Theatre review - Glorious!, Lowther Pavilion, Lytham
- Credit: Archant
The Lytham Anonymous Players bring down the curtain on their 2017 programme.
Based on actual events, “Glorious!” tells the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a woman that desperately believed she was one of the greatest opera singers in the world, despite the fact that she could not sing a note. Recently produced for the silver screen and boasting the acting talents of Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, the movie was blessed with Oscar nominations and the Lytham Anonymous Players rendition will not be far off the awards either.
There is something that we could all learn from Florence Foster Jenkins. She has this captivating personality. She has determination and belief and she lives the dreams that many of us dare not to even follow. She is warm, she is inspirational, and she is funny, even though she doesn’t try to be. Sarah Jane Stone’s scintillating performance had all of that and more. From the moment she graced the stage with her presence, she had our hearts and she would not let them go.
Peter Quilter’s version of events plays out a wonderful sea of colour and tranquillity, coupled with some very dissimilar yet eccentric characters along the way. In terms of cast, the size was minimalistic, but the performances were not.
Director Ian Rowe has worked wonders with his version of the play. He has the backing of a truly beautiful cast and the support of a very funny script, complete with one liners and not your typical farce style either. Modern technology joined forces with practicality as the set was doubled into various locations and the centre wall was used to project stills from the years gone by as the performance played out. It gave that wonderful feel of nostalgia and depth.
Much like Les Dawson’s infamous performances on the piano whereby, even though he was an accomplished pianist, he could still play badly and we would wait for the laughs, Sarah Stone’s Florence was on a very similar scale. There were actual notes that were hit to perfection at one moment and then totally off the scale at once and that’s what made the performance and left the audience dabbing the tears from theirs eyes on more than one occasion as they waited for the bum note. It never got tiresome, it actually got funnier every time. But, it’s not just the performance of Florence that gets laughs, it’s the subtle deliveries of quick witted lines and hilarious predicaments that add appeal to the story.
Huw Rose offered great support in the guise of the timid and somewhat nervous character of Cosme McMoon, a pianist that gets the opportunity to play alongside Florence. Huw not only gifted us with immeasurable talent on the piano, but with a gifted, perfectly executed performance as McMoon. Jeff Redfern delivered, as always, a wonderful performance as St. Clair, the Ying to Florence’s Yang. St. Clair is a British actor living in New York and still performing in plays, but offers the support to his love, Florence, as she strives to be a success. Mandy Hall played Florence’s friend, the often eccentric Dorothy, complete with pet dog, who provided some of the shows more quirky lines, but packaged off in a perfect portrayal. Caz Thompson was Maria, the crazy Mexican maid working for Florence and St. Clair who spoke no English and was disgruntled most of the time. Caz’s portrayal of the maid was one of the highlights of the show. Kirsten Burnett added support as the stuck-up Mrs Verrinder-Gedge, the only real antagonist of the play who wanted Florence to know the truth about the singer she thinks she is.
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The beauty of this play was how all of the characters were completely different, but how all of the actors made them that way and that is true credit to every performer on the stage. I can’t remember the last time I cried laughing from watching a show. Quite possibly one of the best plays I have seen from the Lytham Anonymous Players.
The show runs nightly from 7:30pm at the Lowther Pavilion up to and including Saturday 25th November.
For tickets please visit the Lowther website – www.lowtherpavilion.co.uk