“Mad Musicals is back and it’s debut after a five year hiatus was a hit – and miss – affair.
Putting together a show in just five rehearsals is a tough challenge for even the best trained performers but, despite this, the energy and enthusiasm during the group numbers last night was exuberant. From the striking opening number (from Seussical The Musical) and the following solos, the audience were quickly whipped into a frothy sea of ‘musical madness’ that heralded a polished and talent filled show ahead. The reality, unfortunately was a little different and, at times, was more reminiscent of a back-street karaoke bar than a theatrical performance.
I may be sounding unreasonably harsh and in truth, despite the downs, Mad Musicals 6 was a refreshing and entertaining night out interspersed with moments of real sparkle. Don Graybiel, Tara & Chad van Heel and Stacy McDonald knocked out some killer numbers that left the packed KLT auditorium roaring and whistling. Climb Every Mountain was powerful and emotional, Hello Little Girl (a little known number from Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Into The Woods‘ ) was lusciously lyrical and darkly humorous and the combination of Stacy McDonald and Tara van Heel (with the backing of the KLT chorus) on “What is This Feeling” from Wicked at the end of Act One was a true delight.
From classic musical hits to some lesser known tunes, the collection of numbers put together by Tim Waddell was at the very least eclectic. Maybe a few more well known crowd pleasers would have helped ease the evening along as the audience clearly responded with relish as they heard the opening chords of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease and were then treated to a gutsy rendition by Kristen Falcioni (who seemed to be struggling with a sore throat during the second half of the show.)
Technically the show had great flow; swift changes between numbers, inventive lighting and – for the most part – clear sound that allowed the vocalists to be heard above the backing tracks; but whether it was the mix of songs or their delivery by the large number of soloists, the show never quite seemed to fully kick into gear until the final number – an electrifying staging of “I Know Where I’ve Been” from Hairspray (rumoured to be coming to KLT to end the 60th anniversary season). That said this is, after all, amateur theatre, and we do not expect every performer to deliver Broadway standards to a Broadway standard. As a paying audience we do expect, however, to enjoy soloists that at least know their words – whatever the quality of their vocal performance - and there were a few too many moments last night when this clearly wasn’t the case. Hopefully that can simply be put down to first night nerves and those taking the solo spotlight tonight and tomorrow will overcome them.
KLT continues to push the envelope to bring live, theatrical entertainment to the Kuwait community and this being their 60th season they are clearly doing something right. Mad Musicals 6 may not be their finest production in the genre but is a tribute to what can be achieved by enthusiastic volunteers and will certainly entertain all those who have booked to enjoy it this week. “