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Our House – The Madness Musical: NODA review

By 26th November 2023 News & Reviews

 

Our House – Petersfield Theatre Group
Date – 22nd November 2023
Director – Adam Collins
Musical Director – Harry Wells
Choreographer – Amy Perkins
Venue – Festival Hall, Petersfield
Type of production – Musical

Our House, which premiered at the Cambridge Theatre in London in 2002 and subsequently toured the UK and the world, is sometimes hailed as the British answer to Rent, but I think has more in common with Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. It was written to showcase the music of zany pop group Madness, but it is so much more than a jukebox musical. It cleverly weaves their music around a story of love, family values and the consequences of making the right and wrong decisions in life. It adds more than a dash of humour and enough depth to make us think.

 

We were greeted with an inner-city picture of Camden – the graffitied brick walls of Casey Street with a walkway above to represent the new apartments. All credit to the set design and construction team led by Roger Wettone for this background which only needed a little enhancement with props and furniture to work for every scene. This meant that the show moved along at breakneck speed which matched the pace of the actors. Superb lighting and video sequences (by Green A Team’s Tom Pearce) completed the vibrant setting. Costumes throughout were stunning and it seemed that no expense had been spared – all credit to the wardrobe team Sarah, Claudia, Jacquie and Debbie.

 

Sean Ridley gave a mighty performance as Joe Casey. Every inch the cheeky chappie and very deftly swapping between “right path” and “wrong path” Joe, with some astoundingly swift changes of costume and demeanour, he stunned us with his vocal ability, dancing and sheer energy. He was matched perfectly by Laura Coats as his on-off girlfriend Sarah, who amazed us with her gorgeous singing voice – we were just willing them to get together! Overseeing the path of Joe’s life was Steve Cliff as the ghost of his father and the powerhouse that is Lucy Summers as his mother Kath. Both are quality singers and their trio with Sean in “One Better Day” was just sublime.

 

Sam Townsend and Lee Backhouse as Joe’s mates Emmo and Lewis, made a great comedy pairing, bouncing off each other (literally at times), while Sophie Baker and Emily Collins-Wingate gave equally strong performances as Sarah’s friends Billie and Angie. Amy Perkins was genuinely scary as Reecey, and Geoff Wootton was nicely sinister as the baddie of the piece, Mr Pressman.

 

The principals received great support from the ensemble with strong choral singing and vibrant and precise execution of Amy Perkins’ choreography, which made maximum use of the shallow stage area.

 

MD Harry Wells and his seven-piece band reproduced the Madness sound perfectly, bringing back many good memories from my younger days and surprising me with how many of their hits I remembered!

 

This was a great show with vibrant and faultless performances, which left me feeling uplifted. Adam Collins, a new director in this area, has brought together a team of young actors with awe-inspiring amounts of talent and dedication and, together with inventive choreography from Amy Perkins and quality musical direction from Harry Wells, given us sparkling and energetic interpretation of this delightful show.

 

Mark Donalds
NODA SE District 10 Representative