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Reviews of the latest shows

Review from Mr G Martin

Let me start by saying I am in no way a theatre critic, nor am I used to writing my opinions on theatrical performances but my family and I attended the performance of Chicago, not knowing anything about FADLOS or even Fakenham Community centre, but we all agreed that out of 2020 we found an absolute amateur theatre hidden gem.

I won’t bore you with the details around our arrival and the Covid restrictions that were in place but be assured it was highly organised, safe and friendly, despite our first impressions of the very obvious Council owned building, the true magic was waiting on the stage.

From the second the music started, the level of talent, the slickness of the production, the brilliant direction and staging and the overall look of the stage and cast blew us all away. Chicago for those who you who don’t know is a story set in the 1920’s, housewife Roxie Hart dreams of fame but after killing her lover, she ends up on death row where she meets another murderess, a vaudevillian named Velma Kelly. The two develop a rivalry for the spotlight and for fame in the hope it will keep them from their fate. Roxie Hart was played by Dominique Tonitto, she was beautifully outstanding and captivating throughout the entire show, she didn’t drop her character for one second. Emma Galley played Velma Kelly, she matched Roxie in her talent, but also had very obvious performance experience as she commanded the stage in her expertly performed solo numbers, but the true magic was when the two sang together it was West End worthy.

Of course the two main females were not alone on stage, the smooth talking lawyer Billy Flynn was played by Jeremy Barker, his performance was on par with Richard Gere in the film, his singing, dancing and acting were completely on point, he also looked very smart in his tuxedo. Roxie’s naïve husband Amos was played by Ian Gooda, he won the hearts of the audience almost immediately and delivered the perfect level of comedy without making it too pantomime, very balanced. Both men were perfectly cast and throughout the number brought the two lead females back to reality sometimes with a bump.

On hand for some additional advice was Mama Morton, played by Laura Marvell-James, incredible vocals and characterisation and we spent the majority of the car ride home wondering if it was her hair or a wig (well done Blanks Canvas). Add in the outstanding 5 Merry Murderesses, Mary Sunshine and a small but strong ensemble it was a recipe for brilliance. The six piece band lead by Joanna Kemp showed that it is quality and not quantity as it sounded like there was a full orchestra, not a note wrong – perfection.

The very clever staging by Director Ben Francis was original and brilliant, the flow of the show never faltered and although we knew the show had been restaged to satisfy Covid regulations you wouldn’t have known by watching the show, a true triumph.

We have been to amateur productions all over Norfolk and Suffolk in big theatres, piers and village halls, but it was unanimous from the group I was with that FADLOS were the best we have ever seen and will be our favourite moment of 2020, we will also be supporting them for every future performance, they truly are a hidden gem – Fakenham are very lucky!​

Review from Sue Dupont

​Thank you very much for the invitation to see FADLOS in their annual family pantomime, this year Cinderella, and how delighted that you have a sell-out week.

​The ‘best pantomime dame’ of the county, and who can match Ben Francis in being the second Ugly Sister, this year so a change on stage to be in Direction charge with all his experience instead. What an admirable idea to stage with a younger, mostly teenage principals, augmented by your usual adults in backing plus a huge number of children, giving an opportunity to learn and be coached and directed by an expert, and to offer the chance for the future with these upcoming thespians in a more modern script (Chris Bennion) and style, definitely very energetic modern style movement, a fun panto for all and very much enjoyed by the small youngsters sitting near me in the audience.

​Thomas Bailey as Dandini and Max Lake as Prince Charming had a very good rapport and worked well together in a professional style as they changed places and planned the great ball, nice voices. Fairy Godmother Kaisha Riches looked good (all costumes were excellent by Dereham Theatre Costumes) and kept her rhyming style.

​Into the hall and a lovely Cinderella from Alice Hobbs, very strong and good vocals, worked well with Prince and particularly with Buttons. And in this role Ryan Standing took the attention with his swift deliveries, excellent diction and timing, he ran rings around the others on stage, another who had learned from the direction.

​Michael Sylvester (Floenza) and Lee Gibbons (Robella) were a good pair to work together, obviously tutored by Ben, and their timing was good, very colourful costumes, and suitably unkind to Cinderella. Baron Hardup (Peter Blakeley) took the custard pies and Lady Hardup (Michelle Hollingsworth-Keogh) had to walk home from the ball in haughty silence.

​I Liked Jack and Jill (Alex Chidichimo and Grace Dodd) as the multipurpose helpers with total incompetence but fun-filled natures as they ruined many moments. And all loved the horse Dancer who pulled the carriage, and the appearance of the ‘monster’ (noisy!).

​But the main impression of this production, with this huge young cast was the total commitment filled with excessive energy and enthusiasm as they filled the stage with their singing and movement, this was a fun evening in a week of lights and Christmas trees to bring the festive season to Fakenham and bodes well for the future.

​​​​Sincerely Sue

Thank you very much for the invitation to see FADLOS in East Anglian Amateur Premiere of ‘Chitty’ and what a fabulous magical evening we all enjoyed, definitely a ‘feel good atmosphere’ for all involved both on stage and in audience. In spite of all the many difficulties in staging this show in a small community hall venue, you have worked miracles with the structural survey, the reinforcement of stage, the rebuilding of stage surface just before opening, all for that car from Blue Chilli which was total magic and something not expected to happen in Fakenham. And add in the LED screen hired from Viking with images from Ronnie West plus an imaginative set, and the whole feeling was out of this world and we were transported like magic, many congratulations to all involved in this massive project. (I dare not think of the cost but the full houses must give some comfort for the outlay). Add in the beautiful and stunning costume plot from Dereham Theatre Costumes for the icing on the cake.Lighting plot added to feel good atmosphere. Lucy Ferris as Director had all the cast on her side and how well they fitted the many roles and lifted the action. Choreography from Ben Francis and Danielle Standing was lively and well drilled and gave the energetic chorus some good numbers (loved Me Old Bamboo and the Bombi Samba). And Joanna Kemp is always such an excellent MD, and her orchestra is always such a joy to listen to, we know from the moment the overture begins that we are in for a treat. The two children, Jemima and Jeremy Potts, from Molly Freestone and Teejay Standing, were quite exceptional with their clear voices and projection, singing voices, acting skills, and energetic approach to the roles. And in the family, just loved Robin Hawkes as Grandpa Potts in whiskers and tales of India. As lead Caractacus Potts, Ben Francis had a huge part for leading the Production and tale and singing the songs, dancing the dance, and all the action with great interaction with all his fellow actors, plus controlling those magical moments of the car in flying. And opposite him as Truly Scrumptious, Tilly Baron was a delight with those true notes and her movement, her empathy to the family, her style, elegance and looks, a special performance. The comedy stakes well brought out in this production: Boris and Goran (Phoebe Caesari and Kerry Davis) as the two Vulgarian spies had good timing and movement in their interference throughout. And the rulers of Vulgaria, Baron and Baroness Bomburst (Scott Meacock and Emma Galley) were hilarious in all ways with their relationship, their outlandish behaviour, the toy fetish, really this couple a superb and talented comedy team with some singing and dance skills. Alex Chidichimo as Toy Maker contributed to the story in fine style, and also Peter Blakeley as Lord Scrumptious and Michael Silvester as a very frightening Child Catcher: all so important to the story balance, plus the many small cameo roles throughout. But it is the great ‘company’ feel of fun and enthusiasm with great energy and joy of performing that is the overwhelming feel good factor to take home after the standing ovations of full houses and never ending applause of yet another chorus of ‘chitty’ as the car rose and flew with magic.

Review Of White Christmas by Sue Dupont.

Thank you very much for the invitation to see FADLOS in their production of ‘White Christmas’, and what an enjoyable evening of nostalgia was appreciated by the nearly ‘sold-out’ audience, great singing afterwards on journey home. An excellent band as usual under Jo Kemp, and we hummed along from the first moment of the overture and all those very familiar melodies, what a joy of nostalgia. An inspired decision to spend all that money on the ETS video screen and project the sets, no space in wings, who cares, and no time wasted in a fast show with scene changes, definitely a good idea for small and awkward stages. Well done to Ben to find authentic pictures for the graphics when possible (army camp, nightclub, hotel), add in barn and Christmas scenes, and how good it looked. Also those costumes so colourful and the many changes, a feast for the eye. Remembering Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the film, certainly Ben Francis as Bob Wallace and Alex Chidichimo as Phil Davis did brilliantly in their song and dance routines and the re-enactment of those roles, very smooth in style and vocals, slick in movement, and as a duo performance could not be faulted.

And opposite them as the two girls, Lucy Ferris as Betty and Maria Cutting as Judy, the Haynes sisters, great vocals from these two and interaction, dance routines and whole style so smooth, and how well this foursome worked with great empathy and period. And in the funny character role, Paula Graver was in her element as Martha Watson, the hotel manager, with her huge voice, that great sense of timing and comedy, what a treat to watch her. And this group of performers showed the experience and long-term talent on the FADLOS stage, and how well balanced this show could be. In lesser roles Michael Silvester as General Waverly gave some dignitas to the performance and a rational for the whole enterprise. Susan played by Olivia Cunningham complimented the action with a fresh approach and reaction to all, nice voice. Stand-in for illness, Michael Stoker did not show how little rehearsal time given; and loved the awkward Ezekiel from Peter Blakeley. The chorus well drilled, good numbers both vocally and in movement, full of energy and life needed for this musical, and looked good in those costumes. Altogether a very happy feel production and worthy of your good houses, loved it.

Review of Jack and the Beanstalk from Sue Dupont.

Thank you very much for the invitation to the 40th anniversary Family Pantomime from FADLOS of 'Jack and the Beanstalk', and what a great evening we all enjoyed in the packed auditorium.

FADLOS has created over the recent year a reputation of giving the town a proper 'family' pantomime and they are now anticipated with eagerness each year before Christmas, and once again to a high standard and all the ingredients required with this Norman Robbins script. A change of directorial team this year to encourage and bring forward a different talented viewpoint but no deterioration in the product again with the traditional and family as key words for a quality show. So Directors Alex Chidichimo and Tilly Baron, Musical Director Jo Kemp, and choreography by Tilly Baron kept up the reputation of FADLOS with this huge cast. A very colourful set and great costume plot feasted the eyes on the stage.

The Dame, as usual, stole the show, not only because of the sheer 'Best Dame performance EVER' this performance is enjoyed every year from Ben Francis with his perfect timing and experience, stage presence, vocals, movement and interaction to cast and audience for participation, but also with those fabulous costumes we come to expect each year from the 'Hudson Studio' with a different one for each appearance but especially those wigs and headdresses which defy gravity and just suspend belief.

A large cast including a chorus from seniors as wells those from FADLOS KIDZ filled the stage, such good energy into all the fast pace movement plus excellent projection and loud vocals, a really good company appeal and enthusiasm in the very catchy numbers, made one want to be a part of the action.

A delightful Fairy Thistledown, Michelle Hollingsworth - Keogh, looked really good and stylish, with excellent projected diction and definitely a 'feel good factor'. In contrast Peter Blakeley's Rancid was someone not to meet on a dark night and quite frightening for some of the younger audience members.

How lovely to have such a delightful and well matched young duo, good voices and they could both dance, with Thomas Bailey as Jack and Victoria Ferris as Princess Melissa, probably their first time in lead roles but they showed their mettle with equal excellent performances and great for the future of the company.

And to the comedy side with Lucy Ferris as an energetic and hard-working Simple Simon, winding up the audience into action, and those guides were noisy, and generally keeping the pace up to speed. In a totally contrasting role to her usual style, Paula Graver as a character King Hubert not only kept the story running of the impoverished village and the beanstalk adventure, but her comedy turns with the Dame were absolutely great and caused much mirth, she and Ben have worked together over the years and this rapport and intuition on stage together is something truly special to watch.

One should not forget a very important member of this traditional story, Daisy the cow who looked delightful in style and was well worked by Harriet Baldock and Isabel Clements.

And to the brilliant innovation and surprise, how very clever to have the inflatable beanstalk just grow on stage, congratulations to the society on that idea as it was very effective and the deflation when it was chopped down.

Once again a great family entertainment enjoyed with noisy appreciation from all ages in the packed auditorium, keep up this great tradition.

Review of Sister Act from Sue Dupont Noda Rep. Thank you very much for the invitation to see Fadlos in a very special production of "Sister Act" and a very happy 50th birthday to the company with a sell out show and such a joyous occasion giving and showing happiness to all on stage and the packed audiences and the word round the town ensures support for the future.

Definitely an excellent choice for the birthday show, a large cast with 20 Nuns plus the others and including those younger, extra acolytes in some numbers to ensure maximum participation. Ben Francis had definitely recruited the A team cast and worked them well at rehearsal in characterisation and great movement, and Jo Kemp is brilliant as MD both working with the cast and leading her very excellent group in the pit, such a good sound.

Jill Graver and Tilly Baron as nightclub support Tina and Michelle had it all with dance flexibility and vocals and oozing sex appeal in their support for the amazing Deloris.

In this role Victoria Perryman was superb, she had the voice and vocal style, the personality and mix of moods in her interactions with the other cast, acting skills and dance movement, looks and the stage presence to dominate throughout in a great performance. (Not bad from the pantomime chorus at Christmas - This was her role!!)

With 4 weeks from curtain at Cromer, Made in Dagenham, to opening Fadlos in replacement for Mother Superior Chrissie Robertson showed that with the right actress, vocal skills, drive and dedication plus time and help from all concerned it is possible to turn in an excellent portrayal with real character and empathy, particularly working so well with Deloris in their scenes above all with the perfect projection and diction so we did not miss a word, really a performance to congratulate as most of the audience not aware of stand in circumstances.

To the Nuns and their big big numbers, this group were the backbone of the show and they were fabulous in their song and slick dance numbers and so many with their little characteristics to make it not a cloned chorus. Loved seeing Avril Temple in her 50th year with the group as a founder member and playing an elderly Nun with attitude, they had such fun and huge energy and what superb harmonies throughout, Sister Mary Patrick from Lucy Ferris was larger than life with comedy and personality and voice and Sister Mary lazarus from Paula Graver (With stick as prop) had the timing and comedy and tried hard to steal the show. These two Nuns really had the cream parts and they did not let go for a second at the front of the stage and leading the huge chorus as they filled the space. And in the younger role of Sister Mary Robert, Kara Field showed what is store for the future of Fadlos, voice and acting and personality in full view - very good.

To the male gangster characters, a very strong Curtis from Michael Silvestor who was definitely in charge of his minions, with a menace. The three TJ from Alex Chidichimo, Pablo from Callum Brown and Joey from Thomas Semmons all developed their specific traits with skill and timing to give the comedy touch and the two numbers from them in the show had polish. As Eddie, Ben Francis showed great style in his interpretation with an extremely well played slight underplay which suited the character well and showed the relationship and empathy needed in the role as he worked with Deloris, Vocally very sound and personality plus as needed and a very nice performance.

Peter Blakeley as M O'Hara had the presence and dignity, yet the timing and twinkle needed in his relationships with Mother Superior, loved the slightly different from previous viewings interpretations a strong performance.

Must congratulate the designers and craftsmen who made and painted this set to maximise the acting space on this unforgiving stage with no wing space. The atmosphere created was excellent with minimal change time adding to the slickness of their production (Good Lighting too!!).

But above all the audience had this amazing feel good joyous and filled with energy production to enjoy, great casting, singing and dance and we did not want the show to finish. Which is exactly the way to celebrate 50 years of entertainment with Fadlos and I wish you all well in the next 50 years.

Review of Peter Pan from Noda representative Sue DuPont:

Thank you very much for the invitation to see Fadlos in their family Pantomime Peter Pan and what a great time the noisy full house audience enjoyed. Fadlos always fill the stage with all ages and energy plus a good happy feel as the curtain rises, opportunities for all in the company and a great attack at numbers; colourful on the eye and liked the imaginative different lighting. The team of Ben Francis Lucy Ferris Jo Kemp and Tilly Baron exploited and encouraged all the talent for great results.

A very acceptable title role from Thomas Bailey, he looked right with good personality and clear diction, full of energy and led the action. Ellie Buckingham an excellent Wendy with personality and a great voice, good given those numbers to sing, and she led the Darling boys Issy Clements and Kieran Barrett on their adventures to Neverland.

And there we encountered a moody Tinkerbell, Olivia Cunningham, and a feisty Tigerlilly Grace Dodd both very clear diction and projection of voices and characters plus add those amazing numbers of lost boys and Indians who filled the stage with their movements and energy and obvious enjoyment of performance. Fadlos kidz come into their own at the Pantomime and offer the future for the stage. Plus the adult chorus as the pirate team of song and dance to lead the big numbers with great voice and lots of energy and well drilled in movements. On the adult front cameo roles for the Darlings Avril Temple and Callum Brown. A truly wicked and OTT voice and stand for an outstanding performance from Becky Jefcoate as Captain Hook definitely not someone to meet on a dark night with her plots of mischief and havok and hope her voice survives the week! And to the comedy stakes with Sam Sadler the well timed foil and hapless husband Smee adding much to the action and fun.But the star as expected with stature, personality, glamour and a costume change and headdress spectacular on each entrance, Ben Francis just stole the show as Mrs Smee, this is what one hopes for - a perfect Dame!!. And with crocodile Lucy Ferris, Dame and Smee leading all the interaction and noise from the audience the roof of the hall nearly coming off during our singing. This was a true family Pantomime for the district and how fortunate to have Fadlos present each year.

Review of The Phantom of the Opera from Noda representative Sue Dupont:

Thank you very much for the invitation to see FADLOS KIDZ in their production of "The Phantom of the Opera", and what an excellent show we enjoyed. I understand that Stephen Hayter turned up on Wednesday and was most impressed.

Firstly the initial impact of that set on that stage: brilliant design and realisation and congratulations to all concerned: certainly it delivered everything in design and set up the staging and the atmospheric feel for the plot. Also great eye on costume from Dereham Theatre Costumes.

From the pit, Jo Kemp and her musicians exemplary (as expected). And Jo had worked hard with the cast to achieve the standard of vocals required in this difficult show.

And in overall command and the inspiration for all involved, Ben Francis exploited the talented cast to plumb the depths and bring up the treasures to sparkle and shine in every way.

A large support cast of all sizes and ages, some of those 'tinies' will never forget the experience, and all worked well with excellent harmonies, Masquerade was particularly good, and movement: what an opportunity for the youth of the district.

The casting and inspiration of all the principles particularly good, vocally very sound and impressive, and how pleasing to see cast from within the group without bringing in extras from outside, a great team effort. Erin Tree gave a dignified and very mature presentation as Madame Giry, and Gabriella Green as the daughter Meg, a sweet sounding voice (genes from the Green family?). The 'opera' stars Ubaldo from Joe Anniston in a padded suit and Carlotta from Olivia Taylor with an absolutely stunning voice were in complete control of their scenes with style and stage presence. The men of the moment all gave vocally and in character; M Reyer from Callum Brown, M Lefevre from Max Rabone, that excellent duo Firmin from Ryan Chilvers and Andre from George Wilson what fortune Fadlos Kidz has with this mighty calibre of support principles and how great the ensemble numbers like 'Prima Donna' in vocals and original staging.

And to the 'triangle' with outstanding performances from these three principals in stage presence and style and singing and movement and acting, really excellent. As the suitor Raoul, Thomas Semmons had a great smooth voice to express his passion, and how well he worked with Christine and the Phantom and the men of the Opera in a constant strong good performance. Katy Ferris as Christine was good with those vocals, quality and at only 16 years, what a future she must have ahead, impressive in singing and in reacting to the two men in her life. And in the title role, Zachary Green as the Phantom had it all with the stature and style, those vocals to cope with the demanding role, and above all the acting skills to bring the passion and frustration to fruition in hypnotic fashion, the final scene of despair so well put over and maintained that we all felt so strongly in sympathy with him, Ben and Zach really conquered those moments, and now he is off to University. Must also comment on Blanks Canvas makeup of the Phantom.

Overall an amazing and talented production and I feel very sad at the programme notes that this may be the final FADLOS Kidz which has given such a high standard of theatrical joy to these young people; what a loss to the community, financial I presume, but hopefully it can be revived in the future to encourage more opportunities for young talent.

Review on Dick Whittington from Noda representative Sue Dupont:

Thank you very much for the invitation to see the FADLOS pantomime Dick Whittington, and what a great family show much appreciated by the capacity audience, the buzz and noisy anticipation before the curtain rise said it all.

A large cast filling the stage, energetic dance routines performed with verve and slickness, lively numbers sung to the full volume, comedy exploited and well times, this was a company show which made full use of the storyline in this Limelight script., congratulations to all in the production team. Colourful sets and costumes enhanced the whole production, and as for the Dame ‘glamour’ costumes, well they were quite amazing and very different and needed the right person to wear them!

Opening with the battle of good and evil, Natasha Parker had the clarity of diction and the youthful attractiveness ideal for Fairy Bowbelle, and in stark contrast to the malevolence and sulphur green hatred of King Rat from Sam Sadler, and how the audience booed and hated him.For the traditional storyline, Alex Chidichimo came over in strong realisation as Dick Whittington with his delightful black cat Tommy stealing our hearts from Harriet Baldock. A charming Alice by Tilly Baron, light of foot for the dance routines, sweet of voice for the numbers and easy on the eye, a very good principal girl. And as Alderman Fitzwarren, Grant Harrison added much to the flow of the show and the story, stage presence, smooth experience and interactions.And to the comedy roles: Grace Dodd and Maria Cutting as Shovel/Mustapha and Spade/Leak were faster than light in their routines and situations and dialogue timing, plus being there for the chorus numbers, they were an incredible team with the funny lines. But not to be outdone, Paula Graver as Idle Jack not only had her own comedy lines delivered with timing, interacted with Shovel and Leak, but acted as a real life hit man foil to the Dame Sarah the Cook and again led from the front in the big numbers.Good interaction and timing between Captain Bilgewater (Judith Semmons) and Scupper (Jacob Lee Watts) for the sea sequences, keeping the story going. And in Morocco, the Sultana (Lucy Ferris) was certainly on control and not a happy person wit the ray invasion, nor with her terrible daughter from hell Florabunda played with energy, noise and full on comedy-turn by Becky Jefcoate.And finally the star of the show, Ben Francis, as Sarah: stature and style an great presence and perfection timing for all his comedy lines, the vocals ideal and the dancing done as a choreographer would want, great legs shown off in those tights and high heels revealed by those very different costumes designed by the Hudsons (what glamour and imagination) and as for those wigs with headdress, how did he keep them on, must have been eight foot tall from top to toe, most impressive in every way. A perfect family pantomime.

Review on Grease from Noda representative Sue Dupont:

Noda review from Sue Dupont:

Thank you very much for invitation to see Fadlos in "Grease" and what a great show we all enjoyed. Delighted that FADLOS did well at NODA Awards and that the photo and certificates were on display for all to see.

This was a show of amazing energy, dynamic routines, and just pure fun for all, a great company show and how all the cast enjoyed performing with huge vocals and extra slick and fast movement with immaculate timing and rhythm, and the audience just wanted to join in.

The band under Jo Kemp had a real ball with the full-on beat, and vamping, and rhythm, a great feel to the piece and just encouraging the cast to give their all whether as principle or chorus.

Must also mention the set (hired in from Scenic) and how good it looked, and how well disciplined and slick the movement by cast and crew, well choreographed and moved, and highly suitable lighting plot to enhance, and good costumes.

The five Pink Ladies (Danielle Melton, Paula Graver, Hayley Penney, Della -Marie Reed, Maria Cutting) and five T-birds ( Harry Ashworth, Ben Francis, Alex Chidichimo, Darrell Kerrison, Tom Allison) were all brilliantly cast and each had their moment in the spotlight plus the "Team" numbers and scenes, characters worked so well and brought out the members of their groups to give emphasis for the relationships in acting and differing vocals, some really good talent assembled for this principle line up in this production. Also the other Principles in character particularly, Jackie Overton and her shadow Avril Temple, Richard Tree, Chris Beale, Jill Graver and Tilly Baron: this was a strong cast in every aspect and all were leads.

But the overwhelming impression and memory is of the entire company ( and a lot of them in the cast ) instantly appearing and giving their all in the music and singing and that perfect synchronised movement and slick dance: a great team feeling thoughout, a lot of very hard work gone into the rehearsal period by the Directional team, and a true company show of an amazing standard and dynamic enthusiasm, very memorable and enjoyable for your full-house audiences and that applause so well deserved. (And we did not want to go home!)

Noda review of Aladdin

Thank you very much for the invitation to see the FADLOS pantomime Aladdin and what a night of fun and noise the packed house enjoyed. This was great pantomime and with participation of the best.

When that cast exploded on to the stage in the opening (and kept on coming) with great noise and energetic and enthusiastic movement and dance it was an amazing experience to fill the stage with a chorus of 42 members of all ages and sizes, and certainly predicted the status and fizz of the whole presentation. Add 11 principles and the full house packed audience knew that it would be a good evening – what energy throughout!

In the title role,

Zachary Green was trying a new technique as first-time pantomime principal to add to his other skills in varying shows, and he made a very acceptable interpretation as Aladdin and worked so well in the humour of the laundry and the romance of the palace gardens, good performance from this young man who has grown so much both physically and technically in performance over the past months. Opposite him as Princess Pomegranate Grace Dodd had strong personality and stage appeal and worked well with Aladdin but especially with handmaiden So Shy (Tilly Baron) who was quite up front especially in the dance routines. And these three young principals so good for the future of the society.

As the more unpleasant side of the proceedings, the cash strapped and demanding Empress from Lucy Ferris dominated when on stage, definitely royal and in charge, but not always achieving her will. The wickedness of Abanazer, well booed, played by George Shipley wove through the story from laundry to cave to palace and was not someone to meet on a dark night.

The magical moments of this story influences by an attractive Spirit of the Ring from Ellamae Richardson, and an amazing and totally different canary suited and panama hatted Genie from Robin Hawkes (this latter such fun well worked characterisation with style) and they resolved all the problems.

On the humour team, Richard Tree and Dan Robinson as Feng and Shui the palace policemen had the wits and timing and turn of speed and fun to run rings around others, good. And as Wishee Washee, poor Dan Rowe was just beaten on all fronts by mother and brother and in fact by all characters, but he kept his sense of timing and relationships especially by interaction with all those Brownies in the audience.

Keeping the best until last, Widow Twankey from Ben Francis is a Dame of great excellence, full of immaculate timing and turn of speed, well presented humour, a great singing voice and the dance routines (even in those stilettoes) excellent, his appearances in a brilliant new creation for each scene and these were amazing in style and colour (did I prefer MacDonalds or the washing machine but perhaps finale the finest) and total interaction with other principals, this is a performance to relish and to show others how it should be done.

An excellent family pantomime and fully to the standard expected from Fadlos.

Review of Oklahoma!

I've seen it on Broadway, I've seen it at The National Theatre and I've seen my old colleague Fred Zinneman's -expensive but rather stolid - Todd-AO film version. Still none came close to the folksy charm of FADLOS recent production at Fakenham's revamped Community Centre.

By casting a mature Laurey and Curly, a warmth and humour defined the roles rather than the shrill juvenile banter which we are generally given - and it worked splendidly.

Oklahoma is a long and difficult show whose vocal challenges, ballet sequence, and drawn out ending, are massive challenge to any company. It could certainly do with trimming too if the Hammerstein Corporation would ever allow! So it's a brave amateur group that is prepared to embrace its complex demands. Well this week FADLOS did it justice! The expert direction was impressive and revealed both a clear grasp of the shows glittering surface as well as it's darker sub-texts.

The supporting parts of Will Parker, Ado Annie and Ali Hakim - all more traditionally cast than the leads - were also splendidly delivered while special praise should be given to the cameos of Aunt Eller, Gertie Cummings and Andrew Carnes.

The difficult role of Jud Fry was presented with a ferocity and pathos which brought the necessary pain and depth to a part that more often than not fails to be fully explored.

In fact well thought out characterisation and carefully nuanced performances were the hallmarks of this impressive production and brought a charm and audience engagement that more expensive and spectacularly choreographed versions often lack.

Effectively designed, well played by a talented ensemble and admirably supported by a small but effective band - FADLOS Oklahoma was deservedly cheered by its near capacity audiences.

Wayne Drew is a writer and former producer of Radio 4's Arts magazine Kaleidoscope and Theatre Editor for Mixmag music magazine.

Sue Dupont Review NODA

Thank you very much for the invitation to see FADLOS in their production of 'Oklahoma!' and the NODA night (and celebration of Bens birthday), what a good evening.

What a feeling of life and energy and great singing from this well-known and loved show: excellent casting with a lot of experience on stage and extracting every moment of vivacity and enjoyment throughout, a real feel-good reaction throughout. As soon as the overture began, the audience knew it was going to be a good evening, excellent pace under the direction of Jo Kemp, and such a good sound. Set well realised by the team. Very lively choreography with that team especially in the 'Farmer & Cowman' and all together under Jackies guidance.

Aunt Eller (Lucy Ferris) gave a great portrayal and set up the benchmark, and Ben Francis as Curly lifted the spirits with the opening number as he sang with great presence. What a show to have so many great numbers just in the first scene, and then more to enjoy later. Excellent rapport between Ben and Maria Cutting as a tom-boy Laurey, their voices and moods just perfect for the roles. A very nasty piece of work from Russell Beveridge as Jud, the menace worked but would have liked him dirtier (clean shirt), good song. A very nimble footed Will Parker from Alex Chidichimo with nice manner and voice, worked well with newcomer and stand-in Hayley Penney as Ado Annie, delightful. Well matched in comedy touches with Ali Hakim the pedlar (Rob Garrett), good number with the men. That laugh was appalling! Becky Jefcoate as a flirtatious Gertie Cummings wins the prize for the most excruciating noise on stage. And how lovely to see old favourites Grant Harrison as a curmudgeonly and loud mouthed Andrew Carnes and Robin Hawkes in cameo role as Cord Elam the Marshall.

This was an extremely strong cast of principals but one should not ignore the amazing strength and power and liveliness and energy of all those in the lovely young support team of the chorus and smaller roles, no doubt many from Fadlos Kidz, this is what gave this production the enjoyment and feel good factor and the deserved applause for the whole show.

Review from Sue Dupont our NODA Representative

Thank you very much for the invitation to see FADLOS in pantomime with ‘Sleeping Beauty’, and how the audience enjoyed the evening. This was a production where the younger element showed their talents and starred amongst the regulars; certainly FADLOS Kidz proved that effort put in was worth all the time and what an investment in the future and sustainability of the group, the energy on stage was amazing, and how great to have such lovely youngsters in the correct principal roles. A beautiful and giggly Fairy Light from Jemma Tree trying to establish good and right over the wicked, and cackling laugh, spell plotting and malevolence of Avril Temple’s Zendora, a wonderful role and is this the first time in her career for being the ‘baddy’, and so successfully: these two tried to control the plot.

An eruption on to the stage of energy and of song and remarkably slick faster than the eye routines by this huge chorus and some principals and minor roles, the stage just filled and a kaleidoscope of enthusiastic movement and loud music leading into the plots and subplots and comedy. Sorry that the usual live music replaced by click-tracks even though under control of Jo Kemp (usual MD). Comedy was the lynchpin of this pantomime with Dame Thyme from Ben Francis being larger than life, the most amazing outfits and wigs (each one overtaking the previous appearance), the stiletto heels and accessories, all the comedy timing and style as expressed by a very experienced Dame, this could easily become the ‘Ben Francis Show’, except for the rest of the talent. Some great fun and timing and comedy from many other roles: King Rob and Queen Bea (Rob Garrett and Becky Jefcoate) did their bit as the rather incompetent parents; Richard Tree changed his usual tack for a dazzling costumed Valet with attitude; and Jack Rabone survived all approaches from the Dame for his Felix and sustained the comedy. Sage and Onion (Sam Sadler and Alex Chidichimo) offered no help to Zendora after their recruitment as they were indeed just too stupid to be wicked. Salt and Pepper (Erin Tree and Kaisha Riches) managed to cope with the cake making for the special birthday with help; and Walter and his box of goodies (Theresa Clarke) provided the running gag and several funny moments with good timing. In the title role of Princess Nightingale (and voice to match name) Tilly Baron was a delight of youth and looks and well matched vocally by Phoebe Caesai as principal boy Justin Thyme. Limelight Scripts offered a different slant on the story as it took until the penultimate scene for the prick from the spinning wheel, a fast-forward 20 seconds for the years by the Fairy, and then into the wedding. This pantomime was comedy-based all the way, offered lots of parts for all the company, and with the fast and modern music gave great opportunities for all which were grasped with both hands and offered up with enormous energy.

Review from EDP written by Pauline Riches.

Hard work pays off

This was an ambitious production and once again FADLOS KIDZ proved they were up to the challenge. Based loosely on the Opera Madame Butterfly, this classic love story is set amongst the turmoil of the Vietnam War.

It charts the romance of an American GI and a young Vietnamese woman as they are separated during the fall of Saigon, their struggle to find one another and her dream to re-unite him with the son he never knew he had.

With some powerful scenes and tear-jerking numbers, this intensely personal story of loss and sacrifice was emotionally portrayed by the young cast, including the youngest member Evie Stabler who played the young Tam and stole our hearts.

On Occasion the words were drowned out by the music but the emotion came through none the less. The lead roles were played impeccably by Jack Rabone (Chris) and Emily Byram (Kim) along with Tom Alison (John) and Johannah Sangster (Ellen).

George Shipley was in a league of his own as the Engineer, adding a touch of humour to this otherwise sad tale.

Each member of the cast, chorus and production team should be very proud of themselves for all their hard work and determination to bring us this production. With not a dry eye in the house and standing ovations, need I say anymore!

Review from Lynn News Written by Jim Harding.

We were gripped by this successful return of Oliver!

This was Oliver! take two with Fadlos turning to this evergreen musical for the second time in eleven years.

But it was a tighter and brighter show for my money - and I was there back in 2002 - with director Ben Francis and his sidekick Jackie Overton investing the familiar tale and its familiar score with more pace and less scene shifting causing disruption.

From the moment the hungry band of waifs sang out with Food, Glorious Food and Oliver, delightfully played by Ruben Pope, dared ask for more the audience were gripped. Three of the principles were reprising their roles from the first show and did so outstandingly. Grant Harrison revelled as the bumbling Mr Bumble, Paula Graver sang beautifully as Nancy and the urbane John Stocking was always the gentleman as Mr Brownlow.

Two other performances were exceptional. Ben Francis' Bill Sykes strode the stage with constant menace, abusing and threatening all who got in his way, including his beloved Nancy. Her death at his hands was very scarily done. Robin Hawkes as the mercurial miser Fagin, surrounded by his gang of little thieves, was terrific. He led them a merry dance, often crossed swords with Sykes and sang his song sequences, happy and sad, with great style. I thought he was just made for the role. All the children - and there were a lot of them - played their parts with gusto, obviously enjoying the rousing chorus numbers. Musical Director Jo Kemp, in charge of a very good orchestra, had clearly mentored them well.

One slight disappointment was that the community centre was not full to the rafters every night of this fine production. It deserved to be.

Review from Sue Dupont and NODA Representative

Just to thank FADLOS for the ticket to see your production of ‘Oliver’ and to say how great it is to see the group back at the top of their standard after all the problems of the hall etc, this was an excellent show in all aspects, and Ben Francis should be congratulated for being the instigator.

Firstly the set which was mood evocative, very clever in construction and use with the permanent set plus inserts, good lighting plot, and a very well drilled crew and cast manipulating the changes in negligible space.

The strength of the casting was amazing and all from within the company, the talent just perfect in a strong line-up for the respective principal roles and a very strong chorus for all the big numbers, and not to forget the excellent and well rehearsed movement creating a very vibrant and lively production.

Of course the children are so important in this show: a large chorus of youngsters from FADLOS KIDZ showing their talent with great energy and projection. Ruben Pope had the wistful appeal and clear voice required for the title role, and a more robust character from Rhys Allison as the scheming Artful Dodger; they made a good duo.

Weaving his dictates and magical control of the ‘gang’, and trying to keep in with Bill and Nancy, Robin Hawkes gave a strong portrayal of Fagin with his dealings and kept well in character throughout. Of course Ben Francis was a perfect Bill Sykes with vocal range and stature perfect for such an unpleasant character. And in FADLOS, Paula Graver just has to be Nancy with that voice, style, personality, and acting and dancing skills, ideal casting and well supported by her Bet, Tilly Baron.

The ‘insert’ scenes were well performed with some excellent character roles created showing the full range of talent in the group: Mr Bumble (Grant Harrison, and how lovely to see him back on stage) was so ‘right’ in the role and played well opposite the comedy of Widow Corney from Lucy Ferris: such good scenes from these two, timing perfect and experience shows. The Sowerberry sequence from Rob Garrett and Jill Graver is always a scene to savour with its macabre comedy and timing and how we enjoyed it. And the contrast from the dark side of London in the light of the Brownlow/ Bedwin/ Grimwig sequences well played and characters realised by John Stocking, Linda and Richard Tree giving a feeling of hope.

The chorus were very strong in song and dance in their big numbers, the individual soloists added greatly to the harmonies, and how we felt that we wanted to join them on stage in their obvious enjoyment of this performance, this was a show of great energy and pace. And the pace and notes are due to Jo Kemp and her band of musicians, a joy to be able to compliment the ‘pit’ so fully for the well-loved music.

Sincerely Sue

Review from Fakenham and Wells Times Thursday 6th December 2012.

Puss in Boots, perfromed by FADLOS at Fakenham Community Centre on Tuesday night. It's panto time! And if you haven't seen this years hilarious production of Puss in Boots from the ever-amazing Fadlos, get your tickets now! This production is bound to be a hit with old and young alike with catchy songs, witty (bad) jokes 'oh yes they are!' and non-stop humour that will have the audiences rocking in their seats. Directed by Russell Beveridge, and with a talented chorus, this ever popular pantomime is enchantingly narrated by Kaisha Riches (Mother Goose) and stars locat Youtube phenomenon Sam Sadler as the cool rapping Puss alongside his master Peter, played by the popular Paula Graver.

Peter's daft brothers Hector and Caspar are suitably played by the ever-funny Jackie Overton and Alex Chidichimo. Majory Daw and Jack Spratt were well acted by Erin Tree and Phoebe Caesari, who stood in for Tom Allison on the first night. Princess Miranda is played by the very talented Helen Hawkes with Darrell Kerrison making a fine Lord Chamberlain. The audience reacted with some impressive boos with the appearance of the very convincing baddies - Rob Garrett as Gruesome and Richard Tree as Crunchbones. The biggest laughs, however, came from the perfect pairing of Ben Francis and Dan Rowe as Queen Fanny the Fifth and Freckles, who had the audiences in stitches. Finally there simply wouldn't be a production without the hard work of the backstage team under the direction of Stage Manager Keith Daniels. In all, a brilliant production.

Review from Fakenham And Wells Times Thursday 17th May 2012.

After entertaining local audiences for 45 years FADLOS has, once again, served up an enchanting musical that was a delight from start to finish. The 1959 classic Broadway Musical The Sound of Music is set in Salzburg, Austria in the 1930s and follows the story of the Von Trapp family. Georg, Captain von Trapp (expertly played by Tony George) is widowed, leaving him to find a governess to educate his seven children. He seeks help from the Mother Abbess of Nonnberg Abbey (splendidly played by Lucy Ferris with an emotional opening number by the nuns) who recommends a young postulant nun called Maria (superbly portrayed by Paula Graver). While teaching the children to play and sing Maria realises she has feelings for the Captain and retruns to the Abbey.  

As the story unfolds with some delightful acting from the younger members of the cast and some memorable tunes such as Do-Re-Mi and Edelweiss, fearing that Austria is being taken over by the Nazis, the family make a brave decision to leave and, with the help of the nuns, plan their escape over the mountains to freedom.

This outstanding production is a credit to director Ben Francis along with his talented cast, including the beautiful voice of Connie Skipper, a very commanding performance by Daniel Rowe and the lovely Helen Hawkes was well cast as Elsa Schraeder. They are brilliantly supported by the Orchestra under the direction of Jo Kemp, and the hard working backstage team lead by Keith Daniels. As for the future of FADLOS, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein it looks as if 'Our hearts will be blessed by the Sound of Music' for many years to come.

The show runs until Saturday with performances at 7.30pm each night, plus a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee.

Pauline Riches

REVIEW: Joseph Fadlos KIDZ - Lynn News, 29 July 2012

Youthful enthusiasm triumphed in the 10 anniversary production by FADLOS Kidz of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It may be the junior branch of Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society, but some of its members certainly have what it takes to slot comfortably into the senior ranks. None more so than Connie Skipper in the unflatteringly named role of narrator who sang and smiled through the evening with incredible spirit. What a voice this girl possesses. Familiar numbers punctuate the musical, written in the early days of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and the packed audience at the community centre lapped them up from the opening blockbuster Jacob and son back to Coat of Many Colours. Harry Ashworth playing Joseph began nervously and was hard to hear but grew in confidence throughout the show. His version of Close Every Door To Me deserved the round of applause it received.

 There were a couple of amusing cameos from Zachary Green as the Butler and Jack Rabone as the baker and Thomas Allison’s Pharaoh really came alive when it morphed into a take-off of Elvis. One of the smallest members of the cast, Max Lake also revelled in the spotlight for his solo in the role of Benjamin. With a cast of more than 40 to corral, directors Paula Graver and Ben Francis obviously had their work cut out. They must have been delighted at the way their charged came up trumps over the four night run.