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EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: [title of show], Paradise In The Vault

EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: [title of show], Paradise In The Vault

EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: [title of show], Paradise In The Vault[title of show] is a clever musical which documents its own creation as an entry in The New York Musical Theatre Festival. It premiered there in 2004, followed by Off-Broadway in 2006, then a run at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre in 2008.

With music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and book by Hunter Bell, it tells the story of how struggling writers Jeff and Hunter enlist two friends, Susan and Heidi, to fulfil their dream of writing and staging a musical. Bowen and Bell were joined by Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff in each of the 2004, 2006 and 2008 productions, and it's no coincidence that all four characters are named after the original cast.

[title of show] is increasingly becoming a popular choice for Edinburgh Festival Fringe presentation - the hit 2013 Patch of Blue production starring Carley Stenson remains the benchmark. The length (90 minutes) and the small cast requirement make it an obvious choice, perhaps. Unlike some one-act musicals, however, this one needs effective deadpan comedy timing throughout, in addition to believable acting and high quality vocals.

The young group from Musicality - the University of Nottingham's Musical Theatre Society - tries hard. As the "Two Nobodies in New York", Rhodri Denton and James Thacker have the most challenging roles. At times, they get the comedy and rapport right, and - when this happens - the audience is engaged.

"Secondary Characters" Claire Wimbush and Amy Foden certainly don't let the male duo outshine them. Wimbush's Heidi and Foden's Susan contrast well, and both earn the audience's sympathy for their characters. Their vocals are excellent and their harmonies pleasing to listen to. The quartet's "Nine People's Favorite Thing" and Wimbush's solo "A Way Back To Then" are the highlights of the evening.

Pianist Matthew Herbert demonstrates just the right level of nonchalance during the few occasions when he is brought into the story directly by his co-stars, whilst at the same time expertly supporting them on keyboards throughout.

Musicality deserve credit for their ambition in bringing this little gem to the Fringe. It's a small-scale production in a small space, which doesn't always work quite as well as it should, but it still captures the audience's attention.

[title of show] ran at Paradise in The Vault, Merchant Street

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From This Author Gregor Dickson

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