The Northern Echo
Some Enchanted Evenings will certainly live up to its name for those lucky enough to see Durham Musical Theatre Company’s current production at the Gala Theatre. Written and directed by Fred Wharton, it is easy to see why he was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to drama in the North-East.
The show celebrates the career of the composer Richard Rodgers and his collaborations with several acclaimed lyricists, most notably, Oscar Hammerstein who, with Rodgers, transformed American musical theatre.
The narrator is initially Rodgers’ wife Dorothy (the deliciously brittle and elegant Valenda Taylor) and his various collaborators lend their voices , as well as Rodgers himself (a likeable Ed Turner ). The story is told through his songs, most of which are familiar, some less so, but all melodic and memorable. The first half features his work with Lorenz Hart, a deeply troubled but talented soul, played sympathetically by James Manning. Rodgers and Hart appeared to be a perfect combination although Hart’s struggles with his self-image, alcohol and sexuality made life difficult.
Together , however, they produced some witty and memorable songs including My Funny Valentine, delivered beautifully by six of the male vocalists . Rodgers’ musical collaboration with Hammerstein provides the second half of the show and that’s where the audience was itching to join in with much loved tunes from South Pacific, Carousel and Oklahoma.
With a company of over 80, it is credit to all concerned that their first night went so smoothly. The pace was perfect , the story unfolded with energy and a great respect for the music, which ,under the direction of Steven Hood, was the perfect backdrop for some incredible vocals. A hugely enjoyable show, it is beautifully performed by a talented and ambitious company.
The Northern Echo
Sent to Mary Robinson
What a wonderful show! “Some Enchanted Evenings” was one of the best I have ever seen..............ever. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and it was so sad to see empty seats behind us. I will be singing its praises. I think part of the pleasure was it just being Richard Rodgers’ music which is so well known and a bit of his biographical background. A great show! Please pass on my thanks to all concerned.
The programme is excellent. People who don't buy one miss so much. It adds so much to the show to read the background information about the people portrayed and which shows the songs come from. With Fred the audience is educated as well as entertained
Fantastic production of “Some Enchanted Evenings” at Gala Theatre.
Congratulations to Durham Musical Theatre Company. Don't think I've ever heard so many wonderful voices in one show. I can't really single any one performer.. but I did shed a tear( in a good way) at Rachel Orr's ' Love Look Away'.
Congratulations to all involved and especially Fred Wharton for the brilliant concept.........
by Alex Hall, presenter of BBC Radio Tees/Newcastle “Songs From the Shows”, Sunday 5.00-7.00 pm
Hello to everyone at DMTC, Just been with my wife, Christine, to see Some Enchanted Evenings. It was an absolutely amazing production, fantastic! Thank you so much to everyone involved in the production.
This theatrical piece was written by the director of the production, Fred Wharton, and although I have categorised it as a concert, it was much more than that. The audience was taken through the life story of Richard Rodgers by seven narrators, the narrators being key people, including Rogers himself (Ed Turner) and a constant throughout his story, and the main narrator, Dorothy Rodgers (Valenda Taylor), depicting the ups and downs in the career of this amazingly talented man.
The programme took us through his collaborations with Lorenz Hart (James Manning), Oscar Hammerstein (Paul Maddison), Stephen Sondheim (Anthony Smith), Sheldon Harnick (Nicky Tones) and Martin Charnin (Steve Hill) including the most famous of his songs and also some lesser known, but still worth hearing, compositions, There were even opportunities for some comedic moments provided in style by Olly Burton.
The large company performed some excellent pieces including “June is Busting Out All Over”, “A Grand Night for Singing”, “Falling in Love with Love”, “If I Loved You” and “Climb Every Mountain” each arrangement being well delivered. The children in the company were very good, looking comfortable and confident throughout their performances, and were a credit to the production team as were the dancers, who also provided good support to this polished production.
There were many stand-out solo and group performances amidst the 46 numbers in the programme, but my personal favourites were “To Keep my Love Alive” delivered with hilarious perfection by Eileen Glenton, “Hello Young Lovers” (amongst others) by Delia McNally, the haunting harmonies in “My Funny Valentine” by John Barron, Steven Berry, Andy King, David O’Donnell, Anthony Smith & Ed Turner, and the spine-tingling and tear-inducing “Love Look Away” by Rachel Orr.
I left the theatre feeling I knew much more about Richard Rogers the man as well as his music. Thank you to all concerned for a super evening’s entertainment, and congratulations to Fred Wharton on being awarded the British Empire Medal for services to drama in the north east.
by Michelle Coulson
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