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A Night At The Theatre: A Display of Royal Holloway’s Most Talented

Editor | Cassandra Lau

Last night, at Royal Holloway’s SU Main Hall was a display of the university’s most talented and creative individuals. Many societies showcased excerpts of their work and accomplishments, and the money raised these three nights will be going towards the Forest Estate Community Hub in Englefield Green.

Photography

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick with ‘Mistral’ at the centre.

Displayed around the hall were some of the Photography Society’s finest works. Abel Fenwick’s ‘Mistral’,  Matthew Phillips’s ‘Leaves of the Green Park’, and Laura Vaselle’s ‘Alfama, Lisbon’ particularly drew my attention: encapsulating nature and time, they epitomise modern day impressionism. Pointing to the latter piece, Vaselle notes how she “walked down there everyday on [her] graduation trip” making the image her “personal postcard” as well as “a symbol of something new, a fresh page.”

I look forward to seeing more pieces from the society’s members.

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Laura Vasile, “this is a symbol of something new, a fresh page.”

Vocals

With four solos, and a number of ensembles from the Musical Theatre Society and Absolute Harmony, a range of music genres and techniques were presented.

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Photography by Abel Fenwick of Musical Theatre Society’s ‘Begging’

Starting the night off with a “so sweet, so grand” duo of ‘Thou Swell’ from the musical A Connecticut Yankee, and an incredible solo of ‘Breathe’ from the musical In The Heights by Sarah Cowan, the bar was set high early on for all vocalists.

In ‘Thou Swell’, Matt Rainsberry dazzles the audience with his confident vocals and use of facial expressions. With grace, Carrie Brown seems to exert less confidence despite having great pitch and rhythm. Though the chemistry between the two characters seemed a little too dependent on Jenny Collins’s endearing choreography, I look forward to seeing the Savoy Opera Society’s performance of A Connecticut Yankee.

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick with Caroline Brown (left) as Alisande Courtelloise, and Matt Rainsberry (right) as Lt. Martin Barrett from A Connecticut Yankee.

Sarah Cowan’s solo piece of ‘Breathe’ definitely hushed the audience and filled the hall with emotions. It is one of my favourite songs, and it was beautifully performed by Cowan. During the first interval, intrigued by her song choice, I had the pleasure of asking the soloist her reasons for choosing it: Cowan explained how the song was “relatable to” her in terms of having to confront the burden of “expectations people have”.

With a perfect blend of sugar, comedy and everything nice, Tasha Crossley won the audience over with her sweet smile and voice singing ‘Taylor the Latte Boy’. It was nice to have something so lighthearted and delightful, especially after a long week of work, reading and essay planning.

Yielding great applause from the audience as well as backstage crew, Abi Smith’s ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ would have been the perfect closing act of the show. Despite seeming a little nervous, Smith definitely defied all expectations and hit every single note without question. I hope to hear more from Smith and hope she gains the self-confidence she deserves.

Amongst the ensemble groups, the trailer to the Musical Theatre Society’s The Addams Family musical was most enjoyable. The energy, dance synchronisation and vocal harmonisation from the group on stage was incredible, and it is safe to say that everyone is excited to attend the society’s performance next month (17th November to 20th November).

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick: Musical Theatre Society’s ‘When You’re An Addams’ performance.

The society’s other two acts displayed similar enthusiasm, but I do wish there had been more mics provided for the ‘Shine A Light’ performance as solo parts were partially lost to the background music.

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick: The Musical Theatre Society’s ‘Shine A Light’.

Speaking to Musical Director, Lauren Pennington from Absolute Harmony after their ‘Shake It Off’ performance, she says that she wanted a song that was “easy to split parts” into and “fun, and up-beat!” Having rehearsed since the beginning of term, she has managed to put together a diverse range of students with varying prior experience in singing which captures the inclusive spirit all creative art societies should adopt.

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Image from The Absolute Harmony Facebook Page (26 September 2018)

Dance

From a Latin and Ballroom’s ‘Strictly Jackson’ performance to the Salsa Society’s cross-modern-and-classic ‘Fiesta Salsera’ performance, it was clear that a lot of creativity and time was dedicated to the pieces. Despite some long and unsmooth music transition from some performances, the performances were constantly enticing the audience with its ability to incorporate so much, so well, in so little time.

The Dance Society produced a great number of performances that varied from a classic ‘Nutcracker’ ballet piece to a more fun and invigorating dance interpretation of ‘Honey I’m Good’. Despite starting off with a shaky croise derriere, the dancers performed with poise and an air of confidence.

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick: The Dance Society’s ‘Nutcracker’ piece.

With the Pole Fitness Society, the emcee explains how she has to “look away when [the dancer] climbs up the pole and goes upside down.” Showing an impressive balance of strength and flexibility, it was definitely a breathtaking performance.

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick of the Pole Fitness Society’s performance.

Drama & Comedy

Starting off on a more serious tone, the Drama Society presents a sample of their show, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, starring Tom Holmes as Dorian Gray.

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Photograph from The Drama Society Facebook Page : Tom Holmes rehearsing as Dorian Gray

Besides looking the part, Holmes’s adopted mannerisms and assertive poise brought the character of Dorian Gray to life.

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick of The Drama Society’s excerpt of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

Upon asking a member of the audience their favourite performance, Isobel says that her “favourite show by far is ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. The colour and material choice for costumes were perfect, creating an air of eeriness and a sense of cold dispassion which undoubtedly added to the performance. I cannot wait to see the play on stage! (24th November to 27th November)

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick: The Writing Society ‘Not to Be’

Participating in the Shakespeare Society’s ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’ and the Writing Society’s ‘Not to Be’, William Lawson takes on the main roles of Tarquin and Hamlet. With a richly baritone voice, Lawson commands immediate attention from his audience: with everyone holding onto his every word, the script’s juxtaposing comedic brilliance constantly catches us off-guard leading to bursts of  laughter from the audience. The use of props, like the ‘Applause’ sign and “posh scarf”, added to the comedic element. However, some have questioned whether it is an adequate piece belonging to the Shakespeare Society as there seems to be little relevance to Shakespeare’s play, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ besides the word play on its title. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable performance and I greatly enjoyed it.

Another play grounded in the art of improvisation was the ‘Typewriter’ by The Holloway Players. It featured a Sci-Fi odyssey of Queen Lizzy, a deceased corgi, an evil queen, friendship, and sacrifice. Uncertain to what extent it was created entirely on the spot, it was hilarious regardless. Would love the opportunity to see more shows created on the spot by the society.

The Comedy Society’s performance, ‘John Lennon’ was wittingly crafted around modern cultural understanding and did what all good comedies do: it made people laugh!

Fashion

The themes surrounding classic films was a brilliant idea, as trend setting films were projected on stage while student models walked up and down the stage wearing iconic themed pieces. The diversity seen amongst the models really placed Royal Holloway’s Fashion Society at the forefront of what fashion standards worldwide ought to be in terms of ethnicity, height, size, etc.

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Photograph by Abel Fenwick of the Fashion Society’s show.

Overall, it was such an enjoyable event and I’d advice those who haven’t already seen it to go and check it out tonight! It will be the last ANATT performance and it would honestly be a shame to miss it.

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