Wartime heartache and the emotion of evacuation will be brought to life by a cast of Port Talbot children this week in a three-night run of the musical The Vackees.
The production will be performed and produced by the Port Talbot Amateur Operatic Society’s youth theatre, which last year won a national award for its production of Bugsy Malone. The youth theatre currently has around 50 members, aged between eight and 16 years.
All the parts in The Vackees will be played by children, including mothers, teachers and the villainous Aunt Luce.
Speaking at one of the final rehearsals before the performance, 12-year old Tom Hearn from Margam, who plays lead character Kip, said, “Vackees has got a really good story, and it’s really funny. This is my first lead so it is exciting.
“I’m playing Kip, who is a tough London boy. He is evacuated to Somerset to a really mean person called Aunt Luce. He tries to get home, and he meets a girl called Ellen and they become friends.”
Musical director Geraint John, himself just 22, says the musical has a lovely score and a good story.
“It tells the story of love and war. The end of the story is very dramatic, but I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t say any more,” he said.
David Roberts is the youth theatre’s administrator. He is a former schoolteacher, and says it has been fascinating to see how much the children have learnt about the wartime evacuation of London from taking part in the production.
“They have really been able to empathise with the characters and realise how hard it must have been for children and their parents to be parted during the war,” he said.
Aled Williams, 16, takes the part of the German pilot, and agrees that he has gained new insight into the war: “Everybody stereotypes the Germans as evil but you realise many of them didn’t have a choice. You think the pilot is a bit of a bad guy but that changes as the story goes on and by the end you feel pity for him.”
“Right to the end you think it’s a happy story, but there is a dramatic ending, so everybody will enjoy the story.
“Children will love it,” he added.
The production’s director, producer and choreographer Emily Roberts, 26, agreed.
“It’s a lovely story, a worthwhile production and the children have worked very hard. I don’t think anybody could leave the show without having loved it.”
The Vackees is at Princess Royal Theatre, 24-26 October, 7pm (doors from 6.15pm). For tickets call 01639 763214.