Best Theatre Arts show at Roman Theatre 'demonstrated young talent at its best'

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans. - Credit: Best Theatre Arts

You have to be at your best to perform open-air theatre on a wet stage in front of a rain-soaked audience.

But that was precisely what the youngsters of Best Theatre Arts did on Monday night when they put on Olympiaganza as part of the Roman Theatre Festival in the amphitheatre at Gorhambury.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans. - Credit: Best Theatre Arts

For no sooner had some of the young cast members sat down on stage before the show began than it started to rain – and that’s how the weather continued through the performance.

Were they dismayed or reticent about the chilly, wet conditions? Not at all.

They threw themselves wholeheartedly into a show which took in a wealth of Greek myths and legends, most of which gave only a cursory nod to Homer, but were nothing if not entertaining.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans. - Credit: Best Theatre Arts

Not that the finished product at the Roman Theatre was the only pitfall suffered by Best, a part-time theatre school for young people which, on this occasion, featured its 12 to 15 year olds.

Early rehearsals had to be held online because of the pandemic, they had to observe self-distancing when they could rehearse together, and then, to cap it all, cast members had to self-isolate because of positive cases at their schools.

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Despite all that, they turned in a fun show that rose above the vagaries of the weather and demonstrated young talent at its best.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans. - Credit: Best Theatre Arts

Of course there were problems – the sound system was erratic at times, cast members missed their cue (although that just added to the audience amusement) and the Wooden Horse that ended the Trojan War appeared to have lost its head.

But none of that mattered because against all the odds, Best Youth Theatre Group (BYTE) gave the audience an evening of entertainment that overcame the questionable English summer.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.

Best Theatre Arts' production Olympiaganza at the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans. - Credit: Best Theatre Arts

Some of it was laugh-out-loud funny, the singing was excellent, particularly the voice of Lottie McCallum as Orpheus, and from a sea of impressive performances, Oliver Spooner as both Hercules and Menelaus stood out.

Olympiaganza, directed by Lisa Schulberg and Dawn Hudson, was perhaps a tad too long but on a warm summer’s evening that would not have mattered.

And for one who has often wondered where local drama groups would find future talent, I now know they need look no further than the youngsters of Best Theatre Arts.
 

The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival 2021 at the Roman Theatre of Verulamium in St Albans.

The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival 2021 venue at the Roman Theatre of Verulamium in St Albans. - Credit: Tim Morozzo


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