Old Time Music Hall in Colyton was a delight

As part of carnival week, Colyton Theatre Group laid on an Old Time Music Hall, which is reviewed here by Mike Ilsley.

Master of Ceremonies, the absolutely, absorbing accountant Mr Christopher Way, linked items together with the usual tenuous vocabulary titbits traditional in such a role. He introduced a bill of Victorian and Edwardian songs and delights which have more than stood the test of time to a packed hall willing to participate fully.

The show opened with an excellent ‘Toy Shop Story’ from the Theatre group’s summer school students, tutored by Mr Denis Noonan, a magnificent multitude of multi-talented misters and mistresses, complete with local references and a magical story. They then contributed later in the show for an original ‘guess the newspaper’ item, cleverly done.

Those of more senior years then proceeded to explore the songs, dances and jokes(?), which both amused and entertained. The ladies and gentlemen of the chorus appeared in a vast variety of ‘turns’, both collectively and by themselves, ranging from the sweet and romantic Bird in a Gilded Cage sung by Primrose Bigwood; Oh! Mr. Porter with Elaine Stratford; Reginald Duff and his Sweet Mystery of Life; Second Hand Rose with Jeanette Sutherland; through Maureen Turner and Roger Bagg with their My Old Man Said Follow the Van and My Old Dutch, to Wendy Cann’s brilliant version of Nobody Loves a Fairy.

‘Dilemmas for the Doctor’ with Sandra Henson, Dawn Spiller and Jackie Roberts-Wake, featured a number of ‘doctor doctor’ jokes, which we could all groan at, dancing from ‘Three Little Maids’ (Wendy Cann, Sandra Henson and Margot Sharp) and an hilarious ‘Sand Dance’ performed by Roger Bagg, Ron Pocock and Bea Stebbings, showed the versatility of the performers and more than a little of their personalities! Much laughter was generated by ex-GP Mick Askew and patient with his ‘Gynaecological Experience’, probably more than a little removed from the Victorian era, but owing much to the tunes of the period, and following on well from his If You Were the Only Girl in the World and Who Were You with Last Night. Verse speaking also featured in Paul Hannon Sitton’s (alias Hannley Stolloway) heart-warming rendition of ‘Jonah and the Whale’.

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Sharon Cordwell sweetly cornered the more negative end of the matrimonial experience with her Why am I Always the Bridesmaid and Waiting at the Church, whilst Ron Pocock and friends explored ‘Henry the Eighth’ and his adventures in the bridal market.

The totally triumphant troupe of talented troubadours then joined together in a finale which…eventually… had the whole audience joining in the long remembered actions of Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree.

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A hugely enjoyable evening thanks, not only to the performers, but to the commitment of all those behind the scenes. Well done to all!

Mike Ilsley

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