Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Passionate Delight of Amateur Actors
Stage Experience returned to Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre for its 14th time to allow budding stars and amateur artists their chance to shine. With alumni including comedian Joe Lycett, the cast has real potential. So how will this year's selection fair?
The romance of West Side Story is the focus of Stage Experience in Birmingham
Not afraid of tackling even the most difficult of productions, this year's Stage Experience show is the multi-award winning West Side Story, performed from August 23 to 26.
There's more than 100 people taking part, and according to the theatre's insiders, they travel from far and wide across the country to be in the show. It's also the chance to work with established director and choreographer Pollyann Tanner.
It was hard to believe the cast had only two weeks of rehearsals under their belt as it was a relatively seamless, slick performance with the help from a small professional creative team and backstage crew.
The leads this year were astonishingly strong singers with charisma and confidence. Grace Whyte as Maria and Elliot Gooch as Tony really were songbirds that impressed with songs like I Feel Pretty, Tonight and Maria.
Stage Experience has a cast made up of actors aged between nine and 24.
The New Alexandra Theatre's Stage Experience is open to anyone aged between nine and 24, interested in the performing arts or a career behind the scenes. They had to get through a two-stage intensive audition process for the opportunity to perform, so these really were the creme de la creme - and it showed.
Sticking to a similar production as the recent West Side Story professional tour, it had a big set, grand dance routines and the famous big-hitter songs. There was also a real emotion on stage bringing to life this modern version of Romeo and Juliet.
It's an ambitious show but they pulled it off. If anything, the only drawback was that the stage was sometimes crowded out with too many players, who also drowned out he lead singers. I can understand that they want to give youngsters as much time to be on stage as possible, but there were times when less would have been more.
Top comedian Joe Lycett is not the only name to start off on Stage Experience, there is also Coventry's Liam Doyle, who landed roles in the UK Tours of High School Musical and Wicked as well as appearing in Mamma Mia in London's West End.
Of this latest production, there were some standout performers with a promising future. Along with The two leads already mentioned, Leah Vassell as Anita shone bright with a classy voice and her scene with Maria singing A Boy Like That/ I Have A Love was a highlight.
Jordan Ricketts as Riff also had a confidence on stage while Caven Rimmer as Action really came into his own while singing Gee Officer Krupke.
It showed why Stage Experience continues to go from strength to strength, entertaining more and more people every year. It was a real passionate delight.
West Side Story - Stage Experience
August 23 – 26
For tickets call 0844 871 3011 or visit the ATG Theatre website. www.atgtickets.com/birmingham
New Alexandra Theatre, Station Street, Birmingham, B5 4DS