Showcase 2014

Sep 24 2014 | By More

★★★★☆   All round enjoyment

Church Hill Theatre Tues 23 – Sat 27 October 2014

All-singing, all-dancing and impeccably staged, Showcase 2014 is clever, accomplished and great fun.

A scene from Showcase 2014. Photo: Diane Innes

Ibiyemi Osinaike leads the chorus in the opening number. Photo: Diane Innes

This year’s charity musical performance in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support has no unifying theme. Instead director Andy Johnston has put together an eclectic series of routines drawn from musicals, recent hits, Scottish bands and 50s rock ‘n’ roll.

For once, the promise of ‘something for everyone’ really might be fulfilled. Certainly there is no shortage of entertainment on show, and the quality remained high on the first night until the finale was cruelly cut short by a fire alarm that caused the Church Hill Theatre to be evacuated.

The lack of an overarching theme means that there is something of a hit-and-miss feel about the evening. While there are many more successes than failures, not all of the material works equally well. Just because a song has been a hit does not necessarily mean that it will work on stage with a full chorus and orchestra.

Some songs – notably Heart’s Alone, expressively led by Cassie Dougal – sound as if they should have been written for musical theatre, but others are less at home.

The staging is consistently imaginative and clever

This cannot be put down to any faults in the accompaniment, which is excellent. The 14-strong band do full justice to musical director David McFarlane’s inventive and sympathetic arrangements. The staging, furthermore, is consistently imaginative and clever. With the exception of a couple of the 1950s numbers that seem to be a little too irreverent towards the songs, each number is treated with appropriate respect.

Atmospheric staging in Showcase 2014. Photo: Diane Innes

Atmospheric staging to the opening 80s medley. Photo: Diane Innes

It is perhaps not surprising that the songs drawn from musicals should work the best, as it seems to be where the hearts of so many of the participants truly lie.

Arlene Cassidy and Kym Robertson’s duet on In His Eyes from Jekyll and Hyde is strong and impassioned, while Ibiyemi Osinaike’s performance of This Is The Moment from the same show is the evening’s vocal highlight, building beautifully through the song and displaying real dramatic sense as well as a tremendous voice. This performance made it all the more disappointing that it was Osinaike’s version of Labi Siffre’s So Strong that was cut short by that fire alarm.

Other performers who stand out include Rosie Mellor and Matt Fullerton, whose duet on Meatloaf’s Dead Ringer is suitably gravelly, and Keith Kilgore, who not only leeds an OTT Stairway To Heaven but also pulls off the almost impossible task of being compared to Roy Orbison on Crying. Keith Hendrie and Gillian McNeill’s operatic rendition of The Show Must Go On is appropriately emotional, while Andy McGarry and Jacqui Mills each get a couple of chances to shine.

impressive choreography

Jen McIntosh’s rendition of Let It Go from Frozen and Peter Tomassi’s Pinball Wizard are two very different performances that both benefit from being accompanied by particularly impressive visual elements. Claire Smith’s choreography is impressive throughout, with a huge variety of styles on display.

Claire Smith’s choreography is impressive throughout. Photo: Diane Innes

Claire Smith’s choreography is impressive throughout. Photo: Diane Innes

The amount of effort that has obviously been put into the staging of the section from Matilda would have been enough for most shows on its own. This part of the programme also showcases an affecting vocal performance from Tanya Williamson and an enjoyably daft one by Brett Herriott.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening is a medley of Pharrell Williams’s Happy and Get Lucky, engagingly led by Ian Sutherland. It features an array of different fancy dress and is surely a foretaste of exactly the kind of routine that will be a feature of countless pantomimes up and down the country in a couple of months.

The marshalling an ensemble of more than 40 singers is, like everything about Andy Johnston’s direction, extremely impressive. The sheer size of the chorus means that at times the words are less than clear. This is particularly notable in the opening medley of 1980s Scottish pop songs, but it is less of a problem later on. The microphone techniques of the soloists, like the other technical elements of the performance, are impressive.

The costumes, lighting and effects are all noteworthy, but perhaps a lighter hand on the smoke machine might be called for if further visits from the fire brigade are to be avoided.

Even the premature end to the performance could not dampen the audience’s enjoyment, however. The consistently high quality of the performances in a varied, pacy and fun evening saw to that.

Running time 2 hours 50 minutes including interval
Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 September 2014
Daily 7.30pm; Sat 2.30 pm.
Full details from on the Showcase website:

The full ensemble of Showcase 2014. Photo: Diane Innes (click photo to see full size)

The full ensemble for the finale of Showcase 2014. Photo: Diane Innes (click photo to see full size)


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