Showcase Musical Productions

Showcase 2001 Production Information

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Review from the Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 26th September 2001

Fun-filled Showcase of nostalgia

Church Hill Theatre

David Pollock

While the line promises "music of the future, music of the past", this presentation by Showcase Musical Productions was most definitely reading from a songbook that last saw print sometime in the mid-Eighties.

It’s probably just a coincidence that Showcase was also conceived around this time. Initially intended as a one-off show at the Church Hill for charitable purposes in 1985, organisers John Wright and Bobby Harvey established this event as an annual performance some 11 years ago.

Given that all concerned contribute their time and skill for free and have raised over 80,000 for Macmillan Cancer Relief in the interim, you have to look on that as some kind of success, before taking the show’s quality into account.

So - all philanthropic considerations aside - was it a good night? Well, everyone over the age of thirtysomething was well catered for, with any attempt at narrative being jettisoned in favour of five separate "greatest hits" sections covering four decades of music.

Kicking off is Broadway Memories and we’re in "extravaganza" territory right from the start. At this point it’s fair to say that all the performers, whether soloists or chorus members, are in fantastic voice, and it’s not easy to pick any standouts.

At a push, the kudos would have to go to Debi Fyfe for Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man (from Showboat) and Gary Gray for an energetic Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat, the latter with a chorus who are superbly choreographed considering how little room there is on stage for all 45 of them.

An American legend is essayed next, as the Showcase players salute the Detroit hit factory Motown. Populist Sixties Motown, that is, complete with day-glo shirts for the men and smart, swinging dresses for the girls. It’s like Vietnam never happened and What’s Going On remained forever a twinkle in Marvin’s eye.

That said, this section’s opener, Dancing In The Street, is a suitably celebratory affair. Elsewhere, I Heard It Through The Grapevine prowls as you’d expect it to and a choral Ain’t No Mountain High Enough hits the peaks.

After the break, the orchestra wrong-foot us all with some twee classicism before the curtains are flung back and everyone launches into Waterloo. Yes, that’s right, it’s time to slap some life into the corpse of Eurovision!

Hold on, though, aren’t Abba meant to make you want to dance? Not if their songs are being performed by almost four dozen static people losing vocal momentum at roughly the same pace.

Things get better as Jenny Young storms through Puppet On A String, and Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up sees everyone kitted out in patriotic red, white and blue.

Next, some sartorial sense in Frank And Dino, a tribute to the only two Rat Packers most people can name. Peter Tomassi does his best Vegas crooner impersonation during Love And Marriage, Ian Hunter provides the evening’s laughs by singing in cod Italian for That’s Amore and this section’s closer is - what else? - My Way.

The best is definitely saved for the grand headliners finale, though. To wit: a raunchy rendition of Money (from Cabaret) by one Crofton Palmer and various scantily-clad dancers, Heather Hughen (one of the evening’s true stars) belting out a sublime No More Tears with Dawnne Mahmood, and the show’s defining popular appeal crossover, a choral finale of Queen’s Somebody To Love.

So in the end, then, the appeal may have been limited for younger members of the audience, but the enthusiasm and professionalism of the company combined to provide a glossy, entertaining spectacle nonetheless.

 

 

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