MORE a semi-staged variety spectacular than a concert, Alan Jenkins’ penultimate event before retiring as Musical Director of the Honley men had the stamp of quality.
A collection of popular songs, scenes from the shows, comedy numbers and – an imaginative stroke here – four sets of polite textbook jazz from Mike Hall and the Robin Dewhurst Trio, the show was devised by Jenkins and directed by Pat Graham with such craft that she coaxed genuine acting ability from her motley crew of choristers and instrumentalists.
There was a panoply of local talent including half the Jenkins family, bandsmen and members of Honley Ladies Choir as feisty Salvationists in Guys and Dolls. There was former Honley Male Voice Choir member Gerard Bentall and his sister Myvanwy, a former Mrs Sunderland Rose Bowl winner, and the girls from Barbara Peters’ Dance School.
Gerard Bentall, these days a true West End warbler and TV actor, was deliciously sleazy as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. Myvanwy Bentall, now a concert and opera singer, showed the versatility of her tonal range in Summertime and O Mio Babbino Caro. The Barbara Peters girls were delightful and choreographer Candy Wilman’s insertion of a tap routine into Bohemian Rhapsody was a masterstroke of cheeky irony.
The deus ex machina of the whole kaleidoscope was Alan Jenkins, self-effacing but a powerful presence. His genius is to meld the individual sounds his Honley men make into a single, seamless voice.
His conducting technique, clear yet rounded, smooths out barlines and pilots his men through awkward rhythmic corners.
His phrasing truly understands how the voice works, and no dramatic effect risks disturbing the tonal flow. He is a master magician, and I came away knowing I had experienced “a little touch of Alan in the night”.