This has to be one of my favourite musicals and I haven't seen it in a while so I was glad to have the opportunity to see the Bill Kenwright production again on its current tour. I was not disappointed.
This is a lively production which manages to pull both the sadness and humour from, what is in the end, a truly heartbreaking story. If you don't know this tale of separated twins then let me just say it doesn't end well - which is hardly a spoiler as it begins with the ending before returning to the start.
Lyn Paul gives a very moving performance as Mrs Johnstone, guiding us through the story with the help of the narrator - played by Tim Churchill that night with the role of Mr Lyons being taken by Graeme Kinniburgh. Lyn Paul's and Tim Churchill's voices worked extremely well together as the warnings of the narrator cut through to remind us that we are heading for a fall.
It is vital that the characters of the twins and Linda are credible as they grow rapidly from 8 to 18 and their relationships mature and change. In Danielle Corlass, Alex Parmore and Joel Benedict we are given assured and credible performances and can believe in their transition; highs, lows, friendships and ultimately rivalry. The remaining cast members, many of whom play multiple roles, were strong and assured, keeping the show moving along apace.
I know that, like me, a lot of people class this amongst their favourite musicals and, thankfully, this production keeps it simple, relying on the strength of the storytelling rather than fancy tricks or effects. A really good night out.
There was a long standing ovation at the end with many in the audience clutching their damp tissues. The cast deserved it. At any time this is a powerful show but played out in Plymouth, less than a week after the horrendous local shootings, this was a particularly tough watch and a sense of having all got through it together filled the auditorium. Thank you.