Review: Magic of the Musicals

Magic of the Musicals was the second event in a weekend of Illumination Switch On fun. Whilst not as packed as Friday night, there was still a sizeable audience in the arena for this exciting sounding show.

The show opened with award-winning performer Leanne Jones. Leanne created the iconic role of Tracy Turnblad in the original West End production of the feel good musical Hairspray, a role for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress In A Musical. From her performance in Blackpool, it’s easy to see why. She performed three numbers from the musical including Good Morning Baltimore and the toe-tapping You Can’t Stop The Beat, interspersed with Skyfall from the Bond film of the same name, and a beautiful rendition of I Dreamed A Dream.

Next up was Priscilla Queen Of The Desert. Great vocals and dance and stunning costumes were the order of the day. The opening song, It’s Raining Men, featured two guys wearing very tight, tiny silver shorts, gyrating around the stage. I needed a blood pressure tablet after this one. The rest of the uplifting music included What’s Love Got To Do With It, Girls Just Want To Have Fun and Go West, the latter seeing the guys in silver chaps and a sailor suit. Priscilla was resplendent in a stunning purple gown and had legs most women would die for.

After a brief interlude where the production team, Brett and Andrew, undertook the Ice Bucket Challenge we were back to more music, this time songs from The Jersey Boys. Headed by West End star and former SCLUB7 member Jon Lee, the opening song featured Jon singing Too Good To Be True. He was then joined by the rest of the group and the audience sang along with them to a lively compilation of numbers such as Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Bye Bye Baby. These were followed by the slower My Eyes Adored You then some more up tempo numbers which ended with a finale of Who Loves You and Oh What A Night.

After a short interval it was back to the Jazz Age with Chicago, featuring the lead characters from the stage musical, namely Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, both on trial for murder, and Billy Flynn, their manipulative lawyer. Songs included All That Jazz, All I Care About Is Love and Roxie. The finale saw a brief resume of All That Jazz, complete with jazz hands. The audience were certainly razzle dazzled with this one.

The penultimate line-up was Thriller Live. This opened with high energy song and dance in the number Startin’ Somethin. This was followed by Beat It. There was then a brief foray into the history of the Thriller album, which led to Michael Jackson’s title of The Prince Of Pop. After this we were presented with a lengthy selection of some of the artist’s best known hits, including I Just Can’t Stop Loving You and Smooth Criminal which included an excellently choreographed moonwalk routine, and the eponymous Thriller to name just a few.

After the Thriller section of the show being so long, we expected the finale, Dirty Dancing, to also be long. Sadly, it wasn’t. Opening with a slightly raucous version of Do You Love Me, followed by a couple dancing to Latin American music, as in the contest in the musical, there was then an excellent rendition of Still Of The Night and Time Of My Life (yes, they did the lift) before performance abruptly ended. The term ‘fizzled out like a damp squib’ sprang to mind, which was very disappointing to the audience who were eagerly waiting for more.

Overall, however, this was a fantastic evening with over three hours of excellent singing and dancing and certainly terrific value for money.


Images courtesy of Sandra Mangan.

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