Harlequin Theatre triumphs with Little Voice after blaze

Northwich Guardian: The cast on their two-storey set. Pictured, from left, are Phil Ashby-Crowe as Billy, Kevin Barnett, as Ray Say, Jan Bason as Mari Hoff, Roy Basnett as Mr Boo, Beth Barlow as Sadie May and Laura Bason as LV. The cast on their two-storey set. Pictured, from left, are Phil Ashby-Crowe as Billy, Kevin Barnett, as Ray Say, Jan Bason as Mari Hoff, Roy Basnett as Mr Boo, Beth Barlow as Sadie May and Laura Bason as LV.

A THEATRE company has risen from the ashes with its latest production and proved it is not powerless in the face of catastrophe.

Harlequin Theatre, a registered charity, was forced to postpone its April production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and abandon its production of The Taming of the Shrew after a fire at a neighbouring warehouse cut its electricity supply.

The company, which has its base in Queen Street, has been without mains power since the blaze at MyTonerman at the end of March and final rehearsals for Little Voice and the production itself had to be carried out using a generator.

Little Voice finally went ahead with a charity night on Monday, June 2, and performances on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 3 to 7.

Laura Bason, who played Little Voice, or LV, in the show, said: “The atmosphere for our charity night on Monday was fantastic, as were the reviews, and it truly has shown that the theatre has risen out of the ashes and a statement that we are determined that the show must go on regardless.

“It was great to have the buzz of a show and a live audience back in a building that's been closed and sat in the dark for so long.”

The play centres on the painfully shy LV, who locks herself away in her bedroom with her deceased father’s record collection and her own uncanny ability to recreate the voices of phenomenal divas, and the contrast with her gobby maneating mum Mari Hoff, played by Laura’s own mum Jan Bason.

The Bason duo play their characters to perfection, bringing to life the uncomfortably comic and harrowing tension in their relationship as LV is ‘discovered’ by Mari’s latest flame, the creepy talent scout Ray Say, played by Kevin Barnett.

Much of the action takes place in the family home, realistically recreated on stage at Harlequin Theatre with an incredibly detailed two storey set, exposing the grubby kitchen, living room, stairs and LV’s bedroom to the audience.

A simple drop of a red curtain then transforms the stage into the seedy club run by Mr Boo, played by Roy Basnett, where LV gets her reluctant break.

The audience are themselves transformed into the audience at the club thanks to Basnett’s skilful and humorous compering.

The cast of seven also included Beth Barlow, whose droll portrayal of Mari’s friend Sadie May raised many a giggle, and Phil Ashby-Crowe, whose gave a touching performance as Billy, the unlikely hero who falls in love with LV and saves her from a fictional fire.

Directed by the Harlequin’s award winning Gordon Hamlin, the production was a true triumph, made all the more remarkable by the ill fortune that the talented cast and crew rightly refused to bow to.

• The next performance at The Harlequin Theatre is the first production by the 67-year-old theatre’s fledgling youth group.

Alice in Wonderland will be staged at the Queen Street theatre from June 21 to 22.

Written by 14-year-old Ellie Hamer, who also helps to direct the show, the cast is made up of actors aged from six to 16.

Performances are at 2.30pm and 7pm on Saturday, June 21, and at 2.30pm on Sunday, June 22.

Tickets, priced £7 for adults and £5 for children, are available on the door.

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