with amateur theatre for over twenty years, mainly as an actor but also, more recently, as a director.
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