Review: 'Powerful' production of Korczak, by Sidmouth Youth Theatre
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 February 2020
Following recent events celebrating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, it was particularly poignant that Sidmouth Youth Theatre should choose Korczak the Musical, for their 46th production at the Manor Pavilion Theatre.
With book and lyrics by Nick Stinson, and music by Chris Williams, the musical highlights the courage of Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jew and his struggle to protect the lost and orphaned children of Warsaw from Nazi oppression in World War II.
Director and producer Angela Davies created a stark but stunning set, the high wire fence upstage immediately creating the image of a concentration camp with the outsiders staring in.
The three different levels of stage and the use of the auditorium made for a powerful feeling of the Jews forever on the move as they packed their meagre possessions and were shunted from place to place.
With a cast of 70 young people aged from 11-20 years, this was a challenging production and all was meticulously choreographed as the action moved from summer camp to orphanage, and to ghetto with seemingly consummate ease, indicating some dedicated rehearsing.
This was very much an ensemble piece with all the youngsters supporting each other and playing their parts sincerely, but with moments for their individual characters to shine through, the chorus numbers were particularly well sung.
Twenty-year-old Sam Hunt as Korczak led the company as he led 'his' children through the horrors of war, constantly inspiring and uplifting them with his stories.
Charlotte Hadfield gave an effective performance as the matriarchal Stefa, and Tom Varley and Jacob Green brought some lighter moments as the two chums Izak and Bula.
Skye Howlett was convincing as Basia, in love with a Polish Catholic, and Cameron Retter was a menacing presence as the Nazi tormentor. The mix match of costumes, in muted shades with splashes of rust were just right, lighting well designed, and the music under band leader Allan Fouracre evocative and sympathetic to the action.
The final tableau was cleverly arranged and the toys scattered on the empty stage made for a thought-provoking ending.