THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK - MAY 2015
Director - Lisbeth Rake
Musical Director - Martin Patterson
Choreographer - Suzanne Hall
By D.P. Rowe
Book & Lyrics by J. Dempsey
Based on the novel by John Updike
Alexandra Spofford - Abigail Miller
Sukie Rougement - Katie Hickson
Jane Smart - Rachel Wells
Darryl Van Horne - Adrian Hickford
Felicia Gabriel - Marina Humphrey
Clyde Gabriel - Peter Barber
Jennifer Gabriel - Molly Moffitt
Michael Spofford - Matt McGrath
Little Girl - Grace Durber
Fidel - Dave Rowe
Fernal - Emily Cutler
Reverend Ed Parsley - Simon Meanwell-Ralph
Brenda Parsley - Chloë-Ellen Street
Claire Parsley - Eleanor Ormrod
Greta Neff - Claire Smith
Elsie Neff - Charlotte Upfold
Joanna Neff - Nicola Moore
Marge Perly - Emma Jane Smith
Joe Marino - Andrew Smith
Gina Marino - Lucy Whiteman
Anita Moreno - Izzy Wylde
Marco Nemo - Hamish McDonald
Sophia Nemo - Juliet Surridge
Rebecca Nemo - Lucy Hutchings
Lilian Bergman - Heather Reid
Toby Bergman - Ryan Beer
Major Jock McGuire - Graham Light
Amy May McGuire - Liz Petley-Jones
Eudora Brice - Anne McDonald
General "Chuck" Gardner - Bob Jones
Doreen Gardner - Sue Aiken
Alison Hargreaves - Cressida Bullough
Ingrid Johannsen - Lizzie Gilbert
Annelie Johannsen - Jill Fitzpatrick
Olaf Johannsen - Alan Matheson
Franny Lovecraft - Anne Croudass
Marcy Wills - Sally Male
The Winchester Live at Home Scheme
Awards and Nominations
NODA Accolade of Excellence
Lust, small town politics, witches and a charismatic devil… The musical The Witches of Eastwick would present a challenge for a professional company, so to attempt it with a group of amateurs surely requires a particular type of sorcery. But this is exactly what Winchester Musicals and Opera Society (WMOS) delivered in their latest spectacular at the Theatre Royal, Winchester.
Based on John Updike’s darkly satirical novel and adapted for the stage by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe, this production was directed by Lisbeth Rake, in her first show with WMOS, and demonstrated her vast experience, confidence and ability in taking on such an ambitious project and making it work to such dazzling effect. The three witches, Abigail Miller as Alexandra, Rachel Wells as Jane and Katie Hickson as Sukie all delivered compelling performances full of authority, humour and warmth as they began to realise that they had got more than they bargained for in their desire for the perfect man. Their beautifully harmonised vocal trios were a highlight. Adrian Hickford as Darryl Van Horne drew the eye from the moment he first appeared on stage and continued to command throughout the show with both his singing and his comic timing. Marina Humphrey was pitch perfect in her portrayal of Felicia, the self-appointed leader of Eastwick society. She trod a finely judged line never tempted to veer towards pantomime particularly in her rendition of Evil.
Successfully set in the 1950s, with visually appealing scenery and costumes, the candyfloss colour scheme made light of a lurking evil and provided a foil for the more dramatic reds and blacks of the witches and devil.
The band, under the direction of musical director, Martin Paterson, enhanced this hugely enjoyable show. Dance sequences slickly choreographed by Suzanne Hall were delivered with panache by an enthusiastic chorus, one of my personal highlights being Dance with the Devil complete with devils and dad dancing.
The whole show radiated energy and enthusiasm and a noisy audience appreciated every lewd joke. A magical night out!
The devilish Darryl Van-Horne (Adrian Hickford) glides into the provincial, Stepford wifely town of Eastwick. With his arrival, divorced misfits, Alexandra Spofford (Abigail Miller), Jane Smart (Rachel Wells) and Sukie Rougemont (Katie Hickson) fall under his spell. The show is an odd mix of satire and saccharine, with some strong numbers and funny lines.
Hickford excelled in the role as the predator. He trod a fine line between desire and repulsion as he charmed the trio. Watching the trinity felt like being part of a wine-filled evening with the girlfriends and they proved a worthy match for Hickford. Jennifer Gabriel (Molly Moffi ) and Michael Spoford (Matt McGrath) also deserve a men on, as does the choreography (Suzanne Hall). The unravelling of the town needed more conviction but I’m sure the show will grow ever more powerful over its run.
The set was decent and transformed with ease and the staging, lighting, sound and cinematography rose to the occasion, while the orchestra led the way under the protective eye of Martin Paterson.
An impressive producton from a talented amateur company.
This show was a joy from start to finish. It opened in the square of a New England town, a simple but very effective set which was used for most of the show, with a few variations in the wing flats to suggest interiors. The first song - Eastwick Knows - was played around a series of tableaux; the company would move and then freeze: very precisely and beautifully lit. Through this we were introduced to the town and most of the principals. Most, but not all: Darryl Van Horne (Adrian Hickford) had to wait until he was summoned by the second song, sung by the three witches of the title - three bored women, wishing for a bit of romance in their lives.
The trio of leading ladies - Jane (Rachel Wells), Sukie (Katie Hickson) and Alexandra (Abigail Miller) were brilliant throughout. For me, the singing highlight was Words, Words, Words, a patter song in which, under the influence of Van Horne, the stuttering, tongue-tied Sukie became fluent and packed-in more and more words as the song sped up. Marina Humphrey was spot on in her portrayal of Felicia Gabriel, whose forceful, prudish personality dominates the town; of course she disapproved of the romance between her daughter and Alexandra’s son (Molly Moffitt and Matt McGrath), which was deftly realised with a mixture of seriousness and comedy. The strangest character in the show is Little Girl (comically portrayed by Grace Durber) who fulfils the role of narrator by singing songs that don’t actually narrate anything - her appearances indicate turning points and changes of mood.
Whilst most of the show is carried by the principals, the company also got a thorough work-out, with excellent singing and dancing, most memorably in ‘Dirty Laundry’ towards the end of Act 1 and ‘Dance with the Devil’ in Act 2.
Technical realisation was very good, with the whole show appearing to flow seamlessly despite the many scene changes. The lighting set the moods without being obtrusive and the sound quality was very high with clear vocals and no extraneous noise. The band under MD Martin Paterson were playing behind the set. The sound balance was excellent, and we got to see them briefly when the backdrop flew up for the concert sequence in Act 1. And, talking of flying, the script calls for the three witches to give a literal realisation of their metaphorical longing to fly. This was achieved in a brilliant way. The three stood in a row, singing, as a gauze was dropped in front of them. With the gauze in place, an image of each was projected onto the gauze where they were standing. Then a black cloth was dropped behind the gauze, at which point the three ladies had been replaced by images of themselves, and the projected images flew. The positioning and timing had to be very precise, but the result was spectacular.