By Milan Perera, Second Year English
Despite the sporadic sunlit afternoons, the winter blues are still at large. Valentine’s Day might be a distant memory, but there was so much love at The Room Above on a cold winter evening, flooding the theatre, conferring on all present the rapture of love.
After their showstopping production of ‘Company’, Music Theatre Bristol (MTB) took to the stage once again for an enchanted evening dedicated to love, loss, and everything in between at the intimate theatre venue of The Room Above.
The aptly named ‘The Cabaret of Love’ kicked off with a spirited rendition of ‘Forget About the Boy’ from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ by Trinity Taylor, Nell Cox, Helena Woolich, Sarah Joseph, Sophia Woolfenden and Elise Eden-Rose. Trinity Taylor led the dynamic sextet in this rebuke where she sings ‘Don't you think about him Sister. You're much better off without him’ as an antidote to heartbreak. The audience broke into a roar when Taylor displayed her scintillating tap-dancing skills.
This was followed by ‘A summer in Ohio’ performed by the sensational Abi Wander. She is languishing in Ohio (third worst state according to some online polls!) with an eclectic company that includes a snake, but she would rather be with her husband than do anything else. Wander’s technical mastery of the demanding score was exceptional and breathtakingly beguiling.
‘A Summer in Ohio’ neatly segued into the heartfelt duet ‘You love who you love’ from ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ by Madeline Morgan and Alessia Doyle. The faultless vocals of Morgan and Doyle entwined beautifully to create the perfect harmony where they mused on the importance of loving someone despite the perception of the world, only following the heart. The proceedings for the evening raised to a high-octane with the foot-tapping number, ‘Helpless’ from ‘Hamilton’ sung with effortless ease by Ilona Hoffman. Hoffman channelled the effervescence of this showpiece by Lin-Manuel Miranda with an astonishing vocal dexterity.
‘One More Kiss’ from ‘Follies’ by the late Stephen Sondheim was an unmistakable homage to the operettas of Franz Lehar and Oscar Straus. Ali Manclarke’s rendition captured the elegance and vivacity of the Golden Age of Operettas. It was a heart-warming moment when Japeth Monzon and Jasmine Sakpoba gave a sparkling rendition of ‘A whole new world’ from ‘Aladdin’ where the couple were flying over the turreted metropolis on a magic carpet. The loving embrace at the finishing bars of the number was both heartfelt and spontaneous.
It was power ballad time when Frances McGirr gave a searing rendition of ‘Burn’ which is a vocal explosion of betrayal, infidelity, and pathos. It was quickly followed by ‘Only us’ from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ which features the classic idiom of ‘boy meets girl.’ Evan is a shy anxious teenager who is pining for Laura. Finally, he musters the courage to express his ardour. Mikey Galvin and Elise Eden-Rose beautifully captured the naivety of teenage sweethearts with a faultless interpretation of the much-loved duet.
Immediately after the break it was time to find out ‘where have all the good men gone?’ The dynamic quartet of Japeth Monzon, Ilona Hoffman, Amani Priddy and Jasmine Sakpoba had the audience enthralled with their slick choreography and spine-tingling vocals as they sang the crowd pleaser, ‘Holding out for a Hero’ from ‘Footloose.’ But the room temperature was sent through the roof with the steamy number ‘Dead girl walking’ from ‘Heathers.’ Aoife Beer and Mike Galvin had the audience in stitches with their scintillating vocal gymnastics and simulated but passionate love making.
An evening of musical theatre is incomplete without a dose of Rogers & Hammerstein. Helena Woolich filed that void with a passionate rendition of ‘I Can’t Say No’ from the musical theatre staple, ‘Oklahoma.’ Woolich deftly captured the naïveté, innocence and the generosity of heart of the heroine, Ado Annie, with ease and arresting stage presence. The heart wrenching rendition of ‘Goodbye until tomorrow’ by Cam Brown and Abi Wander was quickly followed by the bookending number of the evening, ‘Seasons of love’ from ‘Rent’, sung by the entire ensemble to the raucous applause of the thoroughly entertained audience.
The production triumvirate - Nicole-Veronica Antoine, Grace Shropshire and Becky Stanton led the proceedings for the evening with vitality and humour. Harry Clements who played the titular role in the Spring production of ‘Company’ showed that he is a slick operator on the DJ’s deck as he is on stage as he dropped the music accompaniments for the evening. ‘The Cabaret of Love’ was the much needed morale boost - whether you are madly in love or stoically single.
Featured Image: Milan Perera
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