Foolproof

Date 16th November 2018
Society University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society
Venue Council Chambers
Type of Production Concert
Director James Ward-Mallinson
Musical Director Daniele Anderle
Choreographer Flo Crompton

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

I hope there wasn’t too much disappointment from anyone who may have attended this production expecting the long-awaited musical adaptation of their favourite Canadian bank robber film of the same name from the early 2000’s. Should that be the case, hopefully they still had an entertaining 60 minutes or so. Keep hope for the adaptation, I doubt it’ll be too long now!

This production was in fact a rapid revue based on a loose theme, the clue is in the shows tagline: ‘an evening of villains’.

The narrative centred around a gathering of scheming rogues who, in turn, tell us their story with tweaked lyrics to recognisable showtunes. Providing the driving force for this concept were Ben Pointon (who penned the piece as well as taking on the role of assistant director), James Ward-Mallinson (director) and Daniele Anderle (musical director).

We got the idea straight away, the Overture set up what was to come. Daniele, with the aid of his baton, held together the running of proceedings with aplomb having composed some notable orchestrations for his 12 musicians who made an impressive sound, quite possibly the highlight of the event.

This one act musical satire was crafted for a niche audience, I appreciated it didn’t seem to have as many ‘in jokes’ as it so easily could’ve done – something that’s a customary trap for an in-house piece which appeared to have been avoided, thankfully.  

Comedy gold was on display with ‘Suddenly Smiler’ (Suddenly Seymour) performed by Megan Shone and Scarlett Gorman.

Carol-Anne McConnellogue gave an impressive turn as the Jekyll and Hyde inspired split personality with her epic solo.

Harry Newman-Walley brought copious energy to his act as the Bad Bavarian, convinced he’d give us a rendition of something from ‘The Producers’ we actually got a take on ‘Edelweiss’ which was another comedy highlight, wonderfully odd.

Keira Battersby gave us a lewd and slightly icy French villainess with a solid rendition of ‘Broadway Baby’. A striking performance came from another of Sondheim’s signatures thanks to Hugh Summers take on ‘Being Alive’. Moments such as this reminded us that although this piece is predominantly for clowning around’s sake, these young adults are actually terrific musical theatre artists.

The setting, staging and technical aspects were kept simple and minimal though at no point did I feel that anything additional would have been beneficial.

A lot of work goes into creating an original script – however short – and compiling a score with parts for 12 musicians is no mean feat either, and for just three performances. Quite admirable.  It was just a shame that results of publicity efforts weren’t as successful given the low audience numbers at this performance.  

It was a pleasure to attend a production which was primarily a bit of fun and light escapism with some showcasing renditions.