The Miller Centre Young Players
The Miller Centre's own youth theatre group meets every Monday and is for young people aged 8 to 16. They work on all kinds of acting techniques using well-known plays and devised theatre. They perform at the Miller Centre, in other local theatres and festivals.
Recent Young Player productions:
William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
Adapted by Vicky Bovingdon
19 & 20 July 2019
Yet again, the Young Players will perform our season finale. This year they will be tackling Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, which promises to be lots of fun.
You will be transported to a beach resort called Illyria where you’ll find yourselves listening to Oasis, Take That and the Spice Girls! Yes, that’s right! The play is set in the 90’s on an under 18’s holiday island. Ah, bliss! Join us in Club Illyria where you’ll witness wild parties hosted by DJ Sir Toby Belch, sophisticated gatherings on Orsino’s yacht and a love triangle caused by shipwrecked Viola (who decides that dressing in her missing twin brother’s clothes and calling herself Cesario were good ideas!) Amidst this mayhem we find poor Olivia who falls in love with Cesario … or is it Viola? This is a wonderful Shakespearean comedy that we know all the family will enjoy!
Advertiser Review July 2019
This production which was adapted by Victoria Bovington, who also directed so successfully proved, to me anyway, that Shakespeare could possibly have been a little less wordy in the telling of his tales. Although this might possibly have lost some of his wonderful lines, the essence of this play, including the much-loved speeches, were ingeniously incorporated into this shortened version.
The familiar characters were all represented. With a cast of 25 juniors to include, some were added and some were divided up like the clever split of Antonio to become Ann and Toni - Jessica Silverman and Amelie Jobling as the swag-seeking pickpockets here.
It’s the 1990’s and some lucky under-18s are enjoying a Club Illyria holiday. Keith Orton’s set design is nothing short of stunning with its Mediterranean feel and Duke Orsino’s boat anchored in the background. Alistair Morton’s lighting design plays a large part in creating the atmosphere that bursts with sunshine and joie de vivre.
The sea, however, had been stormy and a shipwreck had occurred. Surviving this, Viola arrives at this haven of tranquillity, seeking work. With her chances of this best achieved as a male, she disguises herself and, now called Cesario, is engaged by Duke Orsino as his trusted messenger. Jasmine Hadouka-Tayor confidently delivered Viola, carefully eluding the advances of Olivia to whom she carried Orsino’s love messages. Emily Jones created a mercurial Olivia, spunky and commanding but dissolving into a lovelorn heap when with Cesario.
Olivia has a plethora of servants with her housekeeper Maria and Maria’s own servant, being the pranksters of the play. Stephanie Terry and Tyler Henry as the pair, are responsible for the renowned trick played on the haughty Malvolio, Olivia’s steward. Isaac Lewsey’s strutting and aloofness in the role was all the more poignant as he carried out those fictional instructions from the mistress he believed loved him.
Carousing and frequent inebriation are no strangers to Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch and here, resplendent in patchwork dungarees, Eilis O’Shea romped through the play, encouraging Mia Watmore as his friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek to behave equally raucously.
Changing the role of Feste, originally Olivia’s servant and jester, to a good friend allowed the creation of three other roles. Still helping the tale along, Antonio Frangos and Abbey Kell became the friends whilst Poppy Kell and Charlotte and Francesca Dunn became the clowns. This young, feisty trio sang acapella to entertain the assembly and delivered their lines both confidently and with good volume.
The characters are thrown into confusion with the arrival of the also not drowned Sebastian who is Viola’s twin brother, played by Dillon Patel. Believing him to be Cesario, Olivia begs him to marry her and, bemused, he agrees - a memorable scene made more so by the confetti-throwing priest.
Inevitably, Viola and Sebastian meet and there is realisation that they are twins. Olivia is happy with her Sebastian and Leon Stefanopoulos, as the imposing Orsino, is able to transfer the affection he felt for Cesario into love for Viola.
The Sea Captain (Joshua Lewis) and those in the many cameo roles as friends, servants, sailors and officers, all rejoice in the happy ending.
As the ‘backing’ to the bright staging and constant activity, pop songs weave through the production, allowing for some exuberant dancing and more than a little ‘humming along’ from the audience.
As I am sure they did, it would be of help for the audience to have known the story of the original version, partly to keep track of events and partly to appreciate the skill of the adaptation. As with many adult groups, the volume of delivery of lines was sometimes a problem, with soft voices being unheard towards the back of the theatre, but this did not impinge on the enjoyment of the play.
Congratulations, therefore, to every single person involved in this bright and breezy production; to the cast, some of whom were probably tackling Shakespeare’s lines for the first time and to Victoria Bovingdon for her insight and all her adapting and directing skills.
Collected Grimms Tales
by Grimm Brothers, Tim Supple, Carol Ann Duffy
21 & 22 July 2018
The Grimm tales are an enchanting collection of stories well known to children and adults alike. This production revisits the most popular and famous collection of folktales in the world and brings them together into one exciting performance. The Young Players will perform Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Cap (Little Red Riding Hood), Ashputtel (Cinderella), The Golden Goose, Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin. Tim Supple's dramatisation enables us to retell the stories in a unique style. You'll feel like you've entered a construction site where the stories are told by young actors in hard hats & dungarees! "The stage is the setting, the atmosphere of the stories is the cement, and the audience's imagination provides the rest". It promises to be an unforgettable evening of magic and creativity from a very talented cast of young actors.
Photos: Keith Orton
The Wind in the Willows
Adapted by Glyn Maxwell from the book by Kenneth Grahame
21 & 22 July 2017
“Oh it's not a day for cleaning! Perhaps it's a day for nothing I expected” So says little Moley as she ventures out into the Wide World for the first time, a realm of sunshine and darkness, comfort and threat. There she will meet the friendly Ratty, secretly dreaming of lives he could have led, the mystical Badger from the deep heart
of the Wild Wood, and of course the splendid and preposterous Toad of Toad Hall, who lives life to the full and leaves chaos in his wake. Meanwhile, somewhere in the shadows, a certain Weasel is hatching a plan that would ruin Moley's world forever ...
Glyn Maxwell's Wind in the Willows tells the beloved tale once more in all its wistful charm, set in a timeless England where a spirit of friendship, grace and compassion 'lets the best be done, and the worst undone.'
This modern retelling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic story, performed here by the talented Miller Centre Young Players, was premiered in July 2015 in the Open Air Theatre at Grosvenor Park, Chester. It is fast-moving, fun and full of all the characters you know and love.
Photos: Jan Kool
A thriller by Bram Stoker, adapted for the stage by David Calcutt.
22 & 23 July 2016
This is the story of the vampire who rises from the grave at night to feast on the blood of innocent young ladies. The original story, written by Bram Stoker in 1987, remains a favourite and has thrilled cinema audiences in numerous horror film versions.
Today's play, by David Calcutt, is adapted especially to be performed by young actors. It simplifies the story and changes the theme to suit the modern stage - for example, the evil Dracula is destroyed through the work of the two female characters, particularly Mina. But you will not be disappointed.
The action will still send a shiver down your spines as you watch these very talented young players bring the whole dreadful tale to life - and death
Photos: Chris Myers
A Midsummer Night's Dream
by William Shakespeare, adapted by Victoria Bovingdon
17 & 18 July 2015
A cast and crew of twenty-five young people will present a fresh version of Shakespeare’s popular A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The powerful story of four lovers who switch partners through the trickery of the mischievous Puck. As Lysander tells us: ‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ The chaos erupts before our eyes, as human and magical worlds collide. We’ll see Hermia’s feud with with Helena over Lysander and Demetrius, the lovers tiff between Titania and Oberon (the fairy King and Queen) and a play-within-a-play introduced by a kindly group of fellows named ‘The Mechanicals’.
Photos: Tony Gingell
Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll, adapted by Adrian Mitchell (commissioned and first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company)
12 July 2014
On a glorious summer's afternoon, young Alice happens upon a smartly dressed rabbit looking at his watch and muttering "I'm too late!" This being an unexpected occurence, she follows him down a nearby rabbit hole and falls into Wonderland. And thus begins the magical mystical story of a small girl in another world.
Photos: Steve Bishop
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
A musical adaptation of C S Lewis' classic story.Dramatised by Adrian Mitchell. Music by Shaun Davey.
20 July 2013
A fresh and vibrant production of the classic CS Lewis novel featuring 25 young actors aged 8 to 17, all members of The Miller Centre Young Players.
Through a musical originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Narnia comes to life with all your favourite characters including Mr Tumnus, Aslan, Lucy and the children; of course, no story is compete without its villain – and Lewis' White Witch is definitely one of the most terrifying!
The Miller Centre Young Players present their production of Peter Pan in a musical version of JM Barrie's classic story by David Barrett.
14 July 2012
Photos: Avril Jones