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Mad Cow ReviewerReviews

Here are some reviews of our previous productions.

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Review - The Full Monty

Mad Cow Production’s amateur version of the Broadway hit The Full Monty certainly put the sizzle into sizzling at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury!

It had everything. Hot performances, hot lighting, hot music, hot choreography – and ‘hot’ men of all different shapes and sizes clad only in teeny, tiny, thongs! Phew – there was no holding back – it certainly was a ‘full monty’ production!

They say that fortune favours the bold and this was without doubt, the Shropshire theatrical herd’s best and most daring production to date – from the staging to the subject matter. And the public responded – sell-out shows in the main auditorium at Theatre Severn, and standing ovations. It’s sold out status meant that the Herd was gifted two professionals from London to help with the production – upcoming Lighting Designer Dan Saggers and Andy Hinton as Sound Designer (taking a one week break from a run at The Royal Court).

The musical version of The Full Monty is based on the British smash hit starring Robert Carlyle, only it is Americanized and based in small backwater town Buffalo. It follows the highs and mainly lows of six unemployed steelworkers who decide to present a strip act at their local club after seeing the reactions of their wives to a touring production of the Chippendales. There is, however, one massive difference – the Buffalo boys were going further – performing the full monty!

The show leads us through the twists and turns of emotions as best friends Jerry Lukowski (Mathew Robinson) and Dave Bukatinsky (Jez Mann) recruit to their act to earn a quick buck so that Jerry can continue to see his son. Their friendship is wonderfully portrayed – warm, funny and believable. The scenes as Jerry and Dave recruited to their ‘cause’ were the some of the best in the whole production – genuinely laugh-out-loud funny with some superb acting in various stages of undress!

The cast was perfectly cast – with polished performances from ‘the women’ including Heidi Brown as Georgie, Natalie Watts as Vicki and Anette Edge as Jeanette on a set that was worthy of a Broadway production.

This whole show is all about friendship and camaraderie, and I have a feeling that this sums up the Mad Cows in general – an amateur theatre company with very professional standards.

And to answer one burning question – director Alex Hinton has confirmed that ‘the brave six’ did what it said on the tin at the show’s finale – and whipped off the hats that were protecting their modesty. We, the audience, would never have known thanks to the very clever lighting that ‘flashed’ just at the right time!

So hats off to those that took their hats off!

Review by Claire Dunn

Review - Present Laughter

An aging, movie idol prone to over-acting, glamorous women, seduction and lies – Noel Coward’s comedy classic Present Laughter is wonderfully brought to life at the Theatre Severn.

Shropshire theatre group Mad Cow Productions pulls out all of the stops for its latest production which packs a theatrical punch – it is classy, funny and cleverly acted.

Coward’s classic farce follows the shenanigans of self-obsessed theatre star Garry Essendine with every act is set in his London flat. He is about to embark on a tour of Africa, however, his life has become rather complicated. There’s a posse of women vying for his affections, members of staff having affairs with each other’s wives – and an obsessed playwright from Uckfield who won’t take no for an answer. Inevitably a farce ensues.

It is a gigantic role with big boots to fill, but Sebastian Ashfield effortlessly immerses himself in the role of Garry, capturing his self-centred nature to a tee. Fiona Hankin is perfectly cast as Essendine’s unflappable secretary Monica Reed who refuses to pander to her boss’s egotism; while Emma Hedges warmly brings to life the role of Liz Essendine – Garry’s controlling estranged wife. Credit must also go to Ryan Brown as Garry’s valet, Nikki Holmes as the eccentric Miss Erikson and Ellie Giblin as the minxy Joanna.

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Review - Anything Goes

As soon as the curtain lifted for Anything Goes at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn - I knew I was gonna get a kick out of this one!
A big, big musical production to tackle - but made to look easy by a group of Shropshire's finest amateur thespians. 
Mad Cow Productions has just completed a hugely successful run of Cole Porter's flamboyant and colourful Anything Goes!
And phew, what a dazzling all singing, all dancing cracker it was!
The stage was sensationally transformed into an ocean liner - where most of the action was set. It was like being in the West End (but not of Shrewsbury).
"Did you say this was an amateur show?', whispered someone close by. And that just about sums up this production.
Love, mayhem, comedy, song and skulduggery - oooh this had it all.

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Review - The Hollow

Amateur theatre has (often unfairly) got a bad name for itself. Productions of murder mysteries are particularly dangerous territory, perhaps not as risky as watching a vicar in his 60's have a bash at Algernon Moncrieff (not like that), but a bad murder mystery is a special kind of theatrical hell. Mad Cow Productions most recent outing, however, is no such hell, it isn't even a cause for concern, its got pace, is well staged, subtly acted and above all is a fun night out. Anyone lucky enough to have caught the show on it’s mostly sold out run this week will have been sure to enjoy.

The setup is classic; a glamorous Hollywood star's arrival in a small village has set tongues wagging, a country estate has changed hands, lovers and ex-lovers, friends and foes are gathered at the home of Sir Henry Angkatell for a weekend escape of eating, drinking, reminiscing and pistol practise. What could possibly go wrong...?

Luckily for the audience it's not the production. Curtain up and the set looks great, a classic English drawing room, birdsong gently drifts through an open French window and immediately places you at ease. More touches of a subtle and intelligent design keep coming. Whether it is the lightning whose flashes and thunder follow the correct timing and order of things, or a ringing phone that actually stops ringing when it's picked up. Right from the get go you know creaking doors refusing to close or a wobbly living room wall are not going to be distracting from the drama tonight, leaving the actors and direction in charge.

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Just when you thought they couldn't raise the bar any higher - Shrewsbury's Mad Cow Theatre Productions go and pull another musical triumph out of the bag.

Never ones to shy away from the biggies - their version of the Monty Python musical comedy Spamalot raised the roof of Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn during its three day run, and brought hundreds of theatre-goers spontaneously to their feet.

This was amateur theatre truly at its best. That we weren't on Broadway didn't matter a jot.

This delightful production had everything that you would expect from a professional theatre company. Perfect casting - tick. Great comedic timing - tick. Lavish costumes - tick . Fantastic musical accompaniment - the list goes on.

Director Alex Hinton and her fellow Mad Cow co-founder Lisa Lowarch delivered a real showstopper that thoroughly deserved its place on the main stage at Shrewsbury's theatre.

Six months of hard work paid off with an incredibly slick, and colourful production that remained true to the original, hurtling from song to gag, gag to song - keeping the audience, well, rather spellbound.
Fom the transformation of Dennis to Sir Galahad, to the hilarious Knights of Ni, no stone was left unturned, no joke without a laugh. The attention to detail was evident, and the results were hilarious.

It would be unfair to single anyone out for their performance - each stood out on their own merit, however James Ashfield as King Arthur was a delight to watch, having mastered riding a horse - without one.
This show was a total hoot. I left with a clip clop, clip clop in my step. So thank you Mad Cows for the best night out in ages.
Always look on the bright side of life......!