Review: Dronfield Musical Theatre Group deals The Card

The Card performed by Dronfield Musical Theatre Group
The Card performed by Dronfield Musical Theatre Group

Musical comedy The Card is like the Victorian equivalent of telly’s The Apprentice.

While the former may be less well-known than the latter, the theme is much the same - a likeable go-getter claws his way up from working-class roots by using his cunning to persuade people of power and wealth to further his ambitions.

Like a contender on The Apprentice, the group which is staging The Card in Dronfield this week have taken a gamble.

It’s a risky business when you change your name, but even riskier when you attach the new moniker to a show which is unfamiliar to theatregoers.

A few rows of empty seats at the launch last night (Wednesday) doesn’t bode well for a winning run, despite the best efforts of Dronfield Musical Theatre Group, formerly Dronfield LIght Opera Group, to bring something new to town.

The show is certainly worth a punt. There’s some great characters which really test the skills of the performers who play them, fabulous choreography by Andrea Powell and divine costumes such as drop-waisted, handkerchief-hemmed dresses, striped blazers, straw boaters and bowler hats.

Musical numbers may be new to many in the audience but there are some crackers among them. The stand-out songs include Another Time, Another Place sung by Rachel Cooper-Bassett, If Only performed by Ellie Ashmore and Opposite Your Smile which is aired by Richard Gilson and Ellie Ashmore.

The story revolves around Denry - The Card - who is the ultimate wheeler-dealer, taking from the poor to make himself richer, using business associates as stepping stones to greater things and schmoozing in the right circles. Richard Gilson plays him as likeable, charming and with a smile that would melt the hardest heart. He had to be prompted a number of times but I’m sure that was just first-night nerves.

Lovely characterisations from Rachel Cooper-Bassett as the snobby, gold-digging, dance teacher Ruth Earp, Ellie Ashmore as Denry’s ardent admirer and office clerk and Claire Stokes as Denry’s plain-speaking mum are among the highlights of the show.

The backstage crew are kept busy moving furniture on and off stage to set the scene for 15 different locations. The piece de resistance is a pier scene in which there is a Punch and Judy show, fishermen mending nets and a lad selling windmills on sticks.

You still have time to decide whether The Card is deal or no deal. The show, directed by Gavin Ward with musical direction by Karen Cook, is running until Saturday, October 25.

GAY BOLTON