Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Strauss conjures up a night of fun

Die Fledermaus

Great Witley Operatic Society

Swan Theatre, Worcester


FORMER director of music at Worcester Cathedral, internationally known as a conductor, appointed OBE in 1993 for services to British music – Donald Hunt has a career packed with memories and a reputation built on baton expertise. 

But the first night of joyous Johann Strauss II music gave him what may well prove to be his most surprising memory of all. The human mind is a wonderful thing – which is why there was silence in the orchestra pit when the prison guards should have been entering to a musical accompaniment. It was a remarkable hiatus in an evening of fun, flair and accomplishment. Let's face it, it could happen to anybody and it didn't spoil the evening for anyone except possibly Donald Hunt, who was otherwise his usual masterful self at the helm of his orchestra. 

The prison scene dragged somewhat at times, but Roberta Morrell's colourful production has lots of life and movement and a company containing attractive voices. It even manages to bring in a reference to an advertisement for a taxi firm: Stephen Byers – Private Hire. There is a lovely moment involving Adele and a florid, wide-eyed gaoler. 

Indeed, this is a show that is full of fun – which is usually the case and which is why it is a shame that its name probably deters many people from investigating it, because it sounds like one of those foreign opera jobs. 


Caroline Causier (Adele) and Suzanne Millington (Rosalinda) steal the vocal honours, although it is a bit of a surprise to see the sisters Rosalinda and Ida (Anna Hainsworth) presenting their cheeks and greeting each other in moi, moi style. Another slightly disconcerting moment is in the ballroom scene, when five elegant ladies in their gorgeous gowns sit on the floor – although in fairness it is hard to see how else they could have been accommodated, given the considerations of space. 

Martin Jones (Eisenstein), Colin Mills (Dr Falke) and Michael Powell (Alfred) sing nobly. Prince Orlofsky is traditionally played by a woman – in this case, Pam Mallaber, who is also in good voice – especially, perhaps, with Chacun à son gout, but needs more projection in deploying it. There are several examples of excellence in duets and trios, and the chorus knows how to look happy while making a joyful noise. 

Paul Thompson, as prison governor Frank, has a pleasingly authoritative speaking voice and Andrew Boughton comes amusingly to Frosch, the drunken gaoler. To 27.3.10.

John Slim 

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