The “staged” concert is becoming an increasingly popular format. It provides the opportunity to explore a range of genres, styles and song, whilst still allowing for the full-size production that will get audiences talking about it for weeks afterwards. Celebrating 50 years of successful productions, Aldridge Musical Comedy Society treated us all to their take on it, with an added bonus of some comedy and even some Irish Dance.
The opening number, One Day More from Les Misérables, set a good benchmark with some good solo vocals and a balanced, full sound from the whole company. The essence of the original was nicely captured with the traditional choreography from the show. It may have felt slightly out of place, as One Day More typically concludes the first act, however it didn’t detract from the performance at all.
What followed was a whistle stop tour of some of the most famous musicals of all time, including Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady and Oklahoma. Although there were no defined sections, the costuming was very effective at giving each tranche of numbers their own feel and atmosphere. Highlights of the opening half were On the Street Where You Live, from My Fair Lady, and Oh What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma, sung by Stuart Brooke and Chris Parry. The company rendition of Oklahoma’s title number was also excellent. The choreography had real snap and this got one of the biggest cheers of the night.
An interesting twist was the self-written committee sketch. It was full of local references and would have tickled anyone who has been part of an am-dram society. It did feel a little bit incongruous in what had been up till then a very fast-paced performance. The first act’s closing number was Flash Bang Wallop from Half a Sixpence and had really great energy.
The second half was very much a continuation of the same theme – a fast paced journey through musicals spanning over 40 years. Highlights for the second half were undoubtedly Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers and the rousing finale, Jailhouse Rock from All Shook Up. Ending the night on an Elvis number was a great decision, as the whole audience were clapping along and gave a huge cheer at the end. Arguably the best performance of the evening was West Side Story’s Somewhere by Richard Beckett. It was beautifully sung and genuinely emotive.
Again, the second half showed AMCS’s willingness to break with tradition. There was a restaurant sketch, set in a restaurant that was completely silent, and a second showcase of the society’s dancers, this time in the form of Riverdance. It was nice to see that the line was flanked by a couple of men, as well. Richard Beckett can move as well as he can sing, and the other was a surprise cameo by the clearly multi-talented MD Mark Bayliss.
AMCS clearly has a wonderful company feel, and everyone on stage had a great time from start to finish. Fabulous at 50 was a great way to celebrate their 50 years- here’s to fifty more!
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