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Review: Ant and Cleo - The Musical: Stratford ArtsHouse

 

Ant and Cleo - The Musical(Image: Andrew Moore)

An excited gaggle of all ages, chatting, laughing and anticipating, entered the Stratford ArtsHouse and settled into its large circular venue.

Looking down on the performance area they found themselves being inspected by a phalanx of about 100 toga-clad, sword-toting youngsters and wheel-chair warriors, plus lighting magicians, imperceptible stage and support staff and the Orchestra of the Swan (also toga-clad); conductor David Curtis.

Jolly programmes were scrutinised, then we were off, inspired by narrator/singer Louise Wayman. Jake Oldershaw’s Antony motivated the large choir to join him in singing simple, but effective rhythms complete with hand ‘dancing’: repetitive, short phrases delivered throughout with admirable concentration.

Orchestra of the Swan teamed up with Coventry theatre company Talking Birds to work with local schools for this unique adaptation.

This ancient story was given amusing twists with much eye-contact from glamorous Cleopatra (Sam Fox in appropriate scarlet), the children fully entering into the spirit of the involved tale.

Children from Brays School, Bridgetown Primary, and Welcombe Hills were stars throughout, being cued and conducted by chorus director Suzzie Vango. Swords were drawn, battles fought with lovers’ trysts given full support from wide-eyed young onlookers. More stage business with fun songs and inventive lighting.

Battles were brought to life with boats and huge siege engines trundling importantly with wheel-chair owners. All of these very special children were involved throughout in one way or another. A magical evening for all concerned.

 

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