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The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Workshop Performance at The Ambassadors Theatre, London

Published by: Elaine Pinkus on 9th Feb 2017 | View all blogs by Elaine Pinkus

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First, let me emphasise that the performance of Ben Frost/Richard Hough’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a work in progress and, as such, is still in its stage of evolvement.  As a reviewer, I was very excited to be part of the audience for this ‘workshop’, where attendees were invited to contact the production team with their views and ideas.

Frost and Hough have based this production loosely around Goethe’s short tale of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Rather than focusing entirely on the traditional outline of the lazy young apprentice whose magic misfires in the mayhem of the famous broom scene, this tale uses that reference in one scene only.  The title role in this production is cast as feisty teenager Eva, (played delightfully by Naomi Petersen) who wishes to be taken seriously by her magician father Johan (Neil McDermott ) in her desire to be his apprentice despite being a ‘mere’ girl. Interwoven with this basic premise there are various sub plots including a love interest with young Erik (Blair Gibson), the confused relationship with long suffering Queen Larnia (Tracie Bennet) and a murderous plot devised by the jealous and cunning Prince Fabian (Jos Slovick).

At the very start Jan Ravens, as narrator, asks the audience to suspend reality and exercise their imaginations, for this is a minimalist performance with no scenery, no costumes and no lighting. Undoubtedly, should this production go ahead, it will demand all three on a large scale. Perhaps it was a big ask of the audience who were seeing only 7 chairs on an empty stage but all credit to the cast who gave it their all. They had rehearsed this first showing for three weeks only but had embraced their characters and were able to draw in the audience.

This Sorcerer’s Apprentice had a large musical score but lacked any real show stopping numbers where ensemble and/or harmonies could explode on stage. Perhaps this is an area that might be revisited. There were a few moments of humour but again, this might need addressing.  Nevertheless Seann Alderking (Musical Director) and Ed Scull presented the score on piano and percussion with finesse and are to be applauded. And not to omit Nigel Richards as Chancellor whose presence on stage injected some pantomime aspects into a show that could perhaps include an audience of both adults and younger visitors. At the moment, I am not quite sure who is the target audience.

This workshop was presented at London's Ambassadors Theatre on one night only. I await with interest the outcome of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Social media: @AmbTheatre #sorcerersmusical

Seabright Productions

Wednesday 8 February 7.30pm – The Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London, WC2H 9ND - one night only

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