2010 and 2009 Reviews


RATz pantomime



Director: Kevin Shippey

Date seen: December 2010


This production had all the potential to be a classic panto but unfortunately, due in part to under par technical work (a most unusual event at the Angles one must add), first night nerves and a slight lack of concentration the Panto Season got off to a slightly shaky start.


Having said that, I must add that there were many redeeming features to report on, first up being a young voice in the audience. The house lights went to full blackout, the auditorium fell silent only to be shattered with a crystal clear voice asking “Mummy why have the lights gone out”? Another new theatre goer; and another reason why panto productions should have the same importance as any other productions when presented to the paying public.


Laura-Jayne Shippey (Jack) and Natalia Moment (Jill) looked good as the romantic leads; Josh Shippey (Billy) gave another fine dopey performance. Matt Beare (Grabbit) has an excellent knack of comedy timing and exploited his role to the full.

Great to see two stalwarts, Bob Kynnersly (King) and Lorraine Carver (Queen), put in such fine effort and performances in their respective roles.

Emlyn Moment (Dame) at the beginning didn’t look at ease with the part until that is the star of the show entered, namely a young girl in about the third row. She was so excited by the “Behind you” routine I was fearful she would fall into the second row. The Dame latched onto this very quickly and in no time the place was in uproar, as the Dame settled into his task.


I’m sure the subsequent performances will pick up pace and reveal the full fun and potential of the script, especially if the young lady returns for a second viewing.


James Farr

(Regional Representative NODA Eastern Region Area 4 North)








Director: Kevin Shippey

Musical Director: Steve Simmonds

Date seen: October 2010


There was so much to admire about this production, not just with the storyline and production values, the musical performances and dancing but also the support behind the scenes.


This show is not your average jukebox musical; it has structure and real theatre to it. Despite the strap line “It’s a simple equation of wrong verse right”, the complexities of staging it are manifold, the timing very demanding and, in this production at least, the choreography very energetic.


Complex though it may have been, it was presented in a very slick manner. The fast pace of the choreography was breathtaking; goodness knows how the performers were able to sing during the big company numbers like Our House and Baggy Trousers. But sing they did and to a very high standard.


Music came from a six piece band which sounded terrific, what more can I say – close your eyes and you would think Madness was in the room.


Excellent costumes and technical support with good sound and lighting, all the cast had to do was turn up and perform.


The chorus was magnificent, not just in the two numbers above, I particularly like the Stallholders routine (presented á lá “Who Will Buy” – Oliver!) and a modern ballet dance routine with its very stylised poses.


The numerous cameo roles throughout the show offered chorus members great opportunities to shine, especially during “Embarrassment” and its two reprises.


Amongst the fine performances of the eleven principals, we were treated to a pair of fine double acts.

Emma Small and Jess Bates were on good form as a pair of laddettes, can’t remember seeing a better pair of tarts as these two.

Josh Shippey and Billy Garner worked well as a duo, frequently the butt of jokes from the two females, and when working as a trio with Josh Fish they displayed great comedy timing.

Touching performances from Michele Larkin (Mother), who maintained an excellent Irish accent throughout, and Laura-Jayne Shippey (Sarah) provided a balance of love and emotions to proceedings.

The other principal leads were well cast and all performed to a very high standard.


I’m sure the cast will agree if I leave the final plaudits to Josh Fish (and his team of quick change dressers). His non-stop performance as both good and bad Joe Cassey was nothing short of brilliant. He commanded the stage from the off, never faltered with his delivery, singing or movement and twisted the audience’s emotions inside out.


James Farr

(Regional Representative NODA Eastern Region - Area 4 North)





RATz Summer Musical Challenge



Director: Emlyn Moment

Musical Director: Gabriel Fitzsimmons

Choreographer: Cynthia Maxey.

Date seen: 20 August 2010


This I believe is the first time I have had the pleasure of watching the fruits of a Summer Workshop production by the young people at RATz and a most charming evening it proved to be. Indeed, there was much to admire about this production, not least of which were the costumes.


Good use of the performing space by the director, simple but effective dance routines coupled with the colourful costumes and excellent make up ensured there was never a lull in proceedings.


Musically this production was supported by an unseen quartet of musicians under the direction of keyboard player and band leader Gabriel Fitzsimmons. Balance between band and stage performer was very good and one must congratulate MD and cast for the good standard of singing in this production.


The five main characters all displayed a good presence on stage and developed their characterisations very well.


A good performance from Eden Carver (complete with suitable padding) as the fun loving but somewhat irresponsible Mr Toad provided a suitable platform for Liam Nixon to deliver the fatherly figure of Mr Badger in the necessary authoritative manner. This characterisation was complete with some superb idiosyncrasies which were maintained throughout the performance.

Joel Fitzsimmons’ portrayal of the Chief Weasel provided another strong characterisation, somewhat enhanced by the sinister red lighting plot and “dark” mood whenever on stage.

The delights and surprises though didn’t just stop with the excellent performances from Danielle Beare as Mole or Danae Larham as Rat, both of whom displayed terrific comic timing with their delivery or movement.

Stacy Rudland (Magistrate), just where did that voice come from? – quite stunning and fully deserving the reactions of the audience.


I must confess it was not until after the performance that I realised this had all been put together in the space of just two weeks. A tribute to the logistic skills of the production team and the discipline of the young cast members, especially those in the chorus. Simple though the choreography may have been, the crisp delivery by the chorus was testament alone to the hard work behind this production.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)





RATz pantomime



Director / Choreographer: Emlyn Moment

Choreographer: Cynthia Maxey

Music Compilation: Rob Williams

Date seen: 22nd December 2009


For their festive frolic RATz turned to a Stephen Duckham NODA script laced with a heavy dose of Beatles mania.  The onset of seasonal weather did not stop a near capacity audience responding in good cheer to the antics on stage.  Particularly the Town Mayor, who would not be parted from her lavish civic “necklace”, despite the tempting offers from Dame Dora.  (Nor for that matter could her minder be swayed by the Dame’s feminine charms!)


Beyond the main leads, there was a slight shortage of experienced adult members in the cast.  This may explain why some aspects of the production struggled a little and why certain characters made an appearance on stage from the outset as opposed to their traditional point of introduction in a panto.


Once again Laura-Jayne Shippey (Queen) and Jess Bates (Prince) displayed their talents to good effect in their respective roles.  Hannah Boast was sweetness personified as the eponymous heroine of the piece and moved with grace and dignity, despite the cruel intentions of the Queen. Another unusual departure came with Karl Brittin’s engaging performance as the magic mirror, but one which abandoned the confines of a mirror frame to interact with the Queen.  Comedy of course came from the Dame expertly played by Kevin Shippey despite obvious problems with a troublesome throat.  He was ably supported in the comedy stakes by Matthew Beare as Handy Andy.  This young man provided the most outstanding performance of the evening and will no doubt go on to greater things (yet another rising star from the RATz factory?). The seven Dwarfs gave their all and it will be interesting to see how many continue and develop their skills with RATz.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)








Director: Kevin Shippey

Musical Director: Gabriel Fitzsimmons

Choreographer: Cynthia Maxey

Date seen: 3rd November 2009


Another show I have waited a long time to see, and I’m happy to report this particular production made the wait well worthwhile.  With comedy on many levels, both visual or from the pen of Anthony Drewe this musical comedy sparkled.


A simple set of painted duck pond stage centre was enhanced by the legendary technical wizardry that exists at Ratz.  Colourful and comical but not over the top costumes established each character providing them with a head start in engaging with the audience. (However, on a point of production detail, greater attention to the colour and type of underwear would be advisable).


The show provides a rich vein of opportunity for performers and this production was positively dripping with talent in all quarters.  For example, the quirky ‘wild goose chase’ number utilised innovative choreography and provided Colin Male (Greylag) and Laura-Jayne Shippey a chance to shine in cameo roles.  The same can be said of Karl Brittin (Bullfrog) with ‘warts and all’.


Good interaction between Emma Small (Ida) and Emlyn Moment (Drake) had all the ingredients of a modern stereotypical marriage and both extracted the sharp comedy from the script.  Taking centre sage with the comedy was Kevin Shippey (Cat) who had some brilliant one liners and some really good visuals gags.  His ribald number with Sky Carver (Queenie) was hilarious as both performers honed their respective roles to ‘purr-fection’.  Josh Shippey (Ugly) played the part well in a controlled rather understated manner which gained the empathy of the audience.


Good singing in depth from the whole company, underpinned by a great sounding ‘duckling’ quartet and lively dance routines made for a happy feeling to this production and sent their audience home in good spirits.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)








Producer: Robert Williams

Director and Choreographer: Laura-Jayne Shippey

Date: 2nd October 2009


One important aspect of life is to plan for the future and in some respects that’s just what this production was all about.  Put two young people in charge of production; add four young performers; four young dancers; a small female choir from Wisbech Grammar School; one adult, select some great numbers from the musicals and you have on your hands a most enjoyable compilation show.


The show moved at good pace with some clever changes in tempo and the young production team is to be congratulated on their wide choice of song styles and groupings. Individually the four performers were excellent; delivering their numbers with style and panache; their presence on stage exuding an air of confidence yet looking relaxed and cool at the same time.  The same can be said of the four dancers, and it was such a pleasure to see a pair of young men matching the two young ladies with their terpsichorean talents.  To my untrained eye, the crispness and execution of the choreography was almost Fosse like in attention to detail of hand movements etc.


The young ladies from Wisbech Grammar School Choir provided a charming guest slot in proceedings and perhaps, had they but presented another couple of songs, they too may have looked a little more relaxed and enjoyed the event themselves even more.  Smile, as Ron Moody puts it, “If it’s fun for you, it’s fun for them (the audience)”.


The usual technical wizardry from RATz was evident throughout the entire production and credit must go to the techies for controlling the pace of the production in cueing up the backing tracks relevant to the length of applause from the previous number.  I believe it to be one of the best productions of this type of show that I have seen in recent years.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)


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