Izzy Cutts reviews the UCLU Musical Theatre society’s 24 hour Freshers production
If there is one word I would use to describe UCLU Musical Theatre society then it would be brave. They put on six shows a year, sell out the Bloomsbury Theatre at least twice a year and introduce new or lesser known musicals to brilliant reviews. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they initiate their freshers by getting them to put on a musical in 24 hours. This year the freshers took on the impracticalities of Little Shop of Horrors : they needed a large singing and dancing plant,american accents and had to perform in a lecture theatre. Yet, they still put on a great performance.
Whilst I might dare to say that the start was a bit shaky, the cast went on to prove their confidence and enthusiasm. The accents were undeniably dodgy, but what impressed me the most was the skilled improvisation and humour that was used to pick up from any mistakes or slips. A 24 hour musical was never going to be faultless and while there were many pauses, the cast’s self-awareness and comic timing really made the show. They were blessed with a kind and slightly tipsy audience and credit has to go to the Musical Director, Rachel Mills , on the piano who managed to keep up with them. There were some stand-out individual performances; a particular highlight for me was Polly Cohen delving into her arm sling mid-song to reveal her lyric sheets. Alex Hall did a brilliant job of the infamous dentist, with the most authentic accent, convincing sadism and a haunting laugh to rival some of the great interpretations of that part. Billy Leung also gave a great performance as the plant for which he had the perfect voice and sass.
The plant was cleverly approached by the production team who, unable to get the normal puppet, opted for a sock puppet instead. This then grew into a rucksack and ended up as a bed sheet which engulfed its victims, adding to the hilarity. Although it was not perfect, the cast put on a great evening of entertainment and showed us that there is nothing that jazz hands can not solve!
This was the beginning of a busy year for Musical Theatre, with planned productions of Parade in Term 1 and Spring Awakening in Term 2, both at the Bloomsbury theatre, with other small productions and galas in the works. I just hope the success of the freshers musical is a sign of good things to come.
All Image Credits: Danté Kim