This week I was invited to attend a performance by the Highcliffe Charity Players (HCP) – a local production company established 40 years ago who’s past shows include Annie, Cinderella, Robin Hood as well as a number of other pantos along the way. As such, they are no strangers to performing to the local community. All actors are volunteers, and funds raised from their performances are provided to local charitable organisations.
I was invited to attend by a friend who is a member of this years cast, in their production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard”. HCP were recently granted a license to perform the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Only a handful of these licenses are granted, and HCP were lucky enough to get one – almost like winning a Golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!
Sunset Boulevards musical score is written by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself and is based on the movie by Billy Wilder. It’s been a major hit globally, with the soundtrack being bought by millions worldwide. So it’s safe to say that the musical is a huge deal and not easy to pull off!
As such I agreed to attend, rather reluctantly, to offer support to my friend.
Whilst waiting in the forum, I was filled with dread and uncertainty – expecting to see a bunch of over the hill closet actors, wobbly scenery, ‘actors’ stumbling around, forgotten words; something out of a Julie Walters comedy sketch.
BUT OH HOW WRONG I WAS…! Two words can only describe what I watched unfold before me – TRULY AMAZING…
Lead actors Louise King and Mike Young played their roles effortlessly – as did the whole cast. But if there was a BAFTA, Emmy or Oscar to be given, it would undoubtedly be won by Louise King – words cannot describe just how sensational she was. To say the roof was raised by Louise and her voice would be an understatement – she was absolutely incredible in her portrayal of Norma Desmond – dark, sinister, conniving, desperate, broken, passionate and yet vulnerable.
The standing ovations were telling in themselves – Louise’s performance must have touched every heart and soul in the audience. During the performance I was sure HCP must have paid a West End professional to portray Norma Desmond – only to be told that Louise works in Dorset for the NHS!
Praise also goes to the supporting performers as well in equal measure – musicians, directors, sound and lighting, supporting actors, set designers – all of whom have done an incredible job.
Having been to live performances, shows, concerts and musicals all over the UK – this is right up there as one of the most memorable things I have ever seen.
If the HCP can ever top this performance – then everybody in the area should go to support them, you will not be disappointed.