a night at the Oscars

13 Feb

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Chris Burgess presents one of his famous juke box shows – with a difference. More differences than expected.
He gives us a taste of Hollywood History – the story of the Oscars.
It is a fascinating subject and an excuse to have a cast of young , excellent singers to come on and sing a whole evening of great – and not so great -songs.

The obvious beginning to this show is the wonderful movie Anthem ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ and the show biz element of this number is perfect for the young voices.

Most of of the first Oscar winning songs were magnificent and haunting and many introduced to us by Fred and Ginger.
During the first half of act one there were the magic words and music of George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart.

These masterpieces of song by the wonderful musicians and lyricists of the thirties are followed up by songs from the war and the years afterwards and finish with the world’s biggest belter – Judy Garland – with The Man That Got Away.

Act two the whole style of singing changed -less sophisticated lyric based and more ‘in your face’. Personally I think the small cast were happier belting out the second act songs. The elegance of the thirties are not familiar to modern singers and some of the songs lost their effectiveness by the loudness of the voices.– why do these powerful voices need microphones anyway? One of the things young singers are not taught to do is to speak sing. This is most obvious in the rendering of the revue number ‘Either Too Young or Too Old’.

The show is written for four singers – now here comes the big difference I promised. Sadly, Kieran Brown, one of the performers had laryngitis on the evening I was there. But did they cancel? Don;t be silly, The Show Must Always Go On.
Steven Danziel took on all Kieran’s songs as well as his own along with the help of musical director Ben Ferguson and the two girls Natalie Green and Laura Sillett filled in the gaps of Chris Cunning’s choreography.
In addition, The company had the lucky presence of John Plews, artistic director of the Gatehouse and he stepped in to do the narration. So the show was carried on thanks to the expertise of Mr Plews and the enthusiasm of the rest of the cast,
The show was directed by Bronagh Lagan who had every reason to be proud of her gallant band of Thespians who played to an ecstatic audience.
There was not a hiccup in the production. A perfect example of an actor’s ability to cope with anything.
Proof without doubt that there is No Business Like Show Business.

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