Review – Heroes

September 22, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

★★★☆☆   Musical heroics

Church Hill Theatre 18 – 22 Sept 2012

There is an audacious opening to Showcase’s latest musical offering up at the Church Hill Theatre all this week. Heroes might be the show’s title and theme, but instead of extracts from the evening, the overture uses a certain Stranglers number to gets the audience bobbing in their seats.

The opening number of Showcase 2012: LUV Madonna. Photo Ian Hunter

The opening number of Showcase 2012: LUV Madonna. Photo Ian Hunter

It’s clever stuff – and quite in keeping with the presentation of much of what is to follow. Although the upbeat vibe – complete with swooning strings and blarty trumpet  – cannot compare to the sense of emotional drama which pervades the best of the evening.

As in every annual Showcase production, Heroes is formed from a succession of themed collections or medleys of connected songs. The musical heroes – and heroics – celebrated this year range from Madonna and Adele to Abba and Paul McCartney; big musicals and those recently lost to Scottish classics and a heart-rending finale.

The ideas are big and the orchestration, under musical director David McFarlane, even bigger. The opening number, LUV Madonna, sets out the stall – at least in concept terms – perfectly. It’s the medley Ms Ciccone performed for the half time show at Super Bowl XLVI, although Claire Smith’s choreography is not quite as overblown as Madge’s.

It’s a great look and idea but the show feels as if it should open with a real belter that allows the singers to own the song and dominate the stage. Unfortunately, whether or not Louise Hunter, Tanya Williamson or Corrina Campbell – who take the leads in Vogue, Music and Give Me all Your Luvin’ successively – have such an ability is not apparent as, without the big stadium focus, the vocals are lost in the backing track.

Only when Joanne Skilling takes over to ease the medley into Like a Prayer does the opportunity for her to dominate arise. It’s partly the song and Calder Sibbald’s lighting – which spotlights Skilling bright among the surrounding, unlit members of the chorus – but at last there is a tingle of the power and potential of the ensemble.

Musical power tinged with emotional melancholy

A theme change to Songs from the Shows allows the whole production to take a step up. It’s nothing to do with the quality of the singing or performances, just the way that can be highlighted. Keith Kilgore takes it away with a big rising version of Feelin’ Good which starts out low and tender and ends up, well, feeling not just good but great. And the chorus get into psychy psychedelic mode for Rhythm of Life before moving through a Sound of Music Medley.

The chorus in Heroes, the title number and finale of 2012  Showcase. Photo: Ian Hunter

The chorus in Heroes, the title number and finale of 2012 Showcase. Photo: Ian Hunter

If you haven’t realised the true power of Adele, then the four song tribute that sets off with Rolling In The Deep reveals the beautiful simplicity of her songs. Joanne Skilling – again – sets it off well, while the chorus is given full reign in Make Me Feel Your Love and, particularly, Lovesong.

But it is Someone Like You which really captures the feeling of the whole evening. Ibiyemi Osinaike has a fantastic voice, rich in its lower register and electric in its upper reaches. With the male chorus in attendance he more than does the song justice. Here, with a feeling of musical power tinged with emotional melancholy, is one of those big Wow moments that make live performance addictive.

The idea of celebrating those of Sir Paul’s achievements made without Our John, is good on paper, but doesn’t quite come off in concert. Keith Kilgore finds the heart of Somedays, but there are too many moments – in the tricky Band on the Run and the iconic medley from the end of the Abbey Road album – which just don’t get up to the emotional level they might.

There is a much more even temperament to the second half. You can’t go too far wrong with hits from Mamma Mia! or a medley of Scottish Classics of the kind which director Andy Johnston has made his trademark at the Gang Show, complete with kilts, many varieties of Scotland tops and waving saltires that ends with unerring inevitability in Caledonia.

emotional depth

The Lost Legends collection allows for something a little more eclectic to slip in, with songs made famous by Davy Jones, Donna Summer, and Whitney Houston. Once again, however, it is Osinaike who makes the biggest impression with I Look To You – not just for his performance, but for the emotional depth of the song itself.

It is fitting that emotion should be at the heart of the whole production, as this 22nd annual extravaganza is, as always, a benefit for MacMillan Cancer Support. Many of those involved have had a personal knowledge of cancer and the support offered by MacMillan.

And while the evening might have started off with the light-hearted nod to the No More Heroes, the final, chorus-heavy version of David Bowie’s Heroes reminds that, while our leaders might have lost the will be heroes, there are plenty of people who are unsung heroes in their own right, even if just for one day.

Run ends Saturday 22 September 2012.
Church Hill Theatre, nightly 7.30pm (Sat mat 2.30pm).
Showcase website: www.show-case.co.uk

ENDS

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  1. We had the privilege to attend your showcase on the Friday Night . What a wonderful show ,there was a lot off hard work put into this , it was a delight to have been entertained by all who performed ,and a big thank you to Keith kilgore for making the 6 off us aware that this Showcase was on , we certainly will look out for the Showcase for next year .

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