Reviews 2015 – 2017

The Addams Family, Paradise in Augustine’s, Review By Gordon Clayton – Posted on 12 August 2015

Norfolk Youth Music Theatre is a company that has delivered over the years and this fun-time musical is no exception.

Youth theatre always has the challenge of young people making credible adult characters, but this is not a problem with Aidan Parsons as Gomez the father and Molly Cutter as his wife Morticia. Add in Archie Brown as Uncle Fester with a characterization reminding me of Peter Capaldi and Lauren Bryant who produced a gravelly voice outside on the pavement and kept it up during the show.

The story is of the daughter Wednesday wanting to get married and the invitation to meet the prospective in-laws in the style of ‘Meet the Fockers’ with dark humour thrown in. It all goes wrong, of course, and to see if they live happily ever after, then you need to go and be royally entertained to get the answer.

This show is beautifully dressed with the dead ancestors making a good backdrop to show just how unusual chez Addams really is. Megan Artherton as Wednesday combines being fiancée material with her hobbies such as torturing her willing brother played by Marland Barsby. Megan’s expressions in reaction to other players are really good, while Aidan Brown’s dilemma of helping his daughter while testing his loyalty to his wife is skillfully handled. The show has a number of really good songs – it is surprising that ‘Full Disclosure’ does not get more airplay. Lurch, the Frankenstein-esque manservant, makes a late, but surprising contribution.

This production has a short run, but one which any age will enjoy.

Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’, again a most professional presentation to the usual (and now expected) very high standard from the group.

Great atmosphere created on entry to auditorium with the imaginative and suggestive set, part permanent for structure and height, and part simple and moveable (very slick as usual). All enhanced and mood creative with imaginative lighting plot. And clever sound plot. Excellent small orchestra directed by Mark Sharp and including repetitrice Joanna Kemp on keyboard, the sound always good for Norfolk YMT; and of course all vocals well up to the high standard now expected from every production by Norfplk YMT: what talent on stage.

Sondheim is always difficult but NYMT just take it in stride and achieve amazing notes and vocal balance; and in this production add the choreography required under Andrea Wilson. Adrian Connell is a master of creativity and encouragement in bringing out the amazing talents that he attracts to the group (some regulars and some new teenagers): no wonder the reputation and continued plaudits in all quarters.

Overwhelming in talent, manipulating the plots and all aspects of this set of Fairy Tales, with a voice to stir and excite, these vocals quite amazing, acting to dominate and intimidate, a personality and style far above the expectation of a teenager, and although seen with NYMT as Nancy and as Morticia, Molly Cutter gave the performance to die for as the Witch in this most talented of groups. It is the ‘desired’ lead role and she more than fulfilled expectation, a pleasure to be a part of the applauding audience.

The Company numbers were, again as expected from NYMT, of excellent quality and balance, certainly this Sondheim with the haunting melodies score was highly professional and all involved should be congratulated. Sue Dupont NODA

Made In Dagenham, The Little Sweep in Edinburgh, A Little Shop of Horrors

Youth theatre shines in tale of feisty females Made In Dagenham: The Musical – Norwich Playhouse

This story of the feisty Ford females of Dagenham has had a quick progression from movie to musical, and has made an even quicker trans¬fer to Norwich from the West End.

Performed here by the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre, it tells the story of Rita O’Grady and her strik-ing co-workers, who took on the powers-that-be in their fight for fair treatment in 1968.

Ellen Smith takes the lead role of Rita, perfectly capturing the deter-mined machinist/rabble rouser with fine voice and convincing emotion.

Josh Hinds is her supportive husband Eddie, and has good tone when he trusts himself to use it. There are delicious supporting roles from Emma Seamarks and Jack Rushworth as Barbara Castle and Harold Wilson and Lydia Whiting is a delight as ditzy Clare.

At two-and-a-half hours this is a long show, and the 38-strong company does a great job keeping it moving and engaging. – James Goffin

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – MADDERMARKET THEATRE

Norfolk YMT in the production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Maddermarket, and what an excellent evening we all enjoyed, a good ‘fun’ and ‘happy feel’ show.

A really good band, five musicians, led by Joanna Kemp from keyboard gave excellent accompaniment and feel to the moods. Set design gave clever use of the small stage with levels (crew as usual swift in changes) and an exploitation of the space, lighting appropriate and atmospheric, and costumes good (see that these sponsored by Thespis Costumiers).

And to the cast under the eagle eye of Adrian Connell (stage and musical direction) with choreography by Marina Bill: as expected a disciplined and energetic and very talented group from NYMT and well up to the desired standard presented by this group. Must congratulate the chorus for all the vitality and enthusiasm, excellent harmonies and movement, no weak links to disappoint, and how they enjoyed the production and increased the good feel with their numbers, and this happiness and fun passed over the footlights to the audience.

Liked the six Ronnetts with their excellence in harmonies and movement as a team, these girls really the backbone of show with their energy levels. Jacob Mihill-Musslewhite looked perfect for the role of Seymour, the skinny geek in spectacles with the nervousness and the personality plus the vocal skills required to high standard. Loved the comedy timing in ‘Mushnik and Son’ number when he was led by Charlie Sheppard who was particularly dominant, character-full, and very strong as Mr Mushnik. Craig Mayne obviously enjoyed his role as the sadistic dentist Orin, another good realisation with good timing and comedy. But the star of the show, a blonde bombshell, dumb, ‘Diana Dors’ type, with a voice exploding in the big numbers but how very expressive when needed, singing well with Seymour in duet, Molly Cutter had it all, and her ‘Somewhere that’s green’ very special. And from all in the big number ‘Suddenly Seymour” this cast gave it all in full force.

That ‘out of space’ plant very extra-terrestrial and well operated by Josh Hinds and team, with such a good vocal from Ryan Davenport, very large and dominant on small stage. Once again a show of high standard as expected by Norfolk YMT.

Sue Dupont

The Little Sweep, Paradise in Augustines, Review By Gordon Clayton – Posted on 08 August 2016 Clean sweep as Norfolk Youth Theatre step up the musical ladder to present Benjamin Britten’s opera about a genteel family, re-enacting a family legend of how they saved one small child from a life going up the chimneys of big houses. The production has a mainly young cast who sing the opera after an opening scene when they hear a favourite tale in the nursery on a wet afternoon. That tale is that the girls of the house along with their cousins rescue Sam a nine year old who has been sold to Black Bob, a brutal sweep master, by his father in order to put food on the family table. This is Sam’s first day and he gets stuck up the first chimney he climbs. Once he is rescued and cleaned up he is smuggled out the next morning in the visiting family’s luggage. The opera is beautifully sung by the cast with Rowan, the nursery maid played by Isabella Pitman to the fore with some of the most challenging parts. This is a scaled down production for NYMT but what it lacks in cast numbers it makes up by rising to the challenge of operatic singing.

LES MISERABLES Norwich Playhouse April 2016

…once again it was a great show to the usual high NYMT standard and certainly deserving of the sell-out week. Once again you have assembled the fantastic talent that is NYMT into another great production (no wonder that so many audition to be part of the team This is gold star talent throughout the whole production of cast and back-up in every department, and all created mood and atmosphere..

The standard of singing in this production is beyond all expectation, that sound in the big numbers really does give the tingle down the spine with a wall of great harmonies, and then there is the added bonus of all the named roles exceeding the anticipated vocals.

MADE IN DAGENHAM EDINBURGH one4review | On 08, Aug 2017

Norfolk Youth Music Theatre return to the Fringe with the fairly recent West End hit, Made in Dagenham. Based on the true events at the Ford Dagenham plant in the 1960s, it tells the struggle of the skilled womens’ fight for equal pay with their male counterparts and features several real characters involved at the time.

It was nice to see a good attempt at the actual historical characters and there were a few very good performances from the principals, especially Ellen Smith as Rita who did an excellent job with her final speech – there were quite a few teary eyes around the audience. However the production suffers from the big problem with a lot of musical theatre at the Fringe, a lack of mics. It’s a big expense to just boost things a little but it’s so necessary.

So we had quite a lot of dialogue spoken upstage and even singing at one point upstage leaving many lines lost and parts of the story unclear. Add to this an apparent lack of understanding of the text and many missed comedy moments, some basics let the production down. As one example the ‘master baker’ device sets up a joke which was completely missed.

The small band worked well enough and other than a few timing issues the ensemble singing was good and strong, particularly from the girls. Many solos were too quiet or overpowered by the band though. Also, some bits of choreography seemed out of place and some cast members were clearly not feeling it.

The set worked well, projections giving a very good backdrop to the piece and including pictures of the actual workers from the time which was interesting, although it irked me slightly that, other than Barbara Castle, the hairstyles didn’t match the actual pictures used. My biggest peeve though were all the piercings – take them out! You are not current teenagers, you’re playing older women in the 60s, it didn’t look right. eview by Alan.

The Battle of the Boat Maddermarket Theatre

– It is rare to have the opportunity to be present at a ‘first night after preview’ of a show, and this is what NYMT offered with their performance of this unpublished work written for young people (and the understanding of authors, composer, and publishers to visit and see the show prior to the presses rolling in publication).

Adrian Connell is a master of these ‘different’ and musically extremely hard scores and getting NYMT to the very high standard of harmony and solo singing required in the ‘non-run of mill’ musicals that he has performed over the years; and I love these demanding and different productions with their atmospheric music and based-on-truth stories character-filled actions. The production team of Adrian, John, Joanna, and Mark reached into the depths and found the treasure of NYMT to a once-again amazingly high standard of talent and execution to give a spell-binding evening (and definitely worthy of publication).

With a smaller than usual cast of 24 youngsters all in named roles and having to perform as soloists as well as ensemble extreme harmonies, the standard of singing in this cast is to be admired especially in view of the difficulty of some of the score (and also for the orchestra in this haunting music). But these youngsters had to take on the individual characters in this tale of 1916 war-time and understanding the circumstances of the time, with fathers away and trying to do their part if possible. The two gangs involved in the action, William’s Gang, Defenders, opposing Gripper’s Gang in their Battle of Boat meant each being the person involved in trying to help their country in time of war, and offered good opportunities in acting skills and development of personality and atmosphere. Great interaction throughout in village life on the south coast, and particularly in the ‘battle’ scenes and the boat is searched for, and found, and fought over with enormous energy and reality.

The clever and simple set of many boxes of varying sizes gave the suggestion of the various venues and shapes for the action on stage, moved in choreography by the cast with such speed and precision to add to the action, loved the boat with sail in the storm, and its control by the cast, with seas imagined from the material movement and sound effects, plus the most exciting and atmospheric lighting plot really enhanced the action making a perfect background for the piece and just adding to the creativity from all involved in the production.

Sue Dupont NODA