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Music Review

Cover Image

Original Live Cast Recording


Music: Stuart Matthew Price
Lyrics: Timothy Knapman and Stuart Matthew Price
Book: Timothy Knapman
Performed by: Josh Gottlieb, Tom Price, Lizzie Wells, Robin Franklin and Toby Turpin
Label: SimG Records
RRP: £12.50
Click here to buy -
Release Date: 10 September 2018

SimG Records's latest release is a live recording of the National Youth Music Theatre's 2017 production of Imaginary. The show is a moving, funny and inspiring musical about the wonder of childhood, and the struggle to hold on to that wonder as you grow up. Milo is Sam’s only friend. They do everything together. But as Sam’s first day at secondary school approaches, his mum is worried that the mischievous Milo is holding her son back, stopping him from growing up. School turns out to be full of surprises – and secrets. Can Sam and Milo’s friendship survive in this new world, where a painful revelation threatens to change their lives forever...?

Imaginary was commissioned, produced and performed by the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT) at The Other Palace, London, in August 2017, with book & lyrics by Timothy Knapman and music & lyrics by Stuart Matthew Price. Direction was by Shaun Kerrison, choreography by Anthony Whiteman and musical direction/orchestrations by Charlie Ingles. This album was recorded live over 4 performances and features the 30 outstanding young performers from the original 2017 NYMT Company, and the accompanying 16-page colour booklet includes production photographs, a synopsis, song-list and creative biographies.

When you consider that this production stars children and young musicians who are not yet seasoned performers then it's hard not to appreciate the hard work that has gone into creating Imaginary. But, when you also consider that a new NYMT show has only a week’s workshop at Easter and little more than a week’s rehearsal in the summer before its first performance in a West End theatre... It puts most "professional" West End shows to shame.

Considering this is a live performance (which is compiled from four of the show's performances) it's not a huge surprise that it's a little rough around the edges. At times the musicians aren't fully in tune with each other, and some of the singing is a little iffy... but come on... this is a production that by rights should have been impossible to put together, let alone perform flawlessly. Some may find the lisps of some of the main child actors to be adorable, others may find it distracting. Personally I think it adds weight to it as a believable tale. The one stand out performance is Jade Oswald, as Beth, who has a remarkable voice.

The story is engaging, the songs are catchy and, on occasion, incredibly funny. If you don't laugh out loud at 'Those Were The Days', where the teachers sing about the halcyon days of corporal punishment in schools, then there's something wrong with you.

It's mainly a musical for kid's, but adults will also get a huge kick out of it too.


Darren Rea