Review: The Vicar of Dibley by Kings Langley Players

4:30pm Saturday 1st June 2013

Six years have passed since the final episode aired on television.

Review: The Hollow at The Pump House

Watford Observer: Review: The Hollow at The Pump House

5:20pm Friday 31st May 2013

A wet Wednesday practically cries out for a good whodunit and Belmont Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s The Hollow last night did not disappoint.

REVIEW: Break The Floorboards at Watford Palace Theatre****

Watford Observer: Break the Floorboards is at Watford Palace Theatre

4:43pm Friday 10th May 2013

Bursting onto the stage and straight into a dance routine, the valiant performers brought energy and enthusiasm to the fore in Rifco Arts/Watford Palace Theatre’s new production, Break The Floorboards, writes Melanie Dakin.

REVIEW: Timeless, Pump House Theatre ****

9:35am Monday 11th February 2013

After the five-star success of her 2009 pirate adventure Scrimshaw, Pump House director Karen Rhodes returns with Timeless, which received its debut in in Watford in late January prior to an Edinburgh run this summer.

REVIEW: Charlotte Beament and the Watford Symphony Orchestra, Clarendon Muse *****

9:39am Monday 11th February 2013

Many in the audience had known Charlotte Beament from her childhood in Watford, and this concert was an opportunity to hear how well her soprano voice has developed and how well she uses it. From this, and from her experience at Glyndebourne and elsewhere, we may be confident that she is starting a great career.

BalletBoyz gives dance a new lift

Watford Observer: Essex dancer Leon Poulton

1:28pm Friday 13th January 2012

Dancer Leon Poulton talks to Melanie Dakin about performing with the all-male group BalletBoyz at Watford Palace Theatre

Youth theatre gets to grips with a man-eating plant

Watford Observer: Facing a man-eating plant

12:28pm Friday 13th January 2012

Production manager Deb Littley tells Melanie Dakin about unearthing props for Little Shop of Horrors

Crusoe in Brazil

Watford Observer: Valerie Webb as Skullduggery, Simon Phillips as Cut-Throat and Wendy East

3:57pm Friday 13th January 2012

It's all aboard for Chipperfield Theatre Group's panto show, Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates, writes Melanie Dakin

Watford Philharmonic Society at Watford Colosseum*****

1:44pm Thursday 25th March 2010

Any pianist who tackles the Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor by Camille Saint-Saens invites judgement by the highest standards. Lara Omeroglu, accompanied by the orchestra of the Watford Philharmonic Society, with Terry Edwards conducting, more than met these standards in her performance at this 75th Jubilee Spring Concert of the Society.

Elixir of Love, St Albans Chamber Opera***

1:39pm Thursday 25th March 2010

St Albans Chamber Opera's vernal timing could not have been better to stage the Donizetti's Elixir of Love. While its distinctly Mozartian recitatives, humourous badinage and absurd love potions make it more upmarket G&S than heavyweight opera, it is full of delightfully fresh tunes and strongly drawn characters thus ensuring it's a regular in the operatic repetoire.

Radlett Choral Society Spring Concert at St Michael and All Angels, Watford****

4:18pm Monday 15th March 2010

Radlett Choral Society boasts a healthy team of supporters and there was certainly a good audience for their concert on Saturday evening. Those who chose this concert to attend, rather than one of the other numerous musical events in and around Watford that evening, must have been pleased with their choice because it was an excellently excecuted programme which ranged from the whimsy of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the melancholy of Brahms' Alto Rhapsody and the poignancy of Schubert’s Stabat Mater.

Soul Play at Watford Palace Theatre*****

Watford Observer: Joy Constantinides and Sam Curtis in Soul Play PICTURE © Barbara Stott

4:06pm Thursday 11th March 2010

Death isn’t an easy subject to talk about but director/choreographer Kate Flatt has made a highly moving attempt to discuss some of the issues surrounding the loss of a loved one in her cross-over dance theatre production, Soul Play.

Luis Pecas at Aldenham School**

4:25pm Thursday 11th March 2010

Among singers, the good natural counter-tenor voice in men is comparatively rare, being also known as the male alto, with pitch slightly lower than in a woman contralto. (It must not be confused with the castrato voice, which used to result from a barbarous surgical procedure.) The English debut tour by the Portuguese counter-tenor Luis Pecas, with his accompanist Joao Santos, was therefore a real attraction to the Chapel of Aldenham School last Saturday.

Marcus Andrews piano recital for Radlett Music Club****

4:12pm Thursday 11th March 2010

It is not every pianoforte recital that includes the first performance of a new work in the presence of its British composer. This was achieved by the Radlett Music Club on this occasion. Modus operandi, a short piece by Michael Summers, only completed in January 2010, therefore deserved our special attention. The piece begins by expanding a single note into a simple theme, to which, after much elaboration and interplay with other themes, it eventually returns. As we listened to its subtle and complex rhythms and its impressionist language, we could not fail to think of Debussy (a specimen of whose work was to be played next) and Bartok, whose idiom has become the lingua franca of modern pianism. It was a privilege to be at the premiere of this exciting, if brief, work, played with enthusiasm by Marcus Andrews.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things at Watford Palace Theatre*****

3:37pm Monday 8th March 2010

Most of us have an awareness of classical ballet, so Indian classical dance, though different, is not incomprehensible. In a multicultural town such as Watford, we are fortunate to see authentic Indian dancing, as we did in the impressive performance by Nina Rajarani and her colleagues at Watford Palace Theatre, last Tuesday night.

Ocean Colour Scene at The Alban Arena

Watford Observer: Picture Holly Cant

10:19am Saturday 6th March 2010

People often decide not to bother going to a gig because they have seen the band before, and - even though they may have enjoyed it - they see no point in going again.

Ocean Colour Scene at The Alban Arena

Watford Observer: Picture Holly Cant

2:21pm Friday 5th March 2010

People often decide not to bother going to a gig because they have seen the band before, and - even though they may have enjoyed it - they see no point in going again.

Return To The Forbidden Planet at The Pump House****

Watford Observer: The cast show off their space-age costumes

9:41am Friday 29th January 2010

Reciting Shakespeare is no mean feat for a youth theatre and it’s even more difficult if you’re wearing a bodysuit and rollerskates, but still the Pump House Youth Theatre presented a highly entertaining version of Bob Carlton’s witty, award-winning musical.

Purcell School's Elastic Band Sextet, Radlett Music Club

2:16pm Friday 29th January 2010

Radlett Music Club presented a Family Concert featuring the Purcell School's Elastic Band Sextet on Sunday, January 24 at Christ Church Vision Hall, Radlett. The Sextet comprised Purcell students led by the Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion, Kevin Hathway. The audience of children and accompanying adults thoroughly enjoyed a whirlwind musical journey around the world introducing music and musical instruments to them in a highly entertaining and interactive way - this was no conventional concert, rather a musical experience.

Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The Alban Arena****

9:43am Friday 29th January 2010

Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat brings with it all the polished professionalism you’d reasonably expect of a West End show. Its production values are superb and its stars are at the very top of their game.

Kings Langley Players' Aladdin at the Community Centre****

5:13pm Monday 18th January 2010

A warning for the women of Kings Langley: Lock up your husbands, there's a Pantomime Dame in town.

Princess Ida at Watford Palace Theatre***

5:10pm Monday 18th January 2010

Among the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, Princess Ida makes special demands. It is based on Tennyson’s poem The Princess, written in 1847, which was greatly admired in the 19th Century, but is wearisome today. Uniquely, following Tennyson, Gilbert wrote in blank verse. But amateur operatic singers are not all necessarily skilled blank verse speakers.

English Classical Players at Watford Colosseum****

12:06pm Monday 11th January 2010

An almost all-Mozart programme attracted a large and attentive audience to the Colosseum for this, the last concert of the 2009 season by the English Classical Players, conducted by Jonanthan Brett. The works were played in the order of their composition. An ingenious opening choice was Mozart’s Divertimento in D major, an early work. It is a deceptively simple example of Mozart’s style, in which lively and polished playing fully justified its lasting popularity.

Cinderella at Watford Palace Theatre****

Watford Observer: Buttons (Andrew Macklin), Dandini (Eugene McCoy) and Prince Charming (Daniel Norford)

11:29am Friday 4th December 2009

Cinderella has been given the Palace treatment and a thoroughly good job director Kate Saxon and her team have done.

Iolanthe at The Radlett Centre***

1:50pm Monday 30th November 2009

One of the favourites in the G&S canon, Iolanthe has long charmed audiences with its ridiculous yet comically enchanting tale of crafty fairies pitting their wits against a band of cerebrally challenged peers.

There Came A Gypsy Riding at The Pump House Theatre*****

9:57am Wednesday 25th November 2009

Bouncing back from a cancelled show (Wait Until Dark), The Pump House Theatre Company has gone on to greater things with a fine performance of Frank McGuinness’ wildly humourous and deeply affecting Irish drama, There Came A Gypsy Riding, admirably directed by Anne Hornsby.

Purcell School Symphony Orchestra at Watford Colosseum****

10:10am Wednesday 25th November 2009

The overture Helios, written in 1903 by the Danish composer CA Nielsen, was a novel choice to open this concert by the Purcell School Symphony Orchestra. But as Jonathan Brett, on behalf of Watford Musical Heritage, said in a short opening address, this Bushey school is for brilliant young musicians; every department of the orchestra made a good start under the clear baton of Edward Longstaff, Assistant Director of Music at the School.

The Music Man at Watford Palace Theatre*****

9:59am Wednesday 25th November 2009

A diamond anniversary deserves a sparkling performance and Cassio Operatic delivered one with aplomb at an extremely well-attended (despite the rain-sodden conditions) matinee show last Saturday.

Sweet Charity at The Watersmeet***

9:44am Wednesday 25th November 2009

Immortalised by Shirley MacLaine and boasting famous tunes including Hey Big Spender and If My Friends Could See Me Now, Sweet Charity charts the problematic love life of naive New Yorker, Charity Hope Valentine. The show’s vibrant ‘60s backdrop, lively musical score and engaging characters, have the potential to be a winning formula. Unfortunately, Sweet Charity suffers from too many extraneous songs and scenes ensuring that however good the performers are, it can feel like something of a test of endurance. Despite the piece’s shortcomings, Ricky Players made a decent attempt to counter the autumn gloom with their colourful production.

Thomas Trotter organ concert at Watford Colosseum*****

1:59pm Wednesday 11th November 2009

In the musical life of England, the town halls of the northern industrial centres (especially their organs) play an important part. Thomas Trotter, organist of Birmingham Town Hall, in his well-attended organ recital on Sunday afternoon, maintained Watford's place in that musical league - though our town is in the Home Counties and not quite so large!

Handel's Water Music, English Classical Players at Watford Colosseum****

5:05pm Thursday 5th November 2009

When my teacher discussed Handel's Water Music with me, more years ago than I care to remember, he was talking about the lugubrious arrangement by Sir Hamilton Harty, often played at that time. With his own orchestra, he had chosen much faster speeds, and the strings were delighted to find that, in the famous Air, they really had a tune to play. It is now many years since I heard the Handel/Harty version. Naturally, it was the livelier approach that was adopted by the English Classical Players, conducted by Jonathan Brett, at the start of this concert of early 18th-Century music.

Mosaic at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels****

4:35pm Thursday 5th November 2009

We owe a debt to Mosaic - a choir founded in south Hertfordshire a few years ago - and their Director, Nicholas Robinson, for providing, for its first appearance in Watford on Saturday, October 17, an anthology of mainly 19th-Century French religious works, in the sympathetic surroundings of the church of St Michael and All Angels, West Watford.

Funeral for a Friend at The Forum*****

4:16pm Thursday 5th November 2009

Hertfordshire was rocked into life when Funeral for a Friend descended upon The Forum in Hatfield.

2nd May 1997 at Watford Palace Theatre*****

5:26pm Thursday 22nd October 2009

The ability to surprise, enlighten, enliven and entertain is what live theatre is all about and Watford Palace continues to do all four on a regular basis. The latest play at the theatre, Jack Thorne’s 2nd May 1997 saw the stage transformed into a snug studio format with the audience flanking the actors so close you could practically feel the warmth of their breath on your face.

Cepicky, Rosefield, Dussek Piano Trio at The Radlett Centre****

11:38am Friday 16th October 2009

Chamber Concert

Octagon Music Club at Clarendon Muse*****

11:31am Friday 16th October 2009

Brodowski String Quartet

My Mother Said I Never Should at Watford Palace Theatre****

3:47pm Monday 5th October 2009

Somewhere in the middle of My Mother Said I Never Should, the mother, Margaret, turns to her daughter, Jackie, and says : ”I wanted you to do better than I did.” A key comment to the relationship between mothers and daughters in Charlotte Keatley’s play, which traces the emancipation of women through four generations in the same family from Edwardian times to the 1980s.

South Oxhey's got talent!

12:15pm Wednesday 23rd September 2009

All sorts of talents and treasures are emerging from South Oxhey it seems, as Gareth Malone’s The Choir – Unsung Town series has been revealing on BBC Two. Choir member and South Oxhey resident, Vee Smith, is among them.

Is Everyone Okay? at Watford Palace Theatre****

Watford Observer: Joel Horwood's Is Everyone Okay? comes to Watford Palace Theatre

2:42pm Thursday 17th September 2009

It's difficult sometimes to put your finger on exactly what it is that riles you about everyday office life. Is it the one-upmanship and back-biting, the lack of appreciation, or just that your boss is snippy and incompetent or you’re avoiding having to perform secreterial duties to an incorrigible old lecher?

A choir is born in South Oxhey

Watford Observer: Ashleigh Orsmond, Clifford Edwards, Dean Bridges, Carly Harvey, Matty Leonard, Kitty Lee, Fred Polley, Maggie Forman and Lorraine Orsmond with Gareth Malone centre	PICTURE ©: BBC/Twenty Twenty TV/Rolf Marriott

10:23am Wednesday 16th September 2009

Week three of The Choir Unsung Town was a vast improvement on the previous week’s rather downbeat episode, which despite recording the success of the children’s choir and the adult group’s first public concert at Watford Colosseum, did little to make the South Oxhey community feel good about the attitudes of those in the surrounding towns.

Gary Mullen & The Works Are A Kind Of Magic****

4:44pm Tuesday 15th September 2009

He won Stars In Their Eyes in 2000 with a record 864,838 votes. He's played in the BBC Proms In The Park for the past two years running. Queen guitarist Brian May personally gave him free backstage passes to their concert with Paul Rodgers in Germany. Now he tours the UK and indeed the world with his band, ‘The Works’. Edinburgh’s Gary Mullen has become an international sensation as Freddie Mercury. Michael Dias went to see his show, One Night Of Queen, this month at The Alban Arena.

Walking With Dinosaurs at Wembley Arena*****

Watford Observer: Brachiosaurus are one of the main attractions to the show

12:42pm Tuesday 18th August 2009

Eve Dakin reviews the smash hit show where dinosaurs once again walk the earth

St Albans Organ Festival July 2009*****

1:48pm Tuesday 4th August 2009

The 25th organ festival in St Albans provided top class performances in a variety of styles and ensembles, happily also celebrating the recent re-dedication of the cathedral’s own Harrison and Harrison organ. Thoughtful planning of the Three Choirs concert on Monday, July 13 was apparent in both personnel – St Albans own choir (conductor Andrew Lucas), Westminster Abbey (James O’Donnell) and King’s College, Cambridge (Stephen Cleobury) with the Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Brass Ensemble – and repertoire. The event was distinguished by the presence of the Duchess of Gloucester.

The Girlfriend Experience at the Young Vic****

12:26pm Friday 31st July 2009

Peeping between the curtains of a brothel is not an experience we might be familiar with, but Alecky Blythe’s verbatim theatre production, The Girlfriend Experience opens the drapes far and wide on a world of sex games, frilly undies and grubby punters. The play opens with Alecky’s voice explaining to Tessa, the owner of the parlour, that she will be recording everything the women and their customers say during the next 12 months with a view to editing this down as a stage production. Wearing headphones, the actors repeat back this recorded dialogue word for word. Obtrusive at first, the headphones soon blend into the background, as the curious lives of these ladies of the night (or indeed afternoon) unfold.

Into The Woods and The Jungle Book at The Pump House***

5:25pm Tuesday 7th July 2009

OPENING a double bill with a less familiar work for cast and audience didn’t exactly pay dividends last Friday for the Pump House Children and Youth Theatre. Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods may be a delightfully clever musical weaving together some of the most exciting and macabre tales from The Brothers Grimm’s storybook, but having had limited rehearsal time, the young players were not all that at ease with the piece. One of the greatest problems on the night was that members of the group were facing sideways away from the auditorium and tucked into a corner so their voices were barely discernable above the catchy, but too loud, soundtrack and their actions were lost amidst the gloomy lighting. Stage, light and sound direction aside, those taking part did their best to keep the proceedings entertaining and it was great to see so many children getting the chance to shine.

Scrimshaw returns to The Pump House Theatre stage

3:52pm Tuesday 30th June 2009

The swashbuckling tale is returning to the Pump House for two nights only prior to its Edinburgh debut. Read Melanie Dakin's review from the performance last January

High drama with Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

Watford Observer: Captain Hook, played by serial baddie Jonathan Hyde has a menacing edge.

8:55am Tuesday 30th June 2009

Peter Pan and the lost boys have returned to their spiritual home in Kensington Gardens, London, for a season of magical entertainment.

Watford Philharmonic Society at The Colosseum****

12:39pm Monday 29th June 2009

An exciting concert performance, Night at the Opera was given at the Watford Colosseum on Saturday, June 13. The Watford Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra under the direction of their distinguished conductor, Terry Edwards, performed selections from several popular operas by Saint-Saens, Smetana and Verdi.

Dominoes Falling at Watford Palace Theatre***

5:16pm Tuesday 23rd June 2009

Youth theatre shows generally make up in enthusiasm for anything they might be lacking in experience, but Daydreamer Theatre Company’s Dominoes Falling, which showcased as part of the Watford Live! Community Arts Festival last week, thankfully proved to have a generous helping of both.

Radlett Choral Society at St Peter’s Church, Bushey Heath*****

11:57am Monday 22nd June 2009

A warm summer's evening in Bushey enticed a healthy crowd out to listen to Radlett Choral Society’s Italian Serenade; an evening of Italian music or music inspired by Italy.



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