Woodbridge: Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society makes its Seckford Theatre debut

PUBLISHED: 10:41 23 October 2013 | UPDATED: 10:41 23 October 2013

Members of the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society stage Sounds Familiar in Concert at Seckford Theatre to October 26. Pictures: Su Anderson

Members of the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society stage Sounds Familiar in Concert at Seckford Theatre to October 26. Pictures: Su Anderson


Expect nothing but the best when Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society makes its Seckford Theatre debut.

Running to October 26, the award-winning company’s Sounds Familiar in Concert features music and songs from some of the greatest shows of stage and screen.

“We’ve been working on the programme since March or April; the theme running through it is the best of – award-winning producers, musicals, etc. To give you an example, the opening selection is called The Prince of Broadway because it’s based on the musicals of producer and director Hal Prince who won a record 21 Tony Awards for shows spanning six decades,” says director Martin Leigh.

“It’s hard to do something like this without doing Les Miserables, obviously, it’s the most successful musical ever. We’ve got a selection from MGM movie musicals, we’re paying tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, one of only 11 winners of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, who sadly passed away last year. We pay tribute with a selection from his most famous theatrical work, A Chorus Line, an unprecedented box office and critical success, running for more than 6,000 performances and winning nine Tonys.

“We’re doing a Disney selection, but again it’s films which have transferred successfully from film to theatre. We have some Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff in there. We’re doing a number from Jesus Christ Superstar because that’s the show we’re doing next year in April...”

This year’s show is a mix of the award-winning company’s popular Sounds Familiar format and last year’s Celebration concert. Audiences can expect everything from the usual musicals content the society is renowned for big dance routines, comedy, special visual effects and other surprises from the 40-strong cast.

“The idea was to try to move away from the very static format and make it a lot more pleasing both to the eye as well as the ear,” says Martin, adding people 
were obviously sad not to be performing at the now closed Felixstowe Spa.

“It’d been our home for this type of production for many years. Seckford is a nice venue and for this sort of show it’s perfect because it’s very intimate and welcoming. I think it’ll work very well.”

Smaller than the Spa, Martin admits adapting to the completely different stage has been a learning curve.

“The layout will be different... but it has excellent technical facilities, we’ve got something like 75 projections, two videos and three animated clips. We’ve extended the run and moving the show to Woodbridge there’s the potential for a new additional audience, but we hope to take the people who came to Felixstowe with us.”

Other highlights include numbers from Showboat, West Side Story, Hair, Calendar Girls, The Wizard of Oz, Burt Bacharach, Top Hat, Sunset Boulevard, Hairspray and many more.

Meanwhile, IODS is searching for Jesus, well, somebody to play him in its production of Jesus Christ Superstar next year.

The rock opera, the first musical by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be produced for the professional stage, is based on the last week of the Messiah’s life and told mainly from the perspective of Judas, the disciple who betrayed him to the Roman authorities.

It comes to the Ipswich Regent from April 9-12 and the company needs more men to audition for Jesus, Judas, Herod, Pilate, apostles and ensemble.

It is being directed by Martin Warden, who grew up in Woodbridge and was in the professional touring show of Jesus Christ Superstar. The choreographer is Mark Connell, also no stranger to the West End having last appeared in Mamma Mia!

Pre-audition rehearsals are on November 5, 7, 12 and 14 at The Labour Club Hall, Silent Street, Ipswich. Actual auditions are on November 17. Anybody interested in coming along should call IODS secretary Maria Page on 01394 276978.

Click the above link to read a review of last night’s Sounds Familiar in Concert.

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