★★★★ So much more than the title suggests, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance is a true celebration of musical theatre at its very best.
Chris Jordan directs a hugely energetic and talented cast in this whirlwind spectacular, as we visit almost every musical I can think of through the ages, including a hilarious finale featuring a song from every current West End show in three minutes!
Rather than attempting to tie the songs together with dubious plot and flimsy characters, Jordan cleverly groups the numbers into clearly defined sections, allowing the audience to enjoy the performances on their own merits. This allows for a wide range of themes, including Broadway Vs West End, Movie Musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Fred Astaire Vs Gene Kelly. The unfortunately necessary visit to Jukebox Musicals provides the only low point of the evening and is saved only by Simon Adkins shamefully confessing to his role in the short-lived Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever.
There is not a weak performer among the seven-strong cast, and each stands out on their own merits. The mesmerisingly handsome Adkins is a very good all-round leading man, with an extremely strong voice and fluid yet purposeful movement. David McMullan’s voice is truly one I could never tire of, and his tap routine with Simon Adkins is impeccable. Adam Rhys-Charles doesn’t excite me as much during Act 1, but thoroughly redeems himself with an excellent rendition of Wilkommen / Money from Cabaret and I find myself warming to him more after that. Of the ladies, Alison Dormer shines consistently, while Lucinda Lawrence is perfectly cast in the quirkier numbers (her hilarious Taylor the Latte Boy has the audience in stitches, as does David McMullan’s Taylor’s Rebuttal in Act 2). Rebecca Lisewski shows off an impressive range over the evening, and the entire performance is complemented by Michelle White’s Onstage Swing.
Almost 60 songs benefit from Nick Winston’s inventive and diverse choreography; so vital to the energy levels in a show such as this. Often highly complex, involving props, costume changes and more dance genres than you could count, the delivery is tight and not one limb appears out of place.
On the downside, the lighting often takes a few moments to catch up with the performers, which is momentarily distracting. However, the cast is accomplished enough to more than make up for this, and such defects are soon forgiven. Some of the projections shown on the two screens flanking the stage also appeared a little low-budget for a production with such high standards.
With 105 costumes used throughout the production, Wardrobe Supervisor Shelley Stevens deserves a special mention (and probably a cup of tea).
Once in a while, a show comes along to challenge my own prejudice and misconceptions, and Gotta Sing Gotta Dance does just this. My initial scepticism that this would be just another run-of-the-mill musical revue show has been blown out of the water by an expertly presented and unforgettably joyous celebration of what our glorious West End has to offer.
Gotta Sing Gotta Dance is on an extensive national tour of 26 further venues until the end of October. A full schedule is available at http://www.flyingmusic.com/our-shows/gotta-sing-gotta-dance/tour-dates