Genesis Youth Theatre’s show ’66 UR 50’ is a trip down a musical memory lane to the sounds of 1966.
Unashamedly nostagic, Director John Walker’s programme includes some of the very best and most enduring songs from his own youth linked together with reminders of key news items from the year. Those of us who were there at the time will take real pleasure from seeing the cast – all between the ages of 11 and 16 – dressed in the fashions of the age. To them flares and kaftans must seem like relics (which they are) of an age just this side of the dinosaurs. A few grandparental wardrobes must have been ransacked to find such authentic items.
Given the task of presenting a programme which includes more than 20 musical numbers – many of them classics – the cast deliver an evening of delightful entertainment. The chorus numbers are vibrant and visually varied, with Dilly Croxall’s choreography and Christina Green’s vocal coaching adding to John Walker’s energetic (and very experienced) direction and boundless encouragement. Individual singers belie their youth with some fine vocal numbers and the sketches – including the theft and rediscovery of the World Cup (Thomas Barrett plays the trophy!) and Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen meltdown – are charming. But one key element of the evening is the way the cast manage no fewer than 33 transitions to maintain the show’s continuity. This is an ambitious project for young performers to take on but they will undoubtedly be rewarded by the audience’s response to their vigour, enjoyment and talents.
The company has been in rehearsal for this show since September and there is no doubt that they’ve learned a great deal about the music of 1966 in the process. But, as John Walker says in his programme notes, they’ve learned too about the statements made in the songs, the revolution in fashion at the time and key historical episodes that have provided them with a valuable sense of perspective. Genesis Chairperson Alice Cribbon accompanied the cast on a trip to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to research the year.
Alongside the history, the young performers have learned stagecraft. They have been guided by an experienced team – backstage crew and supporters – all of whom have contributed to the success of this production.
The audience will enjoy ’66 UR 50’. There will be few who don’t know the songs and many who’ll sing along with them. Nostalgic certainly, but very enjoyable too! Who can resist songs such as ‘Sound of Silence’, ‘Taxman’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘California Dreaming’ – and many more, all sung youthfully.
66 UR 50 is at Wellington Arts Centre, Eight Acre Lane, Wellington on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1st, 2nd and 3rd December at 7.30pm with a matinee performance on Saturday 3rd December at 2.30pm. Tickets from Teare’s Newsagents, South Street, Wellington.