Anything Goes

IAN CLARKE Memorial Hall, Dereham


Memorial Hall, Dereham

On the eve of your 60th birthday you could be forgiven for taking things a bit easier; relax, be satisfied with your achievements and enjoy a chilled-out retirement.

For Dereham Operatic Society, though, such thoughts of resting on any laurels of past glories could not be further from the truth as members prepare for the diamond anniversary in 2008.

Saturday's gala opening night of Anything Goes, a delightful mix of comedy, romance and foot-tapping music favourites, proved that the society could still take productions to new heights.

It was not the easiest build-up to the autumn musical, with the society being told just a week ago that the Memorial Hall kitchen had failed an environmental health check. This ensured a major headache for the first-night catering.

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Throw in a throat problem for leading lady Linda Campbell (Reno Sweeney) right up until Friday and one or two other

pre-show hiccups and the end result to which the packed audience was treated was even more impressive.

The energy, enthusiasm and confidence were oozing on the SS American from the cast, a great blend of experienced Dereham performers and young newcomers.

Linda was stunning as nightclub singer Reno, and Nick Bird (stowaway Billy Crocker) displayed his immense versatility as leading man - and produced his wide variety of different accents all in the right places!

The depth of quality in the cast was perhaps the most impressive aspect of the show.

Katie Wicks was a delightful Hope Harcourt, David Chapman took to the role of gangster Moonface Martin superbly - his rendition of Be Like The Bluebird was unforgettable - Julie Hewitt blossomed in her part of Moonie's friend, Bonnie, while David Rees brought the hapless English aristocrat, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, to life.

Tony Wilds, well loved by Dereham audiences over many years as panto dame, was equally popular as drunken Wall Street boss Elisha Whitney.

And special mention must go to Kevin Reeve and Ron Eaglen (Chinese converts Ching and Ling), who added a great spice of comedy.

The list of those deserving praise could go on and on.

Life may begin at 40, but it is getting even better at almost 60 for Dereham Operatic Society.

t Anything Goes continues at Dereham Memorial Hall until Saturday, October 13, with shows nightly at 7.30pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

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