Something Old Something New – The Musical Theatre Revue, performed by students from the Musical Theatre Academy, continues at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London until 12 March.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
The MTA – musical theatre training with a difference – makes a feature of an annual revue. It introduces the first year students on its two-year accelerated course and showcases the second year performers. I think this is the sixth of these revues I’ve seen since the college opened in 2009 and this is definitely the best so far.
The ensemble work which pulses with that all-important energy, is outstandingly slick and tight from the full company opening with a Cabaret medley choreographed by Helen Rymer, all the way through to the Good News medley finale which ensures you leave the theatre singing, foot-tapping and envious of all that vibrant talent.
Highspots include Grace Heap singing ‘I’ll be Here’ from Ordinary Days. In a single number she tells an entire story of love, loss and moving on. It’s finely controlled and pin-droppingly moving. Her diction – like that of every other performer in this show – is impeccable, so every word and every note is dramatically nuanced.
Watch out for clear voiced Charlie Culkin too. She has a quality of innocence in her delivery which works well in ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ from Hairspray and again –although the role and the piece is a completely different style – as Audrey singing ‘Suddenly Seymour’ from Little Shop of Horrors with Edward McCollum doing well as Seymour.
Then there’s elfin Lauren Jacobs whose personality beams through in every number she’s involved in, even when it’s a big group. And a first year group shows lots of promise in ‘When You’re An Addams’ from the The Addams Family.
There’s plenty of impressive dancing. The college has several athletically talented males, and the choreography runs with that, so there are many enjoyable leaps and flips, along with some nice lifts when they’re dancing with the female performers.
In many ways the real star of this show is the six-piece live band, so sympathetically supportive, even when some students are not vocally as strong as the ones who stand out. Annemarie Lewis Thomas has surpassed herself with her arrangements and imaginative orchestrations this time (Steve Elias directs). The use of guitar and flute together, for example, is enticingly beautiful.