It’s always good to support amateur theatre work and so this afternoon I took an unplanned trip to The Little Theatre Leicester to see a matinee production of a charity musical theatre concert that is raising money for their host theatre. Due to Covid restrictions The IDOLS Six Feet Away had been frustratingly put on hold a few times according to the director Ian Phillips. However the acclaimed Leicester based amateur return to their Leicester home (for the last 50 years) and perform Six From Away with their talented ensemble of new members and established ones.
The ensemble is comprised of Amy French, Cathy Robinson, Charlotte Richards. Daisy Woodall, Darcie Tanner, Dylan Kelvey, Emma Painter, Georgia Lewis, Grace Phillips, Hannah McCourt, John Phillips, Mitchell Smith, Russell Webster, Tim Stokes, Tom Matthews, Samantha Hobson and Sarah Woodall.
The concert is nigh on two hours long plus an interval but never has two hours flown by in such a delightful and sometimes surprising way. The production is slick yet presented in a way that seems relaxed. There is no set excepting at the rear of the large stage where the six piece band are seen and heard with a rich musical palate of keyboard (Derek Hunter), flute, clarinet and sax (Patrick White), trumpet (Alan Holford), trombone (Richard Webster), Bass (Shawn Green) and drums (Stuart Graham). The sound balance between singing performer/s is pitch perfect with neither one nor the other ever overwhelming each party, regardless of the tempo of the songs.
The musical theatre fare varies in style and there are a fair few highlights as it seems everyone in this company gets some chance to show off their vocal skills. It’s almost as if no-one is allowed to be ensemble only and this is a sweet challenge for the performers from which they can only grow.
For this reviewer the highlights are the opening solo number from Sunset Boulevard, As If We Never Said Goodbye, Mack The Knife, and I’m Not That Girl from Wicked plus Tonight You’re Mine Completely.
Nothing, What I Did For Love and At The Ballet all evocate, A Chorus Line, which happens to be the Christmas show 2021 at Curve.
The Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen musical blend is cleverly wrought and beautifully sung by both male singers. A Whole New World and Be Our Guest delight as Disney show pieces. I Won’t Send Roses from Mack & Mabel is sung with great romantic sentiment. One of the nice surprise moments comes from a young man’s mature rendition of This Is The Moment from Jekyll & Hyde.
A selection of songs from Kander and Ebb’s Chicago proves a winner with this audience as we enjoy some finely sung performances of Class/Nowadays, All I Care About and Mister Cellophane.
Musical comedy is always fun if done well and the patter song Brush Up Your Shakespeare from Kiss Me Kate is put across with plenty of comic gusto and most importantly – vocal clarity. Too often patter songs can be vocally mangled but not in this case.
As we are led into a short introduction about the history of Miss Saigon in the West End this reviewer is slightly shocked to hear that it was nearly thirty years ago since he fell in love with the musical back in the 1980s. Sadly there is no budget for a US Army helicopter churning up the air and dust on The Little Theatre stage but we are enchanted with fine renditions of The Movie In My Mind followed by a wonderfully heartfelt vocal clip from Waitress in the shape of the song of She Used To Be Mine which causes an avalanche of applause for its brilliant interpretation by the singer portraying Jenna.
Next up comes a compilation of songs from the ever popular Blood Brothers. From the Liverpool born Johnson brothers POV we get quasi jealous That Guy song and from a female perspective we are wowed with Marilyn Monroe and the ultimate classic that audiences love, Tell Me It’s Not True. All are conveyed with real heart and soul. From the award acclaimed, but little heard and seen, City of Angels we thoroughly enjoy You Can Always Count On Me written by Cy Coleman and David Zippel and performed with élan this afternoon at The Little Theatre.
The finale brings in the whole joyous company in a rip roaring rendition of Sing Sing Sing. Leicester certainly has some known and hidden musical theatre talents and they are all on display on The Little Theatre stage this Saturday afternoon. The IDOLS are presenting 42nd Street 10th- 15th October 2022 with tickets available from January 2022. That’s definitely one to put firmly in your theatregoing diary.