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November 24, 2010

Allo Allo

1st Night Review by Jack Stinker – Chief Theatre Critic of “Slap”, the official organ of the British Greasepaint Manufacturers’ Association

A classic “tour de farce” in the true trouser losing Whitehall Theatre tradition and this was exactly the sort of romp you would expect from the long running TV show as scripted by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft.

This “Savage” production was fast paced and the cast threw themselves into their roles with, in some cases, “gay” abandon! There was rarely a pause in the laughs and most scenes elicited delighted applause from the surprisingly broad minded, if not exactly young, first night audience. Some first night nerves did make themselves apparent but my minions have reported that all was ironed out as the run progressed.

Anton Jungreuthmeyer was spot on as Rene, as close to Gordon Kaye as one could reasonably expect and all his lines were clear and precise, even his whispered asides!

Lorna Sexton, a complete natural as Rene’s wife Edith, with an uncanny resemblance to Carmen Silvera, came as close to stealing the show as possible. Her mastery of singing out of tune is now legend.

Irina Sexton (how often are mother and daughter in the same production?) and Justine McCreith were delightful as Rene’s barmaids, Yvette and Mimi and played up the innuendo in their roles beautifully. Paul Kerswill was up to his usual standard as the inept Leclerc who seemed to think he was good at disguise even though he was always instantly recognisable no matter what he wore. It must be said that the pundits had expected Paul to be cast as Herr Flick, however, read on

Nikki Clark was a joy as Michelle Dubois of the resistance (I shall say this only once), what a lady of the night she makes. I bet after all those costume changes she just wanted to live in some comfortable clothes for a few days!

Crabtree played by Mark Sadler was as funny as the original. How do you remember all those mangled pronunciations? Peter Donovan clearly enjoyed playing the bumbling Colonel, while his partner in crime Graham Gibbs revelled as the pompous, womanising Bertorelli.

Phill Brown was a revelation as Herr Flick (sorry Paul), creating a fabulous caricature of a Gestapo officer and that tango was something else! Amanda Vines as Flick’s girlfriend Helga could have stepped straight out of the TV production but after that strip surely another career beckons?

Adam Nicoll, though a happily married man, played gay Lieutenant Gruber with wry camp good humour. A talent to be watched again and again! Remember Toad? Aiden Dwyer was a thoroughly convincing General Schmelling and Chris Knights and Adam Wilmot were a hoot as the OTT British airmen. Wizard show!

Space dictates that the various voices, townsfolk, peasants, resistance members and soldiers cannot be mentioned by name but you all did a fine job and we know who you are!

Finally one must give a deal of credit to Director Mark Savage, Producer Janet Tackley and to the backroom team who made all the elements of the show run and looked after the set, back stage, props, make up, costumes (guess who!), lighting, music, sound, prompts, front of house, catering and bar. They all did a fine job and if I’ve forgotten anyone’s role I apologise.

In closing, it must be said that following the hilarious finale, with more Hitlers and Goerings on stage than you could shake stick at, the cast received as close to a standing ovation as is possible without anyone actually rising to their feet. Not bad for a first night!

All in all a joyful and most entertaining evening. More in a similar vein please! [Review by Bob Barton]

Director  -  Mark Savage
Assistant Director  -  Loretta Concannon
Producer  -  Janet Tackley

Bertorelli  -  Graham Gibbs
British Airman  -  Chris Knights
British Airman  -  Adam Wilmott
Colonel  -  Peter Donovan
Crabtree  -  Mark Sadler
Edith  -  Lorna Sexton
General Schmelling  -  Aidan Dwyer
Gruber  -  Adam Nicoll
Helga  -  Amanda Vines
Herr Flick  -  Phill Brown
Leclerc  -  Paul Kerswill
London Voice  -  Peter Johnson
Michelle Dubois  -  Nikki Clark
Mimi  -  Irina Sexton
Peasant  -  Dave Tinney
Peasant  -  Peter Johnson
Peasant  -  Julie Dawson
Peasant  -  Stella Turner
Rene  -  Anton Jungreuthmayer
Swedish Commentator  -  Ed Picken
The Piano Player  -  Margaret Johnson
Yvette  -  Justine McCreith

Assistant Director  -  Loretta Concannon
Bar Manager  -  Malcolm Brodie
Costumes  -  Valmai Guess
Director  -  Mark Savage
Front of House  -  Clare Easterbrook
Front of House  -  Ann Fausset
Front of House  -  Victoria Turner
Front of House  -  Janet Quinn
Front of House  -  Rosie Hamilton-McLeod
Front of House  -  John Edwards
Front of House  -  Julie Holland
Front of House Display  -  John Edwards
Front of House Manager  -  Paul Turner
Lighting  -  Sean Groves
Lighting  -  Stuart Clark
Photography  -  Dave Woodward
Poster & Programme Design  -  Sarah Oliver
Producer  -  Janet Tackley
Prompt  -  Loretta Concannon
Props  -  Susie Welch
Props  -  Ann Fausset
Props  -  Gena Edwards
Props  -  Sue Kennedy
Publicity  -  Peter Donovan
Set Construction  -  Graham Gibbs
Set Construction  -  Trevor Clark
Set Construction  -  Neville Rowe
Set Design  -  Graham Gibbs
Set Painting  -  Beth Harding
Sound  -  Peter Johnson
Sound  -  Daniel Eccles
Sound  -  Daniel Eccles
Stage Crew  -  Janette Innis
Stage Crew  -  Trevor Clark
Stage Crew  -  Lara Wood
Stage Crew  -  Val Bryant
Stage Crew  -  Lara Wood
Stage Crew  -  James Vaughan
Stage Manager  -  Lucinda Rowe
Wigs, Hair & Make-up  -  Fran Manning

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