Loserville, the new musical by James Bourne and Elliot Davis at West Yorkshire Playhouse, brought a packed audience to its feet with roars of appreciation last night.
It was a fantastic production. Aimed mainly at a young audience, it revolves around the lives of a group of teenage geeks in the 50s who don’t quite fit in but are smart and obsessed with Star Trek! One is writing a book, another is on the verge of inventing email. The guys are girl crazy, the girls are either reaching for the stars or shopping – no stereotypes here! Of course they are plagued by the school bully (Gareth Gates, who makes a rather good bad guy!) and his minions.
OK it’s no Grease, and the music may not have been to my taste, but it was a fantastic show! It was fresh and lively. The whole cast was absolutely on the ball. They danced, sang and acted their hearts out and the energy never let up for a minute. Stephen Dexter’s direction and Nick Winston’s choreography were superb. And, as for Francis O’Connor’s set design – it was amazing. As was Howard Harrison’s lighting.
The cast didn’t only have all the singing, dancing and dialogue to contend with, they also created backdrops with cartoon-like jigsaw pieces which would come together to form various objects then drift apart and flip over to create another. At one stage they made up a whole QWERTY keyboard – each one a different letter and they were all in the right place! It was complex and very, very clever and all produced by the Workshops and Production Departments of West Yorkshire Playhouse. Frankly, what they do never ceases to amaze me.
The core group – Aaron Sidwell as the computer geek, Eliza Hope Bennett as Holly, Richard Lowe as Lucas Lloyd, Lil’ Chris as Francis and Daniel Buckley as Marvin, together with Gareth Gates, his girlfriend Charlotte Harwood, and his henchmen Duncan Leighton and Robbie Boyle were all excellent – as were the rest of the cast.
In addition, of course, there was also a live band featuring Jim Henson on keyboards, Andy Shaw and Ollie Hannifan on guitars, Olly Buxton on bass and Daniel Hall on drums. I wish they could have continued playing for a while at the end!
As a first musical from James Bourne (of Busted and Son of Dork fame) and Elliot Davis, this was a great start. With the creative team they had behind them it was bound to be a success.
Loserville continues at The Playhouse until 14th July. Don’t miss it – you won’t be disappointed. Call 0113 213 7700 for tickets.
Photos: Tristram Kenton