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March 12, 2008


Oklahoma! Oklahoma? How were they going to do that? It's singing, big singing; rolling landscapes bigger than Toothill and the Bury combined, and more gingham table cloths than a decade's worth of Open gardens, and all this in an American accent. Gee whizz – hot diggity dog! The stakes were as high as a Holwell chorus girls leg kick. Well, did they do it? They sure did - and they [Pirton Players] did it supremely well.

The music took as much of a starring role as any character, so firstly huge thanks/applause must go to the maestros in the pit - Margaret Johnson, Loretta Concannon (Musical Directors) Howard Etherington, Eleanor Dawson and Stuart Clark.

And what a set. The best yet. Possibly. Well done Beth, Dud, Anton and Graham. Making an ugly March 2008 night in Pirton feel like a beautiful summer morning 100 years ago in Oklahoma was achieved. You could almost smell the dew and the cows on the fields – but that was possibly the man next to me. And then there was the singing.

I first met Richard Sexton in 1982 playing football on the village green. I had no reason to ask him then if he could belt out 1940s Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers in a yank accent; he would have thought me strange, or perhaps stranger than he did already, if I had asked such a question aged seven, but I have my answer now and it's a YES. Richard was a tour de force. Make no mistake, Curly McLain is a big role but Richard approached it unswervingly, singing with vigour, acting with verve and generally giving his character the guts and belief it deserved. Well done Richard.

Laurey Williams was played by Amanda Vines who sang with equal zeal and skill, reaching notes that endangered the integrity of our interval wine glasses. A spot-on American accent to boot and even a spot of ballet. Bravo. Will Parker is a role that demands kicks, flicks and dancing with chicks. Mark Savage, as the hapless young cowman hopelessly in love with Annie delivered all of that and more. Mark’s solo dance was a real highlight, met with gasps and the odd whistle - for which I apologise. And then there was Rachel as Ado Annie. She was something else; and did what Annie was supposed to - make us laugh. Rachel’s performance could have been sponsored by Rolex, such was her timing. Just great to see.

Could our Aunt Eller [Jill Rogers] be any more convincing? I hope you don’t take that the wrong way Jill, I know you were playing a character with years on you (crikey I’m walking a tightrope here aren’t I) As the cuddly, straight-talking sage, mother-hub of the community kind of woman you were great. Super stuff.

The comedic bones of Paul Ribbans are well known in Pirton Players and beyond. When a role like Ali Akim, a loveable Persian peddler rubbish at avoiding shotguns comes along, there’s only one person you can really call. And likewise, if you need a comedy laugh on stage, picking the phone up and dialling Asha Sturman is an absolute must. Her machine-gun style guffawing brought the house down.

And then there was our villain. Every play needs one and boy did we get one - there should have been a health warning in the programme. Paul Kerswill’s Jud Fry was a heady mixture of Hannibal Lector meets Ray Winstone in a boiler suit. Scared? I nearly moved to Higham Gobion. Paul had a voice deeper than a Russian coal mine and did what he always does – portray the character put in front of him with aplomb. Cracking. The cast was vast - that rhymes; But it was testimony to how many people wanted to get involved in this brave production. They all deserve a mention, but sadly the small canvas of the Parish magazine limits me I’m afraid. Thank the Lord for that I hear you say. However I must mention the best beard in a supporting role - Peter Harding, well done. And there’s time for just one more shout...

Directors don’t take curtain calls traditionally, Lorna Sexton had to, as she doubled up in the chorus, such was her commitment to this production. She even gave birth to our hero, Curly (in real life that is). Well done Lorna. It was everything that it should have been; funny, foot-tapping and a great night out. ‘Oh, what a beautiful evenin’

[Review by: Adam Nicoll]

Director  -  Lorna Sexton
Musical Director - Margaret Johnson

Ali Hakim  -  Paul Ribbans
Andrew Carnes  -  Graham Gibbs
Aunt Eller  -  Jill Rogers
Cord Elam  -  Peter Johnson
Cowgirl  -  Liz Chapman
Cowgirl  -  Nikki Clark
Cowgirl  -  Alison Cotterill
Cowgirl  -  Gena Edwards
Cowgirl  -  Ann Fausset
Cowgirl  -  Fizz Gibbs
Cowgirl  -  Helen Hofton
Cowgirl  -  Sue Kennedy
Cowgirl  -  Ann Langley
Cowgirl  -  Lorna Sexton
Cowgirl  -  Jan Simmons
Cowgirl  -  Antonietta Tinney
Cowgirl  -  Viv Tyler
Cowgirl  -  Susie Welch
Curly McLain  -  Richard Sexton
Ellen  -  Valmai Guess
Gertie Cummings  -  Asha Sturman
Ike Skidmore  -  Peter Harding
Joe Skidmore  -  Anthony Gordon
Jud Fry  -  Paul Kerswill
Laurey Williams  -  Amanda Vines
Little Cowgirl  -  Sapphire Clarke
Little Cowgirl  -  Victoria Turner
Little Cowgirl  -  Daisy Angell
Little Cowgirl  -  Roshani Premadasa
Little Cowgirl  -  Tara Joe
Little Cowgirl  -  Rebecca Turner
Slim  -  Dave Tinney
Virginia  -  Julie Dawson
Vivienne  -  Stella Turner
Will Parker  -  Mark Savage

Costumes  -  Alison Bierrum
Costumes  -  Ann Wilshere
Decor  -  Carol Brown
Director  -  Lorna Sexton
Front of House  -  Carol Brown
Hair  -  Fran Manning
Joint Co-Producer  -  Judy McDonnell
Joint Co-Producer  -  Rosie Hamilton-McLeod
Lighting  -  Peter Johnson
Lighting  -  James Maple
Make-up  -  Fran Manning
Musical Director  -  Margaret Johnson
Props  -  Liz Chapman
Props  -  Liz Gentle
Props  -  Dudley Gentle
Scenery  -  Beth Harding
Set Construction  -  Graham Gibbs
Set Design  -  Anton Jungreuthmayer
Stage Crew  -  Val Bryant
Stage Crew  -  Debbie Keating
Stage Manager  -  Brian Sommerville


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