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Edinburgh Evening News

Charity cast spray talent across stage

Published Date: 23 September 2009

By Josie Balfour

Showcase: Let Us Entertain You ****

Church Hill Theatre

MACMILLAN nurses are always there to support cancer patients with practical and emotional aid. But there are times when the charity needs support itself: financial support in particular. Which is why amateur theatre group Showcase was formed 19 years ago.

Returning to the Church Hill Theatre this week for their annual musical review, the company are hoping to break last year's fundraising record of 15,000 by entertaining Edinburgh audiences with a wide range of song and dance routines. Taking an energetic power-walk through recent musical history, Let Us Entertain You opened last night with a frisky homage to the Sixties in a medley of hits from the musical Hairspray. Filling the stage with an army of hand-jiving chorus members and an ingenious hairspray can set, the cast went all out to win the crowd over with favourites Welcome to the Sixties and You Can't Stop the Beat,

The effect, however, was marred by serious problems with sound balance, the singers soldiering bravely through the score as the enthusiastic orchestra comprehensively drowned them out.

It was a problem that continued to blight the entirety of the first act. While ensemble performances Whatever by Oasis and the Spice Girls' Stop held their own in an affectionate tribute to the Ninieties, one had to strain to catch many of the soloists. It was a disappointing turn of events considering the quality of Claire-Louise Donlon's beautiful Nothing Compares 2 U and Elaine Graham's soft Say What You Want.

Making up for the low volume of Arlene Cassidy's rendition of Torn was an elegant and fluid ballet duet by Louise Hendrie and Peter Twyman, one of several choreographed pieces.

The last part of the first act was given over to a lively sneak peek of Showcase's next production - We Will Rock You - with Gaynor Boe, Keith Kilgore and Andy McGarry sharing the meaty lead vocals.

For all the showtunes and excited choreography, however, the cast really held their own in the operatic sections of the show. Keith Hendrie's Anthem, from Chess, stood out in the first act, while the second act's opening section based on film and TV classics was outstanding. The choral work included a well-structured excerpt from Carmina Burana and a dramatic modern piece from Doctor Who, The Dark and Endless Dalek Night.

Ending the evening with a slew of crowdpleasers, Showcase had the audience clapping along to Eighties classics Flashdance and Fame and Motown greats I'll Be There and You Can't Hurry Love. Jennifer McIntosh closed the show with Leona Lewis's moving hit Run before the chorus slipped into Simon and Garfunkel's peerless Bridge Over Troubled Water. Leading the choir in a soulful and touching finale was Ibiyemi Osinaike with These Are The Days of Our Lives by Queen.