By Henry Jones
Tone Deaf Theatre Company’s A Night at the Tony’s celebrates some of our most loved musical theatre numbers, making for an enjoyable evening. Mary Lord should be proud of her direction, showcasing crowd-pleasing numbers from shows like Shrek The Musical to Les Misérables and celebrating Durham’s musical talent as the year comes to an end.
The evening is split in two halves and compèred by comic duo Lily Edwards and Rosie Minnitt who, whilst mostly good, do both perhaps take the bumbling Miranda-esque act a little too far. The first half of the night features Durham Improvised Musical (DIM) performing one of their much loved improvised musicals (you would hardly have guessed from their group title). They never cease to impress, and whilst the middle of the performance becomes a little slow, we must remember that this is, quite literally, created on the spot. Particular mention must go to Rosie Weston for her incredible command of the stage, and her equally as enchanting voice.
The latter half of the showcase features a plethora of songs from all our favourite musicals (perhaps those that would win a Tony – get it?), and the singing is mostly very impressive. Rob Singleton and Afope Rachelle Ojomo’s number from Aida is particularly memorable, as are performances from Lily Ratnavel and Elliot Mather. Mather also joins Singleton, alongside Ben Gruenberg and Luke Blacklock in their rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ – always sure to captivate an audience.
Martha Wrench’s choreography is particularly noticeable in the group number ‘Revolting Children’ from Matilda the Musical, although I would have liked to have seen more dance later in the show, as this made for a highly energised start to the second half. Technically the show is fine, but perhaps more could be done; musicals can afford to be a bit dramatic after all, and there are certain moments when lights were left shining in the eyes of the audience with no cast left on stage. Musically, the band is very impressive, and Rhys Rodrigues’s conducting is commendable.
The red-carpet entrance with a photographer is a nice touch to the production, although I found the black-tie dress code rather unnecessary for a two-hour show.
The night is well-polished, with a few things that could be improved, but this is typical of a quick post-exam rehearsal schedule and almost does not matter for something as light-hearted as this. The ability of the cast is more than clear, and A Night at the Tony’s was, ultimately, a great way to relax and enjoy some good old-fashioned musical theatre.