JOHN LAWSON Norwich Playhouse


> Norwich Playhouse

This sadly underperformed little gem of a musical from the classic Keith Waterhouse book Billy Liar – about a northern lad who spends his life in a fantasy world – proves an ideal vehicle for the enthusiastic and tightly-knit Threshold Theatre Group – and in particular for the very special talent of teenage Chris Carroll in the title role.

Carroll is on stage almost throughout and must maintain the highest standards of acting, singing, comedy and pathos in equal measures – and this he achieves with an easy confidence.

No surprise, then, that he has just earned a place at the prestigious London School of Musical Theatre. The West End beckons…

But this show, with a book by top scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and some terrific songs by John Barry and Don Black, is no one-trick pony.

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Tony Wilds, Val Lofthouse and Audrey Fiddes offered quality support as Billy's family, while Sarah Browne, Emily Clark and Sara Crowley brought three very different characters to his rival girlfriends – and shared one of the real musical highlights in their second-act trio.

And listen out for the nostalgic It Were All Green Hills and Billy's wistful Some Of Us Belong To The Stars.

Any brickbats thrown must be in the direction of the designer who imposed too many fiddly pieces of scenery on the overworked stage crew.

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