News Item

'A Jemm of a show shines through the laughter and the tears'- Hexham Courant 2012

Saturday, 3rd August 2013 - 09:31 pm      Author: Grace Nicholson

Jemm of a show shines through the laughter and the tears.
Across Northumberland the name Jemms is synonymous with exciting and vibrant theatre.

Annually audiences flock to see the company which has developed a reputation for first-class performances. Unsurprisingly this year's production was no exception.
The ensemble's take on Willy's Russell's 'Our Day Out' showcased the maturity of the young performers, as they moved the audience from laughter to tears.

Set in Liverpool amidst a scene of poverty and social unrest, the 1979 progress class of a local school is given the chance to escape the mundane routine of their home life for one day. Thanks to the dedication of their teacher, Mrs Kay, the students embark on an epic day out, giving them a rare glimpse of life beyond Liverpool.

The use of multi media and lighting design was very impressive, and captured the era perfectly. The set, which comprised of junk and rubbish items, was used to move through a variety of locations throughout the show with professional accuracy. Among many wonderful performances from the cast was Anna Barnard, whose Liverpudlian accent was flawless and who gave an emotional interpretation as Carol Chandler, a young girl troubled by the pressures of living in a city where aspiration is lacking.
Standing on top of a cliff, skilfully made from crates, dust bins and hubcaps the young actress gave a show-stopping vocal performance which left the audience stunned.
The character of Mrs Kay who provided a ray of hope for the downtrodden students, was skilfully portrayed by Lucy Aiston, a talented young woman who gave a sensitive performance, showing great vocal ability while demonstrating a natural aptitude for dance.
Providing Mrs Kay with her nemesis, Jack Cook gave a memorable and detailed performance as the stern Mr Briggs, showing his ability to portray the intricacies that come with such a strong and influential character. Staav Bremer as the sassy teacher Susan sang beautifully and provided the perfect crush for the teenage school boys.
The vulnerable heartthrob teacher Colin was played by Joe Kroese whose inability to fend off the attentions of the besotted school girl Linda was thoroughly amusing and wonderfully executed.
Indeed special mention must be given to Rosie Cochrane who played Linda and captured perfectly the dilemma of a lovesick teenager with a well observed comic performance. The friendship between Linda and her friend Jackie, played by Harriet Wise, was incredibly truthful and the pair brought a fantastic energy to the piece.
Another brilliant duo were Max Greig and Ben Dixon, as Reilly and Digga, who shone, and had a truly brilliant stage presence. Their perfect comic timing and truthful performances left the audience giggling long after the show had ended.
Audiences, too, were wowed by Jennie Klotz and her ability to switch between roles while brilliantly maintaining a range of accents throughout – an impressive and very watchable young actress.

As always, humour was plentiful with the exceedingly talented Will Rees and his depiction of Ronnie, the bus driver, whose vocal and physical transformation was quite astounding.
Additionally the performances of “the bored girls” were flawless and transported the audiences back to their own school days.

A definite highlight of this show was the strength of the ensemble who must be commended for maintaining characters throughout and demonstrating the company's ability to produce impressive harmonies and group numbers. Amid the main plot individual story lines emerged and the stamina and commitment of the ensemble must be applauded.

As usual, artistic directors Katrina Conaty, Lucy Hudson and Stuart Rutherford impressed audiences and the superb live band again wowed viewers.

Our Day Out was another Jemms success, showing the dedication and hard work of all those involved in the company. Indeed it is easy to see why Jemms has attracted so many youngsters throughout its history, and why audiences return year after year.

Long may it continue!

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Jemms has given me the opportunity to wear metallic gold leggings; hide a fish under my overcoat, and look up my own skirt in search of my character's illusive self-esteem. Thus far, no other organisation has permitted me even one of these things!... Will Rees, Wylam