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Review: The Likes of Us by the Havering Music Makers

PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 January 2015

The cast performing The Likes of Us at Queen’s Theatre. Picture: Daniel Faust

The cast performing The Likes of Us at Queen’s Theatre. Picture: Daniel Faust

DB VISUALS

The tale of a philanthropist who brightened the lives of thousands of children was brought to life in rousing fashion.

The Havering Music Makers returned to Queen’s Theatre for The Likes of Us, a show telling the remarkable story of Thomas Barnardo.

The pioneer founded charity Barnardo’s which, before his death, had opened 96 homes caring for more than 8,500 children.

The story begins in the Edinburgh Castle gin palace in Limehouse, where pious Barnardo is taken aback by the debauchery he witnesses.

After being thrown out, he considers his future and his ambition to become a medical missionary in China.

But his course becomes clear when his eyes are opened to the plight of the East End’s homeless children, who sleep on the rooftops.

The Likes of Us, the first musical created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, was performed with aplomb by the Havering Music Makers, who entertained a packed audience at their final show in Billet Lane, Hornchurch.

Sue Howlett provided much of the humour as narrator Elsie, who set the scene before each song.

The lack of dialogue meant you may not have felt as invested in the characters portrayed in the musical, which is based on a book by Leslie Thomas.

But the show really gave the performers a chance to show off their vocal talents, with James Knowles and Lauren Frost shining as Barnardo and his love interest Syrie.

Their duets Will this Last Forever? and the reprise of A Strange and Lovely Song were delivered tenderly.

The younger members of the cast were also a joy, with their emotional song about sleeping on the rooftops, The Likes of Us, a particular highlight.

This engaging and entertaining musical showed why the Makers are still going strong after almost 40 years.

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