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On 25th January 1989, Judy and Stuart Megarry held an inaugural meeting above Pershore’s Baptist Church,
having posted leaflets around the town for anyone interested in forming a Musical Theatre Society.
They arrived on a freezing January evening and waited. There was lots of interest, with 74 people attending. This was no ordinary meeting, by the end of the evening everyone was up and singing "There’s no Business Like Show Business" and so PODS began.
PODS performed their first show 14 weeks later at Pershore High School and had to put out extra seats for all three performances in the school hall, which held 400 people. Later shows were put on at Pershore Leisure Centre, where impressive sets were built from scratch by the blood, sweat and tears of society members over a four day "get in".
PODS have also put on shows at the Frank Parkinson Lecture Theatre at Pershore Horticultural College and the Swan Theatre in Worcester.
In 2004 Number 8 Community Arts Centre opened its doors and PODS became its resident theatre company.
Rehearsals throughout the years have been held in numerous venues including: the New Inn, Cherry Orchard House, The Almonry, various village halls, the Old Music Hall, then at the back of the derelict former Co-op which later became Number 8. Rehersals now take place at Number 8.
Costumes have also been stored in a variety of places, including: Special Occasions, Sue Clasen’s cellar, the back of Bradford and Bingley, the Old Music Hall, the Wilson’s property on the High Street, then round everyone again before finally into Number 8 with a dedicated wardrobe store.
Scenery for shows has been built in: the Old Magistrates’ Court Room where flats were painted on their side, then Jim Hutcheon’s factory, the Old Music Hall, a barn at Drakes Broughton and now at Steve Miller’s barn. Props have been stored in a trailer on Pershore’s former Aerodrome and are now in our trailer on Marshall’s yard.
Between performances, PODS have performed local cabarets for different organisations, entered floats in Pershore Carnival and taken part in other community events.
Many people who have come through our Society have also gone on to be professional performers entertaining in: Disneyland, the West End, on Cruise Ships, for Birmingham Rep, Pantomimes on tour and in lighting for West End shows to name but a few.
PODS have always put on quality shows where a combination of great talent, hard work, productive rehearsals and great team spirit have given the public, in and around Pershore, some wonderful entertainment which we hope will continue for many more years to come.
Dont miss our forthcoming show
Mad About Musicals
13th-18th June 2022
Directed by Judy Megarry and taking you on a whistle stop tour from the heart of West End theatreland to the glitz of Broadway, PODS will celebrate the very best songs from classic and contemporary musicals. Over thirty shows are featured from Les Miserables, Phantom, Chicago, Waitress, South Pacific, Ghost, Rent, Waitress, Dear Evan Hanson and many, many more.
Featuring brilliant vocal performances, stunning choreography, a live band, spectacular visuals and fabulous costumes.
A slice of pure entertainment!
Directed by Judy Megarry with musical direction by
December 6th to 11th 2021
As the pandemic began to recede and life began a tentative return to normal, PODS determination to be at the forefront of returning to the stage brought the theatre at Number 8 back to life.
It was at this point that Victoria Annis and Matt Owens took the plunge, and applied their well-established stage experience to the twin challenges of Producing and Directing a show for their first time, while steering the cast and crew safely through constantly changing Covid rules. Supported by the talented Andrew Hemming as musical director, PODS were back in business !
NODA review by Bruce Wyatt December 2021
After a lengthy and now predictable pause, PODS made its way back from lockdown with an energy packed modern version of the family classic “Snow White”. It was obvious from the first scene that debut director / producers Victoria Annis and Matthew Owens had put a lot of energy behind the production with some ongoing up to date modern touches and current references that resonated with an enthusiastic audience.
Initially we are taken back to Snow White’s childhood to meet her (sharing performances well by Chloe Simmonds & Tillie Brotherton with the Young Prince (also shared well by Josh Deacon & Joseph Pike) and learn that her father has died and been left alone with her wicked step-mother. Looking over her, the father played by Peter Spence had a lovely voice singing ‘I’m Here’.
Time passes and we meet Snow White again, played by Briony Stevens, looking and sounding just as you would hope with voice to match. From her first entrance we were left in no doubt that the villain of the piece was step mother ‘Queen Prunella’ played with enormous presence and flair by an excellent Suzie Tapley. Her exchanges with ‘The Magic Mirror’ played by Paul Tapley were great fun, communicating initially via her iphone with an app directly to the mirror. Paul’s clarity and humour came over with abundance and they worked well together with ‘Backstage Romance’. All’s well until Prunella is told she is no longer the fairest of them all and has been replaced by Snow White.
Every panto should have a ‘Nurse Betty’ played by Matt Tebbatt who endeared herself to an enthusiastic audience instantly. All, one might think, except ‘Tim and Nicky’ who were famously selected from the audience and behind many funny jokes throughout the rest of the evening. ‘Muddles’ (Steven Miller) soon appeared with an equally impressive performance at a good pace, as the love-struck, but sadly just a ‘friend’ of Snow White. ‘Settle for me’ was a great song with Briony.
All is lost for ‘Muddles’ when ‘Prince Richard’ arrives, played by the dashing Jack Dickson. Jack had great stage presence, moved and sang well, with ‘Jump’ and later on with ‘How will I know?’, in particular. Meanwhile Susan Perry as ‘Hertz’, Prunella’s accomplice, gave great support throughout.
‘Muddles’ is instructed to take Snow White, kill her and return with her heart but instead hides her in the enchanted forest where she meets and is rescued by seven ‘Magic Engineers’. I liked that each had their own character and dressed differently, ‘gothic style’; they worked well as a team. ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ was a great number.
In fact, everyone on stage was well dressed from top to toe, the chorus worked well together and the dancers who had numerous well drilled pieces added an additional bounce to the whole production. Memorable company numbers included ‘Something about this Night’, ‘Nine to five’ and ‘River Deep, Mountain High’.
The set was simple and effective, with mainly projections on to the backcloth to depict the various scenes, which worked well and the orchestra and sound were well balanced, lights on cue - with one exception music covered the scene changes, which I always like.
Everyone deserves to be pleased and proud of this production.
Produced and Directed by Victoria Annis and Matt Owens
Musical Direction by Andrew Hemming
ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND AND THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
December 2nd to 7th 2019
NODA review by Bruce Wyatt 5th December 2019
Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, are two of the most famous nineteenth-century children's fantasy novels. Director Sue Price created an inspired musical version, involving all the well-known original characters, plus a variety of modern musical numbers, which blended in without feeling contrived.
For some, the story lines are perhaps a bit like Marmite and maybe illogical at times, bizarre or sometimes dark and the script retained these themes closely aligned to the original stories. However no better opening than ‘A Million Dreams’ from the Greatest showman, with the beautiful voice of Sue Poultney.
We are introduced to Alice, played on the night I was present by Mia Brotherton. A completely accomplished performance, well projected and sung, displaying Alice’s imagination and curiosity. Mia even looked as you would hope Alice to look. Alternating with Mia during the run was Kiaragh Brown, who provided an equally convincing performance and I understand looked like Alice too!
The scenes followed many of the chapters from the novel, when we meet some excellent characterisations including the White Rabbit (Steve Miller), the Cheshire Cat (Rob Watts) and the Cook (Marianne Jones).
Amongst the Act 1 highlights were the scenes including; The Caterpillar when Sam Godber sang ‘Purple Rain’, The Mad Hatters Tea Party with Tim Shackley as the Mad Hatter and Sean Phillips (March Hare) and Lyndsey Kirby (Dormouse) who sang ‘Welcome to the House of Fun’, The Queen’s Rose Garden scene, with Suzie Tapley providing a strong performance as the Red Queen, was followed by The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, amusingly played by Paul Tapley and Sue Poultney. Throughout the ensemble gave great support with some powerful singing and some great harmonies.
In Act 2, (Through the Looking Glass) Alice is older and this was well portrayed by Laura Morris. I enjoyed the scene The Garden of Flowers when Alice meets some strong minded flowers and observes a very effectively choreographed chess game. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were played with enormous energy by Loren Howland and Issy Jones and Paul Tapley brought great expression and clarity to Humpty Dumpty on The Palace Wall. The Five Bar Gate scene included some proficient tap dancing peasants, to ‘Always Look on the Bright side of Life’ and the final scene is rounded off with ‘Celebration’ from ‘Kool and the Gang’.
The fixed set provided a great structure on which to play scenes on different levels and this was effectively lit throughout. The costumes were just fabulous in every detail and the band were excellent, never imposing, all supported with excellent sound. There were some interesting projections to compliment the action; in fact it was clear that a great deal of thought and hard work had been invested by the off stage production team.
The programme referred to this as Director Sue Price’s final show after 50 years involved in amateur theatre, of which she should be mighty proud.
Director: Sue Price
Musical Director: Andrew Hemming
Producer: John Payne
10th - 15th June 2019
NODA review by Bruce Wyatt 13th June 2019
Adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks's 1967 film of the same name, we arrive in New York, 1959. Max Bialystock was once the king of Broadway, but now all his shows close on opening night. After putting together another Broadway flop, down-on-his-luck Producer Max Bialystock teams up with timid accountant Leo Bloom in a get-rich-quick scheme to put on the world's worst show and pocket money from the ‘old lady’ backers when it closes prematurely… or should do.
Paul Tapley (Max) and Steven Miller (Leo) set the bar high with their performances, both fully capturing their respective characters and in fine voice. They both hold the stage with ease from Paul’s opening and well- paced ‘The King of Old Broadway’ number through to the difficult ‘Betrayed’ which was very well handled and Steven’s sparkling company number ‘I wanna be a Producer’. ‘Mr Marks’, Leo’s inconsiderate boss was a well-played cameo by Dominic Hayne.
Having found the world’s worst show they need to sign up the writer ‘Franz’, played with great comedy by Matt Owens. ‘Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop’, at the physical expense of Leo was very funny. Having signed up the writer, they go in haste to find the world’s worst director and find ‘Roger De Bris’ (Matthew Tebbatt)with his common law assistant ‘Carmen’ (Sean Phillips) both excelling in their respective scenes particularly ‘Keep it Gay’ and later in Roger’s ‘Springtime for Hitler’.
Meanwhile ‘Ula’ arrives whose natural glamour overwhelms the guys into employing her as their secretary/ receptionist and a guaranteed part in the show! Loren Howland is every bit the required ‘blonde bombshell’, Loren acted, sang and moved well and even repainted the whole office during the ‘Intermission’! (Good to see a white set).
There were in fact several challenging set changes which were well handled by a hard working stage crew and some good use was made of the auditorium to accommodate some of these. Some scenes were enhanced with back cloth projections which worked. The costumes were on the whole authentic and the orchestra and sound well balanced. The company numbers were well rehearsed with some polished choreography by the dancers.
PODS were once again up for the challenge and succeeded and I look forward to ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass’ in December.
Director: Paul Turvey
Musical Director: Andrew Hemming
Producers: Becky Wicks and James Megarry
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (BROADWAY VERSION)
3rd to 8th December 2018
NODA Review by Bruce Wyatt 6th December 2018
The Broadway version of this well know operetta provides an opportunity for a new comic dimension to be added to the standard format and PODS took many opportunities to explore this, with great success.
The story remains centred on a roguish Pirate King and his band of pirates and an adventurous Apprentice called Frederick, who goes in search of treasure and romance. Amongst others, he meets a bevy of beautiful girls and their befuddled Father, the Major General, falls in love with one of them and overcomes an unfortunate technicality which almost prevents their happiness.
The ‘Pirate King’ (Paul Tapley) was played with great strength in voice and presence throughout with a splash of comedic naïve devilment, most suited to his character. ‘Frederick’ his apprentice, played by Tom Wilson-Dowdeswell was equal to the task with some accomplished singing which the score frequently demands. Suzie Tapley provided an endearing characterisation of Frederick’s nursemaid ‘Ruth’ who Frederick tactfully explained may not be as beautiful as she would have him believe.
The arrival of Major General Stanley’s daughters increased the momentum and their innocent antics added to the fun, led by Loren Howland as ‘Edith’. Frederick soon meets ‘Mabel’ (Briony Stevens) and is not surprisingly swept off his feet with her good looks, matched by her beautiful singing. Their Father arrives and Tim Shackley completely rises to the occasion with his superb rendition of ‘I am the very model of a modern Major General’, complimented with relevant back projections.
Throughout, the swashbuckling pirates and chaperones sang with great energy and the unaccompanied piece ‘Hail Poetry’ was a magnificent ‘goose bump’ moment in Act 1. In Act 2, the tempo rarely dropped and further comedy was added by the Policemen led with great physicality by the ‘Sergeant of Police’ Sean Phillips. Other good support was provided by Peter Spence (‘Samuel’), Lindsey Kirby (‘Kate’), Issy Jones (‘Isabel’) and Rob Watts and his aerial silks. The choreography was stylish and well executed on an impressive well -lit set and the costumes were stunning.
The orchestra and sound can ‘make or break’ a show, and in this instance it was clearly the former. Andrew Hemming with the baton led his own tight ship, reducing the volume as required, in support of the performers. The Director Judy Megarry and the production team should be very pleased with the overall result.
Director: Judy Megarry
Musical Director: Andrew Hemming
Producer: Stuart Megarry
THE BEST OF WESTEND AND BROADWAY
11th to 16th June 2018 at Number 8 Community Arts Centre
NODA Review by Andy Brown for Bruce Wyatt December 15th June 2018
The show was billed as ‘The Best of West End and Broadway’. This was indeed what we saw and more, bringing the songs from these iconic theatrical locations to the historic town of Pershore in Worcestershire.
The show itself consisted of music and dance from 33 musicals! Some titles more well-known than others however, it was likely the audience would at least have known the music selected if not the title of the show. The cast of 45 members and superb orchestra took us on an amazing evening of entertainment with no less than 650 costumes and stunning lighting.
With so many cast members, many of whom took part in numerous numbers, it is impossible to name everyone. Even if looking for the outstanding musical numbers it would still be a tall order as they simply came one after another and the quality of this show came out time and time again.
The absolute highlights were the ‘Phantom Medley’ especially from Suzie Tapley and Briony Stevens supported well by Paul Tapley and Peter Spence. Les Misérables involving the whole company was well staged and of a particularly high quality vocally, visually and from the musicians.
Mention must also be made of ‘Pure Imagination’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Steve Miller, ‘The Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha by Paul Tapley. Finally, ‘Bui Doi’ from Miss Saigon and ‘Tonight’ from Westside Story. All these were outstanding. The staging of ‘When I Grow Up’ from Matilda made the most of the fun this provides for adults dressed as school children.
The director was fortunate to have a team of choreographers at her disposal. They provided some good use of the stage and ensured within the company numbers they made the most of the stronger dancers such as ‘42nd Street’. We saw two ‘dance only’ routines – ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz and, ‘Wait for It’ from Hamilton.
The set for the show was simple. Either a bare stage or use of some rostra. The lighting was extremely effective. The use of LED lighting including moving heads was well throughout creating the right atmosphere for each of the different numbers. The costumes were good and stunning in visual effect for their characterisation and representation of the pieces such as many already named plus others including Children of Eden, Wicked, Godspell, Sweet Charity and The Jersey Boys.
The ten musicians were under the leadership of musical director Andrew Hemming. The music was wonderfully played especially during both Phantom and the opening to Les Misérables. The orchestra arrangements were incredible.
Congratulations to Judy Megarry and her entire production team. It was evident this show was well rehearsed and well put together with numbers following each other in a constructed way. The energy throughout was amazing. Thank you also to Jim Hutcheon in his role of President of the society and all the front of house team for making us so welcome.
I most certainly look forward to seeing forthcoming production performed by this creative and talented society including ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ in December 2018.
Director: Judy Megarry
Musical Director: Andrew Hemming
Producers: Stuart Megarry and Ellen Honeybunn
Shows prior to 2003
Jack & The Beanstalk Panto
Me and My Girl
Night and Day
10 Years On
Fiddler On The Roof
Annie Get Your Gun
Pirates Of Penzance
My Fair Lady
How The Other Half Loves
No Sex Please We're Brittish
Rape Of The Belt
Rags To Riches
Babes In The Woods
Songs From The Shows