Carmen - December 2010
December 2010 - Bizet's Carmen
Jennifer is thrilled to be taking part in the chorus of the next RNCM Opera production of Bizet's Carmen, sung in French.
Royal Northern College Of Music
December 8, 2010
The Royal Northern College’s first ever production of Carmen is in its tradition of big-scene spectaculars.
Director Stefan Janski uses his cast of 120 to fill the stage whenever he can, and with the help of Francisco Rodriguez-Weil’s set and costume designs, and Emma Chapman’s atmospheric lighting, won applause at the outset of both acts two and four on the opening night.
The translation from 19th century to 1937 was novel, but made little difference from a conventional production, as Janski stuck to the scenario of town square, bar and bullring and told the story straight.
Choreographer Bethan Rhys Wiliam went to town with flamenco style in the second act (Pastia’s bar), and had in Mark Burns a Pastia who could dance as well as sing.
But with the RNCM, it’s the gifts of the solo singers that shine, and this was a gifted cast.
Kathryn Rudge, in the title role, sustained her mellow tone throughout as did Sipho Fubesi as Don José. I found real interest in the promise showed by several of the other principals, who have a natural flair for the stage. Elizabeth Karani (Frasquita), for instance, is an outstanding singing actress.
The best feature of all was the orchestral playing and the skill of Clark Rundell, the conductor, which made this one of the most musically distinguished Carmens I’ve seen.
Programmatic piece of improvisation, based on machines. Performed with James Cairns on flute and tin foil, and Beatrice Leclere on voice.
The Wiz - April 2010
The Wiz - Thursday 22 > Saturday 24 April 2010
RNCM Outreach is committed to opening up musical opportunities to all areas of the community, primarily with the focus of young people. Following last years’ successful production of West Side Story, they once again turn to a lesser performed production of the Soul/Disco retelling of The Wizard of Oz ‘The Wiz’.
Primarily the story stays very close to the iconic tale we all know and love, Dorothy having been caught in a tornado wakes up to find herself in another land, desperate to go home she seeks the help of the Wizard of Oz to help her get there. On the way she encounters and befriends a brainless Scarecrow, a heartless Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion who also seek out the Wizards help. In order for them to get what they require they must kill The Wicked Witch of the West.
Directed by Caroline Clegg, this production is full of local students from surrounding schools and a few RNCM students to help for good measure. It is a brave decision to produce a show that is so full of soul and 70’s disco inspired numbers, which are hard for the best of people to pull off but the strong cast do an admirable job and provide boundless energy from the off, bringing Clegg’s clear and pacey production vividly to life.
Daniel McDwyer (Lion), Matthew Borkin (Tin Man) and Saoirse Ryan (Scarecrow) provide strong support throughout the show bringing these iconic characters to life with enough sprinkling of originality to make each part their own. Ryan is particularly strong as the overly flexible and dim witted Scarecrow, and really shines when singing her first solo song ‘I was born the day before yesterday.’ Credit must also be given to Michael Graham as The Wiz who gives a strong turn and to Lol Storey who commanded the stage with fantastic comedy timing as Oz’s Gatekeeper.
Ruth Betteridge is a stunning Dorothy and exudes charisma and warmth from the off. Delivering the mass of musical numbers with confidence and skill, with a smooth vocal and a perfect accent she is a name to look out for in the future, but it must be said the shows true shining star is Kira-Marie Maher as the overgrown Toto; her performance was highly physical and energised and although having no dialogue as such, she managed to captivate the audience through a wide range of facial expressions and a smile that is brighter than the green emeralds of OZ.
It must be said that despite all the good elements of the show, there are several elements which let the production down, the first is the sound, at times the mix is so unbalanced that the backing singers and orchestra seriously over power the wonderful singing of the leads. The second concerns the members of RNCM student body who have been brought in as backing singers in the production, this as a concept is fine, but Laurence McNaughton, Hannah Peel and Meinir Wyn Roberts over belt their vocals which at times comes across out of pitch and flat, they also need to be careful when on stage that they do not upstage and divert the attention from the hard work being put in by the rest of the cast – a very fine and delicate line to tread.
Overall this is a wonderful production and it is a joy to hear a musical in the city being played by a full pit orchestra expertly conducted by Tom Newall. If you want a show full of fantastic performers, a show full of musical numbers that have a disco/soul infusion and one that will leave you with a smile on your face, then head over to the Royal Northern College of Music before the show ends and flies over the rainbow never to be seen again.
Runs until Sat 24th April