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Review - The Proposal: warm fuzzy feelings

Above: Sophie Price and Zachary Crisan

The Proposal

Devised and Directed: Madeleine Johns

Musical Director: Helen Drew Choreographer: Isabelle Quayle

Redcliffe Musical Theatre

Theatre 102

102 Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe


Season: 9-18 March 2018 Bookings:

Love is in the air at Redcliffe Musical Theatre in their latest production, The Proposal.

In an evening of excerpts, songs and dance, the ensemble performed a range of scenes in a dinner and show theatrical experience. The themes centred distinctively on love and marriage, with The Proposal attempting to stir warm fuzzy feelings on a rainy Sunday evening.

The production featured many acts to support these ideas, with a collection of classic literature and traditional theatre concepts - from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde, and The Mikado to Eliza Doolittle. Each extract followed the main subject very closely and a proposal was acted out in every display. Despite lacking contemporary works that would have brought a modernised context, the production handled scenes delicately and satisfied the audience.

Redcliffe Musical Theatre occupies Theatre 102 – a small tin shed that has been transformed into an enticing theatre restaurant. The set (designed by Jonathan Johns, Terri Gidda and director, Madeleine Johns) was simple and effective. Dusty pink chiffon and velvet curtains were drawn to and fro between scenes and helped effectively move action from different sides of the stage.

Audience members were seated at tables that were lined with ambient tea candles. Melodic love tunes played in the background and friendly staff members were available at every turn. The experience was complete with a scrumptious two-course meal and table service. Special praise must be given to caterer, Michelle D’Andrea, for delivering a hearty main course and dessert.

While performers jumped between roles to assist in many elements of the production, there were some cast members who stood-out and delivered exceptionally entertaining performances.

Helen Drew was captivating and hilarious as Katisha in an excerpt of The Mikado. The audience enjoyed her banter with her counterpart Koko (played by Paul Cant) and her stern, intense characterisation was a great change.

Trish Dearness was delightfully divine in her portrayal of Lady Bracknell (in The Importance of Being Earnest’. She delivered a great interpretation of the upper-class role that hit the mark in every way. And Sophie Price was wonderful as Eliza in a scene from Pygmalion. For a young actress, Sophie brought a mature and refreshing approach to her craft, proving that she is a natural on stage.

Other great moments came from the chemistry between James Reid and Deborah Rubendra in Private Lives; choreography by Isabelle Quayle that was perfected by dancers Zachary Crisan and Jasmine Reese, and a lovely innocence from Ashley Prosser as Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

As a collective, all cast and crew worked hard to bring together an enjoyable production.

There were some small hiccups during the evening with sound mishaps, delayed scene changes and an inability to hear some parts due to external noises (the theatre door remained open for the performance and rain/traffic noises contested with the actors). But in all aspects of community and live performance, it is understandable that things happen.

Although no specific person is listed with having influence over costumes, some decisions regarding this field can be questioned. An obvious stark contrast was between a millennially dressed Romeo and a period-looking Juliet. Despite the scene taking place in modern day, there were no elements other than Romeo’s attire to suggest this. It was also a strange decision for no wedding dress to be worn in Man’s Best Friend excerpt, despite the couple coming straight from their wedding reception, and the click-clack of heavy heels, in other excerpts, did distract action in some scenes.

There was also lack of attention to detail in some components of the production - Cadbury Chocolates were noticeably used in an English classic set in the 1930s, names of actual owners had been left on guitar cases and scenes and lines directed offstage made audiences members struggle to hear what was going on. Although these comments are minor criticisms, they do have the ability to completely enhance or deter a theatrical experience.

Overall, Redcliffe Musical Theatre delivered an entertaining night out at the theatre.

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