Choreographer: Emma Rogers
Director: Emma Rogers
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
Billed as an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, That’s Entertainment succeeds in building up the hype before the curtain rises, the production, however, does not quite fulfil these expectations.
That’s Entertainment is by no means a large scale production, the production shots are somewhat deceiving in this respect. The greatest disappointment of all though, is in the lack of any live musicians; the piped in music is at times oddly arranged – most notably in Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair – and universally underwhelming. It is already difficult for the vocalists of the ensemble to live up to these legendary numbers, but becomes near impossible without the added atmosphere that a live band brings – a staple part of the music of the 40s and 50s.
Attention to detail is also lacking, with the male ensemble dancing in full white suits and white plimsolls – admittedly a small point, but one which stops any illusionof spectacle developing. In its only major piece of set, an illuminated staircase, a blown lightbulb puts into question the extravagance of the production.
Special guest Elaine C Smith is one of Glasgow’s most loved daughters and a sound choice for the guest slot in the production. Smith brings a much needed lease of life to an otherwise underwhelming evening. Some of her humour may not be particularly tailored to her audience, but she entertains with wit and charm that few other actors can pull off. Smith’s segments are more stand-up comedy refrain than Smith singing some of the standards that the audience may expect. This is not a problem itself, although these sections are a distinct break from the rest of the show and any musical numbers either involve Smith singing a cappella or with a backing track piped in from the sound board. Her vocals are strong and her anecdotes more than tickle; her interventions could be better placed and used as a narrating role in the piece, but she most certainly saves the overall enjoyment of the show.
Rather more a surreal jumble of 40s and 50s musical variety than a well-structured, slick extravaganza, That’s Entertainment has enough in it to be enjoyed, although the more discerning theatre-goer will undoubtedly be underwhelmed by the experience. The Glasgow audiences, at least, can relax knowing they are in the safe hands of Elaine C Smith, who is worth the ticket price for her contributions alone.
Runs until Saturday 11 June 2016 | Image: Contributed