February in Hawke's Bay can only mean one thing, the celebration of the wonders and delights of the Art Deco era, and with this in mind Aubyn Live has chosen to present an array of songs from this wonderful time.
Directed by Julie Smith and Staveley Tankersley with thoughtful choral direction by Karoline Roberts, their presentation of music from this time was wonderfully broken down into four themes, each showcasing the best of the music from this time.
We started our musical journey with songs from the seaside and what was to be a feature of the production the ensemble led us off with a well-controlled and clearly sung number that took us away from 2016 and deposited us in the 1930s.
Standing out was In the Good Old Summer Time, featuring Brian Roberts and the chorus' delightful version of Blue Moon.
The delights of unsupported harmony were waiting for us when four talented singers gave us two songs which, while complex in structure, were presented in an understated way.
I was most impressed when Larissa Kent sang one of the best versions of La Vie En Rose I have heard: clear in diction and superbly projected to the rear of the theatre.
Military theme songs followed and who could resist Liz Bassett, Yvonne Williams and Charlotte Rameka's version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy? Daniel Holloway was a close second when he teamed up with the chorus with a wistful version of In The Mood.
Interval soon followed. It included some generous hospitality.
Who could resist a medley of romantic songs so soon after Valentine's Day? Well, not this reviewer, especially when Peter Harris gave us a heartfelt version of A Star Fell From Heaven but right there in intensity was I Got Rhythm, professionally sung by Eileen von Dadleszen.
The last set was always going to please, with singing and dancing showcasing the Charleston era. Director Smith wore a second hat as the choreographer and gave us a slick and graceful bracket of songs . It was fast-paced and all too soon we were finishing with the show ending, big-finishing Crazy Rhythm.
The directors of this production did a great job of choosing songs that flowed so wonderfully together, which allowed the energy never to wane and it was pleasing to see the smiles on the cast's faces as they performed.
If Cathy Hosken was having a party on stage then we, as the audience, were right behind her.
I look forward to next year's Art Deco Festival to see what this company will give us. It certainly was a "spiffing good time". - The season has concluded.
Aubyn Live Theatre,
St Aubyn St, Hastings