Director: Chris Jordan
Musical Director: Chris Whitehead
Reviewer: Edie R
Gotta Sing Gotta Dance is in Richmond for three nights as part of a national tour that’s taking it from Grimsby to Glasgow between now and November. The show is a medley of hits from West End shows, sung and danced by a small troupe of performers who are gorgeously choreographed by Nick Winston. In the course of the evening, the audience is treated to songs from 40 shows, including Les Misérables, Mamma Mia and Hairspray, not to mention a three-minute finale dash “Round the West End” to make sure that the likes of The Bodyguard and The Lion King don’t get missed out.
The content is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. And the show is well delivered, too, full of sparkles, high-kicks and tap-dancing, many-coloured lights (designed by Douglas Morgan), and jaunty performances from the band under musical director Chris Whitehead.
If the format of the show as a whole feels a bit tired, that’s well-disguised by the slick pace and variety with which the songs and dances have been put together. And, to be fair, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance does offer some novelty. Director Chris Jordan’s decision to have the cast deliver short spoken interludes on the history of musicals feels a bit tiresome and stilted. But occasionally it’s a lead-in to some wonderful creativity. The audience learns that Gene Kelly’s famous Singin’ In the Rain tap-dance was filmed in silence, with both the song and the “taps” dubbed on later – and the cast then re-enact how this would have worked, with one dancer, one “tapper” and one singer working together to deliver the glorious sequence.
The performers themselves are all strong, more or less, especially the women. Rebecca Lisewski, Lucinda Lawrence and Alison Dormer are all professional and multi-talented. Lisewski treats us to a bit of light roller-skating as she sings “U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D.” from Starlight Express, then earns a standing ovation a couple of songs later with Defying Gravity from Wicked. Lawrence is perhaps the best dancer of the night, with some astonishing splits, acrobatics and ballet moves. And Dormer is strong throughout, coming into her own with a centurion’s costume and a trumpet in Gotta Getta Gimmick from Gypsy.
The quality of the male performers is a bit more variable. Simon Adkins, veteran of Viva Forever – as he somewhat bitterly reminds the audience – has a good deal of star quality. Most importantly, he can be trusted to hit his notes: his Something’s Coming solo from West Side Story is assured, and his Phantom of the Opera tribute, Music of the Night, displays his fine range.
David McMullan is lovable but less vocally impressive. In the first half of the programme, the cast does Spamalot’s Song That Goes Like This, mocking love-songs with unfortunate key changes: “Now we’re into E!/That’s awfully high for me/But as everyone can see/We should have stayed in D.” Regrettably, David McMullan’s solo in the second half, Love Changes Everything, falls into exactly the same trap, and the pitch of his second verse can’t help but make the audience feel that he should indeed “have stayed in D”. But his rapport with the audience almost makes up for the flat notes, and his tap dancing is breath-taking throughout the show.
Adam Rhys-Charles lacks his fellow performers’ charisma, but is able to turn this to his advantage, pulling off an excellent, disturbing rendition of Wilkommen/Money as the Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret, complete with jerky, puppet-like dance moves.
All in all, it’s a well-done, enjoyable show, and makes for a feel-good night out.