This afternoon, 21 very excited young performers aged between 8 and 11 took to the stage at 53Two.   These were the Manchester Musical Youth Apprentices and this was their first show since their formation in October 2016.

The show consisted of songs performed as a group and also individually, interspersed with short sketches - the theme being "growing up".

This was an excellent showcase for the budding talent being nurtured by the expert hands of Shannon Wild (Apprentices Director/Choreographer), Dave Holden (Founder/Musical Director) and Kimberly Holden (Founder/Producer).

The performers eagerly took their seats at the commencement of the show and their level of enthusiasm did not waver throughout.   Their joy was infectious and it was a real pleasure to see them clearly getting so much from performing. They were clearly having a lot of fun because this shone through.

It must be said, there were some forgotten lines and a few stumbles over the words but this didn't matter in the slightest – this was a first public performance and I have to congratulate every single performer because I didn't see any sign of nerves from any one of them, far from it in fact!   The confidence levels were very impressive, they have clearly been given tremendous encouragement by the creative team and this was abundantly obvious.

There were some laugh out loud moments – I particularly liked the sketch between the 'parents' and their daughter, trying to get her off her phone and doing something with them...this was well acted and provoked much laughter from the audience.

The individual singers did a fantastic job.   It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of a full house of at least one hundred people but they all tackled this with full-on enthusiasm.  Not only that, they didn't just sing the songs, they performed them, with great facial expressions and eloquent hand movements.  The songs were sung with real feeling and the emotion was conveyed so that it was very believable.

I would like the slightly quieter performers to really believe in how good they are and just project their voices a little more than they were – you have great talent, so we really need to hear you!

I felt the Apprentices' real strength lay in the ensemble numbers, such as "Hard Knock Life" and "I'm a Believer" - everyone clearly felt more assured singing as a group which is very understandable and the level of enthusiasm was really ramped up during these numbers.

The most touching part of the show was when all the performers said what they wanted to be when they grew up...and what they were scared of.   This was an unusual touch but it made them real people, rather than just performers and I found it quite moving. 

A lot of the joy from this show came from the joy of the performers – at the end of the day, these are children who are quite young, yet they have produced a show which is really something to be proud of.   As young performers taking their first steps into the world of musical theatre, they have set the bar high and I think there will have been some very proud parents in today's audience.

In the expert hands of the MMY creative team, I believe the Apprentices will go far indeed...and I look forward to seeing them in the future.  MMY is a jewel in Manchester's theatre crown and from what I have seen today, I believe that the Apprentices have great things ahead of them.

Reviewer: Nicky Lambert

Reviewed: 30th April 2017