A Bohemians’ Rhapsody

Aug 28 2015 | By More

★★★☆☆   Tunefully diverse

St Cuthbert’s Church (Venue 122): Thur 27 & Fri 28 August 2015

Tuneful, varied and unfussily melodic, A Bohemians’ Rhapsody is a thoroughly satisfactory evening out.

The title (how long has someone been waiting for the right opportunity to use that?) disguises a cleverly put together set of songs from stage and film musicals.

Bohemians in rehearsal. Photo: Bohemians (facebook)

Bohemians in rehearsal. Photo: Bohemians (facebook)

What the evening shows above all is the depth of talent available to the company. There are over thirty performers, most of whom get solo spots, and there are no obvious weak links.

Musical director Finlay Turnbull has assembled a varied programme of songs.  Some will be familiar only to the most committed fan of musicals, some are more well known and there are a couple many people probably wish they didn’t have to hear again for a while.

It is easy to forget how much effort goes into an evening such as this, particularly when all the large and appreciative audience sees is a smooth operation. Real consideration has been given to the running order, leading to an evening that has a genuine flow to it.

This variety means that inevitably some elements work better than others. St Cuthbert’s may be great for choral and orchestral music but is not necessarily the number one choice for amplified show tunes.

Full chorus numbers can become an echoey wash of undifferentiated sound, which lends a spooky air to the dystopian pleading of Let The Sun Shine In from Hair but can’t be said to do a lot for Don’t Stop Believing. The microphones are not always ideally used, with some seemingly not on at the right time and some performers moving to and fro and between them.

a delicately clipped, choral quality

There are a many numbers that work really well, however. What fares best are either the quietest, most understated numbers, or those that throw caution to the wind and simply go for it. The sparse, a cappella reprise of Gold from Once has a delicately clipped, choral quality that hangs in the air. Similarly, Mama Who Bore Me from Spring Awakening has great impact when it is sung almost unaccompanied. At the other end of the scale, Felicity Thomas and Kyla Shirlaw both display real power.

Fraser Jamieson not only does a committed Frankie Valli on a medley from Jersey Boys but also throws himself into Bohemian Rhapsody itself with the aid of Lyndsey McGhee. Andrew Knox and Rachel Cram’s duet on Falling Slowly is in complete contrast, being quietly emotional and all the more resonant for Knox singing in his own accent rather than a mid-Atlantic musical twang.

Similar emotion comes from Ethan Baird on Morning Glow from Pippin. Baird seems to have a knack for putting himself at the service of the song rather than vice versa. This leads to an intriguing performance that, along with an impressive Magic To Do from the same musical, led by Charlotte Robson, suggests the show is due a revival.

There is not time or space to namecheck everyone who contributes to a tuneful evening. The highlight, however, probably comes at the end. Kirsty Hogg’s dramatically perky, high energy rendition of So Much Better from Legally Blonde serves as an enticing taster for March 2016’s Bohemians production of the show in the King’s.

Running time 2 hours 5 minutes including interval
St Cuthbert’s Church (Venue 122), 5 Lothian Road,
Thursday 27 & Friday 28 August 2015 at 7.30 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bohemians-rhapsody
Company website: http://bohemians.org.uk/


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