This is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser known musicals. It is not often performed, which after seeing this production, leaves me wondering why?
In the American Deep South the peace of a God-fearing town is shattered when there is news of an escaped prisoner in the area. While feeding a rescued kitten in the barn, Swallow finds a man hiding; she hasn’t heard the news and in a moment of confusion, believes the man to be Jesus. As the adults of the town get more fearful and angry, the children’s innocence and belief shines through as they believe they will be responsible for saving the world with their new friend.
The first number is started off with a stunning solo from one of the younger members of the cast. He is soon joined by the whole company in a rousing, spirit-lifting and scene-setting song in the chapel. Unusually, the overture follows this and then some essential back-story until the real story starts to unfold.
There are some striking songs and stunning vocal performances from the lead characters. Swallow (Libby Simpkins) has a beautiful voice and is utterly convincing in the role, she is a joy to watch. Another captivating performance is given by Nathan Routledge as The Man; his vocals ring out and fill the room. One of the stand-out numbers for me was A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste sung by Swallow, The Man and Amos (Ashley Clifford). The conviction and power of the delivery showed such a connection to the song and it was not just simply putting the words to music.
All of the leads were well cast and delivered their performances with polish and style. This is a talented group; every member of the company gave it 100% from the smallest chorus member to the most experienced lead.
The set is ingenious and leads to some very slick and quiet scene changes. The lighting subtly creates extra depth and atmosphere adding to the feel of the production.
This production shows that the future of amateur and professional theatre is in safe hands with young performers like this being created in a nurturing environment.
A wonderful, polished production that shouldn’t be missed.
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