Productions & Reviews

Beauty and the Beast

January 2016. Directed by Kim Aguilar
Review by Richard Fitt, NODA Representative Area 2.

The thing about pantomimes, our uniquely British form of entertainment is exactly that, entertainment, pure and simple. They are never going to trouble the ‘Olivier’ awards for acting or script writing, so the only way to judge them is by their enjoyment factor and Leighton Buzzard Drama Group seemed to have taken the patent out on that. Surrounded as they are by several major towns within spitting distance, with at least 4 professional theatres offering ‘celeb’ studded pantomimes at the same time of year, it is remarkable that this group can run 5 one for 3 weeks with a total of 15 performances and sell out just about every one of them. That must be the envy of most groups and deserves an award in its own right. So how on earth do they do it?

Duets by Peter Quilter.

October 2015. Directed by Bob Jones.
Review by Richard Fitt, NODA Representative Area 2.

Anyone who still thinks that amateur theatre is in any way second rate these days really should try my job for a while. The evening I have just spent at Leighton Buzzards Library Theatre was pure top quality entertainment from beginning to end.

First of all whilst the audience were taking their seats and again during the interval we were treated to lively Duet piano pieces played by Barbara Springthorpe and Theresa Short. Warmly received by the audience who gave these lovely ladies a very loud ovation. Great fun and a perfect warm up act.

Fawlty Towers

July 2015. Directed by Jo Taylor & Carl Russell
Review by Richard Fitt, NODA Representative Area 2.

I’ve got the DVDs, the book containing all the scripts and even been to the Faulty (sic) Towers dining experience in London a couple of months ago. So the stage was set at Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre for a Saturday evening of hilarity.

Could the drama group deliver? Well, let’s just say after A Touch Of Class, Communication Problems and Basil The Rat, they did the original show proud and I left a very satisfied customer (they should have me stuffed!).

Dangerous Corner

March 2015. Directed by Ann Kempster. 
Reviewed by Keith Pendall NODA Representative 

It was good to see a good old fashioned play by a very clever playwright, but this is also a wordy piece that requires audience concentration. Leighton Buzzard Drama group, on the whole gave a convincing performance…director Ann Kempster worked her cast very well and I thought some of the setting and the way she moved the characters around was very well done.

Robinson Crusoe & the Pirates

January 2015. Directed by Andrew Meadows.
Reviewed by Steve Simms, Leighton Buzzard Observer.

With an ‘arr’, an ‘ahoy’, and perhaps a ‘shiver me timbers’, delivered in a West Country burr, it’s not so hard to bring the pirate world to the stage, is it me laddies?

But with Leighton BuzzardDrama Group’s boundless enthusiasm you can expect the full Carmen Miranda treatment in its brilliant New Year’s pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates.  Being a grown-up, I don’t think I’ve laughed as much watching panto in a long while.

Ghost Writer

October 2014. Directed by Mike Ward.
Reviewed by NODA

The play started rather slowly – the music played at the start lasted way too long – I could feel the audience still chatting and getting a bit restless. Nice to have a scene setter at the beginning – but keeping it short and snappy would be the order of the day.

Mark Croft seemed as if he was feeling his way a bit with his first speech, a lot of Shakespeare quotes, which I think got a little muddled at one stage – but then Nick Priest burst in on the scene, and everything gained momentum. Thereafter the pace of the piece was good, and projection excellent.

‘Allo ’Allo

July 2014. Directed by Colin Aldous.
Reviewed by Keith Pendall, NODA.

It was obvious from the time I walked into the theatre that the audience came with the sole purpose of enjoying themselves, this production did not disappoint.

“Allo! Allo! Is fondly remembered by a generation of now middle aged people who watched the series weekly on BBC starring Gorden Kaye and Carmen Silvera. Leighton Buzzard drama group took on this challenge with gusto and in many cases performances were reminiscent of those from the TV series.

Rough Justice

March 2014. Directed by Jo Taylor.
Reviewed by Nicholas Crickmay

The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group emphatically confirmed the high standards they maintain in production and performance in their staging of “Rough Justice” by Terence Frisby last week.

They do give themselves an initial advantage in the plays they choose and that this one immediately took a secure grip of the audience’s attention was demonstrated by the immediate reaction as the lights went up for the interval. All around the
Library Theatre, the power of the piece was being acknowledged by “wows”, “phews” and plain release of breath. This reflected the tautness of the plot, the number of issues already touched on and the quality of the acting.

Sleeping Beauty

January, 2014. Directed by Colin Aldous.
Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

The festive entertainment’s programme continues with the panto extravaganza, Sleeping Beauty, at Leighton Buzzard Theatre. The action actually takes place in the Palace of Leighton Buzzard (bet you didn’t know we had one of those!) where good and evil fight it out as the gorgeous heroine hunts for her handsome prince.

Death and the Maiden by Ariel Doorman

September 2014. Directed by Ann Kempster
Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer, September 2013

Never let it be said that Leighton Buzzard Drama Group isn’t ambitious.

The company’s latest production, Ariel Dorfman’s Death And The Maiden, which opened last night at the town’s Lake Street theatre doesn’t make for easy viewing but it’s a testament to the skill of its three stars that the audience stayed with them throughout.

Calendar Girls

June, 2013. Directed by Bob Jones.
Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

With applause ringing in their ears the ladies from the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group learned a huge lesson on Thursday night – flesh sells.

They took the enormously courageous step in staging the award-winning Calendar Girls at Leighton Buzzard Theatre this week and they have discovered, and they shouldn’t have been surprised, that it is a smash hit. Running for nearly two weeks it has been playing to full houses packed with WI groups, friends, families and the public who appreciate a good story that is well acted.

Dick Whittington

June, 2013. Directed by Jo Taylor.
Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

Traditional family pantomime is hard to find these days as directors feel the need to give audiences bigger and blousier shows.

But a theatre full of excitable cubs can tell you what they want to see – and they had a great time on Friday night when Leighton Buzzard Drama Group premiered its festive thriller, Dick Whittington, at the town’s Lake Street theatre.

This is vintage panto that stuck to the story that we all know and love and featured something more festive shows should reintroduce – a girl playing the principal boy part.

Entertaining Angels

October, 2012. Directed by Bob Jones
Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

Death and the grieving process are unlikely subjects for mirth but Richard Everett’s comedy, Entertaining Angels, cleverly takes an irreverent swipe at gallows humour and pulls it off.

The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group opened its latest production on Thursday night to the delight of its first night audience. Entertaining Angels gives the company’s female performers the chance to flex their thespian muscles with a wry observational comedy that first found fame with Penelope Keith in the lead. Think Keith and you can imagine just what sort of a woman Grace Thomas is….

The Birthday Party

April 2012. Directed by Ann Kempster.
Reviewed by Anne Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

The first night audience came out of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party at Leighton Buzzard Theatre on Thursday full of praise for the outstanding performances by members of the town’s drama group.

But their effusive applause came with a rider: “It was tremendous – but what was it all about?”

You can analyse Pinter to death and there may not be a clear cut answer to that. What is assured is that The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group has pulled out all the stops to come up with a cracker of a comedy-thriller that is impossible to pigeon-hole….

Cinderella

January 2012. Directed by Jo Taylor.
Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

THE festive season is never complete without a family outing to a pantomime and the magical Cinderella is now delighting audiences at Leighton Buzzard Theatre.

The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group are having a ball putting on this rag-to-riches story that features a lovely princess, an evil stepmother and a pair of bickering Uglies that are so grusome that they’d curdle milk! There’s even a trainee stuntman who livens up the chorus with a few well-chosen back flips.

You can’t go wrong with Cinders and, judging by Saturday’s early evening performance, the group have another hit on their hands.

Habeas Corpus

September 2011. Directed by John Stone.
Reviewed by Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

ALAN Bennett is so adored that audiences and theatre companies talk about him with hushed reverence. He’s one of our few modern playwrights who not only produces an eloquent and complex script but it’s usually brimming with wit and an under-text of satire.

Habeas Corpus, so delighted by am-dram groups, has been seized by Leighton Buzzard Drama Group for a production stuffed with light-hearted slap and tickle.  Imagine a saucy seaside postcard and there you have the story of the wickedly wanton Wicksteed family.

Gaslight

July 2011. Directed by Bridgett Whittaker
Ann Cox, Leighton Buzzard Observer

ANDREW Meadows must be the most hated man in Leighton this week. The am-dram actor turned in such a powerful performance as a bullying, misogynistic and sadistic husband in a Victorian pot-boiler staged by the town’s drama group that I fear for his family.

Gaslight, which ran for three nights at Leighton Buzzard Theatre, was an engrossing melodrama that lived up to its genre. Meadows played Jack Manningham, one of the coldest and most brutal men to tread the boards. With an icy glower and a cutting remark he reduced his timid and rather insipid wife, Bella, to a jibbering wreck.

Women Who Kill

April 2011. Directed by Bob Jones
Reviewed by Ann Cox, LBO

THERE’S been a bit of a revolution in am-dram. At one time they churned out a familiar and safe series of dramas and comedies and, while acceptable, they hardly caused much excitement. But the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group decided to throw caution to the wind with their latest production and they came up with a first rate, thought-provoking and ambitious double act that showed just how good local drama can be.

Women Who Kill featured two one-act plays that gave the largely female cast the opportunity to really stretch themselves.

The Snow Queen

July 2011.
Reviewed by Enid Cooper , NODA

This was a traditional pantomime based on the much loved Hans Christian Anderson story and as such contained many of the classic panto ingredients and themes.

Donna had an enthusiastic cast. This was Randell Moll’s first as dame. He understood the special relationship between dame and audience, had a good connection with the audience and grew in confidence as the evening progressed. Gemma Aguilar’s Kai was excellent – a confident performance and well cast opposite Gerda – Lizzie Farren. Urmala Meadows’ Jack Frost was thoroughly believable and had excellent rapport with the audience. Traditional pantos need a good baddie, and Karan Trabucchi certainly provided that.