Review: Knutsford Amateur Operatic Society – The Likes of Us.
As I settled into my seat the narrator appeared on the stage to set the scene. To ‘fill in the gaps’ as he put it. He started by telling us the history of this musical which was first written in the mid sixties but did not see the light of day until recently. Throughout the production he appeared to give us little snippets of information or helped move the action along, always with a casual humour that added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Before we know it, the salubrious surroundings of the Grange School Theatre becomes the rather disreputable Edinburgh Gin Palace in the east end of London and the stage fills with rowdy cockneys young and old including the saucy, skirt swaying Rose who leaves us in no doubt how she earns a living with the song ‘Twice in Love Everyday’
Into this den of iniquity walks a ‘very busy’ young medical student by the name of Barnardo who would like to close all the gin palaces in London. Needless to say, this is not a popular idea amongst the clientele and Barnardo is out on his ear. Time for a love song and the enthusiastic Jenny, and the less than enthusiastic Johnny, entertain us whilst behind them the stage is cleared ready for the next scene.
Poor young Barnardo wanders lonely in the night and sings his ‘strange and lovely’ song. I must stop here to congratulate Micheal Daws who is playing this lead role. He has a fine voice; every syllable is delivered with clarity and the pitch is always spot on. He is the perfect choice to play the lead amongst a very talented cast. He is joined on stage by two urchins, youngsters who will later entertain us with an impressive song and dance routine, and they lead Barnardo to the rooftops so that he can see for himself what life is like for ‘The Likes of Us’
Appalled by the conditions the young doctor determines that something must be done, but this only makes him even less popular amongst the cockneys who see him as a patronising social pest. He saviour is Syrie, an attractive young lady who believes in him and who is, perhaps, just a little in love with him. She inspires his to go straight to the top and he seeks an audience with the prime minister of the day, Lord Shaftsbury who becomes a supporter of Barnardo’s ambition to turn the gin palaces of London into children’s homes which eventually leads to Dr Barnardo becoming the household name that it is today.
There are many things to commend this production. All the songs are a delight and I particularly enjoyed a couple of the up-tempo numbers in act two. It is a very talented cast, a convincing set, the costumes are superb, the musical director has done a great job, the choreography is outstanding and then there is the music – oh the music!
Good people of Cheshire, this is a treat not to be missed. Visit the KAOS website at http://www.knutsfordaos.org/ or call 01565 633386 for tickets. The production runs from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd May starting at 7.30pm at the Grange School Theatre, Hartford.
Barnardo Micheal Daws
Syrie Emma Dale
Rose Julie Gaskell
Narrator Kevin Rawcliffe
Lord Shaftsbury Bob Challinor
Jenny Charlotte Ashworth
Johnny Michael Skidmore
Lead Girl Sarah Morgan
Lead Boy Teddy White
Director John Flay
Musical Director Ken Webb
Choreographer Helen Bates
Costume Lesley Reed
Stage Manager Paul Baston
click here to see the poster campaign