The premier of Role-Play Productions’ Ain’t no Angels at the Lichfield Garrick this week has been received to great acclaim.
“Not a single weak link”, “a story delivered to perfection”, “wonderfully entertaining” and “a refreshing, slick piece of theatre” were just a few of the comments from people in the audience.
The play with music, written and directed by MD Ken Wragg, was an insight into the lives, loves and music of Al Jolson and Frank Sinatra and revealed many little-known facts about the two music greats.
“It was so informative” was a comment received from many in the audience. The attentiveness of the theatre-goers, as the story unfolded, was witness to that. Many commented on the originality of the show and others said they were “transported to another world” and they had “learned so much about these men”.
Julie Mallaband, a director with Lichfield Operatic Society, said:
“I think that Ken Wragg has a gem here – with the right support around him, this has the potential to go further. It is a very informative story, with the superb, timeless music of Sinatra and Jolson. I laughed a lot at much of the story, delivered to perfection by the actors, and the moments of sadness were portrayed so well.”
She thought the five players were “superb” – Paul Roberts as Al Jolson, Paul Lumsden as Frank Sinatra, Ruth Harvey (who also co-directed) as Sinatra’s wives and Jo McAllister as Jolson’s wives (both also playing other characters) and Craig Allen, who linked the whole story playing many parts.
“The five gave faultless performances, with the girls and Craig ‘morphing’ into each character with ease. With the support of the brilliant band and technical backing this made for a truly fantastic evening’s entertainment.”
Highlights for Julie were: “Jo’s portrayal of Frank’s mother: ‘wonderful’, Ruth’s Monroe number, Paul Roberts’ Sonny Boy brought a tear to the eyes of many in the audience and, of course, the ease with which Paul Lumsden delivered all of the Sinatra numbers was a joy to hear and watch. As for Craig Allen, he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand – a comic genius.”
Janet Jenkins, of The Lichfield Poets, offered her comments on the production. She said:
“It was a refreshing, slick piece of theatre packed with classic songs, brought to life by just five versatile actors on a sparsely furnished stage with the addition of lighting and sound. It gave a real insight into the lives of the two main characters.
“Paul Roberts as Jolson and Paul Lumsden as Sinatra were polished in their roles and delivered classic songs with ease and obvious enjoyment. Ruth Harvey and Jo McAllister played the women in their lives and moved effortlessly from character to character ranging from sexy and glamorous to fierce and frumpy.
“Craig Allen had what seemed like 50 roles – all played with great flair. This not only made the piece gel together well, but also caused great amusement as audience members delighted in seeing his rapidly changing characterisations
“Ain’t no Angels definitely deserves a longer run and, with a few tweaks and edits, would be worthy of an even more prestigious stage than that in the Lichfield Garrick.”
Ain’t no Angels only ran for two performances because that was all the nights available at the Garrick when Role-Play Productions booked last year.
Many said the show was so good it should go on tour. Ken Wragg and the Company are currently investigating the possibility of taking Ain’t no Angels to other theatres.