THEATRE REVIEW: Gonna Sing, Gotta Dance!

Gonna Sing, Gotta Dance! - Alnwick Academy of Dance. Alnwick Playhouse, July 2nd 2010, 7:30pm.

For the third time in as many weeks, the young people of Alnwick have brought a large audience to the Playhouse with the promise of an entertaining show. And, as with The Music Man and the Instrumental Showcase, said audience has been spoilt rotten with the talent on offer.

Through a series of elaborate and highly entertaining song-and-dance sequences, the members of the Alnwick Academy of Dance put on a great show featuring a wide variety of music and several star turns from within the ensemble cast.

The Alnwick Academy was assisted by skilled pianist Sean McMenamon and a small number of students from Amble and Rothbury.

Being an episodic and ensemble-oriented show, it's somewhat unfair to single out any individuals as 'stars'. Nonetheless, across the many different numbers on offer, several figures deserve deeper recognition.

Tyler Angus, fresh from his leading role in The Music Man, goes from strength to strenth as a performer, turning in some fine moon-walking during the second half's gripping rendition of 'Smooth Criminal'.

James Brown remains an enjoyable presence, the highlights being his solo rendition of 'Why God Why' from Miss Saigon and his Rat Pack duet with Dan Hope.

Mr. Hope himself is really something to behold. Over the course of the night he shifted seamlessly between genres, taking in Van Morrison, Journey and Sammy Davis Jr.. His solo dance performance in the first half was breathtaking, with his marriage of skill and charisma being reminiscent of a young Patrick Swayze.

Sophie Hammond is a worthy match for him, having excelled in Jesus Christ Superstar three months ago. She is clearly a very talented singer, but she also demonstrated her skill as a dancer, whether in the Latin beats of 'Sway' or the bizarre 'Beautiful' with anime-inflected costumes.

Elsewhere there were two really great pieces of tap dancing, which incorporated some interesting experiments with percussion. 'Beatbox and Bronze' married the dancers' steps to drumsticks being beaten on the stage, while their rendition of Queen's 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' saw the dancers completely mirror Roger Taylor's drumming.

The evening was brought to an appropriate climax with 'Jai Ho', the musical number at the end of Slumdog Millionaire. It was an idea means to conclude, summing up everything that had made the show so enjoyable: impeccable choreography, ravishing costumes, and a host of talented individuals who had put a spring in our collective steps.

Cast (alphabetically): Tyler Angus, Rachel Ashley, Amy Barrett, Lexy Bee, Livy Belk, Richard Biggars, Alexa Boldy, Caitlin Brown, James Brown, Natalie Brown, Emily Brunton, Emma Callighan, Ellie Cameron, Kerrie Charlton, Honor Colledge, Jessica Conroy, Sarah Crockett, Katherine Davenport, Andrew Davison, Emma Davison, Ellie Davison-Archer, Cora Drummond, Ryan Duncan, Sarah Dunn, Harry Ellaby, Hannah Elliott, Katie Elliott, Hayley Finney, Hannah Firth, Daisy Fitzpatrick, Annabel Freeman, Rebecca Gray, Anna Grundy, Sophie Hammond, Sarah Heywood, Jade Hinds, Dan Hope, Lily Horgan, Imogen Horrocks, Joy Hubbard, Courteney Latto, Rachael Latto, Shaun Latto, Emily Lester, Erin Mallaburn, Emily McKenzie, Jessica McKenzie, Caitlin Mitchell, Ellen Parker, Erryn Parry, Georgina Pearson, Claire Quick, Hilda Quick, Charlotte Robertson, Zoe Robson, Victoria Rose, Rebecca Russell, Ellen Ryan, Holl Ryan, Heather Sales, Ellen Shepherd, Ciarra Showler, Harrison Sleet, Erin Smith, Anna Spowart, Katherine Spowart, Emily Stenton, Lucy Stewart, Bronwen Stout, Elisa Stout-Carins, Billy Swan, Leanne Taylor, Eleanor Thatcher, Kristin Thompson, Stacet Turnbull, Sophie Walker, Becki Wilkie, Emma Wilkie, Emma Williams, Fern Williamson, Maya Woolfey.

Originally published as 'Gotta Sing (and Dance) Their Praises', Northumberland Gazette, July 8th 2010.


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