Tony Flook : Surrey Mirror. March 2003
The Opera Club's latest Sounds Familiar production, devised and co-ordinated by artistic director Alison Cooper, provided a feast of entertainment with something for everyone, whether their taste was for Marie Lloyd or Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
In an evening of over 40 songs, Take Five carefully balanced solos and duets through to small team and full ensemble numbers, all meticulously guided by musical director Angela Barker and faultlessly supported by just four tireless musicians.
The Opera Club is noted for the high standard of its chorus, as well as the quality of its lead singers, and this programme showed its strength in all areas.
The men were never better than in the Music Hall number Love's Own Sweet Song and in There is Nothing Like a Dame from South Pacific. The ladies shone in the Canticle from The Sound of Music and in the West Side Story hit America.
Smaller groups were particularly impressive with One Hand, One Heart, another from the West Side Story selection and the big band memory Chatanooga Choo Choo.
It's invidious to pick out individuals amongst many first-rate solo performances, but inevitably some made more impact than others. Virginia King made the most of her music-hall song My Mother Said and Sarah Esser came across strongly with the big band It Don't Mean a Thing. Alastair Lindsey-Renton added comedy to She Was an Acrobat's Daughter and David Longes brought personality to Reviewing the Situation. Other solo items were rather more variable. Not all songs seemed quite right for the voices - or vice-versa - and a few performers had difficulty projecting fully. The Opera Club rounded off the evening by whetting our appetites for its next full-scale production, with excerpts from Chess.
This brilliant and challenging musical will be performed at the Harlequin Theatre from November 11-15.