Review: The High Sheriff’s Command Performance, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, September 24.
- Credit: Archant
A gala evening cram-packed with stars, young talent and theatrical royalty marked the launch of a major new arts and culture fund for Suffolk.
The evening provided a perfect opportunity to see fund-raising patron Timothy West, along with stars like the Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis and Mara Galeazzi performing up close.
The packed programme included a nicely balanced programme of song, dance, drama and comedy and was brilliantly held-together by master of ceremonies the ad-libbing Kit Hesketh-Harvey.
His impromptu song about Donald Trump’s race for the White House was designed to cover an over-long scene change but provided one of the many highlights of the evening.
Sponsored by the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Judith Shallow, and hosted by the Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal, The Command Performance was designed to create funds to allow The Suffolk Community Foundation to start an Arts and Culture Fund in the High Sherriff’s name and to allow the Theatre Royal to continue its outreach and development work with young people.
As an example of rising talent and the work of the Suffolk Community Foundation the evening opened with a pair of startling performances. The first from the advanced training group from DanceEast performing a contemporary piece choreographed by Joss Arnott called Multiply which followed by a moving choral version of Bill Withers’ Lean On Me, performed by community choir Music In Our Bones.
Established names like Helen Fraser and Clive Francis performed alongside young professionals like David O’Mahoney, Jessie May, Sammy Kelly and Julia Cave.
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Helen Fraser, who played prison warder Body Bag both on TV and in the West End, performed an extract from Bad Girls – The Musical, Sammy Kelly and Julia Cave brought Bob Fosse’s Chicago to the Theatre Royal stage while Jessie May gave a powerful performance of Brian May’s No-One But You from We Will Rock You.
West End actor Clive Francis brought the court room scene to life from The Pickwick Papers and Timothy West dramatised Anthony Trollope’s Dr Thorne and John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey.
Stunning music was provided by mezzo sopranos Yvonne Howard and Jennifer Johnston who performed extracts from Hansel and Gretel and Les Contes d’Hoffman while Bury-based jazz musician Chris Ingham provided us with a look at the apparently not-so-relaxed world of Hoagy Carmichael.
The highlight of a packed evening however was Ipswich-born Gary Avis and his partner from the Royal Ballet, Mara Galeazzi, who performed Lieder Pas de deux which had been choreographed for them by Alastair Marriott.
A stunning evening which was played to a full-house and will create a fund to allow more Suffolk people to access the arts.