Putting It Together

Date 30th April 2013
Society University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society
Venue Club Academy
Type of Production Revue
Director Ashlee Noble
Musical Director Richard Davies
Choreographer Lauren Rosegreen & Alice Rose Parr

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Author: Kevin Proctor

Culling from Sondheim’s catalogue of brilliant theatre and film work and expanded loosely from ‘Side by Side by Sondheim’ (a 1970’s revue that paired his songs by theme), ‘Putting It Together’ attempts to knit its songs with a basic premise: A wealthy couple throws a cocktail party which is attended by two young lovebirds which is overseen by a narrator-like character.

This is the first production I've seen by this group who’ve only recently affiliated themselves to NODA.

I’d pre-conceived that (being a university society) the group would do away with the original concept and expand the cast to create a bigger party and share the numbers out amongst a larger group of performers; I was wrong! The committee and production team had admirably taken the decision to stick to the show’s original concept and intention of presentation using the small cast of three gents and two dames.

With shows like these, the performers are very exposed as there are no gimmicks, lofty characters and no big plot to hide behind, the success of this show relies heavily on the strength of the small ensemble - the cast, particularly the younger ones, coped very well with this mature style of theatre.

The interesting and quirky performance space within the University’s Students Union didn’t really lend itself well to the nature of this piece, I felt the calibre delivered by the cast and ambiance intended with this show deserved a more sophisticated setting.

One thing I was always taught by my peers in training was to never apologise for what was to come, no matter what the reason; I didn’t feel it appropriate, at the start of the show, to apologise for one of the cast members who had been ill the day before, however, I must congratulate the team for adapting to this challenge which is never prepared for in the world of community theatre.

For me, the show was stolen by the (biddle-de-diddle-de-de) two ladies! Alice Rose Parr & Ellie Scanlan were both born to perform, they’re complete opposites in terms of delivery and style but are both masters at commanding an audience. Ellie is the queen of comedy and gave a marvellous rendition of ‘Could I Leave You’ from ‘Follies’ and Alice’s voice effortlessly rings those top notes, particularly  in ‘Lovely’ from ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’. Two very enjoyable performances!

Now to the gents; first we meet Luke Hart (the guy who breaks the wall and conjoins the show between cast and audience), Luke has what I call ‘throw away energy’ , he gave a very large and over animated performance for such an intimate setting. Luke certainly gave everything into his performance and didn’t fail to get the audience chuckling with his animated expressions.

It’s a shame we didn’t get to see enough of Tom Durrant, ‘Marry Me A Little’ was charming and he was the most relaxed and gave the most ‘easy’ performance of the guys.

Finally, Fraser Moyle is evidently no stranger to the spotlight and gave us some lovely moments. Fraser worked very well paired with Ellie and the couple created purpose to their sections. Fraser’s highlight, for me, was ‘The Road You Didn't Take’ from ‘Follies’ which was well suited to his voice.

Musical Director, Richard Davies, had clearly put the hours in, group vocals sounded full and exciting with some nice harmony work. Richard had good command over his Orchestra (all students) which cannot go without compliment.

Director, Ashlee Noble and her choreographers had done a sturdy job too, considering the tight space they had to work with.

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome UMMTS onto the District, a group which certainly adds an innovative stamp of originality onto the patch, I look forward to your future projects and productions.