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Review of Cloud at Sharnbrook Mill Theatre, Sharnbrook

I have been fortunate to have attended a few world premieres of plays and musicals, however, perhaps none have made quite the visual impact that this new musical Cloud does when you enter the theatre. The stage of the Sharnbrook (itself I have to say an impressive venue on this my first visit) has been transformed into a brilliantly rendered cave system, with a rich red toned stonelike world and flora scattered about. It is a feast for the eyes and the perfect backdrop for this intriguing new musical to play out upon.

We are on Cloud, a human colony planet created in the Earth year 2306 AD following the humans near destruction of their home planet. As the tribes battle to survive in this hostile environment, leaders go head to head, love battles to prevail where it shouldn't and a mysterious new visitor Hannah (Leisa Cooke) arrives and sets new events in motion.

David Russell (Chat)
Cloud is a veritable labour of love of writers Kaye Vincent and Kaye Tompkins and has been in gestation for seventeen years and quite an extended rehearsal period. Thankfully it is clear that all the time and preparation was well spent as this amateur production of the musical more than highlights the huge potential. A strong company of 37 actors bring this vibrant and realistic world to life, while the band under the direction of Kaye Tompkins provides a high standard of music for the talented singing cast to perform to. Broken into seven groups of people including the Council, Sand Tribes and the Sirens, each is made brilliantly distinctive via the work of Di Weeden and her team on costumes completing this as complete visual delight.
Lester Cooke (Farin)

The show with a cast such as this often feels too big for its stage, so occasionally you have to see beyond to see the potential that a director would have for this epic show on a larger space, however choreographer Beth Williams still manages to make an impact, with those routines during Storm and especially during Stand With You being highlights.

The songs are mostly of a great quality and manage to move the story onwards rather than stall it. Without a doubt, the best numbers are the full company ones like Stand With You and my personal favourite Heat Rising, which feels that in truth should have been the first act closing number even though The Waiting Game still provides the momentum needed.

Julie Futcher (Regan)
Despite this being very much a large ensemble show, Cloud still manages to create some highly enthralling and entertaining characters. Jon Baish puts both physical effort and a great personality into the sweet and endearing Bougal making him my personal favourite character. I also delighted in his vicious looking, but actually, a quite sweet mother Regan, played by Julie Futcher with a playful menace at times.
 The Sirens were played with relish and foxiness with Channice Campbell singing with great power as Ren, Keeper in waiting. It was also great to see Miranda Spencer-Pearson on stage again with her initially sullen but slowly softening portrayal of Dara. The Sirens themselves all performed with more than a touch of relish the jazzy number Just Do It (for the boys). Leisa Cooke (who incidentally I had seen in another musical world premiere before, Danny Hero) performed Hannah with an intriguing air of mystery and her Communication numbers were delightfully performed.
Miranda Spencer-Pearson (Dana)

Technically the show went well for opening night with the nice use of lighting and impressive sound balance very prominent. There were a couple of very minor issues with the microphones, and occasionally curious long leads into some of the songs. However, generally, it was an impressively smooth affair.

Cloud is, and I mean it in the nicest possible way, a very generic musical, going through a sort of checklist of must do's of musical theatre. Getting in as many genres as possible, building to an excellent interval climax and creating a good but perfectly uncomplicated story. It reminded me a great deal of my personal favourite musical Urinetown (and shares a lot of cast and crew with a version I saw last year) and to be mentioned against that by myself is a great achievement. This show should go further, it begs to be given a bigger staging and to allow them bold and proud ensemble numbers more room to breathe. However, until then I suggest that you make your way to Sharnbrook this week to see the creation of a great little show.


Performance reviewed: Monday, June 5th 2017 at Sharnbrook Mill Theatre, Sharnbrook
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Cloud runs at Sharnbrook Mill Theatre until Saturday 10th June 2017.
For further details visit 
http://www.sharnbrookmilltheatre.co.uk/

Photos: David Husband
The company of Cloud

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