Strong performance of endearing post-war story

Betty Blue Eyes, Lowther Pavilion
Lowther pavilion: Pic courtesy of Google Street ViewLowther pavilion: Pic courtesy of Google Street View
Lowther pavilion: Pic courtesy of Google Street View

Few shows feature an appealing stuffed pig but to the credit of St Annes Operatic and Dramatic Society, Betty never upstaged them.

Effective choreography captures the audience’s attention in the ensemble numbers, providing a strong opening and scene linking for this endearing story of a post-war community wanting fair shares for all.

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The villainous town councillors keen to consume Betty at a private function celebrating the Royal engagement are Swaby, Lockwood and Allardyce. Neil James, Len Hampson and Michael Cosgrove extract comedy and pathos from their numbers particularly when trying to convince Leo Appleton’s imposing Wormold that there is no pig in the house. The women’s cameo roles are handled equally well. Jeanette Appleton, Sarah Cosgrove, Charlotte Clay and Joanne James capture the innuendo and sadness of ‘Magic Fingers’.

The central figures of the Chilvers are particularly well acted and sung. James Quine gives a balanced performance as Gilbert, combining comic skills with a lovely softening of mood in the ‘The Kind of Man I am’. He is well partnered by Danielle Wrench as Joyce. Her strong, pleasing voice and stage presence convey a character who changes swiftly from Lady Macbeth to someone devastated at being a nobody. Vera Cummins as Mother Dear completes the family; her skillful comic timing and stagecraft are highlights.

The audience clearly enjoyed the show and were tolerant of occasionally slow scene changes which held up the action. Director Joseph Appleton and his team have done justice to this engaging new musical which runs until Saturday.

Di Prutton