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Past  Productions


 
Fame
 March 2010
 Ooh Fabulous
 September 2010
The  Wiz
 February 2011
  Little Shop of Horrors
 October 2011
  Robin Hood
 December 2011
 Rent 2012
 May 2012
 Joseph 
 May 2012
 Cinderella
 December 2012
 Am Dram
 April 2013
 The Wizard of Oz
 July 2013
 Snow White
 March 2014

                 All Americano

 August 2014

 Rule Britannia 
 July 2015
 A Christmas Carol
 November 2015
 Reviewdeville
May 2016

Phoenix Productions are proud members of NODA, the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.  A representative from NODA has reviewed almost all of the shows stated on the left, feel free to read them below.   If you would like to read more about NODA, please visit  http://www.noda.org.uk/.

Please note that the reviews below were published under our previous company name, MalDo Productions.

Snow White:

Nominated for a NODA Youth Award

 Showcasing their eleventh production, Maldo Productions performed their own interpretation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although traditionally a pantomime, this production was more of a musical and featured some of the most talented youngsters in the region. The show featured a selection of musical numbers and those all-important ingredients which have been enjoyed by audiences for decades, precise timing, an enthusiastic cast, and plenty of audience participation.


This show was a creative production directed and written by Richenda Blakelock, who was also the narrator. This was first piece that Richenda had written, and it certainly was an inspirational and a creative piece of work. The only piece of advice I would offer is that, whilst enjoyable, it was very long and the younger audience appeared to be restless by the end of the production. I certainly loved the way she named the seven dwarfs after famous male pop artists and the way that they were even costumed to authenticate their characters.


Richenda certainly knows how to get the best out of her cast and showcase their talents and strengths, and this was evident in the casting and the production.  Jennifer Murdock, who played the young Snow White and Jagger, certainly has a lot of talent and a wonderful voice for such a young girl, and sang “Don’t Marry Him, Have Me” with such conviction and strength. The adult Snow White was played by Emily Rollo, who had good stage presence and an equally good voice, and I particularly enjoyed her number “Close To You”. Marie Grufferty  played the wicked Queen Elspeth and was to me was the star of the show. She had excellent stage presence, and certainly had the audience booing in all the right places. She also had a beautiful strong singing voice and I I particularly enjoyed “I Put a Spell On You”. Marie was perfectly teamed up with Kathryn Selvey, who played her Magic Mirror, and gave a strong commanding performance. I was pleasantly  surprised with her fabulous singing voice, and she  and gave the audience a treat with her interpretation of “I Feel Pretty” and “I will Survive”. A good performance from Philip Hargrave, as the Huntsman, who again delivered his musical numbers well, especially “I Wanna Know What Love Is”.  Jessica Smith, who played King George and Bowie, again had good stage presence as had Jonathon Ryan, who played Fortesque, Queen Elspeth’s faithful servant.


A strong performance by Georgina Balley, who played the Chester and Presley, and I enjoyed her number “It Should Have Been Me” which was well sung. The Royal House consisted of Prince Charming, played by Callum Ross who gave a strong performance and had good stage presence. His duet with Snow White, “Everlasting Love”, was well sung and they complemented each other perfectly.  His parents were King Herbert, played by Joshua Adamson who also gave a good performance and delivered his musical numbers well, as did Queen Bathilda, played by Erin Moyse, who also played Ethel. The remaining of the dwarfs were Springsteen, played by Kimberly Dunn, McCartney, played by Sarah Dunn, Mercury, played by Adam Blakelock, and Lennon, played by Ashton Blakelock who looked fabulous in his white suit and shades. Well done Ashton, your confidence is certainly growing, and it was lovely to see you in your second show.  A special mention must go to Michelle Borwell, who played Fredrick, and Ellie Johnson, Brad Nicholson and Joseph Vinson who played the trees, villagers, servants and guards. Finally a specially mention to Hayley O‘Connor who played the vicar. What a fantastic soulful voice.  I loved your unique style especially in “Joyful Joyful and Single Ladies.”

 

Congratulations must go to the creative team who played a vital role in enhancing the work of the cast; the costumes were to a high standard, as was the set which brought colour and life to this well known tale.


Well Done Richenda and all the cast. This was an ambitious piece of work which I believe paid off.  I thoroughly enjoyed your unique interpretation of Snow White, and it was so good to see how much people had developed over the year and enjoyed taking part in this production. Thank you for the invitation and the kindness the front of house staff showed me.


Review by Peter Oliver.

The Wizard of Oz.

It is a well know saying that you should never work with animals or children and this show had both. MalDo Productions, a young and enthusiastic cast, put everything into this colourful and entertaining production of the Wizard of Oz, It was only a shame that there weren't more in the audience to appreciate the hard work that was evident in this production, although the audience that were present responded well and appeared to have a great night.


As it said in the programme, The Wizard of Oz is one of the all-time favourites due to infectious songs and heart warming story, the production team directed by Richenda A Blakelock give this production a clean cut performance, and I was impressed by the choreography especially in the use of the ribbons to create the hurricane choreographed by Caseyleigh Atherton and delivered by three excellent dancers, Georgina Bailey, Courtney Knight and Jessica Smith.


The set was simple, authentic, but very effective and the scene changes were slick to ensure that it didn’t distract from the performances, the lighting was good, but at times the sound did fade making it difficult to hear the characters. The orchestra added to the ambiance and supported the cast on their journey down the yellow brick road at the same time enabling the voices to be clearly heard at all times throughout the performance.


Dorothy played enthusiastically by Jennifer Hargrave certainly looked the part and delivered a realistic role with clear diction and a beautiful voice and overall did justice to her character and showed a pleasing stage presence. Toto played by one of the cast's own dog stole the hearts of the audience.


As Dorothy travels on her quest to find The Wizard of Oz she comes across three characters, the Scarecrow played by Michael Coulson who again gave a realistic performance, Tinman played by Josh Adamson who also gave excellent support and produced a sensitive portrayal of the role. Finally the Cowardly Lion played by Tori Gray who had confidence with singing, diction and her acting was certainly worth watching. All three kept to their charactersation throughout the whole show.


The other cameo roles were all perfect in their casting, Georgina Bailey as Auntie Em and Philip Hargrave as Uncle Henry and the Wizard got the show off to a fine start and gave good performances.


However in all musicals it is the baddie who steals the show. Richenda Blakelock playing Miss Almira Gultch and the witch of the west was excellent with her blood curdling cackle. She was able to deliver the comic content and evil intentions of the character perfectly and I congratulate Richenda for this all round performance.


The Good Witch, Glinda played by Emily Rollo also delivered an outstanding performance and gave a clear contrast to the Wicked Witch with clear diction and her singing was lovely and she had good stage presence.


The scene with the Munchkins was well choreographed in terms of colour, movement and singing.There were good performances from the Barrister (Hayley O’Connor), and the Major, (Johnathan Ryan), as were the Crows, Tree’s, People of Oz, Winkies, Ozians and Lead Poppies all giving excellent performances and an excellent Jitterbug number.


A special note for the Weird Sisters played by Cait Bartram and Jennifer Murdock, who at their young age delivered their performance word perfect and showed excellent stage presence. Last but not least Ashton Blakelock who played Nikko, his enthusiasm and performance shone through for such a young person.


This was an excellent show and full marks to everyone connected with MalDo Productions.With Richenda Blakelock at the helm it showed good teamwork and camaraderie within the cast, Full marks to everyone for a memorable show.


Review by Peter Oliver.

Cinderella.
Emily Rollo Nominated for a NODA Youth Award

That most popular of pantomimes, “Cinderella”, was given its own unique ‘MalDo’-flavoured twist in this production. With lots of local topical references the audience could relate to, the pantomime got off to a good start with the entrance of the fairy Godmother, played by Emily Rollo, who sang and looked the part, even if her magic wand was playing up causing her magic to be ‘intermittent.’ She was accompanied by two ‘trainees’ complete with L and P plates in the form of two cute youngsters, Cait Bartrum and Jennifer Murdoch. ‘Snitch and Snatch’ the town’s debt collectors/palace security guards were played in suitably ‘bumbling’ fashion by Courtney Knight and Philip Hargrave. Cinderella’s father and step mother (Kimbery Dunn and Jonathan Ryan) were a perfectly dysfunctional family unit who were enhanced by the two ugly sisters (Stephen Heanan and David Jackson). These latter two ‘girls’ would have been too outrageous to even appear on ‘Geordie Shore’, such was their complete lack of social etiquette and graces – which made them ideal ‘ugly sisters’.


The palace entourage comprising of King and Queen Charming, (Jessica Smith and Elizabeth Seargant), the flame haired Dandini, well played and sung by Tori Gray, and the Prince Charming himself (Jennifer Hargrave) who made a good couple with his eventual love interest, Cinderella (Georgina Bailey).


The person who kept all this mayhem together, both on and off stage, was the talented Richenda A Blakelock who not only gave a splendid performance as Buttons with good comedic timing, but also directed, choreographed, was ticket secretary and society co-secretary. Well done Richenda.


As befits pantomime the musical numbers were popular songs of this and previous eras that allowed audiences to sing along in the ‘participation’ sections. Being a first night there were a few sound issues, ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and quick changes which caused continuity to be a little stilted at times but these were ad-libbed over by cast in a seasoned manner.


Well appreciated by audience – well done MalDo.


Review by Gordon Richardson. 

Joseph.

In this Maldo’s second production in a fortnight (the older members having performed RENT a couple of weeks back) the younger members, affectionately named ‘Mini-Maldo’ – a name that I suspect will remain as long as there is a youth section, performed the classic ‘Joseph’. This was a production that suited the group, their age group (7-18) and their vibrancy as the pace of the music never wavered from the opening notes of MD Jordan Branthwaite’s fine orchestral interpretation to the symbolic blowing out of the narrator’s candle at the Finale having told her tale.


Introducing herself, Joseph and the story of Jacob and his twelve sons’ to the audience was ‘wandering minstrel’ Jennifer Hargrave as the ‘Narrator’ – one of the most demanding roles in the production given she was on stage throughout the entire performance (and a role she made her own.) ‘Joseph’ played by 16 year old Stephen Heanan displayed his bubbly personality, acting and singing ability throughout despite having come into the role at the last minute. Each of the ‘brothers’ had their own personalities and you could tell they relished their time on stage in various guises and styles of song from the plaintiff ‘Canaan Days’ to the bright (and my favourite ‘Joseph’ song) ‘Benjamin Calypso’ led with flair and animation by dance captain Georgina Bailey. A special mention also to Philip Hargrave as ‘Pharaoh’ as he strutted his stuff as ‘Elvis, the King’. Supporting the cast was an ensemble as well as cameo roles such as ‘Butler and Baker’ (Kimberly Dunn and James Burley) and ‘Potiphar and his wife’ (Jonathon Ryan, who also doubled up as ‘Jacob’, and Jessica Smith).


A show is always greatly enhanced by good ‘direction’ and this was society co-founder Richenda Blakelock’s first attempt at stage direction. One hopes she will be encouraged by this production to continue in direction as the show was enhanced by many innovative ‘touches’. Costumes, whilst simple, were appropriate to ‘setting the scene’ culminating in the full rainbow effect of Joseph’s multicoloured coat. Once again for my second visit to this society in a fortnight, well done for all the undoubted hard work to all concerned, front and backstage, to allow these youngster’s to have their moment in the spotlight.


Review by Gordon Richardson.

Rent.

I admit I knew nothing of the content or story of RENT before viewing this production - deliberately so in order that I could watch it without preconceptions. After a delayed start (reasons later) and a slow build up, the audience were treated to a rendition of the title song RENT which showed off the vocal ranges of the strong ensemble. Telling the story of an eclectic mix of people living a bohemian lifestyle in the drug ridden ‘Alphabet City’ area of NYC, who support the homeless during a circle of spiralling rent costs and riots. It is impossible to praise all cast individually (even whilst I’d like to) but special mention must be given to certain people – Wayne Malcolm, as director, also taking on the role of ‘Mark’ the cameraman who helped film the riots. Kelsey Douglas and Victoria Gray, both of which had extremely strong vocals and acting skills, as the lesbian partners who despite their stormy relationship realise they are good for each other. I especially enjoyed Kelsey’s‘Over the moon’ for its drama, irony and presentation. With visible chemistry between them, David Jackson and Michael Coulson as ‘Tom’ and ‘Angel’ gave a sterling performance together. There was a particular poignancy from ‘Tom’ during ‘Angels’ death scene from AIDS for his soulmate who had rescued him. Michael (as Angel) especially acted and sang well as the drag queen who lived up to her name. Finally Gemma Hutchinson as the crack addict, Mimi, vamped, danced, acted and sang extremely well against Jordan Branthwaite as the guitarist, ‘Roger’, in love with her but too full of ‘hang ups’ to say anything. The outstanding number between the two of them being ‘Light My Candle’ in my opinion.


Why was there a delayed start? Simply that James de Lauch Hay who was to play the role of ‘Roger’ had completely lost his voice two days before - a decision was taken to ask Jordan to take over – the trouble was Jordan was on a ferry en-route to Hull from Rotterdam and arrived early that day, hitching a ride from Hull to Peterlee, arriving only six hours before curtain up. Having to film the back projected inserts, learn the part and perform with such vocal prowess and powerful acting in such a short time is testament to his undoubted abilities and commitment.


The final emotionally gut wrenching scene and surprise (for me) ending brought genuine tears to many of the cast as well as the audience as the value of living for today was extolled – as the libretto said ‘Forget Regret – or life is yours to miss’. A big well done to this young society.


Review by Gordon Richardson.

Little Shop of Horrors.

This relatively young society is improving show by show, and this production about a somewhat mild-mannered horticulturist nurturing a new species of plant that thrives on human flesh may seem to be an unlikely 1960’s ‘feel good’ enterprise, but it was. Wayne Malcolm, as Seymour the plant’s owner, played the role sympathetically throughout. Gemma Hutchinson as Audrey, the shop assistant with the abusive boyfriend, enthralled the audience with her singing and acting ability - the two main characters working well together especially in the iconic ‘Suddenly Seymour’ number, and their eventual death scene.


Utilising a stage catwalk extension the characters were given more scope to engage with the audience. No more so than the quartet that carried the ‘continuity’ of the plot - harmonised and performed well by Kelsey Douglas, Victoria Gray, Lynn Robson and Anna Chapman. Shop owner Mr Mushnik, played by David Jackson, showed his versatility as a fine actor with a good strong singing voice. Michael Coulson as Orin the evil dentist was very believable in the almost slapstick role.


Although underutilised, the chorus had some small cameo roles in the performance. Music under the baton of Joe Wilson was well balanced. Finally, a word about Audrey II - the man-eating plant which grew throughout the evening from small cutting to massive entity taking up much of the set. A big well done for its scariness, manipulation (Emily Harrison) and its ‘voice’ spoken and sung in evil fashion by Jordan Branthwaite. Well done Maldo!


Review by Gordon Richardson.

The Wiz.

Once described as “the ‘black’ version of the Wizard of Oz” this show was certainly ‘darker’ than Frank L. Baum’s original version. The production is written for a strong singing cast and, in the role of ‘Dorothy’ (Victoria Gray), the society achieved this. Lynn Robson, as Dorothy’s ‘Aunt Em’, matched in the strong singing ‘stakes’ whilst also taking on the role of ‘Evillene’ – the wicked witch of the West.


The three other main roles of ‘Scarecrow’ (Matty Lowery), ‘Tin-Man’ (Gemma Binks) and ‘Lion’ (Wayne Malcolm) all had their own individual, quirky characterisations – a ‘hip’ Scarecrow, a ‘funky’ Tin-Man and a neurotic Lion (under psychiatric help from his owl.)


Other principals added to the performance especially, ‘Addaperle’ (Richenda Blakelock), ‘Wizard’, resplendent in the biggest afro wig I’ve seen, (Michael Mullender) and ‘Glinda’ (Amanda Clark). Special praise must go to the three ‘Yellow Bricks’ who linked the show’s characters together throughout with their vocal harmonies and dancing.


At times some dialogue was difficult to pick out – loud doesn’t always equate to clarity and some principals needed to deliver their lines in a more ‘measured’ fashion rather than race through them. This on occasions wasn’t helped by some problematic radio microphones.


All in all a creditable and colourful performance enjoyed by the audience.


Review by Gordon Richardson.

Ooh Fabulous.

Set around a group of dysfunctional flatmates planning their next production for their mythical theatre company 'Spangly Pants Productions', this sketch gave bossy Liverpudlian Sharon with her humorous quips, and down to earth Georgie Tracey (played with clever comedy timing by Lynn Robson and Richenda Blakelock respectively) the opportunity to introduce the audience to a 'songs from the shows' concert of sixteen musicals from 'Oklahoma' to 'Rent' and 'Legally Blonde.'


There was so much talent on the stage, ranging in age from early teens to early twenties, and some excellent performances by both individuals and groups alike.  Music was supplied by a quintet of musicians and was powerful whilst not too loud as if often the case withamplified sounds. Gemma Binks and Amanda Clark able assisted the director in the setting of the production.


If there were any criticism it would be that, set over three acts, there was a little too much content for a concert leading to a production lasting three hours.  Having said this the time passed quickly and the audience didn't seem to mind, engrossed as they were in the action, and at the end of the day that is what counts.


Review by Gordon Richardson.

Fame.

This was the inagural production of 'MalDo Productions' and a fine job was done by everyone concerned, starting with a young talented cast whose enthusiasm and energy left even the audience feeling 'drained' at the end of the more 'raucous' numbers.  Although there are characters that have more libretto than others, Fame is predominately a 'team' production as we follow the lives of many individual characters throughout its tenure.  It is wrong, possibly, to single any one member out from the others - all principles were well cast and sang, danced and acted to a high standard.


The set, although minimal, was 'fit to purpose' whilst the technical aspects and costumes were well thought out for the venue.  Six musicians formed the excellent band, albeit at times they were a little unbalanced compared to the sound coming from the performers.  Everyone 'Front of House' worked well to try and make it a warm welcome for customers on a cold night.  There were the odd teething troubles that the group will no doubt learn from but, these aside, it was a fine polished performance for a first night of a new group.


Review by Gordon Richardson.