Bury St. Edmunds
Originally created as a television play in 1977, Willie Russell’s story of a school day out almost instantly became a stage play and later a musical. Karen Simpson and her team at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, chose this musical to kick start their autumn season for one very simple reason: it involves young people.
Providing young people with the opportunity to perform alongside professional actors is ingrained in the DNA of what goes on in Green King’s former barrel store. Theatres all over the country need to nurture and develop new talent. For some youngsters it may be a teenage phase, for others the start of a livelihood.
The story of the ‘Day Out’ is a simple one. A group of deprived children head out for a school day trip, originally to Alton Towers – a piece of poetic licence as Alton as a theme park didn’t open until three years after the play was aired, but this is unimportant. The crux of the play is how the establishment sees deprived youngsters, forever seeing the problems, not the possibilities.
The professional actors George Brockbanks, James Hirst, Georgina Richardson, Craig Stevenson and Beth Tuckney play an almost secondary role to the twenty young people on stage. Their roles form the frame into which the rest paint the picture.
From the opening number, it is the youngsters who exude energy and passion on stage. To single out any one of the young players for praise would be unfair on the others, for each gives their all. Rest assured there will be some in that company who will go on to very great things.
The Theatre Royal has done a magnificent job in preparing the young cast for this show. Our job as theatre goers is to support them, by turning up and showing appreciation for their hard work. One day, perhaps in a West End show or an awards ceremony, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that we will be saying: “Oh, that’s…, didn’t we see them in ‘Our Day Out’ back in 2017?”