Sprinkling a little Cinderella magic into the plot, Castoffs Youth Theatre have chosen a worthy subject for their musical The IT Boy, which tells the tale of Chris, a sixteen year old with a secret.
Chris is a pretty normal lad. He plays rugby, likes motorbikes and has a girlfriend. His transvestism is just another facet of his character, but it's the taboo nature of cross-dressing that this young group try to deal with as Chris strives to become the Prom Queen.
Writer Claire Haddon has attempted to deal with the issues of gender head on in what is essentially a fantasy. There's peer-pressure, secrets, guilt and teenage angst as our hero comes to terms with his own issues. There's T-Birds and Pink Ladies - though the gender roles are reversed. And in a nod to fairy tale endings, Chris is aided by his own fairy godmothers and ultimately revealed as a transvestite by his abandoned slingback.
Without wishing to give away the plot, I was slightly disappointed that Chris could only gain acceptance from friends and family though a heroic act rather than using the opportunity to discuss the transvestite issue head on - although the big ensemble number at the end, It's What's On The Inside That Counts, kind of sums up what should have been said. (By the way guys - it might be an idea to bring the curtain down there, while the energy is up rather than let it peter out with the closing two short scenes).
To be fair, this is an amateur production where only five of the massive cast have had any experience before - so don't expect polished performances. Although I will state for the record that there was some promising work from Katy Bradley as Gloria Cricket, Steve Cowood as Sam Weller and Jonathan McBeth as Freddie Foxglove - all of whom seem to have grasped the importance of playing to the audience rather their feet. There's quite a few missed cues, and dialogue you could pass rather a large make-up bag through, but the fact these young people are presenting this subject matter is laudable. Whilst news reports of hate crimes and racial intolerance appear to be on the increase, any youth group who flies a flag against bigotry should be encouraged.