Once Upon a War
Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
> Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre revisits its first triumphant production, under the direction of Norfolk teacher Adrian Connell and with Benjamin Lee conducting from the keyboard.
If you have never come across the show before, it's a youth theatre gem: a big show with a West End feel, given a powerful score by Richard Taylor and a touching and funny book by Denise Coffey.
The story follows the fate of a Jersey family during the second world war. The mother, played very movingly by 17-year-old Stephanie Moore, decides to keep everyone at home despite impending German occupation, so that the dog, Chippy (a real, but slightly nervous, yellow labrador) does not have to be put down.
A feature of the show was its big chorus numbers which sometimes had a slightly schmalzy feel, with tinkling triangles and slow rolled cymbals, but any sense of sentimentality was given the elbow both by the commitment of the cast, and the humour of the script.