They say never work with children or animals - well in Lovelace’s most ambitious May play to date they did just that! Taking on Dodie Smith’s classic ‘The Hundred and One Dalmatians’ (adapted by Glyn Robbins), performed at the John Godber Centre, Hucknall.
The Lovelace Theatre group have been going for more than 50 years and have put on hundreds of shows with their adult group, they also have a very strong and over-subscribed Junior group, who are getting ready for their graduation showcase!
This production, directed by Roger Knowles, was performed in the round on the hollow wooden floors, with the cast and crew visible throughout the performance. However, removing set through the audience did come at the expense of a few bumps to the knee! But this was not the only ‘Epic Theatre’ convention they used, the very basic costumes and set allowed for quick changes and the over-acting of some characters helped to define their roles and relationships.
This adaptation of the play was originally written for a target audience of teenagers and young adults - but knowing their audience; Lovelace made changes to create a more accessible piece of theatre for their traditionally older crowd. There were some very brave and bold choices, such as having actors playing the opposite gender. Daniel Knight paraded around in drag as the beautiful villain ‘Cruella De Vile’. Whilst Bernie Kirk played a comical male ‘Baddun’ alongside actor Alex Walters. Bernie and Daniel had previous swapped genders for the group’s Three Musketeers Pantomime in 2017.
Lovelace allowed their younger cast to shine in this production with the lead role’s being played by a cast of aged 18 and under with Travis Shooter (Pongo), Ellie-May Gunn (Missis), Josh Beet (Mr Dearly) and Amber Richardson (Mrs Dearly). The Lovelace Junior group also took part in this production with the supervision of co-director Linda Mayes. Stealing the show for me were the Juniors Archie Shooter and Thomas Pears - who both shone in their roles and really embraced their time in the limelight.
The production was not to go without a hitch, As Roger Knowles opened the show alerting the audience he’s forgotten to record a pre-show announcement and proceeded to read it off a piece of paper. There was also trouble with the tech as a blown fuse caused a momentary, impromptu black out in the first scene.
The show follows Pongo and Missis as they bravely retrieve their puppies, who were stolen by the wicked Cruella De Vile in order to turn them into yet another fur coat. Many of the cast multi-roled, but star amongst these was new member Sophie Avci, who played an outstanding Nanny Butler and a helpful dog!
Every member of the cast should be proud of what they have achieved. They have brought to life this awe-inspiring script, in such a unique way that is fast becoming the ‘Lovelace Style’ of theatre. Long-standing patrons to the group will not be disappointed in this production.
The Hundred and One Dalmatians, performed at the John Godber Centre is an Amateur production by the Lovelace Theatre Group.
Performed 16th-18th of May 2019