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REVIEW

Taken to the Twenties

New Plymouth Little Theatre
September 6 – 15

Reviewed by Taryn Utiger

 

When Kimberley Fenton was barely a teenager she asked her parents if she could open a speakeasy.

They were amused, but said no, obviously. Yet, it didn’t deter the bright youngster from chasing her dream, one way or another.

This week that dream was realised when Taken to the Twenties opened at New Plymouth Little Theatre.

Devised, directed and choreographed by Fenton, Taken to the Twenties is a speakeasy experience in the form of a cabaret show.

Fresh from her superb performance as Cosette in New Plymouth Operatic Society’s Les Misérables, Fenton has pulled together a team of Taranaki teenagers for her speakeasy.

The 19-year-old heads a cast of 11, ten of whom are under the age of 20. Between them they fill the stage of the Black Rabbit Speakeasy and sing and dance their way through some of the greatest hits of the roaring twenties.

This team of teenagers needs to be applauded, not only for taking the initiative to create opportunities for themselves, but also for having the guts and determination to turn their budding talents into a show.

Taken to the Twenties isn’t perfect. There’s opening night nerves, sound issues and missteps, but it doesn’t really matter. What makes this show worth going to is the talent that shines through those cracks.

Fenton herself is exceptionally talented, charming onstage and an all-round standout performer. She nails songs like I Wanna Be Loved By You, and almost makes it seem as if she has been plucked straight from a 1920s LP.

Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Grieve showcases her powerful set of pipes with Postmodern Jukebox’s jazzed-up cover of Gangster’s Paradise, while Josh Clarke wows with his velvet-like voice in Georgia On My Mind.

This speakeasy experience is filled with snazzy dancers who dazzle with their excellent jazz and tap skills, while the males of the cast treat the audience to some gin-soaked and cheeky dance steps.

The group has the makings of an excellent performance troupe, and they are bound to excel once their nerves settle and their confidence grows.

Make sure you get along and support the Black Rabbit Speakeasy. In true prohibition fashion, you’ll need a password to get in. Tell them Fat Sam sent you.

 

Lighting! You just wouldn’t believe how the dimmers worked. The dimmers in those days were large glass jars full of saline solution and they had metal plates… Evie Atkinson used to work them on strings. And they used to raise these out of the jars and the lights would dim.

Noel Baty
Describing the old primitive lighting

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