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Oliver! 27-30 April 2016

NODA: by Eddie Regan 27 April 2016

I was delighted to be asked to visit this company as I have had some very good reports about previous productions. I was certainly not disappointed.

Pleasure Folk had decided to produce the musical Oliver after they were able to return to The Civic Hall in Ormskirk. Gemma Briscoe, Producer, Nancy Wells, Musical Director and Lyndsey McGinn, Choreographer have obviously worked well together to ensure that this popular show was the success it certainly was. This musical appeals to a wide age group and the audience were captivated from the opening number until the final curtain.

The children were very well rehearsed and they showed great enthusiasm and confidence in all their appearances. A strong ensemble supported the principal characters, so important for the success of any production. There were many excellent performances in principal and cameo roles, only occasionally was lack of diction a problem. One or two either spoke too fast or failed to project.

Jim Briscoe was outstanding as Mr Bumble and was well supported by Michelle Hopwood as Widow Corney with David Walters as Mr Sowerberry who was perfect in his role. He produced a very convincing characterization and moved well around the playing area. Liz Wainwright, gave a very sensitive performance as the ill fated Nancy and I enjoyed Steve Coghlan's interpretation of the iconic role of Fagin. He has a rich vocal tone and he used his obvious experience as he developed his character.

Ian Lawson was simply terrifying in his performance as the cruel and violent Bill Sykes. A tour de force. Young Harry Geldart was excellent as the cocksure, impudent Artful Dodger and he and Oliver, Thomas McMahon worked well together. Staging was very successful with dramatic scenery and lighting and the three musicians under the direction of Nancy Wells ensured that the pace never faltered. A very good show and I hope I may be invited to future productions. I would like to congratulate Gemma Briscoe and Liz Wainwright for having the courage to take on the daunting task of ensuring the future of The Civic Hall. It is certainly a big commitment but with help from local businesses and friends of the theatre I am confident they will succeed. We at NODA are here to help and if there is anything we can do to assist, please do not hesitate to ask.
Thank you for making myself and my wife so welcome.

Robin Hood and Babes In The Wood 22-25 April 2015

NODA: by Patricia Connor 5 December 2015

What a great evening's entertainment we had watching Ormskirk Pleasure Folk's production of Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood and what a wonderful way to celebrate Jim Briscoe's 20th year playing their pantomime dame. This year he was an excellent Mistress Myrtle, Jim has a great rapport with the audience and superb comic timing which is very important when playing a dame, his experience and talent is very much an asset in any production of a Pantomime.

At the beginning of the Pantomime the action was a little slow but very quickly it began to gather pace resulting in an excellent very enjoyable production directed by the talented Liz Wainwright. There were good performances from all the cast who produced some great comedic characters which meant plenty of laughter from the audience with lots of boos and "oh yes they can" heard. The central roles of Robin Hood and Maid Marion were played very well by Georgiana Benbow and Ruby Joelson White who had a good singing voice and Harry Geldart and Millie Pendleton gave good confident performances as John and Mary, King Richard's children, the Babes of the title. Robin's outlaw friends were played by Ian Lawson as Big Mac, Michelle Hopwood as Little Joan and David Walters as Will Shocking Pink, they gave us three different splendidly comedic eccentric characters who worked well together making an excellent comedy team. All three had very good comic timing and were well liked by the audience. Then there was Steve Rutter as Sheriff Badlot and Steve Coghlan as the not so bright Zit who made great baddies, interestingly they also introduced some comedy into their roles, so there were lots of laughs as well as plenty of big boos for these characters. Steph Parker as Clod and her dog Carpenter played by Georgie Hopwood were likeable characters and they also gradually built up a very good rapport with the audience. All the principle characters worked well together as a team, their diction and clarity of words was very good which meant even though there was a lot of noise from the enthusiastic audience joining in with the action, the plot could still be followed. The chorus of children and adults supported the principal cast very well and appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. I should also mention two nice little cameo performances from Kevin Bridge as King Richard and Anita Hutson as Fern the Forest Fairy.

The band led by Musical Director Nancy Wells played very well and supported the cast excellently. The singing was very enjoyable and there was a very nice selection of songs and choreography by Liz Wainwright fitted the production, was effective and was executed well by the cast.

The set was just right, very colourful and along with sound, lighting and costumes which were also very colourful and appropriate for this pantomime, added to the atmosphere and success of the show, well done to all backstage crew for all their hard work.

Congratulations go to Liz Wainwright and to all involved in this excellent production. Thank you for a very happy evening's entertainment, I look forward to seeing you for your next production.

Guys and Dolls 22-25 April 2015

NODA: by Patricia Connor 23 April 2015

Guys and Dolls has lyrics and music by Frank Loesser and is one of my favourite Musicals. Set in New York the story centres around two romances between very different characters. It also has some of the most iconic songs of musical theatre in its score which include "Luck be a Lady" and "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat". So I was really looking forward to seeing Pleasure Folk's production of this show and I was not at all disappointed as I had an enjoyable evening.

Directed by the talented Gemma Briscoe the cast and backstage crew worked very hard to bring to the stage this entertaining production. There were some good performances on offer from the cast which included Lisa Proctor as Salvation Army Sargent Sarah Brown with Ian Lawson as her love interest Sky Masterson the gambler who accepts a bet that he could not persuade Sarah to go to Cuba with him. They were very believable as the unlikely lovers and both maintained their very different characters throughout. Liz Wainwright and Steve Rutter were excellent in the comedic roles of the dizzy night club entertainer Miss Adelaide and her on off fiance of fourteen years Nathan Detroit who runs an illegal floating crap game. Steve Coghlan as Nicely Nicely Johnson who works for Nathan Detroit expertly led the company in an excellent rendition of "Sit Down You Rocking the Boat" and one of the most enjoyable performances of the night was given by Charley Nicol as Sarah's Friend and fellow Salvation Army Officer Agatha, Charley has a lovely voice and sang beautifully. Other enjoyable performances were produced by the actors in the supporting roles as well as the ensemble who all performed as a team with energy and enthusiasm and all appeared to be enjoying themselves. Generally diction, clarity of words and American accents were respectable which meant the story was easy to follow, however there were some occasional prompts taken by some members of the cast but they did not appear to affect the pace of the production or the audience's enjoyment of the show.

The band led by Musical Director Nancy Wells supported the cast well and played at just the right level of sound. Choreography by the team of Gemma Briscoe, Jess Hill, Lyndsey McGinn and Liz Wainwright was suitable for the era and the show. The set, sound and lighting were good and costumes were just right, fitting the era and the production, so well done to all backstage crew.

Congratulations to Director Gemma Briscoe and to all involved in this entertaining production and for a very enjoyable evening. Thank you for inviting me, I hope to see you for your next production.

Guys and Dolls 22-25 April 2015

Ormskirk Champion: by Jenny Robson 25 April 2015

CELEBRATIONS went on in Ormskirk last week when the current cast of this show met those who appeared when the society first presented it 25 years ago.

Five also appeared in this production - Heather Furnivall, Ruth Grant, Dorothy Prothero, Jim Briscoe and Kevin Bridge.

Musical director Nancy Wells who, with her band, always makes sure the score is spot-on from overture to finale, was also present in the first production.

So ... where else could a musical story open than on good old Broadway? The guys are looking dapper in their loud suits with matching trilbies, braces and ties and the girls are hot-footing it in The Hot Box nightclub.

Nathan Detroit needs $1,000 for hiring a garage to hold a craps game so he bets Sky Masterson that he will not be able to invite prim-and-proper Salvation Army Sergeant Sarah Brown to Havana. A safe bet he thinks!

But Sky actually persuades Sarah to go away with him by offering to fill the next Save-a-Soul Mission meeting with sinners (aka his friends) so that Sarah can impress General Cartwright (Dorothy Prothero).

Ian Lawson, and Lisa Proctor are perfectly cast as Sky and Sarah - he with his rich voice and she with her delicate tones - especially when they sing I've Never Been in Love Before.

Steve Rutter and Liz Wainwright make a great couple as wide-boy Nathan and his long-suffering fiancee of 14 years - Miss Adelaide. Needless to say that all comes well in the end with both couples tying the knot.

Gemma Briscoe's superb direction and choreography leads this tale of gangsters and gamblers through the underworld of New York with a series of comic sketches that serve as catalysts for some of Frank Loesser's great numbers - the most well-known probably being Sit down, You're Rockin' the Boat.

Excellent casting and toe-tapping music! A lovely production!

Score: 9/10

Snow White 3-7 December 2014

Ormskirk Champion: by Jenny Robson 6th December 2014

Gemma Briscoe's dynamic direction lit the blue touch paper to this energetic production and ensured that the whole cast as well as the audience enjoyed themselves - oh yes they did!

From the opening scene when the Wishing-Well Fairy (a delightful performance by Emily Parker) welcomed us all, followed by a tableau of the cast before they launched into Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah it was obvious that this was to be a traditional show with all the things we love - plus a baddie we could all boo.

It is Snow White's birthday and she is celebrating her coming of age by yearning for Prince Rupert. Steph Parker and Rachel Boal were perfect choices for the sweet young lovers and Heather Bailey was the beautiful, jealous queen with a rich 'wicked' voice. Charley Nicol as the Magic Mirror deliciously rapped her way through responses to the queen's question, "Who is the fairest in the land?" and Wot and Lester (Michelle Hopwood and Mark Bennison) gave us laugh-out-loud timeless jokes as the hapless comedy duo. Steve Rutter joined in the fun, unrecognisable as Wizard Barry Hotter, and Steve Coghlan gave a brilliant performance as dithering King Hector playing the part with all the catchphrases and mannerisms of Bruce Forsyth. Great fun! There is Nothing Like a Dame - especially Dame Murgatroyd - not so elegantly played (that's a compliment!) by Jim Briscoe who was a riot in his outrageous frocks! A great part! The nine gnomes looked after Snow White and were very cute as 'off to work' they went and the hugely talented chorus backed the whole show to the hilt!

It was lovely to have live music from Nancy Wells and her accomplished three-piece band. The scenery was impressive and the costumes were a riot of colour with excellent choreography. All this ... plus a happy ending!

Congratulations on a great show!

42nd Street 14-17 May 2014

NODA: by Patricia Connor 16th May 2014

Ormskirk Pleasure Folk
Director Liz Wainwright
Musical Director Nancy Wells
Choreographer Lyndsey McGinn

The musical "42nd Street" has lyrics by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren from a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. The show was first produced on Broadway in 1980 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical becoming a long-running hit. It was then produced in London in 1984 where it also won an Olivier Award for Best Musical. The show is based on the classic 1933 movie of the same name and tells the story about the efforts of director Julian Marsh to mount a successful stage production of a musical at the height of the Great Depression, and also follows small town girl Peggy Sawyer who arrives in New York and dreams of being a star on the stage and who undergoes a meteoric rise to stardom.

Director Liz Wainwright put together an enthusiastic and talented cast who obviously were very well rehearsed and had put a great deal of hard work into getting this show on to the stage resulting in an energetic enjoyable production. The opening tap number had the wow factor, all dancers taped very well, and not one was out of step. There were also some worthy enjoyable performances from the cast, notably from Steve Coughlan who played impresario Julian Marsh he had a lovely smooth bass voice when speaking as well as singing, Gemma Briscoe produced a good characterisation as Dorothy Brock the ageing star and Lisa Proctor was a very good dancer, and gave us a suitably shy, nervous and at times comedic interpretation of Peggy Sawyer.

There were a number of nice performances from the supporting roles such as Dorothy Prothero as Maggie Jones, Liz Wainwright as Ann Reilly, Jim Briscoe as Bert Barry.Steve Rutter as Billy Lawlor, Thomas Davitt as Pat Denning and Mark Bennison as Abner Dillon. Other good energetic performances came from Peggy's group of dancer friends who all danced and sang well. The chorus of both adults and children were full of enthusiasm and energy, and appeared to enjoy themselves, All the cast worked well together as a team, as soon as the curtain opened they were ready to perform which came across to the audience. Diction was clear and dialogue could be heard well, American accents were generally good although there was the occasional local inflection noticeable. Costumes were bright and colourful and suited the roles well and scenery was more than adequate and provided a good platform for the performers, however it was a little noisy during scene changes. Lighting and sound were well executed and the orchestra led by Musical Director Nancy Wells supported the cast well and were not too loud. Congratulations must go to Lyndsey McGinn for her choreography which was well thought out, suitable for the era and the tap numbers were superbly executed by the cast.

Well done to all the cast crew and everyone involved in this enjoyable production including front of house and thank you for inviting me I hope to see you again for your next show.

Patricia Connor
District 6

42nd Street 14-17 May 2014

Ormskirk Champion: by Jenny Robson 16th May 2014

42nd Street - Ormskirk Pleasure Folk
Ormskirk Civic Hall
Review by Jenny Robson

THIS is one of those feel-good shows in which the underdog gets a break. Lisa Proctor shone as Peggy Sawyer, the sweet and shy hoofer fresh out of Allentown who missed her audition because she was too nervous to go in. "They've already picked the chorus; you should have been here at ten!" Eventually she gets her chance but when leading lady - Dorothy Brock (an incredibly strong performance by Gemma Briscoe) - breaks her ankle she is fired because it is thought that it was she who caused her fall.

So - the show must close! Or does it? Theatre impresario, Julian Marsh, realises that the only person to save the show is Peggy who can actually dance better than Brock. He heads her off at Broad Street Station promising to make her a star. The show shifts to New York and the rest is history. Dorothy Prothero and Jim Briscoe were endearing as Maggie and Bert. Steve Rutter threw himself into the part of Billy Lawlor; Liz Wainwright gave a strong performance as Anytime Annie.

Thomas Davitt and Mark Bennison played Pat Denning (Brock's love interest whom she eventually married) and Abner Dillon (her faux love interest ... and funder of the show). But the runaway star of the night was Steve Coghlan as Julian Marsh. His performance was nothing less than outstanding!

All this plus lovely sets, sparkling costumes and a strong tap-dancing chorus with bundles of energy and enthusiasm choreographed by Lyndsey McGinn and you have great musical comedy directed beautifully by Liz Wainwright. (Just one point, though ... white bow ties are correct with tailcoats; cummerbunds missing, too.) Nancy Wells led the Band through their paces as they sent us all out into the warm night air singing all the memorable songs - the most prolific being Lullaby of Broadway and 42nd Street!

Score: 9/10 - Thoroughly enjoyable!

42nd Street 14-17 May 2014

Mayoral Moments: by Cllr Iain Ashcroft 22nd May 2014

Finally to Ormskirk Civic Hall for a splendid evening of entertainment by Ormskirk Pleasure Folk and their fine rendition of the musical 42nd Street. The music, the dialogue, the scenery, the singing and the dancing we of the highest order and demonstrated the sheer hard work that had been put into this show by this delightful company.

In all that we have seen in the recent past involving Pleasure Folk, we can say that they know how to entertain.

It is our wish that if in the future you see their advertisement for a show, just go along!

Annie 25-28 April 2012

NODA: by Wendy Newton 23rd May 2012

No need to give a synopsis on any report for this show, as by now most avid Theatre goers know “Annie “ inside out and back to front. But every Society has their own interpretation of the staging and production to try and create their own stamp on it.

Gemma Briscoe (Director/Choreographer) certainly presented this production with a Cast that showed their experience and expertise to the best of their ability, which with some lovely interpretations managing to make various interesting differences throughout, to produce a really slick show.

The Dance routines were really creative, well executed and full of some really effective choreography, particularly for the children.

Nancy Wells (Musical Director) commanded her band that created a great sound and feel for this show. Just the right size and didn’t over power the Cast, but provided some really nice accompaniment.

Robyn Bradnock (Annie) (the night I attended) was the absolute highlight of the show. This was a gem of a part for her! Every line executed and projected with exactly the correct intonation .in fine voice with perfect diction there no problem hearing her in any of her numbers. Her facial expression was superb and managed to hold her concentration throughout, not tiring at all, in this that can be an extremely demanding role for a little Girl! Even having the ability to control “Sandy” even off the Lead, very brave indeed! This young lady, I feel given the correct training and support, has a very promising future in Theatre.

John Hardicker (Oliver Warbucks) just right for his part, and showed his obvious experience though his characterisation which was strong, sympathetic, comedic in places and seemed really comfortable in his role

Liz Wainwright (Grace Farrell) gave an excellent portrayal of Mr. Warbucks P.A. Again obvious in her theatrical experience as she showed great acting, dancing and singing ability, whilst making her role extremely believable.

Anita Hutson (Miss Hannigan) portrayed the usual drunk ”been around the block” type character and managed to get the best out of her part with good timing, diction and relation to the girls.

Steve Rutter (Rooster Hannigan) and Michelle Craven (Lily St Regis) were equal in their ability to get the absolute best out of their roles.
Rooster being the “Bronx-wide boy/Gangster” and Lily being the typical Gangster’s-Moll” managed to hold their accents and character.
I did feel that for all three characters that “Easy Street” maybe wasn’t as “easy” for their vocal suitability. It can be a bit tricky and sometimes out of range, there were a few dodgy notes trying to decide between “chest register and head register” but overall the visual overcame that problem and the Dance routine and comedy carried it off really well.

All of the supporting roles were excellently played and were well suited to all the individuals.
The Chorus was in fine voice and acted really well creating their own little characters.

Now for the thought I’d forgotten them!! How could I?!
They were all fabulous, Sang well, Danced well and played perfect orphans.
Again, each one an individual, but held up the concentration and strength throughout. Well done to them all!!

Set was well designed and didn’t impede the movement of the cast and also the scene changes and movement of props was well organised, also good use of Lighting and Sound.

Costumes were very good indeed and well cared for!! Clean, pristine and not a crease in sight with suitable matching footwear…generally excellent attention to detail. (One of my pet hates is unkempt costumes and unsuitable footwear!) so well done Wardrobe!

Congratulations and Well done to all of the Company …Committee, Production Team, Cast, Crew and Front of House for producing a jolly good show.

Ormskirk Advertiser: Mayoral Moments by Cllr Rob Bailey 3rd May 2012

Saturday evening in Ormskirk for the final production of Annie by the Pleasure Folk. I was genuinely taken aback by just how brilliant it was. Annie (Robyn Bradnock), who is only 11 was fantastic.

I assumed that she was a professional and was astounded to find this was her first musical. The rest of the cast and especially the kids were phenomenal.

The Civic Hall was packed and everyone knew they had just witnessed something very special. By Angela Danby 30th April 2012

POPULAR musical ‘Annie’ took Broadway by storm when it opened in 1977, and 35 years later it’s still pulling in the crowds! 

This time it was Ormskirk where people were queuing to see the stageshow so loved by adults and children alike.

Ormskirk Pleasure Folk presented this latest production at Ormskirk Civic Hall, which was transformed into the New York orphanage inhabited by little orphan Annie and her friends.

A medley of hit musical numbers followed as the story unfolded and Annie was taken under the wings of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks.

The cast all shone as they belted out songs such as ‘Tomorrow,’ ‘It’s the Hard Knock Life,’ ‘Easy Street’ and ‘NYC.’ But it was the children who were the true stars of the show – talented singers and promising actors. Annie - played by Robyn Bradnock on the night we saw the show - had phenomenal stage presence for a 12-year-old, stealing the best acting award away from those adults who dared to be in the running!

Costumes and scenery were as professional as the production itself, and it’s no surprise that tickets sold out quickly as Ormskirk Pleasure Folk’s reputation continues to grow.

The show, directed by Gemma Briscoe and Nancy Wells, will be followed next year by another hit musical ‘Me and My Girl’ (April 24-27 2013) and, before then, Alice in Wonderland (December 5-9). Don’t leave it too late to get those tickets!

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