1st December 2017
Altrincham Little Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Kevin Proctor
Revue shows have their pros and cons, as an audience member I’d say that I’m generally a fan of a compilation show though I suspect I’m in a minority given that they’re such a slug to shift tickets for. I suspect many potential punters would find the prospect of booking to see a revue more of a gamble, not really knowing what to expect.
I favour the approach of an original title which not only shows some artistic creativity and leads one to suggest a loose narrative rather than an unoriginal label ‘Magic of the Musicals’ or ‘Songs Of The Stage & Screen’ for example, however (sadly), from a box office point of view, the unoriginal title would probably prosper more than something which sounds a bit too far out of the box.
The marketing of this production sent out a few messages to suggest something quite opposite to what we actually got. This production had been given the title ‘15 minutes’ which suggests to me that I’d be able to watch the show and get home in time to catch EastEnders, though being serious, I wouldn’t have put money on this perception being correct - and I’d have been right not to! Some kind of revue compilation to suggest the life of Marilyn Monroe perhaps? …given that the poster featured four headshots of her, to which I’m still not quite sure why.
The show was in fact made up of five sections, one was based on a ‘it’s chucking it down out there’ theme featuring a collection of songs all about the rain. One celebrated the soundtrack to a recent children’s film about ‘Trolls’ while another was a salute to one of, if not the, chairman’s favourite artist, ‘Barry Manilow’ and the remaining two sections were a homage to the ever popular musical, ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ with the closing of act 1 being handed to guests of Sale & Altrincham Musical Theatre - ‘The Longford Community Choir’.
I found the ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ section to be quite the opposite to the originality that the marketing of this show suggested as we were given a section which wouldn’t have been out of place in a show called ‘Magic Of The Musicals’. This was nothing more than a short trailer-esque nod to a much-loved show, we had some good solo vocals from the three girls during the title number featuring choreography which was a decreased replica of the 2004 Broadway production.
Next up was ‘Songs From A Rainy City’. I wholly appreciated the innovative idea to structure a section around something different which conveyed a sense of fun. It was unfortunate that on this particular performance ‘Isn’t It A Lovely Day’ had a technical glitch but I must commend the duo for how they dealt with it. ‘It’s Raining Men’ was given a satire edge to its approach which certainly had the novelty factor though some cast members were a little tentative to relish the fun nature which had evidently been the brief.
To open act II we got a salute to ‘Manilow’ which featured recognisable and some not so recognisable songs by the artist. The opening number ‘One Voice’ showcased the finest ensemble vocals of the entire production, offering a lovely, rich sound from the company. ‘Could It Be Magic’ was quite possibly the highlight of the entire evening thanks to it’s energy, fun choreography (which had me bopping along) and, although I don’t normally admire tattoos being visible on stage I’m happy to make an exception this time (“KP”)! Paul Rendel was in fine voice and performed ‘Sunday Father’ with a fond sentiment, quite lovely.
And finally, to close the show we had a melange of songs from the recent-ish film ‘Trolls’ which itself is primarily a collection of classic pop songs from recent decades. ‘True Colours’ and ‘Sounds Of Silence’ were the two stand out vocal performances before being hit with more amplified merriment for ‘You Can’t Stop The Feeling’ to close the show.
The pros of revue compilations that’re structured in this way provides opportunities to members of the company who perhaps fancy a taste of directing, some musical direction experience or to devise choreography which is terrific for nurturing and finding new potential skills from within your members. As much as I’m not a fan, perhaps a more obvious and predictable title would have helped ticket sales?