Review of Lights! Camera! Action by The Theatre Monkeys

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It is on a rare occasion that I get to watch something other than a play or a musical. This is mainly due to, it would appear, most companies in this area do not put on revues or concerts. There are a few that do, and Beeston Musical Theatre Group is one that does, and does it well.

They offer within this night of entertainment, a night filled with epic ‘tunes’ from epic movies; ranging from Bond to The Bodyguard, Pitch Perfect to (dare I say it) Frozen! Medleys and melodies were what this evening was about, and we were not let down. It has to be said that this wide range of choice, style and genre all blended really well together never once breaking the good time that was being had by all…audience included.

Overall this concert was brilliant. The lights, the sounds, the music choices all came together to create this foot tapping concert…. I was going to stay in and watch a movie, but to be honest…this was better.

Taking my seat I could see the band were seated tuning up ready to play beneath the long hanging red curtains of The Duchess Theatre. I didn’t notice any ambient music playing, but then again all that could be heard was the gentle murmurings of the ever readying crowd. The lights dimmed promptly and we were introduced to (trying not to offer spoilers here) a familiar sounding voice who led the way through the expectations and rules to follow. A nice touch I thought, as it fitted with the evening’s style.

The band began as the stage filled with the cast, or in this case Movie Stars. Each one dressed to the nines. Ladies in gowns and men in Tuxedos…all but one! They opened with a rather tasty medley of James Bond title songs. We were off, the vocals throughout this concert by the ensemble were very tight, tuneful and you could tell that the amount of work that Musical Director Nathan Truesdale had put in with this talented bunch to get them sounding the way they did. Each ending was crisp, each word enunciated and most of all you could tell that every member was having a blast. I say this because every now and then you could see, what I like to call the ‘Boyband Arm’. You know, when it raises up uncontrollably because you feel every word, every note deep down inside and it just takes over. That, I could see that in every member. Not necessarily at the same time throughout, but often enough that it became infectious and waves of enjoyment billowed over the audience, always followed by a smile.

We were treated to tunes across the last 100 years from all across the movie reel! Each song seamlessly followed on from one another, blending genres and mixing songs that you would not necessarily have next to each other on a play list, but it worked. Sure with the occasional ‘black out’ to set the next song up, but never for too long. Occasionally, now I am being picky, the lights went down and came up a little too early but not so much that it would be seen as an error. As this concert is just that, a concert, it is hard to speak about scenes or story, but what can be done is personal favourites by either song or performer. So with that, let’s start with my personal favourite from the whole cast.

‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ led by Jen, George (Ukulele player extraordinaire) Josh and Katie followed by the Movie Stars was my first “ooo I like that” moment. The harmonies at first were a little missed but that soon changed when it was in full swing. The flowing melody, the Ukulele and the close harmonies kept this timeless classic warm and very pleasant to the ear. Next up, and I am afraid to say this as having a daughter I have heard this so many times, as I am sure you all have, is ‘Let it go’. The minute it began I sank into my seat, hoping for it to end, that soon changed, I was wrong. This song was given a new life; this time by the Leading Ladies. Again a beautiful close harmony rendition splitting it into almost three sections (I believe) each perfectly balancing the next in both sound and tone. ‘Under Pressure’ led by Chris, Jodie and Rob was a delight; not only by paying tribute to the late great David Bowie, but also because of the arrangement. Its solid vocals was a great way in ending the first half on a high. My final ‘moment’ was with the penultimate song of the show ‘Pinball Wizard’, just a feel good song from start to finish. Musically, sound and vocals all came together to create a wall of pure delight (I may be biased as I love this song…and Sir Elton John). The cast gave it their all and we, the audience, may have been seen to be singing along!

Now, as far as talent and solo/duet/trio performances go, there were quite a few. Some of my personal highlights were Rob C’s rendition of ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’. A gorgeous voice that had a wonderful rounded sound to it. Cat, Claire, Jen and Jodie’s ‘Shoop Shoop Song’ had superb vocals that complemented one another, all the while harmonizing perfectly. In ‘Fever’ – performed by Jodie and Steph – the sound quality of their voices together was beautiful, if a little harrowing…in a good way. The wonderfully over the top (acting) version of ‘Up where we belong’ performed by Rob H and Steph, even though this was a comical number with their actions, the singing was far from comical. Those were just some from the first half!

Here are some of my top picks from the second half. Again, I am sorry to say this, but ‘Love is an open door’ performed by Rob C and Claire. Can I not escape this movie? Can any of us? But if I were to listen to any version, it would be this one. Gorgeous vocals married together (excuse the pun) to create a charming and delicious sound. I especially liked the ending, but that is all I can say…for now! The tear jerking ‘When she loved me’ performed wonderfully by Cheryl. Such a warmth to her vocals, only adding to the upsetting context of the song. ‘What a feeling’ performed by Christine, Lisa and Steph. Well what can I say without spoiling this one? Comically performed, yet outstandingly sang, even if there was a dancer to focus your…energy on to! Special mention to Chris for his ‘Bear Necessities’ and ‘I wanna be like you’. Not what I was expecting vocally, as when I have heard them being performed in the past, the tendency is to follow the films sound, and you didn’t. Chris brought his own vocal stylistics to it, and I liked it.

The set (unfortunately there is no one to attribute it to) was simple albeit with a long platform and step. But the most impressive part was the massive screen/projector that dominated the back wall. It was never an eye-sore and only showed backdrop images for each song. Lighting (Dave Martin) was colourful and clean, and supported the overall feel of the concert. Sound (Sean at Sounds-Technical) was for the most part spot on. Balanced well, and never drowning out the band vs vocals. There was only one moment where the vocals were not as clear, but that could be down to the crescendo in the music and the band ‘going for it’. Choreography (Craig Butterworth) was simple and effective. I said before that you could tell the cast enjoyed every minute, and it was evident not only in the singing, but the movement too. The Band led by Nathan Truesdale were tight, rhythmic and on the ball. Well done to Sam Griffiths for your ‘Pink Panther’.

Overall this concert was brilliant. The lights, the sounds, the music choices all came together to create this foot tapping concert. I am both glad I came to see this, and thrilled that once again I have got to see yet another unknown (to me) company with such talent. I was going to stay in and watch a movie, but to be honest…this was better.

 

You can read the original review on The Theatre Monkeys website here: http://thetheatremonkeys.co.uk/2016/05/beeston-musical-theatre-group-review-lights-camera-action-concert-time-warps-you-into-a-fever/