Thursday, July 7

It’ll Soon Be Christmas – Rainhill Village Hall

Individuality Youth were set up by long-term musical theatre professional Samantha Moores last July as a community venture for children in and around Prescot, Rainhill and Whiston. Despite the background challenges presented by the pandemic they have gone from strength to strength running weekly classes, broken into two groups, for children aged 6 to 18, with this their first production.

With the spirit of Christmas very much to the fore – and don’t we need something to celebrate right now – Moores directs and produces with support from choreographer Amy Balfour and technical assistance from experienced hands Tony Dagnall (stage manager), Les Dagnall (lighting) and Karen Woods (sound).

The children have been broken into three groups allowing them to perform in ensemble pieces, duets, and solos as well as collectively as a company, serving up an array of festive treats from wonderfully choreographed routines and sung pieces through to poems and Christmas jokes with a little magic thrown in for good measure.

It takes great courage to stand up on stage and perform – particularly in front of family and friends in an intimate venue – so hats off to each and every one of the stars on stage tonight:

Infant: Lucy Byrne; Caleb Coyle; Isla Coyle; Louisa Nelson; Zara Pierse; Aaron Spencer-Storey.

Junior: Millie Byrne; Ella Donnelly; Elijah Dunne; Nyla Finney-Hughes; Bracken Keyte; Holly Spencer-Storey.

Senior: Jess McDevitt; Grace Spencer-Storey; Lottie Tran.

With the backdrop of a blazing hearth, Christmas tree and presents, the staging was kept simple which allowed performances to come to the fore. The audience had been provided with a song sheet for some sing-along pieces, but it proved unnecessary as we were quickly drawn into tapping and clapping along with each of the pieces and it was great to see the growing confidence on stage as we progressed through the thirty numbers. The smiles on the faces of those on stage and the rousing applause from the audience throughout showed that the magic of Christmas was captured tonight.

With the first performance of any production one can expect some teething problems and tonight was no exception as some internet connection issues came to the fore on a couple of occasions that were, to be fair, quickly rectified. I must make special mention to Isla, Elijah, and Louisa who bravely proved the mantra ‘the show must go on’ with their voices carrying the performance through whilst the backing music was fixed.

I wouldn’t single anyone out – they were all stars on the night after all – but I would like to commend the seniors – Jess; Grace; and Lottie – for their performances, individually and collectively, and in particular the encouragement they gave to the younger performers throughout, serving as good role models to look up and aspire to. For a group that has community at its heart, it was also pleasing to see local support with the Mayor of Rainhill attending in full chains of office.

Community in a wider sense was also served with a fundraising raffle for ADAM – Achieving Dreams and Memories, a non-profit Foundation which solely relies on public donations & fundraising events. Further details https://adam-achievingdreamsandmemories.co.uk/

Individuality Youth meet weekly for children to have fun exploring the arts and deciding whether they love acting, dancing, singing, or making up stories. Their next production will be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in July 2022. Further details via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Individuality-Youth-102570548736668/ or email individualityyouth@hotmail.com

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 18th December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★

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