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Fantastic is the only way to describe the set, lighting and costumes for this year’s GSA Graduate Company show. They are as over-the-top and glamorous, as any production of The Producers should be; from the glitzy dresses to the wonderful New York skyline.
The production team have done well. But it is worrying that this is the first thing that comes to mind when I think back to the show I have just seen, featuring the GSA Class of 2012 and essentially ‘tomorrows stars’.
There are certainly strong individual performances, notably from Rob Houchen (Leopold ‘Leo’ Bloom), Rob Eyles (Carmen Ghia) and Ria Turner (Hold-Me-Touch-Me/Usherette/Ensemble) but the company as a whole come across under-rehearsed – first act more so than the second, messy and disappointing.
The choreography from Phyllida Crowley-Smith is superb, particularly enjoyable during ‘That Face’ – a musical number in which Leopold Bloom and Ulla declare their love for each other. Both Rob Houchen and Brittany Field (Ulla) are beautiful dancers with near perfect placement, posture and grace.
Unfortunately, the company numbers aren’t as tight or consistent as they could be with regards to entry timings and placement of arms etc. This does let them down; so much so that during the more complex pieces, where staying in character is key to the delivery of each piece, the cast concentrate so intensely on what their feet are doing that all facial expression is lost. This is where Ria Turner stands out among the crowd, playing a variety of different roles in the ensemble, not once does she lose memory of her character – facially or physically – a pleasure to watch and possibly a reminder of what this class should be capable of.
Lively music accompanies The Producers and the band is excellent; driving the show forward though at times a little too much – leaving the actors following the tune rather than leading the way. Nevertheless, it comes as somewhat a relief to be able to say that the singing is to a high standard, with the males in the company proving especially strong vocally.
Not quite the professional standard one would hope for from a group of students about to leave three years training and I regret to report that this is not the best performance I have seen from a GSA Graduate Company. Even the curtain call left a lot to be desired. The Producers runs until Saturday 23rd June.