Thursday, 2 March 2017

“The Same Sky” by Open Road Productions
Guildhall Theatre, Derby.
The story is one of love against the back drop of the Nottinghamshire coal fields in World War 1. Billy and Eileen are the two lovers; Billy is a miner and Eileen is the daughter of the pit owner but Eileen’s dad, Joshua, isn’t in favour of this relationship and when Billy is sent off to war, there’s no hiding Eileen’s father’s relief, until he finds out that he also has to go out to the battlefields as well.Will Billy and Eileen’s love survive the war, and will they all make it back in one piece.
If there's any production that portrays the loneliness and fear of being apart from a loved one in the time of a conflict, then this is the one. You can feel the despair and worry of the possibility of not seeing their partners and loved ones again.
The story is by Tim Harvey and the writing is so evocative and poignant, brought to life by this group of incredible actors.The wonderful soundtrack is written by Phil Baggaley and conjures up the desperation, sadness and loneliness, again brought to life by some excellent voices.
A wonderful set which made you feel you were there at their village gathering as well as on the front line with all the smoke and horrific sounds of war. The lighting, especially in the battle scenes was marvellous, the work of lighting designer Sandy McAlister. The costumes (Flame Costumer Hire) completed the realistic imagery of war and the mines.
More often I'm now seeing whole casts who are amazingly excellent,and even though this story is about two characters who are in love against the backdrop of war, there were no "featured" roles and actors. Every single actor on that stage was an equal in terms of standing and quality.
Seren Sandham-Davies has taken over the role of Eileen this time around. Seren has the voice of an angel. I fell in love with her voice straight away as well as her very simplistic girl next door look. A beauty with a beautiful voice to match. She pulls at your heart strings with her very pure and clear vocals.
Curtis Taylor-Tipton plays her love who goes to war with his pals, Billy. Curtis seems to have matured so much in his acting since the last time I saw him on stage. He's always been good. In this he is at another level altogether. His voice matches Seren's perfectly and their relationship is totally believable. If this was real life, those two would have such amazing babies with such talent.
Joshua, Eileen's father is played by Bill Varnam. I'm not going to give anything away in the plot but he's rather over protective, in fact taking it too far and when his daughter discovers what he has done, she's not happy.Great character part for Bill to get his teeth into.
The lads in the pit and who go to war with Billy are Cyril (Andrew Buxton), Henry (Harry Gibson), Alfred (Julian Walker), Tommy (Alex Vilkaitis) and Clarence (Jack Cottis). Every one brings a different personalty to their character. The ladies in the audience are going to love these lads; they could be a new boyband with their looks. Apart from that they are all excellent actors.
Mark Tunstall plays General Sutton, who encourages Joshua to get the pals army together and then pulls rank on Joshua. Mark reminds me ever so slightly of a younger version of Donald Hewlitt from "It Ain't Half Hot Mum". Nice to see both sides of the Sutton character, giving the role depth.
There are also two other incredible female actors on stage in Anna Kate Golding as Maggie and Emily Vinnicombe, Eileen's best friends. the emotion that these two ooze in these roles is just wonderful to see, and again what gorgeous voices. Every single actor on this stage had a brilliant voice, and not just for the theatre. I could imagine several of them singing just about anything.
Directed by Daniel Ellis this show is a triple threat with a talented trio in Daniel, Tim and Phil. I can't wait to see what their next outing, "Silver Darling" does and whether it will top this incredibly emotion packed piece of theatre.

The live music played by 12 of the best musicians I've heard was so understated and beautiful, they make you want to go and buy this incredible soundtrack. It was if you were listening to it on CD.
I saw people in the mixed age ranged audience dabbing at their eyes, and it is very emotional. Not just because there was the possibility of never seeing your loved one again and possibly losing them to the war, but the story of these two lovers, And there is a twist which I thought I'd got, but then another twist came around, giving yet another wave of emotion.

 The brotherhood of the mining lads, the unity and community spirit of the girls back home, and the after affects of the war were all played out so well. If this was a Hollywood movie, it would have been an Oscar winner.
“The Same Sky” is at The Guildhall Theatre until Saturday 4 March 2017 but get those tickets fast or you may not get the chance to catch one of the best new musicals around at the moment.

1 comment:

  1. I agree..A wonderful and moving production with the most fabulous sound track which i've listened to over and over since I bought it at the first production some months back. I was delighted to have the chance to see it again.