Summer Holiday Beck Theatre
Hard work certainly reaped benefits for the 100 or so children aged between nine and 19 who made up the cast of this year's Beck Theatre's Summer Project.
The actors and behind-the-scenes crew all played their part in making this performance entertaining, enjoyable and a real success.
Following a fortnight of practising their lines and rehearsing their dance steps, it turned out to be more than all right on the night as these youngsters showed the wealth of talent there is in the borough and its borders.
The project's take on the classic Summer Holiday film was to inject youthful enthusiasm and slick choreography and to pepper it with comical moments which had me and the majority of the packed theatre chuckling.
The story is of a group of bus drivers who take a big red London bus through the continent, picking up a girl band and American runaway starlet, Barbara, along the way. Their journey is made far more treacherous by the traps laid for them by Barbara's cunning mother, Stella, who is keen to get her daughter and meal ticket back.
From the energy-packed opening sequences through to a final scene involving the entire performing cast, this was an entertaining treat throughout.
In the lead role made famous by Cliff Richard, Jamie Smyth put in a solid performance as Don. Barbara, his love interest, was played splendidly by Lauren Stroud. The two had an on-stage chemistry that certainly fizzed and bubbled in the scenes when they were centre stage. They were ably assisted by the comical trio of Edwin, played by Liam Steward-George, Cyril (David Porter) and Steve, brought to life by Dean Warren in hilarious fashion.
Making up the remainder of the main cast were Joanna Shah, Courtenay Scarlett and Sophie Ware. All three displayed good voices as well as excellent dancing and solid acting skills.
However, my favourite performances of the night were from Tasha Roby, who played Stella, Barbara's conniving and pushy mother, and her hapless sidekick/dogsbody Jerry, performed with flair by Ricky Elliot. Both carried off American accents very well and had the bulk of the laughs, with Jerry being the butt of most of the jokes.
The main and feature dancers danced as if there lives depended on it. The two groups that made up the ensemble gave younger members of the project the chance to experience the atmosphere and excitement of
being involved in a professional theatre production and they played their part in the very visual group scenes.
For a first night performance there were hardly any visible mistakes, especially taking an understandable amount of nerves into account.
The sets were creative and the sight of a big red bus 'cut-out' being dragged across the stage caused chuckles every time it appeared.
The Beck Theatre's Summer Project celebrated its 21st birthday in style with a cracking production of a classic British musical. Everyone involved should be extremely proud of themselves - I'm already looking forward to next year's production.
All together now - "We're all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a week or two ..."