REVIEW: ‘Orpheus Rocks…And More’ – First Act Theatre Company

I took my seat at Shanklin Theatre for the first show in a three-performance run feeling slightly puzzled. I’d heard of Orpheus – but not that he rocked – and what was the ‘And More’? I was to find out in an incredibly energetic, entertaining show…

The first half was dedicated to telling the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice, set to rock music! Orpheus, played superbly by Christopher Ayers, even sported an electric guitar! His love for Eurydice, played by the talented Maggie Murthwaite, and hers for him was beautifully portrayed, as was Orpheus’ despair at losing her to the Underworld, a plot hatched by Hades, King of the Underworld – Ashleigh Jones’s villainous laughter was a real treat.

Rachel Stone was the perfect choice for Hermes, our guide and narrator – her clarity of voice and enthusiasm for the story drew the audience in. David Davis’ tea-drinking Charon was a delight too, as was James Soley’s cameo as Apollo. The ensemble portrayals of various creatures who haunt the Underworld were also wonderfully performed – Sarah-Louise McEvoy, Kim Reader and Jade Hornbuckle were hilarious as three witches arguing over their single shared eye, and I especially enjoyed the taunting of the Furies set to Madness’ One Step Beyond!

Without giving away the ending I have to say it was emotional….but there was more to come.

A collage of photographs of the members of the Orpheus Rocks actors and performers from the First Act company.

The second half of the programme was a cabaret ‘Party’, packed with songs and fun showcasing each of the talented First Act members. Following their success in lead roles in the first half, Christopher and Maggie both proved their prowess as dancers, while Ashleigh shed his baddie image as Hades, to be a comedian! Jamie Topham meanwhile showed us some great magic tricks.

There were some lovely singers too, covering a range of eras and styles, from Al Wyman’s ‘Come Back Liza’ and Kim Reader’s ‘Blue Hawaiian’ through Sarah and James duetting on ‘Whole New World’ to an ‘ABBA Mix-Up’ featuring Wendy Todd, Lisa Carter, Trish Kent and David Davis. The finale, ‘New York, New York’ set the audience clapping and singing along, as did the final dance to ‘Everybody Dance’. The song that really summed up the show for me though was Immie Sivell’s ‘We Are the Champions’ – each and every one of the actors on stage is indeed a champion, as are the tutors and supporters- they have all clearly not only put in a huge amount of work and rehearsal time but have delighted the audience with their enthusiasm for the show. I for one enjoyed it hugely and am already looking forward to their next production, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in November.

Before that however, First Act will be at Shanklin Theatre again tonight (29th) and tomorrow (30th) at 6.30pm – catch the show if you can: you’ll have a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

Image is of the poster for the Orpheus Rocks production.  Includes  guitar and  laurel wreath motifs.

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