Our summer production for 2019 was a compilation-style show featuring some of the biggest hits from the West End and Broadway. Also including some lesser-known numbers, the show spanned the decades right up to date with performances from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen.
Scroll to the bottom to view some rehearsal and performance photos.
You can also view some video clips from the show on our Facebook page.
On the Mark Youth Theatre bounded across several Broadway stages in their latest venture, “Magic of the Musicals” and as in the best magic acts, you sit there, astonished and stupefied as to how did they do it?!
A compilation of songs from the shows can be a sickeningly sweet selection of simply the audience’s favourites. This show has been brilliantly structured by Simon Phillips to encompass the amazing talents of the cast across their whole age range and to present a wide range of high-quality material from shows both known and lesser known.
The show began with a medley from “Hairspray”. I don’t know what Baltimore’s got, to make these students so ecstatic, but I’m booking a flight! The 60’s vibe was brilliantly caught in the music and fabulous choreography, which was a constantly stunning feature of the whole show, and the energy of every single performer contributed to this dazzling opener. Nel Meirion, Mia Scudds and Jack Marsh provided impressive solos in the medley.
At the back of the stage was the Rolls Royce engine room of the 13-piece band would grace any professional production, anywhere. A simple black background of a night sky filled with glittering stars echoed the foreground of glittering stars form in clusters, whole constellations, and occasionally as single stars.
This was true of Ellie Moulson’s performance of, “When it All Falls Down” from the musical, “Chaplin”. Vocally, she captured the sneering, acidic journalist whose sole intention is to expose Chaplin’s private life to topple him from the height of his career.
Alayna Hughes and the female chorus gave us a show classic, “On My Own” from “Les Miserables” which was sung with great tenderness and sincerity.
The next two items focused on the angst and awkwardness of the teenage years. Maisie Spauls and Dan Brown gave us “Mix Tape” from “Avenue Q” and not only sang it beautifully but acted its self-consciousness and lack of it, to perfection.
Ben Rackham led the cast in “13/Becoming a Man” from, “13 – the Musical” and the energy and passion shown in the singing and dancing was vibrant and totally committed.
The younger members of the cast were given their chance to shine in, “Don’t be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be” and they took this message to heart. Poppy Bowles, Grace Monaghan, Ella Ford and Sam Jones provided excellent solos in this positive, upbeat number.
Ben Rackham and Alayna Hughes were well matched as Bonnie and Clyde in the song, This World (Will Remember Us) giving us their obsessive motivation to make their names, one way or another.
“Dear Evan Hansen” is not a show I have come across before, but “You Will Be Found” is an immensely touching song of reassurance and self-belief. The performance incorporated the best of performers of all ages. Dan Brown, Morgan Taylor, Tom Wagenaar, Katy Hall, Claudia Lovering and Eddie Pytches all interacted beautifully and were ably assisted by the whole chorus.
After another swift change of mood and direction, we were treated to “would-be princesses” Anna Lynch, Tori Taylor and Mia Scudds acidly commenting on the wait for their princes to arrive. All three showed they had the comic timing to make the song both funny and sad at the same time.
The first half closed as the whole cast, wonderfully led by Sameer Dhanjee, boarded the Starlight Express and headed for the “Light at The End of the Tunnel”. This is another of those well-crafted pastiches that Lloyd Webber does so well. The rock-gospel elements were joyously brought together in the powerful singing and dancing.
The second half opened with a number from another Lloyd Webber show, “Whistle Down the Wind”. It provided a worthy vehicle to show off the vocal talent of Calum Craine who led the cast in the oddly Methodist hymn-like number, “The Vaults of Heaven”.
We then had a number from one of my favourite Sondheim shows, “Sweeney Todd” and Keane Harrison was a wonderful Mrs. Lovett, attempting to gain sympathy for selling “The Worst Pies in London”. Her characterisation, Cockney accent and wonderful acting almost made me want to buy one!
“Hamilton” is on my wish list of must-see musicals and the performances of two of the songs from the show were simply stunning. Alice Watkinson, Maisie Spauls, Claudia Lovering, Sameer Dhanjee, Ben Rackham, jack Marsh and Daniel Brown were outstanding in “The Schuyler Sisters” and “Satisfied”. The audience member sitting next to me told me that she had seen the show in London, last June, and this performance was just as good! All I can say is what enormous talent was displayed and I thought that Alice was vocally outstanding.
“Who Will Love Me As I Am” gave a wonderful opportunity to show off the talents of the junior girls in the show as each one had a solo line and they really went for it! It was a clever way to treat the song which is normally sung as a duet.
What a glorious comic team Archie Pytches and Dan Boulton made in “I’m All Alone” from “Spamalot”. Archie has become quite the performer and Dan’s facial expressions and acting, as well as singing, brought out all the cheekiness needed. This was asparkling comic jewelof a performance.
“Mambo” from “West Side Story not only gave the cast a chance to display their athletic dancing in some wonderful choreography, but also placed the impeccable band, front stage, as they really dug into those savage Latin rhythms.
“Come to the Fun Home” gave three junior cast members the chance to “strut their stuff” and Ella Ford, Megan Hall and Sam Jones lost no opportunity to impress us with their singing and boogie-ing. It was like a Jackson 3 workout!
It was a brave move to showcase many of the senior boys in ”Bui Doi” from “Miss Saigon” and they sang beautifully. This was one of the vocal highlights of the show as it sounded wonderful, the full emotional power of the song lay beyond their youth.
The vocal highlight that gave me total goose-bumps was to be found in the wicked pairing of Ellie Moulson and Chumisa Dornford-May in “Defying Gravity”. Their duetting was powerful enough to launch Apollo 11 and Chumisa’s solo lifted it to galaxies, far, far away. I cannot imagine that a better sung or more professional performance of this song is available on a stage anywhere, this side of the Milky Way.
The final medley left us “feline groovy” as the Lloyd Webber blockbuster “Cats” was condensed into several short numbers linked together by fabulous choreography and glorious solos given by Joe Harris, Anna Clough, Eddie Pytches, Jack Marsh, Nel Meirion, Keane Harrison and Katy Hall. Relentlessly energetic and extremely professional performances both here and in the rest of the show, perfectly demonstrated why we must whole-heartedly support the work that OTMYT does. The skills the performers perfect and the impact of their work on audiences is life-affirming. Isn’t that the true definition of education at its best?
Well done, everyone!
Yet another amazing evening of classic and modern showstopping musical numbers, this well-disciplined Youth Group of performers, presented a very polished first night.
Despite a few technical hiccups, the whole cast stayed in character and remained professional throughout. Even after a couple of restarts. Each and every one of the soloists and group songs were very slick, moving from one number to another with ease.
All the individual and chorus movement were very well rehearsed and it showed. There were countless strong routines and it would be unfair to pick out any one in particular.
Suffice to say, if you go along to watch this show, you are in for a delightful treat !
I must admit that, to my shame, I hadn’t seen an On The Mark Youth Theatre production until now but knowing the reputation of its production team of artistic/musical director Simon Phillips, choreographer Laura Roberts and assistant musical director Luke Disley, I expected standards to be high. Even I wasn’t prepared for just how high, though, as they presented Magic of the Musicals at Christleton High School.
The show’s opening number, a medley of songs from Hairspray which introduced the entire cast as they came spilling in to the hall, dancing down the aisles really set the tone for what would turn out to be a fantastically uplifting evening of song and dance routines from some of the biggest shows to grace stages in the West End and on Broadway, all effortlessly performed by a talented cast who even at their young ages, would give some seasoned West End performers a run for their money.
The show deliberately steered away from the more obvious choices for a compilation show and instead presented something fresh and contemporary whilst still managing to include some much loved favourites. What we were presented with was a compilation show for the 21st century with a modern, sassy edge to it.
There were several stand out moments during the show including You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hanson with some gorgeous harmonies, The Light at The End of The Tunnel from Starlight Express, which provided a barnstorming finale to act one, The Schuyler Sisters and Satisfied from Hamilton plus the stunning Mambo from West Side Story which wouldn’t have looked out of place on Strictly and a wicked performance of Defying Gravity, which brought one of the biggest roars of approval of the night from the capacity audience.
There were some great fun numbers too performed by the younger members of the cast including Don’t Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be from Snoopy the Musical. It was great to see every member of the cast given a chance to shine be it in the ensemble numbers or performing a solo, a great confidence builder. Every pupil had a contribution to make to the production, be it on stage or as part of the back stage and tech crew – the perfect example of “learning by doing”, which just happens to be On The Mark’s motto.
Speaking of the tech crew, I was really impressed with the use of the lighting and other effects throughout, nothing seemed out of place and there was well thought out use of colour, green for Wicked, red and blue for Les Mis for example, (you see, I do notice these things). It was a shame that there were a few issues with microphones on the night but these were all coped with brilliantly by the cast.
I must give a mention to the fantastic live band under the direction of the very capable Simon Phillips, they really added to the overall feel and polish of the production, it really would not have been the same with backing tracks, bravo guys. The finale of the show came all too soon and we were treated to a medley of songs from On The Mark’s next production, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit musical Cats, which, if the standard of singing during this preview was anything to go by, will be another sell out show.
Congratulations to On The Mark Youth Theatre for a truly excellent evening of musical theatre. We give Magic of the Musicals an absolutely wicked 5 stars.