THERE were a lot of people ‘with something in their eye’ at Droitwich’s Norbury Theatre tonight when moving drama Goodnight Mr Tom had its opening night.
A rapturous applause greeted cast and crew after the announcement of the ‘first show back since the panto in January 2020’ and the emotional rollercoaster was under way.
There were no signs of nerves after almost two years without live theatre – if anything you could feel the buzz among the cast at being back on stage.
The story centres on William Beech who, along with others, has been evacuated to the country and having to adapt to a change in lifestyle, along with those welcoming their visitors.
The performance began with a newsreel screening of children from cities in the UK being evacuated to the country, setting the scene for the cast to tell the story.
Adrian Over – playing usually stubborn recluse Tom Oakley – had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the off as he got to know evacuee William Beech, equally excellently played by Billy Jordan. The interaction between the pair was flawless and moving to watch.
Another shining light on the stage was Charlie Harris who perfectly portrayed the flamboyant and somewhat eccentric Zach with his ‘Callooh Callay’ catchphrase, quotes from Shakespeare and general Pollyanna optimistic outlook.
Elizabeth Radford and Emily Tennant were great as twins Carrie and Ginnie – doing a brilliant job delivering lines at the same time or finishing each other’s sentences and Alex Ingram did well as George Fletcher who started off as a bit of a bad guy but then won the audience over.
At the other end of the scale, Jan Miller-Weir played her part as William’s mum Mrs Beech with such vigour that she filled you with rage when you saw the way she treated her son – exactly the response you want from that character.
A special nod has to go to puppeteer Sophie Davey-Over as Sam the dog – she was among those spending most of the time on the stage, whilst having to seemingly not be there – a tough role.
Other sound performances included Anne Lane as exuberant and enthusiastic librarian Miss Thorne and James Cowlishaw as the regimental ARP Warden (a role similar to Hodges in Dad’s Army).
This was a fitting production to grace the stage after 18 months of a nation pulling together to help each other – not too dissimilar to that Second World War ‘blitz spirit’. In the same vein, this cast certainly pulled together to put on a production to be proud of.
Congratulations to director Glynis Smith – the set was well planned, easily switching from Mr Tom’s house to village hall, London railway station, air raid shelter, William’s mum’s home and countless other locations.
The front of house should also be applauded with photographs and newsreels on a screen in the foyer, along with wartime posters and an air raid shelter en route to the auditorium.
Make sure you get yourself to this fantastic production and. equally as important, make sure you have some tissues with you.
Tickets are £12 and £11 (concessions) – available here or by calling the box office on 01905 770154.
The remaining performances are at 7.30pm Friday and Saturday, September 17 and 18, and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, September 23 to 25 with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm next week (September 25).