26th August 2017
The Wyvern Theatre
In that year I was a mere stripling. It must feel like ancient history to the young people performing it for this year’s summer youth project.
If you’re not familiar with the plot of ‘Summer Holiday’ here’s a handy synopsis from Wikipedia:
‘The story concerns Don (Cliff Richard) and his friends (Hayes, Green and Bulloch) Cyril, Edwin and Steve. They are bus mechanics at the huge London Transport bus overhaul works in Aldenham, Hertfordshire.
During a miserably wet British summer lunch break, Don arrives at the bleak cafe where his friends are avoiding the rain. He’s persuaded London Transport to lend him and his friends an AEC Regent III RT double-decker bus (and not a later AEC Routemaster as often quoted). This they convert into a holiday caravan, which they drive across continental Europe, intending to reach the South of France. However, their eventual destination is Athens, Greece.
On the way, they are joined by a trio of young women (Stubbs, Hart and Daryl) and a runaway singer, Barbara, (Lauri Peters), who initially pretends to be male, pursued by her mother (Ryan) and agent (Murton). The movie was a box-office hit, thus repeating the success of Cliff Richard’s earlier film The Young Ones (1961).’
Summer holiday fun in Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre
What a wonderful nostalgia fest for anyone of a certain age this is!
Spotted frocks, net petticoats, shift dresses and jeans on the boys that didn’t weren’t torn and didn’t hang below their backsides. *wistful sigh* And the songs – aaaah – the songs …. just wonderful. When the film was released to a British public shivering in the February gloom (I hate February) it provided a blast of warming sunshine and glimpses of continental Europe – holidays abroad were not so common then so this was unusual.
The show features some creative and funny double decker bus (and ferry) activity – but you need to go and see it to see what I mean.
What I love about the summer youth project is that it finds a role for so many enthusiastic, energetic and talented young people of all ages. The entire stage and auditorium are utilised to make for an explosion of colour and action.
This production had lots of strong performances and some great singing voices – Don’s/Ethan Hughes being one of them. Yet I will give a particular mention to three of them:
Archie Fisher – who played Cyril – is super expressive and has a good comic touch. I see from the programme one of Archie’s previous roles is the Artful Dodger in Oliver. I can imagine him in that role. Then my other honourable mentions have to go to Jack McLoughlin and Omolola Funsho who played Stella (the mother of the runaway singer, Barbara, and Don’s love interest – keep up!) and Jerry, her agent. McLoughlin gave a nice comic turn and Funsho hit the spot well as the overbearing mother seeking to control her daughter’s life and career and do a spot of media manipulation along the way.
But this is an ensemble production so huge kudos and congratulations to everyone involved – both on the stage and behind the scenes. You don’t have to be proud grandma, or mum, or dad or uncle/aunty/sibling to enjoy this production. Get on board the double-decker bus for a joyous, innocent and sunshine filled trip back to the 1960s.
It’s playing again this afternoon and this evening so if you’re at a loose end – give it a go.
About the Summer Youth Project:
‘The first Summer Youth Project took place at the Wyvern Theatre in 1994 with Bugsy Malone and was one of the first community ventures of its kind in the local area. Since then it has become an annual tradition and many young people have been involved in the Projects over the years.
The aim of the Summer Youth Project is to provide up to 200 youngsters aged 9 – 21 with the opportunity to work together in a professional theatre. The two week project culminates in five performances of a full-scale musical under the supervision of a highly skilled creative team including a professional Director, Choreographer, Musical Director, Musicians and Technical team all in less than 2 weeks!’
This year’s production is sponsored by Imagine Cruising: https://www.imaginecruising.co.uk