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13

Date

15th February 2018

Society

Manchester Musical Youth

Venue

Z Arts Centre

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Craig Gaffney

Musical Director

Kimberly Holden

Choreographer

Emily Clarke

Report

Author: Christine Hunter Hughes

What an absolute pleasure it was to be able to see this (to me at least) unknown musical, written specifically for, and performed by young people, and so entirely ‘age-appropriate’ as none of the characters, with the exception of the Rabbi) are older than the shows title.   This also means that the style of the show and its humour is blunt, just as young people tend to be – with absolutely no attempt at subtlety.  The storyline briefly is about fitting in – and standing out!  Evan Goldman is plucked from his fast-paced, pre-teen New York City life and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents’ divorce. Surrounded by an array of (to him) simpleminded middle school students, he needs to establish his place in the popularity pecking order, so that all the ‘cool people at school’ will attend his Bar Mitzvah.  So, his problem -  can he situate himself in with ‘the cool people at school’ or will he dangle at the end with the outcasts?  The problems, situations and emotions are ageless and timeless. 

The set was simple but effective and worked well for the large cast of very talented young people. Everyone looked good and exactly right for the part. 

The choreography was effective, appropriate and worked really well.  I often find myself thinking on these occasion that many an adult society could learn so much from these youngsters, in that the choreography is appropriate to the ability of the performers and so everyone is in step and in time and it looks good!   

I confess I did have a problem with the sound balance, in that I was unable to hear the singers and the words over the sound of the orchestra, particularly the amplified drummer.  However, I, and at least 5 other people around me, were able to move in the interval and I found sitting right in the centre of the auditorium the balance was a little better.  That said the band was really excellent.

It is always a pleasure to see young people perform and work together as a team to produce a finished article that is so much greater than the sum of its individual parts, and when the young people are as talented and confident as the ones I was privileged to see, it becomes an absolute joy.  It would be unfair to single out any one person as there wasn’t a weak link in the cast, with a host of really strong performances: everyone on stage really seemed to be enjoying themselves and in a show such as this, that’s a very important element of the show’s success.   There were some excellent facial expressions and some great singing.  The acting was quite superb, and despite being unable to hear the sung words in Act 1 the story was portrayed so well by the facial and vocal expressions that I did not feel that anything was ‘lost’ and for the most part, the diction was crisp and clear.   The humour was brought out really well, and many, many congratulations to the ensemble for acting and re-acting so very well across the whole show. 

Whist clearly many, many congratulations go to the cast, congratulations are also due to the team of people for MMY whose stated mission is Igniting Passion, Nurturing Talent, Showcasing Success – which they achieve so brilliantly in every production by this Society that I have had the privilege to attend at – Thank you.   

Thank you SO much for a most memorable and enjoyable evening of pure theatre performed so very well by this highly talented young group.