2 By 5

International Collegiate Theatre Festival has put together a delightful programme of both well-known and less familiar works to create this production of 2 By 5. All songs are by the highly talented writing partnership of Kander and Ebb, the men who created such memorable works as Cabaret, Chicago and Fosse.

rollercoaster of song and dance routines

There is a slightly odd feeling about seeing a cabaret-style show at around eleven o’clock in the morning; it really belongs to the night time. It’s also not the best time of day for rested voices. Consequently the opening was a little shaky but that was soon overcome as the rollercoaster of song and dance routines poured out. Many of the songs are so defined by particular performers that it is difficult not to make comparisons, but the cast didn’t shy away from providing their own take on some classics. Full chorus numbers were one of the strengths of this show, and there were some really fun routines that showed off their performance skills.

"Money Makes the World Go Round" was a delightful display of talent and it was a relief to see some use of props with a range of international hats in "Ring Them Bells". With a very large cast of young people it is inevitable that there will be variations in the quality of performances. Several of the men in the tap routines appeared nervous and couldn’t resist looking down to their feet with almost an air of disbelief, while others relished the opportunity to display a well rehearsed routine with confidence. "Mein Herr", despite the skimpy outfits, lacked any great sense of seduction. Conversely, the "The Sara Lee" chorus of four brought a greater degree of spectacle to the show with an amusing performance and "Class" was an amusing interlude.

The open space and proximity of the audience to the cast in Space Triplex worked well for this show, but opportunities to create different moods through lighting were mostly missed in an overlit production. Conversely a great job was done on the keyboard accompaniment, while the simplicity of black costumes with bright jewelry or ties was entirely appropriate.

This production is a showcase for emerging talent. Some have clearly got it, others are on the way. If you love the music and a bit of old razzle dazzle it’s worth popping into; by all means, come to the cabaret.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Willkommen! to Kander and Ebb's 2 By 5, a dark and classy sung-through review of songs from one of Broadway's most prolific and celebrated composing teams of the late 20th century. The review, hailed as stylish and fresh, includes songs from such smash hits as Chicago and Cabaret as well as some of the duo's lesser-known but no less-loved work. Money and sex, love and loneliness, gritty yet fragile, with a wink for the man at the bar, the world of Kander and Ebb comes to life with edgy new stage direction and choreography.

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