Friday, 30 July 2010

Gotta Sing Gotta Dance Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne Review

Gotta Sing Gotta Dance
Devonshire Park
30 July - 28 August
(show seen 30 July)


Craig Daniel-Adams
Lara Denning
Rebecca Lisewski
Lisa Mathieson
Phillipe Reynolds
Clare Rickard
Adam Scown

"Following the success of last summer’s visit, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance is back with a stunning new show for 2010." (source Visit Eastbourne web site by Eastbourne Borough Council)

There is a key word in that sentence which is actually about as far from the truth as you are going to get. The word being 'new'.

Well it's the kind of statement that retailers are actually allowed to get away with. TV shopping channels are, for example, allowed to describe a beauty treatment as 'new' when it is in fact the same product but in slightly different packaging.

Last years performance of Gotta Sing Gotta Dance was one of the best musical productions we'd ever seen. So good we went to see it twice in fact.

This years show fell on the eve of our silver wedding anniversary and thank God it didn't fall on the actual day as it would have been an anniversary remembered for all the wrong reasons.

A warning is clearly displayed about flashing lights for those who are photosensitive. Those at the front are rightly warned about sudden large, and quite impressive, pyrotechnics. But try as I might I couldn't see this warning displayed.

Yes in these days of efficiency we are even recycling old shows and presenting them as new.

Yes, the cast has changed, yes some of the songs have changed, yes there are new dance routines and yes there are some good special effects.

But equally there is a heck of a lot of material that was used in last years show. Same songs, almost identical dialogue on occasions and the finale was practically a performed photocopy.

Yes I realise it was first night and those are always nervy affairs for performers but vocally some of the songs were destroyed, more shouted than sang. The choreography was not even remotely close to last years dancing perfection. The costumes were uninspiring.

Seven people performed this year what last year was delivered brilliantly by just 5. Perhaps it's just more recycling but in the programme, whilst this years cast are credited, a lot of the images of last years super cast. It's like rubbing salt in the wound.

I thought things strange at the start of this show when two of the lads did a long tap routine. They looked so knackered afterwards you had to wonder if they were going to last to the interval. But last they did, announcing "we're now 20 minutes into the show" and I thought, looking at my watch "is that all?".

At the interval you could hear many comments similar to our own "the vocals are awful", "they are out of step", "they did that last year", "she has an awful voice" and "they have haven't changed much".

However I wish to be completely fair and the reaction was much, much more positive from those who had never seen the show before. They did not have any prior experience of Gotta Sing Gotta Dance to judge against. One lovely couple I met , on holiday from London, remarked  "this is good aren't they doing well for just 7 people?............ but have you been to see Broadway Bound at the Congress it's so professional?!". I resisted the temptation to reply "Yes but last year it was done a lot better by only 5 people. We saw most of this routine last year and yes the 'amateur' Rattonians are far more professional."

We seriously, in the interval, thought about going along to the Congress and offering to make a donation to The Rattonians nominated charity to watch the end of their stunning production again.

But no we stuck with it in the hope the second half would be different.

It wasn't.

Clare Rickard did stand out as being the most confident vocalist throughout. Her vocal range is excellent, she has superb facial expression and her delivery of "The Girl from 14G" was, for us, the most entertaining and beautifully delivered song of the night - and it was something genuinely new to the show.

Gotta Sing Gotta Dance, as with last year, ends with its trademark medleys and 4 minute whistle-stop tour of the West-End. For the uninitiated it is energetic and entertaining but for those of us who saw the blood brothers boys on the floor moment and the sister act comedy bit last year I'm afraid it's more of the same.

Frankly I'll be quite honest here and say that at the end of the show many in the audience did give a standing ovation to the exhausted performers but it was also very noticeable that those, like us, who were blown away by last years West End quality production stayed seated.

I daresay that vocally this show will improve during its long Devonshire Park run. I also guess that there will be some "tweaking" here and there before the nationwide tour starts.

Overall verdict as it stands? OK to see if you are new to Gotta Sing Gotta Dance but if you saw last years production let the great memories of that show stay with you.

Hopefully if there is a 2011 version of GSGD 'new' will actually mean "100% new"

3 out of 5 for Gotta Sing Gotta Dance 2010

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