Review: Bolsover Drama Group’s night at musicals

“With musicals, there are songs about love or death or whatever happens in between. We have tried to lighten things up with a little bit of sarcasm, a little bit of light humour and some songs that are just plain silly.”

Director and MC Ray Hall’s speech covered all the bases, paving the way for Bolsover Drama Group’s big annual song show, or to give it its official title, One Night At The Musicals.

Saturday night’s extravaganza at the Assembly Rooms attracted a much bigger crowd than previous years and saw the company push the envelope further than it has done before.

Bold and a little risqué, the show included a number from La Cage Aux Folles in which James Sheppard belted out a storming version of I Am What I Am, wearing a red, gold and black dress and blonde wig, to rapturous applause.

Peter Maddison, Chris Peck, Dale Shaw and Ray Wignall brought the house down as they emerged on stage bare-chested, wearing loin cloths and carrying wooden crosses on their backs. Their Always Look On The Bright Side song from the Life of Brian film was the funniest and most irreverent sketch of the night.

In a touch of irony, this was followed by a number from Jesus Christ Superstar, with Julie Clifford giving an exquisite solo performance of I Don’t Know How To Love Him.

MIchelle Simpson turned up the heat with All That Jazz from Chicago, emerging on stage in baby doll black dress and lace-topped stockings to wow the audience with her scorchingly seductive solo before being joined by four backing singers.

Bolsover’s answer to Boyzone - Adam Chapman, Paul Holland, Peter Maddison and James Sheppard - impressed with their rendition of No Matter What, accompanied by three female vocalists.

Adam then showed his versatility with a knockout solo, Why God Why from Miss Saigon.

Young soloist Laura Hulett, contributed one of the sweetest and best sung pieces in her rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do from the musical Grease.

Paul Holland gave an impressive performance of The Impossible Dream, his hand reaching out to the audience as he held onto that seemingly impossible long note at the end.

Characterisation came to the fore in two solos from Garry Johnson. For this first song he was dressed in beret and military shirt to sing Oh What A Circus from Evita, a difficult song with its Latin section but one which he mastered. The second saw him emerge in bowler hat, white gloves and his face covered in rouge to sing Mr Cellophane from Chicago in a truly heart-tugging performance.

Ray Hall excelled in his solo, Music Of The Night, from Phantom of the Opera, emerging on stage in a cloak and with his face shielded by a mask.

Musical director Paula Bargh teamed up with Wendy Blunt to sing Memory from Cats in which their voices complemented each other and then gave a solo performance of As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard.

Soloists Susan Hilton, Barbara Booth and Chrissy Smith treated the audience to I have Confidence from The Sound Of Music, Tell Me On A Sunday from the musical of the same name and Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music respectively.

The combined company excelled in harmonies running through popular numbers such as Can You Feel The Love Tonight from The Lion King and Rhythm Of Life from Sweet Charity and in less familiar songs Seasons of Love from Rent and Facade from Jekyll and Hyde.

GAY BOLTON