Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Youngsters serve up a night of promise


Hall Green Little Theatre Youth Theatre


ALL right, so the youngsters have to lose points for needing one or two prompts in the second half on the first night, and because only three of them managed a smile while they were singing the lively title number as the opening chorus – but in the context of their providing an enjoyable, often amusing, night out they cannot be faulted.

Roy Palmer's young team has come up with a musical play that is fun – and often very amusing indeed, particularly when the tiny Francesca Johnston, just nine years old, has stepped out of the chorus to be Mother. She is a delight of flat-toned expressiveness and captivatingly believable gestures; straight-faced and deadly serious; a born winner of whom, surely, more is to come.

It cannot have been an accident that her daughter Angela (Rachael Pickard, who demonstrates a singing voice of raw purity) is half as tall again as she is. This does not matter: indeed, it adds an artful twist to the enjoyment of the domestic scene in which Mother, speaking in uncompromising despair of her husband (Ross Shaw), declares: “He sits at the table waiting for his dinner with his hands in the starting block.”

The other pint-sized surprise is William Garrett's tiny policeman. Helmet falling over his eyes, he delivers what is essentially a stand-up comic routine and he does it with unflappable confidence and to excellent effect. Another tiny treasure is Connie Jordan (Petra), who emerges with John Johnston (Louis) to form what looks like a pair of smartly-dressed mini-hoodlums, although her sleeves have swallowed her hands.


But it is too easy to see the tiny ones and say “Ah!” and overlook their hardworking seniors. Some of these succumb too often to the familiar pitfall of delivering their lines like a mad auctioneer at a farmers' market, but there are joys and gems among them. Rachael Pickard is already noted, but there are Daniel Robert Beaton, sturdily forthright as Tazz and making life a misery for James Boyce (Burker); and Adam Doherty, the Godfather who becomes a sort of one-man deus ex machina in solving all the problems that young love can bring.

Jessica Brown (Bev) is a ray of sunshine and Kelly Goddard is a pleasing Brian – until she comes over all girlie when she says, “Maybe I've had a change of heart.”

The show includes a cleverly staged slow-motion football match without involving a ball, and it takes a crack at EastEnders which went down well on the first night.

This is a charming evening full of promise and burgeoning talent. It is well worth braving those unyielding studio theatre seats. To 17.4.10.

John Slim

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