Sheffield Crucible’s musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge with Richard Hawley songs deserves standing ovation
The buzz from the show previews was not wrong: new Crucible musical Standing at the Sky's Edge is a brilliant celebration of Sheffield and the people who have called Park Hill home.
The show was inspired by the amazing music of Sheffield rock star Richard Hawley and written by city playwright Chris Bush.
The musical starts at three points in the six-decade life of the city’s love-them-or-hate-them Park Hill flats, from the high hopes of the 'streets in the sky’ to when they became an eyesore and controversial regeneration.
Three intersecting stories follow a young steelworker and his wife who move into the new council estate in 1960, a refugee family who arrive in 1989 to flats in decline and a young professional who is attracted by the Urban Splash Park Hill in 2016 that has seen private owners move in.
The story uses many of the stories that real Park Hill residents told the production team about their lives and memories.
The show, directed by Sheffield Theatres boss Robert Hastie, is very cleverly put together as all three storylines unfold overlapping each other, using beautifully-choreographed movement.
Richard Hawley’s songs slot in perfectly and provide some of the most moving and joyful moments, especially an ensemble version of Tonight the Streets are Ours, a soulful Open Up Your Door by Maimuna Memon and a belting group rendition of the title song.
The stories cover familiar ground, including the tragic end of the city’s steel industry, teenage pregnancy and gentrification of council homes, but the plot never strays into cliche (there’s even a good joke about Henderson’s Relish). The overall impression is of a sympathetic look at working-class lives.
Some of the strongest characters are women, in particular Rose, played by Doncaster actress Rachael Wooding, as the woman who fights to keep going when her husband Harry (Robert Lonsdale) loses hope.
Faith Omole is equally impressive as Joy, who arrives as a refugee and falls in love with local Jimmy (Adam Hugill).
The live band are fantastic and the evocative set looks great.
The show won a well-deserved standing ovation.