Betty Blue Eyes

Set in postwar Britain where one of the only distractions from recovery and rationing is the hope brought by the upcoming wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, this performance of Betty Blue Eyes was delightfully entertaining.

An enjoyable evening with a company who do a fine job of retelling this heartwarming story.

Starting off with the Girl Vocal Trio (Bronte Cheshire, Hannah Louise Coles and Emma-Lisa Trott), who do well to differentiate between the Trio and their other characters, giving strong vocal performances throughout. Musical numbers are performed excellently by the entire cast, particularly those sung by the whole company, who provide perfect harmonies. Each cast member shines individually in each number, all of them interesting to watch, but the dance numbers occasionally fall short of expectations as they lack the sync of the entire ensemble.

What sets Betty Blue Eyes apart from many other musicals is its range of quirky and loveable characters, which are well played by the whole cast. Betty, herself, was a wonderful addition to the performance thanks to the actors who took turns controlling her. The two main characters of the story, kind chiropodist Gilbert (Matt Parsons) and his ambitious wife Joyce (Bethany Amps), both do an excellent job of winning over the hearts of the audience and being ideal fits for their characters. Amps especially does herself proud in her portrayal of Joyce, making what could easily be perceived as a character simply ignorant to her husband’s hard work, into a strong woman determined to be recognised within society. She completely owns the stage in ‘Nobody’, giving one of the best comedic performances of the night in her interactions with Mother Dear (Emily-Rose Clarkson), who evokes humour with ease, making an accidental slip of a stool in one scene yet another memorable moment for the character. The combining of these three characters in ‘Pig, No Pig’ is uproariously funny, and their reactions to each other in different moments of the show are spot on.

Other notable performances came from Emma-Louise Trott, whose simple and honest performance as Mrs Roach in ‘Magic Fingers’ stood out for her outstanding vocals and ability to gain sympathy for her character in such a short time. Matt Fisher as the endearing Henry Allardyce and Glen Newham, also did an exceedingly impressive job of multi-rolling as a range of different characters. The unforgettable performance of the evening was Zoe Harbout’s Wormold, the inspector whose frown and dedication to hunting out illegal meat lit up the stage, with no single missed opportunity for a comedic moment.

The only area that really let this cast down was that their acting was too naturalistic in places, and not quite large and exaggerated enough to create the right energy for a musical in a big space. Despite this, not one character is badly acted, and although a few are vocally stronger than others, none of them lacked talent and they all sing beautifully together. An enjoyable evening with a company who do a fine job of retelling this heartwarming story.

Reviews by Carmen Dupre

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Performances

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The Blurb

University of Chichester’s Festival company stage Stiles and Drewe’s sensational, rude and loveable musical of Alan Bennett’s 'A Private Function'. Yorkshire. 1947. Rationing. Yeuch! Well, Yorkshire’s fine. But the town council are milking it. Fattening highly illegal pig Betty for a banquet. When Chiropodist Gilbert and wife Joyce are left off the guest list, they take drastic action to get their fair share of the roast! Memorable score, stunning routines and the company’s rave reviews make this a must see! "Musically perfect, punchy dance routines. A must see" (Edinburgh Fringe). Five Oinks!