The Footlights continue their tradition of high-quality comedy with their 2020 Spring Revue.
As the opening night of the Footlights Spring Revue show; ‘Crossed Wires’ came to a close I found myself pondering who, out of the ensemble cast, might ‘make it’. Who, in 15-20 years’ time, might I see on some show that I found on the home page of Netflix, and suddenly remember that I first saw them all those years ago at the 2020 Footlights Spring Revue. Well, I came to the conclusion that it would be a crime if it isn’t all of them. While that’s probably unlikely, the ability of every single performer was immense. Each comedian did their jobs fantastically, and the diversity of personalities on stage really shined through.
When it comes to Footlights, sometimes the reputation can precede them, and there’s always a danger of viewing a Footlights show in the light of comparing it to its historical past. But, in the case of ‘Crossed Wires’ I think it should be judged in that light, as part of the continuing legacy of the Footlights, as one of those shows that demonstrates why the group is so highly regarded. That’s not only a testament to the strength of many of its sketches, but also to the strength of the behind-the-scenes work. Of particular note was the set design: while not incredibly complex, it did its job well, and the show made good use of the ADC space. Also of note in this regard was the lighting, which was used as an expository device only occasionally, but when it was, it was done very effectively.
Regarding the show’s sketches, Footlights have to be commended for creating a really diverse set of witty and often really fun skits. Of particular personal note was a sketch attempting to explain the assassination of JFK, one involving a petulant child in a shoe shop, and a musical number focused on a group of romantically frustrated sisters. The sketch involving the sisters was a great example of the strength of the performers. While a very well written sketch with a great concept surrounding it, much of the comedic value came from the performers injecting personality into each of the sisters, and it didn’t hurt that all of them were very technically skilled singers. Maybe surprisingly I found that the best sketches were often those involving 2 or 3 performers. With such a large group of performers, there was little room in ensemble sketches for the individual’s unique comedic personalities to come out, and with a group like this, that’s always a bit of a shame.
Ultimately, it’s a great show, and more than worth the price of admission. Like any comedic show of significant length there are a few admittedly weak moments, but these moments are barely worth mentioning, as they are more than made up for by the strength of the stronger sketches. So, would I recommend it? Well, if you like well-put-together shows, being occasionally shocked, and a good laugh, then the answer is: hell yes.