BWW Review: YOUNG AT HEART at Wallmans
Wallmans is a Scandinavian show-restaurant, which is specialized in producing eventful evenings. To quote Wallmans they deliver "the combination of delicious food and a sparkling show of extremely talented artists." They have done so for 25 years so they have found a good way of giving the customer what they want to see and hear. And while in the beginning the show was more musical theatre themed, it has moved more to the mainstream and showcase themes such as music styles from multiple decades, tributes to pop/rock icons, songs from movies, and the occasional show tune. The "blueprint" still works! Wallmans delivers entertainment in a big way, with a whopping stage show, big voices, tightly performed choreography, lavishing costumes and a huge amount of entertainment.
The Norwegian Wallmans is currently showcasing the production "Young at Heart" with a cast of performers mostly from Sweden, and an acrobat artist originally from Brazil. All the performers are very talented, and all get the opportunity to showcase their strong sides. There were no "weak links". The biggest "stand out" performer is Emilie Larsson, who has a voice that seemingly masters everything that's thrown at her. She has a natural stage presence, which is needed in this type of show, as you are bombarded with new songs and impressions repeatedly. Another performer whose presence feels very real is Morris Melander. His voice is both sensual and raw He commands the stage, especially during the rock'n roll numbers.
During the ensemble numbers each performer have their moment, and mostly deliver. There is the sporadic vocal "glitch" here and there, due to the backing being pre-recorded, but thankfully not often.
As is the tradition of Wallmans the performers do double duty, which is waiting tables during the evening. It is not always an easy task to both perform and serve the, let's call them "the more lively crowd". But they show just as much professionalism in this department as well.
"Young at Heart" is a rollercoaster on memory lane, with a focus on music from the 90s, Disney tunes, a tribute to Bruno Mars and "a token visit" to the seventies. It is a tight show, with meticulous choreography, albeit a bit monotone and repetitive at times. The show is well suited for a mature audience, while including enough stage extravaganzas to capture the younger patrons, who experience this music for the first time.
While the show as whole works very well, I would still like to see Wallmans try to push the envelope more in future productions, and also explore new genres, new styles and include more innovative techniques. The formula works, no doubt, but I would like for, both casual and the well versed audience members to get a combination of both familiar and also material that's unaccustomed to them. Include at least some musical theatre material, which after all was part of their origin! There is such a vast amount of songs out there which deservers to be presented, and it should be easy to fit in some of them as well. When that said the entertainment value is still great, and they know how to please the audience, which in its core is most important.