The Witches of Eastwick, Redditch Operatic Society, Palace Theatre, Redditch
SEDUCTION, sex and sorcery, along with a liberal scattering of naughty humour and vulgar language – on the face of it this was a big risk for Redditch Operatic Society, but in the competent hands of director Tony Jay this gorgeously wacky show was appreciated by an enthusiastic audience.
With truly uncomfortable moments of seduction, the process of deliberately enticing a person to engage in a, often sexual, relationship, this will not have been to everybody’s taste.
This 2000 musical is based on the novel by John Updike and originally produced by the legendary Cameron Mackintosh. It was also the subject of a movie starring Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer as the three separated and bored friends in the stuffy town of Eastwick, while scary Jack Nicholson stepped out as devilish new arrival in town and ready to stir things up somewhat, Darryl Van Horne.
Here in Redditch Darryl was manfully portrayed by Mark Williams, whose cheeky depiction was slick, naughty and yes, uncomfortable at times.
The three ‘ladies’ were indeed well cast. Bubbly Jane as a newly divorced music teacher was adeptly portrayed by the ever-smiling Lisa Lilwall whose voice was among the finest in the show.
Alongside her, Sukie works as a journalist at the Eastwick Word. She was played by the eye-catching Danielle Purkess, whose powerful voice and energy shone through.
Finally there was the charming Louise Walton, as single mother and eccentric sculptress Alexandra. The three gelled beautifully on stage.
Seducing each of the women in turn, Darryl teaches them how to further expand the powers locked within, although there is, I am glad to say, a moral to the story as he ultimately receives his comeuppance.
Stiff-necked pillar of the community Felicia was portrayed by Penny Hoy, whose serious demeanour was perfect for the part, while her unfortunate and hen-pecked hubby Clyde saw society veteran Tim Eagleton delightfully take on the part.
The Girl, who appears every so often as a kind of madcap narrator, was delightfully played by Kelly-Louise Mitchell, while Paul Mitchell so obviously had great fun as the transformed Michael. Special praise however must be reserved for a very brave Mollie Hallahan, who continued with her portrayal of Michael’s young lover Jennifer, despite losing her voice (which was ‘sung off stage’ by Kelly Mitchell, thus saving the day!).
The whole society was brave to attempt this off the wall show, but that bravery paid off with massive audience appreciation in the end.