Dear Turnpike Community Theatre,
I am writing to thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable evening last Thursday, when I came to watch "Turnpike Tales" with my four-year-old son Austin, my wife, and my mother-in-law. We were invited to the performance by Gill David, having never been to one of your productions previously, and we really did have a wonderful time. I work as a freelance musician, and instrumental teacher, and as such I am involved in many performances and productions, at all levels. I thought I might take a few minutes to give some feedback as to our experience with you.
We arrived on a very warm evening to an equally warm and welcoming atmosphere, and to an auditorium already bustling with an eager anticipating audience. I quite liked the comfy but unconventional seating! The action began and one of the first things that struck me was the imaginative use of all of the space on offer, from the scene in the living room, to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The stage, floor space, and platform almost gave the intimacy of theatre in the round, and the action was almost literally on top of us at times! The scenes were carefully shared between these spaces and thus the performance never felt one-dimensional.
We really enjoyed the work of the individual cast members, who all gave their ail and were convincing in performance, and displayed versatility in their multiple roles. The comic constructs, and timing and engagement of Deborah Murphy in her various guises were a real highlight for us grown-ups, whilst Austin particularly enjoyed Mark Bassett's "Wolf", and Sarah Fairclough's "Alice". I felt that the entire cast spoke with clear diction and a well-managed pace throughout. I couldn't possibly neglect to mention the adorable "Toto" at this point - so well behaved!
costumes were brilliant too, my mother-in-law particularly liked the Tin Man's ensemble! We were impressed with all of the costumes, throughout the cast, from Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee to the Queen of Hearts.
I was listening with a particular interest to sound effects, and the use of music. I thought the orchestration and execution of these were carefully and accurately done. I liked the thunder, also the menacing Moog synthesizer sounds, in a minor key to indicate impending menace, and the use of music at times between scenes. I thought that the levels had obviously been thoughtfully set in relation to the acoustic constraints of the full, relatively small auditorium. There was no distortion and everything could be clearly heard. I would have perhaps liked a little more incidental music along the way, just to add an extra dimension, and I think that this would have been perhaps appropriate to the nature of the narrative. I did particularly enjoy the use of Herbert Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary, for the wedding scene, and also the atmospheric crackle as the gramophone played as the old friends were reunited at the end.
Overall, this was a wonderful family production. The story had elements of comedy, even pantomime at times, and yet there was a wonderful tenderness to the tale, as the love story between Red and Hick was portrayed over the decades. There were moments of imaginative theatrical work, for example the silhouette scene where the Wolf met his end, and also artistry such as the forest scene, where the cast became the branches of the deep dark wood. Austin had a wonderful night, his imagination was well and truly captured, and the grown-ups of the party had all laughed out loud, and I don't mind admitting there was a lump in my throat too, towards the end.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to seeing you again for Aladdin!