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Review of Broadway Lights And West End Nights at Northampton College

I have followed the acting course at the University of Northampton for the last five years now, but this Saturday I experienced the Level 3 Musical Theatre group at Northampton College for the first time, as they presented a performance by their first and second-year students. The evidence from this first encounter suggests that there is some very good talent on its way through this course.

The evening presented a nicely varied selection of performances from six shows, Avenue Q, Rent, The Lion King, Cats, Mary Poppins and Sweet Charity, both providing some lovely singing routines and a few of pure dance, allowing the students to show many of their, very obvious, skills.

From the collection of 21 routines presented, there were a few standout moments, the best of which for myself was Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer performed by Tom Kalek and Lily Cushway. This was a routine of such polish that I would happily have watched on any stage, never mind a student performance. Kaley and Cushway maintained an impressively solid vocal performance, in between some truly great physical sequences and their playful nature was perfectly judged for the characters as well. Simple put, a stunning piece.

Another really entertaining routine was Avenue Q's If You Were Gay performed by Tom Kalek again playing Nicky, and Rory Fraser as Rod, with Fraser especially strong in both singing and character in this one. The characters were also strong in the Mary Poppins sequence, especially Thalia Garth in the title role, combining brilliant singing and timing, along with the required stern controlling nature but the air of magical mystery of the character. During this piece also, Joby Blair put in a scene-stealing turn as Mrs Corry.

Perhaps the most controversial sequence of the evening from those I was with was the Rich Man's Frug from Sweet Charity. While not popular with many, I really loved the style and delivery of this sequence of both classic sixties dance, and more importantly the work of Mr Bob Fosse. The performers involved expertly got the sharp stalking and postured movement, and despite it not working for all, it really was one of my favourite pieces of the show.

Rich Man's Frug was perhaps seated within the strongest trio of pieces of the evening, as all three routines from Sweet Charity were especially strong, with a vibrant and bold version of the classic Big Spender from all the female company, and that vibrancy was taken up a further notch, culminating in perhaps the best song to end the evening, as Rory Fraser as Daddy led out a brilliant full company version of Rhythm of Life.

Technically it was a pretty impressive evening, in a great venue, which I have visited just once before. It was perhaps a little sad production wise that moving spotlights were not used, leaving the performers to just move from spot to spot. It did though have a wonderful look to the entire show, from the sharp black and white suits of Rich Man's Frug, the flower power garishness of Rhythm of Life and finally the striking catsuits of Cats.

No question though, this was an excellent couple of hours of entertainment with some brilliant individual performances, coupled with some excellently created ensemble pieces, and I look forward to my next encounter with these musical theatre students.

Performance viewed: Saturday 27th January 2018 at Northampton College, Booth Lane, Northampton
Broadway Lights and West End Nights continues until Wednesday 31st January 2018, with tickets available via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/northampton-college-school-of-the-arts-13442073431




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