Society: The MTA (student productions)
Venue: The Bridewell Theatre, London
Credits: Directed by Jack Gunn, featuring the choreography of MTA’s West End faculty.
Something Old Something New
Directed by Lucie Pankhurst
The annual revue presented by MTA (Musical Theatre Academy) is always a treat and this year was no exception although, of course, this is the first time it has happened live for a while. It is such a good idea to present a slickly directed revue with a wide range of material featuring every student in both first and second years of this two year accelerated course because it acts as a better showcase than any conventional “showcase”. I’ve often wondered why every performing arts school doesn’t do this.
This year’s show featured fifteen second years and seven second years. The latter group did an ensemble number (Paradise by the Dashboard Light from Bat Out Of Hell) competently, provided backing for some of the other work and took part in the full company numbers. It struck me for the first time this year that their presence and inclusion is a fine advertisement for the college in more than one way. They show, first, just how skilful MTA is at spotting potential. And when they appear alongside second years you can see very clearly the massive progress these students make in just two years. The training they’re getting is self-evidently outstanding.
The show includes a wide range of material ranging from extracts from Annie, Sweet Charity and Merrily we Roll Along to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Dust and Embers. Something Old Something New – as advertised.
Lucie Pankhurst, who directs and choregraphs this show (with a handful of numbers choreographed by others) ensures that one number segues seamlessly from the one before, using every inch of Bridewell Theatre’s big playing area. The company operates with near-military slickness so that the show never even pauses for breath – except that it had to at the performance I saw when there was an issue with lighting and everything stopped for 15 minutes while staff decided what to do. It is a tribute to the professionalism of the company that they took this totally in their stride – repeated one number and then simply carried on with the show.
In a company with so much eclectic, vibrant talent it seems a bit unfair to single out individuals but with the caveat that every single participant does an excellent job, I’m going to.
Lou Henry lights up the stage every time she appears in numbers such as There Must Be Something Better Than This (with Emily Tang and Pia Wabs). She is totally convincing in her acting and her singing is sublime. No wonder she is given an impassioned. moving solo slot: Someone Who Could Be Loved.
Emily Tang has a rich singing voice especially in the lower registers. She is also accomplished with accents and has oodles of attractive stage personality. So does Amy Lockwood, whose huge presence (I loved her StepSisters’ Lament from Cinderella with Rowan Kitchen) is out of all proportion to her diminutive size – if she wants to, among other opportunities, she’ll be able to play feisty children in dramas for many years to come.
Blaine Gosling sings with rich warmth and musicality. He could sing opera if he wished – perhaps he has. And watch out for Kaidyn Niall Hinds whose lithe, charismatic dancing is likely to further his career.
Finally, what a joy it is to see a student show like this accompanied by a fine six-piece (yes six!) live band, led by college founder/principal Annemarie Lewis Thomas on keys who has also done all the musical arrangements. They make a terrific sound, tucked away on a balcony above the stage, and I’m certain that their presence is part of the reason for the high standard the college gets from its students.
First published by Sardines: https://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/review/something-old-something-new/