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KAOS are putting on a thoroughly modern show

20/02/2009  - Reproduced from 'Orkney Today'

FOR Orkney musical lovers, one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year is nearly upon us; the Kirkwall Amateur Operatic Society's (KAOS) annual presentation is due to take to the stage next month.

Here, the production's director Sue Whitworth describes this year's show:

"Take a self-styled 'modern' miss who is newly arrived in Manhattan from Kansas with definite plans for being on the way up.

Add a group of stage struck young actresses in a hotel with a proprietress whose comic exterior masks a very sinister double-dealer. Sprinkle in a troupe of tap dancing stenographers, love interest, sparkling wit, brilliant songs, spectacle and pure showbiz (not to mention the odd kidnapping) and what have you got?"

The answer, of course, is Thoroughly Modern Millie, the 2009 performance from KAOS.

This year there are new faces among the better-known cast, each giving their all, and a dedicated crew tackling a challenging set and thrilling us with their achievements.

Kate Irving-Lewis plays Millie, who is 'on the way up'; Ivan Russell (who is no stranger to opera performances or to roof tops) plays Jimmy, who dances 20 stories up and aims to stay fancy-free; Lesley Howard plays Dorothy, a sweet little rich girl who is 'on the way down'; Graham Macdonald is Trevor Graydon, Millie's new boss and a bit of a stuffed shirt - at least to begin with; Fiona Norris is Muzzy, a nightclub singer; and Gill Cooke plays Mrs Meers, a landlady whose duplicity combines Widow Twanky with the Wicked Witch and still has some left over.

The stage show bears little more than a passing resemblance to the film of the same name, and is packed with comedy, romance, suspense and more than a hint of pantomime.

KAOS assures us that this is truly a must-see show and a brilliant night out is assured.

Thoroughly Modern Millie opens on Tuesday March 24 and will run until Saturday March 28.

Stars of the Silent Screen brought to life

31/01/2008  - Reproduced from 'Orkney Today'

THERE are now less than two weeks to go until 'Mack and Mabel', this year's production from Kirkwall Amateur Operatic Society (KAOS), takes to the stage in Kirkwall.

The show stars Gareth Crichton as Hollywood silent movie director Mack Sennett, and Lorraine McBrearty as movie star Mabel Normand.

As well as singing, this year's audience can expect to see lots of dancing, including tap dancing, comedy and real Mack Sennett film clips.

In anticipation of the eagerly awaited 'opera', which starts its six-night run in Orkney Arts Theatre on Monday, February 11, Orkney Today caught up with its director Carol Taylor to see how things were shaping up.

"It's going really well and all coming together," Carol said. "The sets are done, the costumes are arriving on Thursday and lots of glamorous and glittery makeup has already arrived. Everyone is really up for it."

One potential hiccup in the production came a couple of weeks ago, when Dennis Gowland decided to give up the part of Fatty Arbuckle due to family commitments.

Luckily for the show, John Ross Scott was able to step in to fill the role, with Dennis choosing to take on a smaller role in the production.

"John makes a very good Fatty, he's very funny," said Carol. "Everyone is playing their part well; lines are learned, songs are learned. It's now just a matter of practising timing and a few final things to straighten out before we're on stage.

"The cast's nerves are starting to kick in now, but that's all for the good; hopefully it will
make them perform even better!"

Carol also reveals that the set should be quite spectacular, with no curtains and a completely empty stage that's painted black. Various sized screens will also be dotted about to play back the film clips that will complement the action.

"I have a technical team working on that as we speak, so it's looking like it's going to work out fine!" said Carol.

"My absolutely favourite song has always been 'Wherever he aint'. And, during rehearsals, Lorraine McBrearty always makes me cry with her performance of the show's final song; 'Time Heals Everything'. She sings it so well, if people in the audience are not crying when they hear it there's something wrong.

"I'm not going to say too much about the ending, but it does have the potential to be sad; it's very dramatic."

She continued: "I have really enjoyed directing the show. I've not done such a long project before - I've been involved since last May - but I knew what I was up against. I have found it tiring, but apart from that it's been good fun. I knew this week was going to be stressful, but the fact that the cast are so looking forward to it, makes it good fun for everybody.

"I'm very proud of what everyone has put together, it's a total team effort. We've had fantastic actors, musicians, choreography, lighting, hair and makeup; everything. Everyone is working really hard on this show and I think it will prove that itself when it opens."

'Mack and Mabel' will be showing in the Orkney Arts Theatre at 7.30pm, from February 11-16. Tickets cost £8, £4 concession (not Friday or Saturday), and are available from Nimms, Albert Street, Kirkwall.

Tickets went on sale a few weeks ago and there are now only a few left for the shows towards the end of the week (Thursday to Saturday), so get yours while you still can!

•With KAOS' production of 'Mack and Mabel' getting ever closer, the society's president Giffie Leslie revealed this week that the people who make their costumes have decided to come up to Orkney to see the show on the Saturday night.

"Because Orkney is the first place to put on an amateur production of 'Mack and Mabel'; the costumes are being specially made for it," explained Giffie. "However, they have to be back south for another show in Dundee the following week."

So the company's owners, Ewan Campbell and Gordon Philip, decided they would come and see their outfits in action, and then take them down themselves.

Utopia Costumes, which is based in Dundee and Forfar, is one of the UK's leading suppliers of theatrical costumes for professional and amateur stage shows, available for hire across the UK. In addition they custom-make costumes for any occasion KAOS have been getting their costumes from Utopia for the last six or seven years.

"It's always been that we've got costumes from outside Orkney, it is cheaper than making them from scratch and adds to the professionalism of the show," said Giffie.

"Ewan and Gordon are very close friends of mine and Robert Dawson, my business partner from the West End Hotel. We have visited them several times when going south or organising costumes for the opera; they are very helpful and very professional.

"I'm delighted they have decided to take up our invitation to visit Orkney and see the show. They will spend four days in Orkney and are hoping to see some of the island before taking the costumes away with them."

He added: "I've been popping in to rehearsals for the show from time to time so I've seen certain bits of it and it seems to be well on. The bits I have seen are very good, very professional, and the set has been well designed and is in keeping with the theme."

You're looking swell Dolly ... but where are your friends?

09/11/2006  - Reproduced from 'Orkney Today'

AN APPEAL has been made for more singers for next year's 'Hello Dolly' musical by Kirkwall Amateur Operatic Society (KAOS).

Although the show is one of the best and most popular in the amateur operatic society circuit, the numbers attending chorus practise on Wednesday nights for next year's production has been reduced because local singers are involved in so many other local shows on the lead up to Christmas.

Director Lesley Howard told Orkney Today: "We are keen to attract new and old members of the society along to take part in this great show. We are aware that many are involved in the St Magnus Festival Chorus winter show and in pantomines across Orkney but we would welcome their attendance after those shows are over."

"It is a really good show and I am sure people will enjoy taking part. Last year's production of 'Brigadooon'turned out to be a real social occasion, everyone got on so well. We hope this year it will be the same. Being part of a show like this is really a good way of getting to know people.

"Anyone can come along, whether they have ahad any formal experience of stagework or not. They will all be welcome and we are particularly, as usual, looking for more male performers."

She added: "The auditions went really well. We had an extremely positive response and most of the main parts are now filled. We do, however, need more chorus members."

The key part of Dolly will be shared by Sue Whitworth and Fiona Norris, while Dennis Gowland will be Dolly's sparring partner Horace Vandergelder. Ivan Russell will take on the key role as Cornelius Hackl - the part made famous by Michael Crawford - in the film, Dr Colin Boreland will play Ambrose; Ena Spence (Minnie Fay) and Irene Molloy (Dorothy O'Donnell).

This leaves only two key parts to fill, those ofBarnaby Tucker and Ermengarde.

The show itself, rated as one of the greatest of the 1960s, is full of showstopping songs including 'Hello Dolly', 'Before the Parade Passes By', 'Put On Your Sunday Clothes', 'Eligance' and 'It Only Takes A Moment'.

It won 10 Tony awards as a stage show and the Barbra Streisand film was nominated as Best Picture in the 1969 Academy Awards.

Musical director Caroline Robertson, who also enthused about 'Hello Dolly', told us: "The music is not difficult. It's very catchy and you will get into it quickly. It is a really upbeat show. Folk with all musical ability will be welcome."