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Newbury Musical Theatre Society - Return to the Forbidden Planet

27th to 29th October 2016

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Planet Entertainment

Stellar performances by musical theatre society members

Newbury Musical Theatre Society: Return to the Forbidden Planet, at Trinity School, from Thursday, October 27, to Saturday, October 2

Return to the Forbidden Planet, by Bob Carlton, is a quirky, fun-filled sci-fi musical, loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and the 1950s science-fiction film Forbidden Planet, with a liberal helping of Shakespearean quotations and a wonderful selection of rock and roll classics.

We are welcomed by the 'flight crew' who prepared us for our intergalactic journey into space, ensuring our seatbelts were properly fastened.

Hollie Coghlan appeared on screen to deliver the safety briefing, including the 'reverse polarity' drill, and kept us up-to-date on our journey.

Martin Rogers was impressive as Captain Tempest, with a fine singing voice, ably assisted by his stalwart Bosun Tom Hazelden.

His new Science Officer, powerfully played and with a voice to match by Debbi Ledwith, singing It's a Man's World.

As we travelled through the galaxy, the Navigation Officer (Justine Fry) encounters an asteroid storm – cue the song Balls of Fire, as the cast threw orange balls into the audience in true panto-style, much to their delight.

The spacecraft was drawn off course and landed on a strange planet, D'Illyria, where the mad scientist Doctor Prospero (an excellent performance from Pete Warbis) lives with his coy daughter Miranda (Anna Neary) and the silver rollerskating robot Ariel (Alice Keeping).

Miranda falls in love with the Captain but is too young, as the Captain sings Young Girl. Cookie, the ship's cook, has also been smitten with Miranda but his love is unrequited. Shaun Blake obviously relished his role and performed with tremendous energy.

There was excellent support from a large, enthusiastic ensemble, who impressively sing and dance, with some slick choreography by Lucie Dale.

There was so much to enjoy in this effervescent tongue-in-cheek production, from the monster at the end of act one to the Shakespearean puns and misquotes such as "To Beeb or not two Beeb, that is the question" or "Beware the Ids of March" and "Shall I compare thee to a Barbie doll", which gained a groan of recognition from the audience.

Then there was the hit music of the 50s and 60s, including such classics as Good Vibrations, Only the Lonely and Born to be Wild among others. The show fully deserved its Olivier Award.

Special applause is due to the excellent band, under the direction of Jon Brooks, who just rocked and rolled it with aplomb.

This was Jaz Wilson's first full-scale production as director and he and all the cast are to be congratulated on such an enjoyable evening's entertainment that left the audience with a true feelgood factor.