I’ve been listening to Joe Stilgoe’s album ‘New Songs for Old Souls’ on repeat* this week but there’s one lyric in particular that keeps on jumping out at me and it got me thinking – with a theatrical spin of course. In his track ‘Roll’ he says that “youth is wasted on the young” and even at my tender age I often wish I could go back and squeeze more out of my youth. I know, I know, some of you may be mentally (quite vigorously) shaking me right now saying “YOU ARE STILL YOUNG, WOMAN!” but I’m talking childhood/teenage years here. Youth is definitely something we all take for granted. It’s the ultimate never-knowing-how-good-you-had-it-until-it-was-gone scenario. Childhood was the best wasn’t it!?

*I seriously mean on repeat. I listened to it all the way home from work and I’m still listening to it. I just danced to my kettle, danced whilst making a cuppa and danced back to my laptop. I defy you to resist the jazzy goodness of that album. Please note: I’m not being paid to advertise it. It’s just that good.Trust me, you need it in your life.

Childhood is something we grow envious of with age. We get nostalgic for those carefree times and ultimately start resenting the present with all of it’s real-life, real-time problems. Having recently fallen back into the joys of actors funemloyment it would have been so easy for me to feel that way. However, I consider myself very lucky to have just spent the last 5 months working alongside endlessly energetic, lovely, talented kids. They’ve put a spring in my step that I can’t seem to shake. Seeing kids do the same job as you (or doing much more that you in the case of the Von Trapps vs. Nuns) but miraculously never tiring and loving every second is infectious. They were a burst of inspiration daily – both before the show and during. Granted, my track in the show had very little cross-over with the Von Trapp gang but as a consequence one of my favourite parts of the show was the party. Whilst Maria and the Captain were Landler-ing their way into eachothers hearts we’d all be out on the terrace and the kids would lift spirits and always make me crack a smile (perhaps because they named me and my hubby the very appropriate names of Colin & Shaniqua…). They never suffered on matinee days, they don’t want it to be Saturday because that means they won’t get to do it the day after and they live for every second. That’s how, when as kids we decided we wanted to become actors, we always thought we would feel and it’s exactly how we should be. I feel very lucky to have had that drilled into me by three teams of exceptional youngsters leaving me with enough mojo to keep me going until 2017 at the very least.

However, I understand that orchestrating being cast in a show with kids perhaps isn’t the easiest way to give your spirits a lift. Luckily, I’ve found something that is equal – if not better – soup for the stage-driven soul.*

*side note: if you haven’t read any of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ books you really should. They’re just that.

Instead of working alongside them, you just need to go and watch talented youngsters absolutely smashing a professional production out of the park. It will either inspire you or give you a good kick up the bum (“they can do THAT and they’re HOW OLD!?”) but either way you’ll feel better for it and you’ll want to get up and get at it.

You could go and see Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (unfortunately you’ve just missed The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and the hauntingly good performances from the girls in The Nether) but there’s one show in particular that, in my opinion, is guaranteed to revive your childhood spirit. You need to go and see Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about kids pretending to be mobsters that just tickles my funny bone beyond belief. I’m pretty sure that I grinned from ear to ear from start to finish. Firstly, it is ridiculously heart warming (sure there’s gang warfare but it’s ANGEL DELIGHT) and they resolve to all get along and give out love on the understanding that it will all come back around. Yes, yes and more yes to that you mini mobsters you. Add to that the most talented group of kids (nay, I could even say cast – you won’t believe the calibre until you see it) I have ever seen and you’ve got a surefire, life-affirming, energy-inducing hit. You’ll be propelled from your seat (initially for a standing ovation, then) with your new found enthusiasm for life and the industry.

I know that’s high praise and a lot of hype from Ridout over here, but I really don’t think it’s out of place. Those kids (and kidults in the cast) will astound you and they’ll make you believe, all over again, that you can be anything that you want to be.

“Think about it, says cast member Isaac Gryn, 16: “We all stand there singing to the adults in the audience: ‘You don’t have to sit around complaining ’bout the way your life has wound up.’” It’s a call to arms – just as long as they only shoot Angel Delight” – from Matt Trueman’s article, The Guardian

Remember, the creative adult is the child who survived.

Happy recapturing your youth and, if you know what’s good for you, watching Bugsy Malone!

Baby Rids thinking she could be anything that she wanted to be.

Baby Rids thinking she could be anything that she wanted to be.

“I won’t take no for an answer, I was born to be a dancer”

– Rebecca Ridout