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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Newbury Musical Theatre Society

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The Newbury Musical Theatre Society web site is at

Formerly Newbury Operatic Society.

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Trinity School, Love Lane, Newbury RG14 2DU.

Review of Hollywood

26th to 28th October 2017

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Homegrown Hollywood has its moments

NMTS' colourful Tinseltown musical thinks big

Newbury Music Theatre Society: Hollywood the Musical, at Trinity School, Newbury, from Tuesday, October 26, to Saturday, October 28

To say this was an extremely brave and ambitious production is to understate the case. Society member Shaun Blake wrote this musical show himself and directed it.

Basically, it tells the story of two young hopeful actors coming to Hollywood to find fame and fortune in the movies. As the two principals, Jaz Wilson as Bryan and Elsa Leuty as Jennifer, worked hard, their acting was impressive and both had good singing voices.

Rhys Swan as Hollywood writer Kyle Green had his moments, as did Tom Hazelden as Rob and there were good performances overall by Bobbie Anderson, Debbi Ledwith, Matt Worth, Shauna Saunders and the rest of the cast.

The high standard of colourful singing and dancing, directed by choreographer Lucie Dale, was impressive and overall, writer-director Shaun Blake put together a highly-charged, visually-attractive production.

Unfortunately, however, the show failed to work fully on several levels. The short, snappy scenes were rather too short, mostly, failing to engage the audience fully in the direction the narrative was taking.

The central characters, Elsa and Bryan, were not strong or charismatic enough to make them memorable after the show was over – for that trick think Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls or Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, to name but two. Not the actors' faults, they worked hard with what they were given. Much of the music lacked fizz and when you consider that the musical highlight was Diamonds Are Forever, it did point up the lack of fresh, new music.

Big blockbuster musical shows that work are few and far between and often, when successful, have been the result of the input of two or more writers, plus more by producers and newly-composed music. You don't become a Tim Rice or Andrew Lloyd Webber overnight; it often takes 20 to 30 years.

This wasn't Hollywood or Broadway or the West End, though.

It was Newbury, Berkshire, and it was a bright and entertaining work that was well worth putting on. It is just that if you write and put on a big scale show like this, you should expect to be judged by the highest standards.


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