I’m a lover of musical theatre but I’m prepared to be really honest here: the genre is crammed with suitable material for a hilarious and even brutal send-up. By taking it from the point of view of a group of theatre staff and the various characters and situations they have to put up with, this seems like a sure-fire way to create something that’s both funny and relatable.
As we meet the variety of characters, a young female usher obsessed with the celebrity males that pass through the theatre doors, to a young gay couple struggling with the fact that one of them has just signed for a year long acting contract in Vienna, the story is peppered with tongue-in-cheek gags and musical theatre in-jokes a-plenty. Although this show has a more than a few eye-rollingly corny lyrics there are still plenty of laughs for anyone who enjoys poking fun at musical theatres best known shows. However be warned: anyone with more than a basic knowledge of musicals may feel a little patronised and may, as I did, feel a little like it’s not really anything that hasn’t been done before - and perhaps better.
Credit has to be given to Durham University Light Opera Group for taking this show on. For a cast with only six members they create rich harmonies and all their ensemble singing fills the auditorium rather spectacularly. As soloists however they’re dramatically less spectacular and where this show needs strong singers to carry off some of its more tender moments, this cast are a little disappointing.
Most of the fault for this show for me doesn’t lie with the cast; though far from professional singers, they still take on their parts with energy and humour. The script and book are ultimately the aspects at fault here, with a few too many corny choices and predictable resolutions for me: nothing this young and likeable cast can do very much about.