South Downe Musical Society have been at Ferneham Hall this week with the most famous of the Gilbert and Sullivan reworkings and it’s very much (and in different ways) a show of two halves: act two outshines act one; the women outshine the men.
In act one the male ensemble fell badly over their words – particularly in Ko-Ko’s I’ve Got A Little List. The show lacked oomph, generally, until the entrance of the Three Little Maids – Helen Stoddart (Yum-Yum), Rachel Benjamin (Pitti-Sing) and Becky North (Peep-Bo). This is when the show really takes off. Their huge vocals (particularly Benjamin’s) are like a shot in the arm of the show and Stoddart also manages to deliver the corny lines with originality.
Jane Pegler gives the ridiculous and horrendous Katisha real humanity in her impressive, belting rendition of Alone, And Yet Alive.
Of the men, Alex Hillman gives great voice and pleasing personality to Nanki-Poo but the entire cast is blown off the stage by Perry Ralls’ turn as the Mikado. Vocally bright, choreographically flash and with a superb handle on the dialogue.
Some of the other dialogue needs tightening (and, dare I say it, in places, learning) but the opening-night audience whooped their approval.