By Henry Jones
Tone Deaf Theatre Company’s A Night at the Tony’s celebrates some of our most loved musical theatre numbers, and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Mary Lord should be proud of her direction, showcasing a range of crowd-pleasing numbers from shows like Shrek The Musical to Les Misérables, demonstrating Durham’s diverse musical talent as the year draws to a close.
The show is split in two halves and compèred by comic duo Lily Edwards and Rosie Minnitt who, whilst mostly good, perhaps take the bumbling Miranda-esque act a touch too far. The first half of the night features Durham Improvised Musical (DIM) performing one of their much loved improvised musicals (one would hardly have guessed from the group title). Particular mention must go to Rosie Weston for her incredible command of the stage, and her equally as enchanting voice. The group never ceases to impress and, whilst the middle of the performance became a little slow, we must remember that this is, quite literally, improvised on the spot.
The latter half of the showcase features a plethora of songs from all your favourite musicals (perhaps those that would win a Tony I hear you say? – Indeed), 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 tear-jerking rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ – always sure to captivate an audience.
Martha Wrench’s choreographic prowess was also 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 it did make for a highly energised start to the second half. Technically the show is adequate, 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, however, the band is very impressive, and Rhys Rodrigues’s conducting is commendable.
The red-carpet entrance with a photographer is also a nice touch to a production that tries to go beyond the usual Durham performance, 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 a great way to relax and enjoy some good old-fashioned musical theatre.