Review: Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre Concert at Lichfield Cathedral

I first came across Oliver Rowe’s Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre by accident. Invited by the theatre’s Director Adrian Jackson to see a Saturday matinee of Les Miserables I went along for the ride.

Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre

Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre

The show itself was astonishing – I’m picturing now a huge tavern scene, pure excellence, but it was Eponine’s song On My Own ending the first act that finished me. Emotionally stunned I gasped: “I don’t think I can take any more!”

The theatre box we were in wasn’t soundproofed and the whole audience burst out laughing, but I was hooked. Fast forward to Saturday night where a packed cathedral was treated to a show of pure joyousness which was more than a showcase of young talent, it was a revelation of the spectacular standard its performers have already achieved.

I stated making notes in my programme but half way through the first half I put only an exclamation mark next to an item, then another, then another. I was putty in their hands. But it was their beautiful rendition of Carole King’s You’ve Got A Friend that finally did it – it had an old hard-bitten theatre reviewer in tears, and that’s what we pray for.

It’s hard to pay a tribute to this show anyone who wasn’t there would believe but I see a lot of professional musicals these days and this was streets ahead of them in terms of vitality, talent and pure, unadulterated charm, a stunning evening of future stars, performers we’ll soon be boasting we saw first, national treasures waiting to happen. Even the maestro Oliver Rowe sang – I hadn’t known he was once a youth theatre performer himself.

But even among this starry assembly Chris Buckle who I knew as an actor but hadn’t previously heard sing shone with some extra brightness – lighting loves him.

I haven’t even mentioned the superb orchestra under Mr. Rowe’s direction – or the amazing lightshow that lit up the grandeur of our lovely cathedral so atmospherically. I’ve got to stop now but I really must say, more Mr Rowe, please, more. This youth theatre is truly a treasure; if the show was on for two nights I’d be there again tonight.

Bravo to everyone involved.

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