Musical Theatre students enjoy a 1920s extravaganza

7th December 2021

The 2020’s so far have been challenging to say the least, so Performing & Production Arts students at Stratford-upon-Avon College have decided to take their audience back to the 1920s instead with their production of ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’.

The musical features songs by George and Ira Gershwin and takes place in New York state, telling the story of Jimmy Winter, who is just about to marry for the fourth time. The show is a riot from start to finish. High energy and farce are no strangers to this production and both the cast and crew deliver this show to an exceptional standard.

The show starts by taking us straight back in time to a 1920’s club. The background was created using AV (audio-visual) projections mirroring the opening of an old-fashioned film. These were adeptly operated by Backstage Production Arts student, Laurence Barnes, who also designed and controlled the sound for the show alongside Dan Spridgeon. The stage was filled with show girls in turquoise dresses and we are very quickly taken into the first number. It is bursting with energy and fun; led by the devilishly charming and charismatic Jimmy Winter played by Jack Dickson (also by Alfie Blackwell). The way they command the space and the physical comedy shown throughout is exceptional and shows natural talent.

Jimmy Winter played here by Jack Dickson and Billie Bendix played by Phoebe Shepherd and Boo McCoy

We then meet the intriguing Billie Bendix played by Phoebe Shepherd (also by Boo McCoy). Straight away Billie is shown to have strength and poise, and the singing throughout is beautiful. Moreover, the character of Billie has an extra challenge of taking on a disguise which includes changing her accent. The delivery of both an American and cockney accent was done flawlessly and to great comic effect and is highly commendable.

The show moves at an excellent pace throughout, helped by the excellent stage crew consisting of Joe Paget, Theo Komodikis and Matt Freeman. This was led by Stage Manager AJ Hutchings and Deputy Stage Manager (DSM) Lucy Robertson who keep the huge array of elements of this musical extravaganza together, which is no mean feat!

The Backstage Production Arts students covered all aspects of the show including set design, sound, lighting, stage crew and stage management

There are multiple stand out sequences: the song ‘Delishious’ was a great comedy number, utilising singing, dancing, stunning light effects (designed and operated by Abbie Drudge) as well as actual bubbles! The first act finishes with a great rendition of ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ providing a sensational tap routine. The second act kicks off with a stunning dance number which allows the cast to showcase tricks like split leaps and lifts. All elements were supported by classic spotlight finishes, operated by Evie Bryson and Alex Dunn, which accentuated the 20’s glitz and glamour vibe.

Comedy can be subjective and hard to deliver but regularly throughout the show the audiences were in stitches due to jokes, line delivery or physical gags. Cookie McGee played by Peter Robley Dixon (also Joe Harrison) delivered his lines with a quick dry wit and this was complimented by his counterpart Duke Mahoney’s (played by Thomas Allen and Gabe Sorrell) bumbling naivety. Also bringing the laughs was Eileen Evergreen; played by Darcy Humphries (and Chloe Bree). Whenever on stage, she filled the space with her diva presence both when singing and acting. Another striking performance came from Estonia Dulworth played by Ava Butler (also Cat Finan). Providing class and poise throughout her performance, until she hilariously gets drunk on stage, Butler doesn’t fail to impress throughout the show.

The performance showcased the casts extraordinary comic abilities

Each and every member of the cast offered strong performances and the technical support was second to none. The show finished with a well-deserved standing ovation. So for ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’, well, they got it!

To see more of what the students get up to follow their Instagram: @suaconstage and @suacbackstage.

Find out more about the College’s Performing & Production Arts courses: SUAC Onstage