REVIEWS

 Read all our reviews below…….

2017 – Titanic The Musical

2017 – Sunday Night @ The Sands

2016 – Carlisle Christmas Spectacular

2016 – Oliver!

2016 – Sunday Night @ The Sands…Back Again!

2015 – Carlisle Christmas Spectacular

2015 – Hairspray

2015 – Your Name in Lights (StagedRight Junior )

2015 – Sunday Night @ The Sands

2014 – Singin’ in the Rain

2014 – 10th Anniversary Concert & Reunion

2014 – The Time of My Life (10th Anniversary Production, Theatre by the Lake)

2013 – Les Miserables

2012 – Me & My Girl

2011 – West Side Story

2010 – Beauty & The Beast  To follow

2009 – Peter Pan The Musical

2008 – Scrooge The Musical

2007 – Les Miserables

2007 – An Evening with StagedRight

2006 – Summer Holiday

2005 – Barnum

 

Review by Ed McGee

Titanic is an enormous undertaking for any musical theatre company to take on, but the multi talented StagedRight company did it with great aplomb.

Congratulations to director David McNeill for his vision and staging knowledge.

Everyone knows the tragic story, but the show started with the crew and passenger embarkation at Southampton, and followed right through to the eventual catastrophe. Along the way we were introduced to the crew, Captain Smith and his officers, the stokers and the stewards. We met the First Class toffs, the Second Class, middle class, and the Third Class passengers, who were on the cheaper lower decks.

 Every single character was quite superb and they all played their specific roles wonderfully well. All the solos, duets, trios etc were very well sung and the full company ensemble singing was excellent. Congratulations to the Musical Director and Choreographer who must have worked so hard.

The Wardrobe department, backstage crew, sound and lighting teams also did a fantastic job and the show moved along at a good pace because of their expertise. The set was excellent, and really looked like a ship on its maiden voyage.

Special mention must go to the seventeen piece orchestra; they were quite superb, playing a very complex musical score.

This was an excellent production from this very talented youth theatre. There aren’t many Amateur Musical companies who will stage Titanic because of the complexities involved. Congratulations StagedRight !!!!.

 

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Review by Ed McGee – 2017

This was another outstanding production from the multi talented StagedRight company. The packed Sands Centre audience was treated to an evening of song and dance, including songs from West End shows and modern musical classic songs.

The show started with a company tap dance routine and this really set the tone for the evening. Fifty or more young people, tapping in perfect harmony, what a start!!!

There were so many show highlights for me, but I particularly enjoyed the Carole King, ‘Beautiful’ section, well performed by Katie Feltham, Caitlen Edmondson and a company of girls. The Mary Poppins Act1 finale was outstanding. All the famous songs performed by accomplished singers and the full company.

The Jesus Christ Superstar medley was particularly memorable for me, and Joe Usher was a brilliant Judas and Ryan Middleton was a suitably camp Herod.

If I had to choose particular favourites I would have to say the ‘Count the Overtures in 3 minutes’ which involved extra quick costume changes for the participants as they dressed in the costume of the particular overture being played at the time. This was a very clever piece of musical theatre.

My other particular favourite was ‘Tears in Heaven’, Eric Clapton’s iconic tribute to his son who died tragically in an accident in the USA. This was beautifully sung by Alex Bousfield.

There were far too many highlights to mention individually, but this was, as usual, another brilliant production from StagedRight.

Congratulations to everyone concerned, the production team, musical directors, choreographers, lighting and sound and the back stage ladies and gentlemen, who all played there part in this wonderful production.

 

CARLISLE CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR – 2016

“FANTASTIC PRODUCTION”    “SUNG SUBLIMELY”

Review by Ed McGee – 2016

This show from the talented young stars of StagedRight, really was spectacular. The audience enjoyed a programme of seasonal music, as well as some well known popular songs and songs from musical theatre.

 All the Stagedright groups, Infants, Juniors and Seniors played their part wonderfully well. The way the soloists and chorus blended together was brilliant.

 Highlights for me included the Carpenters tribute compilation, Anthem from Chess, my personal favourite, and Pie Jesu, which was sung sublimely by boy soprano Alex Bousfield and Hannah Dodd. Having said that, the whole musical programme was quite amazing..

The links between the music was very clever, and we were treated to some comedy, a Santa picket line and a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, each part very well played and much enjoyed by the packed audience in St John’s Church.

Costumes, as always were superb, lighting and sound in the church was excellent. The seamless transition between musical numbers from the different age groups was a joy.

This show from a very talented group of young people was the perfect way of getting into the Christmas spirit. Thank you to everyone concerned with this fantastic production.

 

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Oliver!

“OUTSTANDING FROM START TO FINISH”    “BRILLIANT”

“ONE OF THE FINEST PIECES OF THEATRE I’VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME”

Review by Ed McGee – 2016

Another brilliant production from this very talented youth theatre company with wonderful performances from the main characters and from the very young chorus. Great credit must go to the directional team led by David McNeill.

Toby Cass playing the title role of Oliver Twist was very convincing, as were George Usher, as the Artful Dodger and Joseph Usher as Fagin. Niall Sanderson and Katie Feltham, were a formidable team as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, and Nicky Yielder was a very menacing Bill Sikes. Other minor leads were all well performed, but the star of the show was Molly Barton, playing Nancy. She really was a ‘tour de force’, she acted the character brilliantly, and her singing was superb. Her rendition of ‘As Long As He Needs Me’, was brilliant, and one of the finest pieces of musical theatre I’ve seen in a long time.

There were some lovely ensembles, the opening scene in the workhouse was especially effective. I particularly enjoyed ‘Who will Buy’, as a choral ensemble and as a production number, it worked extremely well, and was a lovely idea.

The set worked exceptionally well and the scene changes were very slick, well done to the unsung heroes on the crew. Lighting was very effective and atmospheric, and the sound very good. Special mention must go to the orchestra led by Alison Bedford. The choreography was also very good and suited the period, well done Karen Woodruff and Jan Glover’s costumes were excellent.

It’s difficult to find any criticism with the production. It was truly outstanding from start to finish.

 

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SUNDAY NIGHT @ THE SANDS…BACK AGAIN (2016)

“A WONDERFUL SHOW”      “PERFECTION”   “QUITE BRILLIANT”

Review by Ed McGee

    This was truly a wonderful evening of musical entertainment, enjoyed by a capacity audience.

   There is so much talent in the group, which means there were so many highlights. We were treated to brilliant soloists, wonderful company ensembles and dance routines. The very enthusiastic audience was treated to musical theatre routines, from particularly The King and I, Willy Wonka, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Wicked, and a wonderful Abba mega mix. Between these compilations there were lovely tributes to the late Cilla Black, Amy Winehouse and we also enjoyed four young Beatles, singing She Loves You.

   My own particular highlights included a black light show, called ‘Let’s All Go Under the Sea’. The stage and performers were blacked out, and we were treated to fluorescent tropical fish, and even a shark. Brilliant entertainment.  I also enjoyed the white gloved Hand Clap routine – Fifty or so young people performing with only there white gloved hands in perfect harmony. I can’t imagine how much rehearsal the routine took to reach what was perfection .Even the producers joined in.

Solo highlights included Jonathan Irving singing a wonderful ‘Mr Bojangles and Molly Burton who sang the Cilla Black tribute, special talents among so many talented young people.

    Special mention must go to the interval and closing finales. Firstly the full company performing Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Lastly, and quite appropriately we had ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, from Carousel as the show closer, again by the full company. Quite brilliant.

 

CARLISLE CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR – 2015

“BRILLIANT SHOW”   “A JOY TO BEHOLD”

“THERE WASN’T A WEAK LINK IN THE SHOW”

Review by Ed McGee

 This show was well named a Christmas Spectacular, because that is exactly what it was, very, very spectacular. The audience was treated to a brilliant programme of seasonal music as well as some famous modern musical classics.

The ages of the performers varied from five years to eighteen years old, but the musicality and stagecraft of the teams varied very little, regardless of age. There were some lovely team and full company ensembles, during the show, the highlights for me being the two finales, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, was amazing, at the end of Act 1, with the full company, and ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’, and ‘Impossible Dream’, from ‘Man of La Mancha, was an equally fantastic Finale showstopper.

 Highlights, as far as solos go were Megan Hunter, singing ‘Time To Say Goodbye’, quite beautifully, what a superb voice the young lady has. Kaya Palmer and Joe Usher’s duet, ‘Christmas Tonight’, was also excellent. To be honest there wasn’t a weak performance in the show.

The precision and animation of all the teams was a joy to behold, everything had been, obviously so well rehearsed, everyone a great credit to their coaches. The set was very seasonal, lighting was always appropriate to the action taking place and the sound was particularly good.

All in all, a brilliant show from this extremely talented youth theatre company and what a wonderful way to get into Christmas. Congratulations to every single person involved.

 

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HAIRSPRAY

“ANOTHER SMASH HIT”  “ANOTHER SCINTILLATING SHOW”

Review by Ed McGee – 2015

 This was another wonderful offering from this very talented youth theatre company. The show got off to a flying start with ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ and never faltered right through to the show stopping finale of ‘YouCan’t Stop the Beat’. There were some lovely performances, particularly from Lauren McWhan as Tracy Turnblad, Hannah Dodd as Amber Von Tussle, Rhiannah Horne as her evil mother, Velma. XXXXXXX was very convincing as Tracy’s Father, and her mother Edna was superbly played by Matthew Smith. The star of the show, for me was fifteen year old Molly Barton, playing Motormouth Maybelle, she was amazing. There wasn’t a weak link in the show, all the minor roles were well played, and the lively chorus played a major part in the shows success.

There are racial overtones, involved in the show, where the black kids can’t get the same amount of television time as the white kids, but Tracy eventually manages to integrate the show, making it multi racial. None of the kids wore black makeup, but were easily identified by their black costumes, very cleverly thought out.

The set was very good and the use of trucks, meant that the changes were very quick. Lighting and sound were excellent , as was the orchestra, superbly directed By Alison Bedford.

David McNeill, once again has directed another smash hit for his company, and special mention must go to John Metcalfe, on his retirement from the company. He has been a cornerstone of the group, since its conception. Another scintillating show from StagedRight

I say every year, ‘How can they follow that’, but they always seem to manage it.  I’m looking forward, already to ‘Oliver’ in 2016.

   

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YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS

(StagedRight Junior)

 Review by Paul Flynn – 2015

StagedRight Junior should certainly get their ‘Name in Lights’ after their excellent production last weekend. For those of us who enjoy productions by StagedRight Youth Theatre, our expectations of the Junior section’s annual musical are much higher and that must surely put unfair pressure on both cast and production team.

Here we have almost 50 youngsters of primary school age performing an un-credited but excellent show about acceptance, friendship and the behaviour of those putting on a musical. The cast was lead by Nathan Yielder as ‘Frank’, the boy seeking acceptance and Ellie Hendren as his new found friend ‘Stella’ who tackled, on his behalf, those with prejudice and how well they both did. It was though Olivia Beckett as ‘Betsy’, spoilt daughter of the Head teacher, and her doting boyfriend ‘Alan’ played by Joe Hurst that scored highest with the almost sell our audience. They both had excellent voices and stage presence, each making the most of their comedy roles and often gaining applause after their scenes. Joe Woodruff as class clown ‘Joe’ showed real emotion during his monologue telling of an unhappy home life whilst Luke Thompson, George Usher and Sophie Richardson gave authority as school teachers with a passion for the arts.

This was a challenging production for such a young age with great songs and well choreographed dance routines plus some very complicated dialogue. I especially liked the telephone conversation between 7 characters which was slick, witty and certainly moved the plot forward. StagedRight always gets the best from their cast and this was indeed a production which showcased so much talent from front to back. Everyone had their moment to shine in what was a well rehearsed musical and full credit must be given to the production team. I look forward to seeing many of these youngsters over the years ahead when they graduate to StagedRight’s main Youth Theatre.

Interestingly, as I was leaving the Trinity Theatre, I overheard a conversation revealing that the script was actually written by StagedRight’s David McNeill. If true then let’s get it published so that primary schools and groups across the area can benefit from a well written, meaningful and entertaining piece of theatre.

 

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SUNDAY NIGHT @ THE SANDS

Review by Sarah J Lewis Briggs – 2015     

We’ve had a solar eclipse and the spring equinox: now StagedRight has given Carlisle its own stellar version of Sunday Night at the London Palladium. For a talent spotter there would have been a rich seam to mine on stage.  Whilst several of the previous years’ leading lights have now progressed to higher education – many to theatre, dance or music establishments – this has given younger performers the chance to shine. The ‘variety’ style of the show ensured that from the youngest to the oldest, there were opportunities for plenty of the members to demonstrate their skills as soloists.  Austin Collins as Billy-the-Bee-without-a-buzz showed that even the tiniest of performers can speak clearly and with confidence on stage: and his colleagues as bees and flowers definitely added the cute factor to the show.  Some of the small bees and flowers were only aged three and not surprisingly there were plenty of ‘ahs’ as soon as they came on stage. Olivia James impressed as Matilda from Matilda the Musical and even sang completely unperturbed whilst swinging on a real swing: the professionalism of the chorus who all stood perfectly still as she swung towards them was notable.  Amongst the older girls Ashleigh Johnston as Nellie, singing in a real shower, from South Pacific, gave a lively and clear rendition of I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair. Overall in the evening it was the boys’ singing which was perhaps most impressive, especially when you consider that their voices range from being unbroken to only just broken and every shade in between.   There was a lovely warm tone to their singing, particularly when they were adding harmonies to songs: notably the Beatles’ Hey Jude.  In fact the only thing that slightly marred a highly professional, glitzy and enjoyable evening was that the microphones were possibly not adjusted correctly as some of the girls’ solo voices sounded harsh, especially on top notes, and some of the boys’ solos could hardly be heard.  Comedy was included by way of Nothing like a Dame from South Pacific, acted and sung by a group of energetic young men, and the short play When I Count to Three in which a schoolboy finds with glee and to amusing effect that he can hypnotise his friends and his teachers.  Also worthy of note was Making Music, in which wooden spoons, plastic cups, hands and elbows added to Toby Cass’s drumming to create a stunningly strongly rhythmic piece. For the audience which had filled the Sands Centre without a seat to spare this was a pleasurable evening.  For anybody who is not a relative of a child who performs with StagedRight, don’t hesitate to go to see them regularly: watching early talent developing into the potential to be professional via this impressive company is a fascinating and enjoyable experience.

 

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Review by Ed McGee – 2015

This was yet another superb show from this very talented theatre group. The audience was treated to compilations from various Musical Theatre Shows, as well as a rousing Sixties selection. The show featured all sections of the youth theatre, infants, juniors and senior members and all played their part superbly. The infants, all three, four and five year old performed ‘Billy No Buzz’, the bee that couldn’t buzz. It was a real treat for the audience. There was also some lovely production and dance numbers featuring the full company and all the solo numbers were very well performed. I feel that special mention should go to Abbie Smith, playing Miss Honey in the Matilda section. I felt her diction and singing were excellent. A young lady with a lot of talent! Once again director David has come up with a brilliant show and Radio Cumbria’s Harry King did a very good job as compere. It is always a great pleasure to be invited to StagedRight  productions, they never fail to amaze. I’m looking forward already to their summer  production of ‘Hairspray’.                   

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SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

review by Harry King – 2014

“CLASS & TALENT”       “PURE GENE KELLY”     “HATS OFF TO THEM ALL”

It is said that Singin’ in the Rain is one of hardest of musicals to stage – for two reasons, technically it is very demanding, and on the production side it is a show of great expectations. Almost everybody that goes to see it knows what to expect – they know the songs, the script and the story so it was trebly ambitious of StagedRight to tackle such a production. So it is with great pleasure- and no surprise- I can say to the company of talented performers that hats off – or should be that be sou’westers- off, to them all for their performances. With StagedRight you expect a very high standard and a quality production- David McNeill and his very professional young company have certainly not let their audiences down. From overture to finale two words leap out at you- class and talent. There have been companies that “do it on the cheap”, but not StagedRight. They are fortunate have the best of help with their stage craft, and producers who hire stage sets that have toured with professional companies. It is very difficult to pick out the highlights – there were so many- from curtain up with an on stage terrific live 14 piece orchestra with musical director Alison Bedford giving their all. It was wonderful to see the film clips- all locally produced- work so well and  have so much humour . Of course there was “live” rain- not for David was the lead going to stand with an umbrella and not get wet – this was a Cumbrian downpour at its best, and how well male lead Jack McNeill coped with it- It was pure Gene Kelly -with just a hint of Morecambe and Wise thrown in for good measure!!!   . It would be wrong not to give credit to the cast. Every person on that stage worked well – with enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment. This version of the classic musical incorporated all the great, much loved and much anticipated moments – none were cut as “possibly being too difficult” for the young cast- They did them with style. Much credit must go to the company’s two choreographers and also the vocal coaches for making the cast look like they’ve been on the stage for many years.  In particular we must mention those taking the lead roles. They played their parts like they were born to them. Jamie Dodd , a very capable comedic Cosmo Brown, Ashleigh Johnston-  Kathy Seldon, who would  have made Debbie Reynolds happy, Holly Neaves was an amazingly, dizzy Lena Lamont, Cameron Mitchell  was  excellent– and like most film producers-  confused and  tough at the same time. The lead role of Don Lockwood was taken wonderfully by Jack McNeill, who’s every appearance commanded the stage – He excelled in his last performance with StagedRight before he departs to tread the boards in London. This was a production to celebrate StagedRight’s tenth birthday, and they wanted to do it in style, and they certainly did. The production team can take enormous credit for such a successful show- it looked, sounded and was excellent. It was a pleasure to see the capacity audience leave the theatre with such big smiles on their faces. Here’s to David McNeill’s StagedRight’s next ten years – with hopefully many more years to come after that.

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Review by Ed McGee – 2014

“A JOY TO WATCH”    “REAL RAIN THAT WAS BREATHTAKING”   “PERFECT”

This was yet another terrific production from these very talented young people. Every year I say follow that, and they always rise to the occasion. All the principal characters were superb. Jack McNeill and Jamie Dodd really complimented each, playing silent movie star, Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown respectively. Ive seen this show a number of times and its the first time Ive seen Cosmo, doing a backflip, off the door during their ‘Make em Laugh’ routine, quite brilliant! Their singing and dance routines were fantastic from start to finish. The two leading ladies were also brilliant. Holly Neaves was excellent as fading movie star Lina Lamont and Ashleigh Johnston was equally convincing as new leading lady on the block, Kathy Selden, who also wins Don’s heart. Special mention must also go to Cameron Mitchell, who played movie mogul R.F Simpson. His rendition of ‘Beautiful Girls’, with all the chorus ladies was very special. All the minor leads were very good and there wasn’t a weak link in the whole team. Special mention must also go to the choreographers, how hard they must have worked. The full company dance routines were quite superb, congratulations to you both. Director, David McNeill, as always did a sterling job, moulding these very talented young people into a tour de force!!. Alison Bedford led the on stage orchestra very very well and quite honestly this was a wonderful evenings entertainment. The rain scene worked extremely well and the iconic title song was covered superbly by Jack, eat your heart out Gene Kelly!!!!!! Well done to everyone concerned with this brilliant production, you all did yourself proud and I can’t wait to see ‘Hairspray’, next year.  

 

STAGEDRIGHT’S 10th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT & REUNION

Review by Ed McGee – 2014

 Wonderful! Brilliant! Fantastic! Terrific! I’m fast running out of superlatives to describe this amazing production, oh! There’s another one.

 This was a celebration of 10 years of StagedRight and some 230 members past and present took part in this cornucopia of musical theatre. There were no stars, this was just a superb team effort by a very, very talented company and the well deserved standing ovation was no surprise at the end of the performance.

The audience was treated to snatches of past major productions, as well as concert material used over the last ten years. Every single one superbly sang and choreographed.

It really was difficult  to pick out a favourite, there was so much talent on display. I enjoyed every single number and didn’t want the show to end.

If I have to make a choice I would say the ‘boy band’ was the icing on an extremely enjoyable cake. They were truly professional, and much better than many such bands I’ve seen on the television.

There were far too many performers to mention by name. They all played their part superbly in this superb anniversary extravaganza.

 

THE TIME OF MY LIFE 

10th Anniversary of StagedRight – Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

Review by Sarah Briggs – 2014

People all too often underestimate what children are capable of. StagedRight’s tenth anniversary performance demonstrated that young people can produce performances which are not only enjoyable to watch but which in some cases are as good as adult professionals. It’s not surprising that some of the older children already have places at theatre schools or have had experience with professional theatre companies.

It would be unfair to pick out single cast members, as there were plenty of solo parts and – like choosing who to invite to a party – if you happen to miss one deserving name then it’s easy for that person to feel criticised by the omission. In any case, when writing about child performers, it’s necessary to remember that singing voices and acting ability develop at different rates. There were some voices which were quieter and less mature but still pleasant to listen to: others already had more resonant voices which carried more easily. Unfortunately the microphones didn’t always help much in this regard as they didn’t always pick up voices consistently, and it was disappointing to hear a lovely voice one moment and for it to disappear to a whisper the next!

Likewise in terms of acting ability cast members produced some strong acts: there were none of the potentially grating, rather painful performances which even some juvenile Hollywood actors at times put on.

That the entire cast had been working hard was demonstrated by the disciplined but energetic show from soloists and chorus alike, with a range of songs from shows such as Les Miserables, Me & My Girl and Peter Pan. It was impressive that they had all learnt so many songs and dance routines so well, but also that everybody had been included. My eight-year old daughter’s first comment about the show was how energetic it was: something she was to repeat on the way home. She sat mesmerised throughout the entire show, which demonstrates how quickly the time passed, and without a single moment of boredom.

StagedRight produces such slick, professional and fast-moving shows that ten years of success is well-deserved. It’s also an accolade in Cumbria’s crown that this is company is not a franchise of a big national organisation but something set up and led by local, talented, people. Happy Birthday StagedRight: may there be many more to come.

 

THE TIME OF MY LIFE

10th Anniversary of StagedRight, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.

Review by Norman Brayton – 2014

This anticipated anniversary production featuring over 90 talented youngsters did not disappoint, as the ‘The Time of my Life’ programme provided a compilation of some outstanding music and dance from all the much acclaimed productions this inspired youth group have presented over the last 10 years.

Early technical problems were soon flown away with Peter Pan to Never Land which was preceded by spending a lazy ‘Summer Holiday’ with a more than relaxing ‘Time Drags By’.

The  second half brought together acting and musical talents of a standard that eroded any concept of this being a ‘youth’ group as all soloists gave more than convincing and emotional presentations from shows not only renowned , but where perfection is required,—–you did it !!!!   I am sure Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, Me & My Girl, and Les Miserables will remain as ‘outstanding’ in the history of StagedRight for many years to come.. exciting and well drilled choreography with lavish costumes together with an experienced production team, enhanced all performances.

Whilst nostalgia brought about this production to celebrate 10 years, long may this Youth Theatre company provide an opportunity for all current and future members to develop their performing art skills to have the ‘Time of Their Lives’—which showed throughout this production.

 

LES  MISERABLES

Review by Ed McGee – 2013

Amazing, Fantastic, Terrific… it’s difficult to find enough superlatives to describe this wonderful show. It’s a shame the audience was limited to five hundred, because this production deserved to be seen by a much greater number. The company did themselves and the City of Carlisle proud.

Where do we start when discussing specific  performances ??. The principal ladies were all first class, Ashleigh Johnston was a convincing Cosette, Sophie McMullen was an excellent Fantine, Holly Neaves and Caitlen Edmondson playing Eponine and young Cosette respectively were also very good. I have seen the show on a number of occasions but Sarah Hughes as Madame Thenadier was the best performance of this character I’ve seen yet! she was a joy! What a talent for one so young.

Now the men and again some very good performances. Cameron Mitchell as Jean Valjean, Jack McNeill made an excellent Marius, (incidentally, he had been off school with a serious illness all week, but one wouldn’t have known as he gave his usual high class performance). The star of the whole show for me was Jamie Dodd as Javert, he has the lot, stage presence, fine singing voice, and superb acting ability.

There wasn’t a weak link in this very talented company, all the minor roles were convincingly played, and the ensembles and production were a joy.

The orchestra was well led by Alison Bedford. Special mention must go to the wardrobe department, the costumes were superb, and of period, and made by the wardrobe ladies on a very small budget! The lighting was superb, but on a very small down side the sound, done professionally by theatre staff, was occasionally slow with the cues, the company deserved better.

Finally I must offer my congratulations to David McNeill, who directed this fantastic production. I’m looking forward to ‘Singin in the Rain’, next year  and I don’t mind if they sit me on the front row, and I get soaked, I wouldn’t miss it!!!!.  A truly brilliant night with StagedRight, thank you!

ME & MY GIRL

Review by Ed McGee – 2012

My last comment with previous reviews for this very talented company has been, ‘follow that’, and they most certainly did, giving an ebullient, and effervescent performance of this much loved musical.

Ninety children took part, between the ages of eight and eighteen, and director David had blended these enthusiastic youngsters, into a truly professional company.

There were some sparkling performances from the principals, particularly from Jack McNeill, as Bill Snibson, the cockney ‘jack the lad, and heir to the earldom of Hareford, he gave a virtuoso performance, his demeanour, delivery, dance and general performance was a joy to behold. His ‘Leaning on a Lamp Post’ was outstanding. Jack was superbly supported by Courtney O’Neil as Sally Smith, who sang and acted the part beautifully; the scene in the library between the pair was comic masterpiece. All the principals were very strong, the Duchess, Sir John, Lady Jacqueline, was a very saucy ‘vamp’, and Jamie Dodd played a wonderful ‘Hoorah Henry’, a great contrast to his previous role, as Tony in West Side Story, a great talent indeed.

I particularly enjoyed the chorus ensembles, ‘Weekend at Hareford’, ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’, and of course the iconic ‘Lambeth Walk’, ninety kids doing the same things at the right time, no mean feat, well done to the choreographer!

The orchestra were very well led by Alison Bedford, just a small downside if I may, the scene changes were slow on occasions, but I can understand why, having worked with it in a similar confined area, and occasionally, the sound technician didn’t do justice to the performers, slow, and too loud at times with the mics!!!

Make no mistake, this was a superb all round production, despite my little ‘beef’! and again I will repeat my opening comment, ‘follow that’, if you can.

 

WEST SIDE STORY

Review by Hilary Elder – 2011

StagedRight Youth Theatre has pulled off their most ambitious production of West Side Story in spectacular style.

This is a notoriously difficult show; the music is fiendish, the choreography has to respond to complicated rhythms and the dialogue is in its own special dialect.

StagedRight nailed it all, giving the enthralled audience inventive choreography, outstanding musical performances and classy acting on the impressive stage setup, complete with moving balconies.

The entire cast deserved their standing ovation, but special mention should be made of the leads.

As Tony, Jamie Dodd’s singing was particularly fine; Emma Dixon’s Maria showed the perfect balance of innocence and dignity; Matthew Pagan and Bernardo as Riff and Bernardo sparked with intensity.

Jenna Donnelly sang beautifully and acted impressively as Anita, and with Pippa Dodd, carried off America with panache. Phillip Bulman had two roles, shining especially as Doc; while Jack McNeill set the second half alight leading Gee, Officer Krupke, as Action.

Well done, one and all, and a rousing thanks to StagedRight’s directors for giving this talented group of young people and the audience an unforgettable treat.

 

PETER PAN

Review by Kelly Eve – 2009

A fairytale trip to Neverland was a good antidote for my frantic Friday. I passed the second star on the right, went straight on until morning and found I wasn’t disappointed by the usual mix of high-class song and dance that we have come to expect from the scores of young performers in this talented theatre group.

The audience gave them a standing ovation – surely a fitting farewell to those teenage principal actors for which Peter Pan is their StagedRight swansong. Several are due to move on to university or college after the summer.

Lead Clark Wilkinson, playing the boy who never grew up, and Sophie Dowes as Wendy, a great soloist, held tightly onto our hands as we joined them on their whirlwind adventure to rescue the lost boys from the pirates on the Jolly Roger.

I was jealous when they took to the air for their flying scenes.

Light relief was provided by Captain Hook and his Scouse-sounding sidekick Smee. Michael Ferguson’s Hook is reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean while Smee is clearly the comedy character.

The pirates didn’t seem to be as sinister as they could’ve been but maybe they didn’t want to scare the audience!

Anya Watson played the storyteller very well. It was her words that came back to me throughout, reminding me to go back to my childhood and let my imagination run wild.

If you believe in fairies, this is the show for you.

 

SCROOGE – The Musical

Review by Kelly Eve – 2008

This Christmas cracker spread plenty of cheer.

It was a potentially dangerous move (but one that proved clever) to bring to life one of the most famous festive stories right in the middle of the year.

A sprinkling snow machine and actors flying through the air on harnesses tried to create the magic but it was the ‘snowball effect’ of the talented cast that kept you glued to every word. Every actor was under 18 years old – a fact quickly forgotten thanks to their strong, polished and professional performances.

Minor problems with the set were handled magnificently.

Bob Cratchit (Matthew McKenna) couldn’t open a sticky door during the opening spoken scene and Scrooge (Clark Wilkinson) pulled out a brilliant ad-lib – ‘you can use the back door’ – to show his colleague a way off the stage.

Lead actor Clark, from Flimby, is surely a star in the making. His Scrooge was stooped, sneering and scary (if a little reminiscent of Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons).

His transformational rebirth after the visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future and his old friend Jacob Marley was also believable.

Clark performed several show stopping solo songs and gelled well with Jonny Landels – a glam rock ghost of Christmas present. Visions of Brian Blessed came into my head as Jonny’s deep, booming voice and large, bearded costume took Scrooge on his 2am haunt into the Christmas present.

Choreography on the large chorus routines, of which there were many, was well done particularly taking into consideration the scores of youngsters involved.

Alex Spiers (as comedy character Mr Fezziwig) and Jack McNeill (as Tiny Tim) are two I’d like to see flourish in years to come.

Scrooge wasn’t the only one to taste the milk of human kindness as the audience rose to its feet for a standing ovation.

 

AN EVENING WITH STAGEDRIGHT

Review by Kelly Eve – 2007

Much more splendid than their tender years first indicate, StagedRight’s young performers consistently aim for and reach the top.

Even though this two-night run was a relaxed fundraiser in aid of their stage production of Scrooge next summer, there was no dip in form.

Highlights included a rare public performance of It Don’t Mean A Thing, the song that clinched them the youth choir top spot in the Carlisle & District Music Festival for a third year running. The joy on their faces was obvious when they performed hits from Disney’s High School Musical.

West Cumbrian teenager and StagedRight student teacher Clark Wilkinson again brought tears to my eyes during his stirring version of This is the Moment from Jekyll and Hyde in act one and again with his haunting Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, which kick started the rousing finale featuring songs from their sell-out June show Les Miserables.

StagedRight already have two prestigious performances before Christmas and I’ve already got my ticket.

 

LES MISERABLES

Review by Kelly Eve – 2007

The standing ovation and applause from the sell-out crowd said it all.

They were on their feet before the last note of this version of the famous West End musical was played and remained upstanding well after the young performers had left the stage.

The principal actors and actresses commanded the stage well, particularly Clark Wilkinson, who gave a polished performance as Marius, and Rachael Walsh (Fantine).

The story of convict Jean Valjean, adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel, shows how he attempts to make the world a better place amid the poverty, adversity and battles of 19th-century France.

Jonathan Landels, in his first lead role, performed well as Jean Valjean.

His voice was bold and strong. His physical presence made him particularly suitable for the role as one of the older characters.

The same can be said for StagedRight newcomer Andrew Park, who played Javert.

Praise must be given to the talent, passion and emotion which shone through for more than two hours. At its height, more than 50 enthusiastic theatre students were on stage.

Mention must also be given to the excellent orchestra.

But also to the scores of people behind the scenes, from the directors to the costume makers and set designers, who spent months putting together this terrific two-night production which was sponsored by The Cumberland News and the Cumberland Building Society.

 

SUMMER HOLIDAY

Review by Ann Jones – 2006

THE effervescent British musical Summer Holiday was released on the big screen in 1963.

I’m reluctant to use the word amateur of this performance – these talented young people had me thinking I was at a West End theatre.

How did they get a double decker bus into The Sands? I’m not going to tell you but believe me it was very effective, as was all the scenery, lighting and costume changes.

Not only can these youngsters act, but their singing and dancing skills are pretty amazing as well.

StagedRight was launched almost two years ago to develop students’ skills and confidence. Judging by the performance the cast of 60 gave, it’s safe to say that the production team has certainly achieved this.

The story revolves round four boys who meet four girls while holidaying in Europe in a converted double-decker London bus. With the backing of “The Band” under the directorship of Alison Bedford, the cast blasted out Dancing Shoes, On The Beach, Bachelor Boy and had the packed audience dancing in the aisles.

Everyone involved should be extremely proud. After all, Sir Cliff wouldn’t give his seal of approval to just any old performance, would he?

 

BARNUM

Review by Kate Rees – 2005

STAGEDRIGHT Youth Theatre has a lot to be proud of, namely 60 young performers who wowed audiences at the Sands Centre.

Their production of Barnum – a musical based on PT Barnum’s life, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Michael Stewart – had the sense of fun and wonder of a real circus.

With 60 people on stage there was something going on in every corner. Even so, this was very much 13-year-old Queen Elizabeth Grammar School student James Hyde’s show. Even when singing with the others his voice could be heard above the rest and he showed stamina and energy in his acting and dancing.

Then there was Clark Wilkinson, who at only 14 is accomplished beyond his years. He gave a high-speed performance as the Ringmaster but the boys don’t get all the praise. Emily Ferrie gave a nuanced performance as Barnum’s wife Charity – making use of her singing, acting and musical talents.

StagedRight aims to ‘build self-confidence’ and ‘develop performance and life skills’. On the evidence of Saturday night’s show, they’re well on their way.