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THE YOUNG ONES
The Young Ones was a great favourite of mine when I was in my teens, so this was a musical memory for me, which was fun with all the songs I enjoyed all those years ago.
The production as a whole was not perfect, there were sound problems, late or non-
There had been a number of problems with illness and injury, which resulted in one
of the main principal leads being replaced within a couple of weeks of performance,
and several dance numbers having to be re-
The programme was excellent – lots of information about the production, and quotes and contributions from West End actors and people involved with the original Young Ones, which all takes research and forethought, and which Phoenix is particularly good at. Another nice touch was the use of clips of Richard Baker reading the news, which the youth club pirate broadcasts broke into.
The set was good, it worked well with the office on the higher level, leaving the floor of the stage for the youth club. I would have liked to have seen a little more dressing on the set, as it looked a bit bare for a youth club, and there was no need for blackouts for most of the scene changes, these could have been accomplished within the action, and would have kept the link between the audience and the cast, rather than breaking it.
I thought the lighting was fine for this sort of production, although there were a couple of times when cast were not in the section of stage lit at the time, and it took a while for everything to catch up.
Barry Hyde played Nicky, the youth club leader, and coincidentally the son of the developer who wants to knock their club down. Barry always gives a cheery performance, he coped well with the songs and I enjoyed his performance.
The replacement actor was Jaymes Sygrove who played geeky Ernest. Jaymes can always be relied on to put a good performance, and this was no exception, he looked as if he had been there from the start, and he elicited good reactions from the rest of the cast too.
Sarah Meers who suffered an injury to her foot at dress rehearsal, gave the part of Toni a lovely cheeky edge, and it was a shame she was unable to fulfil her dance role, as that is one of her strengths. But any omissions of dance were covered very well, as were the introduction of seats for Sarah to sit on at times.
Kye Whitehead was Chris, the rather loutish member of the club, always ready to hit out and consider later! Kye also managed a few decent dance moves and created a credible character.
As a general comment the people who used the small stage downstage right, sang too much upstage – they all needed to face the audience more, as facial expression is nice to see from our point of view, not the back of people’s heads.
Scott Newman as cheeky chappie Jimmy created a nice character, and the four main boys interacted well.
Vicky Whitehead was a ditzy Wendy, maybe a little too OTT at times to the detriment of the lib, but I enjoyed her song with Ernest, they both did very well.
Katie Ross, Jo Herd and Julie Walton led several very effective dance numbers, the other chorus girls, Laura Hyde, Rachael Garside, Louisa Fitzgerald and Melissa Webster integrated well and danced with enthusiasm. Katie also did a very nice solo song which showed off her voice well.
Dave Billington was a suitably solemn Hamilton Black, bringing the show some gravitas.
I liked Laura Hyde’s transition to the very professional Dorinda Morrell, with her long blonde hair and classy clothes, which came across nicely.
Andy Whittamore and Andrew Gookey joined in all the dance numbers with gusto, and also fulfilled smaller roles to add to the fun.
Nigel Cains and Val Owens took on small roles to complete the show.
The costumes were very good – colourful and correct for the era, with some very good hairdos as well, nothing that was out of place, and it all looked good.
I loved the use of the guitar as a major accompaniment in places, the lovely Steve Peters showing yet another string to his bow with his lead guitar playing, backed admirably by Nigel Emerson on bass guitar. David Thomas had got some nice harmonies from the cast in the group numbers, which added to the feel good element, although the sound balance between stage and keyboard were inconsistent. Rick Philpot kept the drums down to a good level with some flourishes too.
So, maybe not one of Phoenix’s best, but a lovely trip down memory lane, and one which was nicely accomplished by the cast, working sometimes under difficult circumstances. It was also lovely to see something different, which I know is what Phoenix strive to do – and with some success.
“THE YOUNG ONES”
Director: Alan Purton MD: David Thomas Choreographer: Jackie Hensley