Finding Nemo Jnr.

Date 4th May 2024
Society Little Ogres Drama Group
Venue Burnley Youth Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Gayle Knight
Musical Director Karen Jack
Written By Andrew Stanton


Author: Dawn-Marie Woodcock

It was was a pleasure to be invited to review Finding Nemo, the latest production by Little Ogres Theatre Group. This is the delightful Disney story of a nervous father Clown fish, Marlin, searching for his lost son, Nemo. Along the way Marlin has many adventures and makes a friend in Dory, a Blue Tang, with a dreadful memory. Nemo also has his own story line; he is trapped in a fish tank and needs the help of the other fish in the tank to escape.

Director Gayle Knight created a vibrant, lively show. The cast were animated and energetic. They moved together as a company for the song and dance scenes. The occasional loss of sound did not stop the actors, they projected with confidence. Gayle and her team had rehearsed the actors well. The costumes (created by Gayle) were striking, bright bold colours with matching head fins adorned the various fish species. The turtles with their shells looked fabulous, the sharks heads fearsome.  I thought the small shoal of fish attached to the hands of the actors looked most effective.  I loved the field of jellyfish, clear umbrellas with pink tentacles and markings bobbing around, the cast beneath inconspicuous in black. There were quite a few costume changes, these were done swiftly and quietly.

Chris Knight designed the set. It incorporated three flats that moved around the stage and an impressive diving mask. I thought the use of pool noodles on a truck representing an anemone, which spun to throw out the one fish egg, saved by Marlin, was highly effective. Everything was bright and constantly moving, the lights evoking and underwater feel as they ebbed and flowed.

Karen Jack oversaw musical direction. Music was in the form of backing tracks, the actors had great timing and harmonies, sounded lovely when the cast all sang in unison.

Playing the role of the ever-nervous Marlin, was Jack Howard. Jack was confident in his portrayal. He played to the room, his head held high, ensuring the people at the back could see his face. His twitchy mannerisms and nervous hand wringing solidifying his character. His singing voice was clear and projected.

Mia Wilson played Nemo. The little fish who was determined to prove that he could do anything given the chance. Mia performed well, her dialogue and singing were clear, delivered with emotion.

Dory was played by Ruby Yates. Ruby was humorous as the forgetful energetic friend. She used the stage well, and made the audience laugh aloud with her ‘whale talk.’ Ruby gave a rounded performance.

Charlotte Reeves showed impressive acting ability as she took on numerous roles, Gill, Professor Ray, Anchor, and ensemble.  The characters she created differed from each other, the accents, the body language, the quick costume changes. Charlotte was notable for her versatility.

Bruce was played by Alex Beresford. Alex was comical as the vegetarian shark. A blood frenzy hit him, and Anchor and Chum had to forcibly restrain him. Kori Nockels, as Chum was funny, especially during the song ‘Fish are Friends, Not Food,’ sung with Charlotte and Alex. Kori also performed admirably as Crush, the wise, 150-year-old surfing turtle.

Henry Guest played Squirt, the young sea turtle floating on the slipstreams. Henry was having fun in this role, he flung himself off the side stage and reappeared in no time at all on the opposite side. Henry gave an energetic performance with a smile.

Lily Walker played Breeze the sea turtle. Lily was enthusiastic and lively, her song ‘Go With the Flow’ was humorous and sung with confidence. Lily also made other appearances; as a parent fish and in the ensemble, her ability to switch characters was impressive. A great performance from Lily.

Ava Walsh was funny as Baby shark, her dance moves causing the audience to laugh aloud. Ava also played Sheldon. Sheldon taunted Nemo to touch the ‘butt’ along with Tad played by Sophia Miller and Bubbles played by Freya Taylor-Fleming. This was a great scene with nice acting from all involved.

The ‘Tang Gang’ who helped Nemo escape included Georgia Nuttall, (Peach the Starfish), Gracie Gibson, (Bloat the Blowfish) and Callaigh Reeves, (Gurgles the Royal Gramma). Each of these performers gave assured performances and had developed their own characters. I thought Callaigh played the role of the vacationer well, the comedic elements of seagulls rushing down and grabbing her snacks was delightfully funny.

Nigel the seagull was played by Sophia Wilkinson, I thought her accent was good and her performance believable. The sea gull dance routine was great.

Zofia Szmidt played the small but notable role of Coral, whilst Autumn Westall played numerous roles to impressive effect, with Carter Nockels appearing in the ensemble. Many of the actors appeared as named characters, but also made up the ensemble. They were enthusiastic and energetic, colourful, and vibrant. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the production, well done to all cast and crew involved.

I would like to thank Gayle for inviting me to review this production and look forward to many more in the future.