‘But then there was a star danced, and under that was I born’ Act II, Scene I, Much Ado About Nothing
Brimming with sass, buckets of energy and crisp vocals, the MTB Showcase 2018 is a hit. It’s been in production since summer and on Saturday night the cast of over 60 took to the stage for their final performance.
Boyle’s production avoided the deja vu moments which musical theatre sometimes has the danger of falling into. It was fresh; it brought us crowd pleasers from Wicked and Annie and mixed this with lesser known shows such as Waitress and 21 Chump Street to form a joyous two hours on stage composed of extracts from eight musicals. From feel good humour to moving storytelling, the show contends anyone labelling musical theatre as cheesy.
The live band was punchy and impressive, having crafted a score which drove the performance to its success. The stage was beautiful, created by the STA (Stage Technicians Association) and the addition of the billboards, with visuals introducing the different sets, gave it a real showbiz feel. The cast’s talent underpinned the show: from their shining solos and faultless harmonies in the chorus, they nailed their dance routines and just looked like they were having so much fun, you couldn't help but join them (minus the scaling of the octaves and splits!).
Before the show, I spoke to Matt Boyle, Producer of the showcase, Will Bryant, Director of 21 Chump Street and Rachel Xuereb, who appeared painted green to play Elphaba from Wicked.
So tell us about the performance, Matt.
MTB is the biggest show of the year with over 60 people - half of which are freshers. We’ve chosen the best extracts from different pieces: crowd pleasers and things you haven’t heard before. It shows the range you can achieve in musical theatre. People stereotype musical theatre as being this one cheesy thing but showcase shows there are so many different elements to it.
And Will, how did you find directing 21 Chump Street?
It’s been my first time directing in Bristol. Showcase is a big deal. I don't have a depth of knowledge with musical theatre but I watched the musical on YouTube and 21 Chump Street was really my style. There are musicals that everyone knows like Annie and Chicago but this one is fresh and a bit different.
How have you found it being in the showcase, Rachel?
Showcase is always the best show of the year, we get so many freshers in. I loved meeting loads of new people from all the years. I’ve been cast in chorus line, I wouldn’t cast myself as the best dancer but my director has been really patient and encouraging. And as Elphaba, it’s been really fun! When we got to see all the pieces, it’s so nice to see loads of new faces really thriving. I love the society, its definitely made my university experience. Great socials, great people, high standard performances!
In December, musical theatre makes a quick turn around to stage a Winter Cabaret and next term (Boyle tells me) Chicago is on the horizon…