The cast of 24 Hours at The Kit Kat Club on stage. Picture by Peter Boam.
s='date'>STAGE REVIEW II WAS back to the roaring 20s at Shanklin Theatre, when the First Act 2011 theatre group presented 24 Hours at The Kit Kat Club.
Their new patron, Melvyn Hayes, visited backstage minutes before curtain up and put them in the perfect mood for one of the finest shows they have ever produced. There was a real buzz on stage and the cast clearly enjoyed it as much as the enthusiastic audience.
How times have changed for Carol Laidler and her company of clients with learning difficulties. Only last year there was a real doubt about the future and of the venue that has been First Act’s home for 16 years. First Act probably now has its strongest company for years and the rebirth of Shanklin Theatre has given a double boost.
First Act would not even have attempted this type of song and dance show in the formative years. The members have matured and learnt so much.
The ace in the pack has always been Anthony Beaumont and, in this show, as Ginger, he scored with some great old gags and one-liners and with Mr Cellophane from Chicago.
Newcomer Ross Forde, in only his second show, is an asset to the rest of the players. Ross excelled as the cabaret compere and when he auditioned the dancing girls it brought the house down.
The gangsters, Parry Kirby, Al Wyman, Rae Stratton and Barnaby Foster, were a hit, particularly with Mack the Knife, and were well marshalled by George King, in quite a different role to his current one at the Apollo.
Liz Hampton, as Fluffy Galore, had just the right voice for her sexy cabaret songs, such as I Wanna Be Loved By You. When the professional singer Simon Wheeler sang Luck Be a Lady, in a short guest spot, his two KK dancers clung on with real affection. The company numbers brought tears of pleasure; such was the enthusiasm and effort from every member on stage.
Not an ego in sight — just a real team effort. It was great to see Andrew Skinner, a talented pianist, playing the wonderfully named Ivory Tinkler, with some keyboard favourites. Parry Kirby, as tough guy Top Cat, mellowed in the finale cabaret show and even produced conjuring tricks.
As ever, there was great support from the team of on-stage helpers and they all visibly enjoyed it so much. Like all of us, they admire the progress made by so many of the First Act group.
Vivien Russell directed and wrote the script, the choreographers were Traci Stockman and Carol Laidler, musical director was Ron Bird and the chorus mistress was Alana Bird.
It was another inspirational show from a group who create so much pleasure for those on and off stage.