Almost entirely sung-through and comprising of notoriously difficult pieces for soloists and chorus alike, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Sunset Boulevard is a challenge for any company – professional or amateur, adult or youth. Telling the story of the relationship between a penniless script writer and a faded star of the silent movie era, the show is blessed with a sweeping orchestral score, beautifully crafted characters and a barrage of well-known numbers that many have heard but do not instantly associate with the show itself. A show of such magnitude requires a strong team to pull it off and Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre really step up to the mark in this production.
The production is ably led by its team of four principles in the roles of Joe Gillis, Norma Desmond, Betty Schaefer and Max Von Mayerling. Dominic Sterland (Joe) gives an assured performance from the start, guiding the audience through the story with plenty of charisma and drive. His vocals were excellent throughout and showed an impressive range. Emma Charnock as his love interest Betty also impressed vocally, handling the challenging duets and conversational songs with ease and maturity. Taking on the hugely demanding role of Norma Desmond, Sophia Ford displayed an excellent singing ability from the outset and her two key solos With One Look and As If We Never Said Goodbye were particular highlights, proving that she could handle the switch between both belting sequences and emotional songs without concern. Completing the quartet, Nathan De Giorgi was well-fitted to the part of Norma’s butler Max, with the ability to blend into the background of a scene contrasting with a vocal dexterity that showed a brilliant range. Together they form a formidable team.
There are strong performances too from a number of ensemble soloists, indicating that LGYT have a number of potential leads waiting in the wings to step up into the bigger roles, while overall the chorus were confident and well-rehearsed making for a very slick production. Jessica Lambert deserves recognition for the simple but effective movement choreography which pervaded the show.
The capable orchestra under the direction of Oliver Rowe tackled the complex score well. It would have been great to hear some of the instrumental pieces really given the freedom of tempo and volume to soar - but understandably there is always the ongoing struggle of the music not over-powering the singers.
This is however a minor note to what was overall a highly enjoyable evening, that drew a great a response from its audience and even had them singing as they left the theatre. Always a sign of a successful performance!
Runs until Saturday evening.
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