Review: Best of Show Choir
FREYA HARRIS is pleasantly surprised by the cheesy tunes of the CU Show Choir
CU Show Choir presents the Best of Show Choir, Tues 5th May, ADC, 11pm, £7/6
I humbly regret ,to all who may be offended, that I set out to last night’s The Best of Show Choir, if not with trepidation, then at least with a healthy dose of cynicism.
I admit, shamefully, that I am the girl who once chose to spend a large chunk of Christmas day alone in my room so as to avoid the family watching of Pitch Perfect.
Though enthusiastic and appreciative of the myriad talents so continually displayed by my peers, I have a distrust of cheese, most specifically American cheese.
.And I’m not speaking of traumatic childhood experiences of the sludgy, pus-coloured condiment defiling the integrity of tortilla chips (though these exist and are still being worked through).
Yet the show, from the very beginning, shied off any attempts at cynicism.
Packed with friends of the cast, the audience was boiling with affectionate enthusiasm, whooping at closed curtains until the entry onto the stage of a cast trying to conceal their smiles.
Beginning with an acapella rendition of the unforgettable opening chords of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’, now as much associated with the early seasons of Glee as with its original 1981 release, they addressed any cheese head-on. This heralded the beginning of The 4-Chord Song, arranged by a Cambridge alumna, flickering at pace through what seemed like every popular song of the last fifteen years.
The appearance of the compère, Jonathan Beilby, confirmed the ability of the show to laugh at itself with warmth and wit. Charismatic and risqué, he could easily provide a more caustic replacement to Graham Norton at this year’s Eurovision (another family-watching event that provokes my retreat into dark corners of the house).
Later starring in a rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ in a teetering blonde beehive and heels, the resemblance of his role to an obscene-mouthed pantomime dame, the best bit of any Cinderella, tawdrily Anglicised any plastic American gloss.
The adult humour was in contrast to the set-list, which tapped into all the joy of nostalgia with songs from S-Club 7, Mulan, The Lion King 2, and a mash-up of children’s television themes.
The Disney allowed room for theatricality and physical comedy, the dejected push ups of ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’, a highlight. The children’s TV-themes reassured you that your pure aesthetic delight in ‘The Fairly Odd Parents’ was not in fact a personal shame, but widely shared.
Interspersed with fabulously camp classics, the only fault of ‘It’s Raining Men’ was the omission of its essential half-naked men, only for ‘I Will Survive’ to deliver Ed Limb in Calvin Kleins and a bowtie, flustering the majority of the audience and probably the cast.
After the exquisite combination of drag and abs nearly set all chaos loose, the soulful ‘Spectrum’, adapted from Florence and the Machine, elegantly drew us back into order.
Technically, there were one or two wobbles of voice, and the microphones were not quite up to the job, taking something away from the quality of sound, and occasionally not picking up all of the singers.There were several moments where the enthusiasm of the crowd drowned out the performance, where individual microphones may have helped.
Of costume, the boys’ ties did not match the girls’ dresses with the quite the accuracy of a Year Eleven prom, but they did their very best. The choreography was not extensive, but was effective, especially in the suddenly exuberant ‘Reach!’ finale, which received a standing ovation.
Featuring fantastic solo performances, vivacious humour and just as many beautiful people as any episode of Glee, it was the sugary-Calpol remedy to all the solemnity and impending adult-hood of Exam Term.
4 and half stars.