Cabaret Whore Encore! – Free

*****

5 Stars

Following on from last year’s sell-out Sarah-Louise Young has returned to the Fringe with another dose of her Cabaret Whore show.

Ms Young is an extremely talented and versatile young lady, and she welcomes us into her venue, assisting in seating her packed out room in character of the Diva of a certain age Bernie St. Clair. Once all are seated to her satisfaction the diva, as part of her latest final comeback tour treats us to a selection of numbers, interspersed with some comedy linking about her life and family.

Following hard on her heels, the next character she presents is Kasia, an eastern European entertainer clad in a pink cat suit and accompanied by a toning ukulele as she entertains with a variety of styles.

Character 3 was Sister Mary-Ann, an Australian evangelist who does her bit in the happy clappy style associated. She, like her predecessors, mixes funny links with quality singing.

The piece de resistance was the revival of the slightly psychotic La Poulle Plombee  from last year’s extravaganza. This French diva with a pomme frit on her shoulder and a knife in her hand bemoans her plight and sings like an angel, even if contemporary   Edith Piaf still gets more work and she is dead!!

One thing for sure Sarah-Louise Young is a superb performer. She is versatile in her singing style, funny in her links and all for free too.

*****

Reviewed by Geoff

Three Sisters V272

5 to 29 August

18-15 to 19-15

Fringe Brochure P 209

Jump: Tank Productions

****

4 Stars

I have not seen many musicals this year, there was a time where I saw loads, but having been a little disillusioned with some recently, just did other shows. But while talking to Toby Herschmann, the composer of Jump, he encouraged me to go and check out this production and I’m glad he did.

The highly talented cast perform this 75 minutes show in such a way that my faith in new musicals has been somewhat restored. The lyrics and book by Kelly Kingham together with the music by Mr Herschmann where of a very high standard and the busy afternoon crowd seem en masse to agree with me.

Danny, Jonathan Eio, a student of middle-class parents is discovered on the top of a ten storey building and it is assumed he is going to jump. Tabloid style reporter Reilly, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, tries to get the scoop and so the story unfolds.

Danny’s relationship with Sarah, Rebecca Hutchinson, a rather mousey brunette is not going to survive their Uni separation and art student Danny falls for red headed siren Naimh, Emma Odell, who is blatantly sexy but working class, a situation that doesn’t sit well with Danny’s parents , Dryden Taylor again and Lowri-Ann Richards.

Throw into the mix Cassie, Stuart Saint, a pro, a transvestite, a confident and rather more than that for Dad and the plot is ready for fermentation.

The set is versatile, the actors play their characters with style, humour, pathos and versatility to the fore, each excellent at their roles and each has a good singing voice.

The production is well directed by Patrick Wilde, and together with a good script and enjoyable music made this a show well worth seeing.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Queen Dome V 23

4 to 30 August

14-05 to 15-20

Fringe Brochure P213

Reel to Real: The Movies Musical

5 Stars

*****

What a wonderful, vibrant production! The combination of live singing and dancing performed against a large back screen of movie clips and location scenes is a sheer delight.

The storyline follows rival twins Jack and Jill whose father, a movie mogul, has set them a challenge with the winner to take control of the studio. This involves separate journeys across the world, Jack heading east and taking in London and Paris, and Jill heading west taking in Hollywood and Tahiti. The starting point is New York and the opening number ‘New York, New York’ gets the show of to a cracking beginning.

A bundle of songs are performed in spectacular fashion by the team of ten hugely talented singers and dancers. Examples include ‘Hit the road Jack’; Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, and ‘Singing in the Rain’. Linking the action are little comedy sketches. Particularly clever was a scene between the live Jill and Humphrey Bogart in his classic role from ‘Casablanca’.

The finale when the twins arrive in China is hugely lavish and ties up all the loose ends in the plot. This is truly a show full of superlatives.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                     Pleasance Courtyard; V33

Dates                                                  4 to 30 August 2010 (not 10, 17, 24)

Times                                                 18.00 to 19.10

Fringe Programme Page Number: 216

Five Guys Named Moe

5 Stars

*****

What a joyful and brilliant show! Everything is right in this updated production starting with the technical side – staging, lighting, sound and costumes. The performances are dazzling – the song and dance routines, the humour and not forgetting the supporting jazz band. Also, the audience played their part in giving a good feel throughout.

The story is one of lost and found love. It stars Clarke Peters, the show’s original creator in 1990. He plays Nomax who finds himself transported back in time to meet up with the 5 Moes (Ashley Campbell, Christopher Colquhoun, Carlton Connell, Paul Hazel and Horace Oliver). Using the music and lyrics of Louis Jordan, a storyline has been cleverly constructed.

To many, Louis Jordan is not a household name but he was enormously popular in the 1940’s with his range of recordings in various styles from the blues to up tempo, boogie. His output was influential in the early development of rock and roll. What continues to make his songs fresh today is the humour in the quirky lyrics.

All the classic songs are performed with boundless energy, including ‘Choo, Choo Ch’Boogie’, ‘Caldonia Boogie’, ‘Reet Petite and Gone’ as well as the title song itself. It was interesting to look around to gauge the age range of the audience. It was not surprising to see a good representation of senior citizens but it was encouraging to see so many from younger generations. Sitting beside me were a couple of twenty somethings and they were chuckling and clapping throughout, proving quality can attract all age groups.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Underbelly’s McEwan Hall; V300

Dates                                                  4 to 29 August 2010 (not 27)

Times                                                 17.15 to 18.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 211

Gutted – A Revenger’s Musical

****

4 Stars

I should probably start with a disclaimer; I love comedy and I love musicals, therefore a musical written by Martin White and Danielle Ward, the masterminds behind London’s bi-monthly awesome Karaoke Circus, and featuring some of my favourite comics, was going to have to work very hard not to impress and entertain me.

And I wasn’t disappointed – Ward and White have created a musical which finds its laughs in murder, funerals, love and revenge. From the opening moments when sketch trio The Penny Dreadfuls appeared on stage dressed like some sort of Tim Burton-esque macabre funeral assistants, to the final company number song the laughs just kept on coming. What was perhaps a little more surprising was the quality of the acting and singing on show; many of the cast are well-known as stand-up comedians but they are clearly talented musical theatre performers too.

Stand out performances come from Colin Hoult in the lead role of Mr Bewley, and (bona-fide musical theatre performer) Helen George as Sorrow, the titular Revenger. These main characters are ably supported by Doc Brown, Lizzie Roper, Sara Pascoe, Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Michael Legge, and Humphrey Ker, David Reed and Thom Tuck of The Penny Dreadfuls, not forgetting a cameo by Jim Bob, formerly of Carter The Unstoppable Sex-machine.

This cast of comedians has been ably directed by Chris George, which can’t have been an easy task but he has certainly succeeded. If you are a fan of comedy and musical theatre then you really can’t go wrong with Gutted.

Reviewed by Sarah

The Assembly @ George Street

23.15 – 00.40

Swing!

4 Stars

****

Lauren Benstead’s musical comedy bounces along with a pile of toe tapping songs and saucy humour. Set in the apparently mundane middle class village of Wafthead, the tennis club is the centre of village social life offering gentle exercise and quiche. However, beneath the genteel surface, there is back biting and win at all costs ambition.

With a cast of 12 performers, the storyline is convoluted, but the essential elements of musical comedy are present. The teenage love interest is in the capable hands and voices of Matthew Ferdenzi and Meg Powell-Chandler. The villains of the piece are played by Amy Anzel, a sultry divorcee, and Tom Lyle, her arrogant son.

The songs, backed by a five piece band, are a mix of styles ranging from jazz to tango. A couple of numbers especially caught my attention. The opening song features Marcia Brown, Dolly Alderton and Rebekka Bowling as tennis addicted tennis mums and the closing song is a risqué duet featuring Neil Canfer as Willy Straddlebottom, the hunky coach, and Calum Melville, as a TV presenter, expressing their coming  out as gay partners.

Lauren Benstead, as writer and director, has served up a slick, fast paced and entertaining production

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Gilded Balloon Teviot; V14

Dates – 4 to 30 August 2010 (not 17, 24)

Times – 16.00 to 17.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 220

When in Rome

4 Stars

****

Cambridge Fools’ very entertaining musical comedy is something of a Roman style ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’. The plot follows a typical format: bashful boy meets pretty girl; they sense mutual attraction; they fall out but will they come together again?

The action is set in the home of Caecilius (Stef Porter), a Roman Senator, and his wife Metella (Georgia Sams). They are a middle aged couple who bicker but deep down they love each other. In the slave’s quarter, the young, awkward yet ambitious Clemens (Tom Pye) and the older, more worldly Grumio (Tom England) provide the mirthful comedy routines. The love interest is between the painfully shy Quintus (Jonothan Cordin), and the attractive Melissa (Lucie Shorthouse). Their feelings for each other can never be revealed for Quintus is of noble rank in the guardianship of Caecilius and Melissa is a low born slave girl.

Flitting into the action is a rather camp Augustus (Adam McInally), his sensuous and promiscuous daughter Julia (Kirsten-Ellen Lett) and the poet Ovid (Brian Mifsud), portrayed as a cool rapper.

With a live band providing accompaniment, the songs which are worked into the show are pop classics. You can see them coming from the dialogue but this just adds to the fun. Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’ is pretty obvious coming from Clemens and is a real hoot. When the whole company perform dance routines to such songs as Steps ‘Tragedy’ and the Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’, it is spectacular – so together and athletic. The Pussycat  Dolls ‘Don’t Cha’ is given a decidedly raunchy interpretation by the dancing girls in a feast scene.

Within the highly talented cast, special praise must go to Lucie Shorthouse as Melissa for her display of all round talent – acting, singing and dancing. She holds the whole piece together as the central character. It is a real joy to see a company of young players perform with much verve and skill.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – theSpaces @ Surgeons Hall; V53

Dates – 6 to 28 August 2010 (not 8, 15, 22)

Times – 6-7; 9-14; 16-21: 19.10 to 20.20

23-28: 18.10 to 19.20

Fringe Programme Page Number: 221

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