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College's musical hits the heights

By David Hart at Haverhill Arts Centre on Wednesday, 21st July 2010.

The school musical - an event which seemed almost to have died out in Haverhill - has been given a shot in the arm by Castle Manor Business and Technology College in the last few years, and this year's offering, Our House, was no exception.

Finding a musical to interest young people is no easy job, but having tracked down an almost unknown new one based on the extremely well-known songs of Madness, director Steve Powter put together another showcase for young local talent.

A company of 22 worked their socks off in a lively and committed production of a show with a strange, sometimes confusing plot, stitched together to bring in the main raison d'etre - the songs.

Thus we had a bit of an oriental boat (Night Boat To Cairo) and a bit of a car (Driving My Car), but mostly the show played out against a claustrophobic black, two-level set, which worked well.

Each time the worthiness of the story became dreary, the proceedings were enlivened by an impressive production number, splendidly choreographed by Alice Malyon and Becca Neal. I particularly like Baggy Trousers.

The actors all contributed to an even cast, only undermined by unsympathetically loud underscoring from the band.

Considering how little help they received from the pit, the singers did a Trojan job. Jo Craig's voice stood out and he made something of a thankless part as Dad, cut off from the other characters.

Ben Bradley carried off the marathon role of Joe in a remarkably assured way, flitting from good Joe to bad Joe with consummate ease.

Chiara Marchesi's singing was another highlight as Sarah, Joe's girlfried/wife, while Ivy Smith made a very sympathetic Mother.

Annie Powell and Hannah Jones legged it with the best of them as Billie and Angie, while there was good support from Connor Penn as Reecey, Ainsley Richards as a slimeball Mr Pressman and Andrew White as the unfortunate Callum.

But the standout performance came from the hilarious Jarid Robson as Emmo, aided by Josh Oates as Lewis. He had the show's best lines, it is true, but he knew exactly how to deliver them.

The band, directed by Ryan Lester, was a very fine thing in itself, but probably needed to take more account of the action on the stage as we didn't only come to hear the musicians.

Haverhill Online News

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