Review: CUMTS Freshers’ Bar Night

Charlotte Waygood 22 October 2019

Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society’s hottest new talent makes its way onto the Cambridge Theatre scene

The idea behind the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society’s Freshers’ Bar Night is simple: to give those new to musical theatre in Cambridge the chance to practise performing in front of a smaller, friendlier audience. In theory, they can then continue to bigger productions – and judging by the standard of the acts, I am certain that we will be seeing their faces again around Cambridge musical theatre in the coming months. The bar was packed, but the performers didn’t show signs of feeling any pressure, putting an insane amount of energy into every song and sharing jokes with the audience in between acts.

“The bar was packed, but the performers didn’t show signs of feeling any pressure, putting an insane amount of energy into every song and sharing jokes with the audience in between acts.”

The hosts, Georgina Deri and Brandon Lino, also helped create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, complimenting each performer and endearing them to the audience by telling us a ‘fun fact’ before they went on stage.

The acts were incredibly varied: Emily Cavanah opened the bar night with “See I’m Smiling” from ‘The Last Five Years’, in which she switched from seeming nervous and vulnerable, smiling tentatively and fiddling with her jumper, to being angry and defiant, glaring directly at the audience and infusing this emotion into her song, which became almost like slam poetry as she voiced her character’s frustrations in her marriage. The next act, Millie Morgan singing “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from ‘Grease’, contrasted with this beautifully, as Morgan conveyed a completely different mood of quiet anger, using mostly facial expressions while conveying Rizzo’s character in her cool, laid-back stance.

“Morgan conveyed a completely different mood of quiet anger, using mostly facial expressions while conveying Rizzo’s character in her cool, laid-back stance.”

This variety and high standard continued through the evening. Some particularly difficult songs performed were “The Girl in 14G”, in which Ariella Gordon alternated between standard musical theatre and operatic singing, and “The Alto’s Lament” in which Jessi Rogers also displayed an amazing range in her voice, as well as hitting the top note of “Tonight” from West Side Story. Rogers’ performance was also very funny, as she wasn’t afraid to make notes sound ugly in order to convey her character’s frustration.

Of course, there were the occasional hiccups – Deri and Lino especially need to think of things to say after each act other than ‘wow’, and once one of them stood up before one of the acts had finished, which drew focus away from the performer. However, they made a very good team and had a good rapport with each other and the audience, and their own act, “Master of the House” from ‘Les Misérables’ was very funny. The performers’ acts, too, were rarely perfect. But this will improve with experience. Considering that everyone performing, including the hosts, had never done a bar night before, they showed huge amounts of bravery and skill as performers as they pulled off a fantastic evening. I can’t wait to see more of them in future shows!

4 stars.

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