Saturday, 11 July 2015

"Our House" by Spotlight Theatre School
Nottingham Arts Theatre.

"Our House" is a musical about making the right choices and the outcome of making the wrong choices and how they affect the people around them. A musical about morals with some brilliant music from the Madness songbook.

Joe Casey is celebrating his 16th birthday party and he has the world at his feet. He has good friends, he's about to leave school and go into the big world of adulthood and the girl of his dreams has accepted a date with him...,.and that's where his world starts to tumble about him.

I love this musical for the message it gives out as well as the wonderful, fun music of Suggs and Co. and the way that some of the songs are arranged really show the clever, as well as beautiful lyrics. The musical also shows how difficult it can be to sing Madness's songs. With the intricate key changes and lyrical tongue twisters, some of the songs caught some of the actors out, key wise and timing wise.

The orchestra, maybe sometimes a little on the loud side, making the actors a bit difficult to hear, were excellent musically and really captured the Madness feel. The sax playing of Morven Harrison was superb but the whole sound was also excellent under the direction of Christopher Rees.

The lighting was spectacular with really good use of intelligent lighting effects under the design of Tom Mowat. It created just the right atmosphere for the courses of the storyline.

Choreography was by MissJessica Royce and what an amazing job she did. A large ensemble were almost step perfect, that's not a criticism by the way because there aren't many professional productions who can brag that they are step perfect. I did notice that many of the "strictly-style" moves and actions were carried out so well, especially the hands and extension lines. A brilliant job which I know isn't easy for that level and with so many dancers. Loved the ensemble choreography for "The Sun And The Rain" especially as it bordered on old style Hollywood.

Joe Casey was played by Sean Goodwin. Now Sean had the hardest job in my mind because not only does he play both "good" Joe and "bad Joe, he has to make quick changes between the two characters and some of the changes are within seconds. Sean has great stage presence and although I noticed just one or two bum notes, he carried out his vocal and choreography duties with brilliant gusto. A fast moving role which I am sure proved what a versatile actor he is.

Joe's girlfriend, Sarah, was played by Catherine Cunningham, Very natural and what a lovely voice, especially highlighted in the stripped back version of "It Must Be Love".

Joe's best friends, Lewis and Emmo, were joys to watch in the capable hands of James Murray, who has matured as a performer, talent wise and height wise and Adam Tomas Monk. A brilliant comedy pairing who look like they love what they do on stage, it's the twinkle in the eyes that give it away!

I also loved the pairing of Sarah's friends, Bille and Angie, who were played by Georgia Hodgett-Young and Aston Fisher, respectively. Once again, real fun to watch these pair in these roles.

One of the "bad guys" wanting to bring out the "bad Joe" is Reecey, and what a debut performance with Spotlight for Matty Collins. Confident in his acting, singing and his choreography and it was good to see the way he presented and maintained the nasty character of the piece. Hopefully we'll see more of Matty with Spotlight because he could well be a valuable and versatile asset.

Joe's mum, Kath, is a lovely character and Kayleigh Phillips brought out the loving, caring motherly side of Kath in Kayleigh's first musical role.

Joe's dad is Joe's guardian angel throughout the play. You can see why Joe is as he is, character wise, from how his absent father behaved when he was younger. Played by the very recognisable, on most Nottingham stages, Nigel Newton.

Callum, who pops up all over the place throughout the play is played by Joseph Smith.

Fautlessly directed by Amanda Hall with this energetic and exuberant musical that is a house load of fun to watch and delivers a moralistic message. It works well with the age range of the cast which in turn makes every character believable and relevant.

What a shame it's only on for two performances.

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