16 May

Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Imagine a reworking of an old Science Fiction Musical of the 1950s; The Tempest and other plays by William Shakespeare and mix it up with wonderful fifties Rock and Roll music. Imagine this fusion performed by some totally brilliant musicians who are all trained actors and dancers in addition to playing at least two different instruments.
If you can imagine this, fine – if you can’t, all you have to do is go down to the Gatehouse Theatre in Highgate and see all these things happen in front of your eyes, directed by John Plews with Marcus Adams as musical supervisor, an amazingly inventive set design by Amy Yardley magnificently lit by Sam Waddington and with eccentric choreography by Grant Murphy.
Briefly we are on space ship Albatross with all in attractive blue uniforms, the girls in wondrous silver leggings and Louise Brookes type wigs all of different colours.
After a brief introduction on screen, by the Intergalactic News reader, the full company play the Overture including a famous fifties orchestral piece “Telstar” We meet the officers of the Albatross and there are altercations between Captain Tempest (Alex Fobbester) and the Science Officer (Ellie Ann Lowe) “It’s a Man’s World”
Suddenly they encounter “Great Balls of Fire” and they land on the Forbidden Planet where they meet up with the Doctor Prospero (Chris Killick) , his lovely teenage daughter Miranda (Stephanie Hockley) and Ariel, the silver Robot he has constructed . Ariel is an amazing creature played by Simon Oskarsson on roller skates and who never loses his robot like movement throughout even when he is singing with his magnificent operatic voice “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Shake Rattle and Roll” He also plays the trumpet to accompany himself and others.
Prospero is a Doctor Who style genius who is working on Telegenesis in order to open up nine tenths of the brain known as the X Factor.
There is an immediate attraction between the Captain and Miranda but he thinks she is too young so she is simply “a teenager in love” She is admired even more so by Cookie (Edward Hole) the acrobatic, singing cook of the Albatross who falls deeply in love with her.
It is only fair to mention the rest of the brilliant cast Emma Fraser as Navigation Officer and saxophonist; Guy Freeman as Bosun; David Persiva; Lewys Taylor and most essentially Rhiannon Hopkins, the musical director who also plays sax and the role of Penny Cyllan.
To add to the magic, the script is in Iambic Pentameters and includes many brief quotes and misquotes from Shakespeare slipped into the dialogue without warning. Just as snippets of songs are included – a short reference to “The Young Ones” performed by Cookie, Bosun and Bud as Hank Marvin and the Shadows gets a round of applause.
As an extra bonus The Intergalactic Newsreader making the announcements is Gatehouse regular Angela Rippon.
This is probably the most hilarious and appealing musical of the many many successful shows at the Gatehouse directed by the great John Plews.

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