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MAMA Annual Revue 2019

January 19, 2019 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆    Dramatic

Brunton Theatre: Thurs 17 – Sat 19 Jan 2019
Review by Thom Dibdin

Starting as it means to go on Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association’s Annual Revue 2019 kicks off with a song from The Greatest Showman – but not the one which became ubiquitous over the panto season.

The Greatest Show is a pretty strong statement of intent – and the full MAMA ensemble, all 45 of them on stage in tip top outfits led by Mitch Gobsill in top hat and tails, ensure that anticipation is high for an evening’s entertainment which isn’t just strong, but has an element of drama to it too.

The Greatest Show. Pic: MAMA

It is to director Graeme Aitken’s credit that he succeeds in pulling such a mix of drama, great music and personal achievement out of the hat, with strong support from MD David Gibson and his band in the pit and choreography from Lisa McLeod.

The great charm of MAMA’s revue is that it gives everyone in the company a chance for a turn in the spotlight in a way that their annual production isn’t always able to do. So much so, that fully 28 individuals get a named spot.

So it is that before the interval Duncan Whatmore has given us a little glamour in Putting on the Ritz, Luca Thompson, Ruby Millar and Lily McLean Morrison have led the 14-strong children’s chorus in a cracking It’s A Hard Knock Life from Annie – which gives nearly all the youngsters a chance for a solo line – and a ten-strong ensemble from the adult chorus have really delivered with a version of Seasons of Love from Rent which pins its meaning precisely

It’s that ability to get the meaning of the piece which really stands out in the production as a whole. A large company such as this naturally has a mixed ability of vocal prowess, but finding a strong understanding demands a different kind of intelligence.

delicate

So Joanne Alexander’s delivery of On My Own from Les Miserables has a real pathos to it, a construction so delicate that you fear it might collapse under its own fragility – but which is never actually in danger of doing so.

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree. Pic: MAMA

And when young Livvy Allen steps up to perform Somewhere Over The Rainbow, she is given enough support to allow her to get through the terror of performing in front of a full house so that she can deliver on the big notes. And, it must be emphasised, understanding the words in a way which much more florid performers too often do not.

There’s a nice bit of programming from Aitken here, too, as that number from The Wizard of Oz cuts straight into One Short Day from Wicked, with Livvy’s Dorothy stepping into the scene. Once again, it is not the number normally used as an Act One closer, but one which gives the whole company a chance to shine.

Act Two has even bigger aspirations to drama than the first, with Bob Crawford as the MC from La Cage aux Folles, introducing the male chorus who, to a man, give their biggest, boldest and most outrageously down-at-heal drag impressions for a version of We Are What We Are which is exactly what it says it is in every way possible.

Glamour is certainly not reserved for the young and the beautiful – and all power to all their elbows.

Blitz!

There’s a great Loco-Motion (from Arthur 2: On the Rocks), some scarily Revolting Children from Matilda and a fabby Super Trouper from Mamma Mia which benefits greatly from a trio of the boys in drag returning to put in a girly-chorus routine on the rear podium. Great stuff.

And to provide a relief from all those big  numbers, another solo offering which provides much more than expected. Linda McLeish’s delivery of the title song from For Your Eyes Only never falters, and she hits every note perfectly. But there is a real fragility again; a song from the heart, not the lungs.

Of course MAMA is looking forwards to its Spring production of Blitz!, so to get us in the mood there’s a heartfelt take on Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree from Swing! by Vikki Hyndman, Laura Paterson and Joyce Crawford, before Jane Renton leads the whole chorus in Who’s That Geezer Hitler, from Blitz!.

Judging from Renton’s delivery – she is playing the lead role of Mrs Blitzen – that is going to be a fine production indeed. And the strength in depth displayed here bodes well for what is a big cast with lots of roles for young and old.

Running time: 2 hours.
Brunton Theatre Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA
Thurs 17 – Sat 19 January 2019.
Evenings: 7.30pm; Mat Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Blitz!
Brunton Theatre Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA
Thurs 11 – Sat 13 April 2019.
Evenings: 7.30pm; Mat Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: MAMA facebook page.

ENDS

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