Advertised as an “entertaining, jam packed evening.” The Winter Showcase promised much. It lived up to this but a few problems, both technically and from the cast, limited just how good it could have been. Starting off by introducing the two hosts of the evening, Alexis Forss and Alex Curtis, the show takes a little time to warm up. However, the two were consistently entertaining and acted as good anchors to transition between one part of the show to another, without the audience losing interest in what was happening on stage. Unfortunately, from the start there were sound issues, which meant that for some performers their voices couldn’t carry past the third row. The opening set pieces, under the banner ‘(Not so) Simply Sondheim’ were quite inconsistent, with some acts captivating the audience – ‘A Little Night Music’ in particular – but others lacked flair and failed to capture the imagination.
The highlight of Showstoppers’ Winter Showcase came fairly early, in the preview of the musical ‘Parade’, which will be performed by Showstoppers, in the Nuffield, on 13th March. Solely on the basis of the preview, you must buy these tickets when they go on sale. With very tight choreography, stellar singing and music it gave real atmosphere to the Annex. It was bloody impressive. The preview was followed by the funniest piece of the evening – the abridged version of the ‘Jerry Springer Opera’. Words struggle to explain this piece, but some quotes may help. Lines like: “dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians” speak for themselves. Sadly, some of the vocals were too soft to be heard at times and came across a little cringe-worthy, but overall a decent piece.
The next series of pieces, under the banner of ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, were a mixed bag. Some pieces had charm but lacked any obvious coherence between cast members, others were wooden and some were more polished. Arguably the weakest piece of the night, it summed up the inconsistency in the Winter Showcase.
‘Matilda!’ re-opens the show after the interval, and it is a solid performance, which mixes music and comedy together particularly well. Sarah Moir provided strong vocals, and stood out (at times literally) from the rest. This, along with slick choreography, made it another decent piece.
Afterwards was ‘T’shoir’. Dance pieces added some real variety to the Winter Showcase which was, until then, noticeably lacking. The pieces themselves were good, but at times felt a little amateurish. ‘SUstart’ – a piece done entirely by newcomers to Showstoppers – was relatable, funny, and even featured Call Me Maybe. Enjoyable but again this was hampered by sound issues, and at times it seemed like the cast were unsure of their lines.
Finishing on ‘The Book of Mormon’ (all boys) and ‘Legally Blonde’ (all girls) the show finished as it started – taking some time to warm up, with some honestly funny pieces and, sadly, sound problems. In all, though the Winter Showcase does live up to its promise of being jam packed and entertaining, it really should have been a lot more polished and is below the usually high standard expected of PA shows.
Showstoppers’ Winter Showcase is on today at 2:30 then again at 7:30. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming shows from Showstoppers including Rent and Parade.