Two and a half stars out of five
Back to Broadway beckoned a ride through the world of musicals, transporting the audience to the bright lights of Broadway. It made it half way and with a ride that was not necessarily smooth. The lack of consistency throughout was the main problem. Performances ranged from nervous and wooden, with a clear lack of confidence to general over the top enthusiasm.
Many of the stronger singers were under used in favour of weaker sometimes barely audible vocalists. Natasha Larkin a hidden gem of the production only came to light in the second half with her pure vocals on I know him so Well. Jessica Prinzi likewise was weakened by her fellow singers in Don’t rain on my parade but later dazzled with her energetic, powerful rendition of Blow Gabriel, Blow. Volume was a huge issue again being inconsistent, a problem that was not helped by the appalling sound system. The choreography was basically awkward a lot of the steps felt like a token effort instead of being part of the numbers themselves, something which should have been vital to a showcase of Broadway classics.
This again however was inconsistently mixed with songs in which the choreography was over used, for example in Master of the House the chorus moved around the stage enacting drunkards at a rowdy tavern which was cringing to watch, pulled focus from the main performers and was frankly unnecessary. This being said however the vocals of all the ensemble pieces were hugely successful and by far the most enjoyable part of the production. They worked well together with a good mix of voices that were distinct and powerful but harmonious. This is where the song choices really let the show down. Instead of capitalising on their skill in group pieces there was too much emphasis on solo singers. It would have been nice to see some bigger more energetic, fun numbers involving the whole cast. Overall the most frustrating thing about this production was the wasted potential. There were clearly some talented vocalists and the show was not bad by any means, it just failed to come together.
Throughout it felt as though the show was still firmly stuck in the rehearsal stages. It was a shaky first offering from a new society but hopefully with their next production of Rent they can smooth over the edges, realise the talented potential they clearly have and this time blow the audience all the way to Broadway.
Back to Broadway was performed by University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society on 25th and 26th November in UMSU Academy 2.