Review: The CU Show Choir – Blast from the Past

Isobel Edwards 9 May 2013

The CU Show Choir: Blast from the Past

ADC Theatre, Tues 7th, 11pm

Back for another one night only performance, proving that even the all-singing and all-dancing among us have to put away the sequins and knuckle down for exams at some point, the CU Show Choir presented a wistful evening down memory lane. As a newcomer to the Cambridge choir scene, I entered with high hopes regarding their ‘hallmark harmony and contagious choreography’, and any other alliterative delights that lay in wait for that matter.

True, the theme of ‘Blast from the Past’ has been known to send even the most steadfast theatre lovers running for the hills, as a mere snippet of ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ sends the whiff of un-deodorised youthsflooding back into your nostrils way before you reach the chorus, yet somehow the male members of the choir (yes, you read that right) managed to pull it off, and the whole evening proved to be a more powerful mood booster than anything you can get on prescription.

Opening with a hugely energetic Mamma Mia medley, which seemed like it would never end (in the best possible way), the choir seized the audience’s attention and never lost it. Indeed, it appeared that every member of the group had called in their own personal fan club for the occasion, judging by the level of crazed encouraging heckling they received throughout the evening.

By far their strongest performances were those exhibiting the tongue in cheek humour that audiences have come to expect. The TV theme tune medley, complete with hilarious impressions of Binky and the Brain and a human Blue Peter Ship parading on stage, was a particular crowd pleaser. Showing the audience a good time was clearly a high priority, to the extent that in places the performance seemed to be bordering on the pantomime, and I personally found the attempts at audience participation a step too far in that direction.

Inevitably the slick finishing touches were lost in favour of the element of acting required in most numbers and more complex choreography; while the harmonies occasionally seemed a little forced (the Maroon 5 cover has sent my respect for Adam Levine soaring). Yet in the post-show glow that I currently find myself in I can honestly say that this in no way detracted from the enjoyment of the whole affair, if anything it made the cast even more endearing. Moreover, the less-frenzied numbers, in particular a beautifully mellow version of Genie in a Bottle, demonstrated the outstanding talent of the performers when they are able to focus just on singing.

I wish I had known about the CU Show Choir sooner and will be seeking them out whenever the week five blues set in. What was so wonderful to see was that they clearly loved what they were doing. When it seems like so many performances are based on trying to out-wit their audiences with complex socio-political undertones, it was refreshing and hugely enjoyable to know that all the CU Show Choir expected from us was lashings of enthusiasm, which they received in abundance – the best testimony to a successful performance.

Isobel Edwards