Time of Our Lives Music Theatre in association with All Star Productions presents When Movies Were Movies at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, Walthamstow.
The opening song set the tone for this mesmerising evening’s entertainment, as we were taken through the history of cinema from silent movies up to 1969 via the mediums of song, dance and comedy. Flo (Dympna Messenger), an usherette in the fictional Trocadero, is interviewed by Charlie (Raymond-Kym Suttle) about the cinema’s history as it faces its imminent demise (conversion to a bingo hall).
Dympna Messenger gave a very strong performance as Flo, and was a very effective anchor for the show. She also sang very well and had some great comedic moments: her imitation of Carmen Miranda springs to mind as combining both. The vocal standard throughout the show was extremely high, with some of the high points for me being Lullaby of Broadway (full cast), You Ought to Be in Pictures (Nerine Skinner and Robert Wilkes), Secret Love (Jessica Poole) and the Beatles medley delivered by the whole cast.
The musical numbers were interspersed with highly amusing comedy sketches, covering themes as varied as Frankenstein and James Bond, with my personal favourite being the “terribly” sketch (you’ll have to see the show to find out what I mean by that!) Other comedy highlights included the show’s take on silent movies – with Flo speaking the words while the rest of the cast mimed the actions, “My Brother Makes the Noises for the Talkies,” with Raymond-Kym Suttle and Robert Wilkes as the two brothers, and the scene with Flo and the cleaner, played by Nerine Skinner.
Raymond-Kym Suttle’s choreography was inspired, and his own dancing was marvellous – particularly during the Top Hat sequence – I would like to have seen more of his tapping! The musical direction (and playing) by Aaron Clingham was flawless, adding to the overall power of the performance. The costumes were fabulous, with very many quick changes which I’m sure must have required their own choreography!
I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil too many of the surprises. Suffice it to say that this is old-fashioned variety at its best with something for all the family to enjoy. Ably directed (and written) by Keith Myers, this captivating show is robust enough for a much larger space. Give yourself a night of nostalgia and catch it at Ye Olde Rose and Crown before it closes on 4 May.
When Movies were Movies is playing at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, 53 Hoe Street, Walthamstow Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm until 4 May, with matinees at 3.30 on Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit www.roseandcrowntheatrepub.webeden.co.uk