Taken from the Exmouth Journal, April 1975

By Jim Stagg

It is always difficult to draw comparisons, but it must be said that in the opinion of this critic the 14-20 Music and Drama Society’s presentation of “Viva Mexico!” at the Pavilion this week did not reach the peaks attained by its previous production “Calamity Jane”

The show was good, and was almost entertaining, but the most important thing it did was to discover to Exmouth audiences four young people with potentially outstanding talent, and if it had failed in everything else- which it by no means did!- this alone would have made the show worthwhile.

“Viva Mexico!” is a musical written specially for the amateur stage, taking into account, it is said, the overall limitations applying to any amateur production.

And this is its greatest weakness. If you aim only for the top of the tree, you may hit the upper part of the trunk; if you aim for the stars you may hit the top of the tree.

“Viva Mexico!” uses a number of well-known and well-loved tunes to enhance a thinnish story of banditti and revolutionaries at some undefined time in Mexico.

It has a general trend of comedy running throughout, with some highlights of hilarity, of which those concerned strived meritoriously to make the most.

Pamela Jones as musical director achieved her usual excellence with chorus and soloists; the costumes by Betty McAskie were wonderful, colourful creations; and choreographer Iris Moore produced the best dancing seen in any of the 14-20 productions.

There was enthusiasm and striving for excellence from every member of the young cast, and if four of them emerge in this critic’s eyes as outstanding, the others should not take it as denigrating their own valuable performances.

I was most impressed with the performances of Anne German, Michael Killoran, Gaye Vardy and Kevin Pope.

They all displayed a natural ability, which with perhaps a more positive line in direction would have exhibited to even greater advantage.
A special mention must be made of Heather Lammacraft, whose comparatively brief appearance as the Priestess of the Sun gave her strong voice an excellent opportunity in the singing of an intricate tune for a young singer.

In fact the Aztec temple scene, the costumes for it and the dancing was the highlight of spectacle in the show.

Lois Taylor made a pretty Raquelita, and there was good support from Colin Dance, Andrew Killoran, Timothy Cordin, Mildred Taylor, Susan Carpenter, Alan Dustan and Roderick Pettigrew.

Iris Moore’s young dancers deserve to be mentioned too- Marion Brennan, Jane Kavanagh, Anne Nielson, Sarah Matson, Elsa Bartlett, Caroline Drew, Linda Pigeon and Sarah Kevern.
And it must be said that without the pianos played with such professionalism, and feeling for each movement of the show by Anne Osborne and Anne Hallett “Viva Mexico” as presented would have lacked the vital spark.

Some 67 youngsters took part in the production, the enthusiastic and dedicated back up for which was provided by numerous adults. The show was produced and directed by Paddy Wilson.

“Viva Mexico!” turned out to be not the best of the 14-20’s presentations, but it achieved a good entertainment value, it produced four potential “stars” and others showed a great deal of promise; it demonstrated what can be achieved by dedication and enthusiasm on the part of the young members of the society and the adult back up