Centre Stage were brilliant

Ode to Joy. Beethoven may have written the music, but those three little words sum up my visit to see Centre Stage’s performance of Oklahoma.

Shamefully, I have to admit that, after some eight years, it was my first sight of Exmouth’s Centre Stage. I do not know why, but I imagined it would be performed by rather young children. Well, I suppose young adults is the right word. There seemed to be two areas of activity: the dancers and the singers. But I would equally add all the actors.

I have some experience of having trodden stage boards, so I think I am qualified to pass judgement.

To start off with, the double revolving set was magnificent; who constructed that, I wonder.

With a company of no less than 30, the dancing was a feat of ingenuity; who was the choreographer, I wonder?

The solo and choral singing, some with invisible throat microphones presumably, was outstanding - every word could be heard, who was the choir master, I wonder?

And let us not forget the acting - so easily overlooked in a musical, especially Oklahoma with an overflow of memorable tunes (this is an unheard joy nowadays). Now the art of acting may seem obvious, but there is much more to it than the remembering of lines. Acting has to continue when a speech is over and the spotlight off.

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Now it is invidious, really, to highlight an individual so outstanding was everybody, but, nevertheless, I must ask Courtney Dempster to take an individual bow. Of course, she sang beautifully, but, additionally, her facial expressions were superb.

But what impressed me equally was the way she continued acting by maintaining her characterised impersonation all the time. With talent like that, Exmouth had better look out, a talent scout will whisk her off to London.

Finally, who, I wonder, was the producer or musical director? He or she cannot be over congratulated. But I wish Centre Stage’s website revealed more about the company - from where do all the participants come? Do the dancers rehearse separately from the singers? And where? At what point are all joined, seamlessly, together. What an art it all is.

May I conclude with my gob-smacked congratulations! Cannot wait for the next - nor can hundreds of others.

Anthony Robinson,

222 Withycombe Village Road, Exmouth.