When you arrive to a theatre and find yourself queuing outside of the auditorium to collect your tickets, you hope that it’s a sign you are in for a treat.
‘The Day We Sang’ did not disappoint.
Victoria Wood’s offering to this years’ Manchester International Festival is a heartwarming and delightful musical based on a true story.
It focuses on the Manchester Children’s Choir who in 1929 recorded a version of Henry Purcell’s Nymph and Shepherds which went on to be a hit. Forty years on from their performance 4 of the participants are reunited for a Granada ‘documentary’ and we see how their lives have changed.
Nostalgia is dished out in the bucket loads and fully appreciated by the audience which is mostly made up of women and men ‘of a certain age’. Even for those who weren’t around in either era (like myself I hasten to add) you can still appreciate the nod to ‘Wimpy’ and the ‘Berni Inn’ along with the comedic value of such lines as ‘Black Forest Gateux? It’s just cake in drag!’
Vincent Franklin (The Thick of It) plays the role of Tubby, an overweight middle aged insurance man, looking back and trying to reconnect with his childhood self. Alongside him award-winning actress Jenna Russell puts in sterling performance as fellow choir member Enid, who has grown up a downtrodden secretary.
From start to finish ‘The Day We Sang’ has Wood’s stamp all over it and if you closed your eyes you can almost image her saying the lines of each character. When shy and downtrodden secretary Enid decides to let rip at the beginning of the second act and performs her solo it is a song reminiscent of the days we used to see the Bury-born comedian take her seat at the piano singing lyrics such as ‘beat me on the bottom with the Woman’s Weekly’!
Special mentions must be given to Lorraine Bruce (Benidorm 2) and 11 year old Raif Clarke. Bruce, who takes on dual roles Dorothy and Pauline, has a plethora of expressions and a dry delivery which had the auditorium sounding like a non stop recording of ‘canned laughter’. Clarke makes his professional debut as the young Tubby displaying a raw talent and angelic voice which will see him go far.
Alongside the professional company ‘The Day We Sang’ features a new Manchester Children’s Choir, formed especially by MIF Creative, with 100 from local primary schools including Bowker Vale, Crab Lane, Pike Fold and the Co-Operative Academy of Manchester. I defy anyone not to get a lump in their throat as they perform Nymphs and Shepherds at the end.
The Day We Sang
MANCHESTER OPERA HOUSE
Photography by Joel Fildes
Written by Michelle Eagleton, if you’d like to contact Michelle please email on firstname.lastname@example.org