A time of farewells at the arts desk.
“Jon Richards”, Peter Andrews and Jim Hutchon, who all influenced me at various stages in my critical career, died within a few months of each other this past year. They leave an enormous legacy of support, both practical and literary, for the local arts scene.
Looking back at my own pieces this year, I've selected a score of events, to which I was invited, either as blogger, arts correspondent for the Chelmsford Weekly News, or contributor to Sardines, Remote Goat or The Public Reviews.
To some extent this choice is yours too. My blog is interactive. You can leave comments – they'll be posted quicker if you don't remain anonymous – you can click to say how far you agree, or you can affect the star rating - *****KO, ****A-OK, ***OK, **so-so, *no-no - just by clicking on the stars !
So these are the shows that still, at the year's end, keep their 5-star rating.
Pantomimes at the Mercury Colchester [very much back on form this year] and the Queen's Hornchurch, whose Return to the Forbidden Planet was a hugely enjoyable farewell from Artistic Director Bob Carlton. Their stylish Gatsby and their hilarious Lend Me A Tenor also made the cut.
Kytes' Speaking In Tongues at BrentwoodTheatre all the more impressive for coming as a surprise; Sister Act and Tommy, both at the Palace Westcliff, more predictable hits, perhaps.
On a much smaller scale, BlackEyedTheatre's Dracula in January, Forbidden Broadway in the West End, Patience from Charles Court Opera, The Mikado from Opera della Luna. Outstanding local performers in Chelmsford Ballet Company and in ten-year-old Tomorrow's Talent, both going spectacularly from strength to strength. Musically, the Northern Chamber Orchestra at the Civic, and splendid choral events from the Writtle Singers, the Waltham Singers, and the Chelmsford Singers et al in the Cathedral.
And, of many commemorations of the outbreak of the Great War, Merry It Was To Laugh There, a poignant perfection from a small local tour which I was lucky enough to see twice.
title picture: CBC's Nutcracker