North West Theatre Art Company – The Addams Family

They’ve only gone and done it again! Last month’s performance of ‘The Addams Family’ at NWTAC’s theatre on Lightbowne Road, Moston was yet another sell-out.

I went to the opening night with my family, we had a fantastic evening and were still laughing the next day.

Some of you may remember the original 1960’s TV series. Or, like my daughter and son-in-law, you’ve seen later movie or Netflix versions. If you are not familiar with the creepy, spooky and mysterious Addams family then you’re missing out and need to get a grip.

NWTAC’s cast were up there with the best of them and put on a hilarious version of the Broadway Musical.

The story-line centres on Wednesday Addams’ invitation to her boyfriend’s ‘normal’ American family to meet her distinctly ‘abnormal’ family for dinner. The Addams home is located deep in Central Park woods. It has a great banqueting hall, torture chamber and its own spooky graveyard full of Addams’ ancestors who have a knack of turning up all over the place.

Wednesday and her boyfriend, Lucas Beineke, are in love but she begs her father Gomez to keep it a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia, to ensure the evening goes smoothly. That’s quite a challenge for this household!

Poor, poor Gomez. He connects with the audience immediately, gains their sympathy for his situation and our toes curl when his wife Morticia gets suspicious. Plenty more secrets are thrown into the pot to be winkled out as the fateful evening unfolds.

It’s fair to say the Addams Family characters are iconic. This must have inspired the casting at NWTAC as each part was perfectly matched. Gomez and Morticia, played respectively by Anthony Horricks and Evie Lucas, were simply delicious and brilliant.

Rehearsals with Anthony Horricks and Evie Lucas in the centre

I couldn’t keep my eyes off ‘the eyes’ of Uncle Fester played by Olivia Hollamby. The expression on his, or rather her face, was astonishing and her comic timing gifted. I think I gasped when she first entered the stage. She looked amazing and I had to check my programme to make sure I’d read it right.

Poppy Evans, who took the part of Wednesday, delivered wile and sass in equal measure and was wonderfully wicked. She wrapped her parents around her little finger and oozed confidence. However, when the prim mother of Lucas, Alice Beineke (aka Paige Garth), went wild and passionate on the night of the dinner, on the table no less, Wednesday’s hopes for ‘normal’ flew out the door.

Entwined throughout the story are the Addams Ancestors. They complement the production with their own comedy input, sweeping dance moves and choral contributions. It was a brilliant show with a happy ending. Relationships get their ‘zing’ back while Gomez and Morticia celebrate success with a romantic weekend at the worst hotel in France. Perfection!

Gomez and Morticia (original 1960’s TV series)

Too many to mention individually, every single member of the cast gave it their all and shone.

The script was hilarious, the vocals and dance routines swept the audience along. Sitting quietly at their stations either backstage or in the tech area of the theatre are the production crew. They work their magic to create an experience and atmosphere that’s quite special. Do not under-estimate their skill. The sound, lighting, sets, costumes and make-up play an essential part while Front of House staff complete the package.

My utmost respect to the management team and directors, this has to be one of the best musical comedies I’ve ever seen.

NWTAC are committed to entertain you with a range of performances throughout the season and they’re working on 2023/2024 right now. Tickets are all reasonably priced so keep an eye on their website and social media so you don’t miss out.

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North West Theatre Arts Company – Rent

I’m seated in the front row at NWTAC’s theatre on Lightbowne Road, Moston to see an award winning rock opera called Rent, set in the late 80’s. I have no preconceptions. I know only one song from the show, “525,600 minutes”.

The audience filter in from the bar, get comfy and settle down.

There’s a hush as the lights go down…

The opening scene is set in a cold, bleak attic apartment and the opening number places it in New York – there’s no missing that accent. Mark and Roger can’t afford food nor pay the rent. The storyline follows the two young men and their friends; musicians, dancers, film makers, etc., for one full year.

James Llewellyn Burke and Anthony Horricksset design by Mark Beaumont

Poverty, drug addiction, sexual orientation, new relationships, lost love and a deadly illness called AIDS all impact on their dreams and aspirations as the year unfolds. 525,600 minutes to be precise.

There’s no spoken dialogue…

It’s a musical! The story-telling ability of the cast is superb. Each song is not just recited it’s delivered with passion, you empathise automatically with each individual character. Whatever anguish or emotions they are experiencing leaves you as sad or happy or crushed or defiant or desperate as they are.

Owen Garcia, played the flamboyant and vivacious Angel Schunard beautifully. He owned the space when he took to the stage and won the heart of Tom Collins, played by Prab Singh. In fact, he won all our hearts.

The multi-talented Anthony Horricks played the mournful musician Roger Davis. He and James Llewellyn Burke, aka Mark Cohen, had a great rapport. They are both powerful singers who worked really well together, with a treat from Anthony’s guitar playing thrown in. Solomon Asante-Owusu conveyed a clean cut, controlled Benny Coffin III and looked every bit the part of a wealthy landlord.

There’s love in the air as well as despair…

Bring on the girls! Mimi is a dancer in a strip club, she’s seductive and sultry but yearns for real love. Maria Collins played her perfectly. Maureen, played by Halle Kerley, is also a performing artist; bi-sexual, risqué and self-assured. She’s rejected Mark to be with the affluent Joanne Jefferson, a lesbian activist, played by Annabelle Cook. Ladies, what would your mother’s say! You all looked and sounded AMAZING.

From left to right: Annabelle, James, Anthony, Owen, Prab, Maria, Halle, Solomon

The vocals were fabulous. The faces on the main line-up says it all. They love what they do.

The supporting cast played anything up to three roles each. They lightened the mood, brought a brighter tone to the dark subjects being portrayed and were really refreshing.

Hats off to Beth Singh, Musical Director. She stepped lightly onto the stage at the end to take a bow on behalf of all the Production Team. It doesn’t happen without them and they thoroughly deserved the applause too.

Next up for NWTAC is A Night at the Cavern Club starring Beth Singh as Cilla Black and featuring hits by The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and more. It runs on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th Feb. Tickets are on sale now but will sell fast so don’t hang about.

Follow NWTAC on Facebook for details of future performances, tickets, offers and updates or click here for NWTAC’s website. You can add your details to the mailing list and get updates straight to your inbox.

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North West Theatre Arts Company – Phantom Memories

The new season at North West Theatre Arts Company, Lightbowne Rd, Moston is under way and what a great start!

Phantom Memories is set in a disused theatre that four youngsters find their way into. Dusty props, odd items of costume and pieces of faded scenery present a creepy, haunted atmosphere. They’re caught red handed by the ageing caretaker, Bud Berger, superbly played by the young Harry Gardner. They run off leaving one young lady behind.

Finding herself alone she curiously starts to sort through the dusty objects. Each one she touches conjures us up ghostly images taking her, and the audience, back in time as they perform their memories from past musicals.

NWTAC’s theatre school term started just 4 weeks ago and the cast represents the full range of students including the newest members and the most experienced. A month is not a lot of rehearsal time so it was ‘in at the deep end’ for the newbies. They did so well. Early nerves soon dissipated and everyone grew in confidence as the show unfolded.

The musical numbers showcased a variety of West End productions, big box office films and the best of Hollywood hits such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, The Sound of Music, The King and I, Evita, South Pacific, The Wizard of Oz, Half a Sixpence and more. Something to suit everyone.

The full company kicked off with The Phantom of the Opera, closing the show two hours later with Born to Hand Jive and You’ll Never Walk Alone. In between we had solos, duets, comedy pieces and one or two cheeky numbers too.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow is one of my all-time favourites. It’s just ‘up there’ and Amelia Zatorska sang it so sweetly that I and the rest of the audience melted. Gareth Maudsley’s rendition of Flash! Bang! Wallop! was brilliantly energetic and I’m convinced he’s related to Tommy Steele. If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It by Maria Collins was soooo tongue in cheek it made us blush. James Llewellyn Burke nailed all of his numbers including Gethsemene and Madame Guillotine with real passion, matched by Solomon Asante-Owusu and Lois Ormerod’s ‘crime of passion’ with We Both Reached For the Gun.

All these numbers would have fallen flat without the brilliant staging and direction of the production team. It’s easy to overlook the skills involved. Some of dance routines were complex yet executed with precision and that’s a tricky challenge for such a large cast, so, well done to Choreographer Katie Gough. A total of 39 musical numbers must have left Bethany Singh, Musical Director, feeling very proud and rightly so.

This was the first of a season of 8 shows that NWTAC will perform over the coming months and the script was inspired: A lovely trip down memory lane. What can beat a live performance, close to home and it doesn’t break the bank to go and watch?

If you have never been to NWTAC’s theatre and don’t know what to expect this is a view of the interior with the show’s Director, Prab Singh in the foreground…

NWTAC are truly a talented group of people but don’t take my word for it. Go and see for yourself. Winter Wonderland, a variety concert to get you in the mood for Christmas, comes up next from the 18th to 20th November. See you there.

Details of all forthcoming shows, how to join the mailing list and book tickets etc., can be found on NWTAC’s website here, along with details of the North West Stage School.

You can also follow them on Facebook, just click here.

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