If you live near to Whitehaven or intending to visit today or tomorrow can I strongly recommend you get a ticket to see War of the Worlds at the Civic Hall? I went last night and enjoyed every last minute of it.
Usually, first nights are prone to nerves and teething problems but, though not perfect, in this case the PROJECT AUTUMN team had clearly rehearsed this complicated performance so they knew every bar of it. It was no surprise to me when, after the final note had been played and the hall was dramatically plunged into darkness, the audience spontaneously leapt to its feet and gave a standing ovation. It was well deserved by the entire team.
Producer John Thompson put together an impressive team whose credits were amazing before we even heard a note and who gave an incredibly polished performance. Ably led by Musical Director Stephen Hunter-Brown, all did well but I must mention a few in particular who made the night so special.
Both Roger Wilson (who plays the Journalist) and Martin Kelly (the Sung thoughts of the Journalist) looked the part dressed in Victorian garb as befits the novel which begins with those famous words “No one would have believe in the last years of the 19th century…”. Martin sang well (my son turning to me and saying of him “HE should have been on X Factor!”) – not easy when the band is going hell for leather throughout the performance! Roger filled Richard Burton’s famous shoes with great success.
Dan England (the Artilleryman) just gets better and better with every performance I have seen him in and War of the Worlds is no exception. He took the David Essex role and made it his own singing the difficult “Brave New World” with ease.
Claire Price looked lovely and commanded attention as she played the part of the Parson’s wife and did well to keep up with the person who, for me, stole the show. Stuart Buchanan played the role of the deranged Parson and clearly knew the role inside out and backwards. His singing was terrific, his acting even better. His presence on the stage was electrifying. I would go again just to see Claire and Stuart perform “The Spirit of Man” a second time.
The band were spot on. I would not have liked to conduct them nor play any of the instruments – the score is way too complex! Graham Brown earns man of the match just for having to switch from guitar to mandolin back to a different guitar throughout the show – sometimes only seconds apart! He also sang and provided vocal sound affects and I am sure he must be losing weight as a result. He was kept busy alright. Dean Newton earned my admiration getting the guitar solos just right and recreating the sound of the original recording perfectly. I was not surprised that he has just graduated from the London College of Music; his skill showed in his performance.
I could go through each performer as they all deserve a mention but I think the best think I can do is say “go see it! ” See for yourself how well the team have rehearsed and put together a quality show that had everyone I spoke to in the audience singing their praises. It was worth every penny I can assure you.