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Showcase 2003 Production Information

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Edinburgh Evening News, 24th September 2003

Showcase 2003

Good cause that's well worth price of a ticket


Church Hill Theatre

A SELECTION of the big songs and hip-shaking dance routines from the musicals are given a strong airing up at the Church Hill Theatre this week.

Pitfalls there are aplenty - and not all are avoided. But when they are asked to step up on stage in aid of Macmillan Cancer Relief, Edinburgh’s amateur singers manage to sing their hearts out and make this a hugely enjoyable evening.

If the concept is simple, the trick, if the feeling of a lifeless concert is to be avoided, is in the presentation.

And director Andy Johnston, ably assisted by musical direction from David McFarlane and choreography by Zoe Bellamy, knows exactly how to get the pizzazz up on stage.

For a few verses of the opening number, Some Like It Hot, it does seem as if this is going to be simply a worthy night out.

But there’s nothing like lulling your audience into a false sense of anxiety to make the change from slight toe-tapping crooning to full-on hip-swinging energy a success. This sort of event really does work best when a sense of theatricality is brought to the stage. And that big, simple designs work better than clever, fussy ones.

Not that keeping it simple doesn’t stop the 44-strong cast of singers and dancers from having something like five different costumes each.

Making sure that they are all changed on time, and the soloists with their microphones in place, can be no easy task in the confines of such a small stage.

There are a few technical lessons to be learned: the placing of throat microphones should be dictated by sound quality, not the cut of the singer’s clothes.

If the microphone has to be turned up so far it distorts, no amount of looking good is going to save them. And too often singers miss their spotlight.

As the opening suite of numbers from the 60s progressed, however, confidence oozed into the numbers. Emma Scott raised the hackles with her perfect opening to the Moody Blues’ Go Now, while Diane Dootson stepped out of the shadow to give California Dreaming a thorough dusting off.

By the time the anthemic version of With A Little Help From My Friends was under way, you knew that this was a night easily worth the price of the ticket.

The similar structure to the second suite of songs, Made in Britain, didn’t quite work because, despite top dance routines, Andy McGarry failed to find the necessary guts to bring off What Ever Happened to Saturday Night from Rocky Horror.

A suite of numbers from the film Moulin Rouge! is a brave undertaking in anyone’s books, but there was no lack of sparkle in this interpretation.

Indeed, Sparkling Diamonds was the most effective piece of presentation of the whole night, while El Tango de Roxanne married Ian Hunter’s raw bass with Robert Walker’s soaring voice.

Things can only seem quieter after such visual and aural excitement. And the final suites, showcasing American musicals and stage stars, brought many smiles of recognition. All told, a thoroughly satisfying evening.


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