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Review: The Harmonettes Go Into Orbit at The Forum Studio Theatre

REVIEW/by Jo Henwood

BRITAIN’S got talent and Simon Cowell knows how to spot it. But it’s people like Claire Smith at Cheshire’s Rural Touring Network who know how to nurture and develop it into a cracking show.

The Harmonettes Go Into Orbit, at The Forum Studio Theatre in Chester last week, showed Chester’s home grown talent at its very best.

Charlotte Jones (ex Upton High School student and teacher, Jigsaw Music Theatre Company), Georgina West (ex Christleton High School, director of Ellesmere Port choir The Fireflies) and Sarra Cooper (former University of Chester student, Theatre in the Quarter and Dee & Alyn) are the vocal trio The Harmonettes, who are on tour with their first ever full length show.

Smith facilitated the girls working with award-winning writer Janys Chambers, (Emmerdale, Holby City), who developed Nancy Parrish (Charlotte), Ivy Brunswick (Georgina) and Evelyn Battersby - née Blunt - (Sarra) based on the girls’ own characters.

The rest is history (1956 to be precise) and Chambers has them down to a very exaggerated tee.

Nancy wants to be the female Bill Hailey, Ivy is too busy star gazing to have fun and Evelyn’s only ambition is to host a dinner party for the “under manager of the sub branch” of her new husband’s bank.

The three girls step in and out of character as they share the tale of how they first met to their first stage appearance, interspersed with songs and ballads from the era.

The show is a treat for anyone who has ever Rocked around the Clock, been struck by Stupid Cupid or harboured a Secret Love. The script is inspired and my only constructive criticism would be that there were moments when the lack of microphones for a largemeant the harmonies were lost.

There is scripted audience participation so watch out if you are of the male persuasion and sitting in the front row. And there was much unscripted audience participation at The Forum as the action prompted (loud) memories of a date with a Teddy Boy, Tupperware or the more pressing issue of the Suez crisis.

The Harmonettes are heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the summer. To avoid an expensive train fare I’d rush instead see if there are any tickets left for the final two shows in Ellesmere Port and Ruthin this weekend.

The Harmonettes Go Into Orbit is at Whitby Hall Studio, Ellesmere Port on Friday, April 13 at 7.30pm, tel: 0151 357 2120 or at Llanfair D C Village Hall, Ruthin, on Saturday, April 14 at 7.30pm, tel: 01824 707028