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The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - Goodnight Mister Tom

17th to 20th February 2016.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Good night at the musical

Cheers and tears for Team Hungerford's annual show

Community of Hungerford Theatre Company: Goodnight Mister Tom, at John O'Gaunt School Hall, Hungerford, from Wednesday, February 17, to Saturday, February 20

Michelle Magorian's moving 1981 book Goodnight Mister Tom, set at the beginning of the Second World War, has been adapted as a musical by Gary Carpenter.

Ten-year-old Will (Alfie Penny) is evacuated from London, and goes to live in the country with 60-year-old reclusive widower Tom (Terry Brooks), thus escaping his physically and emotionally abusive mother.

Both Tom and Will are shocked by their dramatic change in circumstance, and initially are uncomfortable. But, over time, Tom discovers the horror of Will's home life, and Will comes to understand that Tom is a very kind person. Will soon becomes best friends with Jewish evacuee Zach (Raiko Gohara).

When Will's mother (Roushka Westall) recalls him to London under false pretences, Tom travels to rescue him, as does Zach, separately, and in the process they both become embroiled in road closures, diverted buses, officious ARP wardens and social workers.

The stars of the show were Tom, Will and Zach, and Mrs Beech (Will's mother), ably supported by a huge cast of adults and children, and a small group of musicians.

The Hungerford Theatre Company staged Goodnight Mister Tom as their annual production. It was obvious that everyone involved, all amateurs, played their parts with serious commitment. The cast were of all sizes, shapes, and ages, from young children to those past retirement.

We didn't see the production team and backstage support crew, but they had clearly put much thought and effort into this very effective production. It was a true community effort, demonstrating what can be achieved through dedication and working together as a team.

This riveting musical ends with Will calling Tom 'Dad', confirming the strength that their relationship had developed, and probably the most poignant compliment a child who is not a blood-relative can pay a man.