I had never heard of Yank! until a couple of weeks ago when a friend mentioned that they were going to see it. The next day I was listening to the director being interviewed on a radio show, and the presenters were raving about how good the show was. So I decided to treat the husby and me to some tickets. And I am glad that I did!
Before I even start about Yank, I need to talk about Hope Mill Theatre. Why am I only finding out that this place existed? I loved the rustic look about the place; the Engine Room Cafe & Bar had such a nice and quaint feel about it. It added to the warmth and intimacy of the theatre, while still giving a nod to the building’s industrial heritage. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more stuff being shown here in the future.
What is Yank?
So back to Yank. What is it all about? As the strapline states, it’s a World War II love story. The story starts with a young man finding Stu’s journal in a junk shop before we are transported back to where it all began.
We learn through the journal entries that Stu has been enlisted into the army and spends basic training fearing he isn’t good enough, tackling with his own sexuality and his relationship with fellow Private, Mitch.
Stu struggles with feelings that he’s not man enough to fight on the front line. He meets openly (as you can be in the army) gay Artie who gets Stu assigned as a reporter for Yank, a magazine ‘for the servicemen by the servicemen’. Artie also introduces Stu to the hidden gay world that was happening in the US Army during this time.
After a 10 month gap, Stu meets up with Mitch and the rest of his old team to do a story on them for the magazine. This leads to Mitch and Stu’s feelings being re-ignited. Unfortunately for them, they were seen. The outcome shows that battles were not always on the field.
Yes, this is a LGBT story, but you don’t have to be LGBT to watch it. It provides a different insight into what life was like in the army. The fact that what makes this story powerful is that it’s based on real-life situations and viewpoints from soldiers during that time.
Let’s talk about the Yank cast. They were all amazing! Not a single one of them were a weak link, which is a rarity. From the moment they appeared on stage I was drawn in and mesmerised by the story that they were telling.
Luke Bayer, was fantastic as India, he delivered some of the best comedic moments, which broke the air during some of the most challenging scenes.
Sarah-Louise Young, played all the females roles, all delivered differently and all with believability. I forgot that this was the same actress. Her voice is unbelievable, the old Hollywoodesque glitz and glamour feel about it, providing the much-needed joy to the soldiers during the hard times.
Finally, I need to point out Scott Hunter who played the protagonist Stu. I was simply blown away by his performance throughout the show, but the second act was where he excelled. I felt his fear, his discovery, his love and his loss.
He simply shone through some of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the production. I had tears forming throughout the second act. This guy deserves an award for his performance.
I also thought it was so sweet, that his true emotions oozed when he and the cast received their standing ovation at the end of the show.
I was a little apprehensive about seeing Yank. All these positive reviews, I felt that I may have built it up too much, but I needn’t have worried; the production far exceeds my own expectations.
Hope Mill Theatre was definitely the correct environment for this musical. I just really wish I had time to go and see this show again before it finishes on the 8th April.