As If We Never Said Goodbye…

September 23, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆   Celebratory

Church Hill Theatre: Wed 21 – Sat 24 Sept 2022
Review by Thom Dibdin

Showcase, the annual portmanteau production of showtunes and classics in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, returns to the Church Hill Theatre in fine fettle after its enforced three-year hiatus.

Flying under the banner of As If We Never Said Goodbye…, Showcase 2022 is a well-rounded combination of catch-up, celebration and commemoration in a production which might not be as themed as some recent pre-hiatus shows, but is bursting to the gills with brilliance.

The Jim Steinman Medley. Pic Ric Brannan.

First up, and by way of introduction, Tanya Williamson and Keith Kilgore get to lead the 42-strong chorus on the show’s title number, which is lifted from Sunset Boulevard.

It’s a proper spine-tingler too and particularly appropriate – this is the point where Norma Desmond reveals how she wants to get back in the movies. The “feel the music in the making” lines are made even more of appropriate with some judicious rewording to include neat references to Showcase itself.

Catch-up comes with some of the new musical films that the company missed out on over the last wee while, all wrapped up with some classic movies.

plaintive

So we have the likes of a particularly swinging We don’t talk about Bruno from Encanto and a melodic Up from Sing Street featuring Ross MacTaggart with the chorus, and a most intriguing 30/90 from tick, tick… BOOM! featuring Craig Young, Matt Fullerton and Kym Robertson.

From the classics selection, the chorus pull off a wonderfully plaintive Somewhere from West Side Story, while Nadia Milligan gives great emphasis and truly gorgeous phrasing to Maybe This Time from Cabaret, which really pulls out the meaning of the words.

Bui Doi. Pic Ric Brannan.

They are all good. But when it comes to the eight-strong selection of showtunes, the company are really are in their element. Ruth Cowie heads off with dramatic Losing My Mind from Follies, working the tempo change brilliantly before things all go a bit stratospheric with Ex Wives, the opener from SIX.

All the staple Showcase elements are present and correct. Effective programming from director Andy Johnston, a disciplined band in the pit under MD David McFarlane, who knows both how to keep the sound balanced but also when he can let it rip, and suitably complementary choreography from Claire Smith.

It’s solid staging all round. Johnson’s lighting is particularly effective – even when it all went catastrophically wrong during the SIX segment on opening night (a glitch, I hear, which will be resolved), it just went to show how good the rest of it was.

Joy

Best though, is witnessing the joy on the faces of the company. Of course they can deliver when it comes to their performance, but their obvious delight is just next-level.

There is a particularly juicy moment in Simply The Best when Lynsey Smith, having nailed the opening by bringing it down almost to a whisper, goes big into the chorus, claps her hands a couple of times and looks up to see the whole house clapping along…

Proud Mary. Pic Ric Brannan.

It is also a great example of Johnston’s programming. Having got all down and serious with the hymn-like Bui Doi from Miss Saigon, with Craig Young ensuring all the words are crystal clear, Smith’s slightly low key performance then allows the company to explode into an exuberant Proud Mary, also from Tina, led by Cassie Dougal to round out Act One.

That opening is a surprise, but the Showcase philosophy that if you can sing it, you can perform it, brings out some excellent juxtapositions. It’s a few years since Matt Fullerton turned 16, but nails his turn in glittering red heels in the Everybody’s Talking About Jamie medley, while Keith Kilgore on Believe and Daniel Cook in Hopelessly Devoted to You, both give a different feel to the originals.

Act Two just zings by. An extended series of numbers from Moulin Rouge allows the company to show off their acting and dancing chops while dressing up (or down) a bit. Here is a celebration of how to make a number work in terms of storytelling, even when it is divorced from the surrounding performance.

influences

The sequence of lost legends is a bit more grounding but provides a well-judged commemorative element with Islands in the Stream, Paint it Black, Be My Baby and a Jim Steinman medley added to Hopelessly Devoted. It’s an interesting choice and indicative of the wide reach of Showcase influences.

Just in case you missed a Queen number, the finale sequence includes the wholly appropriate The Show Must Go On before Laura Cross ends proceedings by leading the whole company in what is surely Showcase‘s signature number by now: Love and Mercy.

These portmanteau productions are tricky to pull off once – let alone year after year. But somehow Showcase do it. And along the way, they have raised a massive £310,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. If there is a more pleasurable way of donating to that cause, I have yet to find it.

Running time: Two hours and 40 minutes (including one interval)
Church Hill Theatre, 33 Morningside Road, EH10 4DR.
Wednesday 21 – Saturday 24 September 2022
Evenings: 7.30pm; Sat Mat: 2.30pm.
Tickets:
To reserve a seat please text the  box office on 07547 248 565 with your name and quantity of tickets.
Pay for tickets at the theatre by cash or card.

Showcase Website: show-case.co.uk
Facebook: @showcaseedin
Twitter: @ShowcaseEdin
Instagram: :@ShowcaseEdin

30:90 from tic tic Boom! Pic: Ric Brannan.

ENDS

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.