2012 and 2011 Reviews


RATz pantomime



Director: Kevin Shippey

Choreographer: Nathan White

Vocal Coach: Emma Small

Date seen : Friday December 28th 2012


I missed out on last year’s NODA award winning RATz Pantomime for the simple reason that …. they didn’t invite me, so to avoid a similar catastrophe this year I used every available lever to make sure I was amongst the audience for the 2013 offering, Cinderella. In truth it was no easy feat for, despite adding additional perfomances, tickets were as rare as a reasonably priced Railway season ticket.


This Company has had a brilliant year and continue to buck all trends as they go from strength to strength. The RATz seasonal proposition is always billed as a “Traditional” Pantomime and it was certainly that, but in contrast to some similar offerings it was anything but tired. The script by Mark Jack was no better than average with the number of actual scripted gags woefully low but the author used an interesting sixties motif that really worked and, let’s be honest, the Right Angles A team were very much out in force!


Choreography courtesy of Nathan White and was absolutely stunning, accentuating the abilities of the very focused, very enthusiastic chorus. I know this was towards the end of the run and they had probably already done 600 performances but they really did dance as one. It was noted with interest that unlike other shows I have seen, the boys in the chorus actually looked like they wanted to be dancing and had not just been forced to do so to make up the numbers. Top chorus and dancing honours go to Danielle Beare who was extraordinarily watchable.


Of the supporting cast there were nice contributions from Al Hanrahan and Julie Hanrahan as the King and Queen, Lorraine Carver a Baroness Hardup and no shortage of commitment from Red Vaughan and Liam Nixon as Baddies and undercover Taggarts “Ruff and Ready”. Karl Brittin was excellent as the hen-pecked, Baron Hardup and his working of the running bad back joke got funnier every time he did it. I was also delighted with the control of Matthew Beare as royal side kick, Dandini, who will not be remembered for this performance but gave an important assist to the main cast members without ever going over the top.


It was nice to see Kevin Shippey and Emlyn Moment at the top of their games as ugly sisters Nasty and Drizzle with Mr Shippey giving an interesting new twist to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”! They suffered with the shortage of verbal humour but compensated more than adequately with the slapstick and visual comedy.


In an after show conversation I commented that although I like Panto....a lot.… the songs do get in the way and always seem to interrupt the flow. That was still true of this production but, because of the incredible talent of the singers, I didn’t mind at all. As Prince Charming, Jess Bates had a singing voice that was worth the ticket price alone! Similarly the outstanding Laura-Jane Shippey can stop traffic with that voice and, combined with a wonderfully demure characterisation, she was superb.


Penultimate paragraph accolades are split this time between Natalia Moment as Fairy Mary, providing a delightful narrative and a lovely characterisation that was simply the very embodiment of Pantomime and gave us the definitive Pantomime fairy and the remarkable Josh Shippey as the ludicrously endearing Buttons who sang, danced got covered in cake and just blew me away….again!


Sincere congratulations to Director, Kevin Shippey for a very tidy piece of work and to Kerry Shippey for a beautifully conceived set (even if the Stage Right door wouldn’t stay shut), together with some wonderful costume designs, manufactured by too many dedicated people to mention. The pre-recorded music delivered by Stephen Palmer was excellent and the lighting by Jonathan Salmon, Meggan Mercer and Niall Emerson totally appropriate. A final thank you to Vocal Coach, Emma Small who just seems to make these great singers sound …. Well great!


A benchmark Pantomime from one of the premier societies in the area ….. only 350 days to Christmas!


Stephen Hayter

(Regional Representative NODA Eastern Region Area 4 North)








Direcctor: Kevin Shippey

Musical Director: Steve Simmonds

Vocal Coach: Emma Small

Date seen: Wednesday October 31st 2012


It always fascinates me that, in a time of great commercial challenges for theatre, Wisbech can support three thriving amateur dramatic societies. Part of the answer to that conundrum is the diversity of the products that they offer and as ever, it was down to The Right Angles Theatre Company (RATz) to deliver something slightly less than mainstream.


Aside from being a title I had never even heard off, “A Slice Of Saturday Night” is a lightweight piece of silliness that doesn’t even offer the pretence of a story and is almost cabaret in its composition. Ironically It is just those things that make it perfect for this company and this venue. “Slice” is a satirical insight into a standard Saturday night in any town in the mid-sixties. Boys, girls, booze, violence, drugs and sexual tension, oh how the memories come flooding back. A simpler time remembered with affection by a show that never drifted anywhere near to dealing with any of those things seriously. The musical numbers are all parodies of well know songs of the era with slight (in some cases very slight) changes to the notes and a complete and relevant set of new lyrics.


The set by Kevin Shippey and Phil Griggs was excellent. A box set with pull out ladies and gents toilets. You don’t get that in Oklahoma!

Lighting was perfect and the costumes looked pleasingly authentic with hair and makeup to match.


The cast consists of Eric (Rubber Legs De Vene) the Nightclub Manager, four girls and four boys and is very much an ensemble piece which on this night had no weak links. From the girls team there were excellent characterisations from Kristy Burton as Penny and Jess Bates as Sue with a really crowd pleasing performance from hard working Rachael Nichols as Sharon. Top marks however go to Laura–Jayne Shippey as Bridget who handled the comedy and the small amount of pathos with a delicate touch and headlined some top quality vocals from all four ladies.


Of the boys Ashly Kerkhof and Jake Anthony or James Pearse (I didn’t find out who was on that night of the two) looked the less experienced of the quartet but still delivered good performances with Liam Nixon as shy Rick making a nice job of several songs and some amusing romantic diversions. My pick of the boys has to be charismatic Josh Shippey who put everything into a dynamic performance as wide boy Gary. I cried with laughter at his drunk scene in the song Oh So Bad which he (and possibly the director) had put a lot of thought into. As with the girls the four lads produced some outstanding vocals and my hat is entirely off to vocal coach Emma Small who (I later found out) created all the wonderful harmonies and then work to bring them to the stage to be delivered to such an amazingly high standard.


What can you say about Kevin Shippey that hasn’t all been said before. He never looks like he has a clue what he is going to say next but when he does say it, you are always pleased he did. In this production he took the pivotal role of Club Manager, father figure and amateur social worker Eric, the hard man with the heart of gold. One of the many highlights was his beautiful introspective delivery of “Who’d Be Seventeen” with the company all working together to sell it.


A Slice Of Saturday Night may have been on the West End, but it felt more at home to me in this small venue with sadly, a relatively small audience.


I liked this production and that has a lot to do with excellent direction by Kevin Shippey and some superb singing perfomances by the cast.


Well done guys, never stop bringing us the stuff that no one else dares to do.


Stephen P E Hayter

(Regional Representative NODA Eastern Region - Area 4 North)








Director: Kevin Shippey

Musical Director: Steve Simmonds

Choreographer: Laura-Jayne Shippey

Date seen: 8th October 2011


For a production that tackles head on so many taboos, Rent seems to be becoming an acceptable choice for even mainstream societies. As a rock opera it still represents a major challenge in casting and performing but with the depth of singing talent available to RATz both in house and assimilated they were always capable of turning in a good production.


The set was a well lit scaffolding affair with steps up both sides and a gantry at the top giving an interesting layered effect with a stunning smoked and up lit subway grill making an impressive centre piece. Costumes were contemporary with a nod towards the 90’s and the four piece band made a good sound.


The quality of the singing was astonishing and this coupled with strong characterisations throughout the entire eight main parts meant there were no weak links. The pick of the performers for me were Josh Shippey, as former band front man Rodger, still recovering from his girlfriends suicide and the discovery that he is HIV positive; Lauren Hoskins as drug addict stripper, Mimi, and Ross Woodhouse as gay philosophy Professor Tom Collins. There was also a creditable debut performance from Fabrizio Schiavone whose inexperience was noticeable but not obtrusive.


The main production number “Seasons of Love” was beautifully delivered with a truly memorable six piece harmony and Laura-Jayne Shippey and Jess Bates as lesbian lovers, Maureen and Joanne, made a nice job of “Take Me or Leave Me”, however, I felt the musical highlight was “Light My Candle”, an emotion charged love duet delivered perfectly by Josh Shippey and Lauren Hoskins.


This was a pretty good production from an accomplished group of actors and actresses and although instances of poor diction made some of the words difficult to understand and the whole show looked under rehearsed and a little untidy for it, I enjoyed the evening’s entertainment. My compliments to Director Kevin Shippey, who should be pleased with the end result which will undoubtedly improve as the run continues.


Stephen Hayter

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)








Director: Laura-Jayne Shippey

Musical Director: Cast Members

Choreographer: Laura-Jayne Shippey

Date seen: 3rd September 2011


As the title suggests, this production is a song and dance compilation based on music from the movies, nothing new in that concept but what a refreshing change to witness numbers lifted from a wide selection of films.  To give a flavour of the production; amongst the numbers were usual standards such as What a Feeling (Flashdance), Time of My Life (Dirty Dancing) and My Heart Will Go On (Titanic), complimented by numbers like There You’ll Be (Pearl Harbour), Can’t Fight the Moonlight (Coyote Ugly) and Your Song (Moulin Rouge).  The artistic and creative use of the technology available to RATz was on display with the clever opening announcements.  Projected visually on to a screen as opening credits to a film in the style of the Star Wars films (or was it Superman – I can’t remember?).  Either way it was very effective.


In a juxtaposition of time, the opening number was a modern ballet set to the end credits from Pirates of the Caribbean.  Following on from this were a succession of songs, predominately solo numbers, all presented to a very high standard.  The song selections and interpretations were interesting and delivered at good pace and in this respect one must also pay tribute to the technical team responsible for cueing the backing tracks.  In a departure from the norm of having a compère additional interest was added by use of a voice over technique.  Performing in an array of beautiful evening dresses the young ladies; Jess Bates, Lauren Hoskins and Laura-Jayne Shippey looked and sounded stunning.  The young men; Josh Shippey, Robert Williams and Billy Garner were quite debonair in their attire and equally impressive with their performances.


A troupe of eight dancers provided energetic dance routines or complimented some of the songs to good effect with solo or duet routines.  None more so than the iconic Time of My Life routine, unfortunately the programme does not list individual performance details; which for once is perhaps just as well because it would be unfair to single out anyone in a production as entertaining as this one was.


My biggest criticism is aimed at the rude or ignorant audience members who were constantly talking to each other throughout the performance, it was very off putting for the rest of us let alone the performers on stage working so hard to concentrate and entertain.  So congratulations to the cast for maintaining their concentration in what must have been trying circumstances.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)





RATz Youth



Director: Emlyn Moment

Musical Director: Gabriel Fitzsimmons

Choreographer: Natalia Moment

Date seen: 15th April 2011


My programme is covered with copious notes, most of them complimentary, on this fine production from the young people at RATz; but let me start by congratulating the wardrobe team. The homemade costumes were fantastic giving every character a head start (which is just as well with the Queen of Hearts about) as they all looked their part.


The story in this adaptation is moved along by an unseen narrator beautifully voiced by the MD, Gabriel Fitzsimmons.  (Deserving of more applause than he received during the actual performance I felt).


A sparkling idiosyncratic performance from Thomas Gregory as White Rabbit and the singing from the Choir lead by soloist Eden Carver set the benchmark for this production and the quality just kept coming.  Liam Nixon (Duchess) had good stage presence and on the strength of a very energetic “We’re mad down here” showed all the potential for being a great panto dame in the future.

The Mad Hatter’s tea party was a riot; the “Tea for Three” number, performed by a quartet, was well executed while the fast tongue twisting alliteration of Muchness, Muchness was brilliant.  Danae Larham (Mad Hatter), Kelsey Dring (March Hare) and Adam Warnes (Dormouse) were all well drilled vocally and in movement when bringing this song to life.


Two important aspects of performance many need to understand are the requirement of good diction and the difference between shouting and projection.


No problem in this department for Danielle Beare in the title role of Alice, who looked and acted the part superbly, delivering a somewhat angry edge to her character which was perhaps more in keeping with the original book than other interpretations.


Good support from the whole company, many of whom had cameo roles, ensured this production moved with pace and vitality. A four piece band provided musical accompaniment to the fine singing and the whole production was underpinned by solid technical support.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)








Director: Kevin Shippey

Musical Director: Steve Simmonds

Vocal Coach: Emma Small

Choreographer: Laura-Jayne Shippey

Date seen: 12th March 2011


I am full of respect and admiration for the predominantly young cast for their courage to tackle this demanding piece of theatre.  RATz have always tried to push the boundaries and I applaud them too for taking the risk on this show.


If you do not know the show and are easily offended, please skip to the next review.


Spring Awakening is a rock musical adaptation of an 1891 German play.  The story is of the sexual awakening in a group of young people under the oppressive and repressed ideology of the day.  It deals with sexual ignorance and the embarrassing inability of parents to speak of the facts of life; adolescence frustrations, masturbation and fantasies; sadomasochistic tendencies; heterosexual and homosexual relationships; incest and back street abortionists.  This is not a production for the faint hearted; it is brutal and full of anger.  Watching I was moved through emotions of humour, guilt, embarrassment, anger, sorrow and compassion.


There was not a weak link in the cast of 16, each of whom must have been emotionally drained by the experience.  Adult cast members Lorraine Carver and Rob Newton had the unenviable task of playing all the adult roles and had to slip from teacher to parent to doctor etc. throughout the play.  The fine performances of these two in the artistic success of this production should not be overlooked.

It is a pleasure to see people develop and Josh Shippey (Moritz) demonstrated just how fine an actor he is with his excellent portrayal of a young man driven to suicide.  Jack Hurst (Hanschen) is another young man starting to make his mark and I was impressed with his timing and mannerisms.  Lisa Arbon (Wendla) was magnificent in bringing out the naivety and ignorance of her character.  Her sexual intercourse scene with Melchior, (played as a seduction rather than as a rape), was on par with that of Elena Roger’s in Piaf at the Donmar.  On top with his performance (literally) was Pat Jolly in the role of Melchior.  Here again we witnessed a performance class in a role akin to that of James Dean in 'Rebel without a cause'; though in this case there was a cause, and the performance equally as brooding.


It was nice for a change to be able to glimpse the four piece band providing the good musical accompaniment as well as just hearing them.  Singing from the entire cast was very impressive and credit must go to Emma Small for this aspect of the show – any hard work on the harmonies certainly paid off.  The energetic modern dance routines fitted well with each number and complimented the stage directions making good use of space.  The atmospheric lighting plot put the finishing touches to this stunning production, and I congratulate all involved with it.


James Farr

(District Representative NODA Eastern Region - District 4 North)


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