Surrey Mirror Review
by Tony Flook
EPSOM Playhouse's Myers Studio reverberated with talent as director Charlie Hoddell and her team staged their third cabaret-style Epsom Belles production.
As in previous shows, the Belles mined for hidden gems from musicals that, in some cases, are rarely seen in their entirety.
The theme of Bad Belles was evident from the start when the nine strong company set out their stall with Lets Raise The Roof from The Wild Party and energy levels never lapsed.
Every one of the almost 30 numbers was delivered in character and a spirit that made it easy to relate to even when, as here, out of the context of its original show. Whitney Jackson, for example, could hardly have been more explicit than her seductive Call From The Vatican. Lisa Scott unashamedly called for a Rough and Ready Man and Wendy Halls was upfront with her Old Fashioned (Lesbian) Love Story.
Countering these, Emily Evans was a wistful Stranger To The Rain and a trio took a heartfelt Step Too Far.
One well known item, which fully deserved its place in the programme, was the show-stopping Cell Block Tango, from Chicago.
Movement, a crucial element, drew the eye while the vocals held the ear. Choreographer Kate Rendall knew when steps were needed and where stillness worked best. Director Charlie's most impressive routine was as Gerry Birch was progressively ensnared in The Kiss Of The Spider Woman.
Act 2 opened with a group of numbers showing all facets of - appropriately - the show Bad Girls, from the defiant I Shouldn't Be Here, to the plaintiff Every night before three of the 'lags' bemoaned all being All Banged Up.
Another trio was equally impressive as the revelled in their Hanky Panky.
Maybe it was best to end on a conciliatory note and what better than La Cage Aux Folles's The Best Of Times.
The performers even managed to change costumes between appearances - no mean feat in any circumstances, let alone given the studios small off stage space.
Rick Quereshi represented the token man, near mute most of the time but whose presence was essential in some sequences.
The show could have not succeeded as it did without musical director Dennis Hooker's ever watchful, perfectly balanced input.
Here was entertainment that hit the mood to perfection and which could have filled the studio for several weeks. Still, there's is always next year to look forward to.