Johnny and the Dead

Date 7th November 2019
Society Leeds Childrens Theatre
Venue Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds
Type of Production Play
Director Dan Dainter
Musical Director N/A
Choreographer N/A
Producer N/A


Author: Christine Castle

I am always excited to visit Leeds Children's Theatre and this was no exception - the sheer joy of watching young and older actors coming together to make interesting theatre is always a joy.

Their choice of Terry Pratchett's book, adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs, suited this company beautifully - briefly, the plot centres around Johnny Maxwell, a serious young man (played excellently by Harrison Mason) who wanders into his local cemetery after school and has a chance encounter with one of the 'residents' (don't call them ghosts!) who he can see as 'real' people - they all had good lives and ended up together, having come from periods ranging from the early 20th century. Johnny's pals (played by Naomi Kelly, Helena Arijis and Masie Bayliss) are very sceptical about these 'residents' at first, but they soon warm to them and help their friend in his quest. Johnny finds out that the Council has sold the cemetery land to a large manufacturer and sets off, with his friends, to stop the sale and give his 'residents' a perpetual resting place, although it seems many of them would prefer to wander!

The talented cast were excellently directed by Dan Dainter; Dan has come up through the ranks of theatre craft and he had lots of innovative ideas for his actors. They, in turn, all relished their roles and worked as a team, as they always do.

I have to make a special mention of the set which was brilliantly put together and enabled the cast to make full use of the stage. Credit for set design must go to Gary Loughrey. Lighting, sound, props, costume and make-up all contributed to make this a most professional play. Janine Walker was the Fight Director and the Stage crew worked efficiently, headed by Mark Smith as Stage Manager. 

I am always so impressed with the achievements of LCT - we must support our young actors and they, in turn, gain so much experience by working alongside adult actors.

Although this play was set in 1995, many of the themes resonate today - what a clever writer Terry Pratchett was and what a legacy he left for the theatre - he would have been so impressed with this production, as I myself was.....

My sincere congratulations to you all!