Curtain Up! opened at the Garrick last night, playing in their lovely, intimate studio space. The instant disappointment was to see the low turnout for the show, which I’m sure was a shame for the cast, because the audience buzz is so crucial to feed off in a performance.
What can sometimes turn into a bland concert with song after song and no real substance was cleverly and comically re-imagined in this show. There was a little storyline, which helped the group to flit from one style of musical to another and it was pleasing to see an array of lesser performed musical theatre songs.
One of my particular favourites of the night was the opening number Invocations And Instructions To The Audience, from Sondheim’s The Frogs. Performed by Jamie Jones and Alfie Kentesber, it is a hilarious introduction to the audience of what you should or shouldn’t do in an auditorium! Some particularly lovely performances came from Daniel Roberts and James Rowney, both shining in their individual songs. Rowney also surprised and delighted with a little ventriloquism turn.
Abbie Mead’s performance was sweet and understated, if a little quiet. She has the voice, she just needed to sing a little louder, however her vocals elegantly complemented Roberts’s in their beautiful and harmonised rendition of Falling Slowly from Once. And there was a brilliant nod to The Producers by Alfie Kentesber, as he performed a re-imagined version of Betrayed inspired by the songs already performed in the show.
However, the performance of the night came from Jamie Jones. From his oozing elegance as Norma Desmond in With One Look to his emotion-fuelled Rose’s Turn, he really did standout. His comic timing, stage presence and performance were second to none.
Angharad Saunders was queen of the keys and as the group all joined together for the finale, the harmonies were clear. It would have been great to have more ensemble numbers to showcase those harmonies. And it would have been much better for the cast if they had a larger audience.
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