Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Gotta Sing Gotta Dance 2009 Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne Review

Gotta Sing Gotta Dance 2009 A Magical Night At The Musicals
Gotta Sing Gotta Dance (2009)
A Magical Night At The Musicals
12 August-5th September
Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne
(Then touring)
Performance seen Tuesday 18th August
(in appearance order)

Stephanie Anelli
Verity Bentham
Lucinda Lawrence
Carrie Sutton
Barnaby Thompson
Ashley Jake Trow

The Band

Musical Director/Keyboards Robert Cousins
Drums/Percussion Ollie Boorman
Reeds/ Keys 2 Andy Stewart
Bass Chris Gardiner

In an ideal world we would have loved to have seen this on the first night with the Friends Of The Devonshire Park theatre meet-the-cast opportunity. But seeing Singing In The Rain and this at the same time was sadly a physical impossibility.

An "In-House" production by Eastbourne Theatres the production is directed by Chris Jordan, Choreagraphed by Nick Winston and the musical director is Robert Cousins.

If you don't want to read this review in full and just want to know if it is worth booking to see this summer season show don't waste any more time - just book the tickets before the show ends in Eastbourne!

This new production of Gotta Sing Gotta Dance is back by genuine popular demand after good reviews last year. It seems that reputation, word of mouth recommendation and clearly visible increased advertising of this production must be paying off . Whilst the theatre wasn't full by any means we saw this production 1 week into it's summer run and it had attracted one of the largest audiences we had seen this year.

If those audience levels continue until the show moves on after 5th September it could be one of Eastbourne Theatres biggest successes of the year.

That success would be well deserved. The format is simple, yet effective. No well known celebrities to attract the punters here. Instead we have an extremely well cast selection of just 6 hugely talented, West End and national musical tour experienced professional performers.

They perform over 50 hits from the musicals (some better known than others) in a mammoth show lasting 2 and a half hours (including 20 min interval).

The songs are linked together by a very good combination of genuinely funny non-cheesy comedy and facts from musical theatre history. This format works extremely well. It would have been very easy to decide to just go from one song to another but the show would not have the same impact.

Chris Jordan has gone for a huge number of well known hits from musical theatre whilst incorporating about 20-25% of lesser-known, yet beautifully performed, numbers.

This part is a bit of a brave move, the unknown is not everybodys cup of tea. I had a bit of an old grump sitting behind me who whenever a track was performed from a musical he had not seen he would grumble "I didn't know that one. I don't like it!".

Fortunately 99% of the audience didn't appear to agree with him. Fair enough you may not have seen Miss Saigon, Little Shop Of Horrors or Sweet Charity but this doesn't stop you appreciating a beautifully performed song.

Every single song, with the exception of 1, is from a musical.

Why Chris Jordan inserted the, lets say slightly different, "Taylor The Latte Boy" into the latter part of the first half is anybody's guess. Perhaps this 'Odd One Out' was just inserted as a talking point? If this was the case it certainly worked. I thought it was an unusual hit beautifully performed by the lovely Lucinda Lawrence. My wife thought it was beautifully sung but hated the song and as for "Grumpy" behind me well he was at his grumbliest best.

Act 1 is a slightly less energetic half than Act 2. It's no less impressive than Act 2 either in terms of singing or choreography but the performers have to reserve some energy for Act 2.

With hits from the likes of Copacabana, Chicago, Les Miserables, Singin' In The Rain and Oliver Act 1 leaves you on a high and wondering what these talented performers can bring in Act 2.

Act 2 takes the top gear reached in Act 1 and adds turbo speed in terms of energy, choreography and quantity of material. It's a much faster paced half with incredible wonderfully choreographed and sung medleys. With hits in this half eminating from the likes of Grease, Starlight Express, Saturday Night Fever, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, High School Musical and more there is no let up in the enjoyment.

The band in the Devonshire Park Theatre were sensibly positioned behind the performers. In this theatre this is such a good idea - it is so easy to put a band in the 'pit' where they can sometimes drown out the lyrics.

It was demonstrated just how sensible this was in the first half when Stephane Anelli's microphone decided it was going on the blink for several minutes. Professionally, Stephane of course carried on singing until a suitable time to nip off stage to get a replacement. However in this time you could still hear the lyrics which made the technical hitch incredibly minor.

This production is a credit to Chris Jordan - it is certainly the ONLY show, so far, this year that we are intending to see a second time - we thought it was that good. Chris Jordan was a little modest when I briefly saw him after saying the performers should take all the credit. Not really true because if you put rubbish into a bin - rubbish comes out. Put together a great package that is consistently entertaining though and your performers will deliver a great show. This is the result with Gotta Sing Gotta Dance.

It is a brilliant, great value, summer season show which should not be missed.

We did get the opportunity to talk to the lads and to Lucinda after the show and Ashley asked if I had a favourite part of the show. At the time I said no as I thought it was just a wonderful overall package. But I've since given this a little thought.

Act 1

Barnaby Thompson's Emcee from Cabaret - having seen Wayne Sleep in the part it's always easy to make a comparison - I can't see that Barnaby's ever played the part on tour - but he should!

The duets with Stephane and Lucinda - this combination works so well.

Carrie Sutton's delivery of I dreamed A Dream I thought was beautiful. As a bonus the lovely Carrie does not resemble any sort of Hairy Angel and didn't have any sort of on stage breakdown!

Barnaby's comedy - in particular in combination with Stephane - a new double act in the making?

Singin' In The Rain - Having just seen the actual musical at the Congress it is refreshing that this is presented in such a refreshingly different way. Well done to Barnaby, Verity and Stephane for pulling off a great routine. No spoilers here - go and see it!

Oh and I nearly forgot for sheer hilarity Maria from the sound of music is a surefire highlight.

Act 2

Who would have thought that you could take Barnaby singing Get'cha head in the game from High School Musical combined with Stephane performing Lady is a tramp from Babes in Arms at the same time and end up with an amazing routine?

I can't leave Verity, Lucinda and Carrie without a mention for the unforgettable Gotta Have A Gimmick from Gypsy - unforgettable for many reasons especially Carrie's great outfit (or rather lack of it)!

With Ashley Jake Trow joining his fellow performers in this second Act for many incredible, fast paced musical medleys you are left with the feeling you have seen a superb show.

The standing ovation was inevitable and totally deserved.

Overall verdict?

Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance - Gotta see it!

Off to book more tickets now.........................
5 out of 5 for Gotta Sing Gotta Dance - a magical night at the musicals 2009

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