Review: ‘Music Theatre Bristol – Showcase 2021’ @ The Winston Theatre ★★★★

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By Greg Evans, Digital Arts Editor

Gold glittered suits, Miss Trunchbull in a sports bra, ABBA, questionable American accents: it can only be  musical theatre.

In a now established tradition, Music Theatre Bristol entertained audiences with six excerpts from popular musicals at their annual Showcase. With some show-stopping performances and seemingly boundless energy, fun was a priority at the Winston Theatre.

Opening the show with the musical 13, the audience felt in safe hands with actor Harry Clements, who bounded onto the stage, setting the night’s performances in good stead. Tongue firmly in cheek, the cheesiness of this production was made entertaining by a cast more than willing to parody their own scripts. The choreography was ambitious, perhaps overly so, but this did not take away from what were excellent acting performances from the chorus.

The cast of Dear Evan Hansen at the Winston Theatre

The intensity showed no sign of quitting as the cast of Matilda marched onto stage - untied ties, unbuttoned shirts and backcombed hair a-plenty. Oscar Andrusier’s take on Miss Trunchbull was suitably campy, with a spandex sports bra and kitten heels pulling laughs from the crowd. Whilst Katie Rough’s Bruce reminded us that this cast can -really- sing. Little moments like this occurred throughout the evening, with very obvious vocal powerhouses strengthening the harmonies.

In what was undoubtedly the performance of the night, Divvij Yajnik took to the stage as Evan in Dear Evan Hansen. Approaching the character with an endearing tenderness that is very rarely acted well, the room rested on every single breathe as he sung the stunningly emotional ‘You Will Be Found.’ Olivia Churchouse’s performance as Jared must be lauded for its ability to mediate between other cast members, dictating the energy of the stage in a way that showed great talent. A performance produced to utter perfection - spotlighting, stripped back choreography and minimalist costuming allowed the acting and vocals to shine, and shine they did.

Opening the second half in style, the glittering dancers of A Chorus Line took to the stage with what I can’t help but think would make an incredible TikTok dance. Performers were led in the ‘Opening Breakdown’ by Abbie James, who, after an impressive performance, received rapturous applause from the audience. By the penultimate showing, Little Shop of Horrors, it was clear that the dancers might have worked hard, but the conductor’s arm worked harder. Keeping perfect time throughout, kudos must be given to musicians under the baton of Rosie Summers.

The excitement in the room was palpable as the final performance, Mamma Mia, took to the stage. Audiences were not disappointed, with Vivien Aboud as Rosie, and the characters Sam, Harry and Bill providing the much-loved comedic cheesiness that we expect from the ABBA musical.

As the actors took their bows, the sheer sense of enjoyment felt by both the company and the audience was clear. With some real stand out performances, Bristol Music Theatre are onto a winning formula with their annual winter showcase.

Featured Image: Epigram


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