Production: Mad about the musicals
Venue: York Opera House
Mad about the Musicals is currently one of the largest shows of its type touring the UK and they have finally arrived at York’s Opera House. The West End has literally came to our doorstep along with the bright lights of Broadway. From gangland New-Yorkers with an Elvis Presley rock and roll attitude, Cicero and lipstick, and sweet sirens from Broadway, the cast, full of enthusiasm, were a group of talented singers along a live band of musicians.
Amongst the burlesque, flip flop, fly and all that jazz, over 20 musicals including such classics as Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and Chicago are performed alongside more contemporary shows such as ‘Spamalot’ and ‘The Blues Brothers’. Expect a laugh or two, as each act follows a comic relief or some audience participation, which makes keeping abreast of the sheer variety of songs a joy rather than a chore to get your head around.
As can be expected there are songs tinged with sadness, some with temptation and others with exultation – all brought to life with musical twists. In one instance in ‘If You’ve Got A Gimmick’ from Gypsy, the LED laden display of a performer’s bodice and a man cheekily dressed as a woman, create a sizzling situation. The entire show was cleverly arranged and directed; scenes and songs evoking contrasting moods were juxtaposed – as were the styles of dance, ranging from energetic tap-dancing to elegant waltzing.
In each momentary musical there was an original melody of Lloyd Webber, Schonberg caliber, performed by a live band of musicians covering a large score of complex orchestrations. It iwas clear, that each of the performers had something quite unique to bring. Ideally an audience member who was unsure about what they would get out of any West End or Broadway show could be enticed by the snapshots Mad About the Musicals offered. It is not over the top or ostentatious, but the performances are memorable because of the charm and of the key performers.
At times, the set seemed a little impermanent, as the only alteration in its appearance were the changing light displays. However, the clever use of props, choreographed into several of the routines, created interest that the stage design lacked. As can be problematic with any live band, the clarity of the voice can quickly deteriorate with an overpowering instrumental section.
This show is a must- see for anyone who is open to listening to a diverse range of musicals and is not stuck on a firm favourite. Although, at times I wished for a higher concentration of songs from fewer musicals.
See http://www.madaboutproductions.com/ for tour details.