From Broadway to Hollywood

Aug 19 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆  Hearing impaired

St Cuthbert’s Church (Venue 122): Thur 17 – Fri 18 Aug 2017
Review by Martin Gray

A few minutes into this concert by The Bohemians Lyric Opera Company at St Cuthbert’s Church I wanted to walk out. But I wanted to take the singers and musicians with me.

The problem was obvious from the start, as Sister Act’s Joyful, Joyful seemed to have been renamed Mmm-fuh Mmm fuh – the talented members of the capital company were battling a sound problem.

The Bohemians perform in St Cuthbert’s. Pic Church of Scotland

Was it that the church setting was acoustically wrong? An issue with the sound equipment? Who knows, but things didn’t get much better for the first half of what should have been a treat.

The Bohemians know how to put on a show, and with the selection of classics and newer favourites promised by the programme, the audience should have been grinning from start to finish. Sadly not.

The dancing was good, mind. The choice of songs made the technical issue all the more upsetting – I’m sure the likes of Crazier Than You (The Addams Family) and Without Love (Hairspray) sounded great in rehearsal, and I’d love to have been able to appreciate them here.

Only the stripped-down arrangement of Make My Heart Fly (Sunshine on Leith) gave Mark Wilson and Heather Barron a chance to shine, and flying solo, Rachel Cram captured the poignancy of She Used To Be Mine (Waitress).

don’t give up

So to the interval, and the question or whether to leave or move seats in a bid to improve the experience. But you don’t give up on a gang as talented as the Bohemians and, as it turned out, the move was unnecessary. The technical problem had been solved and most of the second act was a joy.

The cast broke out the top hats and unleashed their best high kicks for an airing of One (A Chorus Line), its layered harmonies impervious to any remaining acoustic gremlins. The church setting proved perfect for a suitably sweet version of One Hand, One Heart (West Side Story) from David Doherty and Kirsty Hogg. Doherty also impressed with his beautifully earnest lead part in Who I’d Be (Shrek), alongside Sarah Quinn and Chris Cameron.

Felicity Thomas wowed with a superbly acted and sung History of Wrong Guys (Kinky Boots). Sadly, returning sound problems hurt Cameron Kirby and Ross Stewart’s Brush Up Your Shakespeare (Kiss Me Kate) though, with their comedy gangster faces on, the game pair got enough of the Cole Porter classic across to win big cheers.

Ross MacPherson, Maria Webb and Shona Sandison got the comedy of Reach For the Gun (Chicago) across, and the singing was rather decent too. No One Is Alone (Into The Woods) was as touching as it should be, courtesy of Jo Heinemeier, Ryan Johnston, Shona Sandison and Stuart Williamson, while Dreamgirls featured some nifty moves from Amy King, Ciara McBrien and Jo Heinemeier.

Amy King returned with a barnstorming performance of Rose’s Turn (Gypsy), the song in which Mama Rose basically has a breakdown – the temptation is to not go all over the shop and a little off key, for fear the audience believes that’s really you – but King had nothing to prove, served the song and triumphed.

The act also produced nice versions of Maybe This Time (Cabaret), Colour Purple and, complete with dancing in the nave, Footloose, previewing the Bohemians’ stage production at the King’s in March.

Best of all, though, was Pure Imagination (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), in which the full ensemble harmonised like angels come down from the church walls – and it was all sung a capella.

There may be a lesson in there.

Running time: 2 hours (including interval)
St Cuthbert’s Church, 5 Lothian Road, EH1 2EP (Venue 122)
Thursday 17 – Friday 18 August 2017
Evenings: 7.30pm.

Bohemians website:
Facebook: @bohemiansedinburgh
Twitter: @Bohemians_Ed


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