Youngsters are the kings of the swingers

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The Jungle Book, Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre – Middle Group, at Alnwick Playhouse, Wednesday, November 16, and Thursday, November 17.

THOSE enthusiastic little ones at the Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre have done it again.

No matter what they are given, these talented youngsters always seem to deliver.

And this was certainly true of the Middle group’s latest performance – The Jungle Book.

It was entertaining, nicely executed and well performed.

And the close-to-full Playhouse audience at the show’s closing night would probably agree with that – certainly their loud cheers and warm applause at the end of the evening seemed to suggest that they appreciated what they had seen.

Quite right too.

First of all, The Jungle Book was a great choice – a familiar and fun story which the youngsters seemed to enjoy.

Secondly, there were some really good performances.

First off, Alex Clark-Thompson was excellent as happy-go-lucky bear Baloo. The role demands a big personality, and Clark-Thompson certainly brought that to the stage in abundance, as well as a large dose of humour, confidence and swagger.

He also gave a fine rendition of The Bare Necessities too – no mean feat.

Talking of songs from The Jungle Book, there’s also the little matter of I Wan’na Be Like You – my favourite song from the Disney film.

Thankfully, Aimee White (Queen Louie) delivered, with both her voice and the energy she brought to the role – aided too by the rest of her monkey pack.

Pleasingly, this was an occurring theme throughout the show – the group nailed the songs, including Colonel Hathi’s March, Trust In Me and That’s What Friends Are For.

Billy Swan, Olivia Bell and Laura Leadbitter played Kaa the Snake and really lived and breathed the character, bringing it to life and raising a laugh on a number of occasions.

Aidan Phillips gave a commanding performance as Colonel Hathi, Isaac Mills was delightfully sinister as Shere Khan, Olivia Turner (Bagheera) and Charlotte Mathewson (Mowgli) also impressed, while Lindsey Brooks – who also sang a number of short solos and impressed me with her voice – Cerys Williams and Lexy Bee were entertaining as the vultures.

There were some nice touches during the show too.

Some of the cast used their bodies as props to create a jungle landscape which the lead characters navigated through, around and sometimes under, to give a feel that they were making their way through the jungle, while swirling eyes flickered on the back screen to give the hypnotic effect of Kaa.

Meanwhile, director Cheryl Stewart made the most of the stage, filling it at every opportunity with the enthusiastic cast.

There were also soft toy animals dotted around the venue’s empty seats – not that there were many – while the on-stage scenery really went that extra mile to create that jungle feel.

All in all, it was a really good show – one of the best I have seen from an Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre group (which is saying something) – and this cast certainly proved that they were king of the jungle.

CAST: Charlotte Mathewson, Olivia Turner, Alex Clark-Thompson, Isaac Mills, Sophie Thomson, Amber Brown, Cora Drummond, Abbie Carr, Billy Swan, Olivia Bell, Laura Leadbitter, Aidan Phillips, Zara Sumner, Andrew Wilson, Daisy Sawyer, Tilly Osborne, Sarah Walker, Aimee White, Isaac Ellis, Jasmin Bennett, Megan Brown, Taylor Enstone, Harriet Renner, Sian Hinds, Cody Harrison, Jade Craddock, Imogen Carr, Emily Anderson–Faulkener, Lindsey Brooks, Cerys Williams, Lexy Bee, Oscar Wilson, Matthew Hardy.

JAMES WILLOUGHBY