REVIEW: CUMTS presents the 24-Hour Musical!

Lia Johansen-Villanueva was treated to a night of musical anecdotes, all about the funny things that happened on the way to the theatre.

24 Hour Musical Cambridge CUMTS review Reviews Theatre

These funny things included a moment of divine intervention, where an angel advised against a production of Arab Spring Awakening, an unlikely friendship, an emergency operation, and a match made in heaven.

The performers and musicians behind the 24 Hour Musical had one day to create an entirely new show, and it is almost incredible how successfully they achieved what seemed to me to be a virtually impossible feat.

Structured as a series of sung-through sketches based around a central theme, the night was full of hilarity and a significant amount of talent. From the very first number – an outstanding ensemble piece – I knew I was in for a good night. Despite the fact that every song was a reaction to the same prompt, each was completely original in its conceit. One that stood out particularly was the number performed by Quintin Langley-Coleman, which took “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to The Theatre” and gave it a distinctly surgical twist.

Spot the CUMTS. (Image credit: Stephen Gage)

Spot the CUMTS. (Image credit: Stephen Gage and Caroline Sautter)

The stars of the night were Ellie Coote and Olivia Gaunt, playing RADA graduates at an audition. Their characters were asked to perform an original composition, and the faux-improvised number which followed was a riot to watch and had the entire theatre rolling with laughter. Their singing was not the only pitch perfect thing on show; their comic timing and excellent facial expressions were delightful in their loving jab at musical theatre pretension.

Necessarily, the show had some rushed aspects. Words were forgotten, sound cues were occasionally dodgy and there were moments when it was very obvious how little time everyone had had to rehearse their musical offerings. Nonetheless, it would be overly pernickety to dwell too heavily on the negatives, since so often they only added to the charming spontaneity that I enjoyed so much. Watching actors riff their way out of forgotten lines with nothing but their own charisma made the evening all the more entertaining. Of course, it was going to have some rushed and ramshackle moments – the impressive thing is that they weren’t more frequent!

The evening proved that taking longer than 24-hours to prepare a show is mere self-indulgence. (Image credit: Stephen Gage)

Taking longer than 24-hours to prepare a show is mere self-indulgence. (Image credit: Stephen Gage and Caroline Sautter)

To review the show without particularly mentioning the team of composers and lyricists behind it would be to do them a huge disservice: bravo, then, to Toby Marlow, Ryan Rodrigues, Jared Bennett, Chris Nash, Joe Beighton,  Amy Carmichael, Georgina Skinner, Rebecca Rebis, Harry Castle, Elspeth Collard, Imogen Mechie, Ryan Frost, Oscar Farley and Kyle Turakhia.

To me, it still seems unbelievable that these songs were put together overnight because they were all of such high quality. The final rap, a wink to the opening number about “Arab Spring Awakening”, was a hilarious and fitting mic drop.

The people who inhabit the strange and wonderful world of musical theatre wrote a love letter to that very same world – in one day. I am truly grateful that I got to see the finished product.

3.5/5 stars