Semi-Toned: Stay Tuned

If the boys of Semi-Toned ever tire of a cappella they could always take up comedy. Their new show, Semi-Toned: Stay Tuned, has all the smooth harmonies expected of this stunning ensemble woven into a humorous scenario of dry wit, repartee and self-effacing rhetoric.

If there’s a seat to be had, grab it: if not, stay tuned; these guys are not going away.

Little needs to be said about the quality of their singing: the choir’s accolades are sufficient testimony. In 2014 they became the first, and still the only, a cappella group to be presented with the prized Broadway Baby Bobby Award at the Fringe. The following year they were crowned champions of Voice Festival UK and in 2016 they hit the jackpot as winners of BBC2’s Gareth Malone series The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain. Since then they have completed numerous tours of the East and West coasts of America, and can now be regarded as an international success.

The inspiration for this year’s production comes from their television success. Not content with their 15 minutes of glory they have dramatised attempts to obtain further bookings into a humorous show. On the other end of a telephone is the producer, rather like the banker in Deal or No Deal. From time to time the phone rings and they are told how they are progressing and whether they have a deal or not. In an attempt to show their versatility and display their musical repertoire they work their way through a series of songs and a dance routines in order to win the approval of the person on the end of the line.

Not only voices but heads, hands and bodies align in unison and harmony as the University of Exeter’s star act works its way through numbers from a 20’s swing twist on Arctic Monkeys’ Take Me Out, to R. Kelly’s sensual Bump ‘n Grind to a barnstorming Village People medley. There was variety and contrast in a programme that surely has universal appeal. The laughter and rhythmic clapping demonstrated the group’s ability to work an audience, as did the visibly focused concentration on people's awestruck faces; then came a heavenly delivery of Candle in the Wind that caused tears to well up. These guys certainly know what they are doing and how to deliver on every point.

The show is slick and tightly structured with crisp endings to every section and cleverly devised continuity. Everything about this show lives up to its expectations. If there’s a seat to be had, grab it: if not, stay tuned; these guys are not going away.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Semi-Toned, the burgundy-blazered winners of BBC Two's The Choir: Gareth's Best in Britain, jump out of the TV to bring you a vibrant new show. If you want some Beyoncé, stay tuned. If you want some Bublé, stay tuned. In fact, if you want any music ending in an acute é, stay tuned. Semi-Toned, recently returned from their third tour of the USA, are famed for their jaw-dropping vocal acrobatics and their wide array of music. You may have seen them on the telly, but now you can see them for real!