REVIEW: Viva Mexico!; St Cuthbert's Operatic and Dramatic Society

The principals of Viva Mexico! are spreading sunshine and cheer to heat up a November night. (s)

Viva Mexico! is a piñata-burst of colour and fun.

And this week’s production by St Cuthbert’s Operatic and Dramatic Society certainly upholds the musical’s reputation for thrills, spills and tongue-in-cheek humour.

For the opening night kicked off with a bang.

In this melodramatic show, an American senator is travelling through “bandit” territory to deliver funds to tyrant El Presidente.

That is, until his stagecoach is held-up and robbed by the masked El Zorro, i.e. protagonist Ramon.

It’s a tale spilling with characters as colourful as their rainbow-streaked ponchos: bandits, a revolutionary, a comedy duo, sweethearts, and a “Robin Hood” style hero.

And there was none more colourful than revolutionary, Mendoza, thanks to Robin Reid’s vibrant performance and excellent comic delivery.

Blake Morris also shone in the hilarious role of Bernardo, the hapless Sergeant of Police. It was a fun and dynamic performance which had the audiences in stitches.

But that’s not all when it came to the laughs - for Robert Riley and Jason Morris made a terrific comedy duo as Pepe and Pablo, while Christine Chadwick was fabulous as Mama Inez, the fun and feisty owner of El Rancho Grande.

And as the romantic and adventure-seeking Lucille, Hayley Watson-Reid cast a rainbow of confidence and colour. She had the kind of stage presence you’d expect to see in a professional production.

And the show was not without its fair share of vocal talent.

Take Vicki Riley as Ramon’s fiancé, Raquelita, whose voice was simply stunning, or Hayley Watson-Reid’s lovely and clear tones.

But that’s not to forget the operatic power of Linda Sharple’s voice, in the role of the Priestess.

And all this was backed a live orchestra and the tight harmonies of the chorus.

A measured portrayal came from Elliott Griffiths as Ramon, with strong vocals to match, and John McNabb played a brilliant role as Chief of Police, Lopez.

Great support was provided by: Lawrence Whittaker as Senator K. Vanders; Marina Murray as Lola; and Elaine Morris as Casilda.

Last, but not least, applause must go to the production team. For while Burnley might not have the scorching sunshine of Mexico, St Cuthbert’s proved the town sure knows how to brighten up an autumn night with dazzling rays of fun.

The show runs until Saturday and starts at 7-15pm at St Cuthbert’s CE Church.

Book via Facebook.com/Scoads

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