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Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - Carousel

17th to 20th February 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Swings and roundabouts in a colourful Carousel

The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company: Carousel, at John O' Gaunt Community School, from Wednesday, February 17 to Saturday, February 20

The story of fairground barker Billy Bigelow and sweet Julie Jordan is popular with amateur companies giving opportunities for colourful costumes and singing well-loved tunes.

In this 30th public show directed by David Clayton, TCHTC continued the tradition of encouraging youngsters. They deserve considerable praise for this and for the immense amount of work which goes into their productions.

The orchestra, conducted by John Miles, soon got into its stride and it is a compliment that the music became so well integrated that it was unnoticed as the first dramatic freeze broke and a myriad small stories were enacted on stage.

This Carousel held a mixture of good and less good, particularly, in the latter case, the loud noise of scenery being moved backstage after the opening number thus completely drowning the on-stage dialogue. It was not the only occasion when such noise impinged.

Julie Gower (Julie Jordan) whose strong voice effortlessly reached the high notes demanded of her, acted well and looked good as Billy's hard-done-by sweetheart. I'm sure no one is more aware than Rob Talbot, her cold-hearted lover, that the musical range required for some of Billy's songs was outside his comfort zone. Perhaps it was the resulting tension which affected his acting initially, but he redeemed himself in the final scenes with his wife and daughter and these were acted with conviction and pathos.

Outstanding for singing and acting were Helen Bonner as Aunt Nettie and Paul Hyde as Enoch Snow, while the disciplined dancers were a continuing joy. Among them, Becky Home playing Billy's daughter Louise, made the most of her superbly expressive solo dance - a star of the future.

Karen Ashby carried off her role as Julie's friend Carrie well with strong accurate singing and Steve Home, a stylishly evil Craigin, led the men in A Whaling We Will Go with vigour.

Given the quantity of performers, it was surprising that the volume was muted - except in the enjoyable Clambake (when those little girls lined up did indeed look 'fittin' for an angel choir).

Costumes were colourful, faces animated, nevertheless, in spite of all that work, this production never quite took off for me - even though I found myself wiping away a tear in that final moving scene.