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Many different vibes from this production, many points I liked and appreciated, but overall I did not like the show itself.
The set was well thought out, it suited the austerity of the piece. The band on stage was beneficial to the audience, and musically it was excellent, particularly the ensemble numbers, and whilst some of the principal numbers were funny, poignant and expressive, I felt the ensemble came into their own. I was very impressed with Josh Smyth, lovely voice and fully immersed in his characters, although small. I thought there were some interesting harmonies.
I thought the direction from Debbie Cavanagh was a little traditional at times, but on the whole nicely directed.
Sound was mostly good, though at times I detected a slight ‘boom’ sound – not sure if was a band fault or one of the mics on stage, but it was soon corrected. The band accompanied well, and it must have been a real tour de force for them as there was hardly any let up at all. A good rounded sound throughout.
The choreography from Chloe Badham was edgy as suited the piece, and I enjoyed the movement which was incorporated in several numbers, particularly in Santa Fe, and armology when the cast were sitting round the table for New Year.
Costumes were generally in keeping with the characters, and it was nice to have the colour injection from Angel and Mimi.
Marc Rolfe created a laid back but angst-
Mimi was played by Katie Alys Barton with great understanding, lovely voice and very in tune with the quirky choreography in her number on the upper decking.
Joshua Thompson played Mark, who was a sort of narrator whilst filming the action, good vocals and some quirky expressions.
John O’Leary was Tom, who was attacked at the outset, then befriended by Angel – a nicely crafted part, and loved his expressiveness when Angel died.
Ryan Vernel played Ben, the only fairly normal person in the cast, which was a good catalyst to the others. Also displaying good vocals.
Nice to see Aimee McCulloch back on stage, she created a good Joanne, lovely voice, I enjoyed her Tango with Roger where she showed a slightly racy side of her character, and also Take Me, Or Leave Me with Maureen, where she showed a softer but strong side.
I liked the premise of Eleanor Turton’s wild child Maureen, but thought her Over the Moon number was a little too much in places, I preferred it when she drew back a little, the contrasts were still there. Just personal preference, as I could see the character nuances.
Now we come to Luke Murphy, who played Angel with such joy and frivolity in an essentially dark piece, whilst giving due attention to the burgeoning relationship with Tom, and dying very nicely(!) – he got such enthusiasm into his portrayal that you couldn’t help but love him.
Seasons of Love was the stand out number of the show, for singing on the way home!! But I also enjoyed La Vie Boheme, the Act 1 finale.
I could see that this is almost a cult musical, but not one to my liking I’m afraid, that said I thought the cast, production and technical teams put together a great show, I really appreciated the hard work and undoubted talent on stage.
GRIFFIN PLAYERS -
review date:3rd Aug 2018 Luton Library Theatre
Director: Debbie Cavanagh MD: James Driver Choreographer: Chloe Badham
Artistic Director: Jenna Ryder-