THE LITTLE SWEEP
24/04/2013 - 26/04/2013
Children’s holiday opera – rocks onstage in Newmarket
A 60 minute school holiday production will be presented at the Factory Theatre in Newmarket from Wednesday 24th to Friday 26th April at 2pm and 6pm daily.
‘The Little Sweep’ celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the famous British composer Benjamin Britten and is especially suitable for children and families of all ages and music enthusiasts.
A short curtain raiser of the 1950’s play ‘Let’s Make an Opera’ will introduce the 1810 setting of the opera ‘The Little Sweep’. The story is about Sam, a young chimney sweep, and how with the help of a group of children, he escapes from the child labour he has been sold into and is reunited with his family.
Directed by Sally Sloman with Music Direction by Gemma Lee and Celeste Oram the performance features guest artist Christie Cook as Miss Baggott with young emerging singers Luca Heard as Sam, Arthur Close Clem, Daniel Tizzard-Close Black Bob, Emma Fussell Rowan, Emily Briggs as Juliet and a talented cast of up and coming young performers.
Join Sam and the children of Iken Hall in their adventures to escape Black Bob, the sweep-master and their solutions for happy conclusion. All seating offer excellent viewing and the flat floor access is highly suitable for walkers, wheelchairs and pushchairs.
THE LITTLE SWEEP By Britten
A school holiday production
The Factory Theatre, 7 Eden St, Newmarket, Auckland
Wednesday 24th – Friday 26th April
at 2pm and 6pm daily
Opera Factory Ph 09 921 7801
Review by Patrick Kelly 24th Apr 2013
Opera Factory’s ‘Opera Rocks’ youth programme marks the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth with a delightful performance of his children’s opera The Little Sweep, preceded by Eric Crozier’s play Let’s make an Opera.
This is the perfect introduction to opera for children and families. Sally Sloman’s direction is straight forward and keeps the stories moving along while offering the young performers both challenges and performable simplicity.
Let’s make an Opera is an effective introduction to the story of the opera. It is both engaging and approachable for all audience members, from young children to parents and grandparents alike. A delightful touch is Celeste Oram’s inviting the audience to sing along as “the chorus”, providing song sheets and a rehearsal with the cast prior to the Opera.
The Little Sweep is set within a thoughtfully and perfectly designed traditional Georgian nursery. The detailed world of Iken Hall invites the audience into the world of Suffolk, January 1810.
The beautiful costuming transports us with ease from the play, set in1950; to the opera, set in 1810. The exquisite lighting and wonderfully finished period costumes offer an artistic transportation into the finely detailed Georgian world.
Britten’s opera tells the story of eight year old Sam (Luca Heard). He has been sold to a brutal pair of chimney sweeps who take him on a job to Iken Hall. The children of the house and visiting cousins, with the help of Rowan the Nurserymaid (Emma Fussell) from Woodbridge, befriend the boy without the knowledge of Mrs Baggott the Housekeeper (Christie Cook) as they hide him in their toy cupboard.
After they bathe and feed him, Sam is finally hidden in the trunk to load onto the coach taking the cousins home to Woodbridge, so that Sam may be reunited with his family.
Celeste Oram ably leads the young cast and dueling keyboards through the tricky Britten score with confidence. The children sing the, at times, six-part harmonic work with precision. However some balancing problems occur in the initial piece with the off-stage singing not always clear, requiring better articulation to match the good work performed on stage.
Chrissie Cook as Mrs Baggott, offers a sincere, austere and rationalistic performance, handling the vocal work with ease and clarity while providing insights into the Housekeepers view of the underclasses.
Another highlight is Emma Fussell as Rowan the Nurserymaid, providing some lovely moments, with Heard and the ensemble’s work on ‘Oh why do you weep’ a beautifully controlled piece.
Juliet (Emily Briggs) provides a lovely aria with ‘Soon the coach will carry you away’ offering a clear, beautiful and confident voice.
Another highlight for the young audience is to be invited to come up onto the stage and meet the cast. Looking at the set, props and backstage proves a real treat for my 6 year old (daughter) companion, who really enjoys the story of ‘Hide and go Sam.’
The opening performance was preceded by a short speech from Sally Sloman, introducing the audience to a performance that delightfully transports us to Iken Hall and it surely does!
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