Hear the People Sing

Date 24th February 2017
Society Festival Players
Venue Class Centre, Cambridge
Type of Production Concert
Director Rich Evans
Musical Director James Harvey
Choreographer Kirsty Smith

Report

Author: Julie Petrucci

Every couple of years Festival Players set out on a tour with a songs-from-the-shows compilation.  There is no doubt that this type of show is, generally, an audience pleaser but this year’s offering:  Hear the People Sing has the strap-line “songs of struggle and sacrifice”.  Was I in for a grim evening? I asked myself.  Not a bit of it.  

Conceived and directed by Rich Evans we were treated to an entertaining programme and it was interesting to see a number of songs from relatively unknown musicals but, I have to say, there is a reason why some of these shows were not (or are not yet) a success.  

I have to admit to never have heard of several of the musicals mentioned so I did a bit of online research.  Burnt Part Boys ran for about six weeks off-Broadway in 2010 and again as a fringe show in London for the same length of time in 2016.  Therefore I don’t feel such a philistine about not having heard of it, and I don’t think the 2005 musical Little Women made it “across the pond” so songs from that are unfamiliar to me too. Similarly I am unfamiliar with the 2013 film musical Sunshine on Leith  but, as I rarely go to the cinema I don’t feel so bad about not knowing that, or the made for television Evening Primrose in the late 1960s  Sometimes too, songs don’t work well out of context particularly with the modern musicals where, in the main, songs move the story along. 

That said, this show was slick, well put together and sparkled with talent.  It is unfair to pick anyone in particular out as the Ensemble singing was to die for and all solo numbers were beautifully and confidently sung.  There was some very neat choreographed movement in and around the small performance area too courtesy of choreographer Kirsty Smith.  

Although the acoustics in the Cass Centre venue are excellent, there were a couple of sound issues but that is just being picky as I don’t think the floor microphones were picking up anyone not standing close enough to them.  Well done Nick Hall for taking on the technical challenge of so many different venues.

Musical Director James Harvey had done a grand job and I was most impressed with the versatility of several members of the Ensemble who turned their hand to playing various instruments adding their copious skills to that of Oliver Fisher (Percussion) and James Harvey (keyboard).

Congratulations to director, Rich Evans and the eighteen members of the Ensemble for providing a really very enjoyable evening.  Good luck with the remainder of the tour.