May 26 2013 Latest news:
Sara Odeen-Isbister , Senior Reporter
Friday, July 20, 2012
Full of energy, seat bopping songs, nostalgia and a good dash of humour, Lighting Up the Lane, is a community musical with something for everyone.
Written specifically to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Theatre, in Hornchurch, the 60-strong cast show tells the intriguing story of how the theatre was born from an old silent cinema.
As the curtains open the audience is introduced to a boisterous young gang who regularly play outside the cinema in the 1930s, acting out their favourite Hollywood moments.
The children are devastated when the crumbling cinema closes, making way for ‘Talkies’ at the new Odeon Towers, but continue to gather outside their much loved building as they grow into teenagers.
Their relatively care free existence is broken when war descends on the country, and the young lads from the gang are sent off to fight. Tragedy follows, but despite the pain left behind two sweethearts come together and their dream of seeing the old cinema turn into a theatre becomes a reality.
Although the tale of the gang is what pushes the musical along, the show is packed with other memorable sub-plot scenes. One, that probably got the most laughs of the night, sees buxom and saucy pub landlady Jeanie (Sharon Sims) try to seduce a somewhat bashful but nevertheless willing guest called Henry (Barry Kirk.) Sims performed the maneater part brilliantly, dominating the stage with her vivaciousness.
The gang is played by two groups of actors. Both ensembles were great, and their enthusiasm adds a real energy to the production. Two actors that particularly shone were Ben Cooke as Georgie and Samuel Ward-Smith as his best friend, Jimmy.
Another strong performance of the evening was Steve Probert, as Shakespearean actor Stephen Roberts.
A musical wouldn’t be complete without some great songs and dancing, and the show certainly delivered there.
Lighting Up the Lane was great fun to watch and something tells me the cast on stage enjoyed it just as much as me.
It runs at the Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane tonight and tomorrow. For more details go to queens-theatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01708 443333.
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