An annual musical treat

Sounds Familiar, Ipswich Operatic Society, at Felixstowe Spa until Saturday.

This is one of the region’s annual theatrical treats, Ipswich Operatic’s song-fest combining the best of yesterday and today in a continuous cascade of colour and melody.

Nobody else does anything quite like this. The numbers are picked with care, exciting and innovative, the music is beautifully arranged and the whole thing is stunningly costumed. It’s really good singing from a total cast of 50, it’s fun, it’s the biz.

They also manage to make it look so easy when we know it isn’t. One minute there’s a stageful chorusing away, then they melt into trios or duets or solos as the lovely numbers keep rolling out.

This year’s show is full of tributes to the greats of the stage musical, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, Stephen Schwarz and Frank Loesser. And we also dip into a couple of the West End’s newer hits, The Jersey Boys and Sister Act.

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Sondheim’s lyrics are clever and his music is not always easy to sing but this group delivered him perfectly with, among others, No One’s Going to Harm You from Sweeney Todd, the touching Children Will Listen from Into the Woods, Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music and a fine Losing My Mind, sung by Stephanie Brown who also directed the show.

The flow of numbers from Mame, Mack and Mabel, Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles, prove what a wonderful show-writer Jerry Herman was, with a particularly nice I Won’t Send Roses.

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The 25th anniversary tribute to Les Miserables is a well-staged triumph which includes the amusing Master of the House and the moving Do You Hear the People Sing? There is also an excellent The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha sung by Martin Warden.

Slotted in are some good laughs with Margaret Mudd, Angela Rankin and Jason Rodger in Growing Old Disgracefully, a dozen policemen in black tights singing Ku Fu Fighting and a bit of very good arms-at-their-sides Irish tap dancing.

David Henshall.

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