REVIEW: CUMTS Gala Night 2016: Live in Living Colour!

Warning: ecstatic reviewer.

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There is, I feel, a need to apologise for this review. I went to CUMTS’ Gala Night with relatively high expectations, but I did not think I would spend the walk back from the ADC racking my brains for any flaw I could think of to make my review sound a little less like incoherent gushing. I couldn’t find one.

Throughout this show – and my fellow audience member/theatre editor can attest to this – I was a wriggling mass of excited gasps of recognition and barely suppressed squeals at just how well it was all executed. From the opening number (“Live in Living Colour” from Catch Me If You Can) to the very end (“One Day More”, from Les Miserables) the performances were strong – going from moments like a heart wrenching rendition of “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, to an utterly hilarious reminder that, in musical theatre, one must always “Keep it Gay”.

Toby Marlow knows how to “Keep it Gay”. (Photo Credit: Amelia Oakley)

Major props particularly have to go to the band, who, under the guidance of Musical Director Joe Beighton, took everything the eclectic set list threw at them and performed it all impeccably. Sam Payne, too, deserves a shout out for his lighting design. The rainbow colored lights that illuminated the performers took the theme of “Live in Living Colour”, and brought it to the ADC stage in an incredibly beautiful way. Indeed all the technicians did an admirable job: there were no mishaps with sound, which, in a show with 29 miked performers, cannot have been an easy feat.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. (Photo Credit: Amelia Oakley)

The night, it must be said, belonged to those performers. Olivia Gaunt shone in everything she was in, from the hilarious duet of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” to her turn in the opening number from Songs For A New World. Even when she was part of the ensemble she was a hilarious, show-stealing machine. Other show thieves include Benedict Welch, who is still making me giggle every time I think about his single line in “Belle”, which was as impressive a group number as I have seen in the ADC – and I cannot neglect to mention his fabulous tap dancing stint either.

The hilarious performance of “Belle” was a standout number. Pictured: Julia Kass. (Photo Credit: Amelia Oakley)

Adi George, too, was a delight whose mistake at the beginning of “One Day More” I could never call a flaw, since every subsequent line he sung was met with good natured laughter and cheers, and made the whole performance even better than it already was. Stephen Gage, too, stole the show in his own way: every one of his appearances as compère was perfectly adorable.

And now that I feel like I have gushed enough, I will leave you the same way I left my fellow theatregoer at the end of the evening. I turned, gasped, and breathlessly declared:

“Dude … I love musicals.” 

5/5 stars