A small but grateful audience was taken on a journey through musical theater history at St George’s Guildhall on Saturday night.
Performers International Productions is a theater company created by Chris Dilley and Sarah Pryde of Swaffham, originally from Norwich.
The Show Must Go On presents audiences with a showcase of musical theater from the 1960s to the present, featuring six singers and two dancers, adding to the entertainment.
As an ensemble, there were highlights with good harmony and fun movement to give the audience a sense of the different styles of musical theater through the ages.
With a minimal set used, each of their vocals was on full display, with particularly good solos from Chris Dilley and John Simpson singing Fiddler on The Roof.
Sarah Pryde showed plenty of vocal dexterity in her Somewhere Over The Rainbow-inducing solos and each performer had a moment in a solo to shine.
No set as such means there’s nothing on stage to detract from the business but it can more easily highlight mistakes, like costume malfunctions and some choreography that could have been more orderly.
But hey, this is live theater and these things happen.
It was obvious that musical theater is a passion of the production members, each of them reading cards between songs giving a detailed history of the progression of the genre.
However, they took a large song list, so also being on stage that way, the cast might have been better served using a narrator or the use of technology, with a backdrop screen and a voiceover to tell the audience the facts.
As a theatrical tool, Brecht which they tackled with The Threepenny Opera would break down the theater’s imaginary fourth wall between actors and audience and so, when the cast came out of character to speak to the audience, a connection was established in this way. .
I felt the show as a whole was informative but more evocative by using more images as a backdrop, technology rather than basic production.
It might also give the cast time to change up a few costumes, just to add a bit of stylization to give the show a bit more variety visually and a much-needed break from the fast-paced production.
Audience members were interested and engaged and Rosemary Fraser of Dereham said: “It’s full of energy even if the music turned up a little loud. ” It’s very well done.
The use of a soundtrack and occasional mic issues meant that some of the dialogue was missed, especially in one of my favorites when they sang Tell Me It’s Not True by Blood Brothers.
Both dancers did well to give some variety to the show and perhaps there could have been spotlights used on the performers as they moved around the auditorium, especially for the comedy moments, as the expressions facials were missed.
The production would be a useful tool in an educational setting, taken to schools to learn certain techniques in which the performers are clearly trained, to play, dance, sing: the triple threat.
A few audience members were disappointed that no cast schedule was provided, which is also helpful in reviewing the biographical history of the actors.
In the second act, the performers changed to black and red but I felt their rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar as the opening song lacked a bit of pow.
The purpose behind the show is clearly to convey their passion for musical theater and its history and I often judge Saturday night shows on that thought.
Was it worth missing Murder, She Wrote? I thought it was an interesting journey with some nuggets of information such as Phil Collins playing the role of Artful Dodger in a London production of Oliver.
The show will be presented later this year at the Charing Cross Theater in London and it would be good to see the company return to Lynn and produce more shows in West Norfolk.