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REVIEW: Coed Eva Primary School’s performance of ‘We’ll Meet Again’

One of my favourite bits about being in the Congress Theatre is the moment the curtains go up. You have no idea what will be on stage.

The opening of today’s 1pm performance of the wartime musical ‘We’ll Meet Again’ by year six pupils of Coed Eva Community Primary School gave me a ‘woah’ moment.  Pupils have been learning about World War II and it culminated in them starring in their own show at the town’s theatre.

The audience was silent as the lights went down. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre and this was a cast involving around 60 children. Silence. A WWII searchlight effect suddenly lit up the narrator who stood at the front and centre of the stage. It created a powerful effect of a bomb shelter packed with scared people in the darkness. Parents in the audience peered to spot their child’s face among the shadows being cast across the stage.

They were all dressed in wartime clothing, with some carrying gas mask containers and suitcases.

Ove 50 minutes the cast took us through the dark and light moments of WWII; evacuees, bomb shelters, families being broken up, learning to put on gas masks, and the warmth and friendship in communities. Each scene acted out was followed by a song involving the full cast. One young boy sang a solo verse and will never forget it. Taking the mic to sing in front of your classmates and audience while on the stage at the Congress Theatre will always be one of his memorable schoolday moments. Well done!

The ups and downs of six years of war ended in a high-spirited performance of Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag And Smile, Smile, Smile coupled with the audience clapping along while the cast gave it their all, many with grinning faces, with many waving union jacks.

Lee Gwilliam, a year six teacher, came on the stage, after the final song. He said: “Every single one of you was amazing. Give them another round of applause. I watched from backstage and to see you doing your parts, singing, was amazing.” He was greeted with a loud “yes” when the audience were asked if they wanted another song. The show closed on the same song it opened with, We’ll Meet Again.

The show was poignant for one audience member, Audrey Smith, 93. She told Cwmbran Life that she lived in Bristol during WWII. She was at today’s show with her daughter Sue Tucker, 69, to watch her great-grandson Noah Johnson, ten, who was in the cast.

She moved to south Wales when she was 65 following the passing of her husband. She said: “It brought back too many sad memories. We used to sleep under the kitchen table because we hated the air raid shelter.”

Sue said said: “I work in the theatre. I’ve got a lot to do with the theatre so it’s lovely to see.”

The cast were due to put on a second performance at 5pm this afternoon.

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REVIEW: Coed Eva Primary School’s performance of ‘We’ll Meet Again’

a boy with his grandmother and great-grandmother at a theatre
Audrey Smith, 93, Sue Tucker, 69, and Noah Johnson, ten, after 'We'll Meet Again' at the Congress Theatre (Photo: Cwmbran Life)