by Elliot Davis and James Bourne.
West Yorkshire Playhouse (Quarry auditorium) Playhouse Square Quarry Hill LS2 7UP To 14 July 2012.
Audio-described 12 July 1.30pm.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu 1.30pm Sat 2pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0113 213 7700.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 July.
Abounding energy and life in youthful storyville.
Loserville is an add-on to the Hollywood idea everything can become a High School musical; Loserville relies on stereotypes; Loserville has a predictable storyline; Loserville relies on colour and light to distract from its insubstantiality. Loserville is a winner.
Coming from album (‘Welcome to Loserville’) to stage, then from Youth Music Theatre UK to West Yorkshire Playhouse, changing musically along the way, it’s made contact with young audiences and performers over several years. And the wild cheering that greeted it, during as well as after the performance, shows the energy’s still infusing, and enthusing, people. Even the story, set in the early 70s, with its simple villains, all preening emptiness, and good guys (plus girls) veiled behind nerdish ways and specs, has the elemental grasp of emotions that evoked several audible responses along the way.
Its trio of off-stage heroes have to be director Steven Dexter, designer Francis O’Connor and choreographer Nick Winston. Plus musical director Jim Henson and his concealed onstage band. With lighting and sound people Howard Harrison and Simon Baker.
Then there’s a cast who bring just enough sense of character to create the High School-level emotion without braking the action. At start and end they seem to jump over themselves to give a TV-style display of credits, holding up cards giving each other’s character then actor names. Part of a style that continues through the show’s early scenes, creating within its high-tech seeming surrounds, furnishings suggested by assemblages of spiral-bound notebooks, a student accoutrement that flips over easily in the fast-developing action.
Colourfully costumed, the energy’s sent spiralling to boiling-point by Winston’s ensemble dances, variety and precision within overall super-energy. Dances help assert the group world where the odd loner seeks the Higgs-boson of the age, trying to create the first e-mail of pre-internet days. Or write a novel of galactic conflict, its characters’ strange names inspired by overheard phrases.
From Aaron Sidwell’s studious Dork, to Gareth Gates’ emptily stylish Eddie, or Eliza Hope Bennett disdaining threats to make Dork’s day in the final contest, to everyone, each link in the cast’s strong as can be.
Britney Marks: Julie Albertson.
Marina: Sophie Ayers.
Holly Manson: Eliza Hope Bennett.
Davina Glen: Laura Bennett.
Huey Phillips: Robbie Boyle.
Chuck Bryson: Matthew Bradley.
Marvin Camden: Daniel Buckley.
Duvante Morris: Andrew Carthy.
Francis Weir: Lil’ Chris.
Eddie Arch: Gareth Gates.
Elaine Friend: Lauren Hall.
Leia Dawkins: Charlotte Harwood.
Charlie Arrow/Convention Announcer: Dan Krikler.
Wayne Pagoda: Duncan Leighton.
Alvin Starburst: Ashley Luke Lloyd.
Ivanka: Megan Louch.
Lucas Lloyd: Richard Lowe.
Michael Dork: Aaron Sidwell.
Susie Alpine: Sarah Watson.
Samantha Powden: Witney White.
Director: Steven Dexter.
Designer: Francis O’Connor.
Lighting: Howard Harrison.
Sound: Simon Baker.
Orchestrations/Vocal arrangements: Martin Lowe, Elliot Davis, James Bourne.
Musical Supervisor: Martin Lowe.
Musical Director: Jim Henson.
Choreographer: Nick Winston.
Dialect coach: Sarah Stephenson.
Fight consultant: Terry King.
Dance captain: Laura Bennett.
Assistant director/choreographer: Ewan Jones.
Assistant designer: Anna Finch.
Assistant lighting: James Smith.