A stage, four performers and a pianist is all it takes to put on this witty love letter to the stage. This clever parody piece pokes fun at the musical theatre art form, with just the right number of big notes and jazz hands.
The show consists of stand-alone songs, some duets and small inputs from the performers to keep it moving along. The first song parodies traditional opening numbers of popular shows, with slick choreography (also by the director, Chris Whittaker) and complex four-part harmonies. Alexander S. Bermange’s writing is brilliantly satirical and an absolute treat for musical theatre fans.
The writing does not shy away from the ridiculousness of the genre either. It takes multiple digs at the dramatics involved, and has whole songs dedicated to divas and unworthy star castings. A favourite song of mine was “Standing by”; an understudy’s lament beautifully sung by Luke Bayer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie). And for a guaranteed giggle, Charlotte O’Rourke’s (Mamma Mia) rendition of “I Love to Sing” will not disappoint.
It does feel wrong to mention a few individual songs, when everyone is a gem. The performers really do get to show off their whole range and have their moment to shine. The songs are musically intricate, and they also ask for a natural comedic ability, which this cast has in abundance. Lucas Rush (American Idiot) gives a memorable turn as the weird and wonderful characters and Charlotte Anne Steen (Bat Out Of Hell) stuns with her soprano and natural flair.
This is not the show I thought it would be. Upon hearing the title, I presumed it would be from an audience’s perspective. But what we have is an inside look into the performers’ life. From the “fresh out of drama school” jittery auditions, to dreading the 8-performance week, we’re given an entertaining look behind the red curtains.
The ending brings the performers back together, singing in harmony around a ghost light, reminiscing on why they do what they do. A poignant and emotional end that took me by surprise. The show definitely brings on an excitement for theatres to finally be back open. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can bring back “the magic” of live theatre. Until the 12th May online at https://tinyurl.com/yvpscmk9
Reviewer: Coral Mourant
Reviewed: 24th April 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★