Ysgol Bae Baglan, Seaway Parade, Port Talbot SA12 7BL
Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th February
Having a long-held conviction overturned is no bad thing. Say the words ‘child performers’ and ‘musical’ and I was the first to think I’m in for a long night, which is just one of many reasons why West Glamorgan Youth Theatre Company’s (wgytc) performance of Just So proved to be exceptional.
Performed at Ysgol Bae Baglan on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th, the company members, aged 13 – 20, brought verve and wit to a musical inspired by the stories of Rudyard Kipling, and originally produced by Cameron Mackintosh.
Have you ever wondered how the leopard got its spots, the zebra its stripes and the kangaroo its bounce? The story of how animals came to look different was led by Harry Lynn as the Eldest Magician, Hannah-Gracie Smith as the Elephant’s Child and Ellie Evans as the KoloKolo bird. A bright future on the West End stage must beckon for each of them.
Beyond some truly impressive vocal performances, Joe Baker showed great comic timing, as a misunderstood Rhino, battling with Oliver Davies’ precious chef Parsee and Joel Cansdale as his despondent Stove.
Adding to the fun was Luke Rance’s Leopard and Steffan Leonard’s Jaguar, both in pursuit of Ffion Pirotte’s Giraffe and Alana Wigley’s Zebra, in a manner that proved more carnivorous than amorous.
But credit goes to the whole cast, their energy brilliantly choreographed by Julie Hobday and brought to life by the inventive costumes of Hilary Statts and her team.
At wgytc, what happens back stage is just as important as what happen on and the imagination, skill and proficiency of the young technical crew is remarkable.
Access to the arts matters and it has been at the heart of wgytc since it was established in 1975. Its young performers, designers, writers and technicians have gone on to be Oscar nominees and BAFTA winners and have made huge contributions to our creative industries – a sector which is worth almost £1bn a year to the Welsh economy.
With its heritage, pedigree and unfailing commitment to our community, the Eldest Magician could explain how wgytc has earned its stripes. I can only hope that despite significant cuts to arts funding, wgytc continues to flourish.