We Are Chester’s Paul Crofts reviews Tip Top Productions’s return to the stage with their outdoor performance – Tip Top’s Summer at the Musicals.
We have given Tip Tip’s Summer at the Musicals a four star rating.
Having recently announced their departure from the Forum Studio Theatre in Chester, it was great to see popular local theatre company Tip Top Productions making a long-awaited return to the outdoor stage at Theatr Clwyd for two performances of Tip Top’s Summer at the Musicals.
Camping chair, rug and waterproofs in hand, I ventured up the hill to Theatr Clwyd’s wonderful outdoor theatre setting, keeping a watchful eye on the ominous black clouds which threatened to empty their contents on the capacity audience who had gathered to enjoy a much-anticipated afternoon of musical theatre.
Featuring a mix of songs from musicals old and new, the show opened with Mike Jenkinson-Deakin channelling his inner Norma Desmond with the appropriately titled As if We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard, the sentiments of this song not lost on anyone who has keenly felt the absence of live theatre over the last 17 months.
Whilst the opening was, I felt, a tad hesitant, the show soon hit its stride and we were treated to some stellar performances during the 90-minute celebration of the best of the West End and Broadway. Stand out moments for me included the combined vocals of Brian Fray and the powerhouse that is Natalie Brett who together, delivered a breath-taking version of What Part of My Body Hurts the Most from the Meatloaf musical Bat Out Of Hell.
Full on Broadway
Ellison Roberts delivered an assured performance of Burn from the smash hit musical Hamilton and the ever popular Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman whilst we went full on Broadway as Laura Morris lit up the stage with the title song from the ever popular Cabaret and Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray.
One of my favourite musicals of recent years has to be Kinky Boots and so it was a lovely surprise to hear Not My Father’s Son being included in the programme, sensitively performed by Mike Jenkinson- Deakin. Natalie Brett delivered time and time again as she demonstrated the sort of vocal range most West End stars can only dream of with performances of Get Out (And Stay Out) from 9 to 5 and She Used to be mine from Waitress, seriously impressive!
The award for the most unintentionally hilarious, laughter causing moment of the whole concert has to go to Brian Fray for daring to gleefully sing Oh What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma as the rain poured down almost as if on cue. I guess you had to be there to appreciate the irony, a typically British reaction to the typical British summer, laughter in the face of adversity as we all got thoroughly soaked.
If there was an award for the campest moment of the show, it would surely go to a Lederhosen clad Mike Jenkinson-Deakin who alongside Laura Roberts brought us a tongue-in-cheek performance of Sixteen Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music.
The show came to a close with the cast coming together to sing Thank You For The Music from Mamma Mia and the ear worm that is the Proclaimers hit (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles from Sunshine On Leith which got the audience clapping along despite the continuing downpour. If I have one small criticism, it was that the show’s producer Steve Davies had chosen to use backing tracks rather than live musicians but, nevertheless, the team at Tip Top are to be congratulated on a successful and long-awaited return to the stage.
I’m now looking forward to seeing them again in October, firmly back where they belong, on the Anthony Hopkins stage at Theatr Clwyd with The Show Must Go On, which will surely be one show not to be missed!