Review: The Freshers’ Showcase

By Niamh Williams

Pure joy and pride emulated the Assembly Rooms Theatre tonight, after witnessing the great success of the annual TDTC Freshers’ Showcase. Every year, eight talented freshers perform musical theatre classics bringing vibrancy and wholesomeness for us all to enjoy. Tonight, was no different. I was blown away by the professionalism of the cast and the genuine chemistry which they all seemed to share.

The thrilling showcase began before the curtain was even raised, and from then I knew we were all in for a treat. Directors ( and Jo Price) firstly have to be praised for creating such innovative and unpredictable stage entrances, the initial use of the side door, was a great way to keep us on our toes and really brought great attention to the beautiful harmonies surrounding the stage. The general set list was hugely enjoyable, offering a range of vocal diversity, ranging from The Last Five Years to The Light in the Piazza and my personal favourite choice, Facebook – The Musical. There was a level of humour in this selection of songs that aided such a fast-paced production, I only wish that there were even more group numbers, as they really shone as being the most enjoyable to watch.

Directors ( and Jo Price) firstly have to be praised for creating such innovative and unpredictable stage entrances

The eight performers all had stand-alone incredible vocals which were highlighted in their solo performances, but the collective harmonies are heavenly to listen to. The Musical Director (Charles Moscrop) really understood the assignment, and produced such pitch-perfect performances, even with the nerves that you can sometimes feel from the performers, the singing always sounded refined. I was blown away by ’s rendition of ‘Mother Knows Best’ from Tangled, whereby she demonstrated a flawless lower range which was accompanied by superbly fitting body language. Likewise, ’s comedic ‘I Can Hear The Bells’ from Hairspray, is extremely endearing, her gorgeous vibrato and rich tone, paired with the intentional goofy movements of her acting choices, made the audience chuckle with laughter. Occasionally, some performances felt slightly reserved in terms of the acting, and minor mistakes occurred creating small moments of panic, though this never interrupted the flow of the production.

Another standout performer of the production, dazzled in every song he was featured in, his tap-dancing and star-quality charisma were a breath of fresh air to the showcase and brought an element of modernism to the more classical songs on the setlist. Equally, shone in a variety of different performances, his skilful facial expressions in his many trios were often hilarious, and his soulful tone was displayed beautifully in the Act 1 intermission in the performance of Come from Away. At times, I questioned the need for set pieces like the table in ‘Bad Idea’ when it wasn’t utilised to a great extent, which caused longer blackouts between song transitions. Although this speaks to the talent of the cast, as it never pulls concentration away from the great quality performances.

The lighting is also a strength of the showcase

The decision to include elements of choreography is certainly a massive success, as the quirky and often comedic-inducing dances were well thought out and add something special to the showcase. The choreographer (Francesca Horgan) delivered a polished creative vision, as none of the group performances became static or awkward to watch, and the acting through movement is a personal highlight. The lighting is also a strength of the showcase, which is surprising as usually, it can appear as repetitive in productions of this time frame, but the use of purple, yellows and soft tones, really embellished the overall production value. Perhaps, the actors could have been reminded to always step into the spotlight, especially in the solo performances, but this minor critique was overshone by the outstanding characterisation of all the performers.

Overall, you can tell why every single one of these performers were cast. It’s a renowned production, that carries huge expectations, which all performers managed to exceed in buckets. It was a privilege to be able to witness the beginning of many successful DST journeys, as I am sure there are incredible theatrical endeavours waiting for these talented freshers in the near future. Both the cast and CPT should be really proud of ensuring the great legacy of the TDTC showcase continues, and it was truly a phenomenal evening of musical theatre magic. 

Image credit: Tone Deaf Theatre Company

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