Having seen Starbuck Theatre Company perform I Love You Because last year, expectations were high. Not only is there an abundance of talent in this small group, but they also celebrate the brand new. This year they have taken on the UK premiere of The Guide To Being Single, written by Kaitlin Gilgenbach, with music and lyrics by Alexi Kovin.
Performed in the beautifully quaint Norbury Theatre, it was a lovely way to escape a cold February evening. The show follows a group of twenty-something friends who have concluded that it is easier if they stay single. On the release of a brand new book called The Guide to Being Single – by an anonymous author – they try to follow the rules. However, as some relationships unravel, others just get started. It’s a sharp, witty, comedy musical.
Aside from a few balance issues and a small technical hiccup with the microphones initially, which was dealt with incredibly professionally, the show was simply charming. Jack Scott-Walker was utterly endearing as the hapless Zack who just can’t get anywhere on time. As his relationship with Heather (assuredly played by Louise Beadle) crumbles, he turns to ‘the book’ for guidance on the recommendation of his friend (and Cubs player) Derek.
Derek was exceedingly well played by Robert Dearn – considering he only had five rehearsals to settle into the role. Dearn’s ‘play-it-cool’ Derek bumps into Jackie in a bar. Little does he know that Jackie is the Cubs publicist. Both of them are desperately trying to follow the rules of the book, but one thing leads to another and, as the song says ‘it’s better the second time’.
Unfortunately Dean Bayliss (the original Derek) had to step out due to illness, however he more than placed his mark on the show with a wonderfully designed set and clever use of projections throughout, which added to the modernity of the show.
Sarah Pavlovs was a superbly feisty Jackie, with an excellent voice to match. Between her and Dearn, they garnered many a laugh through the night from their bickering and making up.
However, what made this show different to so many others were the little snapshots of other people’s lives through the story. The little outtakes that cut to Jackie and Heather’s friends, Liza and Stacy, were hilarious. Holly Russell’s Stacy and Sophie Watson’s Liza were laugh-out-loud funny. Not only that, they both had brilliant voices too. Plus, kudos to Edd Pope as Dude, who wins the award for playing the most diverse selection of roles in the show, from a Texan talk show host to a cab driver.
Under the stellar musical direction of Chris Corcoran the combination of voices and band brought this show to life. The modern, jaunty sounds made for entirely different musical experience and it was highly enjoyable.
Congratulations Starbuck Theatre Company, you’ve done it again!
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