Oh what a lovely evening with Peak Performance at Chatsworth

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Few sights are more pleasing to a company than to see every seat filled on opening night.

The allure of Chatsworth and the reputation of Peak Performance ensure that the group’s concerts in the stately home’s beautiful little theatre are always a hot ticket.

Songs and scenes from Rodgers and Hammerstein creations are linked by narrator Christine Kotecha who delivers a potted history about each of the six works, which makes this an entertaining and educational night out.

The production takes the audience on a a pleasure trip from the sun-baked island of South Pacific to the cowboy country of Oklahoma, the royal palace of Siam in The King and I and on to the hills of Austria for The Sound of Music. There’s a musical merry-go-round aboard Carousel before a hop along to the State Fair, the latter being the least well-known of the musical offerings.

Ensemble singing is particularly good, with lovely harmonies ringing out in imaginative arrangements by musical director Nick Stacey to the piano accompaniment of Joanna Rynott.

Highlights of the performance include You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel, led by Debi Alvey’s glorious voice, and Getting To Know You from The King and I.

Impressive singing by the young members of the company are led by Michelle Grace who hits a high note in her rendition of Lord and Master from The King and I; Darcy Thorpe’s delightful solo When I Marry Mr Snow from Carousel and Charlotte Barlow and Josh Holmes in a heart-warming performance of I am Sixteen going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music.

Highlights among the older members’ solos include Mike Spriggs’ rendition of A Puzzlement? from The King and I, Bob Hall’s rendition of Edelweiss, Joan Hopkinson’s lilting Many A New Day from Oklahoma and Heather Spinks’ prettily sung Caint Say No from Oklahoma.

Sailor suits, gingham skirts, cowboy hats and neckerchiefs are the order of dress in the first half’ and gowns, gloves, gems and evening dress for the second.

Projection of some of the voices could have been better at last night’s opening concert but I’m sure this will improve as confidence build. An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein continues at Chatsworth tonight (Friday, September 19) and tomorrow at 7.30pm.

GAY BOLTON