Press Report


Tiverton Gazette


Tuesday July 21, 2009

Stage Door Street

Tiverton is truly fortunate to have a dance and performing arts school of a very high standard.  The Willow Tree Centre of Dance and Performing Arts was founded 40 years ago and is still run by the amazing Irene Holland.  Last week, over 200 Willow Tree students took part in their end of year showcase - aptly titled Stage Door Street, in the New Hall.  Irene, herself, took to the boards in a cameo role which brought the house down.  She has a line-up of committed and talented teacher/choreographers plus a back stage team whose organisational skills must be second to none.
    Performances were hugely entertaining with a massive range of techniques and skills on display.  The dance numbers from pure ballet to street tap and hip hop, the accomplished singing, from the latest in popular music to an ABBA medley, were all a delight.  The costumes, as ever, were colourful and imaginative with the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz taking the ultimate crown.  The audience was enthralled as number after number rolled out interspersed with a comic running gag in the shape of banter between 2 hard-nosed theatre cleaners, Julie Firbanks and Mandy Hunt - one with a life time ambition to perform in a musical.  And she got her chance as the evening ended with the entire cast zapping us with numbers from
Chicago.  Ed Pocock sang Mr Cellophane with the right poignancy while the energy and bravado of the choreography as demonstrated by the Willow Tree performers was remarkable.  Issy Hollis, among many others, gave it her all.

    The finale of the first half of the evening, Tyre Tracks, an advanced jazz number, was also tremendously exhilarating with a notable performance from Mollie Shearman.  The intermediate ballet Ghosts was a visual feast as the impressionist paintings of ballet dancers by Degas floated before our eyes and transported us back to 19th century Paris. I loved it.
    Of many outstanding performers, I thought Emily Searle showed charisma and talent as did Abi Richardson, Esther Felix, Beth Dinsdale, Lauren Bridgeman and Amy Garland;  Sammy Firbanks and Abi Pudney sang their hearts out in a duet from Miss Saigon, Finlay Broadhead and 6 year old David Baldwin who cart wheeled his way to an ovation.
    It was a joyous evening in which the young dancers and singers of Tiverton's Willow Tree Centre had a wonderful opportunity to express themselves creatively and perform to a packed house every evening for a week.  Such valuable experience cannot be quantified.

by Amanda Knott