PROM! The Musical

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Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Billed as a modern day Cinderella story, Oldham Theatre Workshop have reimagined writer Sarah Nelson and composer James Atherton’s PROM! The Musical for a 2019 audience; the result is an uplifting, vibrant and enormously entertaining piece of musical theatre which feels fresh, original and timely.

Taking inspiration from High School Musical as well as Harry Potter this production sees ordinary and magical worlds collide resulting in an enchanting production with spellbinding storytelling.

Georgia Conlan takes on the role of Prom’s Cinderella style character; ill treated by her self obsessed step sisters Lisette (Millie Gibson) and Noushka (Ella Marshall) life for her is pretty grim. If she’s not doing their homework she’s cleaning the house for overbearing stepmum Clarissa who firmly believes her precious little darlings Lisette and Noushka can do no wrong. Life gets even worse when Clarissa rocks up at school calling the shots and taking it upon herself to decide who will be belle of the ball…(prom).

If ever divine intervention was needed it’s now and thankfully there’s a Fairy Godmother at the other realm high school, Defixus Academy just waiting for a person who is worthy enough for their assistance in order for them to both graduate and save their magical academy from closure.

Georgia Conlan is outstanding as Ester, her voice is sheer perfection while she has a sweet sass which embodies the character perfectly. Her performance is entirely captivating, she wins the audience over from the start with a genuine charm and an abundance of talent.

Millie Gibson and Ella Marshall succeed convincingly in portraying the loathsome, spoilt Lisette and Noushka while Sophie Elliott gives a hugely entertaining performance as the outlandish Clarissa, her comedic timing and character acting is a joy to watch.

Billy Barlow and Sajata Dey make for a great pairing as Fairy Godmother’s in training Rayden and Effie while Poppy O’Brien and Niamh Palmer both give scene stealing performances as Miranda and Little Fairy.

Noah Valentine makes for a great high school hearthrob and is without doubt another one to watch for the future.

Director James Atherton ensures each and every cast member has the opportunity to shine with vibrant ensemble pieces and the clever use of individual characters ‘vote for me’ campaigns we especially loved Nathan Horrocks’ ‘Boris’.

It really is a credit to the sheer talent within OTW that it feels almost unfair to single out individuals as each and every cast member gives their all in this production and every one is worthy of praise.

The audition scene is a wonderful showcase for the talent in this cast as each friendship group within the school takes their turn to deliver their own unique take on prom entertainment. The song sung by The Notes is a real highlight written and performed by Noah Valentine, Megan Meakin, Amelia Taylor, Kendra Marshall, Seb Lowe and Lewis Green, showing not only the quality of the cast but of their writing too, both catchy and contemporary.

Joseph Ed Thomas’ atmospheric lighting design compliments the simple yet effective set beautifully. The use of a mix of microphones and projection resulted in some dialogue being very occasionally missed but this really is a minor quibble in what is a fantastic piece of theatre.

This vibrant piece of theatre is well written and superbly delivered. The strong characterisation allowing several intricate storylines to develop clearly while at all times remaining engaging and entertaining. An outstanding piece of theatre which deserves to be seen by many. PROM! is a slick, stylish production, magical fun from start to finish.

PROM! The Musical is on at Oldham Coliseum until Saturday 27th July tickets available here.

 

The Visitor’s Book

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Written by Sarah Nelson and Oldham Theatre Workshop’s Artistic Director James Atherton. New Musical The Visitor’s Book is an uplifting exploration on the impact of loss, abandonment and ultimately the importance of family and forgiveness.

Mum (Sophie Ellicott) holidays annually with children Jack, Sophie and Betty at Cathy’s (Jo Gerard) Cumbrian cottage. A sanctuary away from the city with clean air, green fields and an endless supply of fresh brews in the pot, problems however travel too and tensions soon rise as grief and confusion take hold.

Eldest in the family Jack is desperate for answers, a chance discovery however leads him to search for something else entirely when a strangers message in the Visitor’s book captures his imagination, offering a much-needed focus for his grief.

The play spans several years with scenes and stories beautifully interwoven. Younger and older versions of the children seamlessly move in and out of scenes as lies are uncovered and truths are told. The static set, a cosy living room within the holiday cottage allows the cast to move freely from one scene to the next, often inhabiting the stage at the same time to great effect. Slick direction ensures the clear narratives develop at just the right pace to both engage and entertain.

Sarah Nelson and James Atherton’s excellent writing ensures each character is entirely believable, from the moody teenager to the ‘holding everything together’ Mum to the baby of the family who entertains and amuses with her adorably quirky ways. There are many laugh out loud moments, moments you’ll entirely relate too as well as moments you’ll be gulping away the lump in your throat.

In Hope Mill’s intimate space there is no room for error and this hugely talented cast demonstrate superbly just how powerful and incredibly entertaining honest and heartfelt theatre can be. Each and every cast member giving their all.

Sophie Ellicott delivers a strong performance as Mum, warm and loving she embodies the role perfectly. Young and older Jack, Tommy Douglas and Jabez Sykes are both exceptional as anger and frustration is channelled into hopeful determination. The score is excellent allowing for some beautiful harmonies wrapped up in incredibly well observed lyrics delivered note perfect by the cast. Madeleine Edmondson and Poppy O’Brien shine performing their hilarious duet, big voices and even bigger personalities.

The Visitor’s Book is ultimately a story of hope, forgiveness and the real importance of family. This hugely entertaining production has the ability to both touch you deeply and entertain you enormously. Full of heart, deeply moving, beautifully told and superbly delivered, a joyous success.

On at Hope Mill Theatre until Friday 11th May, tonight’s performance is SOLD OUT but follow @Visitor_Book and @OTWOldham for further information.