THE theatre was in total darkness as we saw torches moving towards, and onto the stage. When the lights went up 30 or more youngsters, in varying black leotards, were moving and dancing energetically to Razzle Dazzle. Lighting effects and the singing of the performers gave a rousing start to the evening.

Excellent musicians, directed by Chris Hatt, on keyboards and percussion gave ideal support, as the show smoothly went from one item to the next.

We heard and saw much talent among performers and the superb choreography by Richard Swerrun gave them scope to show their diverse abilities.

Scenes included Jellicle Cats where feline movement came to the fore and The Wizard of Oz when Richard Swerrun joined in as the Scarecrow. In Oliver the boy asked for 'more', and the group, moving in professional silhouette as if carrying plates of food, was most attractively done. There were enactments and solo items too. Sometimes young voices were not clearly audible, unfortunately.

Patricia Leonard of the D'Oyly Carte Opera, took part as Mary Poppins, and Charlotte Page (Christine in Phantom of the Opera) was Eliza in the finale singing 'I could have danced all night'.

Patricia Leonard and David Steadman (current principal conductor of D'Oyly Carte) had fun when they sang the duet from Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan 'Sing Hey to you'.

As a much desired encore Richard and the troupe sang Any dream will do, concluding a highly entertaining show.

The Merlin Youth Theatre is for the 10-18 age range, and is a marvellous opportunity for young people. Who knows, we may be watching a major star of the future. For details ring Dorothy Warner on 07796 446287.