Basics Junior Theatre School hosted their annual performance at Pendle Hippodrome in Colne, directed by the talented Richard Sanderson. Richard is no stranger to basics and has been affiliated to this theatre school for 24 years; Richard has dedicated this production of Little Shop of Horrors to his late Grandpa Mr Colin Sanderson.


Little Shop of Horrors is a musical that is a little different to their usual Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, however the leadership team’s task is to give basics students the experience of performing in different genres of shows during their senior tenure.

The storyline of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s cult classic, Little Shop of Horrors, is well known. Mushnik’s flower shop is a haphazard, run down enterprise, which hasn’t had a customer walk through the doors in quite some time. Just as he is about to close his doors for good, his two shop assistants, Audrey and Seymour, whip out a strange and exotic plant in an attempt to drum up some business. The peculiar plant, named Audrey Two, requires a strict and demanding diet, which Seymour must supply to keep it alive and business flowing. A series of macabre events are set in motion, as the plant becomes progressively more demanding of Seymour.

Mushnik’s shop is situated in the middle Skid Row, the central focus of the set – this year Basics have had their set professionally made and aim to hire this out in the hope to recuperate some of their £27,000 costs in producing the show. They also have a costume department that houses over 1000 costumes for hire which have mostly been handmade by the talented Sally Murtaugh who founded Basics in 1986 with her late husband Dennis Murtaugh.

Choreographer Helen Cheung was set a real challenge as this show was written for a cast of 12 however Basics had 30+ students performing the show. The ensemble dance scenes where exquisite - with a demanding score of fast paced and high energy numbers, the ensemble were impressively engaging, with what seemed like an endless supply of enthusiasm.

The audience are guided through the mean streets of Skid Row by Chiffon (Freya Humberstone), Crystal (Millie Green) and Ronnette (Ellie Cook) with sassy ‘da-doo’s, fast paced and flawless choreography, and authoritative vocals. The girls pop into every sticky situation Audrey Two generates for Seymour vocally narrating the strange happenings in a comedic and light-hearted fashion, with street urchin undertones.

Alex Pemberton as Seymour is endearing, with good vocals, he seems to spend very little time off the stage in both acts. It’s a challenging role which Alex shows his great love of the theatre and the arts. Alex is growing in confidence since his special achievement award from Basics earlier this year and has embraced his lead role with great enthusiasm.

Alice Butterfield plays the delightful and naïve Audrey, and captures her innocent essence sincerely. Alice is a fantastic all-rounder with fantastic stage presence – amazing vocals and acting skills, unfortunately this is Alice’s last show at Basics, but thankfully she will be teaching the junior classes next year all she has learnt from this brilliant theatre school.

Orin Audrey’s sadistic boyfriend and dentist is played perfectly by Bradley Ellor making his 4th production with Basics his best. Bradley is currently studying Musical Theatre at Pendleton College and is hoping to secure a place in drama school next year.


The sound and lighting team Bright Lites Uk returned to Basics after a two year break working on other projects, the crew Neil Dolman and John Ormerod certainly enhanced the production with their fantastic skills.

The whole team Andrew Mitchell (Musical Director), Chris Broughton (Vocal Coach), Joe Winkley and Jennifer Mitchell (Accompanist), Ken Hardwick (Stage Manager), Greg Wharf (Plant Puppeteer), Sally Murtaugh (Wardrobe/seamstress) and the Orchestra are amazingly talented members making this production a fantastic experience for all.

Every aspect of this production is entertaining and all-consuming.

The Principal Andrew Cook is extremely proud of what the students have achieved and brims with pride every year as his students take to the stage. Andrew told me that this year had been a transitional year as he had lost several senior members to some top performing art colleges in the country such as ‘the Italia Conti’ and ‘Arts Ed’. He also expressed that it has been promising to see up and coming future leading men and ladies coming through and that a third of the cast in this production were performing for the first time in the seniors - all aged just thirteen years old and because of their amazing talent he is very excited for the future of the senior group.

The Director Richard Sanderson quotes “Andrew is truly the face of basics and if it were not for his vision, energy, professional acumen and a genuine wish for children to do well in life, Basics would have closed its doors some years ago.” Instead, Basics is truly at the top of its game as it continues to offer children and young adults these golden stage experiences.

Andrew must get at least five emails a week from parents across East Lancashire as they try desperately to enrol their little ones into Basics, however this year Andrew is searching for boys in year 8 and above to join Basics in preparation for their next production Barnum in 2017. Like most societies they struggle to recruit males into their theatre school but this is an ideal opportunity for any talented boy or young man to showcase their skills in Basics next production. If you are interested in recruiting your talented youngsters into this amazing theatre school please contact Andrew Cook via or call 07940525862. Basics Junior Theatre School is based in Dean Mill, Plumbe St, Burnley, Lancashire.


Well done to all involved as this year’s production was yet again another display of the amazing talent in Burnley. I wish you well for the rest of the week’s performances.

There are still some tickets left if you wish to see this fabulous production – I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed. Book now at or buy at Discover Pendle, Boundary Mill

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 11th October 2016