Rhythm & Booze was my first experience of jazz, and it’s safe to say I was impressed.
Although apprehensive at first – feeling that jazz was quite inaccessible – the show, performed in the Bloomsbury theatre, was atmospheric and had a solid, historical theme that is always fashionable, particularly now with the prominence of The Great Gatsby. Its storyline is based on the 1920s prohibition era in America and the crime, moonshine and gang warfare that it encompassed. The opening of the show was handled beautifully by Rebecca Chandler, and it was in full swing in no time.
I was surprised at how big the society was. The stage was always full, even without the whole choir, and they utilised the space they had with great care. The lighting was soft but decadent, fitting perfectly with their 1920s theme. The costumes were also smart, with the female solo singer’s dresses being particularly eye catching in the soft lighting.
The show preceded to play many classical jazz songs, including 42nd Street and Puttin’ on the Ritz, but the inclusion of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black made the show relevant and accessible to the unexperienced jazz audience like myself. The addition of dancers in Crazy in Love was a pleasant touch, and really fitted the theme and added to the visuals. The compere, Sam Thomas, was charismatic and often funny, he fully engaged the audience and was one of the best signers in the show. His on-stage love interest, Miruna Oprea, had an amazing voice, as did all the singers.
The band themselves were amazing, and to my untrained ear they seemed pretty flawless. It is hard for me to fault this show; it was professionally composed and incredibly engaging. If it wasn’t for a slight hiccup with the abrupt stop of the music at the very beginning, and some slight coughing and background noise caught by the microphone, this would an almost perfect performance. It didn’t feel like a student society whatsoever, and it’s a shame that the show is only on for 2 nights – it could definitely have done with a longer run.
The show is a credit to this very active society and I am officially a converted jazz appreciator.
You can catch Rhythm & Booze’s final show at 7pm tonight, Saturday 22nd December, in the Bloomsbury Theatre
Image credits: Jeremy Wong