THE RAGGED CHILD
The Rose Theatre, Kingston
in association with the International Youth Arts Festival
The Leys School, Cambridge
for the Cambridge Summer Music Festival
Book and lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor and Frank Whately
Music by David Nield
CAST OF CHARACTERS
JOE COOPER - Oscar Morgan
ANNIE COOPER - Hayley Canham
LEARY - George O'Keefe
GEORGE - George Renshaw
STEPHEN - Charlie Noordewier
EAVES - Edmund Wilson
LITTLE EAVES - Ben Moss
SAM - Ebby Vallance
OLIVER - Oliver Khurshid
BOB - Frankie Bounds
FRANK - Arthur Handscomb
BILLY - Ben Gibson
MARY - Holly McConville
MADDIE - Madeleine Jones
PEG - Sissy Ford
DORRY - Lois Chapman
POLLY - Florentia Antoniou
MOLLY - Ellie Sharpe
JENNY - Matilda Marcus
HARRY - Taran Jones
JIMMY - Jonah Baron-Cohen
Lodging House Dwellers
ALICE - Samantha Bingley
THE CROSSING SWEEPER - Joshua Taylor
AGGIE - Lucy Reynolds
ETHEL - Hannah Brown
CONNIE CRIMPLE - Rebecca Handley
MRS O’LAFFERTY - Florence Russell
DAVEY (Trumpet) - Zachary Eastop
VICTORIA (Flute) - Molly Toms
LILY (Drum) - Emily Lawrence
SIMON (Trombone) - Simon Chorley
LOUISE (Violin) - Eloise Kenny-Ryder
JACK (The Patterer) - Jack Reitman
PERKINS - Rishi Manuel
SYD - Michael McGeough
THE JUDGE - Barnaby Jordan
SIR GILES MERRIDEW - Dominic Harbison
OLD SHAFTESBURY - Henry Roadnight
JOLYON - Michael Byers
THERESA - Tara Lucas
MATRON - Heidi Parsons
ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER - James Gulliford
LADY SHAFTESBURY - Alex Lee
YOUNG ASHLEY COOPER - Adrien Rolet
FRANCIS ASHLEY COOPER - Luca Panetta
ROB ROY McGREGOR - William Carey
JOHN GILES - James Stirling
MISS WILLIAMS - Claire Habbershaw)
CLARINET & BASS CLARINET - Sara Morris
HORNS - Stephen Payne, Charlie Nicholson
DOUBLE BASS - Sophie Walker
PERCUSSION - Nick Marett, Megan Landeg
All other roles played by members of the company
Director - Jeremy James Taylor, OBE
Choreographer - Matthew Hawksworth
Musical Director - Nicholas Chave
Assistant Director - Jordan Murphy
Assistant Choreographer - Ruth Seager
Assistant Musical Director - Katy Richardson
Musical Supervisor - John Pearson
Lighting Designer - Richard House
Sound Designer - Charlie Simpson
Lighting Operator - Alasdair Stringer
Set Designer - Christopher Richardson
Costume Designer - Sheila Darlington
Electronic Music - Matthew Scott
Wardrobe Supervisor - Anne-Marie Horton
Assistant Supervisor - Jennifer Gayton
Wardrobe Assistants - Naomi Youngman, Arabella Ockenden
Props made by students from Wimbledon School of Art
Stage manager – Helen Lainsbury
Deputy Stage Manager - Daniel Newton
Assistant Stage Managers - Alexander Davison, Eliza Le Roy-Lewis, Guy Harvey
Pastoral Supervisor - Simon Woolley
Pastoral Staff - Ben Simpson, Samantha Jones, David Grant
Photographer - Konrad Bartelski
Publicity and Programme Design - Richard Blackburn
Press Representation - Marika Player for Target Live, 45 Whitfield St, W1T 4HD
NYMT Administrator - Alice Hardy
Production Manager - James Henshaw
Producer - Jeremy Walker for NYMT
Thanks to props makers, Katy D'Cruz, Jenny Salisbury, Carys Brown, Joana Leitao, Emily Betts, Cher Leigh Murphy and Amie Norton.
This production was supported by
The Public Reviews
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree
Founded in 1976, and here in combination with the charity Creative Youth, the National Youth Music Theatre’s contribution to this year’s International Youth Arts Festival is The Ragged Child. Think Oliver Twist Meets Orphan Annie and you have the subject matter for this production. The play is less of a story and more of a series of vignettes of the terrible conditions endured by many of the city poor of the English population even at the height of Victorian prosperity
Set in 1851, the year of The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, where all that was modern and magnificent was being celebrated, it is hard to credit that children like Joe and Annie Cooper were suffering such dreadful deprivations of nutrition, education and health care. We are wrong to congratulate ourselves that such conditions have no part in our modern world. One has only to think of the slums of Calcutta and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to realise that the war is not over yet. Not even in our own country where the charity Kids Company estimates that 350,000 children in London alone live in a state of malnutrition brought on by poverty.
Christopher Richardson’s set of simple tables and benches becomes variously a court room, a lodging house, a ship, a boxing booth and anything else that might be required in passing simply by moving the furniture. David Nield uses many familiar tunes for his songs and choruses, ranging from “Jesus bids me shine with a clear, pure light” to several tunes with less salubrious connotations, bringing smiles of familiarity to many lips in the audience. A bonus was having, in addition to the traditional orchestra pit musicians (also all under 23), a band of “strolling players,” members of the cast, who performed on stage as the action was taking place.
Under the auspices of such luminaries as Lord Shaftesbury and the lesser known but no less worthy John Pound of Portsmouth, a small start was made on improvements on all these fronts. The fact that the evening takes us through the various facets of Joe and Annie’s horrendous lives does not diminish the admiration which this vibrant company engenders. The sight and sound of around fifty enthusiastic players aged between 11 and 23 giving of their all in song, dance and sheer joie de vivre cannot be anything but exhilarating.
Musical Theatre Review Reviewer: Jeremy Chapman
Whether there were any Jude Laws or Jonny Lee Millers in the latest edition of The Ragged Child we shall have to wait and see, but this NYMT flag-bearer received an enthusiastic, worthy and full-of-promise performance in Kingston, once a Surrey town and these days a London borough, where it all started 28 years ago.
Law and Miller, now international stage and film stars, cut their teeth on this musical play when they joined the NYMT and both sing on the 1988 Sadler’s Wells cast recording.
The Ragged Child story began two years before that at Kingston’s Tiffin School with music written by Tiffin’s music master David Nield and story/lyrics compiled by their then head of drama Frank Whately in conjunction with NYMT founder Jeremy James Taylor.
This story of the mistreatment of the young vagrants who roamed the London streets in the mid-19th century and the creation of the Ragged Schools’ Bootblack Brigade for them to earn an honest crust has since gone round the world, from Kingston to Bergen and on to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, London, New York and Toronto, and was the first visiting production to play Glyndebourne in 1999.
Taylor, NYMT artistic director for 28 years until 2004 and awarded the OBE in 2010 for his youth work, returned to oversee the current production which gives acting opportunities to a huge cast of 48 from all over the UK, backed by six talented young musicians.
The piece is a bit too much like a schoolmasterly history lesson for my taste, with not enough dramatic impact until the unexpected ending. The team songs are impressively well-rehearsed, but we could have done with more ballads like ‘There’ll Come a Day’, movingly performed by 12-year-old Hayley Canham from Holyport as consumptive little Annie Cooper.
It is not easy bringing humour to such a serious subject but ‘The Banquet’, with some lively overacting by the toffs, is highly amusing, and there is some lusty ensemble singing in ‘The Voyage’, superbly choreographed by Matthew Hawksworth.
But Annie’s is the only female part that is properly fleshed out and the boys have all the best-written roles. James Sterling catches the eye as the crippled cobbler John Giles, William Carey is a strong Rob Roy McGregor, 14-year-old Oscar Morgan, as Annie’s brother Joe whose past comes back to kick him in the teeth, shows much promise, and 19-year-old James Gulliford, as the young Lord Shaftesbury, shows the looks, voice and stage presence that Jude Law must have brought to the part all those years ago.
Musical direction is in the hands of Nicholas Chave and the very busy set, with multiple scene changes, keeps designer Christopher Richardson fully occupied in a massive team that receives an A-plus for effort.