A trip over the rainbow and along the yellow brick road proved to be a very worthwhile journey for Berwick Operatic Society.
Their production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in the spring won the NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Society) North performance award for best production at an awards ceremony in Durham attended by 600 people from across the region.
And their success did not end there. One of the two Dorothys (Maddy Cawthorn) won the NODA rising star award and Bill Shardlow, who played the lion, was runner-up in the best performance award.
Berwick was on a roll at the awards ceremony and as well as Berwick Operatic’s success, Spittal Variety Group’s Jonathan Scott won a performance award for his role as Wishee Washee in their pantomime Aladdin.
Director of Berwick Operatic’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Lisa Summer said: “I was overwhelmed with the talent of all our principal cast, including Georgina Faed a previous NODA award winner, who played Dorothy on alternate nights and not forgetting the children who played the Munchkins with great verve and energy and Matilda and Fig who had captivated audiences as the Totos!”
Fifteen year old Maddy Cawthorn, a pupil at Berwickshire High School, and in selecting her as their 2015 rising star, the judges said she had played the role of Dorothy “with conviction”.
“Her acting was superb, but her voice was exceptional and her timing perfect.
“She executed her whole performance to perfection. A magical performance.”
Kathryn Curry, regional representative who nominated both Berwick Operatic Society and Spittal Variety Group for the awards, said: “It was a slick and entertaining show. The production team of Lisa Summers, Denise Clarke and Ron Creasy must be very proud of their efforts in giving everyone an evening of magical delight on our journey along the ‘Yellow Brick Road’.”
Speaking about Spittal Variety’s Wishee Washee, Kathryn went on: “Jonathan Scott continues to burst onto the stage with such energy and wit that the audience are immediately involved in his hilarious antics, and he really has perfected the role of funny man.”
‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Aladdin’ both played to packed houses at Berwick’s Maltings Theatre, and the theatre’s artistic director, Matthew Rooke said: ““It doesn’t surprise me at all that Berwick Operatic Society was so richly rewarded at the NODA Awards ceremony.
“One of the things that marks Berwick out as a very special place for theatre is the sheer wealth of talent that exists in what is compared to much of the rest of England, a small, far-flung remote community.
“Indeed it is perhaps because of the unique location of Berwick that organisations such as Berwick Operatic Society and Spittal Variety Group provide a major focus for talent which otherwise would not have an outlet and it is a beacon for the excellence that can be found in our small town which far exceeds what might be expected of a community of our size.
“With the fabulous new state of the art lighting and sound equipment that is now in place at the Maltings through the support of Northumberland County Council and The Arts Council, secured in part in recognition of the strength of performing arts in the local community, I know that Berwick Operatic Society’s work is going to be even more stunning than ever before so watch this space!