We are all feeling 'The Lockdown Blues' right now, and many theatres and production companies are helping us through these times by uploading videos of their past shows for our enjoyment - and also in the hope that we will dig into our pockets and donate a small amount in order to try and keep those cogs turning. Hope Mill Theatre however, went one step further, and instead of showing a video of one of their past glories, decided to present a completely new and original concert. Around this time, owners Joe Houston and William Whelton were hoping to have been presenting the Northern premiere of Rogers and Hammerstein's 'Cinderella'. However, sadly that, along with all the other shows shecduled for all the theatres up and down our isle had to either be cancelled or postponed. Hope Mill Theatre had cast the show and were well into the rehearsal process, and so came upon the idea of an online show celebrating the music of Rogers And Hammerstein and also featuring the 'Cinderella' cast too. Some Enchanting Evening was the result.
All the artists performing in this concert videoed and recorded themselves in their own homes and all this was cleverly linked together by Houston and Whelton's compereing (with a little help from a couple of others every now and again!). They actually made a wonderful job of this, giving some lovely snippets of background and general knowledge about each show they introduced, illustrating this with archive footage too. The information was pertinent, interesting and just the right length, and delivered in a down-to-earth and pleasing manner, which made it very easy on the ear.
Each artist gave their time and talent freely. Obviously it is hoped that those watching would donate a small amount of money to the theatre in order to help Hope Mill through these most trying of times, as we all hope that one of Manchester's most iconic and innovative theatres will bounce back and continue to make West End quality Musicals and ground-breaking Fringe plays happen again.
The 'Cinderella' cast wowed us with three songs "In My Own Little Corner" (Georgie Buckland), "How Soon Will My Love Come To Me" (Matthew Blaker) and "The Music In You" (Julie Yammanee); whilst other alumni of Hope Mill Theatre sang songs from many of the other more popular Rogers And Hammerstein shows. Persoanl favourites included Sophie-Louise Dann's "The Gentleman Is A Dope" from 'Allegro', Simbi Akande singing "Love Look Away" from 'Flower Drum Song', and Louise Dearman's interpretation of "Edelweiss' from 'The Sound Of Music'.
The concert finished with a montage of images showing our current coronavirus situation and the NHS whilst three of the artistes sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" which proved to be quite emotional. And a final surprise came when some cast and some of the band from the ill-fated 'Cinderella' all came together through the miracle of technology to leave us with one 'Lovely, Lovely Night'.
Thanks to Joe Houston and William Whelton and all the talented creatives who came together to not only entertain us in these dark times, but to support a theatre which has done so much to put Manchester on the theatrical map, and long may it continue to do so.
Details of how to donate to Hope Mill Theatre can be found on their website: www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk.
Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 26/4/20