|Edinburgh Evening News, 24th September 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
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,
Edinburghs 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 theres 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 doesnt 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
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
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
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,
didnt 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 anyones books, but there was no lack of sparkle in this
Indeed, Sparkling Diamonds was the most effective piece of
presentation of the whole night, while El Tango de Roxanne married Ian
Hunters raw bass with Robert Walkers 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