Jason Robert Brown’s 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. They’ve 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 don’t 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 what’s written in the music. The solo and duet numbers, on the other hand, are where these kids get an opportunity to shine vocally. Catiano Bello’s rendition of ‘I’m 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 isn’t true across the board. My favourite performance of the show was Kyla Walker’s ‘Flagmaker’, which focuses on the woman who sewed the original American flag. Walker’s performance is not the most vocally accomplished performance but it captures the character’s 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. It’s 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.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

This hip, contemporary musical revue is about that one moment in time when a decision must be made, and there is no going back, for either better or worse.

Most Popular See More

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets