by Marita Phillips and Harriet Petherick
What starts as an ordinary school playground with ordinary teenage tensions, gangs and cliques, takes a sinister turn when two strangers arrive at the school. One is a new girl, with good in her; the other a charismatic street salesman with only bad.
Finn is a dreamer and the school geek. Apart from his pet mouse, Hercules, his life is lonely. Then Delphi arrives and the two instantly become friends.
However, their friendship takes a difficult turn and their integrity is then tested by the arrival of the other stranger at the school gates; the Dream Dealer. Although it might seem he's only selling ice creams, the schools coolest gang soon finds that this Pied Piper sells habits that can ruin your life.
And what is that he has glowing in his Jar...?
This outstanding new musical, part School Comedy / part Something Wicked This Way Comes style moral fable completely sold out it's run at the most recent Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it received overwhelmingly strong reviews.
THE DREAM DEALER is a contemporary musical show, designed to be easily staged by schools. With a dramatic story-line and pop-style songs, the show feels relevant to both children and adults.
THE DREAM DEALER is a relatively easy and low-budget production to mount. It has minimal sets and props and can mostly use children's everyday clothes for costumes. Three character roles can be played by older children or adults if the director wishes; and the playground groups can grow or shrink to make a cast of anywhere between 11 and 60.
Age Range - 10 - 14
THE GLASGOW HERALD
"The youthful ensemble maintains an infectious level of energy throughout and there is much talent on display here – Harriet Petherick’s catchy score contains some tongue-twisting melodies which the kids handle with aplomb. Metcalfe has found a real star in Alex Palmer, who plays the one boy brave enough to refuse the Dream Dealer’s wares – his was a performance showing maturity and pathos. John Kielty’s leatherclad baddie was suitably menacing (at times chillingly so) and special mention must go to Ross Townsend Green for his comic turn as the stuttering ice-dream salesman, Flake."
"Ice-cream contains lots of sugar and fat, but ice dreams are even worse. The villain of this new musical for 10-14-year-olds is the title character, played panto-villain-style by John Kielty (recent winner of Cameron Mackintosh’s Highland Quest for a new Scottish Musical). Disguised as an ice-cream vendor, this fiend sets the tone for Marita Phillips and Harriet Petherick’s engaging allegory about the danger of drugs. Alert to the power of peer pressure, Phillips and Petherick have created the show for performance by its target age group. Kielty and the young leads give winning performances. Add some astute lyrics, some glowing harmonies, and a Dickensian twist, and it amounts to cheerful entertainment with a heartfelt message."
THREEWEEKS in Edinburgh
"Dreams anyone? Cheap at the price; all they cost is part of your soul! This children’s musical follows a well tested and guaranteed-to-please formula – lots of dancing, and a thinly disguised moral message – which in this case is basically ‘don’t take drugs and life will turn out rosy’. The show was all the better for having a live band and a talented cast of children/teenagers – only the sinister dream-dealer and the hapless art teacher were played by adults. Things for the grown-ups included the aptly chosen name ‘magic bean’ for one of the dreams and the glorious scatting by Art teacher ‘Turpentine’ on the last number. A definite crowd pleaser."
THE STAGE podcast
I think it would be fair to say that in John Kielty, the Fringe has found the twenty first century's Child Catcher. Playing the titular role as part Faust, part Bela Lugosi and part Vincent Price, the Dream Dealer uses his addictive ice-creams to capture the souls of unwary school children looking to escape real life in the world of dreams. For the adults in the audience, the metaphor is easily recognised, but the cast (aged between 10-14, John Kielty and Jonny Field being the only adults) carry this musical with enthusiasm and passion. Seeing the troup thoroughly enjoy themselves is as much a part of the Fringe as the stand-ups travelling up from London. Particular mention goes out to our hero, Finn (Alex Palmer), who manages the solo songs with aplomb, and carries the emotions and frustrations as he watches his school mates, who start out as the all-singing all dancing troupe that you’d expect, slowly become enthralled and addicted to the Dream Dealer’s Iced Dreams.But, you go away thinking that for all the musical numbers, for all the strong messages, for all the upbeat cheery numbers, it is the evil of John Kielty scaring an entire audience as he descends from the stage into the aisles that will stay with you and haunt you in the mornings. Recommend for ages of around 9 to 14 for the message, and all other ages for the spectacle.
“You gave the children a powerful voice. It says something important with clarity and humour. I cried and laughed …
Maria Friedman. Singer/Actress.
“I particularly admired the strong moral story, entertainingly told and the great songs …it will become the perfect production for school groups everywhere in the English speaking world.”
Barry Humphries. (Dame Edna)
“This is a witty, literate, entertaining show which has an important message to get over and manages to do so without ever being preachy or patronising…a real achievement.”
Carol Metcalfe. Artistic Director of The Bridewell Theatre, London
“…they have made the hardest form of theatre look easy, and done it in a way that is accessible not just to the young, but to anyone who has ever been young. Thought provoking. A real treat."
Thea Sharrock. Artistic Director of The Gate Theatre, London.
"I write in high regard for the quality, entertaining values, and excellence of THE DREAM DEALER. It is joyful and entertaining as children are but also as serious and threatening as the problems and vicissitudes children sometimes face when things go wrong. Yes it is a musical with a message."
Stewart W Little. Founding Director of the Theatre Development Fund, New York and member of the Tony Nominating Committee.
"Well, I was really pleased with how the shows went on Sunday - with some great feedback! I have to say that working with 'The Dream Dealer' has been one of the most enjoyable projects ever. Everyone seemed to love working on it - and there were, more or less, 85 children involved - with a staggering age range of 4 - 16 years. The story-line/characters and music just seemed to appeal to everyone - which is quite unusual....... I have absolute praise for the work"
Samantha Oliver, Stagecalls Theatre School, Devon.
"Our school performed the Dream Dealer last year to rave reviews from parents, teachers and students. It was a middle school performance and the students were all between the ages of 11-14. They all did a great job with the roles and were able to easily identify with the various characters. They enjoyed all the songs and learned the singing parts so well. Our Dream Dealer and Flake were both brilliant - and I think the show did wonders for their confidence and future interest in theatre. I actually directed the show (and played Mr T) and just had a blast! I had comments from various staff that it was the best musical our school had ever put on - so you should feel very pleased/proud. For me, it's so good to have material that has a relevant message to young people."
Matt Hughes, Nagoya International School, Japan.
"The show was a bit different to what we have done in the past as it was aimed at a slightly older audience with some older concepts. Our students who were a part of the show really enjoyed the music and were easily able
to understand the concepts of friendship and bullying. It was great to get a show that was aimed at the 10-14 year olds. We struggle every year to find a show thatour students will enjoy and not find too 'young' and 'corny'.
But, not betoo old for them with adult concepts. We have looked at some more high school shows but they just don't fit our 'middle school' aged students.Well done and great writing. There was a good variety of roles for the students from a few lines to major characters. It great to produce the Dream Dealer as there was only 2 scenes and we were able to use very simple costumes and props. We used the backing tracks which were great and had a full sound. (Some shows we have looked at have tracks that sound like an inexpensive keyboard only)."
Andrew Bone, Reidy Park Primary School, South Australia