Showstoppers 2

Date 4th April 2014
Society The East Cheshire Musical Theatre Company
Venue Garrick Playhouse
Type of Production Revue / Concert
Director Sally Hilliard & Heidi Fletcher
Musical Director Andrew Saunders
Choreographer Sally Hilliard & Heidi Fletcher

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

East Cheshire’s revive their 2012 production; Showstoppers! This time they’re back in a bigger venue and with a bigger cast – and with the inclusion of juniors.
It is very refreshing to see that this show had been approached by the production team and the committee as a full scale production and not with the usual fundraiser angle you normally see associated with this type of show.
The technical side of the production was top notch which enhanced the experience and gave a professional quality to the look and sound of the show.

Some costumes for certain sections had been hired in whilst others had been provided by the cast – it was clear which was which and I have to say that the costumes provided by the cast looked leagues ahead of what was hired in. The performers seemed far more comfortable in what they’d provided for themselves  as they fitted better and looked better quality, In particular; the black, white and green set in the opening ‘Wicked’ section looked really striking, a good team effort here!

Revue shows are not a straightforward venture for the MD who is required to source all the dots and find/write the arrangements for his band while often having to condense larger orchestrations and expand the smaller ones.  Andy Saunders and his band did indeed sound wonderful though I think playoffs or segues would have been a good idea to help smooth transitions which would have helped to avoid the ‘dance school – esque’ pause while we wait for the next section to set up / get ready.
The programme of numbers was a decent mix of well-known show tunes and some lesser commercial material which I always find refreshing for this type of show. Particular highlights (performance wise) were the two numbers from ‘Next To Normal’, ‘When I Grow Up’ (from ‘Matilda’) and the ‘Footloose’ Finale which were the shows strongest moments for me.

East Cheshire’s demonstrated strength in ensemble singing with this production, the cast generated a splendid sound during the ‘New World’ number, the ‘Sister Act’ section and the opening ‘Wicked’ number. 
The crowd certainly came alive during the ‘Jersey Boys’ medley which was good fun but the lead vocals were not up to scratch on the night I was in which was a tremendous shame as the back-up harmonies were crystal clear and sounded fabulous!

These productions are an excellent opportunity to showcase the strength and talent a group has to offer. ECMT certainly have high capability amongst their membership so I am baffled when people attempt to sing songs which either don’t suit them or, even worse, are physically out of their range – I see it quite a lot and I can never understand why people do it or allow it to happen – it helps no one!  More frustratingly, I'm referring to performers who I know have excellent vocal ability who were, on this occasion, given songs to sing which were a strain for them and not pleasant for us – there is absolutely no reason why this had to happen!

Cleverly, looking forward - the group gave us and their followers an insight and small taste of what’s to come – yes, I'm referring to the groups 2015 production; ‘The Witches Of Eastwick’ which you can already sense the excitement for amongst the society!