Review: The 24 Hour Musical

Amelia Oakley 14 January 2016

I was surprised to see how busy the ADC was last night – that is, until approximately three minutes into the performance. Clearly rolling on from the roaring success of last year, Cambridge’s drama scene came together in force for what became a slap-dash night of self-aware absurdity.

The premise is an uncomplicated one, although the execution must have been anything but. In 24 hours, lyricists and composers banded together to create nine numbers around a central theme, all in one diverse musical. The theme, “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Theatre”, was nothing short of genius: a show that was bound to go wrong was full of numbers about prop loss and botched auditions, and lyrics were peppered with some very ‘meta’ references to other productions – I spotted puns from West Side Story, Rent, and Wicked. Inexplicably, there was also reference to an operating theatre, but it was so hilariously directed by comedy old-hat Jamie Armitage that it was actually a joy to watch, as much as it stuck out as a sore thumb. I consider it to have been a happy accident. 

Georgina Skinner also deserves a nod of her own for the excellently rhymed “marbles” and “Les Miserables”, which Holly Musgrave delivered with such comic panache that I thought my (delicious, highly recommended) cocktail was going to come flying out my nose. The real star number though, was “The Audition”, beautifully composed by Toby Marlow and incredibly sung by Olivia Gaunt and Ellie Coote. It’s nothing short of a waste that this song may never get performed again: Kyle Turakhia’s lyrics sparkled with wit, the composition was complex and potentially risky if the cast had been any less talented. High notes were delivered with an unfailing strength and charisma that would have put Mariah Carey to shame. It was the kind of song that makes you forget that it was put together in under a day- I can’t write an essay in that amount of time, let alone a musical. 

Most people in the audience clearly knew people on the stage, which fostered an intimate atmosphere that I’ve never been lucky enough to experience before. It felt like we were all part of some wonderful inside joke – the laughs were genuine, inspired by the little personal comments that would have floated ignorantly over the head of a room full of strangers.

The secret to the 24hr Musical’s success was that it totally embraced its flaws. Bum notes and lost lines (of which there were few) were laughed off by the performers as much as the spectators, and supremely questionable dance routines, jazz hands aplomb, only added to the slapdash charm. My sole criticism lies in the sometimes haphazard sound balance, which was prone to drowning out performers at times. This was more disheartening at times than irritating, as I suspect some genuinely funny lines went unapplauded.

BNOC extraordinaire and CUMTS President Steven Gage also made a welcome appearance, delivering some politically poignant one liners which would have fit comfortably into the script of “The Producers”. Overall, a riotous night of musical comedy, which inspired some genuine belly-laughs. Massive congratulations to all involved, and to everyone else: I wish you could have been there.