The Witches of Eastwick at Strode Theatre, Street

promptwitchesstreetWHEN you have a global reputation for music like Glastonbury has, a world-renowned shoe manufacturers like Street, and your long-established joint musical comedy society boasts an internationally in demand award-winning choreographer among its alumni, perhaps it’s no surprise that the current show at Strode Theatre in Street is a spectacular, triumphant hit.

The G&SMCS is one of the first amateur companies in the country to perform the musical of The Witches of Eastwick, adapted by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe from John Updike’s short story, via the memorable Jack Nicholson 1987 film.

And the Street version, on stage until Saturday 5th April, is directed and choreographed by Andrew Wright, who was not only born and brought up in the town but returns to the place where he first trod the boards when he has a moment, between working on major shows in the West End and on Broadway.

From the first clap of thunder to the final jump-up-and-clap number, this is high-energy enjoyment for the cast and the audience.

Set in a reactionary small town in America, it’s the story of Alex, Jane and Sukie, all bored out of their minds by the parochial concerns and prurient minds of their neighbours, getting together over a jug of Martini to combine their fantasies for a fun future.

But, as the Chinese warn, you should be careful what you wish for.

Before the trio can say Bless My Soul, a stranger appears to buy the big house on the hill, and he’s called Darryl van Horne and he describes himself as “the average horny little devil.”

Sex is his stock in trade, and he’s got warehouses full and more to spare, as the women soon discover.

Darryl’s also got a darker secret, and under his tutelage the three women learn to unleash their inner Wicca. When the town busybody Felicia Gabriel interferes once too often, they set about a little cursing. But their power to the power of three has fatal consequences.

Darryl’s domination has got to stop … but not before he makes a last ditch stand and leaves a legacy the women didn’t expect.

It’s a marvellous satire on small town morality and the unpredictable power of sexual attraction, all wrapped up in a rhythmic musical with evocative costumes, rock’n’roll dances and enough spice for the average vindaloo.

The Glastonbury and Street company is joined by Somerset estate agent Edward Creswick in the devilish central role, one that requires a deal of self confidence, a fine singing voice and dancing feet, all of which he has in spades.

The witches of the title are played by Cherry Lewis, Becki Tucker and Sue Collings, a sculptor, a musician and a journalist who literally fly into a new life.

Karen Squance has a marvellous time as the ghastly Felicia, with Brian Epps as her henpecked husband Clyde.

The young lovers are delightfully played by Jess Stradling and Will Howlett, and there’s a fine bit of breakdance from Mitchell Miguel as Fidel.

The show is full of big, colourful choruses and hilarious vignettes, and it’s all done with huge pizzazz, accompanied by the excellent ten-piece band under the direction of Lynne Merrifield.

The songs might not be the most memorable in music theatre, but the show is a joy from start to finish. See it at Street before it materialises all across the region in the coming months – first off at Bath Theatre Royal next week.


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