BOA Musical Theatre has never been a school to be complacent - offering bold and often unknown musicals of the highest quality. Dougal Irvine's The Other School tells the story of Kester and Polly Parish who mysteriously arrive at 'The Other School' one morning, not knowing how they got there and the students cannot leave.
Joseph Riley and Sophie Charlton held fantastic chemistry as Kester and Polly. It was refreshing to see chemistry that is representative of a modern family from the pair, their performances never felt contrived or forced, and their several duets throughout the production were personal highlights, showing both their growing love and loss of one another.
Paige Barratt delivered a show-stealing performance as Mrs Parish, the grounding and subtly that Barratt brought to the role of a grieving mother showed maturity far beyond her years. Her vocals soared across the intimate venue, and every ounce of emotion was wrung out of her ballad in Act Two. Meanwhile, in the real world Tom Withers played the loveable Barny, his unique sense of comic timing, along with his clumsy expressions of friendship towards Polly was a joy to watch.
They were joined onstage by a highly talented ensemble, the students of The Other School, often providing the light relief in an extremely dark comedy, there was not a beat missed when they charged onto the stage, every single one working together, a standout song in the first act, How I Got To School, was extremely funny indeed. The teachers at 'The Other School' get their fair share of drama too. Thom Lambert (Mr Morton) and Ellie-Georgia Perks (Headteacher), were uniquely sinister throughout, although it would have been nice to see them have more to do with their parts, as their unnerving personas were a joy to watch.
Andrew Exeter's lighting design was a masterstroke, with the switch between the real and fictional worlds very easy to understand for the audience, however the set and lighting was at its most impressive during the final bus sequence in Act Two, the lighting and music complemented each other exceptionally well, and I deny anyone to not have goosebumps whilst watching the sequence.
Director Rian Holloway has captured the heart of Dougal Irvine’s tale of love, loss and acceptance, and with her young cast, excelled in creating a challenging musical for a whole family audience to enjoy, accompanied with fitting choreography from Gemma Mills and a beautiful sounding band directed by Alison Chapman, I urge you to see this new contemporary work.
The Other School runs at the BOA Theatre until Thursday & you can catch Year 13 Musical Theatre performing How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at The Old Rep from 28 March - 1 April.
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