The newly-formed Llangollen Musical Theatre Group is currently staging its version of jukebox musical Return to the Forbidden Planet at the International Pavilion.And the Friday night performance was a pretty rocket-propelled affair.
The plot of the piece is about as thin as the atmosphere on Mars and hinges on the spacecraft SS Albatross being unexpectedly marooned by a storm of asteroids on the planet Dillyria.There the crew meets up with mad scientist Doctor Prospero and his pretty young daughter Miranda for whose affections there is intense competition between the Albatross’s upstanding skipper, Captain Tempest, and resident chef, Cookie.
… I think.
Still, the plot hardly matters as the funky spaceship is just a vehicle for presenting a whole solar system of amazing tunes.There are over 30 of them, ranging from the deeply soulful It’s a Man’s World to the poppy Teenager in Love and from the plaintive Go Now to the iconic rocker Great Balls of Fire.
Every one of them was a stonking hit and you could see the 10-strong cast were having as much fun belting them out as the audience was in hearing them.Of course, they couldn’t have managed it without the services of an excellent nine-strong band equipped with everything from keyboards to saxophones.
Every one of the cast put their heart and soul into their parts and the profusion of musical numbers.Justine Bradley made a sassy Gloria, the spaceship’s science officer, while Nico Decourt was a loveable robot named Ariel.
Cookie the cook was powerfully portrayed Stuart Dillon and wasn’t fazed at all when his electric guitar failed to fire up at one point in the action.He simply busked it by singing the rest of the segment and there was nice touch right at the end of the show when he was allowed to do it all again, this time with a fully serviceable instrument.
Geth Foulkes made a splendid Captain Tempest who sucks on a pipe – luckily minus tobacco - throughout the production to help create the right commanding presence.Lucas Howson played Bosun Arras to perfection and one of the most powerful voices in the show came from consummate rocker Bill Hughes.
Jo Potts made a great Miranda who goes from plain little girl to high-heeled vamp in an Act Two costume and character transformation.Linking the action and providing some powerful musical back-up were Jillian Handley and Leonie Kirby as the Damage Control Crew members and Tracey Rawlinson as the Navigation Officer.
Return to the Forbidden Planet was a credit to director Paul Brown, musical director Nigel James and producer Katherine Brown.Sets – especially the electronic bits – were brilliantly masterminded by a team headed by Josie Ashcroft, who also had a creative hand in the eye-catching costumes.
The show’s on again tonight (Saturday, November 30) and I understand there may be a few tickets left.