Chelmsford Young Generation
at the Cramphorn Theatre
This charming, often witty, Stiles and Drewe musical retells the slight moral tale of The Ugly Duckling.
Jeremy Tustin's economical production, with Bryan Cass as MD, made the most of the intimacy of the Cramphorn, and coaxed fine performances from his actors, right down to the tiny brood of just-hatched ducklings.
We are introduced to the duck pond and its denizens by Drake, well sung by a personable Sam Toland; his missus, a no-nonsense Northern Ida, was superbly characterized by Sophie Walker, the only member of the cast really to bring her role to fully believable life. That's not to say there weren't other very polished performances, from Bart Lambert, say, as Ugly, the Just William victim who turns into a very suave swan indeed, or Luke Higgins' predatory tomcat. I also liked the domesticated duo of Jade Flack and Alice Masters, Harry Brown's Barnacles and James Bantock's Greylag.
Some lovely production numbers – everyone an amphibian in Warts and All, an airborne squadron for Wild Goose Chase – loving design [the ducks on the living room wall] and costumes imaginative and not too literal made for a lively, colourful entertainment, which was also a valuable lesson in living with difference.