Review: Our House by STOS Theatre Company

Our House by STOS at Sheffield Lyceum
Our House by STOS at Sheffield Lyceum
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Mad about Madness? Love a good musical? Better go driving in your car to Sheffield to see a colourful carnival of dance and song woven into a dramatic story.

Move quickly,though, as there’s just a few tickets left for STOS Theatre Company’s production of Our House at the Lyceum tonight (Friday, November 15) and tomorrow.

This jukebox musical features 17 of the Nutty Boys songs in a big, spectacular production which proves that amateur companies can give the pros a run for their money.

The dancing is out of this world, beautifully choreographed by Claire Harriott and led by dance captain Carla Jane Wade. It’s slick, infectious and buzzing with a zest for life, especially in the Baggy Trousers routine where performers play naughty schoolkids ripping up the dance floor.

Leading lady Catherine Harban’s singing leaves many a professional performer in the shade and she gives a convincing characterisation of Sarah who rises from a working-class background to become a respected lawyer.

Her opposite number James Smith owns the show lock, stock and barrel with a powerhouse performance. He’s cast as Joe Casey, a likeable lad from a rundown area of north London who is presented with two directions in life when he turns 16 and breaks into a flat to impress his girlfriend. He swops street-boy outfit for businessman suit faster than Clark Kent turns into Superman, aided by Velcro and his cast-mates.

Hovering around in the background for much of the show is Chesterfield’s Mark Harris, who plays Joe’s dad. Speaking from beyond the grave, he acts as Joe’s conscience and points out the errors of his own dodgy ways in a bid to prevent his son making the same mistakes.

Joanne Ringrose brings a convincing Irish accent and polished singing to the role of Joe’s mum Kath.

Great characterisations in some of the supporting roles too, especially from Dronfield Woodhouse’s Rachel Hemstalk and Anna Hollis in the roles of Sarah’s gobby, tarty pals and Joseph Walker as the neighbourhood villain-in-chief Reecey.

The staging is breath-taking, a live band play from a platform at the back of the stage which also doubles as the flat which Joe breaks into. Backdrops of the Casey family’s terraced house drop down and mum walks through the front door and then make way for a maze of dark alleyways where the neighbourhood no-marks scurry around like rats in the sewer system.

This remarkable production directed by Mark Feakins, is well worth a visit even if you’re not a fan of Madness music.

GAY BOLTON

Photo by Alan Thompson