North West Theatre

That Day We Sang

Victoria Wood
06 Jul 11 to 16 Jul 11
Opera House
Part of: Manchester International Festival

That Day We Sang is the story of some of the children who sang on the famous recording of Purcell's 'Nymphs and Shepherds' by the Manchester Children's Choir. The piece takes as its starting point a television documentary being made 45 years after the event, triggering memories of the day itself and the years in between.

...an odd combination of play and musical... Wood demonstrates great skill as a songwriter and especially as a lyricist... plenty of Wood's typical pompous, self-important characters... Enid is a Victoria Wood character but played brilliantly by Jenna Russell, who gives a showstopping performance of the song about the banality of her name... Gerard Horan and Lorraine Bruce are perfect players of Wood's characters... a lovely tender performance from Vincent Franklin as Tubby Baker, and young Raif Clarke gives a superb performance as Tubby as a boy... may have its flaws but is accessible, funny and very entertaining...
British Theatre Guide
...a delightful choir of schoolkids, several fine new songs by Wood herself, and a hilarious eye for period detail... could do with a touch more polish — the construction is sometimes clunking, and the characters divide a little too neatly into goodies and baddies... Vincent Franklin is warmly touching... Jenna Russell movingly captures the pinched, pained life of the woman he falls for, though she is allowed to let rip in a hilarious tango number of sexual fantasy... strong support from Gerard Horan and Lorraine Bruce... the children’s choir proves irresistible.
Daily Telegraph (Rating: 4/5)
...a wonderful score, played quite brilliantly by the Halle Youth Orchestra and some dazzling dialogue reminiscent of Woods and Walters at their finest... Jenna Russell and Vincent Franklin are excellent...
The Public Reviews (Rating: 5/5)
Wood mines the humour she finds in the northern class system so well that, for a time, the laughs get in the way of the story... Wood juggles jokes, the love story, a shift back and forth between 1969 and 1929, archive scenes on a screen centre stage – that she just about succeeds is a feat of some dexterity... Tubby's 11-year-old 1929 alter ego, Raif Clarke, is a show stealer...
The Independent (Rating: 4/5)
Wood's direction lingers over a world of timorous encounters in Berni Inns and Wimpys, but only really lets rip in the second half when Jenna Russell's Enid gives vent to sexual frustration in a torch ballad that enables Wood to indulge her uniquely recondite lyrical gift... Vincent Franklin makes a remarkable job of maintaining sympathy with the earnest Tubby, while 11-year-old Raif Clarke is excellent as his pre-pubescent self... the show's straightforward good nature and lack of pretension becomes hard to resist...
The Guardian (Rating: 4/5)
...buoyed up by Wood's distinctive qualities: delight that sidles into sadness, level social observation and exquisitely sharp lyrics set to tunes which meander in and out of conversation... one of her sketches-with-songs shows: beguiling, episodic, but not gathering to an inevitable climax... their big moment – a re-creation of the occasion when the nymphs and shepherds were triumphantly hymned – is muffled...
The Observer
...Victoria Wood’s particular comedic and dramatic skill to combine the joyful and the desolate, and it what gives this story it’s special heartbreaking yet life-affirming resonance... Wood also manages to make something extraordinary of its very ordinariness... an entirely original and authentically British musical... the central couple gorgeously played by [Jenna] Russell and Vincent Franklin... there’s regret but also finally hope.
The Stage
...a huge hit... remarkable, feel good production... [Vincent] Franklin and [Jenna] Russell are irresistible together and give the sort of performance that awards are made of... one of the best pieces of theatre this year...
Sale and Altrincham Messenger (Rating: 5/5)