A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all at the Plaza Theatre in Romsey last night as RAODS staged their production of Goodnight Mr Tom.
This story is packed with emotion. At one point I was sat watching feeling incredibly sad and the next completely uplifted. This moving tale follows the life of evacuee William Beech who ends up in the English country with elderly recluse Tom Oakley. This relationship shows that with love and friendship, you have everything to live for! This classic novel by Michelle Magorian was spectacularly bought to life on stage by the group and had the audience hooked right from the start.
Director Daniel Harris should be incredibly proud of his direction and the talent of his cast. I was in awe from the beginning, and cannot fault the professionalism and delivery of this production.
Neil Gwynne took the leading role as Tom Oakley and I could not fault his credibility. His portrayal of the role reminded me so much of the film, yet he still had his own take on it. This role very much suited him. Colin Russell who played the part of Mr Miller, Dr Little and the Policeman also had the audience eating out of his hand. His talent to switch between these different characters was astonishing. Alongside Gwynne and Russell were Meriel Shepherd who played numerous roles within the show, along with Chloe Birtles and Jane Russell, to name but a few.
The cast was a mix of adults and younger members, and it is a joy to see the talent being nurtured and developed within this group. Oliver Flinn played the iconic role of William Beech and this was his debut performance with RAODS. Flinn is clearly at home on the stage, and the audience fell in love with him and his story. I am sure we will see a lot more of Flinn in the years to come. Holly Backhurst played William’s best friend Zach, and she just oozed energy, enthusiasm and confidence. Skipping around the stage with a spring in her step, she was a joy to watch. Special mention must go to Izzie Lassiter who played Carrie, who had the clearest and loudest diction from such a young cast member!
I must also praise the other children involved who were slick, professional and simply a delight to watch. The children were all engaged in the story as well as their performance, and they all demonstrated how much talent is coming up through the ranks in RAODS…adults watch out!
Sammy ‘the dog’ was very cleverly achieved in the form of a puppet, which was handled by two members of the cast, very professionally (maybe they will be in Warhorse in a few years’ time!).
Lighting, sound and musical background accompaniment all added to the production. The whole cast must be congratulated in staging such an excellent production. You bought a childhood classic novel to life!