Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Savoyards’ showstopping glamorous golden gala

2 min read

The Island Savoyards celebrated their golden anniversary with an evening of entertainment that was a treat for the audience at Shanklin Theatre, looking back with excerpts from memorable shows and looking forward with young talent being developed for the future.

The orchestra, conducted by Andrew Woodford, who also produced the ‘Be Our Guest’ show, included Tony Martin on clarinet, who has been with the Savoyards for most of their 50 years. The musical performance brought out the best in the cast.

Gilbert and Sullivan pieces featured in the first half, reflecting the origins of the Savoyards, which also included a medley from Oliver!, a powerful rendition of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina by Harley Mackness, whose sister, Ashleigh, brought smiles to the show with ‘The Laughing Song’ from Die Fledermaus. That was followed by the whole company raising the roof with the foot-tapping Grease is the Word, and a Joseph megamix to close the first half.

Second half treats included a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-medley (with the iconic car being outside to meet theatre goers on their arrival), songs from My Fair Lady, 9-5, Little Shop of Horrors, and Half a Sixpence (the show that Covid cancelled) enchanting all audience members privileged to be at this unique occasion.

The show paused to remember former members who had been a part of the Savoyards journey, and secretary, Sheelah Stephens, paid tribute to the volunteers of the Shanklin Theatre, as well as all involved in the Savoyards since their inception in 1971.

The celebratory programme includes details of all the shows put on across the decades, from The Mikado and HMS Pinafore in the ’70s, to Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music and Sister Act in more recent years.

The choreography, colourful costume changes and comic contributions combined to ensure the two-hour production never paused to draw breath, culminating in Spamalot’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’, with the show finishing with a trailer for Guys and Dolls, the new Savoyards production planned for October 27-30 in Shanklin Theatre.

On this unique evening, the audience gave a standing ovation for the cast and audience, recognising the longevity of the Savoyards across the decades, as well as the theatrical talent, stagecraft and opportunities that the company provides for Islanders to enjoy.

The Island is fortunate to have the dedication and commitment of the Savoyards, providing pathways for performers young and those not so young, with performances that entertain and enthral audiences in their hundreds and thousands. We can all look forward to the next 50 years.