A classic tale of wartime evacuation gets a musical makeover by Tynemouth Operatic Society

GOODNIGHT Mr Tom is a well known stage play, but a new version by Tynemouth Operatic Society turns the much loved story into a musical.

Based on the 1981 book by author Michelle Magorian and the 1998 film staring the late John Thaw, this new script retains all the elements of Britain in the wartime that you would expect, but the use of Gary Carpenters soaring score manages to give the production even more depth.

The original book, now a modern classic, won numerous awards as did the television production, and has become one of the “set” books used in all schools to learn about life in the 1940’s. Composer Gary Carpenter, who has had works performed at The Proms, in The Royal Albert Hall, said “The music for Tom‚ was always intended to reference rather than imitate the music of the early 1940’s. The characters experience a wide variety of extreme emotions and I felt it crucial to be able to ‘go with them without becoming too sentimental’.

This show follows the story of young William Beech (Joseph Chandler), an artistically gifted but abused young boy who escapes his brutal home life when he is evacuated to the countryside during World War II. He is ultimately rescued from his hideous upbringing when he forges a remarkable and heart warming friendship in the care of Mister Tom Oakey (Andy Dean), a lonely old, reclusive man. All is perfect until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London.

Andy Dean plays the title role of Mr Tom. He is no stranger to taxing roles. A while ago he played the lead in a show where he had 8 different characters to portray each night along with around 30 costume changes each averaging 45 seconds. He recently played Maurice, Belles father, in Beauty and The Beast. Joseph Chandler, aged 10, plays William and from the start of the evening hardly leaves the stage. Already a seasoned performer with his stage school, having appeared in ‘Cats’ as Mungo Jerry, ‘Joseph and The Amazing Tecnicolor Dreamcoat’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’.

Director and Musical Director of the production, Andrew Clarence said, “This show really keeps me on my toes with a cast of 25 children in two seperate teams and the same number of adults. We find everything has to be rehearsed twice as we keep swopping between teams ‘London’ and ‘Devon".

All in all, Goodnight Mister Tom, with its social and historical relevance, makes a change from a lot of the more fatuous productions around at the moment and should prove to be an unforgettable night out. With its touching story its a show that will definately please all ages.

  • The show runs at The Playhouse, Whitley Bay from Wednesday to Sunday, May 24-28, at 7.15pm with a matinee on Saturday 27th at 2.15pm and the Sunday performance at 3pm. Tickets are £15 (£13 concessions), along with a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children at £48, from The Playhouse box office on 0844 248 1588.