Youth Onstage theatre company, formed in 2002, perform two productions each year. Our House staged at the Old Rep Theatre is their first production of the season.
Based on the music of Madness with a book by Tim Firth, Our House tells the story of Joe Casey.
Set in North London on the night of his 16th birthday, Joe breaks into a new housing development to impress the girl of his dreams Sarah. When the police turn up Joe is faced with the decision to run or give himself up.
The story then splits into two as we follow “good Joe” and “bad Joe” on two very different paths. Both paths are watched over by Joe’s deceased dad, who regrets his own criminal choices. The parallel worlds of good and bad Joe steer towards the finale where the viewer discovers what choice Joe made on his 16th Birthday.
Director Deb Brook and musical director David Jones have succeeded in creating a high-quality production of this demanding piece of musical theatre. Orchestrations of the familiar songs of Madness were performed with verve and professionalism by the “Our House” band.
Choreography by Amy Evans fits the music of madness perfectly and was well executed by the ensemble of talented dancers. Baggy Trousers was my favourite ensemble number of the night and was delivered with great energy and precision.
There are numerous quick changes involved for the character of Joe, and these are achieved with ease, thanks to the costume design of Jane Griffiths, the back-stage team of wardrobe assistants and Joe Casey’s “dresser”.
The production is set on Casey Street, where each front door, (apart from the Casey house where the door remains red throughout) is either black or white. The doors are turned around by members of the cast to reflect the worlds of good Joe (white doors) or bad Joe (black doors). This was very effective and made the story easy to follow.
James Woodward delivered a strong performance in the demanding role of Joe Casey. James has a delightful singing voice and excellent acting ability. He used his acting skills effectively as each Joe Casey requires different characterisation.
Stacey Taras as Joe Casey’s girlfriend Sarah had good stage presence and very good chemistry with James Woodward. I particularly enjoyed their duet It must be love, as their voices combined well together.
Gibsa Bah (Emmo) and Matt Brook (Lewis) are perfectly cast as the “mates” of Joe Casey. They both have great stage presence, strong voices, and excellent chemistry with each other. I particularly enjoyed Gibsa’s delivery of the comedic lines within the show and thought he had great comedic timing.
Kitty Roberts (Billie) and Lauren Chapman (Angie) worked well together as the warm, sometimes sarcastic friends of Sarah. They both created very believable characters, have wonderful vocal and dance abilities and both conveyed great stage presence.
Kia Gates has a lovely singing voice and gave a believable performance as Joe Casey’s mother Kath.
The standout performance of the evening for me was Alex Currie as Joe’s dad. Alex gave a very mature performance, has an excellent voice and I particularly enjoyed his musical theatre delivery of Simple equation and Night boat to Cairo.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable production by a very talented company. The production included younger performers whose dancing, and stage presence easily matched the more experienced members of the cast. Youth Onstage deserve every success.
Our House ran at the Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham from 10th -12th May.
Next production by Youth Onstage will be the pantomime Hansel and Gretel at the Dovehouse Theatre 5th to 8th December 2018.
For further information on Youth Onstage and their productions please visit their website.
Theatretastic rating 4/5:
We say: “Youth Onstage are a very talented company, who delivered a very enjoyable and high–quality production of Our House!”