Friday, September 22

Altrincham Garrick Show Choir – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

The Altrincham Garrick Show Choir, attached to the amateur company, has not been together that long, and this is only their second full concert held at the building from where they rehearse and take their name.  As such a certain amount of leeway is given as are all giving up their free time to rehearse and perform, and a lack of experience as a choir.

The choir, under the musical direction of Dan McDwyer, have obviously been rehearsing hard and sing well, but there are issues with the format as a whole.  Many of the songs were either relatively obscure from musicals such as Come From Away and Out of Our Heads, a pleasure to hear something different, to the overused Bring Him Home from Les Misérables and From Now On from The Greatest Showman.  Good to hear some classics in there too from Fiddler on the Roof and Funny Girl.  However, the order of the songs needs some further consideration with much of the first act blending into one similar tempo and sound.  Act Two was more upbeat but the show would be better with the variety of tempos spread throughout.  

Choral work, rather than musical ensemble, is a different skill, and that is where the choir unfortunately fell down.  Several of the numbers, especially Somewhere from West Side Story, Anthem from Chess and Shallow from A Star Is Born lose a lot when the same tune is sung in various octaves at the same time, meaning is sounded muddy rather than a clean clear sound.  Experience and a clarity in musical direction will hopefully improve this over time.

Some members of the choir were able to have one or two line solos notable being the young woman at the start of Anthem and the woman in This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.  The introductions were nicely done and mostly interesting but needed some editing (referring to Tim Rice by his surname while using Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus first names was especially jarring when in the same sentence).  

The show had two ‘guest’ performers Dale Bassett of Sonata Piano and Cabaret Lounge and Hayley Russell.  Bassett has a decent voice but is the epitome of a lounge singer.  His two songs – You’ve Got A Friend In Me from Aladdin and Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl were decent but with his vocals running up and down a lot instead of holding a note it became distracting.  Russell has a good voice, but her choice of songs was not the best for her voice.  Science Fiction – Double Feature from Rocky Horror failed to give the necessary emotion.  It is a difficult song, given it was written to be sung by the very individual voice of Richard O’Brien.  Both it and Somebody to Love from We Will Rock You would have benefitted from the backing of the choir. 

The show did end on a high with the title song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in a plug for the show later in the year, and the emotive Roar from & Juliet.

Supported by a brilliant live four-piece band, the show was overall enjoyable, but more thought needs to go into the light and shade of the performance and the order of the songs.  But I am sure that the Altrincham Garrick Show Choir will continue to grow and strengthen their performances as time goes on.

Reviewer: Helen Jones

Reviewed: 7th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.