Review: Collingwood Michaelmas Showcase

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For one night only, Collingwood College Woodplayers presented us with song, dance and spoken word in its annual Michaelmas Showcase. The evening was hosted by Alex Comaish, who brought the varied performances together with comedic wit and charm. It is admirable that the Woodplayers were able to put together such a slick and entertaining set in just two weeks during a busy term, and the confidence and conviction of every single performer was especially impressive given this short timeframe.

Particular mention should be given to a few individuals, including Isla Brendon who showed the strongest vocal performance of the night in Pulled. Her excitable portrayal of Wednesday Addams was an audience favourite, demonstrating her impressive stage presence and versatility. Another popular performance was by Ben Osland, Harry Stanbury and George Williams in their rendition of Sincerely Me. The trio bounced off each other seamlessly in a comedic performance that despite containing a few minor slip-ups, was brought together through humour and charming choreography. Mention should also be given to Amie Page, whose high energy and enthusiasm shone through in both her individual performance of Dead Mom and throughout the ensemble performances, and to Emily Bates who displayed impressive range in the challenging piece The Girl In 14G.

As well as song and dance, the showcase features two spoken word excerpts; a monologue from Frankenstein by James Southall and a duologue by Emily Lea and Amie Page. Whilst both were impressively acted, in particular Southall’s convincing portrayal of a tortured monster, the somewhat intense nature of the scenes contrasted a little too much with the otherwise light and upbeat performances throughout the rest of the show. This created a somewhat jarring effect that broke up the flow of the showcase and may have been resolved by greater consistency throughout. Furthermore, it would have been nice to see a little more energy and enthusiasm from the cast as a whole, whose performances were occasionally held back by a lack of expression. This may be attributed to nerves as it was particularly apparent in the opening number, Defying Gravity. Additional choreographed movement may have helped to resolve this issue as this piece was especially static, however, choreographer Lauren Williams ensured that dance in other numbers was slick and effective, and given the short rehearsal timeframe, additional movement to learn may have been detrimental to the cast’s overall performance. Nevertheless, the high levels of energy and enthusiasm given by the entire cast in the final number Freak Flag was particularly uplifting, and would have enhanced the opening number and entire show had this been demonstrated throughout.

Despite a few technical issues which I am sure would have been ironed out had there been subsequent performances, the showcase ran smoothly and was clearly well-rehearsed, evidenced by the cast’s unwavering confidence and the well-deserved audience standing ovation. For this, every performer should be congratulated, as well as director Tara Munnelly and the rest of the production team, and I look forward to seeing Collingwood’s impressive talent displayed in future performances by the Woodplayers.

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