The most recent production by CLOKS of the classic tale of The Railway Children was a huge success. This brilliant review found its way into the local paper:
Chard Light Operatic Kids Society, CLOKS, has, to date, presented musical productions specifically adapted for children’s shows. This year however, Director/Producer/Choreographer Maria Farey and Musical Director Jemima Moran decided to push themselves and their young cast just that little bit further with the challenge of presenting an adult musical version of E. Nesbitt’s much-loved story ‘The Railway Children’.
The three children of the title, beautifully performed by Hannah Bulgin (Bobbie), Kris Hedditch (Peter) and Lily Farey (Phyllis), really carried the show. All three were engaging, animated and totally focussed and Bulgin’s solo Nothing to Fear was tender and moving. Livvie Coles was tremendous as Mother, she had a matronly maturity which gave her performance the weight and gravitas it required, and she sang ‘Til the Day with real passion and power.
Josh Richards played Perks the Station Master (and sometime narrator) with authority and humour; it’s never easy to open a show with a song and be the one to set the tone but he accomplished this with ease.
This was overall a fantastic ensemble work but mention must also be made of Luke Lifton’s Szczepansky who sounded as if he spoke Russian like a native and sang a lovely Lullaby, Ryan Healy lent really solid, reliability to the role of The Old Gentleman and Issy Swarbrick was impressive as The Engine Driver (among other roles). Elsewhere Rachael Davis and Erin Bond were always lively in their various character parts and Sebastian Horne was a convincing Jim, falling in love with Bobbie.
A huge congratulations to Jemima Moran for the unenviable task of interpreting and teaching the complex musical score to this very young cast. Musically the show was a remarkable achievement and the entire cast is to be saluted for the hard work and dedication required to get to grips so successfully with the intricacies of the music.
Maria Farey manages every year to pull off another triumph, another incredible accomplishment which illustrates what talent there is out there in our young people. This year is no exception. Make sure you book your tickets early for next year’s show, many this year were disappointed at the ‘sold out’ signs for every performance.
And finally, there is no ‘Railway Children’ without a train – Jonathan Farey created the most stunning visual effect with his life-size train emerging through the tunnel to stop just in front of the children waving their red bloomers. Fantastic!
Fantastic Fun at our Roaring Twenties Charleston Workshop
Read all about it here: Chard Press
Of course, it’s all in preparation for ‘Charleston’- a terrific tribute to the Roaring Twenties. 28th-30th June, Guildhall, Chard. Don’t miss it!
A note on T Shirts
The red CLOKS polo shirt with the old yellow logo is now no longer in use. All members need to have the black t-shirt with the new CLOKS logo on it (Similar to the logo at the of this page) If you have not already purchased one please see Jo, she will help and advise. You will all, if possible, need one by the Easter workshop. As the year progresses we are hoping to organise a CLOKS hoody (this will be completely optional). The children have also expressed an interest in having a JUNGLE BOOK t- shirt. We will keep you posted on this as we are aware this may be getting expensive for some of you, especially if you have more than one child in the society. It may be that we are able to part fund the Jungle Book ones.
Review; The Jungle Book 2017
Nearly 10 years on from when CLOKS first performed this Disney classic, followed by the charming, self-penned show by Maria and Jonathan Farey, their recent production was, as always, full of colour, vibrancy and energy. The combined effort of the costumes, lighting, sound and set instantly transported us into the Jungle. I had the pleasure of watching the show twice and experienced both teams of children for the double cast first act. Bagheera (Olivia Coles and Issy Swarbrick) and Baloo (Sebastian Horne and Addison Coath) set the bar high when they opened the show, immediately engaging the audience with strong vocals and excellent stage presence. Both Henry Colvin and Max Thompson captured the feisty, cheeky but endearing character of Mowgli. The children successfully portrayed the creatures of the Jungle; Rachael Davis as the hypnotic hissing Kaa, accompanied by her coils, Luke Lifton as the confident and crazy King Louie and Ryan Healy’s/Kristian Hedditch’s amusing portrayal as the cantankerous and clumsy Colonel Hathi and his troop of elephants. Hannah Bulgin conveyed the mysterious nature of Shere Khan, creating a powerful atmosphere of unease and tension; this was effective, and made a refreshing change from the stereotypical frightening portrayal that may have been expected. The Jungle Chorus acted as narrators throughout the show, ensuring that the ‘fill ins’ were just as enjoyable and accomplished as the main songs. Each musical number was polished both in terms of the singing and the choreography. Musical Director Jemima Farey ensured that the words were clear and beginnings and endings of songs were sharp. The harmonies and general polyphony of most of the songs came across well. This, along with the tight and constantly varied choreography by Maria Farey made for a constantly captivating string of musical numbers with a fresh burst of energy from the children for each one. Two songs particularly worthy of note were ‘Wanna Be Like You’ with the Jungle Chorus and monkeys, and ‘The Battle’ a full cast song with an amusing and cleverly choreographed dance break that showed all the animals working together to save Mowgli and chase Shere Khan out of the jungle. The atmosphere in the audience as we all tapped our feet and clapped along to these well-known songs was invigorating.
The second half, although arguably less energetic, required a level of sophistication and sensitivity which the older members of the cast captured perfectly. Mandar (Charlie Orr-Ewing), his long-lost sister Anisha (Mia Bond) and mother Varsha (Matilda Riley) spoke clearly throughout, but with passion and emotion that made us feel like we were experiencing this momentous revelation alongside them. The cheeky sisters (Jess Wyatt, Abi Parsons and Charlotte Mooney) provided a more light-hearted atmosphere from the intense scenes with Varsha and Rani, the wise woman of the village (Chloe Brook) and the charming relationship that blossomed between Mandar and Serena, the fourth sister, played with grace and elegance by Polly Farey. Matthew Rymell captured the studious, love sick character of Hamid perfectly and Ben Rymell gave a very natural performance as the kind father Ravi. Josh Harvey, Emily Bilboe and Tara Flanagan as Mandar’s adoptive family, although playing smaller parts, acted with emotion and were an important part of the story. It was a real treat to have live music for the majority of the performance; the band played with an acute awareness of the performers, but demonstrated skill and passion during instrumentals! Credit must be given to Jonathan Farey for the wonderful original songs. The Bollywood chorus number was delightful, with the dancing lights at the beginning leading to impressively authentic Indian dance sequences. The Jungle Dance was also cleverly orchestrated, creating subtle links to the first half with the reappearance of the Jungle creatures, demonstrating just one of the many talents held by Maria and Jonathan Farey, who wrote this second half. The show ended with a powerful and emotional song ‘I’ve Found My Way Back Home’ and it was clear to see that each member of CLOKS was proud to be part that family and they all appeared to be content and at home on the Guildhall stage.
“moving, honest and at times extremely sad”…”happiness, comradeship and love”
Review- A Kiss Card From Walter 2o16
CHARD’S war heroes took centre stage as a play retelling their true stories appeared at the Guildhall. The show, A Kiss Card from Walter, was performed by Chard Local Kids Society (CLOKS) and Chard Concert Brass, written specially for them by Chard residents June and Dave Walsham. Among the audience members on Saturday was 100-year-old Greta Board, whose dad is a character in the play. At the centre of the play was the editor of Chard and Ilminster News, as the paper played an integral part in informing the town of what stories was unfolding overseas. Together, June and Dave researched for the play by interviewing families in the town who have letters and photographs dating back to the First World War. Gloria Johnson of CLOKS said: “A Kiss Card from Walter is a project set in Chard in Somerset in the First World War. It links the people of the past to the present, and links the local youth theatre group in a project with the local brass band. “Back in the day, when there were no mobile phones or texts, no WhatsApp or Facebook, when soldiers went to war the only way to keep in touch with loved ones back at home was by letters. “Our play’s title is taken from the kiss card that was carried between Kitty and Walter Stacey as he fought in France on the front line, while she lived on in Chard. “Kitty’s letter to Walter had a scrap of lace attached to it –lace which she tenderly kissed before the letter was sealed. Lace that Walter held to his own lips when it reached him in the rain sodden desolation of the trenches. Lace holding a memory of Kitty’s tears and a trace of her kiss for him.” More than 200 costumes helped to transport audience members into 1914 along with the lighting, sound and set. Mrs Johnson added: “In collaboration with Chard Concert Brass, this is a show that will become part of Chard’s history. “Produced and directed by Maria Farey, this show will be moving, honest and at times extremely sad but this group of delightfully talented young people will also find a way of bringing out the happiness, comradeship and love from within these stories.”
CLOKS Celebrate 10th Anniversary with an “explosion of song, dance and fun”
CHARD’S music and drama youth group turned back the cloks to celebrate its tenth anniversary. A packed audience at the Guildhall was treated to a decade of hits from every show that CLOKS (Chard Local Kids Society for Music and Drama) has performed. Among them were songs from Annie, Les Miserables, Oklahoma and Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Gloria Johnson, from CLOKS, praised all the youngsters who performed in the show, and said they were now preparing for their summer concert. She said: “The evening was an explosion of song, dance and fun. “It was an unmissable event for anyone who has supported CLOKS so far on their journey and an enchanting welcome to anyone who has never seen them perform before.” CLOKS is aimed at young people aged 8-18, offering classes in all aspects of the theatre including singing and acting. There are workshops, fundraising concerts and an annual summer musical as well as a smaller Christmas show. Gloria added that it wasn’t just the children that had put on such a stunning show. She said added: “There are a whole host of adults to thank including Mary Tucker, our rehearsal pianist, while Jonathan Farey must be thanked for his contribution as musical director. “The biggest thanks of all should go to Maria Farey, without whom none of this would be possible. “She puts in so many extra hours of work to choreograph song numbers, set scenes and simply work out how each member of the rapidly growing cast can all fit on the stage at once. “She is the glue that holds the family together and we all love her very much.” This summer’s show is called, Kiss Card from Walter, which runs from June 29 to July 2. For more information on CLOKS’ summer concert, or on the club in general, visit www.cloks.org.uk/.
‘An Impressive Show’- CLOKS given a glowing review in the Chard and Ilminster.
As soon as I saw the Musical Director in rather a fetching suit for the first time, I knew this show was going to be something special. It was! Whenever I see a Cloks show I always think ‘how can they improve on this?’; and they always do! The acting and singing is always impressive, but there are three other things that particularly impressed me about the show.
First of all the costumes. Not only were they highly authentic, but there were several changes throughout the show- costumes like these would easily grace a West End stage. I think this is the best dressed Cloks show I’ve seen; especially as the majority of them were made by the company.
Next, I really liked the use of the live Sally-Ann band- the wheeze and thump was very authentic! Finally; I always bang on about the hugely limited stage space at the Guildhall, but in this show the choreography really took that into account; the dancing was great, but when the stage was overpopulated, the choreography was minimalised very cleverly and wittily, relying on gesture and expression.
The show is a very challenging to produce, with its changing of scenes, numerous cast and some difficult songs. The company now are well established and the acting, especially from the principals, gets better and better. First congratulations to John Davis who I think has not yet played a role as high profile as this. A difficult role too, as Sky, an older sugar-daddy gambler type character- very assured indeed. I shall look in Heat magazine for a centre page spread!
I think Otterly Farey is one of my favourite singers. Technically, her voice is very good, but she adds something special- a kind of yearning that really tugs at the heart strings. When is the album out? She played Sarah Brown intelligently, portraying her mood changes..sober to tipsy and back again- very authentically.
I was very impressed with the acting of Grace Evans. A hugely energetic, varied yet finely nuanced portrayal of Miss Adelaide, a nightclub entertainer, who is desperate to marry her gambler fiancé of 14 years, Nathan Detroit. Very convincing sneezes, too!
Jake Crump was excellent as the beleaguered crap game host- he had a good Danny de Vito approach to the role with some great gestures and expressions. His employees, played by Gabriel Swarbrick, Sam Hunt and Mia Bond- Fugue for Tinhorns was an effective ensemble number. They established their characters well, and there was a nice rapport between them. Gabriel’s singing is getting good and confident. Callum Syrett had a lot of stage presence as the heavy Big Jule; but all the cast were very engaged, although the beards on the girls were a little overdone!
There were too many really good moments to name, but the duets between John and Otterly were delightful, Grace at full pelt as Adelaide was a joy to watch, and the busy crowd scenes were handled expertly.
Often those working on the technical aspects can be unsung heroes, but I did notice the very sensitive and varied lighting plot. One moment a garish razzamatazz (is that how you spell it?) scene, and the next a sombre set looking like a painting by Edward Hopper. There was real attention to detail with the sound: cues were spot on, and the balance was perfect. Scene changes and the set were slick and imaginative, with good creative use of the traverse curtain.
They get better. Direction was faultless as far as I could see, and I think that the success of Cloks shows is due to a regular team of very experienced adults, the loyalty, talent and enthusiasm of the cast and the Farey’s dedication to them. If they extend the guildhall stage, I would like to see something even more spectacular; Lord of the Rings? Titanic?
Well done everybody!
Fiddler On The Roof 2014
CLOKS’ amateur youth production of this occasionally dark musical had the accomplishment and maturity of a professional company.
One of the many pleasures of going to these excellent productions every year is watching individuals grow in confidence and ability – and this production demanded a particular depth of emotion from some of the principals which they all rose to with assurance.
The lead role of Tevye, a poor Jewish Russian milkman, was played with accomplished maturity by Calum Syrett, who brought humour and seriousness to the part. He was well matched in Grace Evans’ playing of his wife Golde, an impatient, bossy but loving mother to their five daughters. The latter of these, led by Emily Davis’s strong, lively performance as eldest daughter Tzeitel and supported by the excellent Jemima Farey as Hodel and Otterly Farey as Chava. They gave a delightful performance of ‘matchmaker’ as all three older girls fall in love with the wrong men and have to convince their father to permit non-traditional marriages. On the evening I attended, Rachel Davis and Lily Farey – both performers to watch out for in coming years – were very good as the younger daughters. As poor tailor Motel, Gabriel Swarbrick gave a good strong performance and Meg Rogers – shared role with Zoe Bond – provided a lovely cameo as Yente the matchmaker. John Davis as Lazar the butcher also gave a good performance and Patrick Moran brought the right amount of idealism and romanticism to his role as young revolutionary Perchik. All of these performers were excellent but it was the ensemble acting which really lifted the show – there was simple but tight choreography (Maria Farey) – everyone moved so well and easily around the stage. There was tremendous singing (MD Jonathan Farey) and an enthusiasm and energy which just flooded the Guildhall. I am not quite sure how Maria Farey manages this amazing feat year after year – bringing Chard’s young talent to the stage with such style and verve – but she has succeeded in establishing, arguably, the theatrical highlight of the year in this town.