Tuesday, November 29

Strictly More Musicals – The Brindley Theatre

After two long years away from performing, Centenary Theatre Company are back with a bang this November as they present ‘Strictly More Musicals’ at The Brindley Theatre, Runcorn. Having seen this talented company perform before, I had no doubt we were in for a treat, especially when back sitting in the beautiful Brindley setting, however what I wasn’t expecting was this overwhelming feeling of joy and pride to be back witnessing superb live performances in what turned out to be a wonderful night of celebration and accomplishment.  

‘Strictly More Musicals’, which has been cleverly directed by Dan Grimes, takes us on a journey and doesn’t forget the difficulties we have all faced over the last two years. The production team have been creative in that they have categorised the songs into different emotions which reflect the different phases faced during the pandemic. The use of projection and video footage help to break up this mammoth night of big musical numbers and add an extra layer of interest to this substantial show.

It has to be said that the orchestra, consisting of no less than sixteen musicians and led by musical director Simon Pickup, is a beautiful spectacle in itself. Taking their place at the back of the stage with a striking star-studded lighting backdrop, it is apparent straight away that this night is going to be very special. This impressive band played tirelessly throughout the entire show, creating atmosphere and musical excellence as they made their way through over thirty dynamic and diverse pieces.

The quality of the choreography within this production must also be highlighted with four talented ladies, Lisa Connor, Danielle Seger, Kirsten Dunn and Eleanor Green, leading the cast to perform number after number in a vibrant and creative way. These ladies really know how to make the most out of the stage and how to adapt to fit a huge range of genres and styles, as well as cater for the various levels and abilities within this big cast.

Photo: Martin Ogden

It was a fantastic addition to have the youth from ‘First Act’ performing alongside this well-established adult theatre company. There were around forty-five young performers, from ages seven to eighteen who graced the stage and featured predominantly in the ‘hope’ section of the show. This was very fitting given that their talent gives more than hope for the future of arts and musical theatre. First Act were ‘first class’ in every way delivering harmonies, complex dance routines, huge diva classics and everything in between. Huge congratulations to Kit Phillips & Ceris Shadwell for leading these stars of the future to absolute brilliance. There are no limits on what these individuals are capable of and I look forward to seeing more and more of them in the future.

Unfortunately, there is no way I could note ‘stand out’ or ‘favourite’ performances of the evening for the simple reason that there were too many, but I would encourage everyone to go see the show and choose your own favourite, you will be spoilt for choice! ‘Strictly More Musicals’ delivers a brilliant range of pieces from the classic songs that everyone knows and loves to the extremely modern, newly released stuff that I was delighted to see performed live by an amateur theatre company for the first time. This means there is something for everyone and the hours of rehearsal that have gone into this show is very apparent. I lost count of the number of ‘goosebump’ moments and there are certainly a few tear jerkers, as well as some laugh out loud performances – what more could you ask for?

‘Strictly More Musicals’ proves that despite something as challenging as a world pandemic, music and art will still always flourish. This show left no stone unturned and the whole cast and crew should be very proud of their achievements. Huge congratulations to each and every performer; whose talent and commitment shone bright. ‘Strictly More Musicals’ continues at The Brindley Theatre, Runcorn until Saturday the 20th of November 2021, for ticket information please visit https://tickets.thebrindley.org.uk/

Reviewer: Blathine Maguire

Reviewed: 17th November 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★