Review – The Butterfly and the Wolf

Mar 3 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Packed with inspiration

Susie Dumbreck performs Big Time at The Butterly and the Wolf, benefit for Lupus UK at Summerhall, Edinburgh, March 2 2013. Photo © Richard Findlay

Susie Dumbreck. Photo © Richard Findlay

Sat 2 March 2013
Review by Thom Dibdin

Soaring vocal lines and crisp delivery marked out Saturday night’s benefit in aid of charity Lupus UK at Summerhall, culminating in the world premiere of new single, The Butterfly and the Wolf.

Seven singers, including four from Edinburgh’s MGA Academy of Performing Arts, and a 12-strong band – the Wolf Pack – had been convened specially for the occasion.

Which gave room for a potentially overextended 40-strong set list. But organisers, MD Simon Hanson and singer Ali Colam, had put their faith in diversity, and concocted a splendidly strong and diverse list, drawn from musicals, the traditional Scottish canon, jazz, swing and pop.

And there was easily enough talent on stage to ensure that the evening swept past- with a little help from Paul Johnson in a sauve MC role.  A succession of top-range vocal performances meant that nearly everything dropped out perfectly. Indeed, only the pop material failed to satisfy quite as it might.

The four MGA students, with co-organiser Colam joined by Lara Kidd, Peter Vint and Seonaid Stevenson, provided the backbone of the evening. They showed their collective mettle with a splendidly sparkly opener of All That Jazz from Chicago – despite the volume from the band rather highlighting the acoustic difficulties of the venue.

Individually, they all proved capable of delightful things. Vint brought a lush broadness to his Travelling Jazz Medley, culminating in a worthy Fly Me to the Moon. Kidd showed off her potential with a big and powerful voice that was easily up to The Wizard and I from Wicked. And despite setting out at a bit of a rush with Somebody to Love, Stevenson found and exploited the tingle-factor in a super finish to the hit from We Will Rock You.

Adding to MGA singers, the three guests broadened out the dynamic. Susie Dumbreck, who has directed Limelight and performed with EMT, showed exactly the vocal skills which led her to appear in the West End in Les Miserables and Oklahoma!. Her ability to shape a song was nowhere more clear than in a wonderfully transparent Sondheim medley, where she made his complex tunes fall out most naturally.

Greg Burns, a Tempo and Allegro veteran who is studying in London, brought a real understanding of how to shape a song to the evening. Although this was a concert performance of Someone Else’s Skin – from Catch Me If You Can – he created a whole character with his voice alone. A trick he repeated with ease for Stranger in Paradise from Kismet.

Seonaid Stevenson. Lara Kidd, Ali Colam and Peter Vint perform All That Jazz at The Butterfly and the Wolf, Lupus UK fundraiser at Summerhall on 2 March. Photo © Richard Findlay

The MGA ensemble: Seonaid Stevenson. Lara Kidd, Ali Colam and Peter Vint. Photo © Richard Findlay

But it was Charles Munro who provided the show-stopping moments. In the innocuously titled “Two Scottish Songs” Munro brought understanding and a warm, full-blooded voice to Scots Wha Hae and Ae Fond Kiss. Songs which have been performed in Edinburgh drawing rooms for years, but rarely with such power and emotion.

Then, in an even stronger opener to the second half, he let his lungs go around River, Stay Away From My Door. That his version owed considerably more to Paul Robeson than Frank Sinatra was confirmed with his ensuing rendition of Old Man River from Showboat. Here was power, beauty and, critically, understanding in a stunning package.

The evening was inspired by Sarah Heney, who had to leave her post as Playhouse marketing manager when she contracted Lupus and currently works part time with MGA. That she is a long-time stalwart of Edinburgh’s amateur musicals scene was testified by the strength of music theatre in the evening.

But the hardest part of that choice fell to Ali Colam, who had unenviable task of giving voice to a favourite of Sarah’s, Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Having shown an extensive range over the evening, from comedy in Betty Blue Eyes to poignancy in The Prayer, Colam nailed Bring Him Home. Not quite wipe-a-tear-away stuff, but a moving account, none-the-less.

Indeed, that teary moment had come a little earlier in the second half, thanks to a poignant performance of the Cyndi Lauper hit, True Colours, from Sarah’s step-daugher Katy Heney. It wasn’t just Katy’s performance – strong and emotional in all the right places – but that it, and the lyrics, came so clearly from her heart.

But it was 21 year-old Edinburgh-born Colam who brought the unexpected to the evening. First with a song written for a friend of his, Let Me Sleep, and then with the title song of the evening: The Butterfly and the Wolf – the lyrics are a poem about Lupus by Marc Mackinnon while music and arrangement are by Ali Colam and Simon Hanson.

A great evening, which raised £4,591 for Lupus UK, with further money still to be raised when the Butterfly and the Wolf is released at the end of March.

Anyone wishing to give to Lupus UK can still do so through Sarah’s Virgin Money Giving website page:


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

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Thom Dibdin says:

    Updated to include reference to Katy Heney.