"Showchoir: The Time of our Lives" Review - Edinburgh University Footlights

Image may contain: 15 people, people standing, suit and indoor
Photo credit: Andrew Perry

"Showchoir" is a staple of the annual Footlights catalogue, and is always highly anticipated. The potential for such a concept, a showcase of music linked by a theme or themes, is completely limitless and this year's theme, "The Time of our Lives", creative directed by James Hart and Kirsten Innes, most certainly delivers.

The show opens rather weirdly, with a very short part of ABBA's "I Have A Dream". At this point I was slightly worried about the direction of the show, as I have come to expect big, dramatic, full cast opening numbers from such things, but this was quickly delivered on, with "Kidz" and "Revolting Children" serving as our big opening number. "Kidz" was particularly enjoyable, whereas "Revolting Children" was hindered massively by some practically inaudible voices, mostly down to microphones.

The tech in the show was a mixed bag - the lighting was beautiful, and particularly creative for such a small space, and to go along with this, the timing of the lighting was always perfect. The same cannot be said for the sound - I was probably familiar with half of the songs in this show, and there was a lot of lines that I was expecting to hear that ended up being not present due to two potential factors: the microphones, and perhaps the real factor that prevents this show from being a five star show: polish.

For a creative process of around 6 months, the show lacked polish, massively. There were multiple occasions when lines were missed, dances were out of sync, and harmonies felt lackluster. This did not apply to every performer and every song, but there were noticeable dips in the polish and performances of the actors, especially in "My Shot", "Blue", and "Revolting Children".

What the show lacked in polish, however, in more than made up for in raw talent. With standout performances from Imogen Challen and Ben Gruenberg, the true power of the show is in the strength of the individual performers.

The best songs in the show all came one after another in a set of four, including "Bruises" (Vicki Green), "Disturbia" (Hollie Avery), "Fix You" (Zoë Murdoch, Harriet Masters, Lucy McClure), and "Misfit" (Isla Jamieson-MacKenzie). Whilst these songs in particular (other than "Misfit") lacked the themeing of some of the earlier songs in the show, this probably worked in favour of the quality, as it was very clear these songs were perfect for their respective performers, regardless of the theme of the show.

Other highlights included "Here I Come" which is from one of my favourite musicals, and "Lady Marmalade" beautifully choreographed by Rory McKeon. The choreography overall, was fantastic. Executive choreographed by Lydia Housley, the show contains a really strong mix of both original and adapted choreography ("My Shot"). There were two fast paced medleys in the show, one in each act, and they were a welcome addition and a great way to get through more songs in the limited time. They also enabled actors who didn't get their own solo songs to have moments to shine.

Finally, the programme is the best programme I've seen of any show anywhere in the world. Definitely get one. It's so cute.

Overall, nothing stopped my enjoyment of this year's "Showchoir". The lack of polish was a shame, and the technical faults were an inconvenience, but it was 95% good stuff, and so entertaining to watch. It's always such a delight to see "Showchoir", because if the genre is not for you, then a new one will be along in a few minutes, and this year's showcase more than delivers on all fronts.

Verdict: ★★★

"Showchoir: The Time of our Lives" runs until 7th March at Teviot Debating Hall

Tickets: https://fixr.co/event/676052545


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