OffSpringers at the Cramphorn Theatre
Dotheboys Hall - a failing school ? It looked almost over-subscribed in OffSpringers' ambitious production, its unfortunate inmates crowding the Cramphorn stage.
Sharon Scott's production looked good: the first glimpse of the gates, the back-lit classroom. The dance routines [choreographed by Maria French] were lively and imaginative – the “Stop!” number, with its momentary freezes, the joyous romp of Dotheboys Rock; even the static opening was full of visual interest.
I thought the reprise of Here I Am could have had more revolutionary fervour, but the final Believe, with our hero wandering through frozen figures, was a marvellous moment.
Sophie Walker, the eponymous orphan, had a pleasant singing voice and some fine flashes of character, while Lee Wakefield pulled off an impressive double as the two Heads. I enjoyed the comedy performances of Bethan Anderson and Naomi French as the Squeers women, and Tom Cilvert's stylish Bolder. James Raynal, an OffSpringers veteran, brought his considerable stage presence to the charismatic Nicholas, and Jason Clifford sang well as Snawley.
June Watson was the MD, wisely sitting in the front row to keep the kids in line.
On the first night some edges were rough, some opportunities were missed, but the capacity audience enjoyed an enthusiastic revival of a classic school musical.