Review: A celebration of Portsmouth’s arts scene at The Guide Awards gala night

Hope may well spring eternal, but assumption is the mother of all lash-ups. And so it was when members of the Meon Valley Orchestra trooped along to the New Theatre Royal to see how they would fare in The News Guide Awards.

The Meon Valley Orchestra, Petersfield Orchestra, the Renaissance Choir, the Kalore Trio and several other worthy ensembles had been listed among the nominees. Assuming that the evening was to be something star-studded like the BAFTA’s, the Golden Globes or even Classic FM’s Global Awards, the Meon Valley Orchestra players turned out in bow ties and glitzy outfits.

To say the evening turned out to be a comedy of errors was putting it mildly. What could possibly have gone wrong? Answer: everything.

The editor of The News was to have introduced the show. But he had been called to a meeting out of town and Chris Broom, the Entertainments Editor, had to stand in. The absence of a dress code was obvious from the start, as unlucky Chris appeared in a lumberjack style check shirt.

On came compere Jack Edwards, the Portsmouth-born actor who is well known in musical theatre circles. He’s no stranger to the part of pantomime dame. Indeed, he is to star as Widow Twankey in the near future.

Heroically he battled on as microphones packed up, music did not come on cue and the wrong people’s name appeared on the title screen.

Jovial Jack ad-libbed his way through the evening as several winners did not turn up to collect their prizes. Females strode on to the stage when he was expecting male sponsors to appear and the prepared script he had been given was a step or two away from what was intended to happen.

Undaunted, Jack kept the audience amused as things were falling apart around him. Tragi-comic and hilarious though it was, the evening was a real success. The audience hooted and applauded at every opportunity. Portsmouth Grammar School’s Chamber Choir won the coveted accolade in the classical music category.

Although well out of their comfort zone, the sedate members of the other classical ensembles cheered and enjoyed the spectacle too.

In the foyer, as people were leaving at the end of the show, Jack Edwards was asked how the show had gone. His response was, “seamlessly”. That’s a real trooper for you.

Stuart Reed

Winner: The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir
Runner-up: The Portsmouth Choral Union

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Image: Annabel Armstrong, Penny Jarvis and Roger Cole from the MVO

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