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EDINBURGH 2011: BWW Reviews: SHOW CHOIR! THE MUSICAL, C Venues, Aug 19 2011

Kevin Sherwin

All smiles, wide eyes and key changes, the high school glee club is an all-too-familiar concept thanks to a certain hugely popular and equally irritating, inescapable television show. And so, One Academy Productions' ‘Show Choir! The Musical' doesn't have to work too hard to introduce itself. Even so, the expository opening number is a wonderfully over-the-top, sparkling treat. It's part of a dream sequence though, and what follows doesn't quite ever reach the same histrionic heights.

The story of the Symphonic Sensations is told through the shooting of a TV documentary, 'Behind the Façade', cleverly staged with mirrors for the faux-interviewees to speak into. It's a jolly jaunt, but it's not long before the endless scene-setting dates and unnecessarily specific and not particularly funny talking-head sequences start to grate. This isn't the fault of the cast though, and the performers are uniformly superb. Stand-outs include Sarah Gibbons in her various roles, but particularly as a star struck talk show host, and Brian MacDougall, excellent while playing numerous characters, often in the same scene. Alissa Keogh's choreography is fantastic, and mines humour from moments that are lyrically dry: one simple shoulder move easily elicits hearty laughs.

And indeed, the laughing rarely lets up, with Celine Rosa Tan earning most as an achingly cool musician, but I suspect the mirth is generated more by the performances and production than by the piece itself. Despite that, it's a most enjoyable, gleeful hour.


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