Young talent takes on literary classic as musical

Norfolk’s young talented actors are maing up the cast in a new production for Norfolk Youth Music Theatre.
The musical of Jane Eyre is based on the famous romantic novel by Charlotte Brontë, the musical tells the story of orphan Jane from her unhappy childhood to falling in love with the master of Thornfield Hall, Edward Rochester, who employs her as governess to his ward.
Their union seems doomed, Jane flees, disaster strikes Edward – but there is a happy ending.
The lead role of Jane is played by former Aylsham High student Ellen Smith, who is currently studying drama, history and film at Paston College, as well as getting involved with Far East Theatre Company’s performances.
She has performed with the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre many times, including Rita O’Grady in Made in Dagenham, Cosette in Les Miserables and Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors. Ellen has also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice with NYMT and with Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Ellen, 17, is currently in the process of auditioning for drama schools across the country. She said: “Acting is something I enjoy more than anything, and being a part of such a lovely, talented company makes the experience even more enjoyable. Jane Eyre is such a fantastic part to tackle, I will need to draw on all of my emotions when portraying this iconic character.”
Amy English, 17, is also a former Aylsham student, now studying drama and performing arts at Paston, where she is involved in the show Illyria. Doctor Who fan Amy said: “I am a huge fan of the show, but most of all I love acting, and hope to go to drama school and pursue a career in theatre.”
Current high school student Elizabeth (Libby) Lumb is playing Adele in Jane Eyre.
The 12-year-old has appeared in a few shows previously, such as The Sound of Music and The King and I at Aylsham High School, and was part of the choir in the touring West End production of Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat.
She said: “I love acting and want to continue as long as possible. I  also like walking my dog, Douglas, and having fun with my friends.”
Sophie Millington, 10, and Jeremiah Humphreys-Piercy, 16, are also starring.
Sophie, who plays the young Jane, is in Year 5 at Town Close School and loves acting, singing, dancing and Brownies.
“I play the violin with Norwich Suzuki Group and I also play the piano,” she said.  “As well as taking part in school productions, I have performed in Bill Kenwright’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, and have sung with Blake at Cromer Pier, Rebeca Newman at Norwich Playhouse, and Classical Reflection at Sheringham and Trimingham.
“My biggest interest is theatre and performing and my favourite sport is netball.”
Jeremiah plays magistrate Mr Eshton. He studied at CNS where he began to enjoy drama, playing John Hale in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and Banquo in Macbeth.
He currently attends Paston Sixth Form College, where he is studying A-level drama and is appearing in the college’s production of Illyria this month. Jeremiah enjoys making films and YouTube videos in his spare time. He hopes to go to drama school and start an acting career

Music and lyrics for the production are by Paul Gordon, book and additional lyrics by John Caird. It is directed by Adrian Connell.
For tickets contact the Norwich Playhouse box office on 10603 598598 or visit

REVIEW: Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, Theatre Royal

Well, that was a surprise.

I knew a couple of Carole King songs, the well-known ones she released – You’ve Got a Friend and Too Late. What I didn’t know was how many songs she penned for others before she became famous in her own right as a singer. Sixties hits such as Will You Love Me Tomorrow by the Shirelles, The Locomotion by Little Eva, Some Kind of Wonderful by the Drifters and One Fine Day were all down to the talented singer/songwriter who sold her fist tune, It Might as Well Rain until September, aged 16.

I had no preconceptions about the show and the programme doesn’t give too much away other than the muscial playlist. I also didn’t know that much about Carole King. Even though I was born in the 1960s the music of the decade passed me by as a child.

Now I do. The musical opens with her performing at Carnegie Hall, then Carole takes up the story, and the audience is taken back to her early musical years as a teenger, meeting husband and writing partner Gerry Goffin at college and their journey to success. Bronte Barbe and Kane Oliver Parry excelled in the lead roles, their musical prowess lighting up the stage and their love during the early days as a husband-and-wife team shining through.

And I didn’t expect the humour. It was really funny. The script raised many a laugh from the audience, there was also plenty of light-hearted action from The Drifters as they performed their hits.

There were also some goosebump moments – You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers (written by King contemporaries Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, played by Amy Ellen Richardon and Matthew Gonsalves) was a real rousing number and Carole’s first foray into performing with Too Late was poignant given the ending of her marriage. Barbe also belted out A Natural Woman, a showstopper indeed.

A little mention, too, for Carol Royal as King’s mother Genie Klein, a great role, superbly played. In fact, the whole cast were superb, thoroughly deserving their first night standing ovation.

If you have tickets, consider yourself lucky. You won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t got one to this sell-out show, try getting a return, it’ll be worth your while.