Tag Archive: Youth Theatre


It’s been a heck of a long time. Eighteen months, to be precise. For everyone who loves Musical Theatre. And this was no more so evident than seconds into the opening number of Disco Inferno; the aptly placed Celebration/A Night to Remember. The smiles on the faces of Birmingham Youth Theatre showed exuberance at being on stage, plus that bit extra on returning. For most, this was the first time in a theatre since before Covid hurled itself onto an unsuspecting world and I admit, there were tears in my eyes to be finally witnessing theatre once more.

Birmingham Youth Theatre – Disco Inferno – Crescent Theatre Birmingham – July 24 2021

As a lover of both Amateur and Youth Theatre, Disco Inferno was a joy to watch from start to finish. What is even more remarkable was the short time and opportunities needed to put this show together. From Zoom rehearsals to dancing in the local Cannon Hill Park, it exemplifies what being on stage means, and the desire to create a show.

Set in 1976, Disco Inferno tells the story of aspiring singer, Jack, played excellently by Charlie Bland, and his deal with the Devil’s right hand, Lady Marmalade – the equally outstanding Maddison Clarke. The fallout of this arrangement is Jack’s relationship with Jane of whom Ruby Blount also excelled with a strong performance.

I must admit, I was a little sceptical at first regarding the musical subject matter as 70s disco fills me with horror, being more a rock fan. However, Disco Inferno wasn’t just limited to one genre. We had a smattering of Bowie (Starman) and The Sweet (Ballroom Blitz) which I totally approved of. And generally, Elton John (Crocodile Rock, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting) is liked by all. The music was treated with respect and the kick it deserved under the guidance of Musical Director, Chris Corcoran.

Sometimes in theatre you witness a simply magic moment, and I was fortunate on this occasion to do so. Enter Lily-May Nicholls as Kathy giving a rendition of Street Life, only to be confronted by the demon of Am-Dram, dodgy microphones. This one cut out through the entire song, but I was happy to be in Row B where I could hear the excellent vocals. But it’s such a shame when something happens to ruin the moment. Therefore, forward to Act Two where Lily-May was given the opportunity of a second run of the song and boy did she smash it. So brave to do so, as I know from experience when something has gone wrong, it plays on your mind that the next time could go equally as bad. Not so this time. Fantastic.

As well as those already mentioned, we had tremendous principal performances from Harrison Doherty (Tom), Mollie Ewins (Maggie), Josh Mills (Heathcliffe), Florence Slade (Terry), Joe Logan (Lily), Lola Harper (Nicky Diablo) and finally, Cameron Simpson (Duke) who stoked the fires of Hell with a bit of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Fire.

In addition to those mentioned above and choreographed by the aforementioned Joe Logan, were six specialist dancers: Bethany Gilbert, Liv Jefferson, Ellie Cosgrove, Matilda Ventham, Anna Simpson and Wiktoria Matysiak. These performed exceptionally considering the shorter amount of practice they must have had during the run up to the show. But they were not alone. An ensemble too big to mention must have made director, Mark Shaun Walsh proud indeed.

It’s great to experience Musical Theatre again and even more so witnessing the talent of the future. And one of the youngest also caught my eye. Little Marni Carroll seemed to be active and in character every time she was on stage. Something I like to instil into my own casts. Always an interaction, expression or reaction. Tremendous.

So, well done Birmingham Youth Theatre for coming back with a bang. An inferno of music and dance for all to see.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

My only other encounter with Lollipop Theatre Arts was earlier this year when I attended their presentation of Me and My Girl.  But what could I expect this time? The Addams Family was a single performance resulting from a summer school. I learned afterwards, the kids had begun from reading initial scripts, auditions, then rehearsals to a full show in just nine days. I mean, come on, they were brilliant last time, but can you really pull off a show in nine days?

The Addams Family - Great Wyrley High School Theatre - August 17 2018. (Photo used with kind permission from Lollipop Theatre Arts)

The opener, When You’re an Addams, was outstanding. One of the best-delivered first numbers I’ve ever seen. And it was then I knew I was in for a treat.

Stand outs for me were Wednesday’s Growing Up, Just Around the Corner, Crazier Than You, What If? Live Before We Die and the exceptional The Moon and Me. Top track on the night, though, was Pulled, sung by the excellent Abbey Laycock (Wednesday Addams).

Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t other top performances. In fact, I couldn’t see a weak-link. Youth can be misinterpreted as inexperienced at times, but there was nothing of the kind here. Any of these artistes would be welcome in mine or any other company treading the boards.

Of the other principles, Thomas Gould played Gomez with a stage presence to be proud of. Supporting as his other half, Morticia, was Katie Hayes, who I can also not praise enough. And then we had Tom Horton as Fester. This kid will go far if he wants to. A natural entertainer. Other excellent showings came from Sasha Donoghue (Pugsley), Millie Cooper (Grandma), Emily Smith (Mal), Amy Horton (Alice) and Alex Jeffreys (Lucas). A special mention must also go to Florie Miles (Lurch) who apart from creating a great character, had the difficult task of keeping a straight face throughout.

Supporting well were a troop of dancers and ensemble who looked as if they were having a great time (Loved the corpse bride outfit).

The Addams Family was directed by Lucy-Ellen Parker with choreography from Helen Stone and musical direction of a good orchestra by Matthew Davis.

Asking about the summer school (I still couldn’t quite get into my head – nine days), I was told the cast are there every day, then return home to cram-up. And it showed. This did not have the look of a holiday project, more a polished production which had been months in the making. Perhaps there is something to be said for this type of method. With the intenseness of the shorter period, there is less chance of forgetting what you have learnt than with a weekly schedule spanning months. You’d have expected rawness, and mistakes, but none were obvious to me. And for the rest of the audience, it was pure faultless entertainment.

So twice now I’ve seen Lollipop who really deserve a bigger audience. And I’m sad I was on my own this time as I want to share them with my friends. Spread the message, folks. This is a great company.

The Addams Family – Great Wyrley High School Theatre – August 17 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Last summer I reported on A Tale of the Railway, a joint project between all three schools of The Star Project. The branches in Droitwich, Solihull and Barnt Green give children a chance to express themselves through musical theatre. This time, however, I was in the audience to witness Barnt Green go it alone.

Once Upon a Time – The Artrix Theatre Bromsgrove – 6 December 2016

There were two reasons for returning to The Star Project. Mainly, I was so impressed with my first experience of A Tale of the Railway, but also, I had myself taken part in Once Upon a Time a mere four weeks previous, and I was dying to see how it looked. I’m glad to say, I was not disappointed.

Written by Mark Nicholls, Once Upon a Time tells the story of what happens when villains turn the tables on the heroes and all the happy endings are reversed.

A more condensed version than my own, I still managed to get the same vibes from watching as opposed to being on stage. The feel-good factor came rushing back and I found myself laughing at all the jokes I’d heard for six months previous. This is a great testament to the young cast and teachers behind the project. A thoroughly enjoyable and professional production and more important, the kids looked like they had fun. There was great energy on stage as the show was brought to life before me once again. An excellent version of Let It Go ended Act One but my personal favourite of the night was All About the Bass.

The acting was what I expected after my previous experience, as was the dance. Once again, the singing of many was fantastic with voices defying their years. Okay, it’s a month later now but still sticking in my mind are performances by Genie, Jaffar, Evil Queen, Ugly Sisters, Charming and The Queen of Hearts. That’s not to devalue anyone else. They were all splendid. A special mention for poor little Ariel who had the unenviable task of contending with the most difficult costume ever (mermaid … having to slide on backside all evening), plus the fact she was unfortunately in line of fire for the fake snowstorm when it fell on stage. Well done for carrying on through adversity.

Once Upon a Time – The Artrix Theatre Bromsgrove – 6 December 2016

Barnt Green was the first Star Project, opening in 2008 with the children guided by the watchful eyes of Jo Edwards, Sarah Carter and the brilliant team of teachers. I often see the case of people who love musical theatre, never live their dream, then regret the lost years later. Here at The Star Project, talent can be nurtured from an early age, hopefully with development leading to more in adult life.

So, cheers for The Star Project Barnt Green. Well done, fabulously performed, and just good all round entertainment.

The Star Project runs weekly with special workshops during school holidays. The next is a two-day event during February half term, titled Musical Madness. Details can be found at the Star Project’s website.

Cheers.

Nick

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