5th July 2013
Sawston Youth Drama
Marven Centre, Sawston, Cambridge
Type of Production
Mark Long, Gareth Furbank, Jackie Green
Grace Furbank & Gareth Furbank
Author: Sue Hartwell
This society has recently joined NODA, so this was my first visit to one of its productions and I was not disappointed. J.M. Barrie's classic tale of "Peter Pan" was first adapted into a rock musical in 1985 by Piers Charter Robinson. For this amateur youth production, permission had been granted by the author for the production team to adapt the script to suit the young cast of 11 and 12 year olds, who form the Sawston Youth Drama 7s.
And what a performance they gave us! The whole cast were so full of confidence and energy, it was difficult to believe that they were so young! With a simple stage set, under the management of Neil Watson and crew, changing swiftly from the children's bedroom in the Darlings London home, to the fairytale world of Never Land, the pace was relentless and full of vitality. I did wonder how the "flight" of Peter, Wendy and her siblings would be managed. This technical "problem" was simply overcome by two of the stage crew lifting each of the young actors in turn, which caused much laughter from the audience. In the forest scene, a model crocodile on a lead, led by another member of the stage crew, made a brief, but amusing, appearance too. The wardrobe and make up teams had also worked hard to provide authentic costumes and accessories, which added significantly to the overall visual impact in each scene.
Considering their young age, all the principals gave confident and well-characterised performances and had obviously benefited from good stage direction. Amongst those who really impressed were Alex Bedford as "Peter Pan" - a young actor with great stage presence and voice - Kate Rainsford, well cast as "Wendy" with a delightful voice, who managed some quite difficult vocals admirably, and Keilan Grant as "Captain James Hook", whose command of the stage during his scenes was quite extraordinary. Good supporting roles, too, by Shannon Soffe as "Tinkerbell", Noam Ureta-Vidal and Sophie Richards as Wendy's siblings "John" and "Michelle", Sam Arnold and Niamh Downing as their parents, "Mr & Mrs Darling", Maisie Moore and Holly Jager as Captain Hook's side-kicks "Smee" and "Starkey" and Sam Cleary and Justine Ross as "The Indian Chief" and his daughter "Tiger Lily".
The principals were supported by a strong chorus of "Lost Boys", "Pirates" and "Indians", the musical numbers "Rich Damp Cake" and "Braves To War" particularly enjoyable and well-choreographed by Grace Furbank. I was a little disappointed by the seemingly repetitive choreography set by Gareth Furbank for some of the principals' numbers, which detracted slightly from their overall performances and, in some instances, appeared to have been a little under-rehearsed. That said, the overall impression of the evening's performance was, for me, a very enjoyable introduction to this obviously talented young performers society and I look forward very much to following their progress in the performing arts.