Upon entering the intimate Dance Studio, the décor immediately set the scene for the show. With fairy lights surrounding the stage and the cast sitting behind the audience, there was a real sense of unity in the room. This was perhaps aided by the fact that the cast and audience were very small (18 cast members and about 35 audience members). There was an element of excitement as the orchestra began an impressive overture. I had a scan of the programme before the show started and was intrigued by the creativity of the song choices. Pitched as a showcase about love, I was surprised at how many different directions the directors and crew had decided to take it in.
Of course, the showcase opened with ‘Seasons of Love’ from RENT, one of the most famous songs in modern musical theatre. With Dan Gray and Zoë Farrow supplying the most beautiful solo performances, this ensemble number had stunning harmonies that gave me goose bumps. This was swiftly followed by hits from Wicked, Mamma Mia and Made in Dagenham. I liked the way that the showcase diverted from modern musicals to older, more classical shows, like South Pacific and Anything Goes. It meant that there was something for everyone, seeing as the audience was a mixture of parents and students.
The show was well prepared, with a broad mixture of ensembles, duets, trios and solos to provide a necessary variety. There was also variety in terms of the ways the concept of love was conveyed. We had love between a man and woman presented humorously in ‘I’m Sorry, I love you’, sung by Tom Kershaw-Green and Meg Bailey and in ‘Baptise Me’, sung by Dan Gray and Phoebe Reynolds. Whereas, love for oneself was showcased meaningfully and emotionally in ‘The Winner Takes It All’ sung by Anna Cole and ‘She Used To Be Mine’ from Waitress sung by Dharini Rajaramanan.
The running order had the audience on an emotional roller coaster for sure; I was certainly fighting a losing battle not to shed a tear during ‘The Letter’ from Billy Elliot. Alastair Winning portrayed a sweet Billy whilst Helen Parsons and Francesca Hayman’s harmonies jelled charmingly. Then the cast took a slightly nostalgic turn and portrayed spoilt children in ‘Miracle’ from Matilda, which the audience thought was very funny.
Every member of the cast had unbelievable confidence and very evident stage presence. I liked the way that all cast members were in blacks, with a pink accessory of some sort, simple but effective. Having said this, the aspect I liked most about the showcase was the rapport. Having been in productions myself, I was really keen to observe the way in which the cast reacted with each other. It was easy to see that this cast go together like “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.” Therefore, the only criticism I can give of this showcase is that it wasn’t long enough. I wish it went on for 525,600 minutes.
Although the showcase is now finished, don’t miss GMTG’s next show, Made In Dagenham. Have a look on the Guild website for details in the New Year.