Review: Songs from the Shows

WILL POPPLEWELL enjoyed this concert of show tunes but was far from blown away.

Cambridge culture Music show choir

I didn’t expect to be reviewing this show, so I went in fairly merry and had a lovely time. This said, the show plateaued at lovely, and whilst the show offered up good vocals and a fun evening, I wasn’t quite blown away.

It is clear that the group is full of talented individuals, even some of those who sang but a few lines impressed individually.

Of particular note were: Phoebe Stone, a mezzo who truly shone each time she sang, Hettie Hill, a lovely alto with an understated charm, and Kris Moore who stood out with engaging charm and solid vocals throughout the night. Samantha Benson also deserves a mention for her confident and well-sung lines in the opening and closing numbers.

The problem was that, often, these vocals were disjointed from the overall performance, and the audience was left unsure as whether to enjoy the vocals or focus on the performance of the number as a whole.

The arrangements, done by the delightful compere Jonathan Beilby, were generally very impressive; medleys of Les Miserables and Abba songs were particular musical highlights. Several numbers could have been pushed further – the opening number ‘Omigod You Guys’ from Legally Blonde was neither fast nor energetic enough.

Don’t get me wrong, the opening was a nice number, but it did not take the song far enough, nor exploit the sheer energy that this musical and song demand.

The lack of pace was occasionally added to by some performers’ half-hearted commitment to dance moves, and the oh-so-crucial show-choir smile.

Smaller group numbers particularly suffered from a lack of stage presence, a notable exception being a compelling rendition of ‘Send in the Clowns’ (A Little Night Music). When the larger group got it right, as they most certainly did with the Abba medley, the energy was infectious and it was impossible to not bob along.

The latest show choir outing was enjoyable, but rested primarily upon the natural talent found in the group. I optimistically predict good things for the Show Choir’s next outing, a three-night extravaganza in Week 6 of Lent, which promises to be a more engaging and professional production if the group can build on their chemistry, listen to each other a little more, and really enjoy the show they’re putting on.

Show Choir’s forte is meant to be fun, and whilst this show was enjoyable, funny, and well-sung, I look forward to seeing it go further.

Three stars