Fringe Box



Stage Dragon: Fabulous 50… At The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 20 Jul, 2017
Updated on: 20 Jul, 2017

By Ferenc Hepp

Having had a successful run with Guys & Dolls earlier in the year, the Guildford School of Acting returned to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this week with a variety show they called Fabulous 50…

Pictures by Mark Dean of GSA’s Fabulous 50.. show at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

GSA is part of the University of Surrey and has a modern teaching building and a fully equipped arts centre on the Stag Hill Campus. Fabulous 50… is a musical celebration of 50 years of the university in Guildford, presenting extracts from musicals from all five decades.

We start the journey in 1967 with Wilkommen from Cabaret and soon the tabs are pulled back to reveal some of the ensemble who provide us with some very enjoyable and skilful choreography to set the scene.

The pace is good, luckily we do not have gaps between the numbers; they do flow into each other smoothly, while at the same time allowing for some well-deserved applause.

In fact, some songs start, then seamlessly mutate from one show to another and move back again to the initial one. This is the case with Let The Sunshine In from Hair and Superstar from Jesus Christ Superstar in act one.

This works very well, thanks to efforts of the musical director, Peter Roberts, who takes charge of the five-piece band at the back of the stage, complementing the singers perfectly.

Some other highlights in act one include some brilliantly energetic choreography for Greased Lightning from Grease and a couple of numbers from Cats, as well as an emotional rendition of Tell Me It’s Not True from Blood Brothers. No musical revue show would be complete without Les Miserables and we are not disappointed as the act closes with the classic One Day More.

Act two opens with Masquerade from The Phantom of the Opera and takes us up to 1986. Again, the dancing has to be applauded throughout the show, taught by a number of choreographers which include Phyllida Crowley-Smith, Heather Douglas, Jo McShane, Lucie Pankhurst, Joe Prouse and Kate Tydman.

We are treated to some favourite numbers from Miss Saigon, Rent, The Lion King and the Book of Mormon among others in this half.

Moments which stand out before the closing number from Dear Evan Hansen include a fun rendition of Be Our Guest, Defying Gravity sung magnificently and a Jersey Boys Medley, which could easily come straight from the West End.

Overall praise must go to the producer and head of GSA, Sean McNamara, and director, Julian Woolford, who between them co-ordinated and motivated this large cast of students out of term time, and to Declan Randall who designed the beautifully atmospheric lighting throughout.

We also see relevant images projected at the back of the stage reminding us of international, national as well as Guildford events from the past 50 years. Some of the moving images occasionally distract from what is happening on stage, but this does add an interesting extra dimension.

It is also unusual for undergraduate and postgraduate students from various disciplines to perform together on stage in the same show, and at times the quality of the singing suffers slightly during the energetic numbers, but this does not distract from the fact that these young performers are highly talented and it is not a surprise that GSA is so well represented in the West End. Fabulous 50… was indeed… fabulous.

The production runs until Saturday (July 22). Click here for box office details.

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