Cats, Ferneham Hall, Fareham, review: ‘The future of local theatre seems assured if it’s in such capable hands’

Sam Beer made-up as Munkustrap in Stage One Youth Theatre's Cats.
Sam Beer made-up as Munkustrap in Stage One Youth Theatre's Cats.

Youth theatre has been known to strike dread into my heart; semi-talented youngsters giving semi-talented performances directed by semi-talented directors and choreographers.

Not so for Stage One Youth Theatre at Ferneham Hall with Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s unforgiving Cats.

Unforgiving? Those songs are not an easy sing; Lloyd-Webber is a master of his art and expects his performers to be the masters of theirs. How does this group, average age around 13, cope? Extraordinarily well.

Accompanied by an orchestra, they conquer all. It’s not perfect but it’s up there with some of the best adult non-professional stuff I’ve seen.

Jacqui Ivemy (director) and Matt Newman (choreographer) have played to the company’s strengths – and this company has strengths a-plenty.

Performance of the evening goes to Brandon Cable-Rogers as Gus, the theatre cat; a studied, minutely-detailed performance worthy of an actor many years his senior. He even dances, impressively in character, in the finale. And on the subject of dancing, Charles Clark, take a bow. His solo during Magical Mister Mistofelees garnered applause before he’d even finished – and well deserved.

Nice work, too, from Milo Baker, Siobhan Carroll, Zoe Elliott, Isobel Griggs and Eden and Hope Hillier-Smith. Excellent vocals; excellent movement. 

The future of local theatre seems assured if it’s in such capable hands.