From Hamilton to Legally Blonde the Nottingham University Musicality performers put on a spectacle of songs from some of the most well-known musicals on stage. Their most recent sold-out production, titled ‘Love, Laughter and Loathing’, had audiences loving the talent, laughing at the theatrical comedy and loathing themselves for their inability to sing as incredibly as those on stage (the latter being felt strongly by myself).
“Despite long hours and late nights, these singers by no means lacked energy”
In the Trent building’s Great Hall the audience waited with anticipation, feeling rather fancy as they sat at round tables covered in white cloth. It was very easy to forget that one was watching a university performance when the atmosphere is painted by proud parents, supportive friends and general lovers of musicals, all keen to see what the hours of work put in by performers has come to. Despite long hours and late nights, these singers by no means lacked energy, something which became evident when the opening song (‘No one mourns the wicked’ from Wicked) filled the hall with the 80 voices on stage. It never ceased to impress me how that many people fit on one small stage, and thus I must commend whoever choreographed that seemingly impossible task.
“The performance tugged on heartstrings, gave chills, and had me laughing”
From start to finish the performance tugged on heartstrings, gave chills, and had me laughing (possibly harder than I should have), a roller-coaster that can be attributed to the well-organised set list which jumped from love ballads to the near ludicrous. The deep boom of the opening song was followed by an entertaining introduction to the “plastics” from Mean Girls. Who knew the beloved teen film was also a musical? I was certainly entertained when I heard the name Regina George, something so familiar and beautifully executed by those singing- each embraced her role with a hilarious level of stereotype, theatre and fun. I will note that I would love to place into this article the names of each individual singer, as many stood out as quite simply unbelievable, but as mentioned above the society consists of a vast number of talented and highly involved members. Hopefully all will know my appreciation of their talent.
“I was impressed with this sheer adaptability and apparent dedication of those musicians who do not get the glory of the stage”
The show proceeded with a vast number of solos, small group songs and full ensemble pieces, assisted by an extremely professional and multi-skilled band. At points I would look down to where the band sat and see members had shifted to play different instruments and even join in with the singing on stage. As somebody who is highly un-musical, I was impressed with this sheer adaptability and apparent dedication of those musicians who do not get the glory of the stage. The inclusion of live accompaniment added an extra depth to all performances, creating a chilling drama as well as professionalism- at times I forgot I was not watching the latest piece from the West End.
“Each song had its own mood, its own life, mirrored in the use of lighting”
Indeed, it was not just a bit of singing and dancing that made this show so enjoyable, it was the consideration of all elements. The dancing was choreographed well, incorporating rhythm with the fun of acting- I saw hips swaying sassily, an army of men marching forwards, a ballet and the conductor jumping up onto stage to proclaim, “that man is gay!” as part of the ‘There! Right there!’ song from Legally Blonde. Each song had its own mood, its own life, mirrored in the use of lighting which I have been informed was programmed to be different for each song to incorporate a different feel for each (we’re talking rainbow lights for Legally Blonde and each mean girl receiving her own coloured light). My only fault to performance would be the poor handling of microphones, which sadly caused a loss of some voices to the rest of the spectacle.
“It never ceases to amaze me how much songs, especially those from musicals, can have such an effect on your emotions”
Spectacle is certainly the correct word for what was witnessed, dressed all in black the cast were working hard to create character in the absence of costume, which was done with general success. I found the songs I did not know were harder to interpret yet had me craving to listen to them again. ‘Bad Idea’, which I later learned (from frustrated research at midnight due to it whirling around in my head) came from Waitress, performed by two on stage jumping onto tables and a particularly amusing struggle with a doctor’s coat, stood out to me as one of my favourites. I would urge all of you who go to watch any future productions to research the songs afterwards, as one failing of a showcase is the lack of context the songs receive. Nevertheless, the creation of character and adopting of a general Broadway/West End confidence helped to fill in some gaps. Another particular favourite of mine- ‘The I Love You Song’ from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – had my hairs standing up on end and a slight tearing in the eyes. It never ceases to amaze me how much songs, especially those from musicals, can have such an effect on your emotions, and I shall put said reaction down to the ability of those performing it.
With a set list of 26 songs (admittedly slightly too long), it is impossible to mention all, so I instead will urge you to go and watch their next set in the new year. If you wish to be blown away by an extremely talented group whilst enjoying a range of saddening, uplifting and downright hilarious songs accompanied by a live band, all whilst sat at a fancy table, Musicality is the one to watch. There truly was love, laughter and loathing (an apt title as well as some fun alliteration). Well done to all!
Featured Image courtesy of Musicality Notts Official Facebook Page.