Running at the lovely St James’ Theatre in London until July 11th is a new musical set at the beginning of World War I called ‘The Dreamers’. It is the story of ordinary men, woman and children and how their lives were changed due to the war focusing on the true story of Captain David ‘Reggie’ Salomons and his troop of soldiers who died when their ship the HMS Hythe sank during the campaign of Gallipoli.
Musical is not the correct terminology for this production. It is part musical, part concert, part documentary and part history lesson. The band ‘Virgin Soldiers’ led by writers James Beeny and Gina Giorgio stand at the rear of the stage on a podium and are an integral part of the production. The large cast without the aid of scenery and with just a few handheld props tell the story in song with passion and enthusiasm.
Further information and explanations are provided by celebrity narrators including Amanda Redman, Tim Rice and Michael Buerk are projected onto the backdrop with varying degrees of success.
The music provided by Virgin Soldiers is beautiful and haunting, it has a folky feel to it and lingers in the ear. Gina Giorgio who provides many of the vocals has an outstanding voice and the string accompaniment gave the songs a very unusual sound. I would love to hear more of the Virgin Soldiers work.
The company is made up of local people from Tunbridge Wells who have no professional training. This was a deliberate move by the writers Beeny and Giorgio were adamant that the cast looked and sounded like ordinary people and not trained actors (interview here) and although at times more power was needed the concept worked well, and there were some great individual performances.
It is certainly an unusual concept which is carried by the excellent music by Virgin Soldiers and the obvious passion of the performers.
The Dreamers is playing at St James Theatre until 11th July 2015.