Greatest show on earth? Yes, it was!

Some of the performers in The Greatest Show on Earth with the Baker Street Irregulars.
Some of the performers in The Greatest Show on Earth with the Baker Street Irregulars.

REVIEW: Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre, The Greatest Show on Earth with the Baker Street Irregulars, at Alnwick Playhouse, Sunday, November 30.

Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre take a bow. Boy, do you deserve it!

After all, the Greatest Show on Earth needed an equally great performance. But on the face of it, this particular production was a tough one to pull off.

Combining circus skills, traditional musical theatre, dance and a detective mystery, it is certainly a demanding and complex piece.

But pull it off they did and these youngsters produced a slick, polished and highly-entertaining show.

Particular kudos has to go to the talented performers who nailed the whacky and energetic Barnum’s Circus part of the production. There were some challenging skill sets in this particular section, including hula-hooping, but the youngsters coped admirably.

The hilarious sequences involving the clowns (Oscar Elliot-Selkirk, Isaac Ellis and Billy Swan), and the strongmen (Oscar Wilson, Ethan Allan and Liam Moore) were particularly memorable.

This particular production brought the juniors and the seniors together.

The youngest members worked with text. The Baker Street Irregulars is a play with musical numbers featuring a group of street urchins who help Sherlock Holmes solve a murder.

Meanwhile, the seniors devised their circus show through improvisation and circus skills workshops over a period of 10 rehearsals, which is not a huge amount of time.

It was certainly a steep learning curve, but it didn’t seem to phase the seniors. In fact, they seemed to relish it.

And this, perhaps, is one of the biggest triumphs of the show; that the Youth Theatre is providing the chance for these up-and-coming performers to learn and develop existing and new skills.

On top of this, it is giving them the creative licence to actively put forward their suggestions for their upcoming production and provides them with the chance to play a big part off the stage, as well as on it. A quick glance at the programme also reveals that some of the cast are involved in the production team, including choreography, as well as costume, hair and makeup. This is another positive and all part of the nurturing process.

While this particular production was a challenging one, it was also a good choice for a youth group, as it involves a large cast with numerous speaking parts.

All of the people on stage certainly seemed to enjoy being part of the show, which was overseen by Playhouse manager Jo Potts, after stalwarts Cheryl Stewart and Judy Tribe stepped down earlier this year.

The staging was well thought out – with a nice contrast between the dark and sparse feel of the murder mystery to the colourful, in-your-face circus scene – complete with bunting and strings of multi-coloured lighting.

At the end of the show, the youngsters lapped up the audience applause. And so they should. It was a great effort.

Cast list

Baker Street Irregulars: Billy Swan, Eleanor Morris, Lauren Robinson, Dylan Potter, Andrew Wilson, Palesa Thompson, Olivia Gemmel, Alice Brazel, Maisie Fisher, Jemma Thew, Harry Clark-Thompson, Ethan Allan, Sophie Bell. Group A: Amy Collis, Daisy Duddell, Francesca Peddis, Megan Bell, Hannah Taylor, Olivia Jarvis. Group B: Sophie Bell, Emma Jackson, Alexander Brewis, Keeley Fielding, Gregory Brewis, Sophie Green. Barnum’s Circus – Ringmistresses: Charley Anstee, Megan Brown, Zara Sumner, Meg Fletcher. Clowns: Oscar Elliot-Selkirk, Isaac Ellis, Billy Swan. Strongmen: Oscar Wilson, Ethan Allan, Liam Moore. Tightrope walkers: Lexy Bee, Cora Drummond. Hula-hoopers: Stella Deckers-Coulter, Rebecca Dixon, Lexy Bee, Cora Drummond, Hannah Thompson. Acro-balance: Zoe Gilroy, Sophie Thomson. Daisy Sawyer. Diabolo: Daisy Sawyer. Magician: Alex Cark Thompson. Magician’s assistant: Andrew Wilson. Dance/contortion: Lexy Bee, Cora Drummond, Oscar Wilson, Sophie Thomson. Production: Jo Potts (director), Sarah Mclane (assistant director), Peter Brown (musical director). Carrie Morrison (assistant musical director/stage manager), Tim Swinton, Andy Hunt (sound/lighting/set), Hannah Thompson, Priam Sampaio (Circus Central practitioners), Rosie Bristol, Lexy Bee, Charley Anstee, Meg Fletcher, Zara Sumner, Hannah Thompson (costume/hair/makeup), Chloe Smith, Lexy Bee (choreography).