The year is 1927 and Daisy Meredith is the first scholarship girl from an elementary school to enter through the hallowed halls of the prestigious Grangewood School for Young Ladies. Before long, Daisy finds herself struggling against unspeakable snobs Sybil Burlington and Monica Smithers, who concoct ghastly schemes to get her expelled. Ably assisted by her new best friend, madcap Trixie Martin, Daisy finds herself caught up in a series of irresistible adventures including the search for the missing ‘Beaumont Treasure’.
The exposed brick interior of Charing Cross Theatre provides the perfect backdrop to this revival of this classic musical made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Clever staging means that you really do feel as though you are a pupil inside the legendary boarding school, about to tuck into a midnight feast washed down by lashings of ginger beer.
The wonderfully exuberant cast comes from the first graduating year of Guildford School of Acting’s BA Actor-Musician programme and every member excels; this is a real ensemble piece. In a nice touch, each plays a musical instrument in one of the regular musical interludes, a subtle reminder that these actors have more than one string to their bows.
I loved every moment of this polished yet heart-warming production which, while gently poking fun at Angela Brazil and Enid Blyton manages to stay just the right side of affectionate. Because, when all is said and done, the themes of friendship, loyalty and believing in your dreams so beloved of those authors and their contemporaries remain as meaningful today as they ever were – perhaps even more so, given the troubled world in which we find ourselves.
‘Daisy Pulls It Off’ made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me feel nostalgic in the best possible way. What’s more, it’s a production that can be related to as much by younger generations as by older ones; looking around me, I could see eight-year-olds and eighty-year-olds enjoying themselves in equal measure and, during the interval, discussing Daisy’s plight in equally animated tones.
Does our plucky heroine win through in the end? You’ll have to go and see this magical musical yourself to learn Daisy’s fate; I’m not about to give any secrets away. Although, because I’m feeling generous, I will share with you the biggest secret of all: which is that I can remember seeing this glorious show performed for the very first time back in 1983 (sshh).