Compilation shows, featuring songs from some of the best musicals ever written, are nothing new. I remember seeing Marti Webb in one more years ago than either of us really cares to remember, so to make a success of an extended run throughout the difficult-to-fill Olympic summer nights a Director needs to offer something extra special. Chris Jordan has done just that, and more, with the latest incarnation of this “magical night at the musicals”.
Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance features six superb performers and, as they tell us at the beginning of the show, 60 songs, 50 dances, 26 tap shoes, 105 costumes, three scooters and a donkey, to name just a few of the highlights and, from the moment that they explode onto the stage with their opening number, “Dancing Fool” from Copacabana, we get a hint of exactly how this show offers something that the others do not.
Although the musicals that feature in the show are, mostly, extremely well known, the songs chosen are not necessarily the obvious ones. With the musicals that are not so well known, the songs are stand-alone legends and so the production gives us “Kansas City” from Oklahoma and “Stars” from Les Miserables up against “I Got Rhythm” from Girl Crazy and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” from Buck Privates.
To call any of the six performers an actor, singer or dancer really does them a disservice, as, really, they are all supreme athletes as well. In this non-stop cavalcade of song and dance they never tire, they constantly give everything they have and they all seem to be having the time of their lives. Each one shines brightly in the full company numbers, like the wonderful mash up of the title song from 42nd Street and “Oom Pah Pah” from Oliver – something I never thought I would ever see and, having seen it, something I would gladly see again and again.
Considering that the live band just comprises four people, they fill the packed auditorium with sound but the balance is set perfectly as, at no point do they drown out the vocals, and what fantastic vocals they are. Whether it’s the girl’s superb harmonies in “This is the Army Mr Jones”, or the boys with their versions of “My Eyes Adore You” from Jersey Boys, “Til I Hear You Sing” from Love Never Dies or the vocally dexterous “Museum Song” from Barnum, every song is a perfect musical gem.
It is so difficult to choose highlights in a show that was two and half hours of pure delight but here are just a few. McMullan performing “Love Changes Everything”, Lisewski belting out “Defying Gravity”, all three girls in “Gotta Get a Gimmick” from Gypsy, Adkins and McMullen together performing a sensational mash up of “No More” from Into the Woods and “Being Alive” from Company and the full cast for “Around the West End” (in Under Four Minutes) – a comic highlight in, what was indeed, a totally magical night at the musicals.