Older Reviews (click here for reviews of our latest shows)

Bad Girls The Musical - June 2016

"I thoroughly enjoyed Bad Girls, it is a few years since I have seen this and had forgotten all the great songs in it. I thought the cast was excellent, everyone playing to their strengths in the various roles and I am sure you could feel the venom towards Phil Clarkson as Jim Fenner, he was superb and managed to get every ounce of evilness from the part. One of my favourite songs in this is Freedom Road sung by Crystal and the Prisoners, it was electric and I am sure there will have been hair standing on the whole audience's necks, I know there was on mine and it well deserved the applause it received at the end. There was not a weak link in this show, everyone playing their parts to the full and I doubt that anyone could have got more from them. The set design and lighting was second to none, once again using all the space to create not only the prison wing but also the offices and Helen Stewart's home. It was ingenious using the tables and chairs stowed away under the set to make the scene changes run so smoothly, the crew deserved a round of applause for the slick changes. Many congratulations to all concerned, Andy Lunn, Sarah Crowley and Bev Maher must be very pleased with the end result. Once again many thanks for your kind invitation."
Les Smith, NODA Representative

"Bad Girls the musical is based on the T.V. drama series. The book tells the story of life in a women's prison with all the many conflicting factions between the inmates and the prison officers and indeed amongst each factions themselves. The story is very hard-hitting in content with very strong sexual overtones running through it all the time. The casting was very strong in all roles. Eleanor Aldous (Helen Stewart Wing Governor) was most convincing in her attempts to bring reforms to prison attitudes. Phil Clarkson (The over sexed Principal Officer Jim Fenner) played the role with great conviction as did Sue Sheppard (Sylvia "Bodybag" Hollamby Senior Officer). They both gave great support to each other. The main inmates at the fictional HMP Larkhall were Becci Calvert (Nikki Wade) who hoped for early parole, Bev Maher (Shell Dockley) and Sarah Clarkson (Denny Blood) both very hardfaced belligerant characters and Pam Robinson (Yvonne Atkins) was an outstanding 'Top Dog'. They all gave brilliant portrayals and were superbly produced as did Rebecca Atha (Crystal Gordon) as the new inmate who is very naive and is being bullied by all the other inmates and Jim Fenner leading to her suicidal death. The show was well produced and the scaffolds type stage set gave much credence to the dramatic story line."
Noel Rigg, NODA Representative

"I went with my friend Joan on Friday evening to the Phoenix Theatre to see Bad Girls The Musical, and we had the best evening’s entertainment you could possibly wish for. We want to send many congratulations to all the cast, orchestra, and everyone involved in this production, it was superb. Every single one of the cast on that stage gave their all, and put their heart and soul into their performance. We both had the best belly laugh for a long time, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole show, thank you all so much." Shirley Bell

"What a fantastic performance we experienced tonight!! The whole evening was a total pleasure watching extremely talented people perform a most accurate reenactment of Bad Girls the musical. The singing and dance routines were first class along with the stage scenery and music on the realistic set. Well done to all for providing a brilliant nights entertainment!!" David Hughes

"Wow!!! What an amazing show last night with some incredible performances. Smash it one more time tonight. A very proud Encore member. Encore rocks!!!!!" Trev Jones

"I just want to say a huge congratulations for Bad Girls. I came to see it on Saturday and was thoroughly entertained by some very strong acting and good singing, for what was a powerful storyline and not an easy show to portray in the right manner. It had the right amount of drama and humour. Well done all!" Peter Barker

"Congrats to the cast & crew of Bad Girls. A great nights entertainment made even better by seeing you lot in roles so different to what has been on stage in previous productions. I hope the post show blues don't last as long as Bev's bruises. Encore Rocks! Px Mel Hume The show was amazing. Well done to each and every one of you. I didn't want it to end last night. You were all fab (as always). A very professional and entertaining performance. Loved it xxx"
Adam Fletcher

"What an excellent production and super talented cast. It's great to see that ETC are still leading the way when it comes to putting on a show! Have a fantastic week." Paul Forsberg


Sleeping Beauty - December 2015

"Being a big kid at heart I always love a good pantomime and I think a good one has to have a good panto dame, well there was no problems in the dame they had at Encore in the guise of Paul Barron as the Fairy Godmother, he literally worked his socks, or should that be tights off to get everyone involved in this show. Right from the word go when he appeared in the newsreel video about a young girl who had been asleep for a number of years and was awoken by a handsome prince he had the audience in the palm of his hand and they loved him.

I am always amazed at the great ideas this company have for special effects and the use of video at the start and during the show works extremely well.

Of course the panto cannot rely entirely on the dame, in this one we have to have the Sleeping Beauty of course and a handsome prince to awaken her. Princess Beauty was in the very capable hands of Hannah Goodall who not only looked the part being very pretty, she was also more than able to act and definitely sing the part; her voice was a true beauty and a joy to hear. To bring Beauty out of her slumbers we had Vikki Vaughan as a very topical Prince George, again Vikki was able to bring this part to life and worked very well along side Hannah. I particularly enjoyed Vikki in the three tasks she had especially having to fight the “Giant” who was guarding the castle, this was very funny when the “giant” appeared who said he had not been very well, I am not sure as to whether it was Iwan Jones or Harvey Bottoms and the evening I was there but whichever he was he gained the hearts of the audience from his first entrance onto the stage.

Having to take on the three tasks Prince George was up against Eleanor Aldous as a very wicked Maleficent, she truly was wicked and this came over to the audience alongside her two sidekicks Jaffa and Jocky played by Becci Calvert and Sarah Clarkson respectively, all three worked very well together to get the most out of their characters.

Congratulations to all involved.
" Les Smith, NODA

"Brilliant performance- as usual!!! Congratulations to all. My family travelled from London especially to see it!!!" Kath Smart

"Excellent show well worth all the hard work" Rob Melia

"Been tonight to the pantomime, absolutely fantastic, never laughed so much at one time, well done everyone, really loved Fairy G she was brilliant, well done, see you next year xx" Karen Copithorne

"Another brilliant performance….lots of laughs, oh yes there was. Thank you to all involved" Diane Bond

"Fantastic show tonight guys. Well done to everyone involved. Another splendid job. All the hard work and effort certainly paid off" Will Robey



 

Annie - June 2015

"On Thursday 11th June I was lucky enough to attend the first night of Encore’s production of Annie (by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd) at the Castleford Phoenix Theatre and had a wonderful evening.  Directed by Andy Lunn with Sarah Crowley as MD this show presented a clever and very entertaining staging of the popular musical.  Even before the show started we were treated to what was to come as ‘Annie’ made the health and safety announcements and was soon shouted at by ‘Miss Hannigan’ –   immediately the audience knew this production was more than promising.

All the girls cast as orphans gave an excellent opening, with clear delivery and well performed dance numbers – congratulations to Choreographer Bev Maher, whose routines made excellent use of the stage and the differing abilities of the performers throughout the show.

The set design and build was exceptionally clever and made great use of this modern theatre space.  The Hooverites, Cabinet, Servants and New Yorkers moved and managed the props and set seamlessly moving us from location to location – this was very well thought through and executed beautifully.  Working with the sympathetic lighting and the clear sound the production was both a visual and auditory success.

The band, though out of sight, played the popular score very well - they seamlessly blended into the production and worked well with the voices of the cast.  The costumes were great and perfect for the period.

All of the performers were well cast - Andrew Sheppard and Clare Heins held the audience with their strong portrayals of Oliver Warbucks and Grace Farrell.  Dale Vaughan (Rooster) and Sarah Clarkson (Lily St Regis) were incredibly entertaining and perfect stooges for Eleanor Aldous whose drunken portrayal of Miss Hannigan was so good it left me wondering if there really was gin in the bottle?

The final word really must be about the star of the show, 10 year old Libby Pawson, who gave an excellent performance in the title role.  This was Libby’s first show with the Society, but it was wonderful and I hope there will be many more.  Her clear and thoughtful delivery of her lines demonstrated a maturity beyond her years and she sang the songs beautifully.  Throughout the show she showed the audience that she had an understanding of the character and a clever grasp of the American accent.  She was word perfect and without any sign of pretention.  She held the audiences’ attention throughout and worked well with the only member of the cast who showed any lack of confidence (Max the dog!).  When we thought she had put all her talents into the role she then gave a wonderful tap dance in the final number - an excellent Annie.

Everyone involved gave their all and this was very much appreciated by the audience.  Congratulations to all the Production Team, the Band, the Cast and Crew on this wonderful production.
Jo Sykes, Youth Adviser for North East England, National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA)

"In order to produce a good “Annie” you have to have a great little girl to play the leading role, she has to be able to learn lines, not be fazed by a large audience watching her, and be able to sing, dance and also be able to do all these convincingly. Well Encore need not have any worries when they decided to give this part to 10 year old Libby Pawson, she was superb, not only could she sing, dance, act and be convincing but she could do it all with a very large smile on her face.

Libby’s acting skills came into its own when working with Max, the dog played by….. Max, the dog, he was a lovely little West Highland White, or at least he looked like one and I apologise to Max if I have got his breed wrong, who wasn’t too sure about coming on to the stage and leaving the comfort of a gentlemen who was holding him. Libby, however, was able to show her talents when with a little encouragement of some treats from her pocket she enticed him to go with her.

Libby was only one of a group of talented youngsters in this show and when they were on stage they all gave very convincing performances, especially 7 year old Felicity Mitson who played Molly who I am sure will be playing “Annie” in the not too distant future.

All in all there were 26 little girls playing the orphans plus Libby as Annie who all deserved Oscars for their performances, well done kids.

I have seen Annie several times and I have to say all too often Miss Hannigan is played rolling around the stage as if she is much too drunk to do anything, well in this production Eleanor Aldous was much more subtle and although yes everyone knew she was a lush she was not rolling around incapable let alone control a bunch of unruly orphans. Eleanor was able to bring everything out of this character especially the humour which is sometimes lost in the drunkenness.

As Miss Hannigan’s accomplices we have Rooster Hannigan played by Dale Vaughan, Dale was able to get every ounce out of this part and it was good to see someone who could also dance which is not always the case when performing Easy Street. Dale was able to perform this with ease and was joined by Sarah Clarkson as Lily St. Regis who again was able to perform this to give a very professional performance of this number.

The role of Grace Farrell calls for someone who can be very “motherly” towards Annie but also at the same time needs to be very professional as Oliver Warbuck’s Secretary, Clair Heins was exactly this and was able to give a great performance not only as the secretary but also with her singing and dancing skills.

When little Annie meets Oliver, Daddy Warbucks, he comes over as a very unfriendly, pompous man who could quite easily scare Annie away. Andrew Sheppard was perfect in this part, initially being the pompous business man but then becoming this very warm fatherly figure who Annie loves and indeed wants him to be the father she never had and this shows none more so than when they sing “Together at Last” right at the end of the show.
I have to mention the set of this show, something which I do not always talk about but here we had a very ingenious set which although was very simple was also very complex at the same time, all the beds fitted neatly into the staging as did all the chairs and other bits and pieces used throughout the show. The scene changes very extremely slick performed by the cast themselves to a solitary clarinetist who entered the stage at each scene change, a very inventive idea.

The orchestra under the baton of Sarah Crowley proved to be a great asset to this show, unlike many they actually supported the actors on stage and did not drown them out during any numbers.

Congratulations to all involved on a superb production".
Les Smith, NODA

"What a fantastc show! Thoroughly entertaining from start to finish; one of the best I've seen from ETC. Everyone played their part thoroughly professionally, but no doubt who the star was! Young Libby led the way brilliantly, closely followed by the rest of the orphans! The grown ups were pretty damn good too, and of course the musicians, even the dog! Well done everyone!" John Harvey

"What an amazing show. THE best one yet. All the cast were fantastic and Annie herself deserves an Oscar for her performance. Really well done ETC" Hannah Hirst

"Just have to say what an awesome show this is. I was part of the 2002 Annie show and have many happy memories of the show and fellow cast members but I think the standard has moved on again. Congratulations to everyone, I've really enjoyed myself today" Geoff Sherwood

"Thanks for a great night out watching some brilliant performances x" Teri Aldous

"One word....AMAZING!" Mel Hume

"The show was fantastic! Your best yet. Well done everyone xxx" Alison Wagstaff

"I went with my friend last Friday to see the show Annie, by the Encore Theatre Company. We both thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, what a glorious production. We wish to convey our heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved in this show. The whole cast was superb, the children were a joy, especially Annie herself. We especially enjoyed the comedy courtesy of Miss Hannigan, her brother and his girlfriend, brilliantly played. I have been going to see this company for many years, as my niece is one of the leading players, and I have to say, if you didn’t see this show, you missed a treat, the best one ever.  WELL DONE TO ALL CONCERNED!!!" Shirley Bell

"Such a good show! Well done to everyone, you were all so amazing!" Lizzie Marris

"Fantastic! Well done everybody!!! It was brill! xxx" Jacqueline Ingle

"Just brilliant. Well done to every one of you" Shelley Hanslip

 

Cinderella - December 2014

"Being a big kid at heart when it comes to pantomimes I was looking forward to this my second one of the season and I was not disappointed. This one started out a little differently with the Fairy Godmother appearing on screens at either side of the stage. A little different again as not only were two ugly sisters played by men but also the Fairy Godmother and I have to say it worked extremely well.

There were all the usual “He’s behind you” gags you would expect in any panto and the whole audience, not only the kids loved it from start to finish. In the principal boy and girl parts we had Nicole Walton as Cinderella and Clare Heins as Prince Charming who worked extremely well together to make a perfect couple. Of course no Cinderella is complete without a Buttons and here we had Thomas Flowers as a young Buttons who was able to work the audience well and prove to be a good pal to his love interest Cinders.

Another character needed in this panto is of course Dandini, Prince Charming’s assistant, played by Debbie Hair who proved to be a very good partner to Clare Heins as Charming; both were the typical “leggy” girl you would expect for these parts. In the parts of Baron Hardup and his wicked wife were Trevor Jones and Sue Sheppard respectively, they were both able to bounce off each other to get the most out of their parts, the Baroness of course has two “daughters” who are not very nice to say the least to poor old Cinders. I say “daughters” as I guessed they were both played again by men in the guise of Richard Goodall and Dale Vaughan, I suspect one had not been taking her hormone tablets resulting in a very bearded lady!

I enjoyed the performances from Sarah Clarkson and Emily Speake as Bib and Bob respectively, they were a great double act and had the audience laughing whenever they came onto the stage.

I said at the start of my review the Fairy Godmother was played by a guy, Paul Barron and to me he was the star of this show, from the moment he appeared he had the audience in the palm of his hands, they loved him and quite rightly too as he worked his socks off, or should that be tights off, from start to finish, he was excellent. I really enjoyed the transformation scene where Cinderella is transformed into the beautiful princess for the ball, this was different in the fact that it was done by video with Cinders walking off stage and into this sort of fairy land to be dressed in her best ball gown and into her crystal coach, the effects department had done a great job of this. Congratulations to all involved and the cast who not only performed but then lined up to say good bye to the audience"
Les Smith, NODA

"Congratulation Encore. I had great fun watching your final performance. Talk about packing in the content. Brilliant. A great touch getting all high tech with fairy cam & I loved the scooter chase. I hope you all enjoyed your much deserved after show party. Encore Rocks!" Paul Forsberg

"A fabulous evening full of fun, laughter and enjoyment. A brilliant night out for all the family" Julie Maddison, Selby

"Have to say the showing tonight of Cinderella was FANTASTIC, great entertainment for all the family, 3 generations! x"
Nicola Baker

"Fantastic show everyone was brilliant!!!"
Rachael Jaggar

"Fantastic we loved the show well done everyone xx"
Alison Wagstaff

"Fab evening watching my friend Nicole being amazing as Cinderella!! Huge thanks to Fairy G & Bib n Bob for all the laughs!!"
Ellen Elizabeth Boon

"Absolutely brilliant evening watching Cinderella last night. Havnt laughed so much like that in a long time. May have found a yearly panto to attend! Even converted some southerners to enjoy the northern humour" Samantha Anne Broome


Carousel - June 2014

"Performing on a school hall stage can be a problem for some societies but when you have an imaginative director who designed the set for this show it does make life much easier and also lends to a better show, it was great to see the raised level being used to such a good degree which added to the already good performances from the whole cast.

Carousel calls for a strong leading man and in this one we had just that in the guise of Dale Vaughan as Billy Bigalow, he was able to deliver his lines perfectly as well as the songs, Dale also delivered the soliloquy with ease. Dale was partnered with Vikki Vaughan who played Julie Jordan to perfection; she was able to deliver the songs and her lines with a meaningful attitude which the audience loved.

The other partnership is of course Carrie Pipperidge played by Clare Heins and Enoch Snow played by Richard Goodall, both gave very convincing performances and worked well together, I especially enjoyed Richard’s singing and his nervous laugh which he did when his character became a little embarrassed.

There was also a fine performance from Phil Clarkson as Jigger Craigin, his smoldering looks and gruff voice was a perfect combination for this part, especially in his scene with Carrie when he was teaching her how to defend herself.

Praise must be given to the dancers in the beach ballet, this can sometimes be a little long and tedious but not so in this case when they entered the stage from under the higher level which lent itself to a raised walkway on the beach.

One of the highlights of this show is of course “You’ll never walk Alone” and this was delivered to excellently by Rebecca Atha as Nettie Fowler, she was able to provide a good support to Julie after the death of Billy and almost brought the house down when she sang this song.

The backing for this show was provided by a nine piece strong orchestra, having such a large backing can in some cases can be a little over powering for audiences trying to hear the singing on stage, this was not the case here and it was good to have one which actually accompanied the singers rather than drown them out and also deliver a great sound.

Congratulations to all involved in this production
."
Les Smith, NODA

"Tell you the truth, when it comes to anything 'Entertainment' I'm pretty hard to please.. I went to see Carousel last night minus camera, and I enjoyed every moment sitting back relaxing and watching the show. I left the Theatre feeling happy.. Encore, you have done a great job with this one."
Roy Hampson

"Just want to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Carousel! I went with my colleagues on the 14th of June and loved every minute of it. Once again, a first class production by talented performers!"
Julie Copley

"Fantastic show....well done to each and every one of you involved"
Diane Bond

"ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!! A spectacular performance"
Kerry Chapman

"Carousel was fantastic! The acting, singing and dancing were so professional.  My daughter and I enjoyed it as much as any of the West End shows we have seen."
Mrs M Hind


"I go to the theatre regularly and this was the best show I have ever seen, I could not fault anything. The singing was beautiful, I loved the orchestra and arrangement of the stage.  Altogether a great evening- well done Encore!"
Mrs Joan Slater

"A massive well done to everyone in Encore Theatre Company. A truly fantastic show!"
Ben Gomersall