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Anthems & Movie Music

August 10, 2019 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆   Anthems – from West End to Broaday

★★★★☆  Movie Music

St Andrew’s and St George’s West (Venue 111): Tue 6 – Sat 10 Aug 2019
Review by Thom Dibdin

Edinburgh Music Theatre is back at St Andrew’s and St George’s West on George Street, for EdFringe opening week and a thoroughly successful double bill of musical treats.

This year the early evening show hits off with a particularly catholic choice – and definition – of anthems from the musicals, while it picks up the pace for the late evening show to explore music (mostly) made famous in the movies.

The Edinburgh Music Theatre company on stage. Pic: Lauren McAnna

That is a definitely small c catholic choice, in that while some of the inclusions – One Day More, Radio Gaga and Tradition spring to mind – are certainly of anthemic status, not all are, with a much lighter element of storytelling urgency than full-out belting.

But it would be most churlish to quibble with such a splendid opener as I Hope I Get It from A Chorus Line. It gets everybody up on their feet and displaying their dance moves – choreographer Morgan Scott has done an excellent job with a tricky playing area – while many performers have a chance to shine.

One of the several joys of these portmanteau concerts is that performers get the opportunity to wrap their vocal cords around pieces that they would be unlikely to get cast for. It is hard to consider Jessica James-Thomson taking on a lead role in the orphan’s workhouse in Oliver!, for example, or Kirsty McLaughlin jumping out of bed to shout out Good Morning Baltimore in Hairspray.

Yet here they are, doing just that. Although it is to differing effect. While James-Thomson’s vocal line for Food Glorious Food is very fine indeed, its performance by an adult company devoid of a single treble voice only reminds you of how suitable the number is for the purity of tone given by a much younger chorus.

While the Hairspray offering does the opposite and reminds of just how strong the show is and makes you wish that the whole evening was going to be devoted to it.

Such thoughts are quickly forgotten, however, as one of the other joys of this kind of show swings into evidence, in breadth of styles on offer, with a performance of The Ballad of Sweeney Todd which is quite the peach of the first of the two concerts.

Movie Music

The second concert of the evening starts with less of a kick than the first with Another Day of Sun from La La Land, but the smile on Milly Reid’s face as she sets out on her lead vocal for the second piece says it all. It is a whimsical indication that she, the company and all the audience are in for a treat.

Reid is right. The ensuing James Bond medley is of blow-away status. Starting with Skyfall, adding acapella hints at the Bond motif, throwing in soaring fragments of melodies from some of the most exciting film music written and ending with a reprise of  the Skyfall theme, it feels as if a whole dramatic world has opened up.

The rest of the show never quite reaches that peak of intensity and drama. But it travels in a different kind of direction as it utilises the tendency to make movies out of musicals and feature existing hits in jukebox fashion.

I’m A Believer, God Only Knows, Dancing Queen and Come Fly with Me would still be hits in an alternative universe where Shrek, Love Actually, Mamma Mia or Catch Me If You Can had never been made. Even Les Mis is a movie now and available for a movie music offering.

It is a direction which works, however, and the whole second concert is a real joy to experience. And hving been exposed to many, many takes on the Greatest Showman numbers during last December’s pantomime season, it is a particular personal pleasure to hear a medley from the movie given such strong showing.

That is the nature of movies, of course, in that they have strong personal resonances. And it is to the complete credit of the company in general, the individual soloists and Matthew Brown’s musical direction, that those resonances are brought to the fore.

And I’m sure that there will be no one demanding their money back under the trades description act for the inclusion of When Your An Addams as the final number.

Running time: 55 minutes without interval for each show.
St Andrew’s and St George’s West, 13 George Street, EH2 2PA (Venue 111)
Tuesday 6 – Saturday 10 August 2019.
Evenings: 7.10pm (Anthems) and 8.40pm (Movie Music)
Tickets and details:
Anthems: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/anthems-from-west-end-to-broadway
Movie Music: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/movie-music

EMT website: www.edinburghtheatre.co.uk.
EMT on facebook: @edinburghmusictheatre
Twitter: @edmusictheatre.

ENDS

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