For one night only a packed audience at the Garrison Theatre was treated to a feast of musical drama from past and present Brae High School pupils.
Wednesday’s performance, MORE Musical Favourites for Summer Nights, was two hours of sheer enjoyment and certainly left the audience wanting more.
Produced and directed by 18-year-old Rebecca Cheriyan, it featured dramatic scenes from a variety of well-known musicals.
It showcased the talents of 15 boys and girls – very encouraging to have so many males taking part as it would have been difficult to stage such an event without the contrasting voices. All were, or had been until recently, pupils at Brae High School.
A production of maturity and sophistication, it was hard to believe the performers were still only teenagers, some of whom were performing only five weeks after taking their Highers. Soloists Rebecca Cheriyan, Timon D’Eathe, Maria Irvine, Claire Laurenson, James Morton, Zoe Spence and Ruth Mainland were all exceptional. They performed with confidence and flair, ably supported by the chorus, and the obvious enjoyment of all singers created a rapport with the enthusiastic audience.
The musical accompaniment was excellent and would have been an impressive performance in its own right. Suitably unobtrusive, the black-clad musicians faded into the black backdrop and complemented the singing perfectly, never dominating it. Music teacher Kirsteen Straine’s arrangements worked perfectly, and her playing, together with that of fellow musicians Neil Morris, Stuart Thompson, Paul Thompson and Martha Morton, was integral to the success of the event.
Scene changes were slick with minimal fuss thanks to the well-thought out use of simple props. Subtle lighting changes from Keith Morrison added to the atmosphere.
This was coupled with very quick costume changes, with the gaps between songs filled by the narrator’s description of the forthcoming scene and theme.
Playing to an almost capacity crowd in a hot, intimate atmosphere, the show opened in dramatic fashion with All that Jazz, the girls in black flapper dresses and the boys in suits performing a slick routine choreographed, as was the whole show, by Rebecca. Roars of delight greeted the first song and that set the tone for the whole evening.
There was massive applause for Big Spender, a cheeky dance number with sequinned and top hatted performers dancing with cane.
Rebecca was alluring as a blue-satin clad Evita singing I’d be Surprisingly Good for You, and produced a moving performance in a perfectly-harmonised duet with Timon in the prison song All the Wasted Time from Parade.
We Both Reached for the Gun from Chicago was a complicated number the singers managed perfectly, and there was terrific applause too for Roxie from the same musical and Cockeyed Optimist from South Pacific.
The very loudest applause was reserved for the final song, Summer Nights from Grease, which contrived to have all the cast on stage and was superb, with boys in leather jackets and denims and girls in little cardis and bobby sox. Diction was clear throughout and harmonising worked well.
A nice touch came at the end as all the participants thanked all concerned, including the backstage crew – they were all friends, connected with Brae High School and living in Northmavine.
It is difficult to criticise this polished performance. The narrator could perhaps have spent just slightly longer introducing each item to lessen the leap between locations and themes, sometimes the soloists’ opening words were hard to hear at the back and more could possibly have been made of American accents. But these are just quibbles. It was an evening of sheer pleasure and the performers, musicians and crew should be congratulated.
A door collection for eating disorders charity b-eat raised £1,712.