27th May 2012
The nice people at Nice Swan Theatre Company, sent me an invite to come along to their Gala on Sunday night, along with the invite, it explained that this was just to thank me (and I am sure all the other review organisations and bodies) for coming along over the years and witnessing what they have had to offer and putting pen to paper...or fingers on keyboards.
So no review was necessary, but I think I need to get over to you how good this Gala actually was.
As the Gala pic explains this was going to be a Royal Variety style, with lots of different genres. I personally love these kind of nights, you can see how much talent one group actually has, not just in the acting/singing that I have seen from Nice Swan in the past.
Admittedly the night didn't get off to a very promising start, a Jersey Boys Medley straight from curtain up, didn't bowl me over, the singing was very flat in parts. For this to happen so soon, left me a little twitchy for the rest of the night.
The second performance righted the wrongs of the first, with a wonderful dance performance of Adele's 'Turning Tables'. Now I don't know much about contemporary dance, but this routine was very emotional and superb, not a foot out of place!
I was a bit disappointed that when a solo singer came on stage to their stuff, that no live music was in place to accompany them; this paired with, in my honest opinion, backing tracks that were too loud, and drowned out some of the singing, spoiled what could have been some great musical theatre numbers from the likes of Next to Normal, A Chorus Line and to some extent 'Roxie' from Chicago.
A guest appearance from Beth Macari singing acoustically two of her own songs broke the first quarter up very nicely. Beth has a voice at times that reminds me of an early Elkie Brooks.
I haven't seen either Legally Blonde or Ghost the Musical, but if what was served up by Nice Swan is a good representation of both the plays, then I think I will book a seat in the West End or when they are next touring. 'Omigod you guys' from Legally was very bubblegum pop, with lots going on.
'With You' from Ghost was such a beautiful passionate song, but unfortunately the guys behind the curtain sorting the next staging out were making a bit of a fuss, that I thought Patrick Swayze was going to make a posthumous entry.
Kids from The Sage Academy of Performing Arts performed on a couple of tracks, memorably on 'Naughty' from Matilda the Musical, some great talent up-and-coming from them.
To end the first half, a wonderful snippet form Les Miserable was aired, a stirring and jolly rendition to send us to our half time cup of tea and breath of fresh air from the humid theatre (it was when the sun was out!).
The second half started with the great 'I can hear the bells' from Hairspray, a wonderful performance from Olivia Brady, as the smitten Tracy Turnblad.
'Officer Krupke' from West Side Story was next, but was spoiled by intermittent mic problems, this was a shame as it is one of my favourite Musical theatre songs.
Kyle Jones another guest performer, danced superbly to Billy Elliot, at 14, he is a talent that I will certainly look out for.
More footwork next with Bryce Laverick and Carly Burns dancing elegantly to Rihanna's 'Love the way you lie', moves that went terrifically well with the score.
The highlight of the night for me was the wonderful Thomas Whalley (who I have seen many times with New Swan), as Fagan out of Oliver. His facial expressions and stage presence on 'Reviewing the situation' was a joy. I would love to see him in the full thing.
Ending the show was a snippet for the up-and-coming Nice Swan performance of Hair the Musical. The company sang the great 'Let the sunshine in'. Dale Jewitt was in great voice as the crowd clapped and cheered along. I really look forward to seeing this show in September. Hair the Musical
A great night of eclectic performances from a great company.