The Snow Queen
Chichester Festival Theatre, Tuesday 29 December 2009
Review by Emma Shane
What on earth have Jason Carr and Bryony Lavery done now? Written a sort of Youth Opera, that’s what.
The show starts with the band striking up chirpily, as about two thirds of the cast, those playing Grandparents, and Children come on stage. The young people playing Grandparents did a surprisingly good job of looking old and decrepit, simply by the way they moved. Of course it probably helped that many of them had walking sticks, two had zimmer frames, and one was leaning on her shopping trolley. The latter was the least convincing, because it was a two-wheeled trolley, whereas some old folk sometimes prefer the four-wheeler as it is more stable (I think these days it tends to be younger folk who use two-wheel shopping baskets on wheels, but perhaps not). Led by Grandad Sun, played so well by Sam O’Halon, they kick off with Ask The Old Folks. A nice tuneful piece, Jason Carr always does write such wonderful melodies. Then they are joined by a group portraying children, for Golden Autumn. The children are dressed in white costumes which look like furs, their appearance being not dissimilar to the Ice-Babies in the Jason Carr & Gary Yershon musical The Water Babies, which was performed on this very stage. Golden Autumn sets the scene, introduces the main characters Kay and Gerda, along with various other children (whose names all seem to rhyme). Kay and Gerda are best friends, who live in adjoining houses. Right away the two juvenile leads, played tonight by Ben Geering and Beatrice Holland seem to command our attention, or at least the enthusiastic Beatrice does. I’m not so sure about Ben. But then perhaps Kay is meant to be a bit stiff and awkward, whereas Gerda is something of a leader among the pair. That would be plausible. Continuing with the song, we learn that in this town because the houses are so tightly packed together instead of garden’s they have tubs (Kay and Gerda have one between their houses). We also learn how important honey is to this community, it’s sort of like Manuka Honey, in other words it has medicinal properties, this apparently trivial detail later turns out to be absolutely key to the plot. The song is illustrated by the arrival of some bees. Yes actors dressed up as bees, this is getting a little fantastical (a bit like in James And The Giant Peach, or for that matter The Water Babies). The melody is again lovely. Carr just doesn’t write rubbish.
Nearly everyone exits, as Ice Warriors enter, and proceed to lift a large hoop (representing The Mirror Of Reason. I got the impression these two were male, perhaps Joe James and Jonny Boutwood. Or where they the same as The Snow Queen’s sleigh carriers Elyssia White and Katie Bennet? Soon the band strikes up, with a lively march, as the rest of the Ice Warriors come tramping, or rather dancing on, rather like a cross between Busby Berkley and St Trinians. Well costume-wise they look like a bunch of St Trinians, especially the girls’ wigs. Soon they are joined by Professor Storm, played surprisingly commandingly by Fleur Jefferies, who sings In The Mirror. While ideally one might have liked a little more power with this song, Fleur does a fine job with it. Then two Ice Warriors accidentally drop the mirror, “Oops” they say. Surprisingly Professor Storm is not cross about this, in fact it’s an opportunity. to use the shards of the mirror as aids in their quest for perfection.
The regally silent Snow Queen is escorted on too. Then on Professor’s Storm’s command, the Ice Warrior’s fetch Kay., and are instructed to put a shard of glass in his eye, and another in his heart. At first Kay is angry, but he soon cools down, to the extent that Gerda witnesses him smashing up their “garden”, because it is not perfect. Kay is given to The Snow Queen, evidently as her potential consort. She invites him into the folds of her cloak on her “sleigh”. Of course the Ice Warriors could not capture Kay without using their magical powers, in fact they create chaos by creating an unseasonably heavy Snow. the most infectiously catchy song of the entire show. Kay is the first to sing this song. Then the chorus of Grandparents sing it, and finally it is reprised a little later by The Snow Queen herself. The tune is an intriguing one. Initially it sounds just a little almost familiar. This is because it is slightly similar, to Stephen Sondheim’s Something Just Broke. However, it soon proves itself to be very much it’s own song. , though that slight similarity does give it a warmth of familiarity. It is also rather catchy. Certainly one the audience can just about walk out of the theatre humming. Which is quite a feat for a totally new song which we have never heard before, especially as thanks to Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and, Tim Rice’s habit of releasing albums of their shows before the show, not to mention the craze (started by Mamma Mia) for Pop Group Back Catalogue shows, and the tendency for other back-catalogue shows, audiences today have largely forgotten how to listen to totally new musical theatre tunes.
The plot continues, with Beatrice Holland as Gerda quickly emerging as very much our leading lady. Pulling off her red kicking boots as though offering them to Kay (to kick instead of their garden), and then following them to lead her to Kay. Setting off on her rescue mission, she is very firm and clear when she says that some grown up really should come with her. All the Grandparents decline, except Granny Snow, who decides to use magic to turn into a crow. Heidi Pointet playing her comes to the fore as the other major figure into this afternoon’s performance. However, she has able competition from Sam O’Halon as Grandad Sun, urging the other old folk not to use magic. Here we can really note the cleverness of Bryony Lavery’s script, with the little asides, like the one about each old person gets four pieces of magic, along with their bus-passes. Bryony’s dialogue is just a clever as Jason’s lyrics.
The ice-warriors, led by Blizzard (played commandingly by Joe James) set about disguising themselves as some strange flowers. So that when Gerda and her strange crow companion (Granny Snow) arrive, they no longer look like ice-warriors (which Granny Snow might remember), and manage to persuade Gerda to take drink a mug of iced-tea, which turns out to be drugged. Apart from the Ice-Warrior’s donning of their disguises, this sequence of events is largely performed operatically in song. My Flowers Are My Family. Fortunately Granny Snow, although unable to prevent Gerda from drinking the tea and falling asleep, manages to provide an antidote in the form of honey, she also transforms into a bee in an attempt to see off the strange flowers; and then Grandad Sun, not using magic, but wearing a Bee disguise he’s made out of some bits and pieces from his shed turns up to the rescue, with The Bees who see off the Ice Warriors. Here Sam O’Halon who had a starring role as Bob Cratchit last year, proves to be just as commanding in the lesser role. On learning that the weather is growing colder, Granny Snow decides to transform again, into a husky dog.
Continuing their rescue mission, Gerda and Granny Snow arrive ‘On the outskirts of jealousy’ (well that’s what it says in the programme). In fact they are on their way to a Royal Palace, where they have been informed that a Princess has recently chosen a consort, who is “good at algebra”, Gerda remembers that “Kay is good a algebra” and they wonder if it might be him. However, Gerda is clearly growing up and does not want to loose her former best friend to a princess. She is jealous, Granny Snow has to tell her not to succumb to The Green-eyed Monster. This song contains some of Jason Carr’s best tunes, and lyrics, which Beatrice and Heidi do justice to. Jason is always at his best when writing music to his own brilliant lyrics. I’m not sure if it was the reference to a monster, or what, but somehow, I think this was the song where the tune reminded me briefly of Portrait Of A H. Certainly I know one of the songs in this wonderful score put me in mind of that particular number, as well as Lee Miller (both from Six Pictures Of Lee Miller), but one of the problems with hearing an all new score (and only hearing most of it once) is that it makes it harder to remember the tunes of individual songs, however brilliant they are. In addition to performing the songs well, in this scene Heidi also proves that as an actress she is up there with some of the best of them, when it comes to taking on animal characteristics, making a surprisingly convincing hound.
Proceeding to outside the royal palace, we find a crowd of Sightseers and Paparazzi, who, along with Dorian Open (Royal Correspondent) are all Waiting For The Princess. This is a busy jaunty tuneful song, well emphasising that besides his more tending towards opera Music Theatre, Jason Carr is just as capable of writing a good old fashioned standard musical comedy number, with clever lyrics And the cast all perform this with great enthusiasm. It’s not quite clear whether Dorian Open was played by Felix Mosse or Ollie Geering, but whoever played him did a satisfactory job. The Princess and her Prince, played by Freya Holland and Samuel Peake respectively appear. Good though Freya is she did not appear to come across as well as she did when she played the joyous sister Fan in last year’s A Christmas Carol, however that could just be the result of trying to play a much more formal character. I think she does vivacious better than formal. On noticing Gerda, crying (upset because she thought Kay might be the prince but he’s not and now she’s relieved of her jealousy but she’s still anxious to find Kay), the royal pair decide something must be done to help. They give Gerda a green coat and a Skidoo (a sort of motorised tricycle). Gerda climbs aboard the skidoo, and sets off again.
The act ends dramatically in a dark dark dark forrest, where Gerda and Granny Snow, riding on the skidoo are ambushed by robbers, and one of them is clearly about the try and cut Gerda’s throat. What a very dramatic ending for Act 1. Will Gerda and Granny survive? and if so how?
Act 2 opens, surprisingly with the Ice Warriors entering through the auditorium, yes right through the audience. Some of them have clearly changed costumes. They are now supposedly disguised as snowflakes, to Professor Storm’s delight they are “all the same, but all different”. They then bring on their beautifully frozen Snow Queen and their nearly frozen Snow Boy (the latter being Kay). Professor Storm regards these two as My Perfect Children. The song, as best as I can remember, seemed a little operatic. Fleur does it pretty well, but one does wonder what magic a grown up singer-actress or opera singer might do with it.
Meanwhile The Robbers have deposited their captives (Gerda and Granny Snow, along with a captured Reindeer, in The Most Nightmarish Teenage Bedroom On The Planet. Where Robber Girl (was she one of The Robbers present at the end of Act 1, it’s possible), is “negotiating” with her parents. Bryony has clearly had a lot of fun here. Every time Robber Mum and Dad try to lay down the law, Robber Girl’s objects, and her demands as to what she wants invariably seem to sway them into thinking they are being hard, or that perhaps if they give in to one bit she’ll do as she is told, which of course she won’t. Katie Silverson and Stevie Jeram make a splendid couple of characters as the parents. Amongst other things Robber Girl wants Gerda for a “Sleepover”, she also wants the Skidoo. Gerda is more than happy to give Robber Girl the Skidoo, and her coat (which should keep her warm but doesn’t), if only she and her husky dog can just be let to go on their way. Here Beatrice once again comes to the for carrying the scene. While Victoria Spurway does a pretty good job as a recalcitrant teenager. The next morning Robber Girl refuses to go to Robber School (claims she has a headache). However, she evidently admires Gerda standing up to her (it’s clear that her parents are somewhat weak when they continually give in), so she lets Gerda and the husky dog go, giving them her captured Reindeer, and her lunch.
The Reindeer, brilliantly played by Dance Captain Will McGovern, is delighted to be freed. Will has had fairly notable roles in the last two Chichester Youth Theatre Christmas Shows (he was one of James’s friends in James And The Giant Peach, and then Antimony in A Christmas Carol). This afternoon he proves just how skilled and adept he has become with Jason Carr’s songs, sing and dancing King Of The Woods And Tundra. Unfortunately I don’t remember much about how this went, (that’s the problem with hearing a lot of new stuff for the first time, one doesn’t have a chance to fully absorb it). I do however remember that is was very nice, and tuneful, and that Will could dance to it, well sort of dance, he referred to it as “reindeer running”.
This reindeer running brings the three of them a small hut in Lapland, where Lapp Grandad is sitting. He is played by Edward Eustace, and accomplished member of the Chichester Youth Theatre, adept at playing classy elderly gentlemen rather convincingly. He was excellent last year in the starring role of Ebenzeer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (better in fact than Peter Polycarpou – at Birmingham Rep this year). Here in The Snow Queen, he directs the three of them to visit Finn Granny over in Finland.
So the trio set off again, and soon encounter a chorus of the Northern Lights. This song is also led by Will McGovern, with a chorus, who bring on lights and dance around. Visually it was impressive choreography, and fortunately Jason Carr is (as one might expect given his background) adept at writing music suitable for dancers to dance to. On arriving at a completely different hut, in Finland, we meet Finn Granny, played by Emily Dyble, initially with rather less presence and clarity of speech than her Ghost Of Christmas Present last year. However, about halfway through the scene her ability to project her performance grew, perhaps initially she was trying too hard to capture the elderly nature of her character. She helps them out, but then Granny Snow goes to make another transformation, how many is that? She vanishes, Grandparents don’t last forever. It seems she didn’t properly keep count, her own human form should have counted as one, making the husky dog her fourth. So Gerda has to go on alone, without a grown up, (how commandingly Beatrice reiterates “Some grown up person really should come with me”). Fortunately the Reindeer isn’t far behind.
In The Snow Queen’s Ice Palace, Professor Storm is introducing Kay and The Snow Queen to their palace, The Ice Palace. Yes Fleur sings well, but I can’t help feeling that if this show were to get a revival it might be possible to find even more in this song. Kay is shown the broken Mirror Of Reason. Can he fit all the pieces back together? At this point I find myself thinking of the film The Dark Crystal, when Jen had to defeat the evil Skeksis by mending the Crystal with it’s missing shard. Hmmm I wonder if the writers of this show noticed a sort of parallel here? (Interestingly one of the puppeteers inside those Skeksis went on to turn up in Grantham in a flop play of Bryony’s and on this very stage in a musical of Jason’s!). Anyway back to The Snow Queen, Kay is still not quite frozen, for he does realise that perhaps the pieces of the mirror don’t fit, even though The Snow Queen herself says they must do because it is the mirror of reason. Just then Gerda rushes in to the rescue. Still rather jealous of The Snow Queen, she looses no time in trying to wake Kay out of his icy trance. When reminding him of their past together fails, she resorts to kissing him (even though as she remarks it seems a bit silly at their age, implying they are a little too young for romance yet). Finally she gets her honey (which she had carried in a pouch on her belt), and uses that. The magic honey does the trick. Kay realises there is something (shards of glass) in his eye and heart, but Gerda applies the honey, to remove them. Professor Storm, along with the Ice Warriors enters in on this scene; and try to freeze things with snow. Just as all seems lost (for Gerda) a rescue party arrives, in the form of The Reindeer and his fellow reindeer, along with a contingent of Grandparents led by Grandad Sun. King Of The Woods (reprise), how lovely to have a reprise of a fine song. At about this moment Gerda realises that “this snow is warm”. It seems that Granny Snow may have had one last piece of magic after all. Then Grandad Sun recognises The Snow Queen. She is his own daughter who went missing, dragged under the ice many years ago. Of course he applies his honey and gradually she beings to thaw too, realising there is something in her eye and her heart, and eventually she recognises her Grandad. Life’s Meaning. – this seems, as far as I can remember (and it’s difficult having only heard the song once) that it might have been one of the more operatic-tending numbers, but I am not totally certain. Grandad Sun also recognises Professor Storm, she was once the town’s school teacher. Who disappeared with a bunch of the town’s children, around about the same time that his granddaughter went under the ice. The Professor calmly explains she just wanted to seek perfection. Again I found myself reminded of the fantasy film The Dark Crystal (how the UrSkeks in their quest to perfect themselves tore themselves apart into Good and Evil). Only Professor Storm’s quest for frozen perfection does not seem to have had much if anything in the way of good. The Ice Warriors, are of course the children who once left with her, now their memories stir they recall their old names. They ask if they can come home, but might they be allowed to keep their Ice Warrior names.
So all return home. Gerda and the Grandparents sing Bottled Memories, as a way of conveying the fact that one should not try to forget the past, even when it is terrible, it might be relevant to preventing something terrible from happening again. The song is up to Jason Carr’s usual high standard, even if I don’t remember much about it. Professor Storm is sentenced to running an Adult Education Centre (something she will not enjoy) And so all ends happily, with families reunited, and Gerda and Kay reunited too. The entire company reprises Snow, so sending the audience out probably humming the catchiest tune in the entire score. I’m sure there are many other tunes in this lovely score which could become relatively catchy. One of the problems with listening to a truly new piece, is that the music, however good it is, does not yet had a chance to fully work itself way into the audience’s mind. Snow, besides being pretty catchy in itself, has a passing similarity to a Sondheim song (familiarity with something similar can be an aid in getting to know a song – although in the end it isn’t that much of a help in getting to know the piece on it’s own account), and of course Snow is sung a lot in the show, including a reprise at the very end. The fact that this is more of a through sung piece, with a score tending more towards operetta, whereas A Christmas Carol was very much a Musical, also seems to make it harder for the tunes to stick. Or maybe that perception could be partly based on having seen A Christmas Carol a second time (the Birmingham revival). Perhaps given have a chance songs such as Waiting For The Princess, or, The Green Eyed Monster, or for that matter The King Of The Woods or My Flowers Are My Family could stick, who knows?
All in all the production an outstanding performance from the very talented and hard working Chichester Youth Theatre. How they ever managed to tackle so complex a piece and put it across with such professionalism is well amazing, even if the piece was written for them.
Of the individual performers some had certainly been in last year’s A Christmas Carol, while a few had also been in the year before’s James And The Giant Peach. Obviously individual performances do vary, some better than last year, some perhaps not quite as good.
Of the less good ones: Freya Holland who was so wonderful as Fran seemed less sparkling this year, but that could just be the effect of playing the rather more formal character of a princess. Similarly Emily Dyble who played The Ghost Of Christmas Present with such authority last year seemed initially less commanding, but again this was probably due to attempting a different and more difficult character. Edward Eustace who was outstanding as Scrooge last year made the most of his parts this year, though he had rather fewer opportunities to shine. Sam O’Halon who last year was so splendid as Bob Cratchit again does an excellent job as Grandad Sun, demonstrating an incredible range as an actor. Another very accomplished performer is Will McGovern. This is the third Jason Carr musical he has had a major role in on this stage (having had major roles in both James And The Giant Peach and A Christmas Carol), and as ever he demonstrates just how well he connects with Carr’s music, singing and dancing so brilliantly to it. I really hope he keeps this tradition up. Two performers who really improved on their performances last year, were Joe James and Heidi Pointet (Mr and Mrs Old Joe in A Christmas Carol). Then they had been pretty good (singing the lyrics with feeling), but not quite as well developed as charismatic performers, who could really stand out. Now as Blizzard one of the leading ice-warriors Joe James comes into his own, holding command of the stage and at times the other Ice Scholars/Ice Warriors. While Heidi Pointet was quite amazing. Far better than when she had played Mrs Old Joe last year. This time her comedy talent and characterisation is superb, both as a leading character, and getting right into the animal personas of her transformations. In fact I can think of several West End performers who will have to look to their laurels if this girl ever goes professional. Ben Geering now promoted to a major role did at times seem awkward and a little less sure of himself than as The Ghost Of Christmas Past. However again this could be as much due to the character. After all Kay can’t have too much charisma, or Professor Storm could never have got a hold on him. It also makes a sharp contrast with the vivacious Gerda. Also making this sort of contrast is Lucy Baldwin in the title role, which she plays with stiff reserve, with the audience only really understanding why at the very end. She’s so frozen into a trance she doesn’t know what she is doing. Somehow Lucy does ultimately succeed in putting this across. It’s absolutely clear that despite being the title character, and the one our heroine is trying to rescue Kay from, she is not the villain of the piece. That title falls to Professor Storm. Fleur Jeffries has a tough task commanding the stage and all the Ice Scholars. Generally she rises well to the challenge, though I think this role could be even better if it were played by an experienced grown up performer.
The true star of this show is Gerda, played this afternoon by Beatrice Holland. She soon proves to have the sort of sparky vivacious charisma needed to carry the show. I wonder if she is any relation to Freya who was so good as Scrooge’s sister Fan last year? Beatrice’s performance gives Gerda a command of the stage that puts her up there with some of Carr’s other glorious leading lady roles. Thus in a way Beatrice Holland (and possibly her alternate Alice O’Hanlon) are in a sense following in the footsteps of such notable actresses as Anita Dobson (Eurovision), Louise Gold (The WaterBabies – on this very stage), and, Anna Francolini (Six Pictures Of Lee Miller –across the way in the Minerva), among others in brilliantly originating a plum role.
Overall this is a great musical for the young actresses in The Chichester Youth Theatre. There are four very powerful female characters in this play, Bryony Lavery (as one might expect given her reputation as a playwright) seems to have had some fun creating them. While musically Jason Carr has created an amazingly complex piece full of high quality music, more of an operetta than a musical. Last year’s production of A Christmas Carol was good fun, and filled with a tuneful score. But this year’s production of The Snow Queen is even better. I think what makes a big difference is that Bryony and Jason have had so much more freedom to adapt the tale as they wish. With A Christmas Carol, although any writers will make it their own, there are very clearly set scenes which convention dictates just have to be played out, and more or less in the conventional way. Although some variations on A Christmas Carol (particularly those on television) have managed to tinker with it, generally it does follow a fairly set pattern, with set characters and more or less set characterisations. Whereas the advantage of adapting an fantasy folk tale such as this one, that has already had a variety of different incarnations, is that the adaptors have much more freedom. They do not have to stick to rigidly to one text, but can truly adapt the story, changing characters, and particularly characters motivations, to whatever works best dramatically on the stage, or what they feel the story should be. They can (as Jason Carr and Gary Yershon did with The Waterbabies) “Throw the book up in the air and see where the pieces land”. Minor characters can easily take on a different gender, if that seems appropriate to the given company. A Troll in one version of the story may be a Professor in another, or a Coach may become a Skidoo. (Or as in The Waterbabies a character given a ticket of leave from jail to work out his time doing a menial job, is in the stage version fully forgiven and allowed to enter paradise). As long as their version of the story hangs together it doesn’t matter whether or not they stick rigidly to the original text. In fact with Hans Christian Anderson it’s possible some of his tales might have had earlier origins in folk tales anyway. Who knows? Certainly tales of this nature stand up well to many different adaptations. This freedom to adapt means the writers have fewer constraints, and therefore can fit the story to their work rather than their work to the story. Jason Carr’s work always seems to benefit from this sort of freedom. Carr is a fine orchestrator and arranger (as some of his recent Sondheim orchestrations for the Menier Chocolate Factory prove). Yet good though he is at arranging other people’s music, in a way his best orchestrations are of his own music. While Jason Carr never writes rubbish. His own music is generally so much better when he is writing music for his own lyrics. In Born Again the lyrics were by Peter Hall, while in James And The Giant Peach the lyrics were so constrained by being based on Dahl’s book, that it affected the music. Whereas with last year’s A Christmas Carol, as with The Waterbabies and Six Pictures Of Lee Miller, we see the real quality that comes when Jason Carr is truly writing music for his own lyrics. Besides which he is a truly marvellous lyricist anyway. I can’t think of anyone else these days whose lyrics are to the sort of standards we would have expected from say Ira Gershwin or Dick Vosburgh. But of course Carr is first and foremost a composer, one who just happens to write brilliant lyrics, to the sort of standard we might have expected from Cole Porter or Noel Coward, and still expect from Stephen Sondheim. It’s worth noting Porter and Sondheim hardly ever seem to have written music for anyone’s lyrics but their own (though Porter did once adapt Shakespeare). But the greatest freedom of all comes as in this musical (it also occurred in Six Pictures Of Lee Miller), when the book writer too has few constraints on them, and thus although they may be adapting a classic tale, in the end Bryony Lavery and Jason Carr have created a piece that is very much their own work. It is a masterpiece, and one which I think truly deserves to be seen by a wider audience, either in a theatre, or possibly perhaps an opera house? (well it could fit very nicely onto somewhere like the Linbury, couldn’t it?)
If it were to be done on a musical theatre stage, I can think of at least two actresses who might do something impressive with Professor Storm, provided her songs are keyed right. While if it were done on the opera stage, wouldn’t that character be just right for a really good menacing mezzo? (I don’t know if the songs would fit key-wise, but is it a possibility?).
Perhaps what really stands out about this piece, is the high quality, and semi-classical quality of Jason Carr’s music. He is one of those composers, like Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Sullivan, and, Kurt Weill whose Music Theatre work seems to transcend the boundaries between Light Opera and Musical Theatre. All of them have written pieces which could work in either context (as long as the performers are capable, and the musical direction is spot on). As a British composer it is my humble opinion that Jason Carr belongs up there with greats such as: Arthur Bliss, Howard Goodall, John Lanchbery, and, Arthur Sullivan amongst others. In fact I think Carr is perhaps a better composer than Lanchbery (on account of being more original), but just as good an arranger. Perhaps The Royal Opera House should take note!
Walking back to the railway station, though I dropped into very few shops on the way, I still couldn’t help noticing that any music I heard playing over the speaker systems generally seemed so much untuneful noise, after having heard the glorious quality of The Snow Queen’s marvellous score. It’s just a shame, living in London, that one always has to travel to places such as Chichester and Birmingham to hear music of this standard. Why is Jason Carr’s best music so little heard in the captial? (True his incidental music for plays are often performed in London, but his best work never seems to see the bright lights of the capital).
Indeed the only down side to this entire production is having to travel to Chichester to experience it. True The Chichester Festival Theatre is a lovely venue, and a very welcoming one. However, Chichester itself seems to be becoming rather less attractive to outsiders. The little city still has its variety of decent and unusual shops (which you just don’t find in mainstream conurbations). However, travelling there is becoming a hassle. I suppose most outsiders come by motor car. Now that is all very well in it’s way, but one can’t enjoy a drink at the theatre if one is driving, and secondly in my experience driving here is not like in London, the local drivers aren’t like London ones. Train travel is complicated by no longer being able to purchase a return ticket from London to Chichester, except at East Croydon (though visitors from Chichester to London can still purchase return tickets). It feels as though the city of Chichester does not want tourists. Yet The Chichester Festival Theatre puts on such wonderful work. While as for The Chichester Youth Theatre. Well firstly they have the good sense in having such excellent pieces commissioned for them, and, secondly they actually have the talent and high standard of performance to be able to perform them. In a world that seems cluttered with so much musical trash, that passes itself off as popular culture, it’s so refreshing to find one little corner of Sussex where really high standard music theatre seems to be flourishing. With Jason Carr to write for them Christmas (theatre music) is new once more.
Off Site Links:
The Chichester Festival Theatre’s Official Website: http://www.cft.org.uk/
Composer Jason Carr’s Official Website: http://www.jasoncarr.org.uk/