Our House, a musical by Tim Firth with songs exclusively by Madness and winner of the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2003 was the Henley College’s Christmas production this year.
The story follows the life of Joe Casey, starting from his sixteenth birthday, when he breaks into a block of flats in an attempt to impress the girl he likes, Sarah. Deciding to flee on hearing the police, Sarah questions his judgement, and he’s reminded of his father, who made ‘bad choices’ went to prison and never came home. The romantic comedy show follows the two paths that Joe could take in his life with alternative scenes showing the ‘Good Joe’ and ‘Bad Joe.’
Right from the opening scene and song, ‘House of Fun’, the fantastic cast wowed the audience with their energy and talent which continued throughout the show. Both leads ‘Good Joe’ played by Jack Frewin and ‘Bad Joe’ Matt Hawes showed off their excellent singing voices and their real empathy with their characters which made the audience really relate to them. Lottie Bell, ex Gillotts School student and local Henley girl, played the part of Sarah on Friday night. Renowned for her superb singing in Henley, it was great to see Lottie’s brilliant acting skills too. We loved the wonderful comedy interaction between Joe’s friends Lewis (Greg Chandler) and Emmo (Christian Gittings) and Sarah’s friends Angie (Georgia Rose Stewart) and Billie (Jane Beet). There were some very funny jokes throughout the show. We particularly like the contraceptive advice ones at the start of the show.
The whole production was so professional too with a live orchestra, two tiered staging, great scenery, costumes and props including a car and high tech lighting which included clever use of strobe lighting. The choreography was top class too with some fantastic acrobatics from Wiktor Parzyszek and Zackary Morris and the audience loved the 80s ‘nutty’ dancing when it was up close with them during ‘Baggy Trousers’.
Hugh Gadsdon who lives locally and manages Madness said, ‘What an astounding cast and crew. The production is fully loaded with energy and talent. Having seen many performances of ‘Our House’ from as far afield as Japan, Australia, NYC and of course London’s West End, I was blown away by this interpretation from Henley College. Congratulations to all and a huge thank you for inviting me and my family to such a great night.’