Daily Echo Review
Ferneham Hall, Fareham
A less familiar work in the canon of Lionel
Bart, Blitz! has strong personal connections, drawing on fond
memories of the East End of London. A love story, a story of
community and comradeship, it also contained an amusingly affectionate
depiction of a strong Jewish mother in the form of Mrs Blitztein.
Jacqui Ivemy has overseen a fluid, beautifully
staged production, that illuminated the best of the material.
The musical numbers were nicely arranged and choreographed with
At its heart was the strength of the performances
and once again the company has shown its merit. Jonah Ford (Georgie)
and Sian Samways (Carol) had great stage presence and made an
endearing central couple. Ethan Emery was equally good as Harry,
the bad boy who came good. Zoe Elliott (Elsie) had charisma
and could certainly dance. And Jessie Wright gave a blistering
performance as Mrs Blitztein, pretty much stealing the show.
Blitz! – Stage One Youth Theatre
Date– 2nd June 2016
Director – Jacqui Ivemy
Musical Director – Dennis Brombley
Choreographer – Phoebe Saunders
Venue – Ferneham Hall, Fareham
Type of production – Musical
In a week when I had also seen Lionel Bart’s Oliver! it
was interesting to contrast his lesser known musical Blitz!,
which opened in London just two years later in 1962, and wonder
why it has never achieved the same degree of success. As its
name suggests, Blitz is set in the East End of London during
the intense aerial bombings of World War Two and focuses on
two families: the Jewish Blitzteins and the cockney Lockes,
who run adjacent market stalls in Petticoat Lane but do not
get on with each other. We follow the lives of the two families
as they endure the bombing, their sons going off to war –
or deserting – and we see the racial and social diversity
that existed in the East End, which didn’t stop people
pulling together to survive, despite having their homes destroyed
and living with the lasting effects of the injuries they suffered.
It is a great tribute to the director, Jacqui Ivemy, and the
maturity of the young actors involved that they managed to portray
so well not only the suffering endured by East Enders of the
time, but also the overriding cheerfulness that saw them through.
Jessie Wright, as the matriarch Mrs Blitztein,and Adam Brombley
as her adversary, Alfred Locke, carried a lot of responsibility
for the success of the show- but we were in safe hands. Both
gave confident and assured performances, with excellent acting
and singing and spot-on accents.
They were ably supported by Ethan Emery as Harry Blitztein,
the cowardly son who went AWOL and worked as a spiv, and Jonah
Ford as Georgie Locke, the brave son who went to war, returning
injured but still in love with Carol Blitztein (Sian Samways).
Carol had been blinded during an air raid but Georgie still
loved her and their eventual marriage unites the two families.
Dylan Rutter as Harry’s sidekick, Ernie Nearmiss, always
bringing news of tragedy and disaster, produced a great character
andall four gave excellent, believable performances. There was
a huge cast of supporting characters, who all created and sustained
the wartime atmosphere really well, many doubling up on parts.
One character who particularly stood out for me was Mrs Smith,
who had some wonderfully cutting lines, delivered to perfection
by Eleanor Shellard.
I must pay tribute to director Jacqui Ivemy for pulling together
such a big production, choreographer Phoebe Saunders, for managing
to get the large cast to move with great precision, without
it looking staged, and Wardrobe Mistress Mandy Baker for finding
so many authentic-looking costumes. Praise too for the set design
and construction team – I was surprised to be told that
it was not a hired set – they had built it all themselves.
It was most impressive – especially the tube station.
The orchestra, with Dennis Brombley at the helm, must also be
congratulated, for providing a good sound, very much in keeping
with the era, and never drowning out the singers.
It was a powerful story with many parallels with the world we
live in today,so I can only think that the lack of success originally
was perhaps partly because 1962was too soon after the real events
to look back, and also that the show never ran on Broadway (it
was thought that New Yorkers would not share Londoners’
nostalgia for the period). The tunes are very much in keeping
with the war period, but nowhere near as catchy as those of
Oliver – although you do get hints of the same melodies
coming through at times - and while it’s not a laugh-out-loud
show, there are plenty of gently amusing moments. With the benefit
of greater distance from the war, I believe this show deserves
a revival and if it were to be performed with anything like
the gusto, enthusiasm and talent of Stage One Youth Theatre,
it would be an enormous success.
Everyone I have spoken to who saw the show (nearly
all seeing the show for the first time) thought it was excellent,
as echoed in NODA’s report – a well-deserved accolade
for the whole creative team and the high production values that
are adhered to. It’s amazing how those actors who were
in the background a few productions ago can now confidently
hold the stage, which must give inspiration for those coming
through behind them. I thought that the use of the young kids
was particularly inspired and it certainly kept Andrea fit trying
to herd them!
Looking forward to Footloose.
Mike Wright June 3 at 10:34pm
Well done all of you! Really really well performed and sung!!!
Danielle Cox June 3 at 11:09pm
Just wanted to say another massive well done to everyone! Was
an amazing show and good luck for the rest of them xxx
Eleanor Shellard June 5 at 12:05am
I just wanted to say a massive thankyou to everyone in Stage
One for an incredible show loved absolutely every second of
show week! I am going to miss everyone who, is involved with
stage one. I hope Footloose is incredible for you all. But there
are a couple of thankyou I would like to say:
Firstly to the incredible talent of the cast, who deserve every
Secondly, to the stage crew who made an absolutely beautiful
set. (One of my favourites so far.)
Thirdly to the hair and wardrobe people who spent numerous hours
making our costumes look spectacular. So thankyou to you.
Finaly to Jaqui, Dennis and Pheobe who, made this show soo much
fun! It has been an honor to work with you all! See you all
after Footloose, thankyou again for an special week.
Emily Collins-Wingate June 5 at 12:21am
**Long and soppy theatre post alert**
Wow what an evening.. For the first time in 10 years I was sat
in the audience for a Stage One show, completely gutting at
first but also a chance to see the amazing talent that company
has. So so many incredible performances I can't list them all
but I'll try a few.
Jess, first and foremost you stole the show. Yours
and Molly's sustained accents were so professional and your
scenes so full of emotion. A true star - plus you rocked the
grey hair look, it's a difficult one to pull off ;)
Jonah and Sian, such a beautiful onstage couple.
Every scene was believable from Jonah's hilarious song with
Ethan to Sian's acting most of the second act 'blind'! True
talent, two amazing performances.
Zoe you just had so much sass and were a true
female lead. Loved your "Leave It To The Ladies" song
- you have such a nice voice! Every line you delivered was full
Adam, you played an older character and it was
completely believable. Songs were full of character and just
a brilliant role all round.
Dylan, hilarious sustained character acting. Ethan,
where did that wonderful voice come from? Milo your bagels truly
stole the show and Jasmin you never fail to bring emotion and
sass to your characters. The younger chorus were adorable and
acted so well and every chorus scene was filled with action
from every member of the cast. There are just too many names
Jacqui, Dennis and Phoebe you did an amazing job
(and the band was wonderful Mark, Jonathan and co.) Everyone
backstage, upstairs and FOH did such a good job - Jane, Keith,
David and everyone else. A show, as ever, to be proud of and
I am proud to have been a part of Stage One.
Charlie Foord June 5 at 6:38pm
I would like to say a huge thank you and well done to everyone
who performed and helped with the production of Blitz. An even
bigger well done to Jess Wright who was the best Jewish mother.
I have managed to look past the fact that I wasn't Irish or
Indian and have accepted that Kieran Poling and Charles Clark
did much better accents than me. But again, well done to the
cast and crew for all your hard work the past week. See you
all for Footloose.