Skip to main content

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

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Our Lady Of Kibeho at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The premise of Our Lady of Kibeho by Katori Hall is one that on paper would seriously not appeal to many peoples perhaps, mixing religion and the background of the looming catastrophe of the genocide against the Tutsi, it maybe alienates plenty of people immediately. However, this is a great shame, as there is much to genuinely admire, and perhaps more surprisingly enjoy of this latest production from Made in Northampton and director James Dacre.

Hall's story of this "true event" opens with a confrontation between Sister Evangelique (Michelle Asante) and Father Tuyishime (Ery Nzaramba) over the fact that pupil Alphonsine Mumureke (Gabrielle Brooks) claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. Few believe her at first, ridicule her and bully both her and anyone who supports her, however, soon another sees visions of the Virgin Mary, and then another, and soon this small little college in Kibeho, Rwanda is very much a focal point of attention.

Our Lady of Kibeho perhaps takes two …

Review of The Full Monty at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The 1997 film The Full Monty is one of the best regarded of relatively recent British films, due to it being both a warm and emotionally strong tale, solid comedy and a wealth of acting talent, and it's no surprise that its very theme has spawned an immensely successful touring stage version. It literally overflows with the opportunity to be performed in front of a, probably mostly female, audience, well, the final scene does, in any case. However, what of the rest, and how about for a male audience member? So to speak. Well, it was time to find out.

The first thing that is apparent from The Full Monty stage show, is how faithful this is to the film. Much of the show is what you have seen if you have seen the film, but translated cleverly to the stage, it feels just that little more real and gritty as well. It opens with a nicely staged scene of darkness and flashes of a torch as Gaz (Gary Lucy), his son Nathan (Fraser Kelly) and Dave (Kai Owen) break into their former factory wo…

Review of Grease by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The last two years have been an interesting path for the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at the Derngate. In 2014 their presentation of South Pacific was a remarkable feat which stood up so well in comparison with the soon to be professional staged Oklahoma! Then 2015 they took what might have been quite a gamble with a much less known title Sister Act, despite it being a huge film hit of the past, the musical was somewhat less known. It was a gamble that unquestionably paid off as the theatre was filled and it remains not just the very best amateur production of a musical I have seen, but superior in so many ways to professional touring shows.

So maybe, just maybe, 2016's decision to present Grease as their big show has got to be a disappointment. I myself up to seeing this show hadn't seen Grease in a theatre live, but a lot of people have and I have spoken to many who were not going to this simply because they are, in my own contortion of their thoughts Greased out. How…