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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Secondary Characters, Battersea Barge

Four bright, young musical theatre graduates and a small boat on the Thames... the combination could be disastrous, but it was quite the opposite for the Secondary Characters showcase last week.

The Battersea Barge is a characterful little venue, and is well worth visiting despite the tedious trek from Vauxhall station... it was one of my (very occasional) "wearing wedges" days and I was really feeling the strain. But as is often the case, a little bit of theatrical jollity can alleviate all signs of weariness and leave you feeling upbeat and positive.

Dom Hodson, Helen Woolf, Michelle Whitney and Andrew Dyer are recent graduates from the prestigious Royal Academy Musical Theatre course and together presented a cabaret evening of show tunes. The performance was just as polished as I'd expected - it’s clear these singers would be brilliant performing just about anywhere and I think the audience on the Battersea Barge felt privileged to be witnessing their talent before they go off to wow on bigger stages.

It was a well balanced programme, each of the musicians performing several solo numbers as well as a variety of duets and ensembles. I was struck by how well chosen the pieces were, each singer choosing songs to highlight their individual talents and selling points.

They opened and closed with full company numbers: a punchy rendition of ‘Something’s Coming’ (Sondheim) to start; ‘Let’s Do It’ finishing the show, wasn’t quite as energetic or exciting, and I was glad they gave an encore of the Sondheim. There were comical tunes and melancholy ballads… I found Michelle particularly funny with her nuanced performance of ‘Climbing Uphill’ from The Last Five Years, a brilliant one-act musical by Jason Robert Brown that I recently saw at The Tabard Theatre. Andrew sung a beautiful rendition of Rain from Harps and Angels, a song I’d never heard before. Helen is the belter of the group with a powerful leading lady voice, effortlessly making her way through epic tunes like ‘The Wizard and I’ from Wicked. Dom has the ability to make a whole room smile with his cheeky attitude and versatile voice, he plays every character like the part was written for him.

This group of singers certainly rocked the boat, and showed the Battersea Barge crew a good time. Watch this space, I’m sure there is a lot more to come from these talented individuals.

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