Members of the Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre cast
Members of Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre chose Jonathan Larson’s acclaimed rock musical, Rent, for their latest production. For some in the audience this proved to be not a particularly popular choice – I found the show a little ‘repetitious’ and definitely in need of a few cuts. But what we all agreed on was that the musical was a brilliant showcase for the talents of this young company. Youth Theatre never fails to amaze me – there have been many notable productions in the past, this one should be added to the list. This show, based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, requires immense stamina and some top notch acting ability to pull it off – and although the storyline became a little tedious in places – pull it off they did. Director Julie Mallaband and MD Oliver Rowe certainly know how to encourage the very best performances out of a young cast. Rent has very little speaking dialogue, almost all of the storyline being sung – no mean feat for any professional actor, but a triumph for the young people in this group whose talents seem to have no bounds. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the show itself, but I did enjoy the performances. LGYT can mark this down as another triumph in its growing repertoire of musical theatre. There were eight principals among the huge cast – every one of them turned in breathtaking performances. Ben Folds as the narrator seamlessly linked the scenes and Toby Smith excelled as Roger with his wonderfully powerful voice and acting skills. Daniel Breakwell’s often booming baritone enhanced the production considerably and Charlotte Middleton more than justified the director’s choice in her first principal role. Martin Holden-White, Lizzie Wofford and Lily Somerville all turned in powerful performances – Lily’s nightclub scene as the effervescent Maureen was outstanding. But for me, Robert Glynn as Angel gave the most memorable performance – hard to believe this was his first production with LGYT. His loveable transvestite character initially brought us some much-needed comedy and later some very moving scenes. We hope for more from this young man. The groupings of this large cast and choreography by Natalie Blackwell were just brilliant and the orchestra, although a little too loud in parts, was excellent. And congratulations must also go to Stephen Rainsford for some beautifully atmospheric lighting. This is a difficult show – but the outstanding talent shown by everyone proved beyond a doubt that this Rent was definitely paid in full. Rent runs at the Lichfield Garrick until Saturday, October 17 (including a Saturday matinee). For tickets call the box office on 01543 412121 or visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com.