Broadway Bound

April 3, 2015 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩    All that Jazz

King’s Theatre: Thurs 2 April 2015

Bright and crisp and even, the aspirations of the dancers on stage at the King’s on Thursday night shone through their performances. These youngsters were Broadway Bound in more ways than one.

From the Singing in the Rain overture to the Priscilla Queen of the Desert curtain of Colour My World, this was a show which sought both to show off its performers’ abilities and entertain its audience.

Dance with the Devil. Photo: Andrew Gowland

Dance with the Devil from The Witches of Eastwick. Photo: Andrew Gowland

It achieved its aim on both counts thanks to smart construction from creative director Murray Grant with his team of choreographers led by Senay Taormina.

On stage were nearly 100 full-time dance and musical theatre students from the MGA Academy – along with a couple of dozen youngsters from the part-time school.

They delivered as entertaining an evening as any variety style dance production around. It was not so much a particular number which provided the highlight, although there were several standout moments, but the crispness with which those numbers were delivered.

It was the snap and crackle you get when a large company is working both in perfect unison and with unfettered enthusiasm. It’s a grand enough sight to see in a small ensemble, but when you have almost 100 performers hitting their points in perfect synchronisation, it is jaw-droppingly good.

more acrobatic than anticipated

In a night which swung from old-style hoofing to Disney numbers and hot modern musicals, the first half set off with dance to the fore. The backing music was taped, but the vocals were delivered live.

It was all good stuff, with a spot of Hand Jive from Grease, some leg-warming Fame, a bit of Footloose and then The Queen of the Night from The Bodyguard. Perhaps a bit more acrobatic than anticipated, with all sorts of flips and spins, but what you might expect, crisply delivered with a sense of the music.

Mein Herr from Cabaret. Photo Andrew Gowland

Mein Herr from Cabaret. Photo Andrew Gowland

The part-time performers from the Fierce Theatre School made a decent fist of Electricity from Billy Elliot and, in terms of the structure of the evening as opposed to the performances, it all seemed to be tootling along at a strong and steady level.

Then Tom Mullins hit the rear of the stage singing the Kiss Me Kate number: Too Darn Hot. And the evening sizzled up into another level. It wasn’t just the saucy outfits of the dancers, but there was a zip to their choreography which allowed them to go from performing a routine to telling a story.

But it was with Dance With the Devil from The Witches of Eastwick that the storytelling really took off. Thomas Doherty danced and sang, knowing and lascivious as the Devil, with Blair Gibson as the naive busboy whose eyes are opened to the ways of woman kind.

The second half set off with a beautifully judged version of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins. Amy Johnston as Poppins stepping down on to the stage, splitting the ensemble and lifting her skirts to perform a little knees-up number. Here the timing was to perfection, with Johnston leading the forty or so strong ensemble spelling out the title with various hand signals. Brilliant.

There was more athleticism from Thomas Doherty as Aladdin, being chased by the cops in One Jump Ahead. Then there was Trashing the Camp from Tarzan, a number which can only be described as zany, thanks to the costume department which was not quite as appropriate as it might have been.

At this point in a musical, a little way into the second half, it is customary for the writers to put in a romantic interlude. Murray Grant chose to let rip with a trio of numbers, each of which in their way would have brought the house down.

All That Jazz from Chicago. Photo: Andrew Gowland

All That Jazz from Chicago. Photo: Andrew Gowland

First Georgia Fordyce stepped out front to deliver the vocals for All That Jazz from Chicago. She did so while commanding attention from the front of the complete full-time ensemble, delivering the number with a breathy, wisp of vocals that hinted at cold gin, hot pianos and the promise of much more to come.

And that was the Sally Bowles number Mein Herr from Cabaret. It was deliciously sung by Rose Hayton and danced by the female ensemble with a salacious attention to detail that didn’t exactly stop at the point of being suggestive.

And then, trimming back the performers on stage, Elly Jamieson and Connor McKay gave an intense version of the Dream Ballet sequence from Carousel. Jamieson picked up and created her lonely, friable character with a real understanding, while McKay give his charmer character a sense of dark inevitability.

Cutting the number into You’ll Never Walk Alone worked a charm, and allowed Natasha Barrie to step forward to lead the vocals. It’s one of several numbers she delivered and it certainly suited her strong, rounded voice and ability to hold a tune.

Of course the business they call show is a fickle one. A professional calling will not be on the cards for every MGA Academy graduate.

But Thursday night’s performances show that, should they have the grit to put in the hard work, then their skills will be more than useful to the professional casting directors who people the touring musical shows with dancers and singers.

Running time 2 hours 20 minutes (including one interval)
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Thursday 2 April 2015 only (run ended).
Company web page: http://www.themgaacademy.com/

Singing in the Rain. Photo: Andrew Gowland

Singing in the Rain. Photo: Andrew Gowland

ENDS

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