Pros: A well-rehearsed performance with effective acting and consistently accurate tuning.
Cons: Could have done with slightly more variety in the programming.
A graduating performance is nerve wracking for any aspiring performer. The auditorium fills itself with talent scouts, agents and reviewers waiting to cast their opinion over the results of months, if not years, of intense training. Imagine, then, if you had to give the performance of a lifetime by singing to this gathering. This is precisely what graduating students from The Poor School are doing until 2 March in Grantley’s Show, a musical revue devised and directed by the school’s director of musical theatre, Grantley Buck.
The performance opened with a company-wide rendition of Jason Robert Brown’s The New World. Blending the complex harmonies with small solos from each cast member ensured that while the striking impact of the song remained intact, the audience had a good introduction to each of the performers as well.
Each piece transitioned smoothly into the next as the evening progressed. Good use of The Poor School’s comfortably tiny theatre meant that the two entrances – one of which is actually behind the audience, forcing the cast up and down the aisle regularly – were used imaginatively and to great effect.
The simplistic band (Grantley Buck on the piano accompanied by Ed Taoka on bass guitar and double bass) provided a clean backdrop for the vocal performances, which all revolved around songs clearly picked to suit the voices of the cast. While the pitching was consistently accurate from all, just a small handful of the thirteen-strong cast grabbed the audience by the ears. A rendition of You Don’t Know this Man from Jason Robert Brown’s Parade from Shivani Kapur stunned the already silent room into a reverent hush with her mellow, heart wrenching vocals and tear-stained performance. Similarly, Sam Landon and Gareth Wildig, decked out in princely get-up, gave impressively accurate and funny portrayals of two royal brothers struck by their love of Rapunzel and Cinderella in Agony from Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
A further stand out performance came from Yvette Bruin in Getting Married Today from Sondheim’s Company. The female part consists of an astounding number of words sung in a short space of time which she reeled off perfectly in tune and audibly, all the while entertaining her audience with fantastic comic delivery and, at times, fairly active choreography.
The evening’s finale rested on the head of Adam Luzon, who lead the company in the epic Flying Home from Songs from a New World (and yes, that is Jason Robert Brown, again). The performance ended quite literally on an absurdly high note from Luzon, although some shaky moments earlier in the performance meant I found myself not so much reveling in it but breathing a sigh of relief that he had hit it first time.
Grantley’s Show is an accurate portrayal of The Poor School’s collection of graduating acting students; pitch perfect and thoroughly entertaining. The programming would perhaps have benefitted from more variety – there’s only so much Jason Robert Brown and Sondheim one can digest – but committed performances all round meant that the evening rolls along merrily nonetheless.
Director: Grantley Buck
Booking Until: 2nd March 2014
More Information: http://www.thepoorschool.com/