Jason Robert Browns American song-cycle is a Fringe favourite with student companies. Its lush vocal harmonies and necessity for belting make it as exciting to perform as it is difficult to learn. With no real story, it instead examines the modern American condition and important cultural moments in American history with wit and a complex musical score.This company has come to Edinburgh as part of the American High School Theatre Festival. Theyve taken on an incredibly difficult musical which, at times, gets away from what they can do given their young age. The cast are clearly naturally talented and that makes this production enjoyable to sit through. However, they are unpolished, no doubt a product of their ages. They dont understand what it means to sing as a complete company; they sing as individuals, each determined to place their own vocal style or riff over the other cast members and whats written in the music. The solo and duet numbers, on the other hand, are where these kids get an opportunity to shine vocally. Catiano Bellos rendition of Im Not Afraid is heart wrenchingly powerful and emotionally mature. Ben Jenkins consistently delivers charismatic and vocally accomplished performances. The biggest problem with this production is that, as a song-cycle, it invites us to see brief snapshots of characters before moving on to another idea. But the cast rarely bring any character to their songs leaving us with a pretty sounding show that is occasionally dull to watch. This isnt true across the board. My favourite performance of the show was Kyla Walkers Flagmaker, which focuses on the woman who sewed the original American flag. Walkers performance is not the most vocally accomplished performance but it captures the characters bitterness with the Civil War whilst simultaneously playing up her patriotism. And Hannah Barrens deadpan comic timing for her spoilt social climber in Stars and the Moon is a wonderful piece of musical theatre acting.This is a cast full of potential. Its incredibly exciting to know that I saw a group of people who, as they learn and eventually move to performing arts colleges, will become professional actors, some of whom could easily work Broadway (remember the name Erin Fleming; Erin remember mine!). And as a learning experience I can see it is invaluable. But insofar as this production is concerned as an Edinburgh Fringe show, high volume, close vocal harmonies and riffing are not replacements for character acting, which this show definitely needs.