Review: Great risk pays off for Henfield Theatre Company

Heidi Willard (Princess Katarina) and Steve Law (The Duke of York). Picture by Neville de Moraes
Heidi Willard (Princess Katarina) and Steve Law (The Duke of York). Picture by Neville de Moraes
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There Was An Old Woman – The Musical, Henfield Theatre Company, The Henfield Hall

What a fantastic idea from conception to delivery, to have a completely original family-oriented musical based upon some of our favourite childhood fairy tales and a superb festive show alternative to a traditional pantomime.

Conceived, written, developed and scored entirely by talented musical director Jane Haines, this light-hearted production bounced along with engaging characters and a consuming plot containing numerous twists that I would struggle to outline with justice in a brief review such as this.

The Henfield Theatre Company (HTC) must be applauded for going out on a limb to present a world premiere musical in place of their annual pantomime. However, I am delighted to report that it was a risk that paid off, not only in audience attendance but more importantly in the staged content, which was vibrant, articulate and captivating.

Director Di Norman had kept the staging simple but effective with versatile use of a fabulous set designed by Rosemary Nice and built-in house by the HTC workshop along with the use of projection to enhance the atmosphere.

Every principal character was well cast and delivered to a high standard. Linda Jordan was a lovely Old Woman/Goodie Two Shoes and sang beautifully some demanding melodies. She was complemented well in scenes with Old Mother Hubbard, Anne Stern. Love interests Belinda and Johnny made a convincing and beautiful couple with a great chemistry and some excellent vocal performances. The younger principals Lucy Walker (Curly Locks), Abigail Hearn (Bo Peep), Charlie Hanning (Boy Blue) and Alice Forward as the Young Goodie gave their complete commitment resulting in accomplished performances in character, singing and dance.

The stand-out principal performances for me came from Martin Love who gave an all round excellent vocal and acting performance as Will the Knave of Hearts, Steve Law who was a hilarious comedic Duke of York/Tim complete with dancing eyebrows in the trio number ‘Profile’ and finally Heidi Willard as Katerina the King of Spain’s Daughter who sang and harmonised delightfully throughout.

However, the show started and finished with the highlight performances for me, which came from the junior company who, fuelled with enthusiasm and great motivation, sang, danced and acted brilliantly, putting the icing on a already very tasty cake!