By bridget hickish, Nov 11 2017 10:55AM

A review of ‘Brassed Off’ presented by Viva in Soham on Thursday 9th November 2017.

What an excellent production it was! ‘Brassed Off’ directed by Keith Gallois and Judith Collingswood and produced by Keith and Alison O’Connor, was a magnificent show. All the characters rang true and through their fine acting we were transported into the lives of the mining families in times of trouble, sharing with them the agony of poverty and the humour needed for survival. With the superb performances by Soham Comrades Brass Band, we were treated not only to an admirable presentation of what many of us remember from the film, but the music was a splendid treat too.

David Tickner played Danny to the tee. He was indeed a band conducting fanatic. His grandson Shane (played by Alfie Peckham) was an ideal young boy acting the part with natural flair.

The main miners and band members, Jim (Steve Perry), Harry (Geoff Fisher), Phil (Darren Smith) and Andy (Will Cahill) were wonderfully ‘laddish’ and some of the best scenes that were probably some of the most difficult to present successfully, were those when the band slowly disintegrated into a cacophonous mess after the members had had a few too many drinks at each village on their tour.

The wives, Vera (Sue Perry), Rita (Mandy Morrish) and Sandra (Sophie Plachcinski) were all credible partners whose passion was evident right from the start. Gloria (Amy Noonan) was a superb representative of the powerful managers who had obviously decided to close the mine, in spite of her glowing report of how successful it could have been. Her naivety came through very well and added spice to her relationship with her old flame Andy. He was indeed a young lad with an eye for the girls and incapable of arriving to band practice on time.

A mention must go to the actor Andy Gillett who gave an unnervingly realistic portrayal of the bailiff. Other vital contributors were Bridget Hickish, Gemma Politt, Dave McCalpin, Clare Gillet, Justine Whitworth, Helen Meads, Benjamin Surridge, Ruby Fordham, Sarah Boor, and Ellie Gillett.

Congratulations to everyone who took part and provided the support that is always much needed and which was very much in evidence in this excellent production. .

This was indeed a most satisfying night’s entertainment. As one member of the audience was heard to say, ‘Who needs the West End when we have productions like this here?’

by Rosemary Westwell

By bridget hickish, Oct 29 2017 09:12PM

What a wonderful evening!

We were transported into a joyous fantasy world of sparkling music and fairytale magic that caught our imaginations superbly. We adored Belle (played by Holly Pryke) who was the beautiful young maiden with the lovely voice who deftly spurned the advances of the conceited Gaston (Zack Wymer). We loved her as she worried and cared for her eccentric father Maurice (Javier Londono) and eventually cast away the evil spell on the Beast (Torin Fahy) so he could turn into the handsome prince he once was and they could live happily ever after. There was hardly a dry eye in the house.

The whole cast was magnificent, from the ensembles to the major roles. Movements on the stage were swift and uplifting to witness and the tableaux that grew to fill the stage only to melt away imperceptibly were delightful. The singing was of a very high standard and it was very moving to see such a host of young people obviously enjoying themselves as they ‘sang their hearts out’.

Besides the excellent main characters, including Le Fou (Zak Potts), and Madame D’Arque (Megan Godfrey), the entrapped objects in the castle who longed to return to their human form when the spell was broken, added a great deal. The clock (Cogsworth played by Callum Moffat) , candlestick (Lumière - Mark O’Reilly) wardrobe (Madame de la Grande Bouche – Dresden Goodwin), teapot (Mrs Potts – Phyllida Hickish) teacup (Chip – Ruby MacDonald) and feather duster (Babette - Kiera O’Reilly) carried out their roles particularly well, their different characters sharply defined and entertaining.

The groups whirled and twirled smoothly and the wolves were particularly menacing with their fluid advancing, retreating and intertwining. The choreographer Louise Plummer and Music Director Jenny Taylor-Surridge have much to be thanked for.

Abby Cornwell, Lola Macdonald and Sienna Warder played the Silly Girls perfectly while Edward Rees, Jack Gash, Katie Kirkpatrick and Summer Dowling were admirable narrators. The directors Ben Clarke and Lee ‘Glee’ Sherwood and the remainder of their team must be congratulated for such a fantastic production.

The next Viva production at the Performing Arts Centre in Soham is ‘Brassed Off ‘ 9-11th November 2017 contact:

by Rosemary Westwell

photo Mike Rouse

By bridget hickish, Oct 25 2017 03:22PM

After a break of a few hundred years the Vikings are returning to Ely. But this time the visitors from Denmark will be musicians rather than warriors.

A 30-strong chamber choir from Ribe, the Danish city twinned with Ely, will receive an official welcome from the Ely-Ribe Twinning Association when it comes to give two concerts in Ely Cathedral.

The choir, Ribe Kammerkor, is being hosted by Ely Choral Society, and the two groups will join forces on Saturday 4 November for ‘A Choral Celebration’. The concert, featuring works by Britten, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Rutter as well as by the 19th century Danish composer Niels Gard, starts at 7.30 pm.

The programme also includes organ solos by Lotte Bille Glaesel, Ribe Kammerkor’s Director, and local organist John Wyatt. The conductors are Lotte Bille Glaesel and Ely Choral Society’s Musical Director, Andrew Parnell.

Ribe Kammerkor will also give a free lunchtime concert in Ely Cathedral’s Lady Chapel on the previous day, Friday 3 November, performing works by Gade, Palestrina and Nielsen, among others. The soprano soloist is Pia Hansen while Andrew Parnell will be the accompanist.

Howard McMillan, Chairman of the Ely-Ribe Association, said the association was

proud to be associated with the concerts.

“We hope that it is the beginning of a lasting relationship between the two choirs, with regular concerts taking place in Ely and in Ribe,” he said. “One of our aims is to establish links between similar interest groups in the two towns and this concert is the successful conclusion of one such initiative.”

“Our thanks go to the members of both choirs - without their cooperation and hard work these concerts would not be taking place,” he added.

Tickets for the Saturday concert, at £15 and £20 (£5 for under-18s) are available from Ely Cathedral Box Office (01353 660349), at and on the door.

By bridget hickish, Oct 6 2017 07:45PM

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT), the only dedicated charity for Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals, is once again selling festive cards to help transform patients’ lives at the hospitals.

The series of six cards includes a snowy scene at St John’s College, a cheeky Christmas donkey and a sparkly winter hare.

The cards are sold in packs of ten with envelopes and range from £3.50 - £4.50 per pack. All proceeds will go towards cutting edge technology, additional specialist services, vital research and extra comforts for patients.

There are three easy ways to order:

- Online at

- On the phone on 01223 217757

- In person at ACT’s Fundraising Hub, across the road from A&E on the Addenbrooke’s site (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm)

Samantha Sherratt, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s Head of Supporter Engageent said: “By sending Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s Christmas cards to friends and family you will be transforming patients’ lives while spreading festive cheer. We have all types of cards from the fun and sentimental to the more traditional. There's sure to be something for everyone!”

To find out more about Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) please call 01223 217757, email or go to