Hog the Limelight is Hampshire Cultural Trust's scheme, enabling professional touring productions to visit rural communities.
Under Hog the Limelight, not only have we had 'top notch' productions visiting Medstead, but they also raised over £8000 towards improvements to Medstead Village Hall - a win win all round.
Regrettably, due to financial constraints, the Hog the Limelight scheme has been scaled back, so Medstead Village Hall now promotes its own events under the 'Hit the Limelight' banner.
Previous Hog the Limelight events in Medstead have been: Mervyn Stutter, Rebecca Carrington, a drama workshop, a swing and jive night, the 'London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra', 'Shoo Shoo Baby', 'Instant Wit', 'Judy and Me', 'Madame Lucinda's Wonder Show', 'Strange Fruit', 'The Singing Sous Chefs', Bootworks Theatre, Mervyn Stutter, 'Phileas P. Souper', 'Buffalo Gals', Iestyn Edwards, the 'Opera Dudes', Hat Fair Out There, Mervyn Stutter, 'The Atlantics', 'The Opera Dudes', 'Men in General', 'Spaghetti Swing', 'Buffalo Gals', 'Shoo Shoo Baby' and most recently - Iestyn Edwards. See below for reviews.
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'Iestyn Edwards' (November 2015)
The evening started with a rousing rendition of "Lets go fly a Kite" and then when Iestyn Edwards introduced himself as a retro variety artiste with certain skills.... piano playing, singing and comedy... it set the pace for an entertaining evening.
His musical review was a true storey of his trials and tribulations of entertaining the troops in Afghanistan & Iraq after being "discovered" by a certain Royal Marine called Stacks when playing before Her Majesty the Queen aboard the HMS Victory in Portsmouth.
With his gorgeous Tenor voice Iestyn beautifully sang songs by some of the greats including Novello and Coward, interspersed with anecdotes of how he came to write his hilarious fake Welsh songs which he sang as forfeits when placed on the "Naughty Tank" after minor indiscretions whilst in Camp Bastion in Afganistan. Which incidentally led him to become and, I believe, remain the official mascot for 42 Commando Royal Marines.
The second half turned out to be even more uproarious when, in his alta ego, Iestyn as Madam Galina a Russian Prima Ballerina, performed some amazing ballet steps and spins to music from Giselle, encouraging the audience to shout out their amazement and appreciation as the Russians would, but in English. The translation brought the house down! This was followed by a demonstration of the "Scarf Pas de Deux" from La Bayadère with the help of various members of the audience and one in particular (who has asked to remain nameless). I can say no more .. you had to be there to appreciate it, and if you weren't... well, then you missed a wonderful evening of fun and entertainment.
It's possible that Medstead has never seen anything like a 15 stone ballet dancer before, but then Madame Galina is a unique comic creation. Thank you Iestyn for stopping off on your way to Norway and bringing her to us. Long may you continue to entertain us and the Troops abroad, (especially Stacks!)
Shoo Shoo Baby (March 2014)
'Shoo Shoo Baby' - the fantastically glamorous duo, redhead Tanya Holt and brunette Anna Braithwaite, accompanied by talented pianist James, entertained Medstead villagers and visitors under the 'Hog the Limelight' initiative supported by Hampshire County Council. Their performance in the Village Hall called 'Off the Scale' was a rare treat and a reprise of a visit by them to Medstead seven years earlier.
To quote their website:-
"Off the Scale marks the singing duo's coming of age, from youth to a reasonable level of immaturity. More 'Shoo Shoo', less 'Baby'. Despite their growing love of home comforts, the ShooShoos don't skimp on their usual helpings of fresh arrangements of much-loved classics, outrageously flamboyant new costumes, riotous audience participation and water-tight harmonising. They also include witty originals such as their anthem to the beauty of middle age, Smeg, Bosch, Electrolux and a musical setting for the jewel in the Radio 4 crown, The Shipping Forecast."
The audience certainly joined in the fun and even dutifully made noises like bagpipes when instructed so to do. Those gentlemen of a certain age, with whom Tanya and Anna flirted flagrantly, will long remember the evening and reflect that the ticket price was incredible value for money.
Buffalo Gals (January 2014)
Buffalo Gals, an American-style old country string band, brought excitement and their own brand of lively entertainment to Medstead Village Hall.
Sponsored by Hog the Limelight, Hampshire County Council's programme enabling professional touring productions to visit rural communities, the evening was a delight for the packed hall from start to finish. Buffalo Gals performed old Appalachian tunes, foot-tapping dance numbers, impassioned ballads and gospel songs, all driven by finger-flying fiddle, banjo, guitar and ukulele, percussive step-dance, and soaring harmonies.
The 'Gals', actually three gals and three guys, were led by charismatic American fiddler Kate Lissauer. Kate brought a good dose of humour to the mix with an endless supply of wacky anecdotes.
There was audience participation too, and a particularly moving moment when everyone joined in 'If I had a Hammer' in tribute to the legendary folk singer - Pete Seeger.
It was difficult to pick out a star among such a talented bunch, but Sibylle Reisen was particularly mesmerising with her dynamic step-dancing. One of the highlights of the evening was when three local Appalachian dancers joined Sibylle to strut their stuff in the final number, the band's signature song, Buffalo Gals!
The evening was a roaring success, entertaining, stimulating, with a great sense of community and fun. Thanks must go to the organisers for a rollicking good night out.
Spaghetti Swing (November 2013)
Medstead's audience at first didn't know what to expect from this exuberant three piece Italian combo, billed as 'mixing 50's Italian jazz and cooking Italian style' all at the same time. However, this unique blend of music, singing, cookery and comic antics went down a storm, as (cooked?) spaghetti rained down on the audience.
Spaghetti Swing even opened an impromptu barber shop and gave one surprised Medstodian an excellent grooming. As the audience ate spaghetti and sang Volare at the top of their voices, even we began to sound Italian.
On keyboards and vocals there was cheeky Luigi, the singing chef handsome Maurizio brought Pavarotte to life as he cooked, while lively Paio the singing drummer, not only used drumsticks but even drummed with spaghetti!
The audience was left panting for more but sadly the Spaghetti Swing had to swing back to 'Italie'. 'What a night to remember' and what a mind blowing performance!
Men in General (January 2013)
On a cold snowy January night there was a packed house in Medstead Village Hall, for the eagerly anticipated return visit of the three 'Singing Sous Chefs' now performing as a five piece under the guise 'Men in General'.
The audience was treated to Men in General's own arrangements of songs going back to the sixties era in barber shop style, with fabulous harmonies, humour and mime, telling the story of male emotions from childhood and tongue in cheek, with dubious claims of Medstead ancestry. This provoked smiles from the audience as the hall echoed with laughter, all helped by the café style seating arrangements and drinks from the busy bar. The group even managed to get the audience singing along in a multipart harmony - very nice sounding and much to everyone's delight.
Thanks to everyone involved for putting on another great evening's entertainment.
The Opera Dudes (March 2012)
A packed Medstead Village Hall was yet again entertained in very fine fashion with another stunning Hog the Limelight Show.
The Opera Dudes gave a very professional and slick performance of their two man show 'The Codfathers of Croon' complete with great audience participation.
Tim Lole and Neil Allen, the eponymous Opera Dudes, harmonised beautifully, showcasing their musical and vocal pedigrees with a real class act interspersed with side splitting humour.
From the opening of the show we knew we were in for a great evening. The Opera Dudes entered dressed as Mafia hit men with violin cases, from which they produced not Uzis, as we were being led to believe, but sun glasses. And so the laughter began. These two were a real tonic. It's a pity they are not on prescription.
They had us clapping, toe tapping and snapping fingers along to Mac the Knife, and Sway, we were drawn to tears with a tragic aria from Tosca, turning to tears of laughter at the Phantom of the Opera sung 'a la Frank Spencer'.
We were introduced to the esteemed Professor Lyndon van der Pump who conducted a singing lesson and there was nothing fishy about their performance. They really have been practising their scales, studying their "tuna day" books, put their heart and sole into preparations and gave us a whale of a time!
Thanks must go to master of ceremonies Mike Overy for facilitating another great evening of entertainment and to Kathie Hoff for organising the raffle. Well done to all.
The Atlantics (January 2012)
Medstead Village Hall rocked back to the fifties for those lucky enough to get tickets for Medstead's great sell out New Year Rock 'n' Roll Show!
The capacity audience had a nostalgic evening listening and dancing to the music of 'The Atlantics'. Billed as playing 1950s style Rock 'n' Roll and Rhythm 'n' Blues, they were simply stunning.
A wide range of instruments from saxophone through to Hawaiian guitar accompanied excellent vocals. The Atlantics superbly recreated the flavour of the era, whilst a large portion of the attendees captured the mood, with period costumes and hairdos - even some seamed stockings!
The music was so infectious it was almost impossible not to dance, although at times the floor was so crowded that the more athletic moves had to be toned down! Certainly the music catered for a wide range of dance styles, including: jitterbug, ceroc, lindy hop and quickstep in addition to the expected rock 'n' roll and jive. It seemed like most of the audience were dancing at some time during the evening and it was nice to see some younger people enthusiastically joining in - and very good they were, too!
As usual, Hog the Limelight has come up trumps with a very professional evening. Well done and thank you to the organisers.
Mervyn Stutter (September 2011)
Mervyn Stutter Rides Again
What a scintillating way to celebrate the first entertainment event at the Village Hall. Mervyn Stutter was once again 'ribticklingly funny' and left the audience yelling for more.
The Friday evening event was enhanced by the stunning new Hall with new tables, chairs and facilities. Everyone who commented was delighted with the result of all the hard work put in by the Village Hall committee and it was very fitting that a Hog the Limelight production was so well attended and enjoyed. Mervyn speaks to his audience as old friends and immediately endears himself to all.
Mervyn Stutter, gosh isn't he tall, combines razor sharp wit, political comment and keenly observed behaviour with extremely funny songs to well known tunes to keep his audience laughing throughout. The choruses were obvious enough, at times, for the audience to join in and even sometimes make up their own rhymes. His accomplished guitar accompaniment is always a joy to listen to. His one liners and pithy observations on life add to his instant likeability as he guides his audience along.
A natural funny man and story teller Mervyn never fails to entertain.
The 'Opera Dudes' (February 2011)
The Opera Dudes took Four Marks Village Hall by storm.
The show was called 'Mission Improbable', so you can imagine what kind of show it was. Two good looking young men, singing, playing piano and generally fooling about - so much humour, that we wondered just what was coming next!
The music was excellent, some classical music, Italian and French, and some delightful modern and love songs. Their voices were incredibly powerful, filled the hall, and so tuneful and romantic. Jokes came thick and fast, they baited one another constantly.
One of the hilarious episodes - Neil, the one who was supposed to be much less educated than Tim, was accompanying him on the piano, and it became obvious that it was a recording and he was waving his hands about - and in fact it ended with him making it really obvious that he was pretending. I was fascinated by the movement of his eyebrows, and the rest of his face, as he sent out messages into the audience.
The audience participation was great - the Four Marks/Medstead audience responding in their usual enthusiastic and enjoyable manner. There were some songs which the audience could join in, though personally I would have liked more of them.
A lot of work and effort goes into putting on these Hog the Limelight shows, and it's good to think that the rewards are not only a super show, but also the proceeds from the tickets, bar and raffle go towards the renovation of Medstead Village Hall, so tragically destroyed by fire.
Congratulations to Hog the Limelight for all the delightful shows they bring to us, and thanks to Medstead for yet another treat.
'Anything for a Tenor' (October 2010)
'Anything for a Tenor' a comedy revue supported by Hog the Limelight (Hampshire County Council's professional rural arts touring scheme), took the Four Marks Village Hall by storm.
Well - for a one man show we got a great deal of entertainment, non-stop talking, singing, dancing. You could say Iestyn Edwards sure has the 'gift of the gab', he literally hardly stopped! Iestyn is one of those comedians one takes to as a friend - he had a super way of making you think he was talking to you personally, inviting many laughs at his expense, and best of all for the Medstead crowd (plus Four Marks of course), insisted on lots of audience participation.
In the first half we were delighted to be able to sing along with his delightful tenor voice, songs like Edelweiss, The Old Rugged Cross, Let's go Fly a Kite. He actually brought the Hall's ancient piano back to life with his excellent playing! He did a lot of joking about being in Iraq and Afghanistan, being bullied by a Royal Marine, standing on a tank in the firing line, his childhood - singing extracts of classical songs he sang aged 5, and his classical pieces had the audience clapping vigorously. His jokes obviously had us all whooping, laughing, giggling, but there were a great many of them, quite difficult to cope with sometimes, as he had the skill of young people these days, terrific speed in talking.
The second part of the show was the appearance of 'Madame Galina', a prima ballerina, which had everyone gasping with incredulity at this young (wo)man's ability to fly across the stage. His dancing was fabulous. Again, he did a terrific amount of talking, making jokes, even politics which always seems to delight audiences. Participation this time was more physical and ended up with three men cajoled up on stage and being given some ballet instruction. I must say they were extremely good natured and enjoyed themselves, ending with Madame choosing one of them to actually dance with her/him - incredible.
I could say a lot more, but it would spoil the effect this great comedian had in his very clever way of unloading lots of information, quirky jokes, charming his audience.
Thanks also to master of ceremonies Mike Overy and the Medstead Players for bringing us this cultural experience. Proceeds from the tickets, raffle and bar are in aid of the renovation of Medstead Village Hall, with raffle prizes also donated by members of the Players.
The Buffalo Gals (March 2010)
A packed Four Marks Village Hall echoed to the sound of the 'Buffalo Gals' - a lively and unique band, as once again Hog the Limelight brought their professional artistes to entertain a very enthusiastic audience.
The band, in the style of a traditional American country string band, performed with great spirit: Appalachian, Bluegrass, Blues and Cajun music. Not only did the performers play guitar, ukulele, fiddle, banjo and double bass, they also sang country songs. One of the Gals performed very energetic and delightful step dances, which had the audience clapping and shouting with excitement. During the encore they all sang a capella with wonderful harmony - could have done with more of that - a real treat.
Thanks to all the hardworking team for the organisation of this very enjoyable evening, with all proceeds going to the rebuilding of Medstead Village Hall.
Phileas P. Souper (January 2010)
Medstead's Hog the Limelight production took place at Four Marks Village Hall, who offered their premises, following the catastrophic fire that destroyed a major part of Medstead's own Hall.
The show "Phileas P. Souper" from 'Loon and Theatre mimi' was the first fund raising event towards the rebuilding of Medstead Village Hall.
The stage was decorated fantastically with lots of things, instruments galore, curtained alcoves, and at the front what looked suspiciously like trestles to hold something heavy. Sure enough, after a very silent period when two men walked on and stood waiting, what for we did not know, until there came a very loud crashing noise on the outside door, which when opened admitting four men carrying a coffin. Eventually reaching the stage, they put it in place, and the show began.
It was virtually a 'musical trip round the world in about 80 minutes', a tribute to Phileas Fogg (in the coffin?) and his original "Round the World in 80 days", (or so I deduced). I couldn't always follow the slick, hilariously funny actions, which took them to various countries. All the same, I was fascinated by the skill of their miming - building a tandem with their hands out of thin air, climbing on, pedaling like mad, etc. That was just one item, and accompanied by fantastic music played on piano accordion, trumpet, saxophone, drums, vibraphone and lots of unusual instruments which made peculiar noises. Nevertheless, the music was very well done, and the dancing and choreography absolutely perfect, as in 'not a foot wrong'. They also sang some wonderful pieces, six part harmony, unaccompanied - I would love to have heard more.
The audience was really appreciative, and at the end we were encouraged to talk to the cast, a very enjoyable time. Congratulations to the 'Loon and Theatre mimi' who brought this production to us, all stars in their own right.
Let us hope that Medstead Village Hall will soon be available once again, and many thanks to Four Marks and everyone else for their help.
Mervyn Stutter (October 2009)
'Another Helping of Mervyn Stutter' - Medstead's latest offering from Hog the Limelight attracted a very enthusiastic audience, many of whom had seen him before.
He is a first class entertainer, but very different from a lot of comedians I have seen before, in that all the hilarious 'chat' appears just to pour out of him with no preparation whatsoever. However that cannot be true, because it is obvious that he really knows what he is doing, and although he appears to merely latch on to ideas which he has just obtained from his interaction with the audience, he is too professional not to have prepared certain situations, and of course, is very experienced. He spent a lot of time on the government handling of our financial situation, well appreciated by the audience, then went on to concentrate on the age range, playing one table of younger people off against the rest of the audience who were 'older'.
At one point he had the audience delightedly calling out and singing ancient TV and radio advertisement jingles. He can adapt his voice to many entertainers, e.g. Percy Edwards and his bird imitations, and a wonderful Bob Dylan. The songs were great with clever and amusing lyrics.
'We're in the Duck House' (obviously the MP expenses situation), 'Going Blonde', 'Plastic Surgery - Botox', 'I think about Sex all the Time' were just a few, ending with a wonderful rendition of 'Shop Raiders in the Sky' - i.e. oldies in buggies.
He is an accomplished guitar player and singer - didn't hear one stutter, and all in all he gave us a very enjoyable and amusing evening. Thanks to Mike Overy and his team in Medstead Village Hall for arranging this.
Bootworks Theatre (July 2009)
Bootworks Theatre brought their unique 'personal theatre' to Medstead Fete, in which each individual audience member got to see their very own 5 minute mini performance.
A parody and pastiche of 'The Western' in all its forms, bringing together the spaghetti classics of Sergio Leone with more than a hint of the modern epics. The Good, The Bad and The Box took us to the dusty, sun-drenched wild wild west, in search of a fistful of dollars. Featuring a host of good, bad and downright ugly characters.
With the cast of six, performing outside a small booth, the audience of one sat inside experiencing the show through three shuttered windows. The cast performed around the box, using light, (live and projected) imagery, mask, objects and puppets, exploiting the unique ability as in film to use different angles, close up, long shots, cuts, pans, fades and special effects.
Singing Sous Chefs (January 2009)
If you are prepared to be dragged through time and space, join in raucous laughter, helping the cast along with loud singing noises, then you should have been there!
Medstead Village Hall stage - empty of scenery and props, enlightened every so often with a bit of lighting. Suddenly a trio of men dressed as chefs invade the stage, moving with incredible twisting of the bodies, supposedly Italian (gorgeous accents), and immediately interacting with the audience.
They told us to join in with their sounds which activated their 'Time Machine' - which we did - the next minute we were in another time and place, and as this happened quite often, I'm not sure of the order in which we landed - suffice it to say that it was Italy specially Firenze, several times, Germany, Egypt, and of course many times ending up in Medstead. Each place was beautifully described, with appropriate actions, for instance Italy pictured Michaelangelo carving his marble with the most romantic and elaborate actions (not forgetting the facial expressions). Also the use of the three chefs' aprons changed from kitchen objects to various props, like a fridge, gates, etc. The arrival at the Arctic was great, so was the bit about the world running out of oil and leaving a mother stranded when taking her children by car to Medstead school (she should walk!)
I can't begin to list the different activities and stories which were enacted, but of course they wouldn't have been the same without the wonderful harmonious singing of these three delightful men. No musical instruments, the singing was a cappella (unaccompanied). The songs were attributed to various famous names, but to be honest, they were performed in the Chefs' own inimitable way, which made some of them entirely their own. The Everly Brothers I think, was one of the closest harmonies, and the Chefs made all the singing really unforgettable.
As I said, the acting was incredible, particularly without props etc. and the interaction with the audience happened a lot, specially when they weren't expecting it. For instance, one was chosen as a Raven, and during Noah and the Flood was told to fly away. Also suddenly one of the men would suddenly swoop to the edge of the stage and yell at someone, however it was never offensive, very funny. Then we were encouraged to join in the voice music, three different ones, for one of the songs, in which the Medstead audience participated with gusto, as always.
Directed by John Nicholson of Peepolykus Theatre Company and with many thanks to Mike and Jenny Overy and the Front of House crew, for the organisation at Medstead.
Strange Fruit (October 2008)
Medstead Village Hall hosted the latest Hog the Limelight production on 10th October. It was a dramatic musical performance, wonderful singing by Helen MacDonald and fabulous music by the Macusi players, a five piece band of infinite musical ability and enhanced by various unusual instruments, specially in the percussion area, e.g. Ghanaian Cora and Caribbean Drums. The players, all extremely talented, were: flute, played like I've never heard before by Keith Waithe, scintillating pianist Vladimir Miller, bass guitarist Eustace Williams with his tuneful and skilful playing, and fantastic backing and solo expertise by Jojo Yates and Darryl Lee Que on percussion.
The theme was the 'life and times of Billie Holiday, brought to life through music, words and cutting edge technology'. Helen MacDonald, a very innovative actress and singer, enthralled us all with songs which we have heard sung in the past, by various singers in addition to Billie, like Strange Fruit, God Bless the Child, Don't Explain, Lover Man, Stormy Weather, Summertime and Good Morning Heartache. The second part was enlivened by songs in a lighter vein, like Love me or Leave Me, All of Me, Them Their Eyes, and Summertime.
I didn't feel that the 'life and times' was emphasised enough, in other words we were only told, I think twice, the meaning of the songs and why they had been written, usually by Billie herself, who tried to tell the world about all the terrible treatment that black people were suffering. The title 'Strange Fruit' was horrific, the fruit being dead black bodies hanging from the trees, ugh! Then the fact that 'Don't Explain' was written by Billie after she had been let down by a lover. There was very little about the background of Billie Holiday's life and career, and the fact that she went from poverty to stardom, becoming the great star she is today.
However, and this is a true compliment, this did not detract at all from the truly magical singing and playing. The audience really did 'hang on her every word', as Helen produced the songs in hers (and Billie's) own special way, and the band was phenomenal. We went home 'on a high' after a memorable performance by Hog the Limelight.
Madame Lucinda's Wonder Show (January 2008)
Medstead Village Hall was invaded by 'Rogue Theatre' under the auspices of Hog the Limelight, and I do mean 'invaded'!
I have rarely seen such a set-up of lighting, sound equipment, etc. on a stage before the curtain went up, with a whole set of band instruments offstage. On this occasion, there were four ladies and two men entertaining us, with singing, dancing, magic tricks, illusion, comedy, and even swinging from a trapeze!
The principal woman, Madame Lucinda, (playing the Ringmaster), in a bizarre costume, was strong, lively, menacing at times, told us she was telling us a story about her 'cast' in the circus, behind the scenes, and the way they became part of her show. I have to admit that I didn't always get the story because of its complexity, alternating between loud fast moving and slow and quiet, but actually, really delightful. Her principal counterpart was a very handsome young man Sirus, (the Company Director), who was also extremely strong, lifting his colleagues, and scenery. One of his activities was pushing round a tableau of piled up chairs, chests, actors, all on top of one another, and looking incredibly dramatic and likely to fall off, which they didn't. There were three ladies, one of whom being an active Stage Manager, but nevertheless very attractive and beautifully dressed. There was Lo-Lo, a very charming youthful clown, who really made us feel for her, as she told the story of her father being killed by being hit on the head by a pig shot from a cannon - pigheaded!
The most striking of the cast I thought, was Svetlana, dressed as a ballet dancer doll, who managed to stay completely still when she wasn't dancing, only her expressive eyes moving occasionally. And she got regularly folded into three, and squeezed into a large suitcase - how she managed to stay there for long periods I do not know. To move about she was lifted by Sirus, often over his head or under his legs. Sirus himself, sang, mooned about after Lo-Lo, danced, and did clever magic tricks, and got the audience to participate in a clever mathematical exercise which was highly successful. The music came mostly from the band area, where Ben played violin, drums, keyboard (once with an instrument in his mouth at the same time), guitar, and sang in a high rich voice, sometimes accompanied by two of the cast when they weren't on stage.
Lo-Lo eventually took over the part which her father had played in the circus, but then towards the end of the show, she did a striptease and turned into a beautiful young woman and left the circus, rushing giggling through the audience. Sirus too, ended up back in his office, leaving Madame Lucinda to appeal once again for ladies and gentlemen to fill her vacancies.
You can see that it was a bizarre and fantastic show, very different. However, I have been able to apply those same words to the other three Hog the Limelight productions which I have seen. The audience is always captivated by these shows, my granddaughter and her friend sat mesmerized and thoroughly enjoyed it. Do keep it up Medstead - what a wonderful village to have which can provide this kind of entertainment, plus their own superb Players' productions. Congratulations to Mike Overy who manages these things, plus all his willing and friendly helpers.
Judy and Me (December 2007)
The latest delight from Hog the Limelight won over the audience at Medstead Village Hall. As Mike Overy, the Medstead compere, said as he came on stage at the end of the performance "You couldn't have anything better than that!" Well, after seeing my third Hog the Limelight, I would say that I am prepared for anything, they have all been excellent, and I would not like to have to vote for the best, as seems to be the latest craze on T.V. Mike was also full of praise for the performers who had spent a lot of time during the day making sure that everything would go perfectly, which it did.
In 'Judy and Me', we saw two performers take over the stage, and completely win over the enthusiastic Medstead audience with their extraordinarily unusual and excellent performance. It was the story of Judy Garland from her birth - in a suitcase backstage - through her childhood into her teens, then to her marriage, even the birth of her Lisa on stage, presumably for our benefit! Then sadly, her decline into alcoholism and depression, and finally her death.
Frederik Steenbrink was a handsome young man, playing the piano constantly, singing beautifully, and organising 'Judy' as she skipped on stage, trying to do her own thing, and then marrying her (a few bars of the wedding march advised us of this, as they kissed!). Isabelle Georges was a very pretty lady, her hair bunched up on top of her head with two bows as a child, then reverting to her own hair as she got older. Her face was so expressive, very cute and funny, then becoming sophisticated as she went into the most wonderful tap dancing routine for several of the tunes. The songs themselves were very romantic, superbly sung, the audience wanted more! At the end of the show, she invited us to join her in singing one or two songs, and oh, being Medstead, the response was very good, much to her surprise I think. Incidentally, Frederik is Dutch and Isabelle French, which makes it even more interesting.
Thanks to the Medstead Players for helping to bring these events to us, they work hard to put them on. Can't wait for the next one!Judy and Me - an evening of song & dance in Medstead (Reproduced with permission from the Alton Gazette)
She's French, he's Dutch, she sings, he plays the piano, she dances, he acts, she acts, he sings. Through some of the most beautiful songs ever written, they tell the story of "the world's greatest entertainer".
The talented and charming Isabelle Georges and Frederik Steenbrink are rising stars of the European music theatre and cabaret scene, who already have an impressive list of production credits and recordings. This winter season they are on tour with their hit show from the Edinburgh Fringe and will be visiting Medstead Village Hall on Saturday 1 December. 'Judy and Me' is Isabelle's personal tribute to the star who inspired her to become a performer - Judy Garland.
The show is neither pure imitation, nor a complete biography, but is a perceptive and entertaining journey through the ups and downs of Judy Garland's fascinating life, told through some of the most beautiful songs ever written, including: Over the Rainbow, The Man That Got Away and You Made Me Love You. It promises to be an entertaining show for all ages, packed with song, dance, music and comedy.
Isabelle Georges has starred in major musicals in Paris, such as Singin' in the Rain, La Perichole and Titanic. She has worked with Michel Legrand, Jerome Savary and Maury Yeston. In New York she recently recorded the English and French album of December Songs, Yeston's song cycle written for Carnegie Hall's 100th anniversary. In the UK she has already performed at The Chichester Festival, as well as two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe ('Judy and Me' in 2005 and 'La French Touch' in 2007).
Frederik Steenbrink is an author, composer and performer. He has worked with Jerome Savary, Maury Yeston and Herman van Veen, and recently created the part of Frederic Chopin in Van Veen's new play, Chopin, Chanson de Daniel, and performed with his personal repertoire in major theatres such as L'Olympia and Le Casino de Paris.
Instant Wit (October 2007)
Billed as a 'comedy improvisation show', it was an evening of constant laughter, some of which was incredulous, some uncontrolled, as we were assailed by a fantastic display of ingenuity, skill, and of course, incredible professionalism. It was performed by four young people, Peta Dennis, Mike Akers, Patrick Marlowe and Knud Stuwe. The latter played piano and guitar brilliantly and unassumingly, while his colleagues acted the fool, entertaining the delighted audience.
It was very much an audience participation show, with requests from the players for various names or dialogue on which to pin each sketch. For instance, 'give us the name of a place', 'an unusual occupation', 'a household implement', and from these words called out by the audience, or written on slips of paper, the trio performed numerous mini-plays, dance routines, even a member of the audience controlling two men by moving their arms and legs etc. - absolutely hilarious and extremely clever. They also sang, some words and music presumably made up on the spot, and Peta sang a beautiful song in an obscure (hypothetical) language, accompanied by superb impromptu choreography.
Shoo Shoo Baby (March 2007)
Yet again Medstead Village Hall was packed to capacity for the latest Hog the Limelight production on Saturday 24th March. This time we were to be entertained by 'Shoo Shoo Baby', billed as 'From Berlin to Broadway - a cabaret style performance'.
And entertained we certainly were! As we journeyed from Berlin to Broadway, via Brazil (and Medstead), we were in for a real treat. The glamorous Shoo Shoo duo, comprising Anna Braithwaite and Tanya Holt, are superb vocalists with a very personal interpretation of a variety of classic songs, beautifully sung, with tongue in cheek humour against a background of interplay between the girls and their dishy pianist Craig Shneider. The excellent singing was supported by fabulous costumes - many of us will never look at certain chocolates again without being reminded of Those Hats!
Audience participation was invited for the familiar New York, New York, only to be defeated by the girls who rendered it in a very funny multi-lingual version! However, any disappointment was soon redeemed, by the excellent hip movements of Tony Bedingfield who was plucked from the audience. He lead us all in the dance moves for the chorus of 'Rum and Coca Cola', as the girls swayed in superb dresses topped by the most outrageous fruit (and parrot) laden hats.
During the evening Craig had demonstrated his considerable singing and piano-playing jazz talents and even performed a tap dance. The audience, now ready for anything, were then invited to join in with a riotous tap-dancing chorus. What we lacked in talent, we certainly made up for with enthusiasm!
All in all, a fantastic evening in both senses of the word. Well done to Shoo Shoo, Hog the Limelight and everyone who helped with the event!
London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra (Jan 2007)
It's another Friday evening in a packed to capacity Medstead Village Hall. Even though there is still half an hour to curtain up, there is barely a spare seat in the room. Yes, it's that time again - a Hog The Limelight evening! Tonight we were all gathered to see and hear the London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra.
For those of you who have not heard of this illustrious group, perhaps I should explain what you can expect. Four, er, gentlemen? Just this side of insane. Four very talented musicians who play a variety of instruments from the more traditional violin, double bass, mandolin, etc, through the slightly quirky washboard and saw to a duck, rubber chicken and frog. Throw into the musical mix an eclectic dress code that changes seemingly randomly throughout the evening, music that moves so fast that you can barely catch your breath, stir in a large dose of wacky humour and you get the flavour of this group.
Dick Deciduous almost literally props up the manic behaviour of the group with his large bass, whilst Captain Cabbage allows his more eccentric take on life full rein. Somehow the two Martins (Mike Martin and Martyn Oram) steer a clever path through the craziness with superb musical talent. All round a very enjoyable evening - it just all seemed to be over too quickly!
Well done to the LPSO, and congratulations once again to Hog the Limelight for providing a show of excellent quality and value.
Swing and Jive (April 2006)
Medstead Village Hall recreated the excitement of 1940's and 50's music and dance for a really enjoyable and different type of evening. We sat back to listen, watch and also perform some of the dances from a bygone era, all led by the hugely successful 'Sugar Foot Stompers'.
Drama Workshop (February 2006)
What have an overbearing cockney with a sniff, a Gilbert and Sullivan tongue twister and a dodgy religious sect got in common? Answer - a drama workshop at Medstead village hall!
Under the aegis of the Hog the Limelight scheme, the Medstead Players invited Proteus Theatre Company to run a workshop day on Saturday 14th February. Debbie Wilding, Associate Director of Proteus, bravely took on the task and assorted wannabe thespians from the Medstead Players and other local groups limbered their vocal chords, breathed deeply and generally thoroughly enjoyed projecting voices and developing a diverse range of characters. For anyone who might have been a little apprehensive about the prospect of being under public scrutiny, the atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly that we soon forgot our fears - though many of us will have the passage from Gilbert & Sullivan engraved on our brains for a very long time! Analysis of a character from a very short passage of a play was extremely revealing and will certainly be put into use in future.
For those of us who had never seen the inside of a drama school, it was a small taste of Fame. We learnt a lot of useful tips, and as we left, there were mutterings of "I'll put that into practice next time."
A thoroughly enjoyable day and very good value, and the Medstead Players were able to contribute £105 from the proceeds towards Village Hall funds.
Rebecca Carrington (November 2005)
A production entitled 'Me, My Cello and I' and billed as a comedy, certainly sounded like a challenge. Just how could one woman and a cello keep an audience amused for a whole evening?
As part of Hampshire County Council's Hog the Limelight scheme, we were given the opportunity to see Rebecca Carrington and her cello 'Joe' at the Village Hall on Friday 18th November. The Hall was full to capacity - my first indication that this might be something special. There followed an evening of incredible virtuosity - both vocal and musical. Whilst keeping up an amusing patter, Rebecca performed musical spoofs from around the world, while Joe showed us that he was capable of supporting her as the appropriate instrument - from bagpipes to sitar, nothing seemed beyond his (or her?) ability. Such was the diverse range of styles and instruments demonstrated, we all found it difficult to pick a favourite. A straw poll in the Castle of Comfort afterwards gave it to the Bollywood spoof by a short head, with Mongolia a close second. So it is possible to be funny with a cello! Rebecca Carrington is certainly a very talented lady, with a singing voice to envy, extraordinary musical inventiveness, and able to present the package in a very entertaining way.
Once again we must thank Mike Overy, supported by the Medstead Players, for organising the evening. Not only did we all have a good evening out, but sizeable contributions were made towards Village Hall and Children in Need funds, a win - win all round.
Mervyn Stutter (February 2005)
From the very moment pink jacketed, guitar slung, radio star Mervyn Stutter stepped up onto the stage at Medstead Village Hall, we knew we were in for some great entertainment.
All the tickets were already sold out in advance and a packed hall certainly made the most of the occasion. Mervyn made an immediate impact, jibing members of the audience with political witticisms and topical anecdotes, assessing the reactions and pushing the limit.
He proved to be no mean guitar player, showing that he is indeed multi-talented and used very clever and hilarious lyrics, sometimes to well known tunes to keep the audience convulsed. If ever there was an advert for his Radio Four show 'Getting Nowhere Fast' it was there right in front of us. I have been a fan as long as the show has run and he did not disappoint. My jaw hurt with laughing and as I looked around at the faces of the audience, who were all wracked with laughter, I believe he will add to his already heady band of fans.
All be it very tight, the hall was set out informally around tables bedecked with nibbles and the bar buzzed all evening. A master stroke to help the evening along, not that it needed much help.
Looking forward to other high quality acts on the Medstead stage and hopefully before too long, Mervyn's return.
Thanks and well done to the Medstead Players who organised the event.