A New Musical in Concert

Tue 3rd November 2015

reviews

Elizabeth Crowdy

at 16:27 on 4th Nov 2015

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A New Musical in Concert occupied a strange middle ground between staged musical and ‘concert’, which was initially a confusing prospect: the basic props, lights and other technical elements gave the impression of a shoddy piece of theatre in the first five minutes. However, the appearance of the composer Ryan Rodrigues and writer Katie Heath Whyte after the first couple of numbers clarified the intention of the performance: to showcase the songs, with outlines of scenes providing a skeleton of the plot. Once this had been made clear, it was easier to approach the performance by looking for potential rather than watching it as a complete piece.

The singing was consistently excellent throughout, with Caroline Sautter’s solo a particular highlight. The harmonies in the ensemble numbers were held together by a cast of strong vocalists, who successfully projected the songs largely without amplification. Ella Jenkinson’s voice carried a lot of emotion, and though powerful, had a softness which conveyed the personal element of many of the songs. The composer has put together a series of memorable numbers, which have potential to go far in the world of musical theatre. In this performance the songs were often held back by awkward scene transitions and deficit of microphones, however, in a more staged performance this will not be an issue.

The subject matter of the musical is interesting and diverse, with themes of gang violence, peer pressure and alcohol abuse interwoven with situations such as school classrooms and conversations between childhood friends. Though the tone of the music was mostly cheerful, the introduction of some darker material into the score added depth, which hopefully will be extended into the rest of the score and scenes.

It was refreshing to see new writing on the ADC stage, especially in the musical theatre genre. Even if the presentation was a little confused, it gave an accurate impression of what the audience can expect from the complete piece. Although the overarching impression as a piece of theatre was messy and often confusing, when taken as a skeleton of a new piece of musical theatre, the performance was promising, enjoyable and showed potential for an exciting piece of new writing.

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