Director: Ross Gunning
Choreographer: Rebecca Curbelo Valdivia
It’s a brave producer indeed who puts a cast of young performers on the same stage as the very best of the best of the West End. Brave or foolish you might say, but Ross Gunning has gathered the cream of young, triple threat, musical theatre talent in Scotland together and boy do they deliver the goods.
This entire production Movies to Musicals exudes quality from curtain up to curtain down.
The choice of songs is inspired: opening on A Musical from recent Broadway smash, the Shakespeare spoof, Something Rotten (a musical that’s only had one staging in the UK at Birmingham Rep in 2021), it starts on a high and continues to build.
The rousing opening is followed by Queen of the West End, Louise Dearman singing She Used to be Mine from Waitress. Dearman is as good as it gets in musical theatre. There’s no better role model to aspire to. It is an inspiring choice by Gunning, but that’s not all, next up is fellow Wicked alumni Laura Pick who belts out the classic Don’t Rain on my Parade.
This masterclass is followed by the young cast performing a medley from the world-conquering Hamilton. This is a stunning presentation and it is accompanied by incredibly clever choreography from Rebecca Curbelo Valdivia, it is clearly inspired by original choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, but injects its own originality and freshness. Of note too are the young soloists on Quiet Uptown – just glorious.
Alistair Brammer the third of the night’s guest artists, beautifully performs Why God Why and Last Night of the World with Laura Pick, from one of the musicals he is most synonymous with Miss Saigon.
The quality just keeps on coming: songs from The Prom, A Little Night Music, Jesus Christ Superstar and Wicked (a rare treat to have former Elphaba, Laura Pick and the only actor who has every played the two feature roles in Wicked (Glinda and Elphaba) Louise Dearman, sing an outstanding Defying Gravity to bring the curtain down on Act One.
Act Two gets off to a flying start with a captivating trio of highlights from Wicked which includes the young ensemble and our two leading ladies and Brammer who played Fiyero in Wicked to great acclaim. Again, to choreographer Curbelo Valdivia’s credit, the choreography remains tight, no mean feat with such a large cast.
We are treated to songs from TV show Smash, The Greatest Showman, Les Mis, Jersey Boys, A Star is Born, an instrumental interlude Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission and the out-right, hands-down smash of the evening, a medley from arguably Britain’s best new musical of the last decade, Six. To say this reviewer was blown away was an understatement, more like knocked out. The six young women who performed this were as good as any professional cast I’ve seen of this musical and it’s a musical I have seen a lot.
It takes a helluva lot of hutzpah to mix West End and Broadway performers of great acclaim with young, up and coming performers. Producer Ross Gunning has that hutzpah, and it has paid off. This is a class act, Rolls Royce quality from start to end. The only negative thing is that it will be next year before we can enjoy it again.
Reviewed on 19 February 2023