Review: ‘Ninety Minutes of Music’ - a showcase tour of American Musicals by Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society and That-Sing-Thing, Clarke Foley Centre, Saturday June 29

ON the hottest Saturday afternoon in a long time, singers from eight to 80 raised the temperature even further with a performance of sizzling songs, but the audience went out ‘lifted’ and could have sat for more. They were treated to a wide selection from popular musicals, from classics like West Side Story and Guys and Dolls to some lesser known ones, such as the jazzy Addams Family or the moving Spring Awakenings.

It was an adventurous repertoire but the children and adults showed confidence throughout, even when tackling multi-part melodies and harmonies, and mastered some tricky timing and phrasing. The lyrics were clearly heard thanks to the clarity of pronunciation and diction.

The variety included large choral numbers, small groups, duets and solos. Some of the stand out pieces included a mix from the current West End and Broadway smash Hamilton; with seven teens handling the musical’s hip-hop introduction, the emotional duet Dear Theadosia from Jacob Willox and Daniel Burgess, and King George’s comic You’ll be back perfectly performed by Gabriel Jones. Shrek gave us three Princess Fionas: Nina Ensink, Eleanor Dear and Susan Wilcock, showing the power and beauty of voice and characterisation she displayed as Maria Von Trapp in this year’s Sound of Music from IAOS. She was later joined in the love duet from Little Shop of Horrors by Mark Allan, reminding us that he’s not just a talented director and music teacher, but has trod the boards with some success himself. Guys and Dolls provided an opportunity for solos from Helen Smith (If I were a bell), Stephanie Burgess (Adelaide’s Lament) and young Barnaby Killan who showed maturity as well as technical accuracy with More I cannot wish you.

Many of the Sound of Music nuns added a beautiful and powerful harmonies to many of the numbers, in particular West Side Story’s ‘Somewhere’.

Following sneak previews of the next two IAOS productions: (the non-American) Tommy, featuring Barnaby Killan as 10 year old Tommy and Patrick Campbell as adult Tommy, and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (as yet uncast, but the sweet voices of Jemima McDonald, Abigail Henderson, Nina Ensink, Isabella Lambert, Evie Mutton and Sophie Armitage painted a lovely picture of a traditional musical from the kings of Broadway), the evening concluded with Spring Awakening - this coming of age story was evoked through the teens singing ‘Purple Summer’ and then supporting Erica East in the soulful ‘Mama who bore me’.

We are certainly blessed with an abundance of talent in our little town!

by Mandy Rae