The night the West End and Broadway came to Chester!
Words and pics: Paul Crofts
I must admit that, to my shame, I hadn’t seen an On The Mark Youth Theatre production until now but knowing the reputation of its production team of artistic/musical director Simon Phillips, choreographer Laura Roberts and assistant musical director Luke Disley, I expected standards to be high. Even I wasn’t prepared for just how high, though, as they presented Magic of the Musicals at Christleton High School.
The show’s opening number, a medley of songs from Hairspray which introduced the entire cast as they came spilling in to the hall, dancing down the aisles really set the tone for what would turn out to be a fantastically uplifting evening of song and dance routines from some of the biggest shows to grace stages in the West End and on Broadway, all effortlessly performed by a talented cast who even at their young ages, would give some seasoned West End performers a run for their money.
Much loved favourites
The show deliberately steered away from the more obvious choices for a compilation show and instead presented something fresh and contemporary whilst still managing to include some much loved favourites. What we were presented with was a compilation show for the 21st century with a modern, sassy edge to it.
There were several stand out moments during the show including You Will Be Foundfrom Dear Evan Hanson with some gorgeous harmonies, The Light at The End of The Tunnelfrom Starlight Express, which provided a barnstorming finale to act one,The Schuyler Sistersand Satisfiedfrom Hamilton plus the stunning Mambofrom West Side Story which wouldn’t have looked out of place on Strictly and a wicked performance ofDefying Gravity, which brought one of the biggest roars of approval of the night from the capacity audience.
There were some great fun numbers too performed by the younger members of the cast including Don’t Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Befrom Snoopy the Musical. It was great to see every member of the cast given a chance to shine be it in the ensemble numbers or performing a solo, a great confidence builder. Every pupil had a contribution to make to the production, be it on stage or as part of the back stage and tech crew – the perfect example of “learning by doing”, which just happens to be On The Mark’s motto.
Speaking of the tech crew, I was really impressed with the use of the lighting and other effects throughout, nothing seemed out of place and there was well thought out use of colour, green for Wicked, red and blue for Les Mis for example, (you see, I do notice these things). It was a shame that there were a few issues with microphones on the night but these were all coped with brilliantly by the cast.
I must give a mention to the fantastic live band under the direction of the very capable Simon Phillips, they really added to the overall feel and polish of the production, it really would not have been the same with backing tracks, bravo guys. The finale of the show came all too soon and we were treated to a medley of songs from On The Mark’s next production, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit musical Cats, which, if the standard of singing during this preview was anything to go by, will be another sell out show.
Congratulations to On The Mark Youth Theatre for a truly excellent evening of musical theatre. We give Magic of the Musicals an absolutely wicked 5 stars.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐