West End Glee Club owes its title – and no doubt, the resulting queues to get in – to the American TV phenomenon, but in concept and format, it owes more to A Chorus Line and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s reality TV programmes.
With nationwide West End Glee Club finals imminent, four recent drama school graduates – played by four recent (and immensely talented) drama school graduates – compete for one soloist position, the winner voted for by the audience.
As in A Chorus Line, the auditionees share their backstories – there’s the former football star, the adopted girl, the gay who was bullied at school and the product of stage-proud parents, all who found their niche in musicals and performance. None of the stories pack the same poignant punch as those in A Chorus Line - these performers are young enough to still have more hopes than disappointments – and, in any case, there’s not enough time for proper character development in the truncated Fringe slot.
But the chat is really just a sideline to some terrific performances of show standards including “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, “All I Ask of You”, “Defying Gravity” and “Seasons of Love”. And the voting and guest act from another Fringe show are good fun too. A must-see for musical theatre lovers.