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November 11, 2014

small planet imageNo one could describe Bob Carlton’s Return to the Forbidden Planet as a fairy tale, but the latest return has all the elements.

In the best theatrical tradition. a young actor making his debut, stepped into the limelight taking over a major role with just a few days rehearsal when original actor was badly injured.

ArielFrederick ‘Frido’ Ruth has made the robot Ariel his own over the years, but broke ligaments in his leg just days before the curtain went up, Joseph Mann who was playing Ewan Watami, offered to take over to his stunned colleagues.

Joseph%20MannThe threat of cancelling the show was a serious consideration, but Joseph saved the day with what can only be described as a last minute cyber miracle, and a performance of such professional quality that deserves to launch this young man to stellar status

Celebrating 25 years in production, Bob Carlton’s west end ‘Olivier’ winning  rock musical, has stood the test of time with the very best 1960s music stitched into the ‘B’ movie cult film of the same name and enriched with Shakespeare’s blank verse from The Tempest.

It opened at the Cambridge Theatre in 1989 winning the Olivier award the following year. This production also marks Bob’s 17 years at the Billet Lane Theatre as Artistic Director and his final production before he leaves.

With the standing ovation of press night ringing in their ears the cast gave it the lot.

Joseph’s performance was superb and matched by all, in particular Sarah Scowen who grows in stature every time she appears on stage.

Sarah Scowen with Sean Needham

Sarah Scowen with Sean Needham

With a smile that lights up the auditorium, she played the major role of Miranda with all the vitality and fun that is typical of her and I suspect was also dedicated to her late father John Scowen who would have been very proud.

A major nugget of this show is the role of Cookie, a gift for any potential Jimi Hendrix. Originally it featured the theatre’s associate director Matt Devitt, with Mark Newnham taking it on with both hands.

Exhibiting exciting skill with the guitar he really went for it and left his suitably stunned audience gasping for more with a couple of solo belters.

Sean Needham took the Captain’s seat as Cpt. Tempest, well played in his masterly laid back style rippling with humour and the actors store of unspoken looks and gestures.

Georgina Field as the sax playing Anne Droid and Christine Holman as the Science officer, both added that extra value to the show with their musical and vocal talents. They kept changing instruments but you did not need telling it was by two very talented young women.

Steve Simmonds gave his full range of expressions and commanding voice as the Bosun, and I have to say his performance with a mini trumpet and anything that made a noise, were among the strongest I have seen in this particular role.

Steve Simmonds, Mark Newnham and Georgina Field

Steve Simmonds, Mark Newnham and Georgina Field

The welcome return of Callum Hughes on the drums made the duo thumping engine noise really excite the senses and gave a rousing opening to the show.

Last but certainly not least is Greg Last, the Musical Director. An actor who knows his business and looked like a kid in a sweet shop with all the 60s music.

Finally, another welcome return by Jonathan Markwood as Prospero. A remarkable role and one that gave the Hornchurch favourite full reign to his talents, of which there are too many to list here.

And finally-finally the unexpected input of Brian May, the guitar legend from the pop group Queen.

His appearance was on video as the narrator proving that there is not much he cannot do, even Shakespearean blank verse.

The show is sold out in Hornchurch but goes on a nationwide tour next year.

Bob Carlton

Bob Carlton

Bob Carlton came to the Queen’s 17 years ago when it was struggling and in danger of closure. He leaves after dragging the Billet Lane venue out of the dumps and made it one of the bright lights in professional theatre with the unique company of actor/musicians, Cut to the Chase.

The ‘recession’, and some say an over enthusiastic coalition government have brought the dark clouds of possible closure back by forcing Havering Council to relinquish their long time gratuity, apparently amounting to £400,000 over the next two years.

No organisation can survive such a massive loss, so once again the Queen’s Theatre’s future is in doubt.

I worked on Havering’s major newspaper, the Romford Recorder for the past 32 years so I have a stake in the Queen’s.

It is quite laterally the Jewel in the Crown of Havering, we all admire it, enjoy it and appreciate the talent and work put into the 60 or so years it has been in existence.

Havering Council have done the borough proud with the constant financial support, but now their proposed cuts could see the end of this wonderful facility.

The effect of the Arts on a population does not have an entry column in accounting ledgers.

It would be a complete tragedy to lose the theatre and all I can say to them and other funding agencies is if they want confirmation of the above statement, just go down to Billet Lane and see the magic this production and the Queen’s Theatre has on audiences and rate payers.

It is well worth the money.







From → Entertainment

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