Theatre Review - Miss Saigon, Basics Junior Theatre School – Pendle Hippodrome Theatre

Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon - Credit: Archant

Rob Gemmell takes in the Basics Junior Theatre School production of Miss Saigon at the Pendle Hippodrome Theatre

Cameron Mackintosh’s record-breaking smash hit “Miss Saigon” has been entertaining audiences all over the world for over 25 years. The school version of the musical is brought to Pendle and performed by Basics Junior Theatre School.

The school themselves have been together since 1986 and have performed numerous amounts of shows in their 27 year period. They are a non-profit organisation who put the money made on any shows back into the school to continue to nourish the talent of young theatre stars. “Miss Saigon” is admittedly one of the biggest shows they have ever tempted to put on in their history. With a budget of £27,000 invested into the musical the school are going all out to perform.

The story of “Miss Saigon” is the true reflection of love and war and the affects it can have on people. Kim is newly orphaned and working in a bar who meets and falls in love with an American GI called Chris, but their lives are torn apart by the fall of Saigon during the war.

For one it is a difficult subject matter to attempt to contend with, especially for a cast so young. The varying emotions underlying in the story are difficult to conjure and transpose in an adaption of the musical, but youth prevails once again as Basics Junior Theatre School not only attempt to take on one of the biggest musicals in the world, but produce something of true magnificence that can be second only to the professional show itself.

A large ensemble of actors, singers, dancers and musicians have input in the musical and that’s not even including the large number of behind the scenes staff that worked tirelessly to make this happen. Rehearsals have been going on for almost a year now and with the more recent rehearsals running late into the night the dedication and determination of the school as a whole is evident.

Director Richard Sanderson had a huge challenge on his hands to be able to make it all come together and he did just that with a fantastic view of the story which was brought to life in his own vision. Particular detail was paid to the effects of partial lighting to really enhance the uncertainty of the surroundings and to add an alluring feel to the piece. Scene changes were often and professionally handled with absolutely no expense spared when it came to quality. One of the latter scenes during the emotionally powered second act was expertly handled and gave a true devotion to his work. Richard was not alone in his endeavour. With fantastic support from choreographer and head of Production, Kathy Louise Foster and Musical Director, Andrew Mitchell, the team really pulled together to entertain.

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The school have also been blessed with some great potential theatre stars of the future. With a cast so young they showed a great experience of talent and a maturity beyond anything ever before seen at this level. Georgia Salkeld played the lead role of Kim in a truly breath-taking performance. The range of emotions conveyed throughout the portrayal coupled with an incredible singing voice shows the level that she is at and surely the West End beckons? Georgia was joined by Jack Herbert who played the role of Chris, the GI that Kim falls in love with. The pair worked extremely well together during tense scenes of passion and emotion. Jack also proved his vocal talents and the harmonies the pair performed together were genuinely superb. One of the stand out performances was that of The Engineer played by Brandon Incles. The Engineer is the owner of the bar that Kim works at and Brendan showed a great deal of confidence and professionalism on the stage which is remarkable for someone so young, but a great advert for the school none the less. He looked at home on the stage and you can tell based on his performance that he will be spending a lot of time on there. The three leads were supported by some truly fine performances by Jess Balderstone, Jakes Simpson, Jess Parkinson and Alex Pemberton who certainly all have bright futures ahead of them.

Basics Junior Theatre School made a brave decision to perform this show, but it is one that has truly paid off. The sheer determination in the choice of musical was proof that the school are serious about what they do. Every single member performed to their highest ability and together as an ensemble they did the school proud, they did their families proud and they did themselves proud. They showed an experience far superior to their age and it is the experience of performing a show of this magnitude to large audiences which is one to treasure and to keep with them for a long time, but it is the experience that we, the audience, take away with us which will be forever memorable.

Based on this performance we can feel safe in the knowledge that the future talent of theatre is secure.

The show is running up until and including Saturday 7th December at the Pendle Hippodrome at 7.30pm. It is a show not to be missed. For more information regarding the group please visit their Facebook page at -