Witchfinder Review – March 2013

20th Feb – 23rd Feb 2013 at The Gracie Fields Theatre.  Reviewed by Sharon Drummond National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) 

Set in 1612, this show is fairly new to the circuit and is set in Pendle, at the time of the witch trials.

The large chorus sounded fantastic, so a massive well done to the Musical Director John Stevens, who also put a great orchestra together. The principals were well cast from the young Emily Fitton, as Jenet Device, who acted and sang her heart out, to the more experienced cast members. Mike Conroy, as Josiah, was wonderful as the local tavern keeper. Fantastic delivery of lines and great comic timing added a bit of fun into what, in the main, is a tragic tale. Roger Dugdale, as Potts, played well as the one with a conscience, who drinks to forget his part in the unfair trial. His clear diction even when drunk allowed the whole story to unfold. Keara Johnson, as Alizon Device, had lovely vocals on her solo and played well opposite Chris Law as Edward. Their singing also complimented and harmonised well on some of the bigger numbers. Alison Curran, as Lady Sarah, looked and sounded wonderful in her part as the posh love interest of Capt James Roberts. James Cockerill played the dashing Captain, caught between Catherine in Pendle and Lady Sarah in London. James had lovely vocals on solo numbers and duets with both of his beau’s and acted well throughout. Sarah Thewlis was fabulous as Catherine Howard – the feisty, passionate, kind hearted friend of Alizon, who stands up to be counted against the injustice being thrown the villager’s way. The characterisation by Sarah came in layers and added to the excellent vocals gave a beautifully well-rounded performance. Steve Maxfield played Roger Nowell; the magistrate sent by the King to try and sentence the witches in the most unjust way. His acting as the nasty Witchfinder was very believable and I loved his solo In Your Nightmares.

Director, Howard G Raw, kept the tale tight and yet allowed the emotions and injustice to shine through. The cast did a great job on a little known show, which has some absolutely stunning songs, to provide a great evening’s entertainment.

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